Ailsa Craig, in the Firth of Clyde, is an Island rising abruptly from the sea to an elevation of 1,110 feet. It has a conical summit and is very precipitous except on the North East Side where it slopes more gently and is accessible.
It was famous for a number of years for the curling stones fashioned from its rock. It was here that the curling stones used by the Scottish Women’s Curling Team, Winter 2002 Olympic Gold medal winners, were made.
In 1881, petitions were received by the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses from Lloyds and the Scottish Shipmasters Association requesting the erection of two fog signals and a lighthouse on Ailsa Craig. The Board of Trade and Trinity House both agreed to the proposal and work commenced the following year. The light was first exhibited on the night of 15 June 1886, an oil burning light which remained in use until 24 January 1911, when it was converted to incandescent. The construction was supervised by Thomas and David Stevenson, Engineers to the Board. (Thomas was the father of Robert Louis Stevenson).
Siren fog signals were erected on the North and South ends of Ailsa Craig and were powered by gas engines until 1911, when they were replaced by oil driven engines. These fog signals were permanently discontinued in November 1966, and replaced by a Tyfon fog signal, which had a character of 3 blasts, each of three seconds duration every 45 seconds. It was sounded from a position close to the South East of the Lighthouse tower and not at either of the previous siren signals sites. This fog signal was discontinued in 1987.
Until wireless telephone communications were established on Ailsa Craig in 1935, the lightkeepers and employees of Ailsa Craig Granites Ltd used to depend on pigeons for the conveyance of messages. A pigeon house was established at Girvan Green, where the town council established a parking place for cars and buses in 1935. The pigeons were provided by the Lighthouse Boatman at that time, who received an annual payment of £4.00. When a doctor or supplies were required urgently in stormy weather when it was impossible to have messages taken by carrier pigeon, a system of signals by fire was used. One fire on the castle path showing the Lighthouse to the North indicated "bring doctor for Lighthouse"; two fires on the castle path (one at the same place as the Lighthouse fire, and the other 20-30 yards above it), meant "bring doctor for Quarry Company"; one fire at the north end of the Castle Flat showing the Lighthouse to the South indicated the provisions were required.
The lighthouse was automated in 1990 and is now remotely monitored from the Northern Lighthouse Board’s offices in Edinburgh. In 2001 as part of the refurbishment and de-gassing programme Alisa Craig Lighthouse was converted to solar-electric power.
It should be noted that at some sites the Northern Lighthouse Board have sold some redundant buildings within the lighthouse complex and are not responsible for the maintenance of these building.
To report any defects or damage to any of our aids to navigation please telephone our 24 hour freephone emergency number 08000 326655.
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