Bressay Lighthouse is situated on the Island of Bressay off the East Mainland of Shetland. The Commissioners of the Northern Lighthouses wrote to the Board of Trade on 10 November 1854 requesting sanction to build a Lighthouse on Kirkabisterness (Bressa Sound) - a site at the South entrance to Lerwick Harbour. The Board of Trade conveyed sanction in a letter to the Commissioners dated 14 November 1854. Following lengthy correspondence with the Board of Trade and the Elder Brethren of Trinity House, regarding the cost of building the lighthouse and obtaining approval to plans and specifications, work was eventually commenced on the stonework etc in February 1856. The light was first lit on the night of 31 August 1858. Bressay was electrified on 17 July 1967 and the fog siren was discontinued in 1987. The light automated in 1989 and is now remotely monitored from the Board’s headquarters in Edinburgh. In November 1995 the outbuildings and former Keepers cottages buildings were purchased by the Shetland Amenity Trust, a charitable organisation set up to conserve and enhance Shetland’s heritage. The two Assistant Keepers cottages have been refurbished and are available on short-term lease. The Principal keeper’s cottage will be a self-catering complex and the Engine Room adjacent will be a camping bod or bothy with bunks. The Engine and Radio room are due to be turned into a Heritage Centre.
On the 12 September 2012 there was a change at Bressay lighthouse when the light, which has been operational for over 150 years, was permanently discontinued by the Northern Lighthouse Board. However, there was a seamless transfer of the provision of an aid to navigation for Bressay Sound. Instead of the 23 mile light shining from the original Stevenson lighthouse a new 10 mile light is now provided by Lerwick Port Authority.
This switchover followed years of discussion between the NLB and Lerwick Port Authority. From the conclusions of the Northern Lighthouse Board's 2005 Review of its aids to navigation requirements it was considered that as the Bressay light was within Lerwick Harbour limits it qualified for transfer to the Authority under the terms of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995. The Board and the Port Authority considered the best possible solution to ensure the continued safety of the mariner in these waters.
Rather than the Port Authority taking over the existing Stevenson structure they opted to erect a new light structure, which exhibits a 10 mile LED light showing the same character of flashing (2) every 20 seconds. The new structure was placed on the site of the former radar station and fog signal adjacent to the existing light.
A Notice to Mariners was issued by the Northern Lighthouse Board on 21 August 2012 advising the mariner of the change in status of the light.
Following the discontinuation of the light on 12 September 2012 the Board no longer required the lighthouse tower at Bressay. The former lighthouse tower was transferred into the ownership of the Shetland Amenity Trust in June 2013 and the Board no longer have an involvement with the property at Bressay.
To report any defects or damage to any of our aids to navigation please telephone our 24 hour freephone emergency number 08000 326655.