Ailsa Craig

Ailsa Craig Lighthouse is located on Ailsa Craig, an island in the Firth of Clyde, just offshore from Girvan, South Ayrshire, Scotland. The lighthouse was established in 1886 by Thomas and David A Stevenson.

History

1881: Petitions were received by the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses from Lloyds and the Scottish Shipmasters Association, requesting that two fog signals and a lighthouse be erected on Ailsa Craig. The Board of Trade and Trinity House both agreed to the proposal and work began the following year. The construction was supervised by Thomas and David Stevenson, Engineers to the Board (Thomas was the father of Robert Louis Stevenson), and the lens was manufactured by Barbier and Fenestre, Paris.

1886: The oil-burning light was first exhibited on the night of the 15th of June.

1911: On the 24th of January, the light was converted to run on incandescent gas, and the gas engines for the siren fog signals on the North and South ends of Ailsa Craig were replaced by oil-driven engines.

1935: Wireless telephone communications were established on Ailsa Craig. Before this, the lightkeepers and employees of Ailsa Craig Granites Ltd depended on pigeons to convey messages. A dovecot at Girvan Green was in use until this year, when the town council opened a car park in the area. The pigeons were provided by the Lighthouse Boatman, who received an annual payment of £4. When a doctor or supplies were required urgently in stormy weather and it was impossible to have messages taken by carrier pigeon, a system of fire signals 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 ‘provisions were required’.

1966: The siren fog signals were permanently discontinued in November of this year and were 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 to the southeast of the Lighthouse tower rather than either of the previous sites.

1987: The Tyfon fog signal was discontinued.

1990: The lighthouse was automated.

2001: Refurbished and converted to run on solar power.

Details

Year Established

1886

Engineer

Thomas & David A Stevenson

Position

Latitude   55°15.126'N
Longitude 005°06.523'W

Character

Flashing White every 4 Secs

Elevation

18 metres

Range

17 nautical miles

Structure

White tower 11 metres high. There are 37 steps to the top of tower.

Public Access

No

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