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Ailsa Craig

Ailsa Craig Lighthouse is located on Ailsa Craig, an island in the Firth of Clyde, just offshore from Girvan, South Ayrshire, Scotland.

History

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.

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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