Little Ross (Rear) Lighthouse was built in 1843 by Alan and Thomas Stevenson.
The Lighthouse was built on Little Ross between 1813, when the “Topographical Dictionary of Scotland: and of the British Seas” by Nicholas Carlisle was first published, making a clear and concise case for the construction of a Lighthouse there, to early 1840 when approval from the Northern Lighthouse Board and Trinity House was finally obtained. It is a fascinating tale of petitions, politics, personalities, action and inaction, conflict and cooperation between Lighthouse Boards, mis-information and lobbying. All unfolding against a background of a growing number of vessel wrecks in the vicinity; local community resentment at loss of life and vessels; the growth of trade in prosperous 19th century Britain; the beginning of the age of steam; and growth in the fleet of merchant vessels which were neither well maintained nor well regulated.
It was only through the roles played by Captain Robinson RN, who produced the first Admiralty Chart in 1838 of Little Ross (still in use in 1960), the Lord Advocate and Trinity House that his resistance was overcome. The long struggle to obtain approval for the building of a Lighthouse was finally won in early 1840. Unfortunately, there isn’t a record of any triumphal celebrations in Kirkcudbright.
In October 1840, Robert Stevenson and his son Thomas arrived in Kirkcudbright to begin a detailed survey of Little Ross Island and select suitable sites for various buildings that would constitute the new Lighthouse station. Detailed work on drawings and contracts was done in Edinburgh. Ultimately Little Ross was one of the last of Robert Stevenson’s projects, as he retired in 1842. Alan Stevenson designed the Lighthouse and Thomas was the construction engineer on site.
The light went into operation on 1 January 1843. The station was automated in 1960 and in 2003 it was converted to solar power.