Turnberry lighthouse was established in 1873 by David & Thomas Stevenson.


Turnberry Lighthouse marks a dangerous part of the Ayrshire coast, off which lies Bristo Rock which was responsible for many wrecks. No one was more aware of the toll than the Receiver of Wreck, Ayr and it was he who in 1869 suggested to the Board of Trade that a light should be erected on Bristo Rock. The matter was referred to the Commissioners, whose Engineers David and Thomas Stevenson examined the rock and reported on 18 May 1869 that it was inadvisable to erect a lighthouse on the rock itself but suggested that the best place would be on Turnberry Point, where it now stands. It is situated close to the 9th hole of Turnberry Golf Course in what was once the moat of Turnberry Castle, which disputes with Lochmaben the honour of being the birthplace of Robert Bruce (1274 -1329).

There does not seem to be satisfactory derivation for the name Turnberry, but the last syllable suggests burg or fort. The name is probably from Norman French, taurnei, tornei, tounrey or tournament, and old English, byrig, burg-fort or castle of the tournaments.

This lighthouse has unusual surroundings with plenty of scope for nature study and very early observations of birds migration, for example, were recorded by lightkeepers long before observatories were established on the Isle of May and Fair Isle.

On 13 October 1869 the Board of Trade granted sanction to build the lighthouse, but it was not until 1871 that building started in earnest. Most of the delay was caused by conflicting opinions as to how big the lantern should be and which kind of oil was to be used. The final estimate was for £6,576.

The contractor responsible for the building was John Barr & co of Ardrossan. Milne & Son made the lantern, machine and apparatus. The light was first exhibited on 30 August 1873, the character of one flash every 12 seconds was decided upon to distinguish from Corsewall and Davaar Lights. The lighthouse was automated in 1986 and is now remotely monitored from the Northern Lighthouse Boards offices in Edinburgh.

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.



Year Established



David & Thomas Stevenson


Latitude   55° 19.572'N
Longitude 004° 50.655'W


Flashing White every 15 seconds


29 metres


12 nautical miles


White tower

Public Access


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