Font Size

100% 150% 200%

Background Colour

Default Contrast
Close Reset

Civil Engineering heritage: Scotland - Lowlands and Borders

Date 2007

Event ID 578268

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account


In 1748 Dumfries Council was concerned for the safety of shipping bound for the estuary of the Nith and the town. Peter Milligan, a local mason, was instructed to build a ‘beaken’ of stone 1412ft square, 212 ft thick and 30 ft high at Southerness point, which he did in 1749. By 1795 it had been heightened but was without lights.

The lighthouse was taken over by the Nith Navigation Commission in 1811 and in 1815 a reflector light was

operational. Robert Stevenson almost certainly had an involvement with this improvement.

In 1837 Stevenson’s assistant James Slight reported on improving the lighthouse, pointing out that it was visible for up to nine miles but only within a limited radius towards the Irish Sea. It then had a facetted glass reflector of 4 ft diameter of the type dating from 1787–1804 and the 20 in. silvered copper parabolic reflector with Argand lamp of 1815. In 1843–44 the tower was extended about 18 ft to its present height under the supervision of Walter Newall and two new reflector lights were installed in what is the present lightroom with an arc now exceeding 2008. The light was extinguished in 1867 as coastal trade declined, but restored in 1894 at an expense of £250 with a lantern by James Milne & Sons, Edinburgh, the frame of which is displayed within the ruins of a limekiln nearby. It ceased to operate in ca.1936.

R Paxton and J Shipway 2007

Reproduced from 'Civil Engineering heritage: Scotland - Lowlands and Borders' with kind permission from Thomas Telford Publishers.

People and Organisations