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Civil Engineering heritage: Scotland - Highlands and Islands

Date 2007

Event ID 929592

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account


Kinnaird Head Lighthouse, Fraserburgh

This lighthouse, in a former 16th century tower house overlooking the town and harbour of Fraserburgh, dates from 1787 and was the first to be constructed by the Board of Commissioners for Northern Lighthouses founded in 1786. Its granite ashlar tower, built through the vaulted

masonry floors of the old house, is of 16 ft external diameter with walls 212

ft thick. The lantern is about 58 ft above ground level and 120 ft above high-water level.

The lighthouse was designed by Edinburgh lamp manufacturer Thomas Smith, the Board’s newly appointed part-time unpaid engineer, and was the first to use an array of his newly developed oil lamps with parabolic-facetted mirror glass reflectors. The light produced was about1000 candlepower which, although feeble by modern standards, represented a considerable improvement on the coal fire alternative. This arrangement is known from a drawing made about the time a dioptric (lens) light was

installed by Alan Stevenson in 1851.

Originally the tower house provided storage accommodation and watch-keeping facilities for the keepers. Additions were made in 1821–30 by Robert Stevenson to provide further accommodation suitable for a ‘national establishment’.

The lighthouse now forms part of Scotland’s Lighthouse Museum which contains many unique and fascinating relics of the lighthouse branch of civil engineering.

R Paxton and J Shipway, 2007.

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

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