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Tiree, Hynish, Lighthouse Shore Establishment, Signal Tower

Lighthouse Shore Station (19th Century), Signal Station (19-20th Century)

Site Name Tiree, Hynish, Lighthouse Shore Establishment, Signal Tower

Classification Lighthouse Shore Station (19th Century), Signal Station (19-20th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Hynish, Harbour And Lighthouse Establishment; Hynish, Lighthouse Establishment

Canmore ID 21415

Site Number NL93NE 8

NGR NL 98528 39183

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
© Copyright and database right 2017.

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Tiree
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll

Summary Record (14 February 2012)

One of the collection of buildings at Hynish, c.1837-40 designed by Alan Stevenson, built for the construction and servicing/maintenance of Skerryvore Lighthouse.

The circular, two storey Signal Tower is now a museum with a plaque inscription giving the date of 1843, 'in use from 1844 to 1937 for signalling by semaphore to Skerryvore Lighthouse'.


Archaeology Notes

NL93NE 8.00 98528 39183

(NL 9853 3918) Old Signalling Tower (NAT)

OS 1:10,000 map, (1976).

For (associated) Skerryvore Lighthouse (NL 840 263), see NL82NW 1.

See also Hynish harbour (NL93NE 9).

For (related and successor) establishment at Erraid (Earraid), Mull (NM 297 203), see NM22SE 61.

This shore establishment was established in 1836-8 to serve the construction and use of Skerryvore lighthouse (NL82NW 1); the quarries being opened and the pier being constructed before a 150-strong colony was established. About £13,000 was spent at Hynish and the establishment was used for about fifty years before it was abandoned in favour of Earraid (Erraid), Mull (NM22SE 61).

R W Munro 1979.

(Location cited as NL 98 39). Harbour and lighthouse establishment, Hynish, built 1837-43 by engineer Alan Stevenson. A masonry dock and pier, with crane for boom and the remains of a scouring system. There is a terraced pair of plain two-storey buildings, designed for workes, a range of one-storey ancillary buildings, a signal tower about 30ft (9.3m) high and a single-storey block of flat-roofed keepers' cottages. Nearby are quarry workings associated with the construction of Skerryvore Lighthouse.

J R Hume 1977.

This signal-tower was built in 1839 to provide semaphore communication with Skerryvore Lighthouse (NL82NW 1). It measures 5.4 m in diameter and rises through two main storeys to an overall height of about 9.3 m above a corbel-course and parapet. The walls, which are 1.2 m in thickness at base, are constructed of coursed rubble masonry of local origin set above a granite plinth. The entrance is in the NE sector, and the principal observation-chamber on the upper floor incorporates two ranges of iron-framed windows facing E and S towards the harbour and Skerryvore Lighthouse respectively.

RCAHMS 1980, visited 1973.

Architecture Notes

NL93NE 8.00 NL 98528 39183 Signal Tower

NL93NE 8.01 NL 98496 39180 1 Upper Sq

NL93NE 8.02 NL 98541 39266 Lower Sq Courtyard buildings

NL93NE 8.03 NL 98497 39171 2 Upper Sq

NL93NE 8.04 NL 98502 39161 3 Upper Sq

NL93NE 8.05 NL 98509 39151 4 Upper Sq

NL93NE 8.06 NL 98567 39254 1 & 2 Lower Sq

NL93NE 8.07 NL 98562 39249 3 & 6 Lower Sq

NL93NE 8.08 NL 98557 39244 4 & 5 Lower Sq

NL93NE 8.09 NL 98570 39305 Stores

NL93NE 8.10 NL 98460 39349 Reservoir

NL93NE 8.11 NL 98638 39247 Stores

NL93NE 8.12 NL 98588 39212 Coal Store

See also Hynish harbour

NL93NE 9.00 NL 98659 39304 Harbour

NL93NE 9.01 NL 98636 39277 Dock

NL93NE 9.02 NL 98695 39299 Pier

For (associated) Skerryvore Lighthouse (NL 840 263), see NL82NW 1. For (related and successor) establishment at Erraid (Earraid), Mull (NM 297 203), see NM22SE 61.


Publication Account (1985)

Few visitors will see the magnificent lighthouse of Skerryvore except remotely through binoculars, but the achievement of its construction on a remote windand sea-swept reef has an important place in lighthouse history. When Sir Waiter Scott visited the reefin 1814 in the company of Robert Stevenson, he described a 'long ridge of rocks (chiefly under water), on which the tide breaks in a most tremendous style'. 'Our rowers, however, get the boat into a quiet creek between two rocks where we contrive to land well wetted.' Such were the problems of the situation that it was not until 1834 and 1835 that the survey of the reef was undertaken. The hardships of the various seasons of work on the rock with the wind whistling and the waves foaming round are a constant feature of Stevenson's account of the building. The foundation pit for such a massive tower took twenty men over two hundred days! The tower is 42m in height rising in a gentle curve from a basal diameter of 12.8m, and first showed its light on 1 February 1844.

If the lighthouse itself remains a distant pencil on the horizon, the shore establishment and harbour, from which workmen and stone were shipped out to the reef can still be seen. Here each stone was carefully prepared and shaped for its special position within the structure. It had been entended to use local stone, a hard gneiss, but this proved difficult to work and, although the bottom three courses of the tower are of Hynish stone, the remainder are of Ross of Mull granite.

The well-built pier, dock, storehouses and shorebarracks for the masons and seamen still survive, as well as a signal-tower and a row of lightkeepers' houses. The signal-tower has been refurbished as a museum, with details of the building of Skerryvore and of the method of communication by semaphore signals, seen through telescopes, between the tower at Hynish and the lighthouse.

An unexpected problem at Hynish harbour was that it was liable to silting, and Stevenson devised an ingenious method of scouring out the dock. Up to a million gallons of water could be collected in a reservoir above the site, which could be let out through a conduit in a controlled flood to clear the harbour basin and channel of accumulated sand.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Argyll and the Western Isles’, (1985).

Standing Building Recording (2001)

NL 9853 3918 (centre) Building recording of the Upper Square at Hynish (NMRS NL93NE 8) was commissioned in advance of the refurbishment of the buildings. The Upper Square forms part of the shore station associated with Skerryvore lighthouse which is located some 12.5 miles offshore to the SSW. The shore station was built as a work base which was in use during the construction of the lighthouse. Following the completion of the lighthouse the shore establishment functioned as a base for the lightkeepers employed at Skerryvore and their families. The Upper Square was constructed around 1841-42 as accommodation for the lightkeepers and their families and was occupied as such for a period of 50 years. Since that time some modifications have been made to the building, primarily in the latter part of the 20th century, but many original features still survive.

Full report lodged with the NMRS.

Sponsor: A R P Lorimer for the Hebridean Trust

L Baker and T Holden 2001.


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