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Little Cumbrae Island, Old Lighthouse

Lighthouse (18th Century)

Site Name Little Cumbrae Island, Old Lighthouse

Classification Lighthouse (18th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Lighthouse Hill; Cumray Tower

Canmore ID 40679

Site Number NS15SW 14

NGR NS 14309 51468

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2021.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council North Ayrshire
  • Parish Cumbrae
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Cunninghame
  • Former County Buteshire

Archaeology Notes

NS15SW 14 14309 51468

Location formerly cited as NS 1431 5146.

For (successor and present) 'new' lighthouse (NS 13760 51514), see NS 15SW 15.00.

Old Lighthouse

(Watch Sta) [NAT]

OS 1:10,000 map, 1978.


Erected 1757. Restored 1956.

(Undated) information in NMRS.

(Location cited as NS 153 314). Old Lighthouse, erected 1757. A plain circular tower restored by the Clyde Lighthouses Trust in 1956 after being disused since 1792. The remains of a rectangular keeper's cottage survive to the N.

J R Hume 1977.

Coal-fired, erected 1757. A plain, circular tower, restored in 1956 having been disused since 1793 (when it was replaced by NS15SW 15). Remains of a rectangular keeper's cottage survive to N.

D B Hague and R Christie 1975; J R Hume 1977; R W Munro 1979

The exercise was a general survey of the island to report on the condition of known sites and to identify and record any new sites. The survey was carried out by members of ACFA and the Cowal Archaeology & Historical Society in March 1996. A copy of the full report has been lodged with the NMRS.

NS 1431 5146 18th-Century lighthouse.

E B Rennie and J Macdonald 1996.


Construction (1757)

Coal fired. Replaced in 1793.

R Paxton and J Shipway 2007

Project (2007)

This project was undertaken to input site information listed in 'Civil engineering heritage: Scotland - Lowlands and Borders' by R Paxton and J Shipway, 2007.

Publication Account (2007)

This lighthouse was erected by the Cumray [sic] Lighthouse Trust set up by the merchants and magistrates of

Glasgow and founded by an Act of 1756 to make navigation safer for vessels plying to and from the Clyde. Besides building a lighthouse, dwelling house and a wharf for landing coals and other materials at Little Cumbrae, a ‘proper fire or light’ was to be maintained ‘in the nightseason’. A circular stone tower about 30 ft high with walls 3 ft thick was built on the highest part of the island, supporting a cage or grate of iron containing an open coal fire. The tower still exists.

This coal light, first exhibited in 1757, was far from efficient but the increased income from shipping dues

enabled a new and improved lighthouse to be built near the coast to the west in 1793 which is still in service.

R Paxton and J Shipway 2007

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


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