Worldwide Lighthouses

Butt of Lewis Lighthouse

Butt of Lewis

General Information

Established: 1862

Current Lighthouse Built: 1862

Height: 37 Metres (121.39 Feet)

Automated: 1998

Electrified: 1976

Operator: Northern Lighthouse Board

Designer: David Stevenson & Thomas Stevenson

Light Information

White: 25 Nautical Miles

The brick-built Lighthouse on the Butt of Lewis -the Island's furthest north point- is unusual in design and one of few Lighthouses in Britain, let alone Scotland to be left as bare brick, was built in 1862 by David Stevenson and Thomas Stevenson for the Northern Lighthouse Board. The distinctive tower has a reddish appearance, which makes it easily visible against the sky or sea, rendering it as a useful daymark during the day.

The unique Lighthouse is 37 metres in height and is free-standing; not one of the more luxurious Light Stations where the towers were connected to the Keepers Houses for maximum comfort.

The gallery around the top of the tower is painted in the Northern Lighthouse Board gold livery, with a gold trim beneath it. The hectical lantern is painted black and originally contained a paraffin light, which was replaced by a vegetable oil lamp in 1869; this light was likely to be fixed and the earliest record of a rotating flashing light came about with the installation of a Fresnel Lens in 1905, which remained in use until 1998; this was illuminated by an acetylene lamp until the station was electrified in 1976, but this was replaced along with the automation process, by 2 banks of Sealed Beam Units, giving the character of one flash every 5 seconds, which is visible for 25 Nautical Miles.

One of the more modern features, easily noticed about the Lighthouse is the radar antenna mounted around the lantern roof, on a purpose built gallery. This was installed after the Lighthouse's automation to give Differential GPS readings; one of several GPS station's that the Northern Lighthouse Board maintain.

Between the 1930s, and the automation of the Flannan Lighthouse in 1971, Butt of Lewis acted as a radio link to the keepers stationed at the remote island Lighthouse.

A fog signal, which was a red trumpet atop a white tower, roughly half the height of the Lighthouse, stood in-front of the Lighthouse until being discontinued on the 31st of March 1995, after which it was demolished.

The keeper's houses now act as holiday accommodation and the Light is monitored remotely from the Edinburgh.

One of the areas claims to fame is that gusts of up to 92 knots/106 mph have been recorded at the Butt of Lewis and at one time it held the record for the highest recorded windspeed in Britain, making it the Ideal place for Europe's biggest wind farm, which if plans go ahead, will cover the whole top half of the Isle of Lewis, between the Butt and Stornoway - obviously this is heavily opposed by local residents, as many of the small settlements would then be effectively in the middle of a power-station site.


Play Video