Rattray Head Lighthouse
The unusual looking Lighthouse at Rattray Head was built in 1895 to mark the Rattray Briggs, following failed experiments to light the hazard using a red sector light shown from the Lighthouse at Buchan Ness.
Trinity House originally advised the Northern Lighthouse Board to just mark the Briggs with a bell-buoy and were against the idea of building a Lighthouse, however the NLB instead decided to go against this advice and build the Lighthouse seen today.
The interesting structure was designed by the NLB's engineer in chief: David Alan Stevenson and owes its unusual granite island-like base to the installation of the first offshore fog siren. The large hollow block housed all of the horn's workings and the engine room, as well as added strength to the above tower, by utilizing its tapering design to deflect waves.
In front of the white tower there was originally a large red trumpet, but this was removed along with its machines around the time the Lighthouse was made automatic.
The whole Lighthouse is 34 metres in height. Metal rungs built into the granite base lead up to the door of the white painted Tower, which stands on a platform known as the 'quarter deck', on which the large red fog horn was also mounted, in-front of the tower. From this stage, 64 stone steps lead up to the top of the tower, via the keeper's accomadation and eventually the lantern room.
Inside the Lantern is a set of Sealed Beam units that rotate and give a group of 3 white flashes every 30 seconds, visible up to a range of 24 nautical miles.
The light was electrified with the addition of an under-sea cable out to the tower, being laid in 1977. The Light was made fully automatic by 1982, resulting in the removal of much of the original machinery, including the original Fresnel Lens, which is on display in the Aberdeen Maritime Museum.
During WWII, Rattray Head was circled by an enemy plane, which dropped 3 bombs on the site, of which only 2 detonated. The tower was machine-gunned and the Lantern damaged slightly, although it did not impair the efficiency or opperation of the Light, which remained active. None of the keepers were injured in the enemy attack.
On the shore, enroute to the Lighthouse there is a block of old keeper's cottages where the keepers were housed when off-station and where their families lived permanently.