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Eilean Glas (Old) Lighthouse

Eilean Glas (Old)

General Information


Established: 1789

Current Lighthouse Built: 1789

Height: 7.6 Metres (24.93 Feet)

Operator: Friends of Eilean Glas

Designer: Thomas Smith

Light Information


White: Nautical Miles

The short often unnoticed light-tower on Scalpay's Eliean Glas is a small 7.6 metre high tower built by Thomas Smith; one of the first four Lighthouses to have been built in Scotland.

The tower was commisioned by the Northern Lighthouse Board in 1787, which was at the time known as the Northern Lighthouse Trustees and work was due to start on construction work in that year, although

The owner of Scalpay: Captain Alex McLeod of Harris was requested to involve local land-owner Mr Campbell, who to provide workers and materials for building the lighthouse as well as supervise the work on the site. The trustees responded to campbell by only requiring him for the materials, as the Trustees intended for their own skilled masons and craftsmen to build the Light Station. Work on the project fell behind and by 1787 very little work had taken place other than the laying of foundations, so to avoid delay of another year's duration Macleod told Mr Campbell to start work on the tower. Work was started by Campbell's men as the Trustee's men were still building a Lighthouse at Mull of Kintyre. By 1789 work the first 2 metres of the tower had been Campbell's workers.

When Thomas Smith and his engineers eventually arrived, he found that the tower had been built over 1 metre wider than on the plans, by accident. To save time the tower was built with this larger diameter. Work was eventually completed by the Trustees workers in 1789 and with the lighting apparatus having been installed over the summer, the light was exhibited for the first time on 10th October.

Alexander Reid, the Lighthouse's first keeper was described by Thomas Smith as "weatherbeaten and stiff by long exposure on the Point of Glas", upon being pensioned off by the board in 1823, with the annual pay of forty guineas. (£25,676 as of 2012)

Originally a lantern stood atop the tower, but this was removed and covered by a roof when the new tower was built. Along with the building of the tower, several storage buildings and a pier were also constructed at the site, owing to its remoteness; these have been fully restored and served the new Lighthouse until around the time at which the station was automated in 1978. Keepers would have been relieved and supplies delivered to this quay throughout most of the station's history, although the site is now serviced and maintained via helicopter.

Recently;f During an attack on the site made by vandals, 66 were broken at the station, as were several in this tower and in 2005 a mini hurricane -a rare occurrence in Britain- managed to destroy much of the roof, leaving the insides open to the elements; the vandalism, which was covered by the community-owned trust's insurance on the Lighthouse made premiums so high that the site was no-longer insurable, which means that the tower was not able to be restored; this trust now depends on donations.

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