Worldwide Lighthouses

Kinnaird Head (Old) Lighthouse

Kinnaird Head (Old)

General Information


Established: 1787

Current Lighthouse Built: 1824

Height: 22 Metres (72.18 Feet)

Operator: Museum of Scottish Lighthouses

Designer: Robert Stevenson

Light Information


White: Nautical Miles

The first Lighthouse on Kinnaird Head in Fraserburgh, where the coast makes a sharp bend towards the approach to the Moray Firth, was built atop its now iconic but then abandoned and derelict castle in 1787 by the Northern Lighthouse Board (which in those days would have been known as 'The Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses')

The stone tower was probably already a major landmark in the area, used as a sort of daymark by local fishermen and was probably one of the bigger buildings in the area.

At the time, lighthouses had not yet received any kind of definite design and all were quite different - for the Northern Lighthouse Board, this was its first Lighthouse, so the best technology of the time was used. A small glass lantern was installed on the roof by Mr Thomas Smith, who was to (with his sun-in-law; Robert Stevenson) start off the best known line of Lighthouse Builders in the world, responsible for building almost all of Scotland's lighthouses.

The tower provided keepers housing and was at first staffed by just one man, later changed to two.

The 17 lamps used in the lantern were each powered by Whale Oil and remained fixed, giving a white beam visible for 12 to 14 miles in clear weather.

In 1824 Robert Stevenson redesigned the Lighthouse, giving the station much of its appearence today, with the common black and gold lantern seen on most Scottish Lighthouses. More alteration were made in 1902 with the addition of a more up to date hectical lantern, a hyperradial lens (still in place), additional keepers housing outside the tower, a fog signal and engine room as well as a large courtyard. In addition to the fog signal, a radio beacon sending out a signal regually, used in a similar way to a fog horn, was introduced in 1929 and was the first Radio Beacon in scotland; the square concrete base of the mast it would have been supported by can be seen near the fog horn.

During the war, the Lighthouse remained largely undamaged and only sustained some temporary and repairable damage, when a bomb was dropped 45 metres from the Lighthouse. As a result of the blast, "3 Lantern panes were destroyed, the radio beacon cable was cut and 41 panes of glass used for the windows in the keepers houses, as well as some of the window frames were destroyed, 1 sliding bolt of the balcony door was broken and the ceiling of the Supernumerary Keeper's house cracked and the First Assistant's kitchen roof also collapsed.

The fog signal was discontinued in 1987, but all of its machinary and air tanks have remained intact and have been well preserved since.

During the Automation Programme of Scottish Lighthouses, it was decided that the lighthouse should be left in an un-automated state and donated to the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses, which is next door to the tower. A small automatic light was built in 1991 and the old Lighthouse was discontinued permanently.

The modern light infront of the tower is now controlled by the Northern Lighthouse Board in Edinburgh, just as the original light was when it was first built.

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