Sunday 13th January comments: The Beacon light had served the Isle of May well for 179 years but gradually it limitations were proving decisive. Following the tragedy of two Royal Navy boats which had wrecked in 1810, the Northern Lighthouse Board (NLB) finally took note and took action.
In 1814 the Board purchased the Isle of May from the Duke and Duchess of Partland and called on their engineer Robert Stevenson to design and build a new lighthouse on the island. Construction work commenced soon after and by early 1816, the main lighthouse was fully complete and operational. During this time, the old Beacon was decommissioned and reduced to the ground floor but remained for historical context.
The main lighthouse was an impressive building, standing 78ft (24 metres) in height and was a showpiece for the Northern Lighthouse Board with its castellated tower reflecting influences of Sir Walter Scott. Unlike many other lighthouses built on wave swept rocks, Robert Stevenson was allowed to build the lighthouse to a grand design with a fine open-well newel stairway complete with mahogany handrail and carpet; the only carpeted lighthouse in Scotland.
From its roots in 1816, the lighthouse still stands and is still fully operational to this day beaming across the Firth of Forth. We’ll continue to bring the story of the lighthouses of the island as over the following 202 years the lighthouse saw some action…