Ruvaal (Rubh 'A' Mhail)
The Ruvaal, Rhuvaal, or Rubh'a' Mhàil Lighthouse is a listed 19th century lighthouse, located at the north-eastern end of the island of Islay, in the Inner Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland. The active lighthouse marks the northern approaches to the Sound of Islay a narrow channel separating Islay from the adjacent island of Jura, and is one of the seven lighthouses operated by the Northern Lighthouse Board, which act as maritime aids to navigation on and around Islay.
The light was first exhibited on 1 January 1859. It was fixed, 2nd class dioptric light. There have always been deer around Ruvaal Lighthouse and it is not usual to find them feeding inside the station grounds at night.
On 16 February 1981 the lighthouse helicopter "KILO PAPA" was engaged on work with "Highland Cables", a company contracted to put the mains power line out to Ruvaal from Bunnahabhainn, a distance of about 4 miles. The first two poles had been successfully landed in place at the lighthouse end of the line, when the helicopter attempting to land the third, struck the pole with the main rotor cutting the top section off the pole and destroying the rotor. The helicopter then crashed, ending up with the broken stump of pole lying across the tail boom. The pilot had a remarkable escape.
A new lighting system consisting of a gearless pedestal with catadioptric sealed beam lamp arrays was installed in 1982. The gearless pedestal uses a low-voltage rotary mechanism which suits a wide range of power supplies, and the lamp units are light, produce a good beam for a very low input, and being sealed in a vacuum, do not deteriorate or tarnish. The lamps are mass produced and look rather like car headlights. The apparatus is convenient to install and maintain, and the cleaning of the lighthouse is much easier, with no lenses to polish and no machinery to oil.
In the autumn of 1981, the lightkeeper's life was lit up on Ruvaal by the introduction of helicopter reliefs at this station. This meant that adverse weather conditions no longer played a major part in the relief of the lighthouse. The lighthouse was subsequently automated in 1983.
The need for lights near the sound had been identified as early as 1835 by Robert Stevenson, with the Board of Trade requesting that the light should cover the Neva Rocks to the west. This requirement meant that a substantial tower was required. It was designed by the brothers David Stevenson and Thomas the sons of Robert, from the notable Stevenson lighthouse engineering family.
Construction started in 1857 and it was completed in 1859. The total cost was £6,500 (equivalent to £587,184 as of 2015). The lighthouse consists of a brick 34-metre-high (112 ft) cylindrical white washed tower, supporting the lantern and single gallery. It has 158 steps to the top pf the tower. Sandstone was used to construct the window and door openings. The architecture of the long keeper’s cottages was criticised in a report from 1861 as looking 'more like dog kennels than anything else'.
Access to the lighthouse has always been difficult due to its remote location, bringing in supplies and relief keepers was eased by the use of helicopters in the 1980s. Helicopters were also used to help in construction of an overhead electricity line to the site in 1981. One helicopter crashed during the project, but thankfully the pilot survived the accident.
The new supply meant that a sealed beam electric lighting unit could be installed in 1982, and the light was automated the following year. The keepers were withdrawn and the cottages were sold, which are now private property.
The tower and its light are still operated and maintained by the Northern Lighthouse Board.
The original 3rd order fresnel optic was preserved and now forms part of a garden feature at Colonsay House on the nearby island of Colonsay.
Character: Fl(3) W 15s 45m 19M
(fl. 1.0s - ec. 2,0s)
|Engineer||David Lillie Stevenson (1815-1886)|
|Thomas Stevenson (1818-1887)|
|Latitude||55°56.178' N, 06°07.394' W|
|Established||1 January 1859|
|Character||Flashing(3) White every 15 secs.|
|Range||35.2 km / 19 nM|
|Tower||34 meters, 158 steps to top of the tower|
|Elevation||45 meters above sea level|
|Authority||Northern Lighthouse Board|
|Remarks||Cat.B listed - nr: 12117 - 20/07/1971|