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Lighthouses of the Isle of Man

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© Composted by:
Bob Schrage
updated: 08-01-2019

Calf of Man



Calf of Man and Calf of Man Stevenson's Calf of Man Lighthouse, on an islet off the south west tip of the Isle of Man, has twin towers — high light and low light — to illuminate Chicken Rock to the south. In 1869-74, it was replaced by a lighthouse on Chicken Rock itself, built by Stevenson's sons David and Thomas, which began shining in 1875 and is still operational. From 1874, the original lighthouse was used as a shore station for Chicken Rock.

Calf of Man (Manx: Yn Cholloo), is a 250 ha island, off the southwest coast of the Isle of Man. It is separated from the Isle of Man by a narrow stretch of water called the Calf Sound. Like the nearby rocky islets of Chicken Rock and Kitterland, it is part of the parish of Rushen. It has only two seasonal inhabitants. The word 'calf' derives from the Old Norse word 'kalfr' which means a small island lying near a larger one. It is possible to reach the Calf of Man by boat from both Port Erin and Port St Mary. Cow Harbour and South Harbour are the main landing places. The highest part of the island is in the west where an unnamed peak reaches 128 meters above sea level.

Until 1939 the island was under private ownervessel by the Keig family, but the island was purchased by Mr F J Dickens of Silverdale, Lancashire who then donated it to the National Trust to become a bird sanctuary. In 1951 the Manx National Trust was established, which became Manx National Heritage. In 2006 Manx National Heritage employed the charity Manx Wildlife Trust as the Calf Warden Service Provider, but it retains ownervessel. The island has been a bird observatory since 1959 and welcomes visits from volunteers and ornithologists. The observatory is able to accommodate up to eight visitors in basic self-catering accommodation which can be booked through Manx National Heritage.

Calf of Man, lower lighthouse one of two built by Robert Stevenson in 1818 to steer vessels clear of Chicken Rock. Now disused. The Calf of Man and its offshore rocks have no fewer than four lighthouses: two lighthouses were built in 1818 by Robert Stevenson to warn mariners of the hazards of the Chicken Rocks off the south end of the Calf. These were replaced in 1875 by a lighthouse built on the Chicken Rocks themselves. In 1968, a third lighthouse was built on the Calf after a severe fire destroyed the Chicken Rocks light. The Chicken Rocks lighthouse was later rebuilt. There are two minor, unfenced roads on the island and two very short streams.

Between the Isle of Man and the Calf is the islet of Kitterland, while the islets of Yn Burroo and The Stack lie close to the Calf's shore. The southern shore of the island encloses a small bay called The Puddle. Almost a mile southwest of the Calf is Chicken Rock, the most southerly part of the Isle of Man's territory.

Calf of Man is home to a breeding population of Manx shearwaters, a seabird which derives its name from its presence in Manx waters. The Calf of Man also has a large colony of seals which live and breed on the rocky coastline.

Calf of Man 3

Place of the lighthouse

A proposal for the construction of a Lighthouse on the Calf of Man was first put forward by the Merchants of Liverpool during the last century. Both Trinity House and the Northern Lighthouse Board were asked to investigate the probable cost and the dues to be levied on the vesselping passing the light and having studied the figures, the Association of vesselowners of Liverpool requested the Isle of Man as necessary. In 1818 Lighthouses came into operation on the Calf of Man and Point of Ayre. There were in fact two lighthouses on the Calf so placed that the line of their lights pointed towards the submerged rock off the southern extremity of the island known as Chicken Rock. Thus these dangerous waters were marked for a period of nearly 60 years when the Northern Lighthouse Commissioners approved a recommendation to build a light tower on the Chicken Rock itself and authorised their Engineers, David and Thomas Stevenson, to proceed with the work in 1869. The tower, built in the tradition of the Bell Rock and Skerryvore Lighthouse (granite quarried Dalbeattie, Kirkcudbrightshire) was completed and brought into operation in 1875 and the two lighthouses on the Calf then fell into disuse. In December 1960 the Chicken Rock light tower was damaged by fire and after due consideration the Commissioners decided to convert its light to automatic operation and to construct a new and very much more powerful lighthouse and fog signal on the Calf close to the position of the old ruin towers. The Calf of Man lighthouse was first exhibited in 1968 and his Excellency, Lieutenant Governor of the Isle of Man, Sir Peter Stallard KC MG CVO MBE, performed the official opening ceremony on 24 July 1968. The light is a sealed beam unit mounted on a gearless pedestal, which is driven by a low voltage slow speed motor. The Calf of Man actually uses twelve headlamps which have an effective range of 28 miles. The fog horn is an air operated signal of the "typhon" type where compressed air produces a sound by means of vibrating diaphgrams. The turning of the opening of the valves for this to give the correct characters and the opening of the valves themselves is done electrically. The air is also compressed using vane-type compressors. Like the lights, each fog horn has an individual characteristic for identification purposes. The electric power for both domestic and services is supplied by three 18 kw generator sets any one of which is capable of supplying the full station load. One set runs continuously so there is always a supply of electricity at the standard 240 V. Should there be a complete breakdown of the electrical supply, the light can be operated at a reduced power (of about 176,000 candles) from batteries for a period of up to 30 hours. The name is from the Gaelic, Colbha, Calf Island. Quite common on the West Coast and usually applied to small offshore islands. The Calf of Man was automated in 1995. In January 2005, the three General Lighthouse Authorities (GLAs) of the UK and Ireland issued a consultation document following a joint review of Aids to Navigation of the coasts of the United Kingdom and Ireland. The Review addressed the current and future requirements of national and international vesselping and those of Mariners. Each Aid to Navigation - light, buoy or beacon - was studied in isolation, as well as in relation to the other Aids to Navigation in its vicinity. In the case of the Isle of Man full consultation took place with Isle of Man Department of Transport (Harbours) and Isle of Man Users. As a result of this review it was agreed to extend the range of the lighthouse at Chicken Rock to 21 miles and to discontinue the Calf of Man lighthouse. Other decisions affecting Isle of Man aids to navigation were to discontinue the fog signals at Chicken Rock, Calf of Man and Point of Ayre; this took place in 2005. Project work to upgrade the Chicken Rock light has been ongoing since September 2006, and during this time a temporary light has operated. Work at the Chickens was finally complete and the light showed its new range of 21 nautical miles with effect from 13 June 2007. As a result of this upgrade, and to avoid any confusion between two long range lights in close proximity, the lighthouse at the Calf of Man was permanently discontinued with effect from 21 June 2007

AXXXX - High Light

Character: (discont.)

EngineerRobert Stevenson (1772-1850)

Lat, Lon54°03.240' N, 04°49.685' W

Established1818
AutomatedNever
Character????
Range48 km / 26 nM
Tower11 meters
Elevationxx meters above sea level
Fog hornTyphoon type

StatusDiscontinued 1875
AuthorityManx National Heritage
Remarks.....

AXXXX - Low Light

Character: (discont.)

EngineerRobert Stevenson (1772-1850)

Lat, Lon54°03.151' N, 04°49.736' W

Established1818
AutomatedNever
Character????
Range48 km / 26 nM
Tower11 meters
Elevationxx meters above sea level
Fog hornTyphoon type

StatusDiscontinued 1875
AuthorityManx National Heritage
Remarks.....

AXXXX - New Light

Character: (discont.)

EngineerPeter H. Hyslop

Lat, Lon54°03.201' N, 04°49.749' W

Established1968
Automated1995
CharacterFormer: Flashing White every 15 s.
Range48 km / 26 nM
Tower11 meters, 36 steps to top of the tower
Elevation93 meters above sea level
Fog hornDiscontinued in 2005

StatusDiscontinued 21 June 2007
AuthorityManx National Heritage
Remarks.....

Calf of Man
Calf of Man
Calf of Man
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