Douglas Seafront

Lighthouses of the Isle of Man

In Salutem Omnium
For the Safety of All
Douglas - Seafront
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© Composted by:
Bob Schrage
updated: 09-01-2019

Chicken Rock

History In 1855, the Lord Commissioners of the Admiralty requested the observations of the Commissioners on the establishment of a light - other than a Harbour Light - at Douglas Harbour, in the Isle of Man. A request also came from a Mr Cabbin (presumably of the local Harbour Authority) to have a light established at Douglas Harbour. From information gleaned from a Parliamentary Report, it appeared that a light did exist at Douglas, but that it had, for some unknown reason, not been exhibited since 1850. There were originally two lights: one on the pier, which had to remain a harbour light and the second light on Douglas Head, this light being the only sea light between the Calf of Man and Point of Ayre, distance of 40 miles. Prior to 1857, the light at Douglas Head was under the jurisdiction of the Commissioners of Douglas Harbour from which date the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouse took over Douglas Head Lighthouse. The name Douglas Head means Blackstream, (Dubh - black and Glais - stream). Some manx men maintain it was derived from two rivers, the Dubh and Glas, the black and the green of Greu Rivers. The lighthouse was automated in 1986.

No trace now remains of Stevenson's Douglas Head Lighthouse at the entrance to Douglas Harbour on the Isle of Man. It stopped exhibiting a light after 1850 and when the Northern Lighthouse Board assumed responsibility, it was demolished and replaced by a new tower built in 1857-59 by his sons David and Thomas. associated engineer David Alan Stevenson date 1892 era Victorian | category Lighthouse | reference SC390747 ICE reference number HEW 833 photo Paul Dunkerley The white tower of Douglas Head lighthouse is a familiar sight to visitors to the Isle of Man. It is situated to the south east of Douglas Harbour. The present tower is the second on the site — both are linked to the famous Stevenson family of lighthouse builders. The first light on this site was established by the Isle of Man Harbour commissioners, 1832-3. The tower was designed by brothers David and Thomas Stevenson, sons of Robert Stevenson. It rose 31.7m above high water mark and was allegedly visible from Blackpool Tower, more than 100km away across the Irish Sea, although its official reach was 24km. It seems the light was unlit after 1850 and its loss was felt, as the need for a light prompted the transfer of responsibility to the Northern Lighthouse Board (1st August 1859), based in Edinburgh. The commissioners of the Board had a new tower built, possibly because the old structure was unsound. They seem to have built it right alongside the old one, which was demolished. The second tower is most likely by David Alan Stevenson, David's son, and was completed in 1892. David Alan had been working on the two Isle of Man Point of Ayre lighthouses (1890-91). The lighthouse is 20m high and sits at an elevation of 32m. Various buildings and a wall surround it. The light was automated in 1986.

The name Douglas means 'Blackstream' (Dubh -black and Glais -stream. Some Manx people believe the name was derived from two rivers, the Dhoo and the Glass, the black and green streams of the Greu river.

Douglas Head Lighthouse is a lighthouse at Douglas Head on the Isle of Man located between England and Ireland. The lighthouse was established in 1857, although the vicinity was under the control of the Isle of Man Harbour Board from 1832. It was made by the engineering brothers David and Thomas Stevenson.

The total elevation is 32 meters above sea-level. The white tower is 20 meters in height and its base is at an elevation of 12 meters. The lighthouse staircase has 71 steps and the light has an average range of 24 nautical miles (44 km). The lantern is composed of eight brilliant reflectors made of pure silver built in 1831. The light flashes white every ten seconds.

In 1855 the Lord Commissioners of the Admiralty requested the installation of a lighthouse in addition to the harbor light at Douglas Harbour. A parliamentary report at the time revealed that the light already existing in Douglas had been out of operation since 1850. There were originally two lighthouses, one on the pier, which had to remain a harbour light, and the Douglas Head Lighthouse. The Douglas Head Lighthouse is the only sea light between the Calf of Man and the Point of Ayre - about 64 kilometers away. After the establishment of the new lighthouse in 1857, jurisdiction transferred from the Commissioners of Douglas Harbour to the Commissioners of the Northern Lighthouse. The lighthouse is still run to this day by the Commissioners of the Northern Lighthouse, who also operate the Northern lighthouse on the Isle of Man.

The lighthouse became automated in 1986. Recently, a new public footpath was constructed by the Commissioners from the top of Port Skillion down to the Lighthouse for the benefit and enjoyment of tourists and sightseers.

Douglas Head Lighthouse before 1982 The lighthouse before 1892
Structural problems required the lighthouse to be rebuilt in 1892. The foghorn, known locally as 'Moaning Minnie', was added in 1908. It caused many complaints in Douglas, and it was later moved around the head to reduce the upset it caused to local people.

The tower is 12-metre high. The light has two double banked units of twelve lamps mounted facing in opposite directions, rotated by an AGA PRB21 Gearless Drive Unit operating at three revolutions-per-minute, thus giving a flash in any given direction every ten seconds.

Only eight out of the twelve lamps on each face are used in normal operation. They are rated at 30 volts 200 watts, but run at 25 volts 150 watts to provide increased service life. The other four lamps are 6 volts 28.5 watts and are used only as emergency lamps. Such emergencies may be loss of mains electric power or, far less likely, the complete failure of the main lamp banks. The four lamps in each of the two main banks are connected in series, which gives each unit the same intensity; however, if one lamp fails, all four in that bank go out. The four emergency lamps on each face are also connected in series in sets of two. Power is provided by emergency batteries. The emergency light is a 200 millimeters lantern mounted on the balcony rail.

The kighthouse is fully automated since 1986, the light is monitored by the Northern Lighthouse Commissioners at their Northern Lighthouse Board Monitoring Centre in Edingbourgh. Initially after automatation an attendant from the Northern Board would visit the lighthouse on a fortnightly basis to test system procedures and the general physical condition of the building. However, since September 2004, the Retained Lighthouse Keeper of the Isle of Man has replaced the attendant and visits now on a monthly basis. In addition, lighthouse technicians visit the Douglas Head Light once or twice annually to modify and update the system equipment if necessary.

Douglas Head 1832 Built by Douglas Harbour Commissioners Fixed white light with 8 reflectors. 1859 Transferred to Northern Lighthouse Board 1892 Complete rebuild 11/4/1892 Start made to demolish lighthouse houses New tower built and equipped. 1/11/1892 After old light was extinguished,lantern and equipment removed tower demolished to a level 10 foot below level of lantern New tower and light bought into operation that evening. Old tower then completely demolished and new houses built Lightkeepers and families resided in Douglas until building works completed Dioptic 2nd order lens FL(6) 30 secs 6 bulls eye lens plus 180 degree dioptric spherical mirror lens prism 2003 Dioptric apparatus by Barbier & Co (Paris) 4 wick concentric burner wind every 30 minutes Originally had a wick light but sometime after 1903 a Paraffin Vapour Burner was installed 1979 250 watt Mercury Vapour lamp replaces Chance Brothers 55mm pv burner Clockwork drive retained 1/4/1986 Automated AGA PRB21A Gearless drive + Sealed Beam array installed FL 10 sec Range 24 miles 18/1/18 Sealite Lanterns Type SL-300-1D5-2 Range 15 miles Residential property sold 1908 Reed Type Fog signal established All building and running expenses including salary of a new second assistant keeper met by Isle of Man Harbour Board. Shows where original fog signal was moved about 120 yards after complaints about "Moaning Minnie" (pre-1912?) Diaphone-Position 2003 1938 New Fog Signal installed at a cost of about £2,000 to Douglas Harbour Board Plus maintenance charges of about £300 per year 1938 Fog Signal in the square outbuilding. 1938 Lister engines two (18/2 series) Diesel engines run on a paraffin/oil mix (4 gallons paraffin to ½ pint of oil) Reavell compressors Diaphone Every 20 sec. 1975 Discontinued. PLK house/Engineroom reverts to Isle of Man Harbour Board


Character: Fl W 10s 32m 24M
(fl. 0.5s - ec. 9,5s)

EngineerRobert Stevenson (1772-1850)
NewDavid Lillie Stevenson (1815-1886)
Thomas Stevenson (1818-1887)

Lat, Lon54°08.599' N, 04°27.947' W

Character Flashing White every 10 sec.
Range44.4 km / 24 nM
Tower20 meters, 71 steps to top of the tower
Elevation32 meter above sealevel
Fog horn1908, localy named - 'Monaining Minnie'

AuthorityNorthern Lighthouse Board

Douglas Head Lighthouse
Douglas Head Lighthouse
Douglas Head
Douglas Head

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