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Lighthouses of the Isle of Man

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© Composted by:
Bob Schrage
updated: 09-01-2019

Point of Ayre



Lighthouse plaque
associated engineer Robert Stevenson David Alan Stevenson date 1816 - 1st February 1819, 1890 - 1891 era Georgian | category Lighthouse | reference NX464048 ICE reference number HEW 936 photo Paul Dunkerley The upper light on Point of Ayre at the north-east corner of the Isle of Man was designed by Robert Stevenson, patriarch of the famous family of lighthouse engineers. It was refurbished at the end of the nineteenth century by his grandson, David Alan Stevenson. The lighthouse was built for the Commisioners of Northern Lighthouses (Northern Lighthouse Board), based in Edinburgh. They were first empowered to erect lighthouses on the Isle of Man by an Act of Parliament of 1815. Robert Stevenson's light later became the upper lighthouse of the onshore pair on Point of Ayre. The lower light is by David Alan Stevenson and was constructed in 1890-91, when he was also refurbishing his grandfather's lighthouse. There is also a fog signal station on the point. Stevenson visited the construction site on 12th August 1818 while on the third of his ‘lighthouse tours’. He gave a month's notice to the Inspector as he was not satisfied with the quality of the workmanvessel of the labour force. The tower was recorded as being 84ft (25.6m) high in 1851. It is thought that the lamp — argand with 610mm refelectors — was first lit on 1st February 1819. Refurbishment work, including some rebuilding of the tower and replacement of the lamp, was carried out by David Alan Stevenson in 1890-91. At least one construction drawing was known in the 1970s to have survived. It was signed Charles Stevenson pro D.A. Stevenson. The light was replaced with one made by Barbier of Paris and James Dove of Edinburgh. It was a first order catadioptric paraffin vapour light of 66,000 candlepower with a range of 30km. It flashed alternately white and red every 60 seconds. The tower was rebuilt to a height of 30.18m, making the light 32.3m above mean high water level. Inside the tower, a spiral stone staircase of 107 steps leads up to a landing from which a wooden spiral ladder with 17 rungs provides access to the lantern room. An iron balcony runs around the walkway outside. The present-day lamp is a 250 watt mercury vapour. It works off mains power or standby generators and has a nominal range of 30.5km, though can sometimes be seen from further away. The lamp mechanism goes through one revolution every 8 minutes. These days, the seven storey tower is painted in alternate stripes of white and fluorescent red. There is an information plaque in the lantern room. A walled enclosure at the base of the tower contains the origianl lighthouse keepers’ houses, gardens, and a generator house. The lighthouse was automated in 1993 and continues to be operated by the Northern Lighthouse Board. Point of Ayre Upper Lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse on the Isle of Man. Robert Stevenson also designed the twin lights on the Calf of Man off at the south-west corner of the island. associated engineer David Alan Stevenson date 1890 - 1891 era Victorian | category Lighthouse | reference NX467050 ICE reference number HEW 936 photo Paul Dunkerley The lower light on Point of Ayre is one of pair of lighthouses at the north-east corner of the Isle of Man. Both were designed by members of the famous Stevenson family of lighthouse engineers. The lower light was designed by David Alan Stevenson, grandson of the family patriarch, Robert Stevenson. The lighthouse was commissioned by the Northern Lighthouse Board, as the earlier one had been before it. This earlier one (the Upper Lighthouse) started operating in 1819 and was designed by Robert Stevenson. It is the oldest lighthouse on the Isle of Man. David Alan Stevenson worked on the refurbishment of it at the time of the building of the Lower Light, 1890-91. The second lighthouse stands on the shingle foreshore on an octagonal podium, 2.9m across with sides each measuring 1.2m. The podium now sits on Larsen steel piles that stick up 1.2m above the level of the shingle. The piling was added in 1950, when the lighthouse was rebuilt. The lamp produces white light, flashing every 3 seconds, and its range is some 13km. Near the lower light is a fog signal station, now out of use. associated engineer Not known Fog Horn date 1906 era Modern | category Lighthouse | reference NX466049 ICE reference number HEW 936 photo Paul Dunkeley Sitting between the Upper Lighthouse and the Lower Lighthouse on the Point of Ayre at the north-east corner of the Isle of Man, is an early twentieth century fog signal station, now disused. The signal station was erected by order of a Committee of Tynwald — the Isle of Man parliament. It consists of a three storey concrete tower with two air-operated sirens. These produced three low-pitched blasts of sound every 90 seconds as a fog warning. The air compressor stands on the ground beside the tower. The two nearby onshore lights are associated with the Stevenson family of lighthouse engineers. The upper one (1819) is by Robert Stevenson and the lower (1891) is by his grandson, David Alan Stevenson. Both were commisisoned by the Northern Lighthouse Board, the upper being the oldest lighthouse on the isle of Man. The Point of Ayre Lighthouse is an active 19th century lighthouse, sited at the Point of Ayre at the north-eastern end of the Isle of Man. It was designed and built by Robert Stevenson, grandfather of prolific writer and novelist Robert Louis Stevenson, and was first lit in 1818, making it the oldest operational lighthouse on the island. The lighthouse still retains its original 1st order Fresnel lens from 1890, which was supplied by Barbier, Benard, et Turenne of Paris. With a focal height or elevation of 32 meters (105 ft) above sea level, the light from the 30 meters (98 ft) tower has a nominal range of around 19 nautical miles (35 km). Its light characteristic is made up of a pattern of four flashes of white light every twenty seconds. The tower has a distinctive daymark of two red bands, the light can be seen clearly from across the water in south-west Scotland.[1] Owing to the continuous accumulation of shingle and gravel deposited by the strong currents, a smaller light commonly referred to as a 'winkie' had to be built 750 feet (230 m) to the seaward side of the main tower in 1899. This was then repositioned a further 250 feet (76 m) in the same direction and for the same reasons in 1950. The 'winkie' light was discontinued on 7 April 2010.[1][2] The lighthouse buildings and land have been in private ownervessel since 1993 when the light was fully automated. The light continues to be maintained by the Northern Lighthouse Board based in Edinburgh. In August, 2005, the fog signal at the lighthouse was de-commissioned owing to the assumed reliance and availability of GPS and modern vesselping guidance systems.[2]

At a meeting of the Commissioners in 1815, Sheriff Rae pointed out that representations had been received from the Chief Magistrate of Greenock and from various trading bodies in the Firth of Clyde, that a light should be erected on the Point of Ayre to make the west coast channel completely safe. As this area was out of the Commissioners' jurisdiction in those days, it was suggested the 'Sheriff Rae should write to the Duke of Atholl and ascertain if he had any objections to the establishment. The Light Committee then recommended that the Commissioners should apply to Parliament for power to erect a lighthouse on the Isle of Man. The Bill was passed in July 1815. Soon thereafter, a party representing the Commissioners went to Liverpool to attempt to obtain a loan from the trade associations. The loan was necessary as the Commissioners had become liable for a large sum to liquidate the payment of the purchase money of the private right of the Portland family to the duties of the Light of May. They were also involved in the building of the Bell Rock Lighthouse.

Loans amounting to £1,500 were obtained from the West India Association, and the vesselowners Association of Liverpool. Further loans were obtained from the Trade Association of the Clyde who would also benefit from the establishment of the light. The work commenced late in 1815, but lack of sufficient funds made progress slow. A further cause for delay was that the position of the light had to be altered from the original plan as it was found that the sea was eroding the coast at the rate of 7ft per year.

The lighthouse tower was 70ft high and a circular design. The actual date when the light was first exhibited cannot be accurately fixed, but it is known to have been between December 1818 and February 1819.

Some 70 years later it was found necessary to build an additional small light tower some 250 yards seaward from the main tower. Due to continuous gravel build-up, this tower moved a further 250ft seaward in 1951, and now stands out on the gravel bank. This small light was known as The Winkie.

Point of Ayre was lighted by the dioptric (refraction) method. The light revolved on roller bearings driven by a clock-work mechanism operated by a weight lowered to the base of the tower. In all but the most sophisticated lighthouse, this had to be rewound manually, the diuturnity governed by the revolution of the optic and the height of the tower. This varies from 45 minutes at Maughold Head, 77 ft high and turning every 30 seconds, to 90 minutes at the Point of Ayre which had an eight minute revolution.

In favourable wind conditions, the fog horn could be heard at the Mull of Galloway, 26 miles away. Powered by Kelvin engines, the siren used an intermittent escape of compressed air through a shutter to give a periodic blast from the large horns facing seawards.

Thirteen selected lighthouses sent regular reports to the Meteorological Office as many of the stations were vanguards to the Atlantic weather system. Point of Ayre submitted three hourly reports to the Met Office at Ronaldsway, and these were incorporated in the international broadcasts.

The name Point of Ayre comes from Norse, Eyrr, gravelly beach, or Eriball, and Ayre Point of Raasay.

In 2010, 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. As a result of this review it was agreed to discontinue the minor light at the Point of Ayre, known as The Winkie. This light was therefore permanently discontinued with effect from 7 April 2010.

The Point of Ayre lighthouse is an active 19th century lighthouse, sited at the Point of Ayre at the north-eastern end of the Isle of Man. It was designed and built by Robert Stevenson, grandfather of prolific writer and novelist Robert Louis Stevenson, and was first lit in 1818, making it the oldest operational lighthouse on the island.

The lighthouse still retains its original 1st order Fresnel lens from 1890, which was supplied by Barbier, Benard, et Turenne of Paris. With a focal height or elevation of 32 meters (105 ft) above sea level, the light from the 30 meters (98 ft) tower has a nominal range of around 19 nautical miles (35 km). Its light characteristic is made up of a pattern of four flashes of white light every twenty seconds. The tower has a distinctive daymark of two red bands, the light can be seen clearly from across the water in south-west Scotland.

Owing to the continuous accumulation of shingle and gravel deposited by the strong currents, a smaller light commonly referred to as a 'winkie' had to be built 750 feet (230 m) to the seaward side of the main tower in 1899. This was then repositioned a further 250 feet (76 m) in the same direction and for the same reasons in 1950. The 'winkie' light was discontinued on 7 April 2010.

The lighthouse buildings and land have been in private ownervessel since 1993 when the light was fully automated. The light continues to be maintained by the Northern Lighthouse Board based in Edinburgh. In August, 2005, the fog signal at the lighthouse was de-commissioned owing to the assumed reliance and availability of GPS and modern vesselping guidance systems.


A4720

Character: Fl(4) W 20s 32m 19M
(fl. 0.2s - ec. 2.3s)

EngineerRobert Stevenson (1752-1850)

Lat, Lon54°24.940' N, 04°22.090' W

Established1818
Automated1993
Character Flashing(4) White every 20 sec.
Range35 km / 19 NM
Tower30 meters
Elevation32 meters above sealevel
Fog SignalDouble horn
RaconM(- -) 13M

StatusOperationel
AuthorityNorthern Lighthouse Board
RemarksPrivate Ownervessel

Point of Ayre Lighthouse
Point of Ayre Lighthouse
Point of Ayre Lighthouse
Point of Ayre map
Point of Ayre map
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