Elie Ness
Elie Ness lighthouse

East Coast

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Update: 23-03-2024

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Barns Ness
Bass Rock
Bell Rock
Buchan Ness
Buddon Ness
Clyth Ness
Covesea Skerry
Elie Ness
Fife Ness
Girdle Ness
Isle of May
Kinnaird Head
Noss Head
Scurdie Ness
St Abbs Head
Tarbat Ness
Tod Head

Place of the lighthouse

Elie Ness lighrthouse
Elie Ness Lighthouse
The lighthouse stands in the twin village of Elie and Earlsferry, on the north side of the Firth of Forth in County Fife. Together with the lighthouses on the Isle of May and Fidra, it provides safe passage for shipping in the Firth of Forth, from the North Sea to Edinburgh.

The lighthouse

The Northern Lights Commissioners (predecessor to the NLB) approached Trinity House with a request to build a lighthouse at Elie Ness. At the time, David Alan Stevenson was the engineer of the Northern Lighthouse Board. In his report "New Works" 1907- 8 David Alan pointed out the need to build a lighthouse at Elie Ness. The reason was that traffic in the Firth of Forth to the many ports present increased rapidly. Elie Ness was seen as an important point on the northern coastline of Fife. On January 30, 1907, Trinity House gave its approval for the new Elie Ness lighthouse.

It was customary for the NLB to appoint its own lighthouse keepers. In Elie, where HM Coastguard was present, this rule has been deviated from. In September 1907 the NLB received permission from the Admiralty to contact the HM Coast Guard about this new lighthouse. On October 16, 1907, financial agreements were made with HM Coast Guard, so that the coastguard personnel in Elie would be appointed by the NLB to become the lighthouse keepers of this lighthouse.

David Alan Stevenson had originally chosen the high ground of Elie Ness, known as 'Shepherds Law', as the site for the lighthouse. However, this place was rejected by Mr Baird, owner of Elie Estate, as this land was to be cultivated. So the area known locally as the 'Fish Rock' has been agreed upon as the site of the lighthouse.

On October 24, 1907, James Lawrie Builders of Anstruther were commissioned to build the Elie Ness Lighthouse and the adjacent Acetylene Building, where the Acetylene gas is produced which, when burned, makes the lighthouse light. Work began in December 1907 and the buildings were completed in June 1908. The lighthouse itself was a two-storey round tower with a protruding serrated parapet. The Acetylene Building was a small, one-storey square tower, also with a serrated parapet.

Warning system (lantern)

After that, the installation of the necessary equipment and lighthouse lighting was started. This equipment consisted of the following three main parts. The lighthouse lamp and associated machine supplied by the firm of J. Dove and Co. from Edinburgh. The equipment for making acetylene by W. Moyes and Co. from Glasgow. The spinning optical device was supplied by Chance Bros. Co. Ltd. from Birmingham.

Commissioned by the secretary of C. Dick Peddie, the light was shown on a trial basis for several months. The Notice to Mariners No. 9 of 1908 states that on June 1, an unattended beacon light will be seen at Elie Ness, displaying a "blinking white light" — one flash every six seconds, visible along the entire horizon. The light was officially lit on October 1, 1908. David Alan Stevenson reported in 1909 that "the light is powerful and gives sailors satisfaction". The cost of the lamp was £978-4s-3d.

The light remained a calcium carbide and acetylene gas until it was connected to the public electric power supplied in July 1959. With this modification of the lighthouse, the lantern room was also removed and the tower changed to its current state. (see also the photo in the right column). Batteries supported the light, and in 1964 a single gas lantern acetylene cylinder, such as those used on buoys, was placed as an additional backup.

Operational status

The full-time Coast Guard employees retired from Elie Ness in 1969. A local engineer was appointed by the Northern Lighthouse Board as supervisor and observer. As of August 2004, Elie Ness's Observer also became Tod Head, Scurdie Ness, Fife Ness, and Isle of May's Observer.

Under the terms of the Merchant Shipping Act of 1995, Elie Ness should have been under the jurisdiction of the local port authority. The Elie Harbour Trust was unable to take over buildings and services for financial reasons. As Elie Ness is located in the harbour area of ​​Forth Ports PLC, it was agreed that after modernization by the NLB the lighthouse would be taken over and managed by Forth Ports PLC.

This modernization, upgrade and complete repainting took place in 2010. A new access to the lantern was made from inside the tower. Maintenance of Elie Ness Lighthouse was eventually taken over by Forth Ports PLC in 2013.

Elie Ness


Character: Fl W 6s 15m 17M
(fl. 0.2s - ec. 5.8s)

Elie Ness lighthouse
Lightcharacter of Eilen Ness (click to enlarge)

Engineer: David Alan Stevenson (1854-1938)

Lat, Lon: 56°11.037' N, 002°48.764' W

Established: 1st October 1908
Character: Flashing White every 6 secs.
Range: 17 NM ~ 31.4 km
Elevation: 15 meters above sealevel
Tower: 11 meters
Init. Costs: £ 978 4s 3d.
Econ. Costs*: £ 1,075,000. (2022)
*) According to: MeasuringWorth.com

Automated: 1964
Last Keepers: ? - PLK
: ? - ALK
: ? - ALK
Fog horn: No

Status: Operationel
Authority: Forth Ports PLC (since 2013)
Remarks: Cat.C listed - LB8997 - 25/11/1980

Elie Ness lighthouse
Lighthouse with lantern room (before 1959)

Elie Ness lighthouse
Lighthouse in the dawn

Droneflight around the Elie Ness Lighthouse

Elie Ness Drone flight- Toor Boy