Place of the lighthouseDescription Early 20th century. 2 storey. Circular tower with corbelled, crenellated parapet; small single storey square tower also with crenellated parapet stands to North West side, harled with exposed dressings. Statement of Special Interest Landmark. In the very early part of the 20th century there was pressure on the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouse Board for the erection of a lighthouse on Elie Ness a promontory of land on the North coast of the Firth of Forth between the Isle of May and Inchkeith. Mariners of all nationalities were here for and their main argument was that in bad weather, from Elie Ness, they cannot be seen the light on Isle of May or on Inchkeith.
At that time was the Engineer to the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses, David Alan Stevenson B.Sc. F.R.S.E. M.Inst. CE, grandson of Robert Stevenson (known of the Bell Rock) and cousin of Robert Louis Stevenson (writer).
In his New Works 1907-8 report, Mr. Stevenson expressed the need to place a lighthouse at Elie Ness. This light would undoubtedly be of great help to vessels reaching the Firth of Forth entrance. There was also a problem with the large number of port and coast lights and increased traffic to ports on the coast of Fife, Elie Ness is an important point on the coastline.
The Commissioners approached Trinity House in 1906 and on 17th October approval of Trinity House was received to go ahead with the plans. On 30th January 1907 the General Lighthouse Authority (GLA) meeting gave approval for the new lighthouses. President of the Board of Trade at this time was David Lloyd George MP (later Liberal Prime Minister) and he made the final decision of approval to erect a light by Elie Ness.
September 1907 permission from the Admiralty was received to approach Coast Guard to become attendant. 16th October 1907 the financial terms were agreed with HM Coast Guard and Reserves from Edinburgh that the Coast Guardsmen stationed at Elie would become attendants of the light.
This allowed the power of light to be increased from 2.000 to 20.000 candle power and employed a revolving optical apparatus and fixed acetylene light showing a character of 1 flash every 6 seconds. This is still the character of the light.
Trinity House gaved their approval to this lighting in November 1907. On 21st October 1907 after a discussion with Mr Jamieson Factor for Elie Estate, on whose land the Beacon would stand, its position agreed as Lat. 56° 11′ 5″ North. Long. 2° 48′ 50″ West. This position was locally referred to by some locals as the Fish Rock. Mr Stevenson had originally chosen the high ground of Elie Ness on 'Shepherds Law' as place for the two structures. This position was rejected by Mr Baird owner of Elie Estate because this land was cultivated, so the area locally known as the Fish Rock is agreed.
On 24th October 1907 James Lawrie Builders Anstruther was chosen by tender to erect Elie Ness Tower and the Gas Room. Work commenced in December 1907 and the buildings were completed by June 1908. Then work commenced on installing the equipment and lighting apparatus.
This consisted of the following parts:
- Lantern and Machine: Messrs J Dove and Co. Edinburgh.
- Acetylene Plant: Messrs W Moyes and Co. Glasgow.
- Apparatus: Chance Bros. Co. Ltd. Birmingham.
In the Notice to Mariners No. 9 of 1908 stated that on 1st October an unguarded Beacon Light will be exhibited from Elie Ness, showing a "Flashing White Light" – one flash every six seconds, visible all round the horizon. By order of C. Dick Peddie secretary the light had been on trial, for several months and was officially lit to support Mariner on 1st October 1908. Mr Stevenson reported in 1909 that “the light is a powerful one and is giving satisfaction to sailors”. The cost of the light was reported as £978-4s-3d.
The light remained a calcium carbide and acetylene gas till it is connected to mains electric in July 1959. At that time the lantern room was taken away and the tower altered to as it stands now. Back up the light were batteries and in 1964 a single acetylene cylinder to gas lantern (buoy type) was installed as additional backup. Full time Coast Guard attendants ceased at Elie in 1969. Local man Eddy Stephen was eventually appointed by the Lighthouse Board as attendant and observer. After changes to local attendants by NLB, from August 2004 the attendant for Elie Ness was he also the attendant for Tod Head, Scurdie Ness, Fife Ness and Isle of May.
Under the terms of the Merchant vesselping Act 1995 Elie Ness should have come under the jurisdiction of the local harbour Authority, Elie Harbour Trust could not take over ownervessels for financial reasons. Because it is sited within the harbour area of Forth Ports PLC, was there discussions between Northern Lighthouse Board and Forth Ports PLC, It was agreed that following an upgrade to modern technology and an increase the range of 33,3 km / 18 nM the light would be taken over by Forth Ports PLC.
Modernisation, upgrade and a full overpainting took place during 2010. Access to the lantern again being made from the inside of the tower. The upkeep of Elie Ness Lighthouse was finally taken over by Forth Ports PLC in 2013.
Character: Fl W 6s 15m 17M
(fl. 0.2s - ec. 5.8s)
|Engineer||: David Alan Stevenson (1854-1938)|
|Lat, Lon||: 56°11.037' N, 02°48.764' W|
|Established||: 1st October 1908|
|Character||: Flashing White every 6 secs.|
|Range||: 31.4 km / 17 nM|
|Elevation||: 15 meters above sealevel|
|Tower||: 11 meters|
|Init. Costs||: £ ?.|
|Econ. Costs*||: £ ?.|
|*) According to: MeasuringWorth.com|
|Last Keepers||: ? - PLK|
|: ? - ALK|
|: ? - ALK|
|Fog horn||: No|
|Authority||: Forth Ports PLC|
|Remarks||: Cat.C listed - LB8997 - 25/11/1980|
|Elie Ness Drone flight||- Toor Boy|