Tod Head
Tod Head lighthouse
photos: © Ian Cowe

East Coast

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Tod Head

Under Construction

Place of the lighthouse

The Lighthouse

Description Dated 1897. David A Stevenson, Engineer. Circular entasised column with corbelled gallery and lantern dome. Harl with exposed dressings. Statement of Special Interest The light was converted to electric in 1973 and automated in 1986. In 2007 the light was decommission and the optic system including machine with clockwork mechanism and lens were removed and donated to the National Museum of Scotland.

The lighthouse building is listed as being of Architectural/Historic interest. The name Tod Head could be from Gaelic, Toedhadh, warm, simmering as in Tod Burn, ie the warm burn in West Lothian; but it is more likely to be from Tod, old Lowland Scots for Fox, ie Fox Head, known to have been used in 1170. Board of Trade sanction to build a lighthouse and fog signal at Tod Head was given on 8 November 1894. The light was first exhibited on 20 December 1897 and the fog signal came into operation on 28 April 1898. There have been many changes since then. In 1973 the light was changed to a large wattage electric lamp installed in place of the paraffin vapour burner and the lens is driven by duplicate electric motors. The controls for these and the generator, which will start up if the mains fails, is housed in a new engine room. An electric foghorn was also installed and is controlled by a fog detector which will automatically cause the fog signal to sound when visibility falls below a certain range. This was discontinued in 1987. The lighthouse was automated in 1988. 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. As a result of this review it was agreed to discontinue the light at Tod Head, which only served as a 'waypoint' rather than to mark a specific hazard. Tod Head was therefore permanently discontinued with effect from 11 July 2007. It should be noted that at some sites the Northern Lighthouse Board have sold some redundant buildings within the lighthouse complex and are not responsible for the maintenance of these building. Under construction The history of Todhead Lighthouse dates back to the 8 November 1894 when the Board of Trade authorised the building of a lighthouse and a fog horn at Todhead. The Stevenson family oversaw the building work and this was by David A. Stevenson with the building work being undertaken by John Mitchell & Sons of Edinburgh. Todhead Lighthouse was switched on on the 20 December 1897. The 3,000,000 candlelight power light had a range of 18 miles and flashed every 30 seconds and there are 48 stairs up to the top of Todhead Lighthouse. The foghorn would sound during foggy nights and when the Scottish haar rose until 1987. The fog signal was first used on the 28 April 1898. From its early days until 1973 paraffin vapour was used to light Todhead Lighthouse. Electricity was thereafter used and Todhead Lighthouse was automated in 1988 with a new engine room. Because Todhead Lighthouse is a waypoint navigation between Montrose Lighthouse and Aberdeen Girdleness Lighthouse it was finally decommissioned on the 11 July 2007. Aboutaberdeen think the external buildings were then sold. Scottish Lighthouse The area of Todhead or Tod Head is thought to come from the Gaelic word of Toedhadh which means warm and simmering though it could also come from the old Scots word Tod which means fox.

Tod Head


Character: (Discont. Fl(4) W 30s.)

Tod Head lighthouse
(click to enlarge the map)

Engineer: David Alan Stevenson (1854-1938)

Lat, Lon: 56°53.025' N, 002°12.918' W

Established: December 20, 1897
Character: Was Fl(4) White every 30 secs.
Range: Was 18 NM ~ 33.3 km
Elevation: 41 meters above sealevel
Tower: 20 meters
Init. Costs: £ ?.
Econ. Costs*: £ ?.
*) According to:

Automated: 1988
Last Keepers: ? - PLK
: ? - ALK
: ? - ALK
Fog horn: April 1898, Siren 1973 Electric
: (4 blasts in 90 s.)
: Discontinued 1987

Status: Discontinued 11 July 2007
Authority: Northern Lighthouse Board
Remarks: Candle power 300.000 cd
: Cat.B - LB9535 - 18/08/1972

Tod Head lighthouse
Tod Head from the sea

Tod Head lighthouse
Tod Head from the land

Tod Head lighthouse
Tod Head in early times

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