Port Patrick

Lighthouses on the Southwest Coast of Scotland

In Salutem Omnium
For the Safety of All
Holy Isle near Arran
Flag of Scotland
© Compiled by:
Bob Schrage
page updated: 01-04-2021
Ailsa Craig
Cairn Point
Cloch Point
Holy Island
Lady Isle
Little Cumbrea
Little Ross
Mull of Galloway
Mull of Kintyre
Toward Point


Place of the lighthouse

The Mull of Galloway (Scottish Gaelic: Maol nan Gall, pronounced [mɯːlˠ̪ nəŋ kaulˠ̪]) is the southernmost point of Scotland. It is situated in Wigtownshire, Dumfries and Galloway. The Mull has one of the last remaining sections of natural coastal habitat on the Galloway coast and as such supports a wide variety of plant and animal species. It is now a nature reserve managed by the RSPB. Mull means rounded hill or mountain.

Gulls, gales and grandeur of cliff and sea that is unsurpassed - this is the Mull of Galloway. It's as far South as you can go in Scotland, without falling off the 80 m. cliffs.

The lighthouse at first showed "intermittent" or "occulting" lights, where two opaque cylindrical shades were moved up or down so as to meet and obscure the light at fixed intervals, with periods of darkness longer than those of light. The cost of this lighthouse was between £8,000 and £9,000. The building part of the work was done by contract, and the engineer fitted up the lightroom, getting some of the articles by contract and others made under his own supervision. The contractor responsible for the building was Brebner and Scott of Edinburgh.

Mull of Galloway

Several changes have taken place at Mull of Galloway since 1828. At one time the lamp was a combination of shining brass and sparking crystal, turning through its two and three quarter minute revolution on beautifully made rollers - so perfect that the 5 ton of lens could be moved by hand. The lamp was as simple as the familiar tilly, lit by hand with paraffin and then pumped up, for all the world like a camp-cooking stove. But there the resemblance ended for the surrounding prisms, which gave off myriad rainbows on a sunny day, caught the light and magnified it to the power of 29,000 candles.

The paraffin for the lamps, as well as other requirements of the lighthouse keepers and their families, came via vessels and were deposited at East Tarbet and stored in a stone building still in evidence to this day. These vessels were also used to move lighthouse keepers around the coastline from post to post.

Lightkeeper’s Cottage was built in 1894 when the Fog Horn was added at the Mull of Galloway. D A Stevenson, grandson of Robert Stevenson, designed the new buildings which included the keepers’ cottage, fuel store, engine room and workshop. The cottage is now available for holiday’s and short breaks and the other buildings are now home to the Exhibition of Lighthouse History.

Mull of Galloway

In 1971 Mull of Galloway was converted to electric. It is a sealed-beam light, mounted on gearless revolving pedestal, which uses a low-voltage rotary mechanism which suits a wide range of power supplies. The lamp units are light, produce a good beam for a very low power input and being sealed in a vacuum these do not deteriorate or tarnish, but the main advantage of this system is that it is almost fully automatic. The lightkeeper visited the lightroom hourly until 10pm and then did not have to go near it until extinguishing time the next morning, unless summoned by the alarm bell. The lamps are mass produced and so economical and the apparatus is convenient to install and maintain. The cleaning of the lighthouse is much easier, with no lenses to polish and no machinery to oil.

Mull of Galloway Engine room

In the early 1900s, a foghorn, with an Atlantic Paraffin engine (replaced in 1955 by three Kelvin diesel engines which remain on display in the exhibition) was introduced as an extra warning to vesselping to avoid the Mull’s rocky coastline. This was in use until 1987

During the Second World War on 8 June 1944 at 7.30pm a Beaufighter aircraft crashed into the lighthouse stores building. It was foggy at the time, and two men were killed as part of the roof of the store was blown off.

In 2012 when the NLB intimated that they were considering the sale of the site, with the exception of the actual tower, the South Rhins Community Development Trust, the Trust responsible for the management of visitor attractions at the Mull, made the decision to go for a Community Buy Out. The Mull of Galloway Trust was formed and the application for the registering of their interest to purchase was submitted and accepted by the Scottish Government. After a ballot of the community resulted in 98% of those who voted being in favour of the buy out, a successful application was made to the Scottish Land Fund, 95% of the purchase price of £300K was awarded by means of a grant, and the community then raised the final 5%. The Mull of Galloway Lighthouse is open to the public in the summer

On the 4th July 2013 the former three lightkeepers cottages, the former engine room which now an exhibition area, the RSPB centre, Fog Horn and 30 acres of heathland at the Mull of Galloway was subject to a Community Buy Out. The Northern Lighthouse Board still own and operate the lighthouse but are now not responsible for the surrounding property/land.

Description Robert Stevenson, 1828; circular lighthouse and symmetrical block of single storey lighthouse keepers' houses. D A Stevenson, 1894; engine house and adjoining house. LIGHTHOUSE: tall tower. Painted rubble; painted ashlar dressings. Narrow windows. Door to E. 3 windows to W, 3 to SE and 2 to NE. Corbelled gallery, with latticed metal railing. Cast-iron parapet. Surmounted by domed lantern, with 3 rows of triangular framed glazing. Semicircular wing (formerly fuel stores) encircling base to W; window to NW, W and SW to bowed elevation to W; door to left and right of tower to E; flat-roofed, with 2 wallhead stacks to W. Modern glazing. Interior not seen 1993. LIGHTHOUSE KEEPERS' HOUSES: situated to E, within enclosure. Single storey range, with slightly lower wings adjoined to N and S; contains 2 houses. Painted rubble; painted droved ashlar dressings. Raised margins. Band course above windows to main block. Base course. Flat-roofed, with blocking course. 3 rendered coped axial stacks. Double-leaf boarded doors. Modern glazing. Tall cans. W ELEVATION: 8-bay (originally 6-bay) main block. 3rd and 6th bays advanced, and pedimented above blocking course, each with door. Window to remaining bays, smaller and later in outer bays. Wing recessed to left and right, each with bipartite window (originally with door). Wall adjoined in outer bays of main block, and linked to semicircular wing of tower. E ELEVATION: 6-bay main block. Penultimate bays to left and right advanced, and pedimented above blocking course. Regular fenestration. Wing recessed to left and right, each with later window. N ELEVATION: harled lower wing adjoined, with door to left of centre and window to left to N. S ELEVATION: harled lower wing adjoined, with door to S. ENGINE HOUSE: former engine house and adjoining house; situated to S, within enclosure. Flat-roofed, with blocking course; axial stack. Small-paned glazing to engine house. 5-bay (2-3) engine house to left to N, 3-bay house to right; door and flanking windows to house; door in bay to right of centre to engine house, windows in remaining bays. 8- bay to S; door in bay to left of centre; windows in remaining bays. ENCLOSURE WALLS: painted rubble walls, forming enclosure for lighthouse complex; pair of block-capped square gatepiers to W and to N. Square-plan cultivation enclosure adjoined to E; stone gateway, with angled overthrow and door, to W. Foghorn (D A Stevenson, 1894) situated down slope to S. Gabled outbuilding (former byre ?), situated to NE. Painted rubble; slate roof. 2 doors at centre to E; 3 later machinery doors. 4 windows to W. Ridge stack. Rubble wall across headland to W, with 3 painted block-capped square gatepiers. Statement of Special Interest Automatic light. The lighthouse keepers' houses are now used as holiday accommodation. The lighthouse was lit in 1830. The wings to the lighthouse keepers'houses each originally contained a byre, ash pit and privy. The engine house block originally contained an engine room, dry store and workshop, and coal and oil cellars. Upgraded, Cat B to A, 7 April 1998.


Character: Fl W 20s 99m 28M
(fl. 0.5s - ec. 19.5s)

Engineer: Robert Stevenson (1772-1850)

Lat, Lon: 54°38.097' N, 04°51.438' W

Established: 1828 - 26th March 1830
Character: Flashing White every 20 secs.
Range: 51.9 km / 28 nM
Elevation: 99 meters above sealevel
Tower: 26 meters, 144 steps to top
Init. Costs: £ 8,378,9s.9d.
Econ. Costs*: £ 41,100,000. (2019)
*) According to: MeasuringWorth.com

Automated: 1988
Last Keepers: J. Lamont - PLK
: ??? - ALK
: ??? - ALK
Fog horn: 2 blasts every 60 sec.
: Discontinued in 1987

Status: Operationel
Authority: Northern Lighthouse Board
Remarks: Cat.A listed - nr: 13578 - 07/04/1998

Mull of Galloway lighthouse
Mull of Galloway lighthouse
Mull of Galloway
Mull of Galloway map

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