Place of the lighthouseDescription 1873 for Northern Lighthouse Commissioners, D & T Stevenson, Engineers. LIGHTHOUSE: Tapering circular-section tower, brick built painted, with string course below top upper courses curbing out to support concrete cap on which iron lantern sits. Lantern glazing triangular-paned, domed top plain iron railing round cap. Small rectangular windows spiral round tower following staircase. Door in SE face, adjacent to link block (see below), doorcase, has painted quoins. KEEPER'S HOUSE: Main block 2-storey 2-bay 6-bay flat-roofed, brick built, with cornice and blocking course. Short chimney stacks in pairs on E and W ends. Principal elevation to S, 6-bay. To E single-storey 1-by 2-bay flat-roofed wing with tall chimney stacks on S and E elevations. To W lean-to-wing with corrugated iron roof, pair doors in W elevation. Base course. Houses linked to tower by 2-storey flat-roofed block with house door in E face, treated as lighthouse door. Later flat-roofed single-storey building to NE. Tower and houses enclosed within iron railing on masonry dwarf wall. To east is walled enclosure with pair of coal cellars in masonry and brick. Statement of Special Interest Set in ruins of Turnberry Castle. Turnberry Lighthouse marks a dangerous part of the Ayrshire coast, off which lies Bristo Rock which was responsible for many wrecks. No one was more aware of the toll than the Receiver of Wreck, Ayr and it was he who in 1869 suggested to the Board of Trade that a light should be erected on Bristo Rock.
The matter was referred to the Commissioners, whose Engineers David and Thomas Stevenson examined the rock and reported on 18 May 1869 that it was inadvisable to erect a lighthouse on the rock itself but suggested that the best place would be on Turnberry Point, where it now stands. It is situated close to the 9th hole of Turnberry Golf Course in what was once the moat of Turnberry Castle, which disputes with Lochmaben the honour of being the birthplace of Robert Bruce (1274 -1329). The lighthouse is the oldest man-made structure on the Turnberry premises-with the exception of the remains of the 13th-century castle of Robert the Bruce that it marks.
There does not seem to be satisfactory derivation for the name Turnberry, but the last syllable suggests burg or fort. The name is probably from Norman French, taurnei, tornei, tounrey or tournament, and old English, byrig, burg-fort or castle of the tournaments.
This lighthouse has unusual surroundings with plenty of scope for nature study and very early observations of birds migration, for example, were recorded by lightkeepers long before observatories were established on the Isle of May and Fair Isle.
On 13 October 1869 the Board of Trade granted sanction to build the lighthouse, but it was not until 1871 that building started in earnest. Most of the delay was caused by conflicting opinions as to how big the lantern should be and which kind of oil was to be used. The final estimate was for £6,576.
The contractor responsible for the building was John Barr & co of Ardrossan. Milne & Son made the lantern, machine and apparatus. The light was first exhibited on 30 August 1873, the character of one flash every 12 seconds (now every 15 secs.) was decided upon to distinguish from Corsewall and Davaar Lights.
The lighthouse was automated in 1986 and is now remotely monitored from the Northern Lighthouse Boards offices in Edinburgh. 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.
Character: Fl W 15s 29m 12M
(fl. 0.4s - ec. 14.6s)
|Engineers||: David Lillie Stevenson (1815-1886)|
|: Thomas Stevenson (1818-1887)|
|Lat, Lon||: 55°19.552' N, 04°50.679' W|
|Established||: 30 Augustus 1873|
|Character||: Flashing White every 15 secs.|
|Range||: 22.2 km / 12 nM|
|Elevation||: 29 meters above sealevel|
|Tower||: 14 meters - 76 steps to the top|
|Init. Costs||: £ ?.|
|Econ. Costs*||: £ ?.|
|*) According to: MeasuringWorth.com|
|Last Keepers||: ? - PLK|
|: ? - ALK|
|: ? - ALK|
|Fog horn||: ?|
|Authority||: Northern Lighthouse Board|
|Remarks||: Solar power (2001)|
|: Cat.B listed - LB12991 - 27/04/1992|