Dingieshowe Beach

Lighthouses of the Orkney Islands

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© Composted by:
Bob Schrage
updated: 02-10-2018

Copinsay



Under construction

Description D A Stevenson, completed 1915. 2-stage, circular-plan lighthouse tower. Painted brick with painted long and short margins to openings. Base course; door to W at 1st stage; window at each stage to E; corbelled walkway with cast-iron railings between 2nd stage and lantern; bracketed walkway with cast-iron railings around lantern; domed roof. Tapered circular-plan foghorn tower directly to E of lighthouse. Painted stone. Evenly disposed ventilation holes around upper rim; entrance to W (rear). Flat-roofed, rectangular-plan keeper's house to W of lighthouse. Painted stone with painted long and short margins to openings; painted long and short quoins. 4-pane timber sash and case windows; decorative brackets to cast-iron rainwater goods. INTERIORS: not seen, 1998. Statement of Special Interest The island of Copinsay lies SE of the Orkney Mainland, the lighthouse standing on its easterly shore. It was the last Major Lighthouse to be built on Orkney and rises 79 metres above sea level. At 16 metres high, its light has a range of 21 miles. The contractor was Hugh MacDougal of Oban who went bankrupt during the construction process but was employed as foreman by the Commissioners. The brick and the granite were transported from Oban by 'puffers' which beached at the west side of the island and were carted to the building site by Mr Foubister, occupant of the farm. The materials were then hauled to the top of the cliffs by steam driven winches. Originally, the keepers lived at the lighthouse with their families; a school teacher also lived on the island and had a classroom in the farmhouse. Subsequently the farm has been deserted and the lighthouse designated a rock station which was automated 1991. Copinsay is now an RSPB nature reserve and in 1973 was dedicated to the late James Fisher, author, broadcaster and ornithologist.

The name Copinsay was originally Kobeinn's Island, Kolbeinnsey. The apparatus was a Stevenson equiangular refractor showing a group flashing white light, five flashes every thirty seconds, the lamp was a petroleum vapour burner using paraffin on the tilley light principle made by Chance Brothers. The lantern and parapet were made by the Edinburgh firm James Milne & Son costing £1,263, they also made the revolving machine, carriage and mercury trough at a cost of £465. The old fog horn was operated by compressed air powered by three Kelvin Diesel Engines, the character was 4 blasts, each of 2½ seconds duration every 60 seconds. This character was achieved by means of a clock which opened and shut the valves as required. These were made by A C Westwood at a cost of £2,299. The total cost of the lighthouse and buildings was £13,400. Two different contractors were responsible for the building work carried out. The first was Mr McDougall who built 30ft of the tower and then was taken over by Mr Harry Ramsey Taylor an Edinburgh architect who finished the remaining 23 feet. The light was first exhibited on 8 November 1915 and the first principal lightkeeper was Charles J McNeish. The island of Copinsay to the East of the Orkney Mainland, has itself in recent years become a bird sanctuary but in the 1930's it was farmed by Mr Groat who had 13 children and between them and the lightkeepers children they had a resident teacher on the island. One of the rooms in the farm house was the class room. There is a group of three islands off the west side of Copinsay which are accessible at low water. Ward Holm, Corn Holm, and Black Holm. The bow of the trawler "Prince Deluge", which ran around and sank on the Black a number of years ago has been washed back up and is now lying high and dry on the Corn Holm. During the Second World War a British aircraft crash landed on Copinsay just below the lighthouse but is was dismantled and carted away. The Light was automated in 1991 and is now remotely monitored from the Northern Lighthouse Board’s offices in Edinburgh. Copinsay (Old Norse: Kolbeinsey) is one of the Orkney Islands in Scotland, lying off the east coast of the Orkney Mainland. The smaller companion island to Copinsay is called the Horse of Copinsay and lies to the north east to the main island. The island is now uninhabited and managed as a bird reserve. Copinsay is also home to a lighthouse. Myths about the island include the story of the Copinsay Brownie.[9] For many generations, prior to the final inhabitants moving to the Mainland in 1958, Copinsay was full of life; the large, double storey farmhouse and behind it the Steading (or farm buildings) form the farm tenants, a school with a schoolteacher and up to three lighthouse keepers' families. There is also an ancient burial site on the island. In the earlier part of the 20th century, a weekly postal service provided contact with the Mainland and fortnightly shopping trips to Deerness, allowing for weather. The farm boasted working horses, cattle and sheep - all of which had to be transported on the "coo" or "cow" boat. Birds' eggs provided a good supplement to the islanders' diet, and men were lowered over the cliffs and a special rope, or rowed out to the Horse to bring back this addition. Pigs were loosed in the spring on the Horse for many years - feeding on the bird eggs - transported across the sound by boat. Many interesting facts and accounts of life on Copinsay are still retold in the Deerness Community, with many members still remembering when the island was still home to loved ones. Ecology[edit] The island was bought by the ornithology charity, the RSPB in 1972 in memory of the naturalist James Fisher.[10] Although Copinsay today is uninhabited, some fields are still farmed at the behest of the RSPB, to try provide suitable conditions for Corncrake, so the patch work of yesteryear is returning to the island, even though the people have not. Together with the three adjacent three islets (Corn Holm, Ward Holm and Black Holm), it is designated a Special Protection Area (SPA) under the European Union directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds due to the unimproved grassland vegetation and sheer sandstone cliffs providing ideal breeding ledges for seabirds.[11] There is a large colony of grey seals on the island. They usually pup in November each year. puffins can be seen during July on the adjacent holms. The name Copinsay was originally Kobeinn's Island, Kolbeinnsey. The apparatus was a Stevenson equiangular refractor showing a group flashing white light, five flashes every thirty seconds, the lamp was a petroleum vapour burner using paraffin on the tilley light principle made by Chance Brothers. The lantern and parapet were made by the Edinburgh firm James Milne & Son costing £1,263, they also made the revolving machine, carriage and mercury trough at a cost of £465. The old fog horn was operated by compressed air powered by three Kelvin Diesel Engines, the character was 4 blasts, each of 2½ seconds duration every 60 seconds. This character was achieved by means of a clock which opened and shut the valves as required. These were made by A C Westwood at a cost of £2,299. The total cost of the lighthouse and buildings was £13,400. Two different contractors were responsible for the building work carried out. The first was Mr McDougall who built 30ft of the tower and then was taken over by Mr Harry Ramsey Taylor an Edinburgh architect who finished the remaining 23 feet. The light was first exhibited on 8 November 1915 and the first principal lightkeeper was Charles J McNeish. The island of Copinsay to the East of the Orkney Mainland, has itself in recent years become a bird sanctuary but in the 1930's it was farmed by Mr Groat who had 13 children and between them and the lightkeepers children they had a resident teacher on the island. One of the rooms in the farm house was the class room. There is a group of three islands off the west side of Copinsay which are accessible at low water. Ward Holm, Corn Holm, and Black Holm. The bow of the trawler "Prince Deluge", which ran around and sank on the Black a number of years ago has been washed back up and is now lying high and dry on the Corn Holm. During the Second World War a British aircraft crash landed on Copinsay just below the lighthouse but is was dismantled and carted away. The Light was automated in 1991 and is now remotely monitored from the Northern Lighthouse Board’s offices in Edinburgh.

A3696


Character: Fl(5) W 30s 79m 21M

EngineerDavid Alan Stevenson (1854-1938)

Lat, Lon58°53.783' N, 02°40.323' W

Established8 november 1915
Automated1991
Character Flashing(5) White every 30 sec.
Range38.9 km / 21 nM
Tower16 meters, 41 steps to top of the tower.
Elevation79 meters above sealevel
Fog hornNo

StatusOperationel
AuthorityNorthern Lighthouse Board
RemarksSolar power
Cat.B listed - nr: 18574 - 08/12/1971

Copinsay lighthouse
Copinsay lighthouse
Copinsay map
Copinsay map
References:

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