David A Stevenson. 1898. 70 foot circular tower; domed light with lattice glazing; walkway at 2 levels. Adjacent 1950's single storey building to E (former occasional keeper's cottage). Harled; surrounding flagstones on ground; base course; long and short quoins to door, window surrounds and cottage quoins. Corniced wallhead to former cottage building; flat roof.
Timber boarded lighthouse entrance door to S; inscribed lintel: '1898 ERECTED BY THE COMMISSIONERS OF NORTHERN LIGHTHOUSE D.A.STEVENSON ENGINEER'; stone step. 1st floor window to W; 2nd floor window to N; 3rd floor windows to E and W. Narrower 4th floor; corbelled base. 2 4th floor doors lead to walkway; metal railings. Surmounting light; metal walkway; lattice railings; external ladder between light and 4th floor. Door to S elevation of former cottage; 2 doors to E gable wall; window to N.
INTERIOR: white glazed tiles to interior wall; stone spiral staircase; timber rail. Storage cupboard and window at 1st floor. Cast-iron stairs and rail from 2nd floor upwards; decorative balusters. Brass handrail from 4th to 5th floor. Tongue and groove boarding to 4th floor interior; brass ventilation covers; glass casing for clock (clock now gone). Cupboard within curvature of the wall. Modern lens (Pelangi) at 5th floor. Metal grid floor; concave roof; blacked out glass to land.
PERIMETER WALL, GATEPIERS AND SUNDIAL BASE
Rectangular-plan boundary wall; curved coping; cement clad. 2 tall, square-plan gatepiers to E with base; conical coping stone; metal gates. Identical single gatepier to S; metal pedestrian gate. Fluted cast-iron sundial base (sundial missing).
Statement of Special Interest
Noup Head Lighthouse is situated on the most westerly point of Westray. It was built to warn vessels off the North Shoal, to the NW of the Orkney coast, at a time when the northern route around Orkney and Shetland was becoming frequently used. Work began in 1896 and was completed in 1898. The lighthouse was designed by David Stevenson, Engineer to the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses and the contractor was John M Aitken from Shetland. It was the first lighthouse to use the system of a revolving carriage and mercury flotation, later adopted by other stations. 2 cottages for the Principal and Assistant keepers were built and also the boundary wall and a road connecting the lighthouse with the steading at Noup. The 2 cottages were demolished and replaced by a single cottage, built in the early 1950's, for the occasional keeper. The cottage is now used for storage. Noup Head became automatic in 1964, it continues in operation today (2000) and the power supply was changed from gas to wind and solar in 2000. Solar panels are situated to SE of tower; the panels and the detached single storey building to far E are not part of the Statutory List.
Standing 24 meters high but 79 meters above sea level, Noup Head lighthouse was designed and built by David A Stevenson in 1898 although very little is known of its history, Noup Head was the first Scottish lighthouse to have a lens carried on a mercury float, a system introduced in France. The name Noup is derived from "gnupr", meaning headland locality.
A Principal Lightkeeper and an Assistant, with their families, lived at Noup Head until the light was automated in 1964. Lightkeeping was a remote, lonely and hard existence. At night each keeper was required to keep a watch in the lightroom to ensure that the light flashed correctly to character; during daytime keepers were engaged in cleaning, painting and generally keeping the premises tidy. Following automation the former keepers' cottages were demolished.
The lens at Noup Head is a Fresnel lens with a new lamp system, so called after its French inventor, Augustin Fresnel.
The light is automatically operated. When daylight falls and rises between set levels a light sensor switches the light on and off. The light is monitored 24 hours a day from a remote centre and maintained once a year when the Northern Lighthouse Board technicians visit the light.