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Toward Point Lighthouse
Toward Point, Innellan, Argyll & Bute, Scotland, UK
associated engineer
Robert Stevenson
date  1812
era  Georgian  |  category  Lighthouse  |  reference  NS135672
Pioneering lighthouse engineer Robert Stevenson designed Toward Point Lighthouse on the Cowal Peninsula, Firth of Clyde. Its light guides vessels sailing between the Isle of Bute and mainland Scotland. Now automated, the lighthouse is still in use, though its associated buildings are now private houses.
The lighthouse was constructed for the Cumbrae Lighthouse Trust (est.1755), which was Britain's first public organisation dedicated to erecting and maintaining lighthouses. Of the many lighthouses that Stevenson (1772-1850) designed after 1811, Toward Point is one of two not built for the Northern Lighthouse Board the other is Douglas Head Lighthouse (SC390747), built in 1832 for the Isle of Man Harbour Commissioners.
The 19.2m tapering circular stone tower was completed in 1812. It is topped by a glazed lantern with a copper roof and a corbelled walkway. The focal plane of Toward Point's light is 21.3m above high water, and was originally an oil lamp with reflectors.
An adjoining single-storey house with a hipped slate roof provided accommodation for the only lighthouse keeper. An assistant keeper was appointed in 1850, and two more keepers' cottages were built nearby in 1867. Later in 19th century, a small church-like building was constructed on the foreshore to house the compressed-air foghorn. This was operated by engines with a power of about 11kW and gave a three-second blast every 20 seconds.
In 1930, a more powerful light was installed at Toward Point Lighthouse. The company D. & C. Stevenson, run by Stevenson's grandsons David Alan Stevenson (1854-1938) and Charles Alexander Stevenson (1855-1950), recommended a lamp fuelled by vaporised paraffin and surrounded by mirrors. These are parabolic silver-backed glass mirrors with a focal length of 1m. They are easy to clean, can be adjusted and give a more brilliant light than a dioptric lens of the same size.
The lamp apparatus revolves in a bath of mercury. It emits single flash of white light every 10 seconds. The light has an effective intensity of some 177,000 candela, visible for up to 26km in clear weather.
Toward Point Lighthouse was automated in 1974, and the building was listed as Category B in July 1980. It is now owned and operated by the Clyde Port Authority, which is a direct descendent of the Cumbrae Lighthouse Trust. The keepers' accommodation is in private ownership.
Research: ECPK
bibliography
"Clyde Lighthouses: A Short History of the Clyde Lighthouses Trust 1756-1956" by G. Blake, Jackson, Son & Company, Glasgow, 1956
http://canmore.rcahms.gov.uk
www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk
Location

Toward Point Lighthouse