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Point of Ayre Upper Lighthouse
Point of Ayre, north coast of the Isle of Man
Point of Ayre Upper Lighthouse
associated engineer
Robert Stevenson
David Alan Stevenson
date  1816 - 1st February 1819, 1890 - 1891
era  Georgian  |  category  Lighthouse  |  reference  NX464048
ICE reference number  HEW 936
photo  Paul Dunkerley
The upper light on Point of Ayre at the north-east corner of the Isle of Man was designed by Robert Stevenson, patriarch of the famous family of lighthouse engineers. It was refurbished at the end of the nineteenth century by his grandson, David Alan Stevenson.
The lighthouse was built for the Commisioners of Northern Lighthouses (Northern Lighthouse Board), based in Edinburgh. They were first empowered to erect lighthouses on the Isle of Man by an Act of Parliament of 1815.
Robert Stevenson's light later became the upper lighthouse of the onshore pair on Point of Ayre. The lower light is by David Alan Stevenson and was constructed in 1890-91, when he was also refurbishing his grandfather's lighthouse. There is also a fog signal station on the point.
Stevenson visited the construction site on 12th August 1818 while on the third of his ‘lighthouse tours’. He gave a month's notice to the Inspector as he was not satisfied with the quality of the workmanship of the labour force. The tower was recorded as being 84ft (25.6m) high in 1851. It is thought that the lamp — argand with 610mm refelectors — was first lit on 1st February 1819.
Refurbishment work, including some rebuilding of the tower and replacement of the lamp, was carried out by David Alan Stevenson in 1890-91. At least one construction drawing was known in the 1970s to have survived. It was signed Charles Stevenson pro D.A. Stevenson.
The light was replaced with one made by Barbier of Paris and James Dove of Edinburgh. It was a first order catadioptric paraffin vapour light of 66,000 candlepower with a range of 30km. It flashed alternately white and red every 60 seconds. The tower was rebuilt to a height of 30.18m, making the light 32.3m above mean high water level.
Inside the tower, a spiral stone staircase of 107 steps leads up to a landing from which a wooden spiral ladder with 17 rungs provides access to the lantern room. An iron balcony runs around the walkway outside.
The present-day lamp is a 250 watt mercury vapour. It works off mains power or standby generators and has a nominal range of 30.5km, though can sometimes be seen from further away. The lamp mechanism goes through one revolution every 8 minutes.
These days, the seven storey tower is painted in alternate stripes of white and fluorescent red. There is an information plaque in the lantern room. A walled enclosure at the base of the tower contains the origianl lighthouse keepers’ houses, gardens, and a generator house.
The lighthouse was automated in 1993 and continues to be operated by the Northern Lighthouse Board. Point of Ayre Upper Lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse on the Isle of Man.
Robert Stevenson also designed the twin lights on the Calf of Man off at the south-west corner of the island.
Research: PD
bibliography
"Lighthouses of England and Wales" by D. Jackson
David & Charles, Newton Abbot, 1975
"English Lighthouse Tours: 1801, 1813, 1818"
Diaries of Robert Stevenson ed. D.A. Stevenson
Thomas Nelson & Sons Ltd, London, 1946
reference sources   CEH North
Location

Point of Ayre Upper Lighthouse