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Tarbat Ness Lighthouse
Tarbat Ness, Wilkhaven, Highland, Scotland, UK
associated engineer
Robert Stevenson
date  1828 - 26th January 1830
UK era  Georgian  |  category  Lighthouse  |  reference  NH946875
Renowned lighthouse engineer Robert Stevenson is responsible for Tarbat Ness Lighthouse. The station was the first coastal lighthouse to have flashing lights. Now automated, it is still operational, though the keepers' cottages are privately owned. The site, a farmland peninsula in the Moray Firth, was once home to a Roman fort.
Applications were made for lighthouses at Tarbat Ness and/or Covesea Skerries (NJ203712) near Lossiemouth, following the loss of 16 vessels in the Moray Firth during a storm in November 1826. A light at Tarbat Ness was commissioned, designed by Robert Stevenson (1772-1850). Covesea Skerries had to wait until 1846 for its lighthouse.
At 41.1m, the lighthouse tower at Tarbat Ness is the third tallest in Scotland ó only North Ronaldsay and Skerryvore are taller. The lantern of Tarbat Ness is 53m above sea level and is reached via 203 steps. The circular stone tower has a corbelled parapet and adjoining single-storey flat-roofed keepersí cottages.
The station cost £19,656 to construct and its light first shone on 26th January 1830. The light had opaque cylindrical shades that moved up and down in front of a four-burner Argand paraffin lamp to produce an intermittent (occulting) light.
Tarbat Ness Lighthouse has sometimes experienced earthquake shocks, one strong enough to shake the light shades and rattle the lamp glasses. The structure was rebuilt in 1892, with a new optic designed by David Alan Stevenson (1854-1938), Robert Stevensonís grandson. The new light had an incandescent pressurised lamp with 55mm mantles and a Fresnel-type lens.
The lighthouse's white-painted tower had its two horizontal red bands added in 1915. It was automated in 1985, when the lamp was replaced by an electric one that gives four white flashes every 30 seconds and can be seen for 44.4km. The 1892 lens and lamp are now on display in the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.
The Northern Lighthouse Board (established 1786) is responsible for lighthouses around the coast of Scotland and the Isle of Man, including Tarbat Ness Lighthouse. It has been a Category A listed building since March 1971, and now has a RACON (radar beacon) transponder.
Contractor: James Smith, Inverness
Research: ECPK
reference sources   CEH SLB

Tarbat Ness Lighthouse