Construction of the Girdleness Lighthouse

Prior to the loss of the Oscar, there already existed growing alarm at the number of sailors being lost at sea due to groundings on the Scottish coastline. The loss of the Oscar, which is still one of the greatest losses at sea in Scottish Maritime history, led to an even greater groundswell of opinion, and reinforced calls for a lighthouse at Girdleness. Finally heeded some twenty years later, the Girdleness lighthouse, designed by Robert Stevenson, was constructed by James Gibbs.

Construction of the Girdleness Lighthouse

The Girdleness lighthouse was of a state-of-the-art, ground-breaking design, incorporating a double light, one above the other, in a tower that rose an incredible 121ft above the ground. The Astronomer Royal, Sir George Airy, described the lighthouse in 1847: “fronted to seaward with weather-resisting glass a quarter of an inch thick and gun metal astragals. The dome of the lighthouse looks immense from inside, whereas from the ground some 136 feet below, it looks minute. The lamp is framed by two large concave reflectors, which sent its 200,000 candlepower beams 25 miles out to sea on a good night”. Sir George added that Girdleness was “the best lighthouse that I have seen”.