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Bell Rock Lighthouse
Inchcape Rock, SE of Arbroath, outside the Firth of Tay
Bell Rock Lighthouse
associated engineer
Robert Stevenson
John Rennie snr
date  16th August 1807 - 1st February 1811
UK era  Georgian  |  category  Lighthouse  |  reference  NO764269
ICE reference number  HEW 78
photo  © and licensed for reuse under this
Bell Rock gets its name from the tradition that there had once been a wave-operated bell placed on the erstwhile Inchcape Rock to act as a fog signal. The building of a lighthouse on the site began in 1807.
Robert Stevenson undertook extensive feasibility work for Northern Lighthouse Board, the organization then responsible for lighthouses in Scotland, to establish a design and a method and cost of construction. However, his bosses were unconvinced and hired John Rennie, who saw the proposal through the necessary Parliamentary procedures.
Stevenson was to act as site engineer, which he did, but he also managed to take effective control of the project.
The construction process was complicated both by the distance of the rock from shore and the fact that the foundations were completely covered by water at every tide. A large part of the workforce was therefore stationed on the vessels Pharos and Smeaton, both moored near the site. This made possible the maximum use of low tide.
A temporary wooden beacon was built on the rock during construction. This also served as a storeroom, barracks and workshop, allowing a number of workmen and their tools to stay on site at all times, again maximizing the use of low tide.
The lower courses were constructed from carefully dovetailed and keyed sandstone and granite blocks. This served both to strengthen the finished tower and to lessen the chance of the lowest tiers being washed away during high tides. It was a technique pioneered by Smeaton during the building of Eddystone.
Working only in the summer months, the construction of the tower to its full height of 29m took nearly 4 years. The lamp was first lit on 1st February, 1811. The lighthouse was automated in 1987 and converted to solar power in 1999.
Research: PS
"Lighthouses: Their Architecture, History and Archaeology"
Douglas B. Hague + Rosemary Christie
Llandysul: Gomer press, 1975
reference sources   LightStev

Bell Rock Lighthouse