Lighthouse Beacons from Scotland

Copinsay Lighthouse

Copinsay Lighthouse is located on an island to the east of the Orkney mainland. The name Copinsay was originally Kobeinn's Island - Kolbeinnsey. It was built in 1915 and the engineer was Charles A. Stevenson. It has a range of 21 miles and flashes 5 white every 30 seconds. The station was automated in 1991.

The original apparatus was a Stevenson equiangular refractor; the lamp was a petroleum vapour burner using paraffin on the tilley light principle made by Chance Brothers.

The original fog horn was operated by compressed air powered by three Kelvin Diesel Engines, producing 4 blasts, each of 2½ seconds duration every 60 seconds. This was achieved by means of a clock which opened and shut the valves as required. The total cost of erecting the lighthouse, equipmrnt and buildings was £13,400.

Two different contractors were responsible for the construction work carried out. The first was a Mr McDougall who built 30ft of the tower and then the work was taken over by a Mr Harry Ramsey Taylor an Edinburgh architect who finished the remaining 23 feet. The light began work on 8 November 1915.

The island of Copinsay to the East of the Orkney Mainland, has itself in recent years become a bird sanctuary but in the 1930's it was farmed by a Mr Groat who had 13 children and between them and the lightkeepers children they had a resident teacher on the island. One of the rooms in the farm house was the class room.

There is a group of three islands off the west side of Copinsay which are accessible at low water. Ward Holm, Corn Holm, and Black Holm. To the north east of Copinsay is a rectangular sea stack known as the Horse of Copinsay. The Norse were fond of zoomorphising smaller islands - for example, smaller islands lying off a larger one are often termed "Calf", e.g. Calf of Flotta; some are even "hens", like the Hen of Gairsay. However, "horses" are fairly rare. Even so, the old name of Mainland, Orkney meant "horse island". The picture (via Wikimedia) of Copinsay at dusk was taken by Mike Penington from the Aberdeen-Orkney-Shetland ferry with The Horse of Copinsay on the left.

The bow of the trawler "Prince Deluge", which ran around and sank on the Black Holm a number of years ago has been washed back up and is now lying high and dry on the Corn Holm.

During the Second World War a British aircraft crash landed on Copinsay just below the lighthouse but it was dismantled and taken away.

The Light was automated in 1991 and is now remotely monitored from the Northern Lighthouse Board’s offices in Edinburgh.

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