Lighthouse Beacons from Scotland

Fair Isle North

Photo of North Coast of Fair Isle with Lighthouse in Distance
by Dr Julian Paren via Wikimedia

Fair Isle is the most remote inhabited island in the United Kingdom. For administration purposes it is part of Shetland It has an area of 3 square miles. The population has been decreasing steadily from around four hundred in around 1900 to around 70 100 years later. There are no pubs or restaurants on the island and a single primary school. After the age of eleven, children must attend secondary school in Lerwick and stay in a hostel there in term time. (The graphic on the right is by Dave Wheeler, via Wikimedia)

Fair Isle North (also known as Skroo) Lighthouse was established in 1892 and the engineers were David and Charles Stevenson. (The graphic on the left showing the foghorn and a P&O Ferry service between Orkney and Shetland is by Mike Pennington, via Wikimedia).

The Fair Isle North Lighthouse is on a rocky promontory with the light 47 feet above ground level and 262 feet above spring tides. The lens is a simple glass of four sections with two bulls eyes in each section. The character of the light was two flashes going out to sea in quick succession followed by a 30 second pause.

The original light was a paraffin lamp where the vaporiser was heated for ten minutes by a methylated torch, after which the valves on air and paraffin cylinders were opened. Air forced the paraffin to the lamp where it was vaporised. The paraffin cylinder was refilled by hand pump which used to bring the air in its cylinder to the 3 gallon cylinder. It first used on 1 November 1892 ans the range of the light was 22 Nautical miles.

It was one of the last of the Northern Lighthouse Board's stations to be automated (in 1983). The operation of the light, fog signal, fog detector, etc is now monitored and information on the operation of all the equipments is relayed over the public telephone network to Headquarters in Edinburgh. (The graphic here is by Mike Pennington, via Wikimedia).

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