[Reprinted from the Northern Lighthouse Board Journal]
(with minor additions)
TWO YEARS AGO, on the 1st February 2011, the Bell Rock Lighthouse celebrated its 200th anniversary. Completed in 1811, it remains one of Scotland’s finest engineering feats of the 19th century, and is now recognised as an Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.
This year (2013) also celebrates the Bicentennial of the Signal Tower, originally the lighthouse's shore station, and home to the Lightkeepers and Crew of the Bell Rock Tender. The building is now a museum and mostly dedicated to the construction to the lighthouse!
Here, the great-great-great-grandson of one of the sea captains, who worked alongside Stevenson on its construction, recounts the life and times of his ancestor.
Lighthouses :: Georgian Architecture :: Civil and Marine Engineering :: Naval and Social History :: Genealogy :: Marine and Natural History :: Geology :: Geography :: Construction Techniques:: Early Railways :: Communications (including the Signal Ball).
This site commemorates probably Scotland’s greatest single engineering feat of the early 19th century. It also celebrates the men who built it . . . to JOHN RENNIE, who was appointed Chief Engineer, responsible overall for the project; and to ROBERT STEVENSON, assistant and resident engineer, who shared the hardships with his team, and who in practical terms built the lighthouse
It also remembers my great-great-great-grandfather, Capt.
David Taylor (1768-1843), who was Master of the Sir
Joseph Banks tender during progress of these
Works; who later commanded the supply vessel (the Smeaton)
on completion of the lighthouse and eventually the
new Pharos of 1816; finally taking up the post of
Lighthouse Storekeeper in Leith when ill health forced him
As the site develops, it is hoped to include hitherto unpublished
material, with a view to giving fresh insight into the
life and times of the men who worked with Stevenson on his
undoubted masterpiece and greatest achievement.
Anyone who has an interest in the subject, or whose ancestors
may have been connected in any way with the Lighthouse (past
and present), are welcome to make contact:
dtaylor AT bellrock DOT
org DOT uk
Another interesting picture of the courtyard from the top of the Signal Tower.
Note the circle laid out in the centre of the courtyard. It is the exact measurement of the
base of the lighthouse = 42 ft (12.80 m) in diameter. Photo: Ian Cowe
the Bell" - an original
oil painting by Nessie Taylor
I should also like to acknowledge the following, who have
helped in their various ways to make this website possible,
in particular Mrs Margaret King for information on
the improvements and modernisation to the Lighthouse since
1811; Mrs Lorna Hunter (Information Officer of the
NLB); Charlie Riding for his two real-life experiences
about living on the Bell; Bill Daysh (RN Retd) for
his interesting account of the demise of the HMS Argyll,
the only ship to be "lost" on the Bell Rock since
the Lighthouse was built in 1811; Jim Anderson
of the West Lothian Sub Aqua Club for providing the photographs
for "Underwater Life at the Bell Rock"; Alan
Provan (Chief Officer of the "Polestar")
for his selection of scans for the section "Preparing
for Automation"; and to Dr Alison Morrison-Low
for her excellent Paper on early lighthouse optics and the
part the Stevenson engineers played in its development; to Prof. Roland Paxton, Heriot University, for his definitive account on the building of the Bell Rock Railway and the important part Francis Watt played in it; and to Peter Mackay, past Chairman of the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses, for his two articles "Lighthouses of the Forth" and "What's in a Name: the Bell Rock over the centuries".
Other direct "lifts" used in the website have
Roger Lockwood (Chief Executive of the Northern Lighthouse Board)
Alan Taylor (website design and webmaster)
Agnes M. Taylor
John and Lisbeth Braid
A special thanks, too, to all owners of the scans which illuminate this website.
R. Stevenson ("Account of the Bell Rock Lighthouse")
R. L. Stevenson ("Records of a Family of Engineers")
D. Alan Stevenson ("The World's Lighthouses
Craig Mair ("A Star for Seamen")
R. W. Munro ("Scottish Lighthouses")
John Prebble ("Lion in the North")
Disclaimer - Whilst every
care is taken to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the
information contained within the Bell Rock website, the
owner does not accept liability (financial or otherwise)
arising from the use of material in these Web pages. It
should also be noted that there is no financial gain whatsoever
to the owner of this site.