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General view of the works as at 1810.
After Stevenson's "Account of the Bell Rock Light-house"

© With permission of, and thanks to, the owner.




Button In Memoriam and Injury List

• To the men who built the lighthouse and to those who died during its construction; plus a list of those injured

Button Biographies

• A genealogical insight into some of the key men who built it. Read about John Reid's life in George III's navy; and the ancestral origins of the Logans; amonst others!

Button Correspondence

• A select choice of letters sent by Robert Stevenson to Capt. David Taylor giving a clear insight into Stevenson's character and work ethos . . . and his use of the phrase "Shiver Me Timbers"

Button A Tale of Two Serpents

• A link between Scotland and Newfoundland. When is a handgrip a sea monster!

Button Photographic Overview

• A selection of scans from Ian Cowe's photographics . . . and more of the Georgian kind! Plus Eddie Dishon's contribution to the Bicentennial.

Button Newspaper Cuttings

• An eclectic mix of newspaper cuttings mainly from "The Scotsman", "Arbroath Guide" and "Arbroath Herald".

Button Anniversaries

• An account of WHAT WAS DONE and WHAT WASN'T DONE over 200 years of the Bell Rock Lighthouse's anniversaries - 50, 100, 150 and 175 years of celebration.

Button Miscellany

• A ragbag of interesting facts collected on the way through these researches.

Button Website Statistics

• The world's interest in the Bell Rock Lighthouse (2003-2010).



Towers . . . Old and New!
Photo: © Ian Cowe




New books (now available)

lighthouse book

"Northern Lights - The Age of Scottish Lighthouses"

Published by NMS Enterprises Limited - and available the National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh, and all good booksellers.



lighthouse poems

"Scottish Lighthouse Poems"

Published by Bluesalt Publishing - 2010

Copies of the above Poems may be bought from the Shop at the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses, Fraserburgh



"Dynasty of Engineers - The Stevensons and the Bell Rock"

Published by the Northern Lighthouse Heritage Trust (2011).
Now available (or can be ordered from) from Whittles Publishing or any good bookseller. Also from Amazon.



In Professor Paxton's new book we see at long last closure (echoing James Will's quote below) on what many consider to have been an injustice to John Rennie who, for reasons explained in "Dynasty of Engineers”, has been largely ignored for the part he played in the construction of the lighthouse.

Prof. Paxton, the world leading expert on the Bell Rock build, details carefully his researches and includes Robert Stevenson’s fascinating report on the lighthouse last published in 1813 and the important previously unpublished Report of 1809 which shows that Rennie was clearly playing his part as Chief Engineer. He goes on to show other aspects of Rennie's input to the ultimate design - the slightly narrower tower than that proposed by Stevenson; the pronounced curve at the base of the tower which effectively deflects the force of the waves away from the main building; and the interlocking jigsaw pattern of the courses of the solid part of the house.

This book is not necessarily aimed for academic and architectural consumption, or for that matter lighthouse enthusiasts, but for the general reader who may have noted the lighthouse's recent Bicentennial and whose interest in the subject may have been kindled in passing! Ultimately the book once and for all draws a line under the controversy between the two families which has rumbled on now for the best part of two centuries.

It is divided into three main parts:

Part I: Updated biographical information on the engineers, including Robert Louis Stevenson (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography);

Part II: A new look at the creation of the Bell Rock Lighthouse from little-known records;

Part III: An illustrated timeline of Smith and Stevenson lighthouses in Scotland and the Isle of Man.

The book is handsomely illustrated by engravings (mainly from Stevenson's "Account" of 1824) and many fine lighthouse photographs by Ian Cowe - www.flickr.com/iancowe - and from the archives of the National Library of Scotland and Northern Lighthouse Board.

Published by Whittles at £20 [ISBN 978-0-9567209-0-0] it is not unreasonably priced taking into account it is hard-backed with an attractive dust cover! Moreover it includes much original research which will make it compelling reading for many! It should also be noted that Prof. Paxton has waived any fee for his work, and any profits from sales will go directly to The Northern Lighthouse Heritage Trust. - D.T.


FORGOTTEN LIGHTHOUSE HERO HAILED AT LAST, by Mark Macaskill - from the 'Sunday Times' - 6th February 2011 . . . "In the 19th century the Rennie and Stevenson families did have some fierce public disputes, but that was all a long time ago. What matters now is that both played their part in the creation of one of the great wonders of the modern world. and that both were great men." - James Will, a descendant of Robert Stevenson.

See full article below - With thanks to the "Sunday Times" and Mark Macaskill.



With special thanks to the

Northern Lighthouse Board
National Libraries of Scotland
National Archives of Scotland
Edinburgh Central Library
Dundee City Archives
East Lothian Local History Centre
Arbroath Public Library
Signal Tower, Arbroath
The Scotsman Publications Ltd.
Arbroath Herald and Guide
Motigo webstats

Prof. Roland Paxton (Heriot-Watt University)
Don Johnson (Cape Bonavista Lighthouse)
Lorna Hunter (NLB)
Astrid Slight (Chile)
Carmen Slight (Chile)



John F. Boath
Peter C. Clarke
Ian Cowe
Eddie Dishon
Derek Robertson
David G. Taylor

Alan Taylor (webmaster)
Nessie Taylor (proof reading)


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.

© Copyright - All material contained within this website is subject to Copyright, and must not be reproduced in any form without prior permission of the Owner