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Return to Welcome to Fife Robert Stevenson’s Lighthouse

Robert Stevenson’s Lighthouse

Robert Stevenson’s Lighthouse was built on the Isle of May in 1816 and it looks the same today as it did nearly two hundred years ago. It's an imposing stone building, its light nearly 80ft above the ground. 

The lighthouse has a fascinating history. In 1886 it became the first lighthouse in Scotland to be powered by electricity. At the same time the Northern Lighthouse Board decided to install a foghorn at the south end of the May. This required a lot of machinery plus the manpower to oversee the light and the new engines so several families moved to the island.

The lighthouse now had one of the best lights on the coast, but it was also very expensive to run and in 1924 the NLB decided to return the light to oil power, cutting the workforce needed to four families.

The Lighthouse became a 'rock' station in 1972 which meant that only the lighthouse keepers were allowed to live there, they left in 1989 when the light became fully automated. The light now switches itself off and on, and is powered by diesel generator. The NLB visits once a month to maintain it, and are planning to convert to solar power soon.

There are regular boat services to the island from March to October with Anstruther Pleasure Cruises and Isle of May Boat Trips.


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