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1 T is with much diffidence that the author now lays before Your 
Majesty, an Account of the arduous national undertaking of erecting 
a Light-house on the Bell Rock, — a sunk reef, lying about eleven miles 
from the shore, and so situated as to have long 'proved an object of dread 
to mariners on the eastern coast of Scotland, especially when making 
for the Friths of Forth and Tay. 

This edifice being of the utmost consequence to the safety of Your 
Majesty's Ships of War upon the North Sea station, and of the commer- 
cial shipping of this part of the empire, he presumes to hope for Your 
Majesty's favourable acceptance of his wo?'k. From the known par- 
tiality, also, of Your Majesty for naval excursions, which so recently led 
the Royal Squadron within a comparatively short distance of the Bell 
Rock Light-house, in the course of Your Majestfs most gracious Visit 
to your ancient Kingdom of Scotland, he flatters himself that Your 
Majesty may feel an additional interest in the subject of this volume. 

The Introduction to this work brings generally under Your Ma- 
jesty's notice, the important labours of the Scottish Light-house Board, 
appointed by an act of the 26th Parliament of Your Majesty's illus- 
trious Father. Since that period, Light-house stations have been par- 
tially extended over the whole northern shores of Your Majesty's Bri- 
tish dominions, from Inchkeith in the Frith of Forth, to the Isle of Man 
in the Irish Sea, including in this circuit the Hebrides, and Orkney 
and Shetland Islands. 3Iuch, however, still remains to be done ; and 
the Board is gradually proceeding, as the state of its funds will per- 
mit, in placing additional Sea-Lights on certain intermediate points of 
the coast. 

It cannot fail to be gratifying to Your Majesty to learn, as the 
result of the exertions of this Board, that the mariner may now na- 
vigate those regions with a degree of security and confidence quite un- 
known to Your Majesty's Royal Ancestor James the Fifth, when he 
sailed around this coast in the 16th century, or even, at a recent period, 
to Your Majesty's Royal Brother William Henry Duke of Clarence, 
when in early life he traversed those seas. 

With unfeigned sentiments of loyalty and attachment, the author 
subscribes himself 

Your Majesty's 

Most devoted Subject and Servant, 





Historical Narrative of the Institution of the Board of Commis- 
sioners, and Progress made in the Erection of the Northern 


Early Voyages of the Scots. Extension of Trade. Charts of the Coast. . 1 — 4 

1786. Proposition for the establishment of a Light-house Board in Scotland. 

Original act passed in 1786. Commissioners appointed. First Meeting 

of the Board. Mode of raising Funds. : . 5 — 6 

1787. Kinnaird-Head and Mull of Kintyre Light-houses 6 — 8 

1788. Light Duty found to be too small. Act of 1788 ■ . . 9 

1789. Island Glass, North Ronaldsay, and Pladda Light-houses. Collectors of 

the Light-Duties appointed. 10 — 11 

1791. Pladda distinguishing Light. Annual Supply and Inspection of the 
Light-houses. Light-keepers' Salary. Economical plan of early Light- 
houses 12 — 14 

1793, Application for Additional Lights, State of the Light-house Funds. 14 — 15 

1794. Pentland Skerry Light-house. Writer's first Voyage to the North. 

Loss of the Sloop Elizabeth. Mr Balfour and Mr Riddoch of Ork- 
ney presented with Pieces of Plate .... 15 — 17 

Act Incorporating the Commissioners into a Board or Body Politic. 
Additional works at theLight-houses already built. Proposition for 

altering Kinnaird-Head Light-house 18 — 19 

1801. Numerous Shipwrecks on the Island of Sanday. Proofs of a severe 
winter in Orkney. Quarries at Sanday and Eda. Encroachments 
of the Sea. Remarks on Ruble Building, and Houses with double 
walls. Foundation-Stone of Start Point Light-house laid. Reve- 
rend Walter Traill's Address upon this occasion 19 — 23 



1803. Inchkeith Light-house. Originally proposed as a Leading Light. 
Duty for Inchkeith modified. Light-keepers Accommodations 
extended. Construction of Light-rooms and Reflectors improved. 
Inscription upon Inchkeith Light-hoouse. Pilot's guard-room. 
Shipwrecked Seamen sheltered. ..-,....•.. 24 — 29 

1806. Start-Point Light exhibited, and North Ronaldsay Light-house con- 
verted into a Beacon. List of 22 Shipwrecks on the Island of 
Sanday, in the course of Twelve Years. Foreman and Artificers lost 

in the Traveller. Captain Manby's Apparatus, 30 — 34 

Island of May Light-house. Patent ratified 1641 ; the Duty for 
that Light complained of after the Union. Family of Scotstarvet 
become Proprietors. Chamber of Commerce get that Light impro- 
ved. Portland Family become Proprietors. Loss of the Nymphen 
and Pallas Frigates. Lord Melville, First Lord of the Admiralty, 
applies to the Light-house Board, by whom the Duties and Island 
of May are purchased. Additional apartments provided at the 
Isle of May. Notice of the alteration of this Light and that of 
Inchkeith. Pilot's guard-room 36 41 

1815. Corsewall Light-houuse. Foundation-stone laid. Light exhibited. . 42 — 44 

1818. Isle of Man Light-houses. Writer's Report in the year 1802, re- 
lative to the erection of Light-houses on the Isle of Man. Trade 
of Liverpool applies to the Commissioners to erect them. Act of 
1815, obtained by Sir W. Rae, with regard to these Lights. Diffi- 
culty of fixing their Sites. Lights exhibited 1st February 1818. 
Sum expended by the Light-house Board, on the East Coast, in the 
course of 10 years 44—48 

1821. Sumburgh-head Light exhibited. This House built with double 

walls, 52 

Carr Rock Beacon. List of 16 vessels wrecked there in the course of 
nine years. Floating-Buoy moored off this dangerous Reef. Bea- 
con of Masonry designed, with Tide-machine and Bell-apparatus. 
Dimensions of Carr Rock. Difficulties of this work. It is fre- 
quently damaged in Storms. The upper part ultimately completed 

with cast-iron, without the Alarm-Bell 56—62 

Duties exigible. Expence of Management. Accounts of the Light- 
house Board made public. Application of the Funds, and dispo- 
sal of the Surplus. Practical Management 63 — 64 




Name, Situation, Dimensions, and Natural History, of the Bell 
Rock. — Depth of Water, and Current of the Tides in its Vicinity. 


Origin of the Names Inch-Cape and Bell Rock. Tradition of a Bell erected 

by one of the Abbots of Aberbrothock 67 — 68 

Situation, Dimensions, and Mineralogy of the Rock. Wasting effects of the 

Sea. Proofs of its having occupied a higher Level. ....;. 69 — 71 

Plants, Animals, Insect destructive to Timber. Experiment with pieces of 
Timber fixed to the Rock. Mussels attempted to be planted upon it. 
Habits of Fishes. . 92—74 

Depth of Water upon the Rock, and at the distance of 100 yards from it. 
Tides at the Rock. Not accounted for by Writers on the subject. 
Progress of the great Waves of the Tide. Periods of High-water at 
different places in the Frith of Forth. Currents at the Mouth of the 
River Dee. Water salt at bottom and fresh at top. Phenomenon of 
in and onshore Tides. Tides of Mediterranean and Baltic Seas. . . 93 — 81 


Position of the Bell Rock. — Designs for the Light-house. — Bill 
by Lord Advocate Hope in 1803. — Bill by Lord Advocate Er- 
skine in 1806. — Report of the Committee of the House of Com- 
mons. — Passing of the Bill. 

Dangerous Position of the Rock. Sir Alexander Cochrane's Letter to the 
Light-house Board. Great Storm in 1799. Expence of the Light-house, 
as estimated by the Public. Designs by Captain Brodie and Mr Cooper, 



Captain Brodie's remuneration. The Writer's first visit to the Rock in 
the year 1800. Pillar-formed Building compared with one of Stone. 
Mr Telford requested to give a Design. Mr Downie's Pillar-formed De- 
sign 81—93 

Bell Rock Light-house proposed at the Convention of Royal Burghs. Lord 

Advocate Hope's Bill is lost in the House of Lords in 1803. . . 94—95 

The Light-house Board consults Mr Rennie, who visits the Rock with Mr 
Hamilton, and the Writer. The Commissioners take the sense of cer- 
tain Ports relative to the measure. Reports of the Traders in Leith and 
Berwick. Resolution of the Board to apply again to Parliament. . . 94 — 98 

Lord Advocate Erskine's Bill 1806. Mr Hamilton and the Writer go to 
London on this business. Loan from Government doubtful. Board of 
Trade favourable to the Loan. Memorial to the Board of Trade. Sir 
Joseph Banks's exertions. Bill read first and second times. Report 
brought up by Sir John Sinclair. Report of the Committee. Bill meets 
with some opposition at the third reading, but is passed . . . . . 100 — 105 

CHAP. III.— 1807. 

Floating-light Ship. — Commencement of the Operations on the 
Rock. — Erection of the Beacon-House, and Progress of the 

The Act provides for the mooring of a Floating- Light. Fishing Dogger pur- 
chased, fitted out and moored, under the direction of a Committee 
of the Trinity-House of Leith, and named the Pharos. Peculiar con- 
struction of her Lanterns and Moorings. She sails for her station. A 
Committee from Arbroath joins the party at the Isle of May. Is anchor- 
ed in a temporary birth. Her moorings unexpectedly slip over-board, 
and are recovered with much difficulty. Description of the Pharos. . 107 — 114 

Commencement of the Operations at the Rock. Sloop Smeaton. Positions 
of the Beacon and Light-house fixed upon. First trip of the Artificers to 
the Rock on the 7th August. Rate of Wages. Letter from Aberdeen 
Masons. Lines from Dibdin 115 — 120 

Erection of the Beacon-House. Work commenced 18th August. Method 
of fixing iron-bats into the Rock. Landing-master's duty. Indications 
of the state of the Weather. Dangerous situation of the Rock in 
Foggy weather. Artificers amuse themselves with fishing while the Rock 
is under water. The fixing of the Smith's Forge completed. Valuable 



services of the Smiths on the Bell Rock. Much wanted at the Edy- 

stone. The Seals desert the Rock • 120 — 126 

Hampered state of the Artificers on ship-board. Inconveniencies of the Pha- 
ros as a Tender. Difficulty of getting on board. Artificers become 
expert rowers. Their rations of Provisions. " Saturday-Night at Sea." 137 — 130 

Reasons for continuing the works upon the Rock during part of Sundays. 
Preparations for having Prayers on deck. Prayer composed by the Reve- 
rend Dr A. Brunton. Some of the Artificers decline working on Sun- 
day. Additional Pay for Sunday's work . 131 — 135 

Artificers work knee-deep in water during neap-tides. Operations at the 
Rock entirely confined to the Beacon. Description of the operation of 
boring holes in the Rock. Difficult situation of the Smiths. . . . 135 — 137 

Wind-Gauge much wanted, to afford a better nomenclature to Seamen. 
Difficult passage with the boats from the Rock to the Tender. Life- 
Buoy streamed on this occasion, A Tender is ordered exclusively for 
the service of the Rock. Some of the Artificers apply for leave ashore. 
Landing made upon the Rock after a gale 138 — 141 

Method of fixing the great iron-stanchions into the Rock. Longest day's 
work hitherto had upon it. Smeaton brings off a cargo of stones for 
making the experiment of landing them. Various methods suggested for 
this critical operation. Stones first landed on the Rock. Mode origi- 
nally adopted for attaching the Stone-fighters to their moorings. Smea- 
ton breaks adrift. Perilous situation of those on the Rock. Pilot- 
boat fortunately comes to their relief. The Boats have a rough passage to 
the Floating-light. The Smeaton bears away for Arbroath. Indispen- 
sable utility of the Beacon-house. Eighteen of the Artificers decline 
embarking for the Rock. The boats, nevertheless, proceed with the re- 
maining eight. Captain Pool's account of the drifting of the Smeaton, 142 — 152 

The comparative level of the site of the Building ascertained. Full comple- 
ment of Buoys moored. Floating-light rides out a strong gale. State 
of the vessel. The Writer consults with the Officers of the ship rela- 
tive to the probable effect of her breaking adrift. The gale takes off. 
Appearance of the Sea on the Rock. The Floating-light breaks adrift. 
Her cables supposed to have been cut by a piece of wreck. Difficulty 
of managing this vessel. She is anchored and moored in a new station. 
Her Light is first exhibited on the 15th of September 1807. . . . 153 — 164 

Light-house Yacht for a time becomes the Tender at the Rock. Artificers 
agree to continue on board of her beyond the term of their engagement. 
An accident happens to one of the Boats 164—165 

The Smeaton arrives at the Rock, 18th September, with the Beams of the 
Beacon-house. Preparations made, and four of the principal ones erect- 
ed. Method of raising them, and fixing the great Iron-Stanchions. Se- 



ven hours' work upon the Rock in one ebb-tide. The remaining two 
principal, and four of the supporting beams, erected. . . . : . 166 17) 

The Boats have some difficulty in leaving the Rock. Shipping dispersed in 
a gale. Land again after an absence of four days. Smith's Forge re- 
moved from the Rock to the Beacon. Writer lands at Arbroath, after 
having been four weeks afloat 172—174 

The vessels are again separated in a gale. A landing effected at the Rock. 
State of the Beacon. Working hours extended. Beacon-works finished 
for the season. Mr John Rennie, and his son Mr George, visit the Rock. 
Number of days during which the Artificers were at work. . . . 175 — 180 

Progress of Operations in the Work-yard. Writer visits the Rock 22d No- 
vember. State of the Beacon. Professor Playfair's observations about 
the unlocking of Screws. State of the Floating-light 181 — 188 

CHAP. IV.— 1808. 

Shipping. — Implements. — Building Materials ; and Peogkess of 
the Works. 

Praam-boats built with a water-tight ceiling or lining. Method of mooring 
the Praam-boats. Attending boats, one of which is fitted up as a Life- 
boats 187—188 

Railways, Waggons, Sheer-crane, Moveable-beam-crane, Sling-cart, Carpen- 
ters' Jack, Lewis-bat, Moulds, Ccffer-dam, Pumps, Winch-machine. . 189 — 196 

Mineralogy of eastern coast. Report of Messrs Rennie and Stevenson, 
about Stone. The use of Granite resolved upon. Mortar of the An- 
cients. Attention of the Moderns to this subject. Mortar of the Edy- 
stone and Bell Rock, Lime, Pozzolano, Sand, Water, Cement. Oaken 
trenails, and Wedges 196 — 204 

The Writer visits the Rock 30th March. Floating-light's crew. Light com- 
paratively feeble. Landing at the Rock difficult. State of the Beacon. 
Propriety of converting it into a Barrack. Bread and Water chest. Ad- 
vantages of the Beacon to Shipping 205 — 208 

Impress-service affects the Operations. Protection-Medal and Descrip- 
tive-Ticket. Lighthouse Yacht on the station as a Tender. Prepara- 
tory works. Use of Granite restricted to lower courses of the building. 
Use of Sandstone extended. Mr Skene's contract for supplying' Granite. 209 — 212 

The Sir Joseph Banks Schooner takes her station as Tender at the Rock. 
The Writer begins the operations of the season 25th May. State of the 



Foundation-pit. Difficult landing. It is found necessary to excavate 
the Rock further, to a greater depth. Artificers much afflicted with sea- 
sickness. Misunderstanding about their Pay. Sailors men of all-works, 212 — 218 
Mortar Gallery fitted up. Smeaton ballasted from the Bell Rock. Fish 

caught in great abundance 218 — 219 

First entire course completed in the hewing, and laid on the platform in the 
Work-yard at Arbroath, on the 4th June. Its cubical contents. Cer- 
tainty of commencing the building operations this season. Arrangements 
with the artificers. How employed. Interesting appearance of the Rock. 
They remain there all day. Tender bears away for Leith Roads. The 
work is continued on the Rock till midnight. Its appearance. Arti- 
ficers backward in landing, owing to the appearance of the weather. 220 — 226 
First entire course of the building removed from the platform, to be shipped 
for the Rock, 14th June. Trial of the Landing apparatus. Fifty Artifi- 
cers land. Small ruble-walls built instead of coffer-dam. Advantages 
of a Bell as a signal in foggy weather. Force of the Sea upon the Rock. 
Artificers sail for Arbroath. Pay and premiums of the Artificers this 
month. They embark again for the Rock on the return of Spring-tides. 

How employed 227—235 

Foundation-stone prepared, landed at high-water. Laid 10th July, with 

masonic ceremony , 235—237 

Price of Granite advanced. A raft of Timber goes adrift. State of things 
at night on extinguishing the torches at the Rock. First or foun- 
dation course, consisting of 18 stones, finished 26th July. Force of 
habit exemplified in landing on the Rock. Cargo of the first entire 
course landed 28th July. The Smeaton makes a second trip in twenty 
hours. 4 stones are laid. Advantage of cranes compared with sheer- 
poles. Mr Smeaton's plan in the use of trenails and wedges followed. 239 — 244 
A party of gentlemen have a narrow escape at the Rock. First entire course 
completed 12th August. One of the artificers disabled in the work-yard 
at Arbroath. He receives an annuity. Granite stones much wanted for 
the work. Second entire course completed. Pumping of water discon- 
tinued at the Rock 10th September. One of the artificers, by an acciden- 
tal bruise, loses a finger. Progress of the works stopped for want of 
Granite. The Building brought to a level with the higher parts of the 

Rock 244—249 

Great difficulty of landing. Two stones are loosened by the force of the Sea. 
Praam-boats ride out a gale with great ease. 31 stones laid in 6 J hours. 
One of the boats cannot be got out of the eastern-creek. 15 stones laid. 
Weather very boisterous. Engineer's Clerk most active. ... 250 — 253 
Unfortunate loss of James Scott, a sailor. His mother gets a small annuity. 
17 stones laid. Building closed for the season 21st September. Sum- 



mary of Operations. Shipping dispersed in a gale. State of things at 
the Rock after the gale. The Writer sails on his annual trip to the 
Northern Light-houses. Visits the Bell Rock on his return. Arrange- 
ments for the Winter months _ 253 256 

CHAP. V.— 1809. 
Progress of the Works. 

Railways injured. Bracing-chains unlocked. Proofs of strong currents in 
the Sea. Travellers or Drift-stones found upon the Rock. Progress of 
works in the Yard at Arbroath. Exertions in the Quarries. Captain 
Calder's letter to Mr Stevenson. Drift-stones removed. Joisting of 
platform lifted. A vessel in danger of being wrecked at the Rock. Cast- 
iron anchors 257 — 262 

Purchase of sloop Patriot. Floating-Light encounters heavy Seas. 12th 
course completed by the stone-cutters. Employment of Shipping. Patriot 
condemned. Opinion of Mr Solicitor- General Boyle. Two Praam- 
boats launched. Floating-light under the charge of Mr John Reid. 
Two sets of moorings laid down. Tender slips her moorings. Other 
hree sets of moorings are laid down. . 263 — 266 

Artificers cannot land. The sailors account for the unsettled state of the wea- 
ther. The Writer visits the Rock 1st May. Some timber is landed. 
Tender in danger of drifting upon the Rock. Joiners and millwrights 
get high premiums. Works make rapid progress. One of the floating- 
buoys gets water-logged. Great exertions made to complete the circu- 
lar reach of the railway laid round the Building. Attempt made to 
erect a crane 266— ,271 

The Smeaton sails for the Rock with the first cargo of stones this season. 
Floating-Light's moorings examined. State of her moorings. Plants and 
Animals observed on the building. Builders commence operations 27th 
May. Lay 5 stones. Tender rides out a hard gale. Apparatus on the 
Rock and state of the Sea, viewed from a boat at a distance. Landing 
very difficult. State of the Weather 562—277 

Zeal of the Writer's Assistants. Eleven Artificers left upon the Beacon. 
They encounter a severe gale. The Tender at this time is very un- 
comfortable. Artificers relieved. Mr P. Logan's account of the Beacon 
during the gale. James Glen's exertions. State of matters at the Rock 
after the gale. Tender obliged to leave her station. Progress of the 
works at Arbroath. Patriot slips her moorings. Artificers divided into 


squads. Shipping belonging to the Light-house service. Building goes 

on, laying at the rate of from 12 to 20 blocks per day. Great exertions 

made to supply materials 276 — 284 

Artificers are unavoidably left all night upon the Beacon. Smeaton and Patriot 
slip their moorings. Remarkable breach of the Sea upon the Rock. 3 stones 
arc in danger of being washed away. Great waste of mortar. 57 stones 
are laid in one day. Cooking commenced on the Beacon 24th June. 
Situation of mortar-makers and smiths upon the Beacon, Rope-ladder 
extended between the Beacon and Building. Work stopped by a 
simple mistake. 66 stones landed, and 38 laid on the 27th of June. The 
work can now be continued after the Rock is overflowed by the tide. . 284 — 290 

One of the artificers meets with a severe accident, of which, however, he re- 
covers. Have 10 hours' work to-day, and lay 39 stones. Writer visits 
the Carr Rock, with a view to the erection of a Beacon. Joiners, at 
their own desire, are now left on the Beacon. Considered a favourable 
omen for the inhabitation of the Light-house 290 — 294 

Tide for the first time does not overflow the building, 8th July. Number 
of joiners reduced. Balance-crane begun to be made. Tenth course 
completed. Building at the rate of 29 to 52 stones per day. The stone- 
lighters not loaded at Arbroath on Sundays, 294 — 298 

William Walker, accidentally killed at Arbroath. His widow receives an an- 
nuity. One of the artificers remains alone on the Beacon. Artificers 
take possession of it, along with Peter Fortune. His character. The 
Praam-boats cannot approach the Rock 29S — 30O 

An embargo is laid on shipping throughout the Kingdom. Mr Sheriff Duff's 
exertions to get the Light-house shipping relieved. Operations at the 
Rock while the vessels are detained in port. The embargo is taken off 
the Light-house shipping. The propriety of stopping the Bell Rock ves- 
sels doubted. 78 stones landed, and 40 built, on the 1st August. 
Twenty-four artificers inhabit the Beacon-house. Mr Sheriff Duff visits 
the Rock. Building proceeds at the rate of from 22 to 23 stones per 
day. The Fly of Bridport narrowly escapes shipwreck on the Bell Rock. 
Mr Sheriff Hamilton visits the Rock. Additional supports for the 
Beacon-house landed. Sheer-crane broken. Some of the artificers get 
alarmed, and leave the Beacon. Effects of the late gale 300 — 306 

The Writer takes possession of his cabin on the Beacon 15th August. 52 
stones landed, and eight built. One of the boats of the Floating-light 
loses her way in thick weather. An entire course of the building is laid 
in one day. Prayers read for the first time in the Beacon-house. The 
Smeaton arrives with the last cargo of stones for the solid part of the 
Building. Building operations for the season concluded, 25th Au- 
gust. Notice of the very proper conduct of the artificers. Floating-light 
breaks adrift. Probable height of the waves of the sea in free space. In- 




ducements for stopping the building at this early period of the season. 
The Tender continues on the station, and the artificers occupy the Bea- 
con-house for a time. Experience bad weather 306 — 311 

The Writer makes a trip to see the distinguishing-light at Flamborough- 
head in Yorkshire. Is overtaken with a gale, which he describes. Great 
want of a Public Harbour on the eastern coast of England. Progress of 
this gale traced from Shetland to Yarmouth Roads. Mr B. Mills of 
Bridlington, probably the first who suggested Distinguishing-lights with 
red colour 311—313 

The Writer sails for the Northern Lights. State of the works when closed 
for the season. Stool or prop for a crane upon the Rock demolished in 
a gale of wind. Artificers visit the Rock. Large Buoy has drifted and 
Floating-light has had bad weather 313 — 315 

CHAP. VI.— 1810. 

Progress and Completion of the Works. 

The Tender visits the Rock and Floating-light, 5th January. The Arti- 
ficers cannot land again until the 11th March. Beacon rendered very 
secure. Landing extremely precarious in winter 317 — 319 

Retrospective view of the works. Mylnefield and Craigleith quarries. Prac- 
tical inferences about concluding the works. Tinber Gangway or Bridge. 
Operations commence for the season. Bridge erected at the Rock. One 
of the artificers gets himself hurt - 320 — 324 

Writer proceeds to the Rock to begin the building operations, 1st May. 
Praam-boats ride easily. State of the Building, Beacon and Timber-bridge. 
Balance-crane landed upon the Rock. Position of the entrance-door. Ar- 
tificers take possession of the Beacon for the working season. . . . 324 — 329 

The Smeaton arrives with the first cargo of stones for the season. No com- 
munication with the Rock, 12th May. Balance-crane ready for use. 
Theory of Sea and Land breezes. Smeaton slips her moorings, and is 
driven up to Leith. . 329 — 331 

Patriot sent to Mylnefield quarry for the last cargo of stones to be carried to 
Arbroath for the Light-house, 17th May. State of the lower part of 
the Beacon, from the effects of a marine insect. 23 blocks of stone 
landed, and raised with the new tackle. One of the stones in danger 
from the breaking of a bolt. The Smeaton makes rapid trips from Ar- 
broath to the Rock with materials. Prayers read for the first time 
on the Building. Exertions of Landing-master's crew. 35th course 


completed. Arrangements for the conduct of the works, and safety of the 

Beacon. Balance-crane shaft unfortunately breaks 332 336 

The Writer is welcomed in at the door of the Light-house, 26th May. Fix- 
tures of the Hinges of the Door and Windows. Great expedition of 
the Shipping with the Materials. Patriot makes one trip in 33 hours. 
36th course laid. King's Birth-day observed, 4th June 336—339 

Stair-case of the Light-house completed, 5th June. Progress of works at 
Edinburgh. Artificers liable to accident. Boat and Life Buoy provided 
for the Beacon. Trenailing of the stones of the building discontinued. 
Number of persons inhabiting the Beacon. Fitting of the window-hino-es 
tedious. Comforts of good weather. Balance-crane shifted. . . . 340 342 

Moveable beam-crane erected on Western Wharf. 2 stones upset by the 
force of the sea. A praam-boat is sent from the Kock without deliver- 
ing her cargo. Floor of the Lightroom-store laid, 13th June. Mr John 
Reid gets leave on shore, rfter having been about three months afloat. 341 344 

First letter written from the Bell Rock Light-house. Its floors, and those of 
the Edystone described. 31 persons lodged in the Beacon. Pay and pre- 
miums of the artificers at the Rock. Seamen find one of the lost sets 
of moorings. Experiment of collecting Gas from Fishes. Cause of 
ground swells 844—347 

Landing-masters dress, and activity of his crew. Want of the Western 
Wharf seriously felt. Operation of shifting the Balance-crane. Western 
Wharf finished, 17th June. Remarkable state of the sea at the Rock. 
Landing-master's crew have now more leisure. Disagreeable state of the 
weather. Responsible situation of the principal workmen. . . 347 359 

Carpenter of Floating-light leaves the service. Patriot makes a trip to and 
from Arbroath in 24 hours. Attempts made to land stones at hio-h water 
with the bridge apparatus. Process of landing stones. Seamen become 
discontented. The Writer's correspondence on this occasion. He o es 
on board of the Tender. Dismisses two of the seamen 352 357 

Progress of the works at Arbroath. 62d course built at the Rock. The 
artificers are wetted by the sea on the top of the walls. Mr John Reid's 
report regarding the Floating-light. Narrow escape of William Kennedy, 
one of the masons 357 331 

Writer describes his cabin. The distressing case of Georo-e Dall an im- 
pressed seaman. Magistrates of Arbroath visit the Rock. Number of ar- 
tificers reduced to 22. Narrow escape of the Smeaton at the Bell 
Rock. Advantage of alarm-bells. Artificers in the Beacon-house greatly 
alarmed 362—365 

Progress of the Light room works. Mrs Dixon, the late Mr Smeaton's 
daughter, visits the Bell Rock works at Edinburgh. Mr D. Logan joins 
the works at the Rock. The Patriot is 7 days in being cleared of a 



cargo. Progress of raising the stones to the top of the Light-house, 365 — 369 

Last cargo of stones at Arbroath shipped for the Rock, 9th July. Library 
floor laid. Ring-bar-course laid. The Dome-course occupies much 
time in building 369 — 372 

Landing-master's crew reduced in number. Patriot driven from the Rock. Ce- 
remony observed at loading the last stone at Leith. Many strangers vi- 
sit the works in their present state. Difficulty of raising and laying the 
stones of the cornice. 84th course completed. Eight stones of Balcony 
course laid. This course completed 27th July. Ceremony at landing 
the last stone 372—377 

Machinery partly dismantled, 31st July. Foot of Balance-crane taken down. 
The Earl of Kellie, and Mr Sheriff Monypenny, land at the Rock. Cen- 
tre-stone of floor laid 3d August. Artificers leave the Rock. The Wri- 
ter meets with his Assistants at Arbroath 377 — 379 

Plans arranged for building the Houses at Arbroath for the families of the 
Light-keepers. The duty on stone charged upon these buildings. Three 
years of the unexpired lease of the work-yard given up. Base-line mea- 
sured on the Sands of Barry. Trigonometrical Survey of Great Britain 
alluded to 379—383 

Artificers return to the Rock. Smeaton obliged to leave her station. Mor- 
tar gallery completely broken up by the sea. The Tender returns to the 
Rock. The Smith's anvil and bellows washed off" the Beacon. . . 383 — 386 

Light-room sash-frames landed 23d August. Captain Wilson is accidentally 
hurt by one of them. Last stone of the Light-house laid, 2d Sep- 
tember 386—388 

The Sir Joseph Banks Tender sails for Leith to be sold. Praam-boat drifts 
from the Rock. Artificers for the erection of the Light-room landed 
upon the Rock on the 14th of October. The Writer sails for the North- 
ern Light-houses, accompanied by his friends Dr Barclay, Mr Oliphant, 
and Mr Neill. Progress of the Light-room works on his return. Unfortu- 
nate loss of Charles Henderson. Difficulty of procuring red-coloured 
glass. Ventilating or Finishing ball fixed upon the Cupola of the Light- 
room, 22d October. Light-room glazed. Light-house Yacht loses one 
of her boats oft" the Bell Rock. Great dexterity of the Landing-master 
and his crew 388—394 

State of the Railways, Beacon, and Light-house. Condition of the se- 
veral apartments. House put under the charge of Mr Reid, principal 
Light-keeper, 30th September. Small boat washed off the Beacon. 
Sprays rise 104 feet upon the Light-house. Seas fly from stem to stern 
of the Floating-light. Mr Reid left with Peter Fortune in charge of the 
Light-house. They experience a severe gale. Their description of the 
effects of the Sea 394—399 


The Red-coloured Glass arrives at Edinburgh, 6th December. Reflecting 
apparatus shipped for the Rock, and landed on the 15th. The Light is 
advertised to the Public on the 17th. List of Newspapers in which the 
advertisement is inserted. The Light-keepers are left in possession of the 
House, together with Mr Forrest, general superintendant. . . 399 — 402 

CHAP. VII.— 1811. 

Account of the Bell Rock Light-House, from its completion 
till the Year 1823, including Statements of the Expence, 
Quantity of Materials and Workmanship connected with the 

1811. The Light is exhibited on the 1st of February, when the Floating- 
Light is extinguished. A Storm occurs on the night that the House is 
lighted. Floating-Light puts into Anstruther, on her return voyage to 
Leith. State of her bottom 404—405 

The Light-keepers get their turns of liberty on shore. Letter from Mr Fo- 
rest to the writer. Effects of the Sea on the building. State of the 
Railways and Wharfs. Remarkable force of the Sea in lifting a large piece 
of lead. Direction of the Seas which have the greatest effect upon 
the Light-house. Comfortable state of the building. Qualifications of 
the Light-keepers. Mr Forrest leaves them in full possession of the 
house 406—410 

Progress of Ulterior works. Lord Boyle and a party land at the Rock. 
Boats suitable for landing there. Bruce's " two-half Boat." Light-house 
stove takes fire. Sprays rise to the height of the Light-room. Advan- 
tage of double windows. . . . . . • 411—413 

1812. Light-house excites much interest. Sir William Rae and Mr Duff', 
visit the Rock. The Beacon is taken down, and removed from the Rock. 
Mode of securing timber against the Oniscus insect. Light-house encoun- 
ters another gale. Remarkable shock of the Sea. Professor Robison's 
opinion on this subject. State of the Sea from which the Frontispiece is 
delineated. It overruns the Rock at low-water. Mode in which the 

Light is attended 414 — 416 

1813. Establishment of the Light-keepers at Arbroath completed. Signals 
observed at the Rock. Thunder-rod. Method of fixing it. . . . 417 — 418 

1814. A party of the Commissioners, with Sir Walter Scott, visit the Light- 
house 419 

1815. Permanent Railways begun to be fitted up. Lord President Hope 

visits the Rock 419 



1816. Pharos Tender built. Exterior of Light-house painted 419 

1818. Fuci disappear from the Rock 420 

1819- Permanent Railways completed. Improved Access to the Light- 
house by a brazen ladder. Sprays rise 105 feet. A piece of the highest 
part of the rock carried away by the violence of the Sea 421 

1820. Improvements on the Light-house. Inner door of brass, &c. . . 421 

1821. A new Machine for taking up the Stores. Mr John Reid retires from 

the Light-house service on half-pay. 421 

1822. Light-house Works and Model completed. Design for Wolf Rock. 422 

1823. Severe Storm. Carrier-pigeons sent from the Rock. Expence of the 
Work. Cubic contents of the Materials 42S 




No. I. Additional Light-houses proposed on the Coast. Light-Keepers 1 In- 
structions Rations of Provisions at the Bell Rock. Monthly, and 

Ship-wreck Returns 425—437 

II. Poem on Sir Ralph the Rover, extracted from Mr Southey's Works 438 

III. Abstract Account of Light-house Duties 439 

IV. Reports relative to the Bell Rock Light-house, by Mr Rennie, and 

the Writer 440 — 468 

V. Remarks relative to the Ground-Swells of the Sea 469 — 470 

VI Schedules of Materials and Workmanship 471—474 

VII. Abstract Account of Expence. Average Price Provisions. . . 475 — 483 


Plate I. Inchkeith Light-house 487 

II. Carr Rock Beacon 487—489 

III. Chart of Great Britain, wth Sections of the Depths of the Sea. 490 
IV. Chart, shewing the position of the Bell Rock, in relation to the 

opposite Shores • 490 

V. Chart, shewing the Position of the Rock, in relation to the Ship- 
ping , . . . 491 

VI. Plan of the Rock, shewing the Position of the Light-house. 492 — 499 

VII. Original Designs for the Light-house 499 — 501 

VIII. Beacon House . 501—503 

XI. Progress of the Works 503—505 

X. Implement and Apparatus connected with the Work. . . . 505 — 508 

XI. Sheer-crane, Praam-boat discharging, &c 508 — 510 

XII. Work-yard, Light-Keepers' Houses at Arbroath 511 

XIII. Plan of the several Courses of the Masonry of the Light-house, 511 — 515 

XIV. Moveable Beam Crane! 515—517 

XV. Foundation-Pit of the Light-house ' 518 

XVI. Elevation and Section of the Light-house. 518 — 519 

XVII. Balance-Crane 520—522 

XVIII. General View of the Works. (See page 424.) 520—523 

XIX. Door and Window Hinges, and Thunder-rod 523 — 525 

XX. Balcony and Light-Room 526—529 

XXI. Frontispiece explained. (See Title-page.) 529 

XXII. Vignette on Second Title-page. (See page 62.) 530 

XXIII. Design for a Light-house, suggested on visiting the Wolf Rock, 530 — 533 




jhong the Nations of Europe, the Scots have always heen allowed to institution of Boaid 

of Northern Light- 

possess a considerable share of maritime enterprise. The local situation and houses - 

circumstances of Scotland necessarily directed the genius of its people to 
the pursuit of nautical affairs. Their voyages to the Hanseatic Towns, and 
to all the commercial countries of Europe, were naturally longer than 
those of their more southern neighbours of England, who were separated 
from the Continent only by a narrow channel, which must have rendered 
their communication in the rude periods of maritime discovery compara- 
tively easy. The voyages of the Scots even to the most contiguous parts 
of France and the Low Countries were upwards of 140 leagues, along 
a coast intersected by innumerable shoals ; and, in the time of war, lay 
so open to the attacks of English ships, that, in prosecuting them, the navi- 
gators were obliged to abandon the usual track, and hold a course far from 
the shelter of the land, exposed to all the dangers of the seas and the vi- 
cissitudes of the weather. 


Institution of Board 
ot' Northern Light- 


In those early periods of our national history, when Britain was di- 
vided into two separate and independent states, jealous of each other, it 
hecame necessary for Scotland to form alliances with foreign powers, when 
distant voyages, and much intercourse by sea was indispensable. The fre- 
quent struggles with the marauding powers of the North, obliged her to 
keep a more considerable navy than would otherwise have been required 
for the protection of her commerce. The connection likewise, with Den- 
mark and Norway, through the marriage of James III. with Margaret 
daughter of Christian I., in 1469, was attended with the final annexation 
of the Orkney and Shetland Islands to the Crown of Scotland ; — circum- 
stances which naturally extended her foreign traffic, and completely united 
the dominion and the navigation of the whole line of her coast. 

It was reserved, however, for the influence and happy effects of the 
Union of the Crowns and Kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland, to 
draw forth the full energies of these countries. During the long and glori- 
' ous reign of his late Majesty, the name and character of the United 
Kingdom have been highly advanced in arms, while her works of indus- 
try, have not only flourished at home, but been extended to the remotest 
parts of the world. 

Improvement of 
the Highlands. 

About the middle of the last or eighteenth century, the true value of 
the Highlands of Scotland, and the best interests of these extensive dis- 
tricts, may be said for the first time to have been understood. Since that 
period, the object of the Government has been more especially directed to 
the industry of the inhabitants, in giving every encouragement and faci- 
lity to the establishment of fisheries, towns and harbours, along the shores 
of the north and west of Scotland ; and in opening interior communica- 
tions, by the introduction of a system of roads, the formation of an ex- 
tensive inland navigation, and the execution of other national works. 

Extension of Trade. Soon after the internal disturbances which marked the year 1 745, the 

trade on the coast of Scotland with sloops or vessels of small tonnage, 


became considerable, in consequence of the bounties and encouragement institution of Board 

if Northern Light- 
given to the extension of the British fisheries. About this time also, the houses. 

important manufacture of kelp or marine alkali, from certain species of 
fuci abundant on the northern and western shores of Scotland, was intro- 
duced. Besides carrying the kelp to market, a considerable number of 
small vessels was employed in conveying salt and other articles required 
for the fisheries, — in the Irish coasting trade, — in carrying slates from Ar- 
gyleshire, — and in transporting the rich iron-ore of Cumberland to the 
foundries on the eastern shores of the kingdom. A trade was likewise 
carried on from the Frith of Clyde, Liverpool, and the west of England 
in general, and north of Ireland, with Norway, the Baltic, and the other 
States in the north of Europe, in timber, iron, tar and other commodi- 
ties ; and in exchange for these were received coal, salt, and the various 
exports of Britain. These all became sources of commerce, which created 
a demand for shipping, and promoted numerous voyages along the north- 
ern and western coasts of Scotland, which now became more known and 
frequented. But such was the length and peril of a voyage round the 
coast of Scotland, by the Orkneys and Western Islands, without the aid 
of light-houses, or even of correct charts, that the traffic along these shores 
was still comparatively small. 

It was to remove these difficulties in some measure, that the formation of inland Navigation. 
a navigable canal between the Friths of Forth and Clyde, had long been 
in agitation ; and in the year 1 767, the measure was brought forward in the 
House of Commons. This canal, upon a voyage from the Forth to the 
Clyde, is calculated to save no less than about 628 miles ; the distance, 
by the inland navigation being reduced to about 35 miles. This work ha- 
ving been carried into execution, was opened from sea to sea in 1790, 
forming an important step in the progressive intercourse by water-carriage, 
a system which has since been so remarkably extended to all parts of 
the united kingdom. But the usefulness of the Forth and Clyde Canal 
was greatly marred by an unfortunate error in its construction, its depth ha- 
ving been limited to 9 feet, and its consequent incapacity for carrying 




institution of Board sea-borne ships of large burden ; so that the inconveniences of a circuitous 

of Northern Light- 
houses, voyage round Scotland still remains for all the larger classes of shipping. 

In the formation of the Caledonian Canal, the error of the Forth and 
Clyde navigation has been avoided ; this noble work being capable of re- 
ceiving ships which draw 21 feet of water. 

Voyage of James V. 
in 1.540. 

Notwithstanding these great improvements, it was still found neces- 
sary, from the increasing state of trade, to give further facilities to the na- 
vigation of the northern shores, by the Orkney and Western Islands. 
The first step taken towards this object, was to procure accurate surveys 
of the coast ; for it is a curious fact, deserving of notice, that the little 
journal and chart of the enterprising voyage of James V., with many of 
the Scottish Nobles, from the Frith of Forth to the Solway Frith, by 
the Orkneys, was long consulted as the only guide for these seas. This 
voyage, so honourable to the naval annals of Scotland, was undertaken by 
James with twelve ships in the year 1540, under the direction of Alex- 
ander Lindsay, the most skilful pilot of his time. 

original charts. At the request of the Philosophical Society (now the Royal Society) of 

Edinburgh, the Rev. Alex.Bryce of Kirknewton, about the year 1740, made 
a geometrical survey of the North-west coast of Scotland, including the shores 
of Caithness and Sutherland. This paved the way for the more exten- 
sive labours of Mr Murdoch Mackenzie, who, after finishing his excel- 
lent charts of the Orkney Islands in the year 1750, was employed by 
Government in a survey of the whole of the Western Highlands and 
Islands, from Cape Wrath in Sutherlandshire to the Mull of Kintyre. 
But long after the publication of these valuable charts, the navigation 
of the sounds and sheltered seas of this district was seldom ventured 
upon by the larger class of shipping employed in foreign trade. The 
danger of falling in prematurely with the land during the night, and 
the rapidity of the tides on these shores, induced the mariner to keep 
along the extreme points and headlands of the coast, holding his course 
even to the northward of Orkney and Shetland, and to the westward of 


the Lewis Isles by St Kilda, exposed to the heavy seas of the Atlantic institution of Board 

of Northern I. iglu- 

Ocean. In this way, much hazard to shipping, and loss of time, were houses. 

incurred ; and when overtaken with gales of wind, such vessels were un- 
able to avail themselves of the numerous bays and anchorages of the 
Highlands; — considerations of much importance to heavy laden ships, 
but especially to the smaller classes of coasting and fishing vessels. It 
therefore appeared, that nothing but the erection of Lighthouses, by 
which the mariner might identify the land under night, would render this 
navigation at all a safe one. 

Representations had often been made by shipmasters to their owners, Proposition of a Board. 

of the difficulties and dangers encountered in sailing along the coast of 
Scotland. The establishment of a Light-house Board, and the erection 
of Light-houses on our Northern Shores, became the topic of conversa- 
tion among mercantile men ; and the subject was at length brought for- 
ward at the meeting of the Convention of the Royal Boroughs of Scot- 
land, in the year 1784, by the late Mr Dempster of Dunnichen, then 
Provost of Forfar, and Member of Parliament, as worthy of the notice of 
the Legislature. 

rai Act. irate. 

A bill was accordingly framed by the late Mr John Gray, writer to Passing of the <m- 
the Signet, agent for the Royal Boroughs, which was brought into Par- 
liament by Mr Dempster, in the session of 1786. By this act, the 26th 
Geo. III. chap. 101., a Board was appointed, for the erection of Light- 
houses on the coast of Scotland ; the preamble stating that " it would 
conduce greatly to the security of navigation and the fisheries, if four 
lighthouses were erected in the northern parts of Great Britain," viz. one 
on Kinnaird Head, in Aberdeenshire ; one on the Orkney Islands ; one 
on the Harris Isles, and one at the Mull of Kintyre, in Argyleshire ; for 
which a duty of one penny per register ton, for British, and twopence pet- 
tow upon foreign ships, should be paid by every ship or decked vessel which 
should pass one or all of these lights. 

Institution of Board 
of Northern Light- 

Commissioners ex 


The Commissioners appointed for putting this act in execution, are, 
" His Majesty's Advocate and Solicitor-General for Scotland ; the Lord 
Provost and First Bailie of Edinburgh ; the Lord Provost and First 
Bailie of Glasgow ; the Provosts of Aberdeen, Inverness and Campbel- 
town; the Sheriffs of the Counties of Edinburgh, Lanark, Renfrew, 
Bute, Argyle, Inverness, Ross, Orkney, Caithness, and Aberdeen ;" and 
to these have since been added, the Sheriffs of the Counties of Ayr, Fife, 
Forfar, and Wigton, agreeably to a clause which authorises the Commis- 
sioners to add to their number. 

First Meeting of the 

The first meeting of the Commissioners was held at Edinburgh on the 
1st day of August 1786 ; and consisted of the following members: 

His Majesty's Solicitor-General, Robert Dundas of Arniston. 

The Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Sir James Hunter-Blair, Bart. 

The First Bailie of Edinburgh, James Dickson, Esq. 

The Sheriff of the County of Bute, Bannatyne Macleod, Esq. 

The Sheriff of the County of Aberdeen, Alexander Elphinston, Esq. 

The Sheriff of the County of Lanark, Sir William Honyman, Bart. 

Mode of raising 

The meeting having elected Sir James Hunter-Blair to be their Pre- 
ses, and appointed Mr Gray to be their Secretary, deliberated upon the 
measures to be taken for giving effect to the statute. The first object 
of the Board was to borrow the sum of L. 1200, which they were au- 
thorised to raise. As all the Commissioners were acting ex officio, it 
was suggested, that the most convenient method of arranging the security 
for the funds to be borrowed, would be for the Magistrates of the five bo- 
roughs mentioned in the act to become security, upon assignment of 
the duties leviable for the lights, — a mode which was accordingly adopt- 

Information about 

The preses informed the meeting, that he had corresponded with per- 
sons the most likely to afford information relative to the best construction 


of Light-houses, and had received answers from Liverpool to a variety Progress of Northern 


of queries regarding Light-houses, where the use of coal-fires had been — 
laid aside, aud where oil lights, with reflectors, had been introduced : 
That he had also got various plans and estimates for Light-houses light- 
ed with oil : That the Chamber of Commerce of Edinburgh had fur- 
nished a plan of the Light-house on the Island of May, in the Frith of 
Forth, and also a description of the light on the Island of Cumbraes, 
in the Frith of Clyde, both of which were then open coal-fires : In particu- 
lar, that he had received from the late Mr Thomas Smith of Edinburgh, 
plans and observations on the construction of Light-houses with Lamps and 
Reflectors ; which having been ultimately approved of, Mr Smith was no- 
minated Engineer to the Board. After appointing a Committee for pre- 
paring matters for a general meeting, they adjourned till the 23d of Ja- 
nuary 1787. 

In pursuance of the act of Parliament, the Commissioners gave direc- Transactions of 
tions that a correspondence should be opened with the several proprietors '. 

of the land where the four original Light-houses were specified to be 
erected. An answer was immediately received from Mr Traill of AVest- 
ness in Orkney, requesting the Board's free acceptance of the ground 
necessary for erecting the Light-house proposed for the Northern Isles 
of Orkney, on any part of his property. Application was made to the 
Duke of Argyle, as to the ground for the erection of a Light-house on 
the Mull of Kintyre ; to Lord Saltoun, relative to the station of Kin- 
naird-Head, in Aberdeenshire ; and to Mr Macleod of Harris, as to 
the site of a Light-house on Island Glass. Measures were also taken 
for obtaining fit persons to contract for erecting the necessary buildings, 
and for conducting the operations at the different stations. 

Kinnaird Head. 
The result of the correspondence with Lord Saltoun, was the purchase Kinnaird-Head 

* L Light-house. 

of the old building of Kinnaird Castle from his Lordship, on which a lantern 
or light-room was erected. After encountering considerable difficulties 


Progress of Northern in the outset of this establishment, the house was got ready for the 


exhibition of the light by the month of December 1787, and the follow- 
ing notice to mariners was officially given by the Secretary in the London 
Gazette, and in the Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen newspapers. 

" By order of the Commissioners appointed by Act of Parliament for 
erecting four Light-houses in the northern parts of Great Britain, a Light- 
house is now erected on Kinnaird Castle, at Kinnaird-Head, near Fraser- 
burgh, in the county of Aberdeen, Lat. 57° 42', and Long. 2° 19' West of 
London, Cairnbulg from the Light-house bearing, by compass, S. E., dis- 
tant 2 miles ; and Trauphead W . NW., distant 9 miles. The lantern is 
120 feet above the level of the sea at high- water, and will be seen from 
SE. to W. NW. and intermediate points of the compass on the north of 
these points. The lantern will be lighted on the night of the first day 
of December 1787, and every night thereafter, from the going away of day- 
light in the evening till the return of day-light in the morning." 

Mull ofKintyre. 
Muii of Kmtyre At the Mull of Kintyre, one of the most inaccessible and difficult of 

1 .ight-house. 

the Northern Light-house stations, the buildings were nearly prepared for 
the light-room by the month of November ; but the season being too far 
advanced, and it appearing from Mr Smith's report, that there would be 
some risk in conveying the apparatus to the light-house at this inclement 
season, the Commissioners resolved to delay the further progress of the 
work at Kintyre till the following spring. 

1788. The operations at the Mull of Kintyre were recommenced in the month 

of April, but, owing chiefly to the inaccessible great difficulty that was ex- 
perienced in transporting the building materials connected with the lantern 
or light-room, over the mountainous district of Kintyre, it was the month 
of October before the light could be announced for exhibition, when pu- 
blic advertisement was made of the lighting of the house to the following 


" The Mull of Kintyre Light-house is situated immediately above the Progress of Northern 

J D Light-houses. 

rocks kuown to mariners by the name of The Merchants, in North Lat. 55° 
17', and Long. 5° 42' west of London ; the eastern entrance of the Sound 
of Isla, bearing from the Light-house by compass, N. by E., distant 
33 miles ; the Mull of Kinho in the Island of Isla N. NW., distant 
25 miles ; and the northern extremity of Rathlin Island, on the coast of 
Ireland, NW. £ W. distant 13 miles ; the Maiden Rocks S. by W. i W., 
distant 21 miles ; and Copland Light-house S. by W. i W., distant 40 
miles. The light-room is elevated 240 feet above the medium level of 
the sea, and will be seen from N.NE. to S. by W., and all intermediate 
points of the compass north of these points. The light will be exhibited 
on the 1st day of December 1788, and every night thereafter, from the 
going away of day-light in the evening till the return of day-light in the 

In the progress of the works of the Northern Light-houses, it soon Light-house duty 
became evident, from the diminished state of the funds, that the light- 
house duty of Id. per ton upon British vessels, and 2d. upon foreign 
bottoms, was too small. By the original act, also, this duty was only to 
be levied after the whole of the lights at the four stations had been ex- 
hibited to mariners ; but the Board having found that it would be expe- 
dient to commence the collection of the duties so soon as two were light- 
ed, resolved on applying to Parliament for a new act. 

A bill was accordingly brought into the House of Commons by Sir Hay Act of nss. 
Campbell, M. P., when Lord Advocate for Scotland, and ex officio one of 
the Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses, which passed in the ses- 
sion of 1788, empowering the Commissioners to levy a duty of lid., or one 
halfpenny more per ton upon British ships, and 3d., or one penny per ton 
additional upon foreigners ; and, in the mean time, to commence collecting 
half duties till the whole of the four light-houses mentioned in the former 
act were lighted, when the full duties were to become exigible. Already 
about L. 4000 had been expended on the light-houses of Kinnaird-Head 



Progress of Northern and Kintyre. By this new act, however, the Commissioners being empower- 


ed to borrow a further sum of L. 3000, were not only enabled to forward the 
operations already commenced, but, with this additional duty, it was ex- 
pected that they would soon be in a condition to answer the calls of the ship- 
ping interest for additional erections on the coast. 

Island Glass. 

1789 Considerable progress had been made in the course of the former season 

with the erection of the Light-house at Island Glass in Harris, which was 
finished and lighted on the 10th day of October 1789, the following 
being its specification : — The Point of Island Glass, one of the Harris 
Isles, is situated in North Lat. 57° 5(y, and Long. 6° 33' west of London. 
Ru-Ushiness bears from the light-house, per compass, E. NE.|E., distant 
8 miles ; northern extremity of Shiant Isles E, i S., southern extremity of 
ditto E. by S. i S., distant 11 miles; Skerne Rock SE, i E., distant 3 
miles ; Skergraidish Rock S. SE. ± E., distant 9 miles ; Point of Trotter- 
nish in Sky S.SE.iE., distant 16 miles; Point of Vaternish S.SW.^W., 
distant 15 miles ; Dunvegan-Head SW. i S., distant 20 miles ; Point of 
Roudil, at the entrance of the Sound of Harris, W. by S., distant 14 miles. 
The light-room is elevated 70 feet above the medium level of the sea, and 
will be seen from E. NE. i E., from W. by S., and intermediate points of 
the compass south of these points. 

North Ronaidsay While the works of Island Glass were proceeding, a lieht-house 

Light-house. r »> -fc> 

was also erected, and lighted 10th October 1789, on the island of North 
Ronaidsay, in Orkney ; but, as the light at this station was afterwards re- 
moved to the neighbouring island of Sanday, it will fall more properly to 
be noticed in the form of a Tower or Beacon, into which the building was 
converted, after a Light-house had been established at the Start Point of 



Progress of Northern 

The erection of the four light-houses of Kinnaird Head, North Bo- Application for piad- 

D da Light-house. 

ualdsay, Island Glass, and the Mull of Kintyre, completed the operations 
of the Northern Light-house Board, referred to in the original act of 1786 ; 
and at the time of passing that act, it was not foreseen that a greater 
number would be required on the coast of Scotland for a series of 
years. But the benefit of the lights which had already been erected, in af- 
fording much greater safety and facility to the mariner in those dangerous 
seas, became so apparent, that they were no sooner exhibited than applica- 
tions from different quarters for new erections followed. Among these, a 
memorial was presented to the Commissioners by the Merchants' House of 
Greenock, accompanied by a letter from the Chamber of Commerce of Glas- 
gow, setting forth the advantages which the shipping of the Clyde would 
derive from the erection of a light-house upon the small island of Pladda, 
situated at the southern extremity of the island of Arran, and entrance of 
the Frith of Clyde. This memorial concluded by requesting, that the Com- 
missioners would " take such measures as should to them seem most proper, 
for procuring an act of Parliament, in order to carry the erection of a light- 
house on the island of Pladda into execution as soon as possible." 

An act was accordingly obtained, in the session of 1789, not only for the Act of itsp. 
erection of Pladda Light-house, but for extending the powers of the Commis- 
sioners to the erection of such other light-houses on the coast of Scotland 
as to them should seem necessary, whenever the free produce of the duties of 
lfd. and 3d.per ton respectively on British and foreign ships should enable 
the Board to do so. In consequence of the act of 1788, authorising the collec- collectors appointed. 
tion of half duties so soon as two of the four light-houses mentioned in the ori- 
ginal act should be lighted, collectors at the different customhouses of all the 
ports of Great Britain were appointed to receive the Northern Light-house 
duty, and for their trouble they were to be paid at the rate of 10 per cent, upon 
the sums they should respectively receive : But the business being scarcely or- 




Progress of Northern ganized in 1 789, and only half duties being exigible, the whole money collected 

■ in that year amounted but to L. 290 : 14 : 6, and even this small sum formed 

part of two years' collection. From the smallness of the duties, and the ex- 
tent of the operations which the Commissioners had now on hand, they 
were much pressed for the necessary funds, and but for the liberality of 
their bankers Sir William Forbes and Company, the operations of the 
Board must have been greatly hampered. Indeed, Sir James Hunter Blair, 
one of the partners of that house, when Lord Provost of Edinburgh, and 
ex officio a member of the Board, had been highly instrumental in for- 
warding the establishment of the Northern Light-houses ; and it was, per- 
haps, from such adventitious circumstances, together with the economy of 
the measures originally pursued, that the progress of the Light-house works 
proceeded, without experiencing any interruption from want of funds. 

1790. The light-house of Pladda was finished in the course of the year 1790, 
and lighted on the 1st day of October. As before noticed, it is situated in the 
Frith of Clyde, on the small island of Pladda, near the south-west point of 
the island of Arran, in North Lat. 55° 30' and Long. 5° 4' west of London ; 
the entrance of Campbeltown Loch bearing, by compass, W. NW.|K, dis- 
tant 18 miles; Island of Sana W., distant 20 miles; Craig of Ailsa SW. 
by S., distant 15 miles ; entrance to Loch Ryan S. SW., distant 25 miles ; 
and the Heads of Ayr E. SE., distant 16 miles. The light-room is elevated 
above the medium level of the sea 70 feet ; and the light is seen from NE. 
by E. to NW. by W. and intermediate points of the compass south of 
these points. 

1791. In order to distinguish Pladda Light-house from the light upon the 
Promontory of Kintyre on the one hand, and that upon the island of Cum- 

at Piadda' brae, further up the Frith of Clyde, and also from the Copeland light on the 

Irish coast, it was found necessary, in the course of the year 1791, to 
erect a small Light-room, immediately under the principal light, that, by 
shewing two distinct lights at this station, the one 20 feet higher than the 
other, it might be distinguishable from those above alluded to. This small 


light-room being rather of a temporary construction, the Board have it in Progress of Northern 

, Light-houses. 

view to erect one upon a more efficient plan, when certain repairs which are - 
in contemplation at Pladda shall be made. 

The Northern Light-houses being situated in parts of the country re- Annual supply and 

inspection of the 

mote and inaccessible, it became necessary to arrange some systematic and Lights. 
proper plan for managing the ordinary business of the Board, which, at this 
time, had only one stated meeting, held by act of Parliament in the month 
of July annually. A special meeting was accordingly convened by the Se- 
cretary, in the month of March 1791 ; at which there were present, the Lord 
Advocate of Scotland ; the Lord Provost of Edinburgh ; the Sheriff of 
Aberdeen ; the Sheriff of Benfrew ; and the Sheriff of Orkney, Mr 
Charles Hope, now Lord President of the Court of Session. This meet- 
ing having taken into consideration the proper mode of supplying the light- 
houses, and of attending to the conduct of the light-keepers, it was resolved, 
That the engineer should charter a vessel annually, to carry a full com- 
plement of stores and other necessaries for the use of the lights, and such 
artificers, implements and materials as might, from time to time, be found 
necessary for making repairs at the light-houses ; and also, that the engineer 
should annually visit each light-house, and report upon the state and con- 
dition of the buildings, and upon the conduct of the respective light-keep- 
ers in keeping the lights, and in the management of the stores and appur- 
tenances committed to their charge ; with power to dismiss them for neglect 
of duty. 

The light-keepers already engaged in the service, had been verbally Light-keepers' Sak- 


informed by the engineer, that they woidd be paid L. 30 of yearly salary ; 
and this meeting having before it a range of salaries paid to light-keepers 
both in England and Scotland, varying from L. 20 to upwards of L. 70, it 
was resolved, That in ordinary situations, the salary of the light-keepers in 
the service of the Northern Light-houses should be L. 30 per annum, with 
a piece of garden-ground and pasture for a cow, and a sufficient quantity of 
fuel for the use of their families. 



Progress of Northern 

First voyage of the 

Light-house keeper 
dismissed the service. 

In consequence of this arrangement, a vessel of about 100 tons bur- 
den was chartered and fitted out with stores and other necessaries for the 
use of the Northern Light-houses ; and in the course of the summer of 
1791 > Mr Smith made his first annual visit by sea to the light-houses 
— the journeys of the engineer having hitherto been performed chiefly 
by land. On this voyage, every thing was reported to be in good order at 
the several stations, excepting at the Light-house of North Ronaldsay, 
which he found to be very improperly kept : it appeared also that the light- 
keeper at this station had been embezzling the stores committed to his charge. 
This person was formerly a ship-master, who, finding it difficult to get employ- 
ment in the line of his profession, had been very improperly recommended to 
the attention of the Light-house Board. Under circumstances of such mis- 
conduct, the engineer immediately dismissed him from the service, and his 
conduct was further taken cognizance of by the Sheriff of the county. 

Economical plan of 
the early Light- 

The business of the Light-houses was now so arranged, that matters 
went on in a very prosperous and successful manner. So well, indeed, had 
the plans and buildings of their engineer been considered, and made to 
meet the slender funds of the Board, that, with an expenditure of little 
more than L. 10,000, five lights had been exhibited upon the coast. 
Though these buildings were unavoidably very much circumscribed in their 
accommodations, and even temporary in their construction, yet the speedy 
exhibition of the lights was of great benefit to navigation, while the improving 
state of the light-house duties enabled the Commissioners to extend their in- 
fluence along a greater range of coast ; and the different buildings have 
since been enlarged and completed in a much more substantial manner, by 
applying the surplus funds to these purposes. 


In the year 1793, the prosperous state of funds induced and enabled 

Application for addi- the Commissioners to attend to the applications of mariners for additional 

light-houses on the coast. In particular a letter, to be afterwards more 

fully noticed, was addressed to the Light-house Board by Admiral Sir 

Alexander Cochrane, then commanding his Majesty's ship Hind upon the 


Leith station, setting forth the great benefit that would accrue to Progress of Northern 

° ° Light-houses. 

shipping, from the erection of a light-house upon the Bell Rock. 

Representations were likewise made at this time by the merchants of 
Liverpool, regarding the propriety of erecting a light-house upon the 
Skerries, situated in the middle of the Pentland Frith, which sepa- 
rates the Orkney Islands from the Mainland of Caithness. The object of a 
light here, was to open this Frith as a passage to shipping in general, and 
to enable the mariner to avoid a circuitous and dangerous voyage to the 
northward of the Orkney Islands. 

At this period, however, the Commissioners could not venture to un- state of the Light- 
house funds, 

dertake a work of such magnitude and difficulty, as the erection of a light- 
house upon the Bell Rock. The amount of the light-house duties at first 
was extremely limited ; and though in a progressive state, yet, for 1789, 
as before stated, they only amounted to L. 249 : 14 : 6. For 1790, the 
sum was L. 1477:5:1; for 1791, it was L. 2736: 9:2; for 1792, it 
rose to L. 3160:18: 1. But in the year 1793, of which we are now 
treating, the duties rather declined, and they only netted L. 2868, 3s. 
5d. The Commissioners were nevertheless enabled to pay off L. 4200, 
which, by the acts of 1786 and 1788, they had been empowered to 
borrow, and likewise to discharge the advances made by Sir William 
Forbes and Company; still leaving a balance of about L. 2000 of sur- 
plus duties in the hands of their treasurer. The funds being, there- 
fore, still very limited, and only in a condition to enable the Board to 
erect a light-house of the ordinary construction, the erection of the light- 
house on the Pentland Skerries was resolved on ; and the further consider- 
ation of the Bell Rock light-house reserved, until the funds should be 
in a more advanced state. 

Pentland Sherries. 
Some difference of opinion arising among the gentlemen and merchants Regaling the site 

of the Pentland Frith 

of Orkney, whether the light-house proposed for the Pentland Skerries Light-house, 
should not rather be erected upon the island of Copinsha, situate about 


progress of Northern fifteen miles northward of the Portland Frith, the matter was referred 

Light-houses. * 

to the opinion of the Association of Ship-owners of Liverpool, and to 
the Chambers of Commerce of Glasgow and Greenock, when these pu- 
blic bodies unanimously and strongly recommended the erection of the 
light-house on the Pentland Skerries, as the site best calculated for a 
direction to the Pentland Frith ; which was accordingly fixed upon by the 
Board. To mark this Light-house from the other lights upon the coast, it 
was necessary to make it a Distinguishing-light, which was effected by 
the erection of a higher and lower light-house tower, respectively 80 and 
100 feet above the medium level of the sea, built at the distance of 60 feet 
asunder, and each having a light-room with reflectors, so as to show two 
distinct stationary lights, for as yet the Revolving-light had not been intro- 
duced upon this coast. 

1794. The works at the Pentland Skerries were begun early in the spring 

of 1794. The masonry was executed by builders of Orkney ; and the 
materials having been prepared, were partly landed on these small islands 
in the course of the preceding summer. The Skerries consist of two 
uninhabited islands, with some contiguous sunken rocks. They lie expo- 
sed to the uninterrupted force of the waves of the North Sea, and to the 
rapid tides and currents of the Pentland Frith, and present many con- 
vincing proofs of the wasting state of the land, by the action of the sea. 
The works here had been so laid out, that the towers should be in 
readiness for the erection of the light-rooms by the month of August ; 
and it was expected that the lights would be ready for exhibition in the 
The author's first month of October. The author, to whose superintendance the completing 

voyage to the north. 

of these light-houses was to be entrusted, as his first work for the Board, 
sailed from Leith on this service on the 2d July 1794 ; and after touch- 
ing at Kinnaird Head Light-house, he landed at the Pentland Skerries 
on the 11th of that month, and found the masonry of the two light-house 
towers in such a state of forwardness, as to be then nearly ready for 
the light-rooms. In the month of September, these works were com- 
pleted, and the lights were exhibited on the 1st day of October 1794. 


These lights are from oil, with reflectors, and may he described as e- Progress of Northern 


rected on the largest of the Pentland Skerries, in Lat. 58° 43' and — 

Long. 3° 3' west of London ; the northmost or highest light-room being- 
elevated 100 feet, and the lower light-room 80 feet above the medium 
level of the sea. The two light-rooms, relatively to each other, bear 
S. SW. and N. NE., distant 60 feet. The bearings, as taken from the 
highest light-room, by compass, are the western extremity of the Little 
Pentland Skerry S. by W., distant 1^ mile; extremity of the foul ground off 
that Skerry SE., distant l£ mile ; Duncan's Bay Head in Caithness ; 
W. SW. distant 4^ miles ; Noss Head SW. by W., distant 14 miles ; 
northmost point of the Island of Stroma NW. by W., distant 6* miles ; 
south-western extremity of the Loather Rock on the Orkney shore N. by 
W., distant 3| miles; Island of Copinsha NE. by E. JE., distant 17 

The author, having remained to complete the works at the Pentland Loss of the sloop 

a x Elizabeth. 

Skerries, and to see the house lighted, sailed from Orkney on the 9 th of 
October, in the sloop Elizabeth of Stromness. On the following day, the 
vessel got within three miles of Kinnaird Head Light-house, in Aberdeen- 
shire ; but the wind having suddenly shifted to the south-east, Mr Sinclair, 
the master, with much attention and kindness, landed the author, who con- 
tinued his journey to Edinburgh by land. A very different fate, however, 
awaited his shipmates ; for the Elizabeth having put back to Cromarty 
Roads, was afterwards driven to Orkney, and ultimately lost, when all on 
board perished. 

In the affairs connected with the erection of light-houses in Orkney, Mr Balfour and 
Mr Balfour of Elwick, and Mr Riddoch, collector of the customs at sen te<i with pieces 

of Plate. 

Kirkwall, having respectively taken much friendly interest and trouble in 
the advancement of the Light-house works in the Orkney islands, the 
Commissioners of the Light-houses presented a small piece of plate to 
each of these gentlemen, with a suitable inscription, in testimony of the 
services they had thus rendered to the public. 




Progress of Northern 

Act for Incorporating 
the Commissioners. 

Some inconveniency having been experienced in conducting the busi- 
ness of the Light-house Board, in consequence of its not being an incor- 
porated body, and not having a common seal, particularly in the holding 
of stock and other property, in laying out and investing the surplus funds 
arising from the light-house duties, application was made to Parliament, 
and an act passed in 1798, 38th Geo. III. c. 57. erecting the Commission- 
ers into a Board or Body-politic, by the name of " The Commissioners of 
the Northern Light-houses ;" and under that title to have perpetual suc- 
cession, and hold a common seal. 

Additional Works 
at the iirst erected 

After the completion of these two light-houses on the Pentland Skerries 
in 1794, a period of ten years elapsed before the erection of any additional 
light-house was undertaken on the coast of Scotland. This delay was ren- 
dered necessary, chiefly on account of the necessity of extending the ac- 
commodation of the light-keepers at the different stations, — in making 
landing places and roads, — enclosing grounds, — and, in short, putting 
the whole establishment of the light-houses into a more complete and 
finished state. 

Light-House pro- 
posed as a direction 
for Cromartv Frith. 

In the mean time, several propositions for new light-houses were brought 
under the notice of the Commissioners. In the year 1797, for example, 
the late Mr Dempster of Dunnichen proposed the erection of a light- 
house as a direction for the entrance of Cromarty Frith, one of the prin- 
cipal inlets for shipping on the eastern coast of Great Britain. Mi- 
Dempster also suggested, in connection with this, that a Beacon should 
be erected, and a floating buoy moored, to point out the dangerous chan- 
nel of Dornoch Frith, which is too often fatally mistaken for the en- 
trance to Cromarty Frith. The proposition of a beacon and buoy for 
Dornoch, was considered by the Commissioners as not strictly in the high 
seas, and therefore not properly belonging to the concerns of the Board, 
and, together with the light-house, were delayed for the present, that at- 
tention might be paid to more urgent demands on other parts of the 


Notwithstanding the benefit derived from the erection of Kinnaird Progress of Northern 
Head light-house, shipwrecks were still occurring on a dangerous reef of 

Proposition for al- 

rocks called Rattray Brigs, situate about 12 miles southward of Kinnaird 'f in s the 5ite of 

JO' Kinnaird Head 

Head, and 6 miles north of Peterhead. In the year 1798, petitions were L, s ht - House - 
presented to the Commissioners from certain merchants and traders, set- 
ting forth, that the light-house upon Kinnaird Head would be much more 
beneficial to shipping, were it removed to Rattray Head. This matter was 
remitted to the author to report upon, who accordingly made a survey of 
this part of the coast. After maturely considering the subject, it was 
deemed advisable to decline the removal of the light-house from Kinnaird 
Head, which was found to be extremely useful for directing ships into the 
Moray and Cromarty Friths, and also to vessels making the land from the 
northward. Although it might not, perhaps, be so useful to coasters 
bound from the south, yet the Commissioners found, that it would be bet- 
ter, under all circumstances, to preserve Kinnaird Head as a light-house 
station, and, at some future period, to erect an additional light upon this 
important part of the coast, at or near Peterhead, in a position calculated 
to be useful as a guide for the sunken reef of Rattray Brigs, and also 
for the south-eastern shores of Aberdeenshire. 

Start Point Beacon. 

Among the several applications brought before the Board for additional ig ] 

light-houses, something still appeared to be necessary for averting the misfor- Numerous wrecks 

on the Island of 

tunes which were annually happening on the low shores of the Northern Isles sanday. 
of Orkney. It had now been found, by the experience of about twelve 
years, that the light-house of North Ronaldsay was not calculated to pre- 
vent the numerous wrecks on the islands of Sanday and Stronsay. In the 
year 1796, when the author was on his annual visit to the Northern Light- 
houses, he was struck at seeing the wreck of three homeward-bound ships up- 
on the island of Sanday, though situate only about eight miles southward of 
the light-house of North Ronaldsay. Again, in 1797, he found one wrecked 
ship on Sanday ; but in 1793 he saw the remains of no fewer than five ves- 
sels upon that fatal island; and, in the month of December 1799, two of the 

C 2 



Progress of Northern numerous vessels which were driven from Yarmouth Roads in a dreadful gale 


of wind at south-east, were also wrecked there. The author having laid this 

continued and alarming state of things before the Light-house Board, 
in his annual report of 1801, it was resolved, that a beacon or tower of ma- 
sonry should be erected upon the Start Point or eastern extremity of the 
low shores of the island of Sanday ; the building to be constructed in such 
a manner that it might, if found necessary, be converted into a light- 


Proofs of a severe 
winter in Orknev. 

In the year 1802, the author sailed on his annual voyage to the Northern 
Light-houses so early as the 14th of April, in the Pharos of Leith, carry- 
ing with him a foreman and sixteen artificers, to commence the works of 
the Start Point Tower. After rather a boisterous passage, the vessel 
reached Orkney in six days, and, at this advanced period of the season, 
these Islands were found covered to the depth of six inches with snow. 
This, at any time, is rather uncommon in Orkney ; but such had been 
the severity of the season in the northern regions, that a flock of wild 
swans which, in severe winters, visit this country, were still seen in consider- 
able numbers upon the fresh-water lakes of Sanday. These large birds 
are supposed to migrate from Iceland, but are rarely seen here later than 
the month of March, so that their appearance in the latter end of 
the month of April, was considered by the Orcadians as a mark of a very 
severe and long-continued winter in the higher latitudes. 

Quarries at Sanday. 
and Eda. 

It having been ascertained that there was no workable sandstone on 
the island of Sanday, where the Beacon was to be erected, permission 
was granted by Mr Laing, the proprietor of the contiguous island of Eda, 
to open a quarry at Calf Sound, where sandstone of a pretty good qua- 
lity was obtained. With a view to render this building substantially 
water-tight, it had been originally intended to make it wholly of hewn 
stone, built in regular courses, technically called ashlar or aiskr-imrk, 
a term derived from the aisle of a church, where this sort of masonry pre- 
dominates ; but the quarry of Eda being about fourteen miles dis- 


tant from the work, the stones had to be brought by sea through rapid Progress of Northern 


tides ; and there being but indifferent creeks or havens both at the quarry 

and at the Start Point, it was found necessary to make only the prin- 
cipal stones of hewn-work, while the body of the work was executed in 
ruble-building, for which excellent materials were got at the Start 
Point, the property of the Right Honourable Lord Dundas, consist- 
ing of sandstone-slate, of a greyish-smoke colour, iutermixed with 
shining particles of mica. The rock here is disposed in strata, from 1 to 8 
inches in thickness, and could easily be raised in pieces containing from 
15 to 20 square feet. Indeed, the encroachments of the sea had heaped Encroachments of 

1 L the Sea upon the 

up immense quantities of these schistose stones at high-water mark, all Lan<L 
round the Start Point, the shores of which appeared like the ruins of the 
wall of some large city. These stones, however, were more applicable for the of Ruble Building. 
purposes of dike-building, or interior walls, than for external work ; for, 
after having been exposed on the beach for ages to the alternate chan- 
ges of moisture and dryness, heat and cold, they were found to have 
many small fissures, or were split horizontally ; and although the 
pieces still seemed to adhere closely, yet they were sufficiently open to 
admit moisture into the heart of the walls, which, in these stormy 
and exposed situations, is forced through the building : hence it is, that 
houses built with drift-stones of this description, are said by the cottagers 
of these islands to keep out moisture much better when built with puddle or 
clay, than with the best lime-mortar, which, under certain circumstances, 
is known to attract moisture, while the clay resists it. But after all the 
care that can be taken in building with these slaty stones, even when 
taken fresh from the quarry, they still have a tendency to split into la- 
mella?, after they are built in the walls. Experienced builders, therefore, 
generally lay the outward stones of such walls with a slight inclination 
downwards, or dip, as the workmen term it, the more readily to prevent the 
admission of wetness. I have been thus particular, because it is hardly pos- Houses built with 
sible to prevent walls built of these materials from drawing moisture, un- 
til they have been rough cast, — an operation which is so very troublesome, 
from requiring to be occasionally renewed, that I have found it necessary, in 



Progress of Northern these exposed situations, to build the outward walls double, as the only ef- 

T-ight-houses. * 

fectual method of obtaining a comfortable house free of dampness. 

tion U s , fone e of > Bei" ^e weatner continued to be so extremely boisterous here, that it was 

the middle of the month of May before a sufficient stock of materials was 
laid down for commencing the building at the Start Point. A wish having , 
been expressed by the workmen, to have the foundation-stone of the Beacon 
laid with masonic ceremony ; and considering the dreary prospect which the 
artificers had before them, the author was the more willing to embrace so fair 
an opportunity of affording them the enjoyment of a little convivial happi- 
ness. The influx of so many strangers to the island of Sanday for this work, 
and the novelty of the intended ceremony, made the news soon find its way 
to every house. Preparations were accordingly made; — the year of our 
Lord 1802, was cut upon the foundation-stone, in which a hole was per- 
forated for depositing a glass phial, containing a small parchment scroll, 
setting forth the intention of the building ; the official constitution of 
the Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses ; and the name of their 
Engineer. It also contained several of the current coins of George III. in 
gold, silver, and copper. The day fixed for the ceremony was the 15th of 
May. The weather was dry and tolerably agreeable, though cold, with 
snow upon the ground ; the thermometer by Fahrenheit's scale indicating 
35° in the shade at noon. A number of the principal inhabitants, and a 
crowd of cottagers assembled. Things being arranged for the ceremony, 
the author, assisted by Mr James Cleghorn, foreman for the works, applied 
the square and plummet-level to the foundation-stone, in compliance with 
the ancient custom of the craft. The phial was then deposited in the cavity 
prepared for it in the stone, and carefully covered up with sand, when 
the masonic ceremony concluded in the usual manner. The Reverend Wal- 
ter Traill, minister of the parish, who obligingly attended on this occa- 
sion, now stood forward, and, after a most impressive prayer, imploring the 
blessing of heaven upon the intended purposes of the building, delivered 
an address, which, from the singularity of the subject, and the excellency 
of the matter, shall here be inserted. 


" This moment is auspicious. The foundation-stone is laid of a Progress of Northern 


building of incalculable value ; — a work of use, not of luxury. Pyramids Bev Wa i te f n. 
were erected by the pride of kings, to perpetuate the memory of men, Address - 
whose ambition enslaved and desolated the world. But it is the benevo- 
lent intention of our Government, on this spot to erect a tower, not to ex- 
haust, but to increase the wealth, and protect the commerce of this happy 
kingdom. — To the goodness of God, in the first place, we are indebted for a 
degree of prosperity unknown to other nations. In the next place, we 
owe our happiness to our insular situation, and attention to maritime 
affairs. Faction and civil war have, at this period, laid waste the fairest 
countries of Europe; while peace has flourished within our walls. -Agri- 
culture, commerce, and their kindred arts, have prospered in our land. 
British oak hath triumphed ; victory hath been attached to the British 
flag ; and British fleets have ridden triumphant on the wings of the wind. 
— Consider the great national objects for which this building will be 
erected. To protect commerce, and to guard the lives of those intrepid 
men who for us cheerfully brave the fury of the waves, and the rage of bat- 
tle. The mariner, when he returns to the embraces of his wife and chil- 
dren, after ascribing praise to the Great Giver of safety, shall bless the 
friendly light which guided him over the deep, and recommend to the pro- 
tection of heaven, those who urged, who planned, and who executed the 
work. — This day shall be remembered with gratitude. It shall be re- 
corded, that at the beginning of a new century, the pious care of Go- 
vernment was extended to this remote island. Those rocks, so fatal 
to the most brave and honourable part of the community, shall lose 
their terror, and safety and life shall spring from danger and death. — 
Even you, my friends, who are employed in the execution of this work, 
are objects of regard and gratitude. You have, for a season, left the society 
of your families and friends, to perform a work of high interest to your 
country and to mankind. I am confident, that you will act, in all respects, 
so as to deserve and obtain the esteem of the people who now surround 
you. I hope that they will discharge to you every duty of Christian hos- 
pitality, and that you will have no occasion to feel that you are strangers in 


lTl'To^ef °" hem a stran S e ^ an( ^- — I* becomes us to remember, that all the affairs of men are 
dependent on Providence. We may exert talents and industry, but God 
only can bless our exertions with success. Let our trust be in him. Let 
us humbly hope that he will bless this day and this undertaking. Through 
his aid, may there arise from this spot, a tower of safety and protection to 
the mariner of every tongue and nation." 

The whole of this scene was very impressive ; and the plain, decent, 
and respectable appearance of the people collected on the occasion, was 
none of the least interesting parts of it. 

Beacon Completed. Having now got the works at the Start Point of Sanday fairly com- 

menced, and some progress made in opening the quarries, the author left 
the Orkney Islands, and continued his voyage westward to the other Light- 
houses on the coast. Every thing having succeeded well at the Start 
Point, the Beacon was finished in the month of September. It was termi- 
nated at the height of 100 feet above the medium level of the sea, with a 
circular ball of masonry measuring fifteen feet in circumference. — But this 
tower having been afterwards converted into a light-house, it seems to be 
unnecessary here to enter into a more particular specification of the build- 

Inchkeith Light-house. 

1803. Much inconveniency had been experienced, and many fatal accidents 

had occurred, in the Frith of Forth, from the want of a light to direct ships 
past the island of Inchkeith into the Roads of Leith. In the course of 
the winter of 1801, from this cause, a very severe misfortune happened at 
the rocks lying off Kinghornness, on the Fifeshire coast, by the loss of the 
smack Aberdeen, Freeman, master, one of the traders bound from Aber- 
deen to London. This vessel had been put up the Frith in a storm, 
loaded with a general cargo, which was valued at upwards of L. 10,000, and 
had on board 13 passengers, besides the ship's crew, all of whom perished, 
excepting the master, the mate, and a lady. So very distressing an acci- 


dent, with other instances of a similar nature, produced a strong sen- Progress of Northern 


sation with the public. It was also found, that vessels which, by the direc- 

tion of the light of May, had entered the Frith of Forth in the course 
of a long winter night, could not yet venture to hold on their course, up the 
Frith, owing to the difficulty of passing the island of Inchkeith, and the 
foul and rocky ground in its neighbourhood. The mariner was thus obli- 
ged to lie off and on in this narrow sea, without being able to run for 
the anchorage of Leith Roads till day-light : but, before morning, the 
wind perhaps had shifted ; and, instead of being in a safe anchorage, he 
was too often driven to sea. The author has, indeed, known of a ship in 
this situation, which drifted before the wind even to the coast of 

It was from considerations of this kind that an application was brought inchkeith Light- 

° house resolved oh. 

forward by the Corporation of the Trinity House of Leith, for the 
erection of a light-house upon Inchkeith ; and the Commissioners of the 
Northern Light-houses, also viewing Leith Roads as a naval station and 
rendezvous for his Majesty's ships on the North Sea station, resolved upon 
the propriety and expediency of this measure in the year 1802. Various dif- 
ficulties occurred about procuring the ground necessary for this establish- 
ment, not indeed with the noble proprietor of the island, the Duke of Buc- 
cleuch, who forthwith ordered every facility to be given to the work ; but 
time was lost in arranging matters with his Grace's agent. It was not, there- 
fore, till the summer of the year 1803, that the building on Inchkeith com- 
menced, and the masonry of the light-house was not ready for the light-room 
till the following year, when the light was exhibited on the 1st day of 
September 1804. Its position is described as follows : 

" The Light-house erected on the island of Inchkeith, situate in the Description of inch- 
keith Light-house. 

Frith of Forth and county of Mid-Lothian, in North Lat. 56" 2', and 
Long. 3° 8'. west of London, is elevated 220 feet above the medium level 
of the sea, of which height the building forms 45 feet. The lio-ht is from 
oil with reflectors, and will be seen from every point of the compass as a 




Progress of Northern Stationary light" (since altered to a Revolving light, as shall be afterwards 


noticed). From the light-house Ely-ness bears, by compass, E. NE., dis- 
tant 16 miles ; Light of May E. § N., distant 23 miles ; Fidra Island E. 
by S., distant 14 miles ; Craig Waugh Rock SE. by S. \ S., distant 4| 
miles ; Leith-Harbour Light SW. \ S., distant %\ miles ; Gunnet Rock 
W., distant If mile ; Ox-Scares W. by N.f N, distant 4 J miles ; Inchcolm 
W. NW.JN., distant <o\ miles; Pettycur Light N. NW.JN, distant 21 
miles ; Kinghorn-ness N. NW. 1 N. distant 21 miles." 

Originally proposed 
to be a Leading 

This light-house was originally proposed to have been made a double 
or leading light, to guide ships up the Frith, and especially past the dan- 
gerous rock called the Ox-Scares, to the anchorage above Queensferry ; 
but it was thought advisable to erect a light, in the first instance, upon the 
top of the island, and to defer the erection of a lower or western light till 
the effect of a single light should be tried. Such, however, appears to have 
been the benefit of the light on the top of the island, together with a cast- 
iron Beacon, which, at this time, was erected on the Ox-Scares, that the 
want of a second light-house on Inchkeith does not seem to have been 
much felt. 

Light duty for Inch- 
keith modified. 

By the existing acts of Parliament, the light-house Board is entitled to 
take the full duties of three halfpence per ton, from the local trade of the 
Frith of Forth, for the light of Inchkeith, instead of which, only one half- 
penny per ton is exacted from such vessels as are not liable to the 
duty, in consequence of passing some other of the Northern Light- 
houses. The great utility of this light-house, and the equitable and liberal 
manner in which these duties are exacted, gave much satisfaction to the 
maritime and commercial interests of the country. 

Accommodation of It may here be proper to observe, that the erection of Inchkeith 


houses extended. Light-house, fonns a new era in the works of the Commissioners of the 
Northern Light-houses ; which, as formerly observed, had been necessarily 
executed on the smallest, plainest and most simple plan that could be 


devised, and with such materials as could be easily transported, and most Progress of Northern 

. t Light-houses. 

speedily erected, so as to meet the urgent calls of shipping, and answer — 

the very limited state of the funds. But from the thriving condition 
of the trade of the country, the yearly duties which, in 1790, amounted 
only to L. 1477 : 5 : 1 ; in the year 1802 encreased to L. 4386 : 7 : 5. It 
was, therefore, considered advisable, from its being ultimately more eco- 
nomical, to erect and finish the several works of the light-house Board 
in the most substantial manner, and more like the buildings of a permanent 
National Establishment. 

From the vicinity of Inchkeith to sandstone quarries, the buildings there Houses covereiwith 

leaden roofs. 

were executed of aislar masonry. A platform roof covered with lead, and de- 
fended by a parapet wall, was adopted for the light-keepers' house, instead 
of a slated roof, with garrets of the common construction ; a slated roof being 
not only more liable to be injured by high winds, but when the attic apart- Disadvantages 

slated roofs. 

merits of such houses are occupied, the premises became more exposed to ac- 
cident from fire. The slated roof, with iron nails, is also subject to decay, 
owing to the saline particles with which the air is impregnated, and the sprays 
of the sea, which, even in such situations as Inchkeith, are often blown over 
the island, though the site of the light-house is about 175 feet in height. 
Indeed, at all the original light-house stations in the north, the nails were 
soon rusted, and the slates getting loose, were often blown off in great num- 
bers, so that in the very depth of Winter, the light-keepers have been obliged 
to make such a requisition as the following : " A slater is much wanted here, 
to repair the roof of the house, as upwards of 50 slates have been blown 
away during the late gales." Instead, also, of a dwelling-house consisting 
of only two small apartments as formerly, the house at Inchkeith has four 
rooms, with other conveniencies, laid out for the accommodation of the fa- 
milies of a principal light-keeper and an assistant, who are now appointed 
to the charge of each of the Northern Light-houses. 

An entire change also took place at this period upon the construction construction o- 

pi-r-i tin- n Light rooms im« 

or the .Light-rooms and the reflecting apparatus, as well as in the exten- proved. 


Progress of Northren sion and enlargement of the accommodation for the light-keepers. The 


■ early light-rooms were constructed wholly of timber, excepting the win- 
dow-sash frames, which were made of cast-iron. The outside of the 
wooden cupola, covered with sheet copper, and the ceiling and floor 
with fire-proof plates of tinned iron. But it soon appeared that this con- 
struction was liable to great objections, particularly to the risk of ac- 
cidental fire. The timber roof being also unavoidably shut up from the 
air, and exposed to a degree of heat sufficient to dry it to the state 
of tinder, its strength and fibrous qualities were soon lost, and the 
buildings in danger of being destroyed by the storms of winter. At 

Rendered Fire-proof. Inchkeith, on the contrary, the roof is framed of iron, and covered with 
copper, and the floor is laid with flag-stones ; while the window-frames, and 
all the materials exposed to the immediate action of the weather, are made 
of copper ; the windows are glazed with plates of polished glass, measuring 
29 inches by 18 inches, and J of an inch in thickness, instead of sash 
panes of crown-glass, measuring only 12 inches by 8 inches, by which so 
many astragals were unavoidably introduced into the windows, that much 
of the light was obstructed and lost. 

Reflectors of silver- The reflectors of the first of the Northern Light-houses were formed 

ed Mirror-glass. 

to the parabolic curve, upon principles susceptible of considerable accuracy ; 
their powers were, however, small from their reflecting surfaces being com- 
posed of facets of silvered mirror-glass, and one point only of each facet 
coinciding with the curve of the parabola. As many of the rays are thus lost 
or weakened by transmission through the glass of the reflector, the light is 
much less brilliant than when reflected from a metallic speculum of a uni- 
form parabolic figure, of a more white and dense body, such as silver. 
Another objection to mirror-glass reflectors, is the great number of in- 
terstices or subdivisions between the pieces of glass, which unavoidably 
induces a want of cleanliness and uinformity in the reflecting surface as a 
Reflectors of Copper, w i, i e The improvement upon this part of the reflecting apparatus, as 

plated with Silver. " r 

more recently fitted up, consists in employing sheets of copper, plated or 
coated with silver, which, with much labour and great nicety of workman- 


ship, are formed as nearly as may be into the parabolic curve, — a subject to Progress of Northern 


which we shall again reeur, in treating: of the reflectors for the Bell 

° ° The use of Argand 

Rock Light-house. Instead, also, of whale oil, and the use of the Common ,an ;p?.f nd sperma- 

o ' ' ceti Oil introduced. 

lamp, spermaceti oil, and the Argand lamp, were introduced at Inchkeith. 
Upon these principles, all the new erections of the Northern Light- 
houses are constructed ; and such of the original light-houses, as re- 
quire considerable repairs, are directed by the Board to be altered to the 
improved construction. But the erection of such a light-house as that of 
Inchkeith, in place of requiring an expenditure of only about L. 1000 like 
the original establishments, cost upwards of L. 5000. 

The light-house of Inchkeith having been erected before the late Mr tda jj°ht°ho^ 
Smith, the author's predecessor, had retired from the situation of En- 
gineer for the Northern Light-houses, and being the first of the light- 
houses erected upon the coast of Scotland on the recently improved 
principles, it is thought proper to give a plan and elevation of the 
house and offices, in one of the plates of this work, as a specimen of what 
is considered a very complete light-house establishment. It may also be no- 
noticed here, that the elevation of the light-house tower bears a tablet with 
the following inscription : — " For the direction of Mariners, and for the be- 
nefit of Commerce, this Light-house was erected by order of the Commis- 
sioners of the Northern Light-houses. It was founded on the 18th clay of 
May, in the year 1803, and lighted on the 1st of September 1804. 
Thomas Smith, Engineer" 

As part of the establishment at Inchkeith, a guard-room is provided for Pilots and ship- 
wrecked Seamen re- 
pilots. In the event also of shipwreck upon the coast, in the neighbour- ceive sifter. 

hood of any of the light-house stations, from the more extended state of 
the buildings, the unfortunate seamen are not only directed to be lodged 
in the best manner that the circumstances of the case will admit, but, 
in necessitous cases, ship-wrecked mariners have even been allowed a sum of 
money by the Light-house Board, to clothe and carry them to their respec- 
tive homes. In this way, it has not unfrequently fallen to the lot of the 


Progress of Northern keepers of the Northern Light-houses, to save the lives of perishing seamen. 


to succour many poor fishermen and pilots, as well as the half starved and 

unlucky individuals of water parties, when driven by stress of weather to 
these lone places of abode, for safety and shelter. In these varied forms, it 
will not be too much to.suppose, that the practice of protecting the navigator 
in distress, which is said to have formed a chief part of the design of the Fire 
Towers and Nautical Colleges of the ancients, is thus in some measure 

Start Point Light-house. 
180b'. Notwithstanding the precautions which had been taken to prevent the 

shipwrecks-sun frequent occurrence of shipwreck upon the island of Sanday, by the erection 

take place on San. ' c J. J ' 

da 3- of a Beacon or Tower of masonry on the Start Point, the loss of ships 

did not appear to be diminished. It had even become proverbial with 
some of the inhabitants to observe, " that if wrecks were to happen, they 
might as well be sent to the poor island of Sanday as any where else." 
On this and the neighbouring islands, the inhabitants have certainly had 
their share of wrecked goods ; for here the eye is presented with these me- 

striking examples of lancholy remains in almost every form. For example, although quarries 
are to be met with generally in these islands, and the stones are very suita- 
ble for building dikes, yet instances occur of the land being inclosed, 
even to a considerable extent, with ship timbers. The author has actu- 
ally seen a park paled round, chiefly with cedar wood and mahogany 
from the wreck of a Honduras built ship ; and in one island, after the 
wreck of a ship laden with wine, the inhabitants have been known to take 
claret to their barley meal porridge, instead of their usual beverage. On 
complaining to one of the pilots of the badness of his boat's sails, he replied 
to the author with some degree of pleasantry, " Had it been His (God's) will 
that you came na here wi' these lights, we might a' had better sails to our 
boats and more o' other things." It may further be noticed, that when some 
of Lord Dundas's farms are to be let in these islands, a competition takes 
place for the lease, and it is bona fide understood, that a much higher rent 
is paid than the lands would otherwise give, were it not for the chance of 



-making considerably by the agency and advantages attending shipwrecks on Progress or Northern 


the shores of the respective farms. The author was so struck with some of 
these circumstances, that he collected, and shall here insert a list of ship- 
wrecks for the twelve years immediately following the erection of North 
Ronaldsay light-house, in procuring which he was obligingly assisted by 
the Rev. William Grant, minister of Cross-kirk parish, including the 
island of North Ronaldsay, and part of Sanday. 

LIST OF WRECKS on the contiguous islands of North Ronaldsay, List of shipwecfe 

•'for Twelve Years. 

Sanday and Stronsay, during a period of Twelve Years, immediately after 
the erection of North Ronaldsay Light-house, in 1789- 

Year. | Voyage. 



Supposed Value of 
Ship and Cargo. 


Norwav to America, 

Spirits, &c. 


L. 3500 


Hamburgh to do. 

Cordage, &c. 




Norway to Wales, 

Wood and Iron, 



Sweden to Liverpool, 





Do. to Greenock, 





Norway to Spain, 

Fish and Oil, 



Copenhagen to Santa Cruz, 

Silks, &c. 




Copenhagen to Surinam, 

Muslins, &c. 



Do. to Dundee, 

Flax, &c 



J 1795. 

Do. to America, 

Cloth, &c. 




Do. to Liverpool, 





Do. to Whitehaven, 





Liverpool to Ostend, 

Wine and Rum, 




Baltic to Liverpool, 




1798. Sweden to Hull, 

Timber and Iron, 



Norway to Liverpool. 





Do. to America, 

Cloth, &c 



— - — 

Altona to Do. 

Spirits and Cloth, 



London to Gibraltar, 





Do. to Dublin, 





Hamburgh to America, 

Cambric and Linen, 



Dantzic to Liverpool, 


years, supposed valu 



22 vessels wrecked in 12 

L. 196,400 

This list of shipwrecks strongly points out the dangerous na- start Point t 

n ,-, • .'.* - " -i i -•■■• " ■■< ■- • - proposediot* 

ture of the navigation 


of the seas and friths of the northern islands of verted into a Light. 



Program of Northern Orkney. From a consideration of these numerous accidents, being almost 


at the rate of two wrecks in the year, and seeing the mangled remains of 

some fine ships which still appeared upon the island of Sanday, the author 
was induced to bring this matter again under the notice of the Commis- 
sioners of the Northern Light-houses, in his report to the Board in the 
year 1805, when he proposed that the Start Point Beacon should be 
converted into a light-house, and that North Ronaldsay light should be 
discontinued, and its tower converted into a beacon, as wrecks were 
found to happen comparatively seldom upon that island, while hardly 
a year passed without instances of this kind on the island of Sanday; 

North Ronaldsay f or) owing to the projecting points of this strangely formed island, the 

converted into a Bea- l owness an d whiteness of its eastern shores, and the wonderful man- 

ner in which the scanty patches of land are intersected with lakes and 
pools of water, it becomes even in day-light a deception, and has often been 
fatally mistaken for an open sea. The removal of the light from North 
Ronaldsay to Sanday, was also calculated to be equally, if not more, 
useful to the navigation of North Ronaldsay Frith ; the Start Point being 
only four miles from the sunken rock called the Reef-dyke, as will be seen from 
the general chart of the coast which accompanies this work. It therefore ap- 
peared that if only a single light were allowed for the protection of this 
coast, it would be much better upon Sanday than on North Ronaldsay. 
opinion of persons On this subject, however, the author was instructed to take the opinion of 

conversant with the 'J .. . _, 

Navigation of these persons acquainted with the navigation ol these seas. Accordingly, when 


on his annual voyage to the Northern Light-houses, he submitted the 
subject to the consideration of Mr William Ellis, Commander of the 
Ross Revenue Cutter, who had then been cruising for several months off 
these islands, by order of Government, for intelligence relative to the motions 
of the Dutch fleet, which then threatened to attempt a landing on the Wes- 
tern Coast of Ireland. It was also submitted to Mr Riddoch, Collector, 
and Mr Manson, Comptroller of the Customs, at Kirkwall; to Mr John 
Traill, Mr Fotheringham, and Mr Strang of Sanday; and to the ship- 
masters of Kirkwall and Stromness. These gentlemen all united in opi- 
nion as to the superior usefulness of a light upon the island of Sanday. 


This measure having been resolved on by the Board, the plans were remit- Progress of Notine™ 


ted, with powers to proceed, to MrWilliamRae,(now Sir William Rae, Bart. . . .. , — 

1 * v Light-house resolved 

Lord Advocate of Scotland,) who was then Sheriff of the county of Orkney. on ' 
The works at the Start Point were accordingly commenced early in the 
summer of 1805 ; by the month of November the light-room was finish- 
ed, and the light exhibited on the 1st day of January 1806. Intima- 
tion was at the same time given to the public, that the beacon or tower of 
masonry erected in the year 1803, upon the island of Sanday, having been 
found insufficient for preventing the numerous shipwrecks upon the low 
shores of that island, had been converted into a light-house. 

The Start Point of Sanday is situate in the countv of Orkney, in North Description of start 

Point Light. 

Lat. 59° 20', and Long. 2° 34' west of London, from which North Ronaldsay 
light-house Tower bears by compass, N. NE. J E., distant 8 miles, and the 
Lamb Head of Stronsay SW., distant 15 miles. The light at the Start 
Point is from oil with reflectors, elevated 100 feet above the medium level 
of the sea, and is visible from all points of the compass, at the distance of 
15 miles, in a favourable state of the atmosphere. To distinguish this 
light from the other lights on this coast, it is known to mariners as a Re- 
volving light, without colour, exhibiting a brilliant light once in every 
minute, and becoming gradually less luminous ; to a distant observer it 
totally disappears. In this manner, each periodic revolution of the re- 
flector-frame, alternately shows a brilliant light, and a light becoming- 
fainter and more obscure, until it be totally eclipsed. 

The alteration of the Start Point beacon into a light-house, and the The Foreman and 
erection of houses for the light-keepers, were placed under the management Leiihin ttaTravei- 


of Mr George Peebles, an experienced mason, and executed with every 
possible attention. When the works were completed, he, and such of the 
artificers as had been retained, proceeded to Stromness on the mainland 
of Orkney, from whence they were most likely to get a passage to the south- 
ward. The party consisted of six in number ; and Charles Peebles, the fore- 
man's brother, wishing to go directly to his native place, took his passage 



Progress of Northern in a vessel bound from Stromness to Anstruther, while Mr George Peebles, 

I ,ight-houses. 

and the remaining four men, embarked on board pf a schooner, called the 

Traveller, Cruickshanks master, bound for Leith. 

The Traveller is This vessel sailed with a fair wind early on the 24th of December 1806. 


On the following morning they got sight of Kinnaird Head light-house, 
in Aberdeenshire, and had the prospect of speedily reaching the Frith of 
Forth ; but the wind having suddenly shifted to the south-east, increased 
to a tremendous gale, which did much damage on the coast. The Traveller 
immediately put about, and steered in quest of some safe harbour in Ork- 
ney. At two o'clock in the afternoon, she passed through the Pentland 
Frith, and got into the bay of Long Hope ; but could not reach the proper 
anchorage ; and, at three o'clock, both anchors were let go in an outer road- 
stead. The storm still continuing with unabated force, the cables parted or 
captain Manb/s broke, and the vessel drifted on the island of Flotta. The utmost efforts of 
those on board to pass a rope to the shore, with the assistance of the inha- 
bitants of the island, proved ineffectual, (for want of some apparatus like 
Captain Manby's) ; the vessel struck upon a shelving rock, and, night com- 
ing on, sunk in three fathoms water. 

Apparatus much 

The Foreman and ' Some of the unfortunate crew and passengers attempted to swim 

four of the Artificers 

are drowned. ashore, but in the darkness of the night, they either lost their way, or 

were dashed upon the rocks by the surge of the sea ; while those who re- 
tained hold of the rigging of the ship, being worn out with fatigue and the 
piercing coldness of the weather during a long winter night, died before 

morning, when the shore presented the dreadful spectacle of the wreck of 

no fewer than five vessels, with many lifeless bodies, the mournful subjects 
of the care and pity of the islanders. In one of these wrecks, all on board 
were lost ; and, in the Traveller, only the cabin-boy escaped. This poor 
boy, from whom these particulars were learned, had, for a time, been shel- 
tered from the severity of the blast, by one of the crew, but being at length 


left alone, he clung to the top-mast, from which he was with great diffi- P™gH»s « f Northern 

01 D Light-houses. 

culty removed in the morning, when the storm had somewhat abated. 

A very trifling circumstance prevented the vessel bound for Anstruther, 
from leaving Stromness along with the Traveller, so that Charles Peebles 
escaped this gale, and arrived with the sad tidings of the fate of his brother 
and companions. In Mr George Peebles, the light-house service lost a most 
active and faithful servant, whose next charge would have been at the opera- 
tions of the Bell Rock light-house. From the peculiar circumstances of 
this case, the Commissioners were pleased to grant small annuities to the 
mother of the foreman, and also to the family of another of the sufferers. 

Bell Rock Light-house. 

In the prosecution of the plan of this introductory account of the North- 1807. 

ern Light-houses, we may observe that the attention of the Commissioners 
was occupied with the erection of the Bell Rock Light-house, during the years 
1807, 8, 9, and 10. But as the detail of the operations of these four years 
forms the chief object of this work, it is not necessary that they should be 
further noticed here. We therefore proceed to the next operations of the 
Board, in the order of time. 

North Ronaldsay Beacon. 

It having been considered superfluous to have two light-houses on this 1809. 

part of the coast, within 8 miles of each other, the Light-house Board North Ronaldsay 

• i -kt t» it t Light extinguished. 

resolved to extinguish North Ronaldsay light, and convert its tower and its Towe.- con- 
vened into a Beacon^ 

into a sea-mark, or beacon without a light. It was accordingly inti- 
mated in the newspapers of the principal ports of the United kingdom 
that the light on the Island of North Ronaldsay, in Orkney, situated in 
North Lat. 59° 40', Long. 2° 15' west of London, would be discontinued, 
and cease to be lighted from and after the 1st day of June 1809 ; but 
that the Light-house Tower would be preserved as a Beacon on the 
coast, by the erection of a Circular Ball of masonry, measuring 8 feet in 
diameter, instead of a Light-room. This beacon bears from the revolving 



Progre« of Northern light on the Start Point of Sanday, N. NE., \ E. by compass, distant 8 


miles, which continues to be lighted as heretofore, the Start Point having 
been found the most centrical position for a light-house to warn the mariner 
of his approach to the low shores of the North Isles of Orkney. 

Isle of May . 

1814. The island of May holds a prominent position at the entrance of the 

Light of May first Frith of Forth, as will be seen by referring to the charts of the coast which 

Lighted 163.5. ' J to 

accompany this work. From its connection also with the estuary lead- 
ing to the Capital of Scotland, and the principal ports of her commerce, 
the light of May seems to have been the earliest public light on our shores. 
Over the entrance door of the old light-house tower, a stone, neatly cut 
into the figure by which the sun is usually represented, bears the date 1635. 
It appears, also, from the printed acts of the Scottish Parliament, Vol. v. 
p. 585., that power was granted, in the reign of Charles I., to James Max- 
well of Innerwick, and John Cunninghame of Barnes, to erect a light- 
house upon the Isle of May, and collect certain duties from shipping for 
Patent ratified 1641. its maintenance : The patent for this purpose, was ratified by the Scots 
Parliament in 1641. 

Much complained of r ^\ ie duties leviable for the light of May produced much dissatisfaction 

after the Union. 

after the Union, English and Irish vessels having been charged with dou- 
ble rates, as foreigners. There was, besides, a general dislike to any thing 
that was payable in the form of a tax being held as private property. This 
light being also a coal-fire, exposed in an open choffer to the vicissitudes of 
the weather, was found to be very insufficient. After the appointment of 
a Light-house Board in Scotland, in the year 1786, the shipping interest 
often expressed a desire that the light of May should be included as 
one of the Northern Lights ; that it might undergo the most recent im- 
provements ; that, according to the spirit and conditions of the Northern 
Light-house acts, the invidious distinction between the shipping of the 
same kingdom, with regard to the light-house duties, might be done away ; 
and also that there might be some prospect of the duties being modified, and 


ultimately ceasing. In the year 1809, the author foreseeing, that notwith- Progress of Northern 


standing the erection of the Bell Rock light-house, the navigation of this 

part of the coast would still be very incomplete, unless the light of May 
were improved, took an opportunity of bringing this subject under the 
notice of the Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses ; but it did not 
then appear that this could be taken up by the Board, unless it were at the 
instance of the proprietor. 

The family of Scotstarvit, into whose hands the property of the island Family of Scotstar- 

vit become Proprie- 

and light of May came by purchase, in 1714, along with the estate of tors of the Island - 
Westbarnes, in East Lothian, had long been solicited by the trade of 
the Frith of Forth, to have the light made better, either by enlarging 
the choffer for containing the coals, or by altering it to an oil light with re- 
flectors. Statements to this effect having been laid before the proprietor, by 
the Chamber of Commerce of Edinburgh, a Committee of that body visit- Chamb «r of com- 

J merce get the Light 

ed the island in the year 1786, and reported on the state of the light. im P roved - 

In consequence of the representation of this Committee, the choffer was 

enlarged to the capacity of a square of three feet ; and, instead of about 

200 tons of coal per annum, formerly consumed, the quantity of fuel was 

now doubled. The Chamber further recommended, that the stock of coals, Wemyss Coa | fer _ 

hitherto exposed to the open air on the island, should in future be kept under re ° r the Ight 

cover, and that the supply shoidd be invariably got from the collieries of 

Wemyss, which were preferred as fittest for maintaining a steady light, 

Wemyss coal being then used at Heligoland, and other coal-lights upon the 


These conditions were most readily complied with by the tutors of Miss Li s ht of Ma y cons >- 

dered the best CoaJ- 

Scott, the proprietor; and the light of May, from that period, was found Li s htinthe kingdom. 
to be very considerably improved, the choffer for containing the fuel be- 
ing about double the capacity of any other light-house choffer on the coast 
of Great Britain. The light of May, from this period, may therefore be 
described as the most powerful coal-light in the kingdom, although, from 
its exposure, it was still found to be very unsteady, in bad weather, when 
most required by the mariner. Lime-Kilns and other accidental open fires 


Progress of Northern upon the neighbouring shores, were also apt to be mistaken for the Isle of 


May choffer. To obviate such dangerous mistakes, there was no other me- 
thod but the introduction of a light from oil, with reflectors, inclosed in 
a glazed light-room. The Trinity-house of Leith, in the year 1790, pre- 
sented a memorial to this effect, to the Duke of Portland, into whose pos- 

Portiand Family get session the light and Isle of May had come by his Grace's marriage with 

possession of the 


Miss Scott of Scotstarvit. But after many fruitless applications urged from 
time to time by the Merchants of Leith, to have the light altered, the 
measure was at length given up by them as hopeless. 

LossoftheN/mphen Early in the morning of the 19th day of December 1810, how- 

nnd Pallas Frigates. JO J 

ever, two of his Majesty's ships, the frigates Nymphen and Pallas, had 
the misfortune to be wrecked near Dunbar, in consequence, it is be- 
lieved, of the light of a lime-kiln on the coast of Haddingtonshire 
having been mistaken for the coal light of the island of May. These 
frigates having come along the northern coast of Scotland, their situa- 
tion, as may be seen from the annexed maps, was very different from 
that of ships approaching the land from a distant voyage, who are 
Their prize-ship ar- much more liable to mistakes of this kind. But what renders the 
' ety * error in this instance more unaccountable is, that one of the ships had 

even sent a boat ashore at Johnshaven, on the opposite coast of Kincar- 
dineshire, in the afternoon of the day preceding their loss ; and the other, 
about the same time and place, dispatched a small prize for Leith Roads. 
under the command of a Midshipman, — who, in his course up the Frith 
of Forth, saw the Bell Rock floating light, (for at this time the light- 
house was not completed), — then the lights on the islands of May 
and Inchkeith in succession, and before day-light in the morning of 
the 19th he anchored his little vessel in the Roads. In reporting 
the prize to the Admiral at Leith, this young gentleman expressed his 
surprise that the frigates had not reached their station before him. In the 
course of the forenoon of the same day, however, an express arrived, stating 
the circumstance of the loss of the Pallas, which had happened in the 
course of the night, about two miles to the eastward of Dunbar. Soon af- 


terwards, another notice arrived announcing to the Admiral the loss of Progress of Northern 


the Nymphen Frigate in the same manner, and from the same mistake. ' 
It is not a little surprising, that although these ships had sailed in com- 
pany, and were wrecked within a few miles of each other, their similar 
fate was perfectly unknown by the respective crews, till late in the day 
on which the accidents happened. It was, however, so far fortunate, that Nine men drowned, 
although the ships became total wrecks, only nine men were lost of their 
joint crews, amounting to about 600 men ; all of whom might probably 
have perished, from the rocky and exposed shore on which they were strand- 
ed, had not the weather been very moderate. 

Immediately after the loss of these two fine frigates, valued at not 

Lord Melville applies 

less than L. 100,000, Lord Viscount Melville, first Lord of the Ad- to the Light-house 

Board about the Isle 

miralty, applied to the Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses, pro- °* May Light, 
posing that the light of May should be assumed as one of the northern 
lights, and forthwith put under proper regulations. It may here be pro- 

. . . . ... . T ^ . n -rt, 1 t Duke of Portland 

per to notice, that, prior to this accident, the Duke of Portland enter- proposes to alter the 

tained serious intentions of altering this light ; and the author had been 

employed to report to his Grace on its alteration, from the use of pit-coal 

to oil, with reflectors, the expence of which he had estimated at the annual 

sum of L. 600. The communication from the Admiralty gave rise to a 

correspondence between the Light-house Commissioners and the Duke of the CommisSonere 

Portland, who proposed to give the Light-house Board an allowance of sees, which is reject- 
L. 600 per annum, for taking burden of the light of May, while his 

Grace was to continue to levy the duties. This proposal was reject- 
ed on the part of the Commissioners, who declined becoming lessees, un- 
der the existing acts or constitution of their Board ; and it was ultimately 
concluded, that they could only take up this measure as purchasers for the 
public, in order to abolish the charge on English and Irish vessels paying 
as foreigners, and to lessen the duty for that light to the trade in general. 
In the present state of the light-house funds, this purchase coidd only 
be made by a special act of Parliament, and with pecuniary aid from Go- 


Progress of Northern vernment : as the sum demanded by the Duke for the island, and the right 


The Duke demands " to the light-duties, was unavoidably great, amounting to no less than 

I.. 63,000 for the „. „,, j /~i • 

Light duties and Sixty 1 housand Giuneas. 


to e tteAdSty. ed In tlle mean time > Mr Cuningham, Secretary to the Lighthouse 

Board, was directed to acquaint Mr Walker, the Duke of Portland's 
agent, that the Commissioners could not treat for upholding the light of 
May for payment of an annual sum. A memorial was then drawn up for 
the Admiralty, of the whole proceedings in this measure, which was pre- 
sented by Sir William Rae, Bart., on the part of the Light-house Board ; 
when their Lordships were pleased to give their countenance and support to 

isie of May and Du- a bil i fol . t j ie purc ii aS e of the light -duties and island of May. This bill was 

ties purchased at -T o J 

l, 60,000. accordingly brought into Parliament, and passed in the Session of 1814, 

authorising a loan | of L. 30,000 to be made from the Treasury to the 
Commissioners of Northern Light-houses, and empowering them to make 
the purchase from the Duke of Portland, for the sum of L. 60,000. 

Dut>- of the Light of This important transaction having been closed, the Light-house Board, 

May reduced by the r o ■ » o > 

Act of 13U. j u t erms f this act (46th George III. chap, cxxxvi.) were empowered to 

reduce the light-duty of the Isle of May, to all British vessels, from one 
penny half-penny, as collected heretofore, to one penny per ton, when Eng- 
lish and Irish ships were no longer treated as foreigners, by paying double 
dues. Immediate measures were also taken for altering and improving the 
light. It was, however, too late at the end of the session of 1814, to com- 
mence operations on the island ; but, in the following summer, the new 
light-house was erected, and a light from oil with reflectors was exhibited, 
on the 1st day of February 1816, after a coal-light had been continued 
here for 181 years, or from 1635. 

Additional Apart- As the island of May lies about half way between the light-houses of 

ments at the Isle of " ,, 

May. Inch Keith and the Bell Rock, it was thought proper to have two or three 

apartments in the May Light-house for the reception of such members of the 
Light-house Board, as might happen to be detained by contrary winds in 


occasional visits to the Bell Rock, upon which landing is often very diffi- Progress of Northern 


cult and precarious, depending both on the state of the weather and the 

tides. The dwelling-house at the Isle of May, therefore, is larger than 
would otherwise have been required for the accommodation of the two light- 
keepers and their families. 

In consequence of this change upon the light of May, notice was given Notice given of the 

alterations at Isle of 

to the public, that it had been assumed one of the Northern Light-houses, Ma y and inchkeith. 
and that the Commissioners had directed a new light-house, upon improv- 
ed principles, to be erected, which would not only alter its former appear- 
ance, but also occasion a change on the light of Inchkeith, situate about 
twenty-two miles farther up the Frith of Forth. The following descrip- 
tion of the Isle of May light was published. 

" The light-house on the Island of May, is situate at the entrance of Description ot the 

° J Light of May. 

the Frith of Forth, in North Lat. 5Q" 12', and Long. 2° 36' west of 
London. From the light-house, Fifeness bears, by compass, N. by E. \ E., 
distant five miles, and the Staple Rocks lying off Dunbar, S. by W. | W., 
distant ten miles. The light being formerly from coal, exposed to the 
weath er in an open grate or choffer, was discontinued on the night of the 
1st day of February 1816, when a light from oil, with reflectors, known to 
mariners as a Stationary Light, was exhibited. The new light-house tower, 
upon the Island of May, is contiguous to the site of the old one, and is ele- 
vated 240 feet above the medium level of the sea, of which the masonry 
forms 57 feet, and is therefore similar to the old tower in point of height. 
The new light is defended from the weather in a glazed light-room, and 
has a uniformly steady appearance, resembling a star of the first magnitude, 
and is seen from all points of the compass, at the distance of about seven 
leagues, and intermediately according to the state of the atmosphere." — The ow Light-house con- 

° j a x verted into a Pilot's 

old light-house tower on the Island of May, has been reduced in height to Guard-room. 
about 20 feet, and by directions of the Light-house Board, it has been con- 
verted into a guard-room like that upon Inchkeith, for the use and conve- 
niency of pilots and fishermen. 



Progress of Northern 

Inchkeith Revolving Light. 

Description of inch- The aDO ve description, in so far as regards the appearance of the light 

Li s ht - of May being exactly applicable to that of Inchkeith, described at page 

25. of this Introduction, it was found expedient to alter it from a stationary 
to a revolving light, that it might be distinguished from the light of 
May, where a revolving light would have been liable to be mistaken for 
the Bell Rock light, owing to the more contiguous position of the May 
island to the Bell Rock. 

The light upon Inchkeith, hitherto a stationary light from oil, with 
reflectors, was therefore altered and converted into that description of light 
known to mariners as a Revolving light without colour, on the same night 
that the change took place upon the Isle of May. The light of Inchkeith 
is seen from all points of the compass, at the distance of five leagues in fa- 
vourable weather, exhibiting a bright light once in every minute, and gra- 
dually becoming less luminous, it totally disappears to a distant observer. 
In this manner, each periodic revolution of the reflector-frame, alternately 
shows a brilliant light, which becomes fainter, and more obscure, until 
it is totally eclipsed. By this alteration, the same description and appear- 
ance of the other lights upon the coast is preserved, and the possibility of 
mistaking Inchkeith light for the numerous lights on the land, with which 
it is surrounded, is now also effectually prevented. 

1815. It had long been the wish of the mercantile interest of the Frith of 

Additional Light pro. Clyde and St George's Channel, to have a light on the coast of Galloway, 

posed for the western J 

coast on Corsewaii to di rec t ships, on the Scotch side, into the Irish Channel. From the 

Point. •*■ 

great amount of light-house duties collected upon the western coast, and 
the extent of light-house works which had of late years been erected upon 
the eastern shores, including the Bell Rock and Isle of May light-houses, 


the Commissioners were desirous of accommodating the trade of the western progress of Northern 


coast, as far as the demands of shipping required, or the state of the light- 

house funds would permit. It was accordingly resolved, that a report upon 
this subject, made to the Light-house Board by the author, should be sub- 
mitted to the trade of Liverpool, Glasgow and Greenock, for their observa- 
tions. Having in this manner procured the necessary information, it was 
resolved that a light-house shoidd be erected for the benefit of this coast, 
upon the northern extremity of the Mull of Galloway in Wigtonshire, on 
the point of Corsewall ; because, in addition to the advantages of this si- 
tuation, as an excellent direction both for the entrance of the Irish Chan- 
nel and Frith of Clyde, it would answer as a guide to the Roadstead or 
anchorage of Loch Ryan. 

In the course of the correspondence on this subject, it had been stated Light-houses neces- 

*■ ° sary for the naviga- 

by Mr Quintin Leitch, Chief Magistrate of Greenock, a gentleman well channel! 16 Wsh 
acquainted with the navigation of these seas, that if light-houses were erect- 
ed upon the Isle of Man, these, with the lights of Copeland and Kilwarlin, 
on the Irish side of the channel, together with the proposed light on Corse- 
wall Point, and another on the Hulin or Maiden rocks, off the coast of 
Antrim, would fully protect this important part of the coast. 

After considering the subject in its various bearings, the Board resolved, Foundation-stone of 
as before noticed, on the erection of a light-house on Corsewall Point, in house laid. " 
the month of January 1815, and on the 17th day of June following, the 
foundation-stone was laid, by Mr Quintin Leitch, as master mason, when 
Mr James SpreulL Chamberlain of the city of Glasgow, Mr Lachlan Ken- 
nedy, under whose charge the works were placed, and the Engineer, assisted 
at the ceremony. In the course of the Summer and Autumn, the tower of 
this light-house was got to the height of 35 feet, and some progress was 
also made with the walls of the house for tire light-keepers. 

The works at Corsewall being suspended during winter, were again re- 1816. 

sumed in the ensuing spring. The light-room was completed in the au- L; ght-house finished. 



Progress of Northern tumn, and the light was exhibited to the public on the night of the 15th 

Light- houses. 

— day of November 1816, agreeably to the following description. 

Description of Corse- « Corsewall light-house is situate in the county of Wigton, in North Lat. 

wall Light. ° J ° 

55° 1', and West Long. 5° 5'. It bears by compass, from Millour Point, 
on the western side of the channel leading into Loch Ryan, W. by S., dis- 
tant about two miles ; from Turnberry Point. SW. 21 miles ; from the 
Craig of Ailsa SS. W. 15 miles ; from the Mull of Kintyre S. E. S. 31 
miles ; from the Hidin or Maiden rocks on the coast of Antrim, E. by S. 
20 miles ; from Copeland Light-house, near the entrance of Belfast loch, 
NE. I E. 22 miles, and from Laggan point in Galloway, NE., distant 
3 i miles. To distinguish this light, which is from oil, with a reflecting and 
revolving apparatus, from the other lights upon the coast, it is known to ma- 
riners as a Revolving light with colour, and exhibits from the same light- 
room a light of the natural appearance, alternating with a light tinged 
with a red colour. These lights, respectively, attain their greatest strength, 
or most luminous effect, at the end of every two minutes. But, in the 
course of each periodic revolution of the reflector-frame, the lights become 
alternately fainter and more obscure, and, to a distant observer, are totally 
eclipsed for a short period. The light-room at Corsewall is glazed all round, 
but the light is hid from the mariner by the high land near Laggan Point, 
towards the south, and by Turnberry Point towards the north. This light 
is elevated 112 feet above the medium level of the sea, and its most lumi- 
nous side may be seen like a star of the first magnitude, at the distance of 
five or six leagues, but the side tinged red being more obscured by the co- 
louring shades, is not seen at so great a distance." 

Isle of Man. 
Rate of Light-house The subject of the erection of the light-houses on the Isle of Man, 

duties for the Isle of 

Man. having again been agitated by the merchants of Liverpool, the rates of duty 

which would probably be demanded for the erection of a light-house upon 
the Calf of Man, was procured from one of the agents of the Trinity-House 
of London upon that coast. This schedule of duties appearing to be high, 


a correspondence took place between Mr William Laird of Liverpool, and Progress of Northern 


Mr Quintin Leitch of Greenock, respecting the rate of Scotch light-house — 

duties, which was ultimately brought under the notice of the Commis- 
sioners of the Northern Light-Houses, by Sir William Rae, Bart. 

Reference having been made to the author relative to the expence of 1802. 

erecting a light-house upon the Calf of Man, he stated to the Board, that, Author's Report on 
in the course of a tour which he had made in the year 1802, round the 
coast of Great Britain, he visited the Isle of Man, with a view to ascer- 
tain the most eligible places for light-houses on that island, where he 
considered two light-house stations to be indispensably necessary, viz. one 
on the Calf of Man, to the south, and another on the Point of Ayre, 
towards the north of the island. From the numerous shipping of that 
district, he only calculated upon the duty of one farthing per ton up- 
on shipping for the light-houses of both stations. The Commissioners took 
this matter under consideration at the time, as appears from their minutes of 
the 14th January 1803, which state, that " Mr Stevenson had reported very 
strongly of the great utility which would attend the erection of light-houses 
on the Isle of Man ; but that island not being within the jurisdiction either 
of the Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses or Trinity Board of Lon- 
don, both boards seem thereby to be prevented from accomplishing an ob- 
ject so much wished for by mariners, as such an improvement upon the 
coast would prove a great additional security to the navigation of those 
seas, and especially to the trade of a great number of the ports of Eng- 
land and Ireland. In order, therefore, that this circumstance might not 
be overlooked, the Commissioners direct this notice to be taken of it in their 
minutes, that if an application to Parliament should, at a future period, be 
deemed necessary, they may judge how far it may not be proper in them to 
apply for power to erect lights upon the Isle of Man." 

When these circumstances were intimated to the merchants of Liver- Scotch u g ht -i">use 

Board applied to for 

pool, and especially that the rate of one farthing per ton was considered a jjf^ 8 on the ls,e of 
sufficient rate of duty, the business was brought under the notice of the 


Progress of Northern Association of Shipowners and other public bodies of Liverpool, by Mr 


John Gladstone, when a representation and petition from them was pre- 
sented to the Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses, praying, that 
they would bring a bill into Parliament, to enable them to erect the neces- 
sary light-houses on the Isle of Man. 

Act of 1815X rp n j g application having been complied with, Sir William Rae was re- 

quested to attend to the progress of the bill, and to take the assistance of 
any of the other members of the light-house board who might happen to be 
in London at the time. The Isle of Man Light-house Bill was accordingly 
brought forward by Mr Huskisson, in absence of Mr Canning, member of 
Parliament for Liverpool, as a measure in which that port was specially in- 
terested. But when the subject was communicated to the late Mr Rose, 
M. P., one of the elder brethren of the Trinity House of London, he request- 
ed that nothing might be done in this measure, until he should have an op- 
portunity of considting with the gentlemen of the Trinity-House, as he con- 
sidered the Isle of Man to be within the district of that board. After 
repeated meetings, at which Mr Rose attended, he ultimately stated, 
that the Trinity Board did not consider the Isle of Man as coming un- 
der their line of coast ; and that the Commissioners of the Northern Light- 
houses might, therefore, go on with their bill. It was accordingly brought 
forward in the House of Commons, and the author attended to prove the 
preamble of the bill in the House of Lords ; and in June 1815 it received 
the Royal assent. 
Difficulty in fixing I n returning towards Scotland, I embarked in the Light-house Yacht at 

the position of the 

isle of Man lights. Liverpool, and visited the Isle of Man. It appeared, on examining the site 
for the erection of a light-house on the Point of Ayre, or northern extre- 
mity of the island, that there would be no difficulty in fixing its place. But 
the case was different at the Calf Island, as there seemed an evident advan- 
tage in having the house on a low situation, to keep it more free from fog, 
and where it might also be more in the line of direction with a dangerous 
reef called the Chickens, lying about a mile into the offing. On this low 
position, called Kaager Point, the high land of the Calf would have shut 


in the light very much from the northward. Another situation, however, progress of Northern 

presented itself ; but, as this last station was considerably higher, it might 

perhaps be found more uncertain with regard to fog resting upon it in 
thick and hazy weather ; and it was therefore thought prudent to place a 
trusty person on the island, with directions for observing and communicat- 
ing the state of the weather for about six months, previously to determining 
the site of the light-house on the Calf of Man. This mode of inquiring 
into the subject, was strengthened by the report of some intelligent persons 
relative to the prevailing state of the weather at the Isle of Man, who 
represented that the Calf Island was less liable to be enveloped in fog than 
the higher parts of the Main Island. 

In the month of August 1815, when Sir William Rae, Bart, then She- A f etson stationed 

on the island to ob- 

riff of the shire of Edinburgh, Mr Robert Hamilton, Sheriff of Lanarkshire, serve the state of the 

D ' weather. 

and Mr Adam Duff, Sheriff of Forfarshire, Commissioners of the Northern 
Light-houses, visited this island, they concurred in judging it highly proper 
to make special observations on the state of the weather at the Calf Island. 
In the beginning of November following, the author accordingly sent Mr 
Macurich, a shipmaster in the light-house service, to that island, with direc- 
tions to reside there, and make monthly returns of the state of the weather, 
agreeably to a printed form. During his stay of seven months, it appears, 
upon the whole, that the fog rested only twice upon the highest land of the 
Calf, while it cleared partially below. On one of these occasions, I was on 
board of the Light-house yacht, then at anchor off the island, when the 
fog was for a time general ; and as the weather became "clear, I observed 
that it first disappeared upon the lower parts of the island ; and that in half 
an hour the whole of the Calf was seen. In the journal of the weather 
alluded to, the Calf Island is represented as often perfectly free of fog, 
while the higher parts of the opposite mainland of Man, was hid in mist. 
To account for this, it may be noticed, that the mass of matter in the Calf 
island is much less, and the land is also much lower, than in the main island. 
Part of this effect may also be ascribed to the rapidity of the tides, which 
create a current of wind, particularly in the narrow channel between the 


Progress of Northern Main and Calf islands ; which have a direct tendency to clear away the 


fog ; as I have observed at the Skerries in the Pentland Frith, and in si- 
milar situations on different parts of the coast, where rapid currents pre- 

1816. From these observations, the author was led to report to the Commis- 
tothTcwo? mm ' sioners ' tnat the %ht-house on the Calf of Man should hold an intermedi- 
ate position between the highest part of the island, called Bushel's Hill, 
and the lower site called Kaager Point ; and, further, that by erecting two 
light-house towers in a certain relative position to each other, they would 
point out the line of direction of the dangerous sunken rocks called the 
Chickens, and by adopting that description of light known to mariners 
as a Revolving light without Colour, this station would be sufficiently 
distinguished from the lights which surround the Isle of Man on the Scotch, 
Irish, and English shores. 

1817. A difficulty occurred in proceeding with the Isle of Man light-houses, 

Lights of the isie of from the want of funds to enable the Commissioners to proceed with the 

Man completed. 

works. The Board had already become liable for a large sum to liquidate 
the payment of the purchase-money of the private right of the Portland 
Family to the duties of the light of May. On this measure, and in the 
erection of the Bell Rock light-house, as before noticed, there had been 
expended upwards of L. 160,000 in the course of the last ten years ; so that 
it became necessary to borrow L. 10,000, agreeably to the act, for the Isle 
of Man. In this state of things, the works at the Isle of Man were delay- 
ed for a time ; but, in the month of August 1816, they were commenced. 
The light-rooms were completed in the month of December 1817 ; and, on 
the night of the 1st of February 1818, the lights, both at the stations of 
the Point of Ayre, and Calf Island, were exhibited to the public, agreeably 
to the following descriptions. 

Point of Ayre. 
1818. The only consideration to be taken into view in fixing the site of the 

Description of the Point of Ayre Light-house, was the wasting appearance of the shores by 



the effects of the sea at this part of the coast. Although, therefore, it would Progress of Northern 


have answered fully better, for the purposes of the light, to have erected the 

tower close upon high-water-mark, yet the beach being composed of a 
loose shifting gravel, it became a matter of prudence rather to keep the 
buildings at some distance from it. 

" The Point of Ayre light-house is situate about 650 feet from the sea, 
at high-water of spring tides, upon an extensive plain in the Main Island 
of Man, in north latitude 54° 27'. and longitude 4° 20' west of London. 
The light-house bears, by compass, from the Mull of Galloway, S. S. E. 
and is distant 22 miles ; from Burrowhead, S. S. W. \ W. distant 16 miles ; 
from St Bees, in Cumberland, W. by N. § N. distant 29 miles ; and from 
Rue Point, E. by S. distant 4 miles. 

" The light is from oil, with a reflecting and revolving apparatus, and 
is known to mariners as a " Revolving-coloured-light," exhibiting from 
the same Reflector-frame a light of the natural appearance, alternating 
with one tinged red. These lights respectively attain their most lu- 
minous effect, at the end of every two minutes. But, in the course of each 
periodic revolution of the reflector-frame, both lights become alternately 
fainter and more obscure, and, to a distant observer, are totally eclipsed for 
a short time. 

" The Light-room at the Point of Ayre is glazed all round, but the 
light is hid from the mariner by the high land of Maughold Head towards 
the south, and by Rue Point towards the west. Being elevated 106 feet 
above the medium level of the sea, its most luminous side may be seen, like 
a star of the first magnitude, at the distance of five leagues ; but the side 
tinged red, being somewhat obscured by the coloured shades, cannot be 
seen at so great a distance." 

Calf of Man. 
" There are two leading lights on the Calf of Man, situate on the Description of Caif 

of Man Light. 

western side of the small island called the Calf, in north Lat. 54° 5', and 



Progress of Northern Long. 4° 46' west of London. These two light-houses are distant from 


each other 560 feet. The higher light bears by compass from the Mull 

of Galloway, S. SW. distant 37 miles ; Peelhead, in the Isle of Man, SW. 
distant 1 1 miles ; Langness Point, W. by N. \ Nj distant 6 miles ; and 
from the sunken rocks, called the Chickens, NE. ^ E. distant about 1^ mile. 

" These lights are from oil, each light-room being furnished with a 
distinct reflecting and revolving apparatus, by which they are distinguish- 
ed from the other lights on the coast, and rendered useful as leading 
lights for passing the dangerous rocks called the Chickens. The light- 
house towers, as before noticed, are built at the distance of 560 feet apart, 
bearing from each other NE. \ E. and SW. \ W. Consequently, to an 
observer, in the direction of the Chickens, both lights will appear in one, or 
be seen in the same line of direction, and be known to mariners as " Double- 
revolving and Leading-lights without colour." These lights will respectively 
attain their most luminous effect at the end of every two minutes ; but, in 
the course of each periodic revolution of the reflector frames, they alternate- 
ly become fainter and more obscure, and, to a distant observer, are totally 
eclipsed for a short time. The two light-rooms at the Calf of Man are 
glazed all round, but are hid from the mariner by the high land of 
Peel Head towards the NE. and by Spanish Head in an eastern direction ; 
both lights, however, will be visible at about £ of a mile from Langnees 
Point. The lower light is elevated 305 feet above the medium level of 
the sea, and the high light 396 feet, and they will be seen like two stars 
of the first magnitude, at the distance of six or seven leagues, in a fa- 
vourable state of the atmosphere." 

Extension of the By the extension of the works of the Scotch Light-house Board to 

a" Irish self tS ' the Isle of Man, the system of the Northern Light-houses may now be 

said, in a general way, to extend over the whole of the coast of Scotland, 

while the lights of Man are of immediate importance to the extensive 

shipping of the coasts of England and Ireland, which bound the Irish Sea. 


The trade of Dublin and Newry, &c. on the one side, and of Liverpool, Progress of Northern 


Lancaster, Whitehaven, and Workington, &c. on the other, find the traffic ■ 

with those ports much more safe since the erection of these lights. Instead 
of shunning the Isle of Man, as formerly, owing to the projecting points, 
sunken rocks, and sand-banks connected with it, the mariner now steers 
boldly for this island, and takes shelter under it in stormy weather. 

Sumburgh Head. 

According to the existing acts of Parliament relative to the Northern Shetland islands. 
Lights, no additional duty is exigible for any new erections of the Board, 
as the only part of the coast not liable, prior to the extension of the Scots 
Light-house Acts to the Isle of Man, was that of the Solway Frith, 
now also subject to the duty. These acts, however, empower the Commis- 
sioners to erect additional light-houses ; and when a sufficient number shall 
have been exhibited on the coast, and a surplus fund provided for their 
maintenance, the duty on shipping is ultimately to cease, and be no longer 
payable. Presuming, therefore, upon the prosperity of the commerce of 
the country, for an increase of funds, the Commissioners, though there were 
large sums to pay, both in the form of interest for Government loans, 
and instalments for borrowed money, taking into consideration the unpro- 
tected state of the Shetland Islands, a part of their district still without 
the immediate benefit of light-houses, had in view to erect an additional 
Light-house, as soon as their funds would admit, on some of the most 
prominent points of that group of Islands. The winters of 1817 and 
1818 having been very unfortunate to the shipping of the North Seas, 
and some very distressing shipwrecks having occurred at Shetland, Mr 
William Erskine, now Lord Kineddar, then Sheriff of the County of 
Orkney and Shetland, and ex officio one of the Commissioners, brought 
the subject again under the notice of the Board ; and, in the month 
of January 1819, it was finally resolved that a Light-house should be 
erected on Sumburgh Head in Shetland, the position of which will be seen 



Progress of Northern by inspecting Plate III. This work having been accordingly contracted 


for by Mr John Reid, builder, of Peterhead, the first stone of the build- 
ing was laid on the 10th day of May 1 820, and the light exhibited on the 
night of the 15th day of January 1821, agreeably to the following specifi- 
cation of the position of the house, and appearance of the light : 
Description of sum- « Sumburgh Head Lighthouse is situate on the southern promon- 

burgh Head Light. ° ° r 

house - tory of the Mainland of the Shetland Islands, in north latitude 59° 52', 

and longitude 1° 15' west of London. The Lighthouse, by compass, bears 
from Hangcliff-head in Noss Island SW. by W. \ West, distant 21 miles. 
From Fair Island NE. by E. £ East, 26 miles. And from the Island of 
Foula, SE. by S. \ South, distant 28 miles. In reference to these bear- 
ings, the light is visible to the mariner from the southward, between Noss 
and Foula Islands. This light is known to mariners as a " Stationary light 
from oil with reflectors ;" and being elevated 300 feet above the medium 
level of the sea, it is seen, like a star of the first magnitude, at the distance 
of seven or eight leagues, and at intermediate distances, according to the 
state of the atmosphere." 

Buiit with double From the very exposed situation of the promontory of Sumburgh Head, 

and the great difficulty experienced in preserving the walls of light-houses 
in a water-tight state, the writer followed a new plan with the buildings at 
this station, in having made the whole of the external walls double ; the 
masonry of the outward wall being lined with brick instead of lath-work, 
with a space of three inches left between the double walls. This method 
was of course, more expensive in the first instance, but will ultimately 
be much more economical, as repairs, in these remote situations, are una- 
voidably very expensive. This house is free of dampness, and has not ad- 
mitted a single drop of water through any part of the walls during the 
storms of two successive winters, although the force of the wind is such, 
that the light-keepers, when out of doors, are frequently obliged to move 
upon their hands and knees, to prevent their being blown off the high land. 
In such states of the weather, accompanied by rain, it is hardly possible to 
prevent a single wall from admitting water. 




Carr Rock. 
The Carr forms the seaward termination of a reef of sunken rocks which Progress of Northern 


appear at low-water, extending about a mile and three quarters from the " 

shore of Fifeness, on the northern side of the entrance of the Frith of 
Forth. The very dangerous position of this rock, as a turning point, in 
the navigation of the northern-hound shipping of the Frith, will be seen 
from the chart of the coast, Plate IV. It seemed necessary, therefore, 
for the safety of navigation, that the Carr Rock, in connection with the se- 
veral light-houses of the Bell Rock, Isle of May, and Inchkeith, should 
be made as easily distinguishable to the mariner as possible. 

The author, while occupied with the works at the Bell Rock, having: been shipwrecks at the 

1 ' & Carr Rock. 

often struck with the frequent and distressing occurrence of shipwreck at 
the Carr Rock, was induced to collect information as to the probable num- 
bers of these wrecks ; and he accordingly obtained, from persons who had 
good access to know, the following list of wrecked vessels, for a period of 
nine years prior to the commencement of the works at the Carr Rock. 

List of Shipwrecks off Fifeness, between the Years 1800 and 1809. 

Vessels 1 Names. 

Masters 1 Names 


Port belonging to. 




South Ferry. 





















Lady Charlotte. 




Two Brothers. 



















John's Haven. 

New Deer. 








Countess of Elgin 



John's Haven. 




South Ferry. 



Progress of Northern 

Floating-buoy moor- 
ed off the Carr. 

A Beacon of mason- 
ry is resolved on. 

Dimensions of the 
Carr Rock. 

By this melancholy list we find, that no fewer than sixteen vessels have, 
in the course of nine years, been either lost or stranded on the Carr Rocks, 
being almost at the rate of two wrecks in the year. From this alarming state 
of things, it was thought advisable to bring the subject under the notice of 
the Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses, when the Board imme- 
diately ordered a Floating-buoy, of a large size, to be mooredoffthe Carr. The 
moorings for this buoy were laid down, upon the 18th of September 1809, in 
10 fathoms water, at the distance of about 200 fathoms, in a north-eastern 
direction, from the rock. But, owing to the heavy swell of sea, and the rocky 
sandstone bottom on this part of the coast, it was found hardly possible to 
prevent the buoy from occasionally drifting, even although it had been at- 
tached to part of the great chain, made from bar-iron, measuring 1 J inch 
square, with which the Bell Rock floating light had been moored for up- 
wards of four years, without injury. The moorings of the Carr Rock-buoy, 
from the continual rubbing upon the sandstone bottom, were worn through 
with the friction in the course of ten months ; and during the four years 
which it rode here, though regularly examined and replaced, in the proper 
season of the year, it was no less than five times adrift, to the great incon- 
veniency and hazard of shipping. 

Under these circumstances, the Light-house Board was induced to erect 
a Beacon of masonry upon the Carr Rock itself, instead of the Floating- 
buoy. This work was commenced in the month of June, in the year 
1813, under the direction of the writer. The stone for this building was 
taken from an excellent sandstone quarry on the property of Lord Kel- 
lie, near the mouth of Pitmilly Burn : But, owing to the smallness of the 
rock, the depth of water upon it, and the exposed nature of the situation, 
the work was afterwards attended with very great difficulty. 

The length of the Carr Rock, from south to north, measures 75 feet ; 
but its greatest breadth, as seen at low- water of spring-tides, being only 
23 feet, it was found to be impracticable to obtain a base for a building 
of greater diameter than 18 feet. Such also was the fractured and rugged 


state of the surface of this rock, that it became necessary to excavate Progress of Northern 


part of the foundation-pit of the building to the depth of seven feet. 
The difficulties of this part of the work were also greatly increased, owing 
to the foundation, on the eastern side, being under the level of the lowest 
tides : so that it became necessary to construct a coffer-dam. Part of this 
coffer-dam it was necessary to remove, and carry ashore, after each tide's 
work ; and on the return of the workmen at ebb-tide, a considerable time 
was unavoidably occupied in fixing the moveable part of the coffer-dam, 
and in pumping the water out of the foundation-pit. 

But, to enable the reader to form a comparative estimate of the diffi- Difficulties of this 

work compared with 

culties attending the early stages of the Carr Rock Beacon, with those of those ° f the Beii Rock. 
the Bell Rock Light-house, it may be noticed, that the period which the 
artificers were actually at work upon the Carr Rock, as ascertained by the 
foreman during the first season, or the summer of 1813, was 41 hours; 
and in 1814, after the experience of one year's work, these were only 
extended to 53 hours. Now, if we compare 1807 and 1808, the two first 
years' work at the Bell Rock, we find the artificers were respectively about 
180 and 265 hours upon that rock. The first two years at the Carr Rock 
were entirely occupied in excavating and preparing the foundation, and in 
laying 10 scones, or the half-course of masonry, which brings the founda- 
tion to a uniform level, for the first entire course of the building, as 
shewn in Plate II,; while, at the Bell Rock, in the two first seasons 
three courses were erected, as represented in Plate IX., of a building situate 
12 miles from the shore, and measuring 42 feet in diameter at the base, 
besides the erection of a Beacon-house or Barrack for the workmen. The 
establishment for the works at the Bell Rock was of course on a much larger 
scale than that of the Carr Rock ; but still the latter was equally effective, 
and the same apparatus, artificers and seamen, were employed at both. 

During the third year's work, or 1815, the second course of the ma- Third year's work 

. at the Carr Rock. 

sonry was completed upon the Carr, and nine stones of the third course had 
been got laid by the 3d of October, when a heavy ground-swell obliged 



Fourth year's work. 

Progress of Northern the artificers precipitately to leave the rock and take to their hoats. 


This swell was immediately accompanied by a gale of easterly wind, and 

before the cement had taken bond or firmness, the surge of the sea washed 
it out ; when the oaken trenails, used as a temporary fixture during the 
progress of the work, were wrenched off, and the stone-joggles broken 
asunder. The whole of the nine blocks of stone were thus swept off the 
rock and lost in deep water, though they had been completely dove-tailed, 
and fitted on the same principles as the masonry of the Bell Rock Light- 
house, where not a single stone was lost during the whole progress of the work. 
In the year 1816, or fourth season, the work was continued till the month 
of November, when the building had attained the height of about 20 feet, 
or the 1 6th course, and still wanting 18 courses to complete the masonry. 
In this state, it was left till the following season, having been previ- 
ously loaded with about four tons of lead, cast in suitable pieces, and sus- 
pended within the void or central hollow of the building. The operations of 
the fourth season had been also much retarded by several untoward acci- 
dents. In particular, a heavy gale overtook the workmen while they were 
laying the 7th course, which obliged them to leave the rock before the pre- 
cautionary measures could be taken, for closing and completing the work 
immediately in hand ; in consequence of which, the stones on the eastern, or 
weather-side of this course, were lifted off their bases, the oaken trenails bro- 
ken, and five of the blocks of stone swept away. At another period, the 
Puzzolano mortar of the beds of two of the stones was washed out, and so 
much injured, that the stones required to be lifted and relaid. The works 
were this season intended to have been closed early in the month of Oc- 
tober, when another unlucky gale sprung up, just as the sixteenth course 
had been laid, which lifted seven of the stones off their beds ; but they 
were fortunately held by the oaken trenails, and in this state they remained 
for about three weeks, before a landing could possibly be effected, to replace 

In the month of June 1817, the fifth year's work was begun, and the 
remaining courses of the masonry were built ; but in the month of Novem- 

Fifth year's work. 


ber, the coast was visited with a gale of wind at south-east, accompanied ff°e r " s of Northern 

° x Lighs-houses. 

with a heavy swell of sea, which, unfortunately, washed down the upper 
part of the building, and reduced it to the height of the fifth course, which 
formed part of the fourth year's work. 

Instead, therefore, of completing this Beacon with masonry, as had Beacon finished 

with cast-iron pil- 

been originally intended, and providing the Machine and large Bell, lars and ban. 
which was to have measured 5 feet across the mouth, to be tolled by 
the alternate rise and fall of the tide, it now became a matter of consi- 
deration in what form the upper part of this design should be finished. 
The Board ultimately determined on the erection of six columns of cast- 
iron upon the remaining courses of masonry. These columns are put 
together with spigot and facet joints, strongly connected with collars and 
horizontal bars of malleable iron ; the whole terminating with a cast-iron 
ball, formed in ribs, elevated about 25 feet above the medium level of the 
sea. In this manner the Carr Rock Beacon was at length completed, in 
the month of September 1821, after six years work. The following is the 
notice and description of it given to the public : 

" The Carr Rock forms the seaward ledge of a range of sunken rocks, Beari ngs and De- 

, . .-, r _., scription of the Carr 

extending about two miles from Jb iteness, on the eastern coast of Scotland, R °<* Beacon. 
in North Latitude 56° 17', and Longitude 2° 35' west of London. By com- 
pass the Carr Rock Beacon bears SW. by W. from the Bell Rock, dis- 
tant 11 miles ; and from the Isle of May Light-house NN.E. ^ E., dis- 
tant 6 miles. 

" The lower part of the beacon is a circular building of masonry, 18 feet 
in diameter, forming a basement for six pillars of cast-iron, terminating in 
a hollow ball of that metal, which measures 3 feet across, and is elevated 
about 25 feet above the medium level of the sea. 

" The erection of this beacon has been attended with much difficulty, 
having occupied six years in building ; in the course of which the works 



Progress of Northern sustained occasional damage. Mariners are therefore warned, when they 

Light-houses. ° •' 

" run for the Carr Rock Beacon, to do so with caution, both on account of 
its exposure to the breach of the sea, and its liability to receive damage 
from vessels under sail." 

Application of the -jj ie f orm an( j construction of the Carr Rock Beacon, both as original- 

tide-machme de- D 

ly intended, and ultimately executed, will be better understood by re- 
ferring to Plate II., and to the annexed Description of the Plates. The 
motion to be given to the bell-apparatus, or tide-machine, was to be 
effected by admitting the sea water through a small aperture, of three 
inches in diameter, perforated in the solid masonry, communicating with 
a cylindrical chamber, in the centre of the building, measuring two feet in 
diameter, in which a float or metallic air-tank, was to rise and fall with the 
tide. The train of machinery for this apparatus was calculated for a per- 
pendicular rise of only six feet, being equal to the lowest neap-tides on 
this coast. During the period of flood-tide, the air-vessel, in its elevation, 
by the pressure of the water, was to give motion to machinery for tolling 
the bell, and winding up a weight ; which last, in its descent, during ebb 
tide, was to continue the motion of the machine, until the flood-tide again 
returned to perforin the joint operation of tolling the bell and raising the 
weight. A working model of a machine upon this principle having been 
constructed, it was kept in motion for a period equal to several months : 
this was effected by water run through a succession of tanks, raised by a 
pump from the lower one to the higher, thus producing the effect of flood 
and ebb tides. The time during which this apparatus was in action, having 
been ascertained by an index, a constant attendance upon the machine, du- 
ring this protracted experiment, became unnecessary. 

General application rj^ upper termination of the Beacon, in its present form, does not ad- 

of tide-machinery. r L 

mit of the application of the tide-machine with the bell-apparatus. Ex- 
periments as applicable to this have, however, been tried with a wind- 
instrument, to be sounded by the pressure of the sea water ; but it has 


not succeeded to the extent that seems necessary for a purpose of this Progress of Northern 


kind. We have indeed thought, that the application of pressure as a 
power, communicated by the waters of the ocean, in mechanical operations, 
might be carried to almost any extent, by simply providing a chamber or 
dock, large enough for the reception of a float or vessel, of dimensions equi- 
valent to the force required. This description of machinery is more parti- 
cularly applicable in situations where the tides have a great rise, as in the 
Solway Frith, Bristol Channel, and other parts of the British seas ; and 
at St Malo, on the coast of France. 

A Beacon of any form, unprovided with a light, must always be con- Leading Lights sug- 
sidered an imperfect land-mark, and therefore various modes have been con- 
templated, for more completely pointing out the position of the Carr Rock. 
It has been proposed that phosphoric lights should be exhibited from the 
top of the Building. This object, however, would be more certainly ac- 
complished, by the erection of leading lights, upon the Island of May and 
Mainland of Fife. But these, with other plans which have been under the 
writer's consideration, would necessarily be attended with a great addition- 
al expence, which, in the present instance, it is not thought advisable to 

Owing to the necessarily slow progress of the operations at the Carr 
Rock, the works were carried on partly in connection with the new light- 
house on the Isle of May, and with the assistance of the ordinary shipping 
of the Light-house establishment. This renders it difficult to give a dis- 
tinct estimate of the expence of the Beacon ; but in so far as it can be col- 
lected, it may be stated, including all charges, at about L. 5000. 


Expence of the Can- 
Reck works. 


Progress of Northern 

Stations on the Coast of Scotland, where Light-houses have been sug- 
gested as still necessary. 

Having now taken notice of the works of the Light-house Board, so 
far as they have been completed, up to and including part of the year 1823. 
We may farther advert to the Light-house on the Rhins of Hay, founded 
on the 23d of August last. The Northern Light-houses accordingly amount 
to seventeen, erected at fourteen stations ; and besides these, there are the 
Beacons of North Ronaldsay and the Carr Rock. The position of these 
establishments has not been chosen in regard to their respective distances 
from each other, but agreeably to the commercial importance and dangers 
connected with particular parts of the coast. Six of them, for instance, are 
on the Friths of Forth and Clyde, at not more than from 20 to 25 miles 
apart ; while Kinnaird-Head, on the east coast, is about 72 miles from 
the Bell Rock, and 70 miles from the Pentland Skerries. The Light-house 
upon Island Glass, is about 130 miles south-west from the Pentland Sker- 
ries, and 120 miles northward from the Rhins of Hay, being a stretch of 
250 miles of coast, with only one Light-house intervening. It must there- 
fore be obvious, that fourteen Light-house stations, which include two on 
the Isle of Man, are too few for the Scottish coast, rendered formidable and 
dangerous, by a vast number of islands and sunken rocks. The Commis- 
sioners have still, accordingly, a wide field of operations before them, 
which they are gradually occupying, as their funds will admit, and as the 
demands of navigation and commercial intercourse seem to require. In 
the Appendix, No. 1. notice is taken of the most prominent points of land 
on the coast, which have been brought under consideration as fit Stations 
for additional Light-houses ; and of these, one at Buchan-Ness, on the east 
coast, has already been fixed on by the Board. 



Progress of Northern 

Constitution of the Board, and System of Management. 

The affairs of the Northern Light-houses are managed by the Com- 
missioners named in the different acts already noticed ; but the direc- 
tion of the whole concerns of the establishment almost entirely devolves 
upon the Commissioners resident in Edinburgh, viz. The Lord Advocate 
and Solicitor-General, the Lord Provost, and Senior Magistrate of that 
City, and the different Sheriffs, Commissioners ex officio, who attend the 
Courts of Law. They hold frequent meetings, and bestow their time and 
labour without any salary or remuneration whatever. At their Meetings, 
all matters falling under the economy, and connected with the arrangement 
of the Light-houses, are regulated ; full powers being conferred upon them 
as a Board to erect and maintain such additional Light-houses as they shall 
deem necessary ; so that the system in this respect will at no very distant 
period be rendered complete. 

Constitution of the 

By the Statutes, the general rate of duty upon British ships is 2d. per 
register ton for passing one of, or all the Scottish Lights ; together with 
certain local duties of |d. per ton, connected with the Lights of May and 
Inehkeith ; and for vessels which only pass the Lights on the Isle of Man, 
one farthing per ton is the sole duty. Foreign ships in all cases pay double 
rates. These duties are exigible at all the Ports in the United Kingdom, 
and are remitted to the General Collector at Edinburgh, at the end of 
three or six months, according to the extent of the respective collections. 

Rate of Duties. 

The application of the Funds, and disposal of the Surplus, are fixed 
by the Acts ; which also require, that an account of the moneys received 
and expended by the Board, be annually presented to the Lords of the 
Treasury, the Convention of Royal Burghs of Scotland, and that two co- 
pies be sent to the Board of Customs at Edinburgh, to be laid before both 
Houses of Parliament. 


Progress of Northern The only permanent expence of management in the way of remunera- 
~ ~ tion to the Officers of the Board, are a salary of L. 500 to the Engineer ; 

Expence ot Manage- * ' o 

ment, &c. j^ ggQ ^ jj ie Qgj.^ ^^q j s a \ so Cashier, and a fee of 50 guineas to the 

Auditor or A ccountant. The revenue of the Board may be stated at about 
L. 24,000 yearly ; and as the department of the Engineer is unconnected 
with the financial arrangements, this fund is, in fact, managed for about 
L. 432, 10s. per annum. 

As to the practical arrangement, the Engineer visits all the Light- 
houses annually, and Reports to the Board upon the various works and 
operations connected with the different Light-houses, — the conduct of the 
light-keepers, — and also upon the stores and supplies required for the ensu- 
ing year, — and these, when approven of, are authorised and ordered by the 
Commissioners. All accounts for supplies are laid before the Board, and 
paid twee in the year. 

At each ordinary Light-house, a Principal and an Assistant Light- 
keeper are appointed, whose salaries are respectively L. 45, and L. 35 per 
annum, besides a piece of ground, not less than 10 acres, with fuel, a 
suit of uniform clothes every three years, and some other small perquisites. 
At the Bell Rock, there are four light-keepers, three of whom are always 
at the Light-house, while one is, by rotation, on shore at the establishment 
at Arbroath for the families of the light-keepers. Their salaries are re- 
spectively L. 63, and L. 57, 15s., and for each of the two ordinary Assist- 
ants L.52, 10s. with provisions for themselves while at the Rock, and apart- 
ments for their families ashore. The light-keepers act under certain In- 
structions, and make Monthly Returns to the Engineer's office, copies of 
which will be found under Appendix, No. I. 

Shipping of the Esta- 

The shipping belonging to the Light-house service, besides attending 
boats, for visiting Light-houses on insulated situations, consists of a vessel 
of about 50 tons register, which is chiefly employed in attending the Bell 


Rock, to supply the house with necessaries, and relieve the light-keepers Progress of Northern 

in their turn. For general service, another vessel of 140 tons is kept, which 

carries oil and other stores for the lights, together with fuel and necessaries, 

for the use of the light-keepers, and artificers, with their implements and 

apparatus, for making repairs at the different stations. The Engineer 

makes his annual voyage of inspection in this vessel, which is provided 

with cabins suitable for the reception of such of the Commissioners as may 

occasionally visit the Light-houses. 

This duty has been undertaken by various members of the Board. In voyages of inspec- 

' ' tion. 

the Summer of 1814 a Committee, consisting of Mr Hamilton, Sheriff 
of Lanarkshire, Mr Erskine, Sheriff of Orkney, and Mr Duff, Sheriff 
of Forfarshire, with the Engineer, made a voyage to inspect the diffe- 
rent Light-houses already erected, as also the most prominent of the sta- 
tions on the coast, suggested for the erection of Additional Lights. They 
sailed from Leith in the Yacht, having for their companion Mr Walter 
Scott, and having visited the Light-houses on the Isle of May and Bell 
Rock, with the establishment at Arbroath, and that upon Kinnaird-Head 
in Aberdeenshire, they next landed at Sumburgh-head in Shetland, on 
which a Light-house has since been erected. Returning southward, they 
visited the Light-houses on the Start Point of Sanday, and the Pent- 
land Skerries in Orkney. Then steering westward, they landed at Cape 
Wrath, one of the projected Stations for a Light-house. They next 
touched at the Light-house on Island-Glass, one of the Harris Isles. 
From thence they proceeded and landed upon the Rock called Sker- 
ryvore, lying off the Island of Tiree, and were satisfied of the practi- 
cability of erecting a Light-house there. Having visited the Light-house 
on Ennistrahul, on the coast of Donegal, one of the Irish Lights, and in- 
spected their own establishments on the Mull of Kantire and Isle of Pladda, 
the Commissioners landed at Greenock, after a voyage of nearly seven 


Progress of Northern 111 July 1815, Mr Hamilton and Mr Duff, accompanied by the writer, 


— sailed in the Yacht from the Troon for Liverpool, where they were joined 

by Sir William Rae; and after having had a meeting with Mr Gladstone on 
the subject of the Lights on Man, they sailed thither, and fixed on the Sta- 
tions for the Lights on that Island, and on the Calf. They then proceeded 
to Dublin, and communicated with the Irish Board for the affairs of Light- 
houses, regarding certain arrangements for the advancement of the public 
service committed respectively to their charge. Mr Crossthwaite, and other 
Members of the Irish Board, accompanied them to the Light-house upon 
Houth : and having visited the Tuskar Light-house, situate on an insula- 
ted rock off the coast of Wexford, they bent their course to Holyhead, 
landed at the Light-house on the South Stack ; and on their return survey- 
ed the operations at the Light-house at Corsewall in Galloway then build- 
ing, and having visited Pladda, landed at Greenock. 

In the Summer of 1818, Messrs Hamilton and Duff, with the writer, 
sailed from Clyde, and inspected the Light-houses of Corsewall and on 
the Isle and Calf of Man. The Yacht being then bound through the Bri- 
tish Channel, they availed themselves of the opportunity to visit some of 
the English Light-houses, particularly the Smalls, off St David's Head, 
the Longships, off the Land's End, the Edystone, the Caskets off Alder- 
ney, Hurst Castle, Dungeness, and the North Foreland. By these voyages, 
the Commissioners greatly enlarged their knowledge of the important con- 
cerns entrusted to their charge. Some of them had thus seen and exa- 
mined all the Light-houses already established on the coast of Scotland, 
and most of the Sites in contemplation for new erections on the northern 
parts of the Island. 

y n t 




X3ra"j."ii bv ^!i^j Stfrvcnson.- 

Engraved by J_Harsbnrgli_ 



Co .<z^~-^L. 41^, z. 

-S«r /uz^ S3C- 

( 65 ) 


( 67 ) 






JLn the Introduction, I have given an account of the institution of the chap. *• 
Board of Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses ; of the progress 
made in the erection of Light-houses on the coast of Scotland ; the pro- 
bable future operations of the Board, and the general economy or manage- 
ment of its affairs. I now come to treat in detail of the Bell Rock Light- 
house, as the chief object of this work ; and, in the present chapter, I pro- 
pose to give the general history, and a description of this dangerous Rock. 

Name of the Rock. 

There is perhaps nothing in history more arbitrary, or difficult to ac- 0ri s in of th « Nam «- 
count for, than the origin of proper names, nor, in general, any research more 
unsatisfactory, than a prolix inquiry into their etymology. The charts of 
the nautical surveyor are the proper records for the names of places upon 
the sea-cost ; but such maps are comparatively of late invention. The first 
sea-chart which we hear of in England, was that brought from Spain in 
1489, by Bartholomew Columbus, to illustrate his brother's theory of the 
discovery of America ; and the earliest, applicable to the coast of Scot- 
land, is the chart of the voyage of James V., from the Frith of Forth, by 
the Orkney and Western Islands, to the Frith of Clyde and coast of Gal- 
loway, in the year 1540. This map was published at Paris by Nicolay 






D'Arfiville, Seigneur Du d'Aulphinois, &c. chief Cosmographer to the 
King of France, in 1583 ; and afterwards in Edinburgh, in the year 1688, 
by John Adair, F. R. S., Geographer for Scotland. 

inch cape. The French writer gives a hydrographical description of the coast of 

Scotland, in relation to the Royal voyage, from Leith to the Solway Frith, 
noticing the distances of places, the tides, and the rocks and sand-banks, or 
" dangers," as they are more generally termed, which it was necessary to 
avoid. In adverting to the course from Leith by the east coast to Dun- 
cansby-Head, in Caithness, he observes, " Entre Finismes [Fifeness] et la 
pointe nomme Redde, xii mille a Test sud-est du coste de la dicte pointe 
Redde, gist un danger appele Inchkope." This is unquestionably the Bell 
Rock, the inch or island of the Cape, and with a reference to the Redhead, 
to the north of Aberbrothock, the highest and most remarkable point on 
that coast. In Adair's collection of nautical charts, and descriptive account 
of the eastern coast of Scotland, published in 1703, the Bell Rock is in- 
differently termed Scape and Cape ; and the fishermen on the shores of 
Angus uniformly call it the Cape Rock. In some old charts, particularly 
by the Dutch, whose name for a headland is kappe, it is also called shape 
and scaup. It does not, however, seem that any inference can be drawn 
from these various appellations ; and, although it were to be conjectured, 
that the Inch Cape was, at a very remote period, permanently above water, 
and in all respects an island, the most rational hypothesis would still re- 
main, and be indeed confirmed, that this name was given it on account of 
the relation it bore, especially in situation, to the cape of Redhead. 

Ben Rock. It is perhaps more difficult to assign the true origin for the modern term 

of Bell Bock, by which this dangerous reef is now universally known. 
There is a tradition, that an Abbot of Aberbrothock directed a bell to be 
erected on the Rock, so connected with a floating apparatus, that the 
winds and sea acted upon it, and tolled the bell, thus giving warning to the 
mariner of his approaching danger. Upon similar authority, the bell, it is 
said, was afterwards carried off by pirates, and the humane intentions of 
the Abbot thus frustrated. This story has, by a modern poet, been made 
the subject of the ballad of " Sir Ralf the Rover," which, for the reader's 
amusement, is inserted in the Appendix, No. II. 

Erection of a Bell. Of the erection of the Bell, and of the machinery by which it was 

rung, if such ever existed, it would have been interesting to have had 


some authentic evidence. But, though a search has been made in the char- 
tularies of the Abbey of Aberbrothock, preserved in the Advocates' Libra-" 
ry, and containing a variety of grants and other deeds, from the middle of 
the 13th to the end of the 15tb century, no trace is to be found of the Bell 
Rock, or any thing connected with it. The erection of the bell is not, how- 
ever, an improbable conjecture ; and we can more readily suppose that an 
attempt of that kind was made, than that it had been intentionally re- 
moved, which in no measure accords with the respect and veneration enter- 
tained by seamen of all classes for land-marks; more especially, as there 
seems to be no difficulty in accounting for the disappearance of such an ap- 
paratus unprotected, as it must have been, from the raging element of the 
sea. It is not therefore unlikely, that the popular appellation by which 
this Rock has more recently been known, may owe its origin to the tradi- 
tion of the Abbot's humauity and public spirit ; and when we consider that 
the churchmen of those days were well acquainted with the history of the 
celebrated Pharos of Alexandria, and may have heard of the fire-towers 
and sea-marks, which Mr Bryant, in his Mythology, conjectures existed in 
very remote times, it is natural to suppose, that these learned persons had, 
at a pretty early period, turned their attention to the subject, and had at- 
tempted, in the mode which has been figured, to point out and guard against 
the danger. 

Amidst these speculations, it must not, however, be overlooked, that this 
Rock may have acquired its present name from its shape or figure ; for at 
the commencement of the author's operations, he remarked, that the site of 
the light-house, at some distance, had much the appearance of a large bell ; 
and although this part was not more than four feet above the general level 
of the Rock, yet by supposing it to have been the nucleus of a larger mass, 
in the central part of the Rock, gradually wasted away by the washing of 
the sea, it may at a former period, from that resemblance, have obtained the 
appellation it now retains. 




Situation and Dimensions. 

The Bell Rock may be described as a most dangerous sunken reef, si- 
tuate on the northern side of the entrance of the great estuary or arm of 
the sea called the Frith of Forth ; and as such directly affecting the safety 
of all vessels entering the Frith of Tay. Its position, as will be seen from 
the Charts, Nos. 3. and 4., which accompany this work, is in west longitude 






from Greenwich 2° 22', and in north latitude 56° 29'- From St Abb's Head 
in Berwickshire, it bears north by east per compass, (variation 27° 20' west 
in the year 1819), and is distant about 30 miles ; from the Island of May 
north-east 17 miles ; and from the promontory or cape called the Redhead, 
in Forfarshire, it bears south-west, and is distant 14 miles. But in east- 
erly directions no land intervenes between the Bell Rock and the coasts of 
Norway, Denmark, Germany and Holland. 



Wasting effects of 
the Sea. 

The dimensions of the north-eastern or higher compartment of the Rock 
where the light-house is built, are about 427 feet in length, and 230 feet 
in breadth. Besides these dimensions, the south-western reef extends about 
1000 feet from the main rock. The greatest length, therefore, of the Bell 
Rock, which may be said to be dangerous to shipping, is about 1427 feet, 
and its greatest breadth is about 300 feet ; but the outline or margin of 
the Rock is quite irregular, as will be seen from the Plates marked Nos. 5. 
and 6. 

Natural History. 

The Bell Rock consists of sandstone of a reddish colour, which in some 
places contains whitish and greenish spots of circular and oval forms, irre- 
gularly interspersed through the rock. It is of a fine granular texture, con- 
taining minute specks of mica. It is very hard, and, in the language of the 
artificer, is tough, and rather difficult to work ; and in some parts it is found 
to rise in masses having a conchoidal fracture. Its angle of inclination with 
the horizon is about 15 degrees, dipping towards the south-east. The strata 
are thick and unequal, strongly cemented together, and running in the di- 
rection of north-east and south-west. The surface of the Rock is rugged, 
and full of cavities, so that walking upon it becomes rather difficult. A 
longitudinal section of the Bell Rock, taken in a north-easterly and south- 
westerly direction, may be described as consisting of a higher and a lower 
level. The cross section, taken in a south-easterly and north-westerly di- 
rection, exhibits the abrupt and pointed terminations of the strata, though 
it appears level when seen from a distance. 

It would be a speculation highly interesting to the geologist, to inquire 
into the probable early history of the Bell Rock, and the changes produced 
on it by the wasting effects of the waters of the ocean. When we consider 
the similarity of the red sandstone of this rock with the Redhead of For- 
farshire, and opposite shores of Berwick in the neighbourhood of Dunglass, 
and take into view that there is a ridge or shallower part of the bottom, 


which extends a considerable way from the Bell Rock in the direction of chap. i. 
these shores, we may infer, that the Rock itself had extended at one time Natural History, 
much further. We are also enabled to trace the same formation, penetra- 
ting to the northward through Ross-shire, and quite across the kingdom, in 
a southern direction, to Cumberland. At a period indefinitely remote in 
the history of the globe, we may therefore imagine that one continuous bed 
of red sandstone had stretched across the Frith, forming a barrier by which 
the great collection of waters of the Forth and Tay have been pent up. 

In support of this opinion, we have the most unequivocal proofs of the Proofs of the sea ha- 
waters of those friths having formerly occupied a much higher level. Of er level. 
these we may notice the general appearance of their water-worn shores, and 
a bed of oyster-shells near Borrowstounness, which has been traced to the 
extent of three miles in length, and about two fathoms in thickness, lying in 
their natural state, but now upwards of 35 feet above the present level of the 
sea. Under these circumstances, and many others which might be adduced, 
it is not improbable that the Bell Rock has at one time been connected with 
the opposite coasts ; and when we consider the general waste of the land, 
which is apparent in all directions from the impulse of the sea, it may at 
least be concluded, that at no very remote period, the Rock has been of 
much greater superficial extent, and above the level of the highest tides. 
Nor need we be surprised that such changes upon this remote and insulated 
spot should have been lost sight of, owing to their gradual and almost im- 
perceptible effects, compared with the short period of the life of man, and 
in absence of all testimony excepting that which is oral. 

With regard to the marine Plants which grow upon the Bell Rock, Plants. 
we may observe that the lower parts of it are covered with the stronger 
or larger sorts, as the great tangle, Fucus digitatus, the roots of which 
rarely appear above the water, while it is seen at the depth of several fa- 
thoms, growing with the greatest luxuriauce, and has often been observed 
by the author from a boat in fine weather, as a means for ascertaining, by 
the direction of the leaf, the changes of the currents of the tide at the bot- 
tom. The Badderlock, or Henware, Fucus esculentus, is found only on 
the north-eastern and south-eastern extremities of the Rock, growing 
at low water-mark of spring-tides, and seems to prefer the most rapid 
currents of the sea, and places where the heaviest breach takes place. In 
such situations it grows in great abundance at the Bell Rock, where it 
has been measured of the length of eighteen feet, and of proportionally in- 
creased breadth. Perhaps some of these plants are of considerable age ; 




Natural History. 

but at the works of the Carr Rock Beacon, off Fifeness, it was found that 
the growth of the badderlock was so very rapid, that the plant attained to 
the length of seven feet upon the new building, in the course of the win- 
ter and spring mouths. The higher parts of the Bell Bock abound with 
the smaller fuci, as Fucus mamillosus, and F.palmatus, or common dulse. 
F. lycopodiodes, alatus, and coccineus, are found on the older stalks of the 
great tangle, and F. subfuscus and confervoides occupy the smaller pools. 
In some places, the rocks are rendered slippery with Ulva compressa and 
umbilicalis ; and the higher parts of the Rock, and the basement or lower 
courses of the light-house, are so covered with Conferva ?~upestris, as to 
produce the appearance of a sward of grass. 


Of the feathered tribe of animals at the Bell Rock, we notice the shag, 
cormorant, and herring-gull, which sometimes rest upon the Rock when 
in search of codlings and other small fishes. It also formed the resting- 
place of numerous seals at the commencement of the operations of the Light- 
house, but these amphibious animals, as well as the birds, have now almost 
entirely left it. The common crab and lobster are sometimes found here 
in the crevices of the rock. The Lepas balanoides, or acorn-shell, the 
common limpet, mussels of a small size, and the white buckey or JBucci- 
num lapillus, abound on the rock. The Actinia crassicornis, Asterias 
glaeialis and oculata, are common. A minute crustaceous insect, called, 
by Dr Leach, Limnoria terebrans {Lin. Trans, vol. xi. p. 371. ), appeared 
in great numbers in the submersed wood work of the temporary erections 
on the Rock. 

insect destructive to g destructive to timber is this small insect, that the Norway logs, laid 

Timber. * ° 

down to support the temporary railways in 1807, when lifted in 1811, 
were found to have been reduced by its ravages from 10 inches square to 
7 inches, or at the rate of about an inch in the year. The author having 
had occasion afterwards to examine the timber-bridge of Montrose, found 
the attacks of this insect upon the wooden piers to be so alarming as to 
endanger that fabric ; and after many trials for the preservation of tim- 
ber in such situations, the Trustees were ultimately induced to cover the 
upright beams with sheet-copper. Upon another occasion, when the author 
was called to inspect the Crinan Canal, he found the gates of the sea-locks 
so destroyed, chiefly by this little animal, that the locks lost seven feet of 
their depth of water in the course of the night. It is further remarked, 
that the deserted cavities, formed by the perforations of the Limnoria, fre- 


quently become the residence of larger marine insects, belonging to the chap. i. 

Linnsean genus Oniscus. Natural History. 

In the year 1814, with a view to experiment on the effects of these Experiments with 

. nieces of timber tre- 

destructive vermes, I fixed down specimens of teak-wood, oak, black birch, nailed to the Rock. 
Memel and Norway fir timber, on the Bell Rock. The only specimen 
which remained imperforate till 1820, was the teak-wood. The rest were 
almost entirely destroyed in the course of two or three years. This may 
be regarded as a matter of some importance, in a national point of view, in 
directing the employment of teak-wood for the sea-lock gates of canals and 
for ship-timbers. From the excellency of the situation of the Bell Rock 
for such experiments, I have caused another set of timbers to be trenailed 
to the rock, in a situation where, like the former, they are occasionally un- 
covered by the water. These last pieces of timber were laid down in the 
month of October 1821. They are eighteen in number, each measuring 
5 inches square, and 30 inches in length ; and are of the following kinds, 
viz. British and American oaks and firs, Memel fir, Scotch elm, beech, 
sycamore, larch, teak-wood, mahogany, bullet-tree, locust-wood, and blue 
gum- wood from Van Dieman"s Land. 


When the workmen first landed upon the Bell Rock, limpets of a verv Attempt to plant 
large size were common, but were soon picked up for bait. As the lim- Bock. 
pets disappeared, we endeavoured to plant a colony of muscles, from 
beds at the mouth of the river Eden, of a larger kind than those which 
seem to be natural to the rock. These larger muscles were likely to have 
been useful to the workmen, and might have been especially so to 
the light-keepers, the future inhabitants of the rock, to whom that deli- 
cate fish would have afforded a fresh meal, as well as a better bait than 
the limpet ; but the muscles were soon observed to open and die in great 
numbers. For some time this was ascribed to the effects of the violent 
surge of the sea, but the Buccinum lapillus having greatly increased, it 
was ascertained that it had proved a successful enemy to the muscle. The 
buccinum being furnished with a proboscis capable of boring, was observed 
to perforate a small hole in the shell, and thus to suck out the finer parts 
of the body of the muscle ; the valves of course opened, and the remainder of 
the fish was washed away by the sea. The perforated hole is generally upon 
the thinnest part of the shell, and is perfectly circular, of a cham- 
■phered form, being wider towards the outward side, and so perfectly 
smooth and regular, as. to have all the appearance of the most beautiful 





Natural History. 

work of an expert artist. It became a matter extremely desirable to preserve 
the muscle, and it seemed practicable to extirpate the buccinum. But 
after we had picked up and destroyed many barrels of them, their ex- 
tirpation was at length given up as a hopeless task. The muscles were 
thus abandoned as their prey : and in the course of the third year's opera- 
tions, so successful had the ravages of the buccinum been, that not a single 
muscle of a large size was to be found upon the rock ; and even the small 
kind which breed there, are now chiefly confined to the extreme points 
of the rock, where it would seem their enemy cannot so easily follow them. 

Habits of Fishes. In speaking of the habits of fishes, it deserves notice that they have 

their particular grounds and shores which they frequent ; for while the 
vessels attending the works at the Bell Rock were stationed there, different 
kinds of fish were caught as the depth and bottom varied. About 
high-water, and especially during ebb-tide, when the sea is smooth on 
the rock, the Podley (chiefly the fry of the coal-fish, but including also 
the young of the Gadus virens) is so numerous, as almost entirely to 
cover it from view. Near the rock, the small red cod is often found in 
abundance : at some distance, as the bottom, which is covered with ma- 
rine plants near the rock, alters to coral, gravel, shell sand, fine sand and 
mud, all of which occur in a range of depths from 4 to 23 fathoms to- 
wards the north, different kinds of fish are found ; first, the codling, 
which ceases to be wholly red, but becomes only speckled with reddish spots ; 
them, upon the finer or mud grounds in the track of the tides of the Frith of 
Tay, whiting, haddock, flounder, and occasionally the sole. On the southern 
side of the rock, where the water deepens to 35 fathoms, the large white cod, 
in company with ling, conger-eel, halibut, skate, thornback, plaise, turbot, 
wolf-fish and large coal-fish are found. The dog-fish appears to be very gene- 
ral, and seems to prey chiefly upon the haddock and cod. The mackerel 
and gurnard are found together near the surface, and do not seem to be 
confined to particular grounds, but occur wherever the water is of a con- 
siderable depth. Herrings are found in the bays of the opposite shores 
in great abundance at the fishing season, when they are understood to be 
migrating towards the south. It has often been observed, in the course of 
the Bell Rock operations, that, during the cold weather of spring and au- 
tumn, and even at all seasons, in stormy weather, when the sea is much 
agitated by wind, the fishes disappear entirely from the vicinity of the 
rock, probably retreating into much deeper water, from which they do not 
<seem to return, until a change of weather has taken place ; so much was this 


attended to by the seamen employed on this service, that they frequently chap. i. 
prognosticated and judged of the weather from this habit of the fishes, as Depth of water. 
well as from the appearances of the sky. 

Depth of Water. 

At the time of high-water of spring-tides, the south-western reef is about Depth of water upon 
16 feet, or nearly the whole rise of the tide, under the surface of the water ; 
while the part of the rock on which the light-house is built, is about 12 
feet below high water-mark of spring-tides : At low-water of neap-tides, 
hardly any part of the rock is visible : But at low-water of spring-tides, the 
general level of the north-eastern end where the light-house is built, is 
about four feet perpendicular above the level of the sea, though particular 
points measure six or even seven feet in height above the low-water mark 
of spring-tides. 

At the distance of about 100 yards from the rock in all directions, Depth at the distance 
excepting on the south-western reef, there is a depth of water varying upwards from i" 
from two to three fathoms at low water of spring tides. On the north- 
west side, or in the direction of the shores of Forfar and Fife, the 
greatest depth is 23 fathoms ; but on the south-eastern or seaward side, 
in the direction of the dip or inclination of the strata, the water deepens 
more suddenly to 35 fathoms ; in the same direction from the rock, how- 
ever, the soundings again become less, being only 22 fathoms upon Mars 
Bank, distant about 33 miles; this bank appears to be a deposition formed by 
the joint operation of the waters of the Friths of Forth and Tay, influenced 
by the great tidal wave of the German Ocean. It may here be noticed as 
a fact connected with the depth of the German Ocean, that at Queens- 
ferry passage, in the Frith of Forth, the depth of the water is about 
35 fathoms, while the greatest depth of the sea across to Denmark, does not 
exceed 45 fathoms. The depths of the German Ocean will be seen, by in- 
specting Chart No. 3., where sectional lines are delineated between va- 
rious points of Great Britain and the opposite Continent, on which the 
reader will see the relative depths marked by shaded lines, in a new and it is 
hoped a perspicuous manner. 

Current of the Tides. 
The tides at the Bell Rock, are observed to follow the same laws Tides at the Bel1 
as on the opposite shores of the Frith of Forth. The currents along' 



chap. i. the coast take their direction from the figure of the land, and, in their 
Currents of the Tide, course, they are therefore occasionally deflected from, and inclined to- 
wards it. At the Bell Rock the flood-tide sets south-west, and the ebb- 
tide north-east, being nearly in the direction of the shores of Forfar and 
Kincardine. The velocity of the water in spring-tides, or when the sun and 
moon are in conjunction, and in opposition, is about three miles per hour, 
but in neap-tides, or at the quadratures of the moon, the current is only at 
the rate of about one mile per hour. On the days of new and full moon it is 
high-water upon the Bell Rock at half past one o'clock, being about 
the same periodic time as at the harbour of Arbroath, or nearest point of the 
mainland. In the ordinary state of the weather, the perpendicular rise and 
fall of the sea at the Bell Rock, in spring- tides, is 15 feet, and in neap-tides, 
8 feet; but so much depends upon the direction of a prevailing tract of winds, 
that the tides are often found to vary from 1 to 3 feet above and below these 
numbers. This irregularity in the tides of the German Ocean and its sub- 
sidiary friths or inland seas will be easily accounted for, by considering the 
effect of westerly winds passing for a length of time over the Atlantic, which 
must naturally force an undue quantity of waterfrom thence into the entrance 
of the North Sea, between the coasts of Scotland and Norway ; while the 
Strait of Dover, to the southward, from the same cause, is gorged by the 
surplus waters of the British Channel flowing in an opposite direction, 
and checking the tide of the German Ocean. When the winds blow 
from southerly and easterly directions, the reverse of this happens, and 
the waters are then proportionally low. 

in and off shore A curious anomaly connected with the flowing and ebbing of the sea, in 

the early part of each tide, is observable in the contrary currents which take 
place along the shore, and at a distance from it. For example, the flood-tide 
begins to flow in many situations two or even three hours sooner on the shore 
than at the distance of from one mile to four miles in the offing. The same 
thing also happens with regard to the ebb-tide, which begins to fall and run 
in a contrary direction to the flood-tide, two or three hours sooner on the shore 
than at a distance. These effects are very different from the state of things 
three or four leagues from the land, or in the open sea, where the lateral 
motion of the tide-waters is scarcely sensible. That an extensive tract 
of coast should produce changes on the current of the tides, is perhaps what 
we should expect; but it is somewhat curious to find the same ap- 
pearances connected with small islets, and, as in the case of the Bell 
Rock, even with an insulated reef, situate at the distance of 12 miles 



from the land, and sunk to the depth of from 2 to 3 fathoms under the chap. i. 
surface of high-water. So strikingly observable is this, that the tide begins currents of the Tide 
to ebb about two hours sooner on the Bell Rock than at the short distance of 
one mile from it. In the course of the light-house operations this was ren- 
dered sufficiently obvious, by the swinging round of the several vessels at their 
moorings according to the flood and ebb tides. For example, the Floating 
Light-ship was moored about three miles in a north-west direction from the 
Bell Rock, and the moorings of the Tender and two Stone Lighters, were re- 
spectively laid down at the distance of £ and ^ mile from it, as will be seen 
from Plate V. Now, these vessels were all found to swing to the tide at 
periods proportional to their distance from the rock. Although it may, there- 
fore, seem strange, that this comparatively small object should affect the 
tides in its vicinity in a manner similar to the shores of an extensive coast ; 
yet, as the rock shelves outwards, with an extensive base, especially on 
the northern side, it must impede the under current of the tide, and indeed 
forcibly proves the existence of such under currents. 

To account for these in and off shore tides, or central and marginal Not accounted for by 

° Writers on the sub- . 

streams, would be interesting. But to what cause shall we ascribe ject. 
them ? Sir Isaac Newton, and the other eminent philosophers who have 
followed that great man in considering the theory of the tides, confine 
their attention chiefly to an explanation of the influences of the sun and 
moon, and the laws of gravitation, in affecting the waters of the ocean, 
leaving it to the result of experience and observation to account for such 
anomaliesas those to which we now allude. Itis noticed by Adair, Mackenzie, 
and other nautical surveyors, that the tides run longer upon the shore than in 
the offing, and the advantage of working a ship with in and off" shore tides; 
is familiar to every mariner. The existence of these opposite currents was 
also known to the author, prior to the commencement of the Bell Rock works, 
but they had not struck him so forcibly till that period. For here, even after 
the flood-tide had overflowed the rock, and put a stop to the operations, the 
boats in carrying the artificers on board of the Tender, had still to row 
against the current of a strong ebb-tide. 

It would be foreign to this work to enter into the theory of the tides Cuire ' lts * lon s Shore 

' considered as Eddy- 

generally ; all, therefore, that is here proposed, is to endeavour to ac- tides - 

count for these in and off shore currents. In doing this, however, it 

will be necessary to observe, that the great wave or " theoretical tide," 

as it has been termed by the late eminent Professor Robison, is pro- 




Currents of the Tide. 

duced by the united attraction of the sun and moon, which, between the 
Tropics, has been calculated by philosophers to raise the water from 8 to 14 
feet perpendicularly. It is observable, that the attractions of these hea- 
venly bodies elevate the parts of the ocean to which they are vertical,' with- 
out having any direct tendency to progressive or lateral motion. The 
currents along our coasts, may therefore be considered merely as Eddy- 
tides, occasioned by the interposition of the land, which obstructs the 
undulating motion incident to the rise or fall of a fluid. In this manner 
the land may be said to displace a portion of the tidal waters which have 
been elevated above the medium level of the sea ; and were it not for such 
obstruction, the great waves of the tide might be supposed to undulate 
indefinitely over the expanse of the ocean. To compare small things 
with great, these effects may be conceived as in some degree exemplified, by 
the disturbing effect of a vessel passing along a navigable canal, or the 
undulations which are observable in the wake of a ship or wheels of a 
steam-boat in motion on a smooth sea. 

Progress of the 
Great Wave* of the 

The great wave which supplies the British tides, appears to be propagat- 
ed between the coast of Labrador and Greenland, on the one hand, and the 
European shores on the other ; and this great wave seems to be divided into 
two lesser waves. One of these flows between Ireland and the coast of France, 
into the British and St George's Channels ; while the other enters by the 
North Sea into the German Ocean ; and in its course from north to south, 
supplies all the friths, rivers, and bays connected with it, invariably in the 
form of In and Off shore tides, which are every where observable along the 
margin of this great basin. This northern wave is found to occupy about 12 
hours in flowing southward from the 58th to the 52d degree of latitude, or 
from the Orkney Islands to the numerous Sand-banks which pervade and 
encumber the apex of the German Ocean, where the cm-rents become ex- 
tremely desultory and irregidar. The coast of the British Isles, accordingly, 
may be said to, displace a portion of this northern wave, and thus to pro- 
duce the irregularities which we are endeavouring to account for. 

Progressive periods 
of High-Water in 
the Frith of Forth. 

At present, we shall confine our attention to the tides of the 
Frith of Forth. Here, as on other parts of the coast, the tidal waters 
have a tendency to flow towards the shores and higher parts of the 
Forth, till the instant of high-water upon the shore, when the tide begins 
to ebb, and run in a contrary direction. A central stream, however, con- 
tinues to run with unabated force, as flood-tide, during two or even three 



hours longer, as before noticed, according to the situation and local circum- Currents of the Tidc 

stances of the coast. It appears, from a comparison of the several periods 

of high-water on the shores of the Frith of Forth, as nearly as some of 

them could he ascertained, that the precise time of high-water becomes 

later and later in the same tide, as we proceed westward ; at the Bell Rock ; 

for example, it is high-water on the days of new and full moon, as before 

noticed, at ^ past 1 o'clock ; at the Carr Rock, at § past 1 ; at Elie, still 

further up the Frith, at 2 ; Kinghornness, at ^ past 2 ; Queensferry, at 

§ past 2 ; and at Alloa, at § past 3 o'clock. The off-shore stream of the 

tide continues to flow proportionally longer till it has supplied the higher 

parts of this estuary with its portion of tidal waters ; and in'like manner, the 

central stream of ebb-tide continues its course till these waters are again run 


In many points, it is found, that the operation of the tidal waters of r agents at the 

„. , , nl 1-1 ,, Mouth of the Dee. 

extensive arms 01 the sea, bears a close resemblance to what is observable and other Rivers. 
upon the small scale in the currents of rivers, especially at their junc- 
tion with the ocean. An interesting example of this occurs on the ri- 
ver Dee, which falls rapidly into the harbour of Aberdeen. Here the 
author having occasion to make some observations on the tides in the 
summer of 1812, stationed several assistants at low-water mark, be- 
tween the entrance of the harbour and the bridge, about two miles up 
the river. The waters of the Dee, even at the entrance of the har- 
bour, have almost a constant current seaward, notwithstanding the op- 
posite direction of the flood-tide of the Ocean. On the occasion alluded 
to, one of his assistants, a very intelligent shipmaster, continued at his post 
while the water flowed up to his middle ; and, when accosted about his si- 
tuation, he significantly observed, " That it was rather extraordinary, as 
the stream had never ceased to indicate the continuance of an ebb-tide, 
while the water was still rising upon his body." 

In connection with these observations on the tides, some experiments Water salt at bot - 

1 torn and fresh at 

were also made with an instrument adapted for lifting water from con- to P- 
siderable depths, without the possibility of its intermingling with the sur- 
face water. By means of this instrument, the water at the bottom of 
the Dee, at Aberdeen, was found to be salt, while that at the surface 
was quite fresh. These streams of fresh and salt water run in distinct 
currents, and in contrary directions, the salt water, from its greater spe- 
cific gravity, flowing at the bottom of the river, and fluctuating with the 




Currents of the Tide. 

level of the ocean, while the fresh water is actually lifted upwards, and 
continues all the while to flow seaward on the surface of the salt water. 
Towards the point of high-water, however, the flood-tide gains strength on 
the margin of the basin of the harbour, where the water becomes salt, and 
forms an eddy-tide in a contrary direction to the central stream, which is 
observed still to run toward the sea. Having made similar observations on. 
the waters of the Thames, the Garonne, and other rivers, with nearly the same 
results, after making allowance for the more level state of the country, in the 
track of these great streams, — it is concluded, that the currents at the em- 
bouchure of rivers bear a strong resemblance to the operation of the in and 
off shore tides of the ocean. 

Phenomena of in 
and off shore Tides 
accounted for. 

We further observe, that the great wave of the German Ocean 
produces its tides in regular succession, and at stated periods, as it moves 
from north to south ; but the tides of the more inland seas are subject 
to many irregularities, both in their periodic times, and in the direc- 
tion of their currents. Let us suppose, then, that we have arrived at 
the instant of high-water on the shores at the entrance of the Frith of 
Forth, and that the tidal waters are then moving in a body, and with 
a certain pressure, towards the higher parts of the Frith, and even af- 
fecting the river above the bridge of Stirling. We find, that at the entrance 
of this estuary, on the days of new and full moon, it is high-water at a 
quarter past one o'clock ; but at Alloa, situate 70 miles above the Bell Rock, 
it is not high- water till about two hours and a half later. The in-shore tidal 
waters having to encounter the shelving shores, islands, sunken rocks, and 
projecting points of land, which lie in their course up the Frith, acquire 
lateral as well as perpendicular motion, and being thus checked in their 
progress, are brought sooner to a maximum state than the off-shore stream, 
which flows in deeper water, and comparatively free of obstruction, till it 
reaches its ultimate limits ; though it gradually diminishes in breadth, till 
the stream of the new tide gaining strength becomes general ; and the cen- 
tral current, formerly running in a contrary direction, at length disappears, 
and takes the course of the new tide. 

We would, therefore, be understood to ascribe this anomaly in the 
flowing and ebbing of the sea, to the obstruction which the current 
of its waters meets not only at the surface or margin, but at the bot- 
tom, which, from the variety of the soundings of the depths, appears 
to be as various as the face of the land. A striking proof of this is 


afforded at the Bell Rock : on the northern side of which there are chap. i. 
11 fathoms, at the distance of abont three quarters of a mile ; while, on the current of the Tides. 
southernside, and at a similar distance, the water deepens to 35 fathoms ; 
so that a perpendicular section of this rock under water forms a preci- 
pitous declivity, such as we are quite accustomed to see on the land. 
Now, if we apply this irregular conformation of the bottom of the sea, to 
the production of the in and off shore tides, and conceive that the tidal 
currents extend their motion to the bottom, it must be evident, that this 
obstruction presented to the stream will bring the tides to a maximum 
state sooner on the northern side of the rock, where the water is so much 
shallower, than on the southern side. This is also agreeable to observation ; 
for, the tides upon the Bell Rock begin to flow and ebb one hour sooner 
than at the distance of about three quarters of a mile from it on the northern 
side, and about two hours and a half sooner than at the same distance on 
the southern side. The marginal current is thus checked by the shallow- 
ness of the water, and the projecting points of land ; while the central 
stream, flowing comparatively without obstruction, continues to run till 
the most inland creeks are supplied with tidal water ; and vice versa, it con- 
tinues its stream outwards, till these waters are again run off. 

The progressive times of high-water, at intermediate points between Progressive times of 
the Bell Bock and the port of Alloa in the Frith of Forth, appear to fol- high - water - 
low the same general law, as the great wave of the German Ocean in its 
progress from the Orkneys southward. These observations on the tides of 
the Forth apply equally to the Frith and River of Tay, and indeed to all 
the tributary streams and arms of the sea which communicate with the 
German Ocean, according to their local situations and magnitudes. 

If due allowance be made for the peculiar situation and circumstan- Tides of the Mediter . 
ces of the Mediterranean and Baltic seas, it is apprehended, from all that g a ^ an and Baltic 
we have been able to learn of the operation of the currents at the Strait of 
Gibraltar, and Sound of the Cattigate, that these seas are supplied and dis- 
charged by in and off shore tides or currents, under certain modifications, 
and making due allowance for local circumstances, in the same manner as 
on all other parts of the coast. 



chap. i. I have been thus particular relative to the in-shore and off-shore tides, 

currents of the Tide, because they appear in a very puzzling form to the mariner, while writers on 
the theory of the tides are almost silent on this subject. 

( 83 ) 



Dangerous Position of the Bell Rock. 

W hatever may have been the early state of the Inch Cape or Bell chap. ii. 
Rock, as an Island, its present character is strictly that of a sunken rock ; Dangerous Position 
and, as such, its relative'situation on the eastern shores of Great Britain has 
long rendered it one of the chief impediments to the free navigation of that 
coast. It is almost unnecessary to remark, that there are only three 
great inlets or estuaries upon this coast, to which the mariner steers, when 
overtaken by easterly storms in the North Sea or German Ocean. These 
are the Humber, and the Friths of Forth and Moray ; of which the Frith of 
Forth is the principal rendezvous. The mouth of the River Thames, ex- 
cepting in certain narrow and intricate channels, has not a sufficient depth of 
water, and is so much encumbered with sand-banks, that no vessel can enter 
it under night, or approach it in bad weather. On the coast and shores in 
the neighbourhood of the Humber, the land is flat, and defective in 
those bold and characteristic features which are essential to the situa- 
tion of an anchorage for ships in bad weather when they cannot keep at 
sea. The entrance of the Humber is also considerably obstructed with 
sand-banks, of which the mariner is, if possible, more afraid than of rocks, 
because more liable to uncertainty, by the shifting of their position, and 
thereby changing the direction of the accustomed channels. The great places 
of resort for ships, therefore, in the North Sea, are the Roads of Leith 
and Cromarty, lying in the Friths of Forth and Moray, as will be seen 



chap. ii. from Plate III., in both of which we find the natural advantages of an 
Dangerous Position ample entrance, and a coast so strongly marked as to be easily recognised 
by the mariner. But from the dangerous position of the Bell Rock, his 
approach to the shores of this coast, prior to the erection of the Light- 
house there, was liable to the greatest peril and uncertainty. 

Great storm in De- A memorable example of this occurred during a storm from the south- 

east, in the month of December 1799. This storm having continued 
with little intermission for three days ; a number of vessels were driven 
from their moorings in the Downs and Yarmouth Roads ; and these, 
together with all vessels navigating the German Ocean at this time, 
were drifted upon the coast of Scotland. Many found shelter, both in 
Leith and Cromarty Roads, which, from the state of the winds, lay quite 
open for their reception. But still, from the dread of the Bell Rock, in 
the one case, and the danger of mistaking the entrance to the Frith of 
Dornoch for that of Moray, by taking the northern instead of the south- 
ern side of Tarbetness, in the other, a great number of vessels were lost, 
or much hardship was sustained by the mariner in seeking safety in 
higher latitudes. It has even been reckoned, that seventy sail of ships 
were either stranded or lost upon the eastern coast of Scotland during that 
gale, when many of their crews perished. 

At the Bullers of Buchan, near Peterhead, alone, on the first night of this 
storm, the wrecks of seven vessels were found in a small cove, without 
one survivor of the crews, to give an account of their disaster. As a 
remarkable instance of escape on this occasion, it may be mentioned, that 
a coal-ship, in ballast, returning from London to Newcastle, was carried 
completely round the coast of Great Britain and Ireland, the first land made 
by this vessel, after leaving Flamborough Head in Yorkshire, being the 
Land's End of Cornwall. Having put into Falmouth to refit the ship and 
refresh the exhausted crew, she continued her voyage up the British Chan- 
nel to the Straits of Dover, and so to Newcastle, thus making a complete 
circuit of the British shores. In the summer of 1800, the writer saw the 
wrecks of two fine vessels on the Orkney Islands ; one of which, on her way 
to Gibraltar, had been as far as Ushant on the coast of France, when, by 
contrary winds, she had been driven back to the Downs, and, in the month 
of December 1799, she was ultimately stranded on the Island of Sanday, 
along with the other vessel, which in that gale had been driven from Yar- 
mouth Roads. 


From the situation and circumstances attending the Bell Rock, it chap. ii. 
may well be supposed, that this dangerous sunken reef was found to be ei- Dangerous Position 

of the Bell Rock. 


ther the direct or ultimate cause, in many cases of shipwreck upon the east- 
ern coast of Great Britain, and as such, every scheme which had for its 
object the fixing of some distinguishing mark upon it, was regarded as 
a matter of public interest, claiming a degree of attention proportionate 
to its apparent practicability and usefulness. The traditionary story of the 
Bell said to have been erected by the Abbots of Aberbrothock upon 
this rock may, perhaps, have given rise to many plans of this nature. 
But, on account of the limited advantages which must have attended any 
erection merely in the form of a beacon, without a light, upon a sunken 
rock, at so great a distance from land, — none of the many proposals of 
this kind which were from time to time suggested, ever met with the 
serious attention of the public. It was evident, that nothing but a light- 
house could not be essentially useful, and that all temporary erections in a 
situation of this kind were to be avoided. 

The following letter from Sir Alexander Cochrane, while stationed sir Aiex. Cochrane - * 
on the eastern coast in the year 1793, is particularly deserving of a place 
in this work, as well from being the first official application made to the 
Commissioners on the subject of the Bell Rock, as on account of that of- 
ficer's great experience in nautical affairs, and the clear and decided manner 
in which the advantages which would result from the erection of a light- 
house there, are pointed out. 

" On board his Majesty 's ship Hind, Leith Roads, January 7. 1793. 
Gentlemen, I think it a duty I owe to the public, to call your attention, 
as Trustees for the Northern Lights, to the great hazard and peril that 
the trade of the east of Scotland is subject to, from the want of a light- 
house being erected on the Bell or Cape Rock, the only dangerous one 
upon this coast, from the Staples to Duncansbay-head, except the Carr, 
which lies so close to Fifeness and the Isle of May as to render it compa- 
ratively of less consequence. 

" The situation of the Cape being about 12 miles from the nearest 
shore, bearing off the Redhead, by compass, S. ' W. — Taybar, SE. by E. 
J E.— Fifeness, NE. by E.— Isle of May Light, NE. 17 miles, (conse- 
quently, too distant to be useful to shipping during the night) ; this 
rock is therefore placed in the most dangerous situation possible, for the 




Dangerous Position 
of the Bell Rock. 

trade of the Friths of Forth and Tay ; the more so, from the prevailing 
winds on the coast, being from the W.NW, to SW., which occasion ves- 
sels bound inwards, to stretch across from shore to shore, that is, from the 
south to the north, or the opposite, according to their situations. This they 
can do in the day time; but at night, the danger of falling in with the Cape 
Rock, prevents them from standing to the northward of the Frith of Forth, 
and they are thereby prevented from taking the advantage of working up 
under the land in St Andrew's Bay, by which they would get into smooth 
water, and avoid the heavy swell and gusts of wind that are always met 
with in the opening of this Frith. 

" Ships from the Baltic, which have not made the land, are often driven 
off the coast, from the caution they are obliged to take, in consequence of 
their not knowing what their situation is respecting this rock ; which, from 
being covered early in the tide, and having little or no sea or breakers on it in 
moderate weather, the wind being off the shore, the soundings are no guide 
whatever ; for, within one mile of the south-east side, the depth of water is 33 
fathoms, (the general soundings on the coast) ; from all which circumstan- 
ces, a ship standing in for the shore, perhaps without having had an obser- 
vation of the sun for some days, runs the utmost danger of being wrecked. 
From the experience I have, in consequence of cruizing on this coast, I 
give it as my most decided opinion, that the greatest good consequence 
would arise to the trade of Scotland, were a light-house erected on it ; but, 
in the event of its being so, a distinction must be made between it and the 
light of May, such as is adopted at Scilly and the Caskets, the light on 
which revolves, I believe, once in a minute, so as to be obscured and visible 

Expence of a Light- 
house on the Bell 
Rock, as estimated 
bv the Public. 

Although the subject of this letter had occasionally occupied the at- 
tention of the Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses, yet the Bell 
Rock, as the site of a light-house, was then for the first time brought 
formally under the notice of the Board ; and some erection there, was con- 
sidered a primary object, whenever the funds should be in a state to meet 
the expence of such a work. But, the estimates for such an undertaking 
admitted of an almost unlimited range of amount, both from the nature of the 
buildings which were proposed, and on account of works of this kind being 
subject to unavoidable risk in all their stages, from the commencement till 
the completion. In conversation, it was common to compare the situation of 
the Bell Rock with the rocks of the Eddystone off Plymouth Sound, and 
Corduan at the mouth of the Garonne. The expence of erecting a light- 


house on the Eddystone, though understood to have been about L. 20,000, chap. ii. 
has never been communicated to the public by the lessees of the light- Designs for the Ben 
house duties, from the consideration, perhaps, of their being obliged, by oc ' lg t * 10US 
their agreement with the Trinity Board of London, to erect and uphold 
the building, and also from claims which they afterwards made, for ha- 
ving the value of the light-house reimbursed to them at the end of their 
lease ; but it was well known that the present building is no less than 
the third erection which the lessees had made upon the Eddystone, be- 
tween I696 and 1759, or in the space of 63 years. It was therefore 
natural to conclude that a building on the Bell Rock, situate under a 
greater depth of water, being nearly on a level with low-water mark, 
would be a work of greater difficulty and expence, than the Eddystone 
light-house, where the top of the rock is on a level with high-water 
mark. We are also left in the dark in forming any opinion on the 
important point of expence with regard to the French work at Corduan, 
but we know that it met with repeated misfortunes while in progress, 
and that it occupied from 1584 till 1610, or 26 years in building. The 
main rock here is about a mile in length, and half a mile in breadth, and, 
in its position as a sunken reef, it resembles the Bell Rock more than the 
Eddystone. From the difficulties which attended the erection of these 
two celebrated light-houses, — both of which the writer has visited, — the 
erection of a light-house upon the Bell Rock, in comparison with these, 
was estimated by the public at so wide a range as from L. 20,000 even to 
L. 100,000. 

In the year 1793, when Admiral Cochrane addressed his letter to the Funds of the Li e ht - 

house Board inade- 

Light-house Board, its surplus funds amounted only to a few hunched i" a ' e - 
pounds ; a sum so inadequate to meet the necessary expenditure of such 
a work, that the Commissioners judged it better for the interests of naviga- 
tion, to go forward with the less expensive improvements on other parts of 
the coast, aware that nothing essential could be undertaken at the Bell 
Rock without the effectual aid of Government, y 

In this state, matters were allowed to rest till the great storm in Decem- 
ber 1799, already noticed, which roused the public mind to fresh specu- 
lations about the necessity of some erection being made upon the Bell 
Rock ; not merely as a local improvement, but as one essentially calcu- 
lated to benefit the ships navigating the German Ocean, by opening the 
Frith of Forth more effectually as a place of safety in easterly storms, so 




Designs for the Bell 

that the Bell Rock, in place of being the dread of mariners, might in fu- 
ture become a point from which they would take their departure, and for 
which they might steer in sailing for the coast. Nautical and commercial 
men, especially, were interested, and felt this state of things in its fullest 
extent. Remarks were accordingly made in several of the periodical pu- 
blications of the day, calling the attention of the public to the erection 
of a light-house there, as a subject of national importance. 

In order to advance this object, the Corporation of the Trinity-House 
of Leith, made public advertisements, calling on persons likely to produce 
some practical plan that might lead to the means of making the erec- 
tion in question. This, of course, produced various propositions on the 

Designs by Captain 
Brodie and Mr Cou- 

Designs for the Bell Bock Light-house. 

The late Captain Joseph Brodie of the Royal Navy, prepared and brought 
forward a model of a cast-iron light-house, supported upon four pillars, to be 
built and connected together in a very strong manner. This model was 
made by Mr Joseph Couper, Iron-Founder in Leith, who, in conjunc- 
tion with Captain Brodie, proposed to erect a light-house on this plan on 
the Bell Rock, on being authorised to draw certain duties from shipping 
for their mutual remuneration. With this yiew, they sent their model, 
and made certain propositions to the different commercial towns on the 
coast, as Newcastle, Dundee, and Aberdeen. After having been at 
considerable trouble and expence with this scheme, as a private adven- 
ture, these gentlemen applied to the Commissioners of the Northern 
Light-houses, requesting their inspection of this model. The design, 
however, was not altogether approved of by the Light-house Board, in 
the form in which it had been modelled; yet such was the confidence 
of its projectors, that at different times, in pursuance of their plan, they 
erected two temporary beacons, constructed with spars of fir-timber; 
these unfortunately were almost immediately washed down. The Mer- 
chants of Leith, applauding the great perseverance of these gentlemen, 
aided their exertions by a subscription of about L. 150, when they 
erected a third beacon on the Bell Rock on a more extended scale. 
It consisted of four spars of fir-timber, each about 40 feet in length, 
strengthened by flat bars of iron, laid the lengthway of the spars, which 
were kept in their places by rings or hoops of iron, firmly wedged over 


them. These spars, when erected upon the rock, formed a common diameter chap. ii. 
of about 20 feet at the base, and crossed each other about 6 feet from the 
top. They were let into holes made in the rock, of about ten inches in 
depth, and were fixed by straps of iron, forming bats of about two inches 
square, and about six inches in length, which were also let into the rock, 
and run up with melted lead. At the place of junction, near the top, the 
spars were bolted together with iron, and above this, they were connected 
with small pieces of timber, nailed to the principal spars. After much 
labour and difficulty, with the assistance of a number of workmen, this 
temporary erection was fixed on the Bell Rock, in the month of July 1803. 
In the month of August the writer landed on the rock and examined it ; 
but when the gales of winter set in, this erection also disappeared, having 
never been seen after the 20th of December. Nothing further was at- 
tempted to be done upon the Bell Rock till the author commenced the 
Light-house operations in the year 1807, by direction of the Commission- 
ers of the Northern Light-houses. 

Not discouraged, however, by the failure of these trifling works, Captain Mak « further propo- 
Brodie and Mr Couper addressed a letter to the Light-house Board, in house Board." 
which an offer was made to erect a cast-iron light-house, in the space of two 
years, agreeably to the model already alluded to, and on the following 
terms, viz. L. 6000 to be paid over to them during the first year of the 
work, together with the produce of a certain Duty for the erection, to be 
exacted from shipping, as a Northern Light, until the original cost of the 
work should be paid off. But this description of building having been 
considered objectionable, Captain Brodie proposed to construct a new 
model, upon an improved plan, by which the base of the building, instead of 
being raised on pillars, was to be continuous, with small interstices or holes 
in its circumference, or outer casing, to admit the water into the interior 
void, with a view to lessen the weight and expence of metal, and check 
the force of the sea. But this also appeared to the Commissioners to be 
defective, when compared with an erection of stone, like the Eddystone 
and Tour de Corduan Light-houses. 

Captain Brodie having, however, shewn a most laudable zeal in this captain Brodie'! re. 
work, and considering that he must have expended a sum of money beyond 
what had been subscribed for the erection of the Spar Beacon, the Commis- 
sioners proposed to make him a liberal allowance for the last model, to the 
preparation of which they had given their countenance. He was according- 





ly requested to state the expence of this model, with a view to his reim- 
bursement. But, under an erroneous impression, he brought forward an 
account, containing an enumeration of charges connected with the Bell 
Rock, from the year 1792 ; and by applying these items to the imagi- 
nary profits of trade, the sum amounted to several thousand pounds. This 
appeared so contrary to the views of the Commissioners, that the account 
was returned, with an offer of L. 400 in full of all claims. This sum, 
however, was refused, and another proposition made, that the Board should 
apply to Government to have his services publicly rewarded. But it was 
finally intimated, that L. 400 were at his disposal ; and here the matter 
till after Captain Brodie's decease, when that sum, with interest, was, in 
1816, paid to his widow. 

The Author's early 
designs for the Bell 
Rock Light-house. 

In noticing the progress of the designs of the Bell Rock Light-house, 
it will here be necessary to give some detail of the writer's own exertions 
in the preliminary stages of this measure, in his capacity of Engineer for 
the Light-house Board. In the summer of 1794, when on a voyage to the 
Northern Light-houses, in passing the Bell Rock, he directed the vessel 
to be brought near it, when he had an opportunity of observing the sea 
breaking heavily upon it. From this period, the difficulties which must 
attend the erection of a habitation on this rock, appeared in a stronger 
point of view than they had hitherto done. He, nevertheless, was resol- 
ved to embrace every opportunity of forwarding this great object. In 
the year 1796, he visited the operations of the Kilwarlin light-house, then 
erecting on the South Rock, a sunken reef, situate three miles off the coast 
of Downshire in Ireland, as a work resembling that which was in con- 
templation for the Bell Rock. 

His pillar-formed 

The disastrous shipwrecks which occasionally happened at the entrance 
of the Friths of Forth and Tay, deeply impressed every one conversant in 
nautical affairs, with the most convincing proofs of the necessity for some dis- 
tinguishing mark being erected upon the Bell Rock. As yet, the writer 
had not landed upon the rock ; though he had begun to prepare a model 
of a pillar-formed light-house, to be supported upon six columns of cast- 
iron, under the impression that this description of building was alone suit- 
able to its situation. The general features of this model may be under- 
stood, by examining Plate VII., which represents the author's original de- 
signs for the. Bell Rock Light-house. 



In the summer of the year 1800, this model was presented to the Light- 
house Board, when an official application was made to the Commissioners 
of his Majesty's Customs, for the use of the Osnaburgh cutter, then lying 
in the harbour of Elie, on the coast of Fife, to carry the writer to the Bell 
Rock, that, by landing there, he might be enabled to judge of the appli- 
cability of his pillar-formed design to the situation of the rock. Upon 
reaching Elie, the Osnaburgh was found to be under repair, and coidd not 
possibly go to sea for several days, by which time the spring-tides would be 
over. On consulting with the commander, as to the most advisable course 
to be followed, in order to avoid losing these tides, it was resolved 
to go to St Andrew's in quest of a boat ; but being there also disappointed, 
the journey was continued along the coast to West Haven, on the northern 
side of the Frith of Tay, where a large boat was procured, and manned 
with fishermen who were in the habit of visiting the rock to search for 
articles of shipwreck. 


On this first visit to the Bell Bock, the writer was accompanied by his 
friend Mr James Haldane, architect, formerly principal assistant to the late 
eminent Mr John Baxter. The crew being unwilling to risk their boat in- 
to any of the creeks in the rock, very properly observing that the lives of all 
depended upon her safety, and as we could only remain upon the rock for two 
or three hours at most, we landed upon a shelving part on the south side of 
the rock, at the spot marked " First Landing" on Plate VI. Having been 
extremely fortunate both as to the state of the weather and tides, an op- 
portunity was afforded of making a sketch of the rock at low water : mean- 
time, the boatmen were busily employed in searching all the holes and 
crevices in quest of articles of shipwreck, and by the time that the tide 
overflowed the rock, they had collected upwards of 2 cwt. of old metal, con- 
sisting of such things as are used on shipboard. A few of these were kept by 
the writer, such as a hinge and lock of a door, a ship's marking-iron, a piece 
of a ship's coboose (or kambuis, cover of the cooking-place), a soldier's bayo- 
net, a canon ball, several pieces of money, a shoe-buckle, &c. ; while the hea- 
vier and more bulky articles, as a piece of a kedge-anchor, cabin-stove, crow- 
bars, &c. were left with the crew, who were, however, disposed to make very 
light of their booty, when it was urged in extenuation of an extravagant 
demand which they made for the boat's freight, being at the rate of one 
guinea per man, and one guinea for the use of the boat, besides expences, 
amounting altogether to about eleven guineas. 


His first visit to the 
Bell Rock, with Mr 
Haldane, architect. 




He concludes that a 
building of stone is 
most suitable for the 
Bell Rock- 

The immediate result of this visit on the mind of the writer and 
of Mr Haldane, was a firm conviction of the practicability of erecting 
a building of stone upon the Bell Rock ; and from that moment the idea 
of a pillar-formed light-house was rejected, as unsuitable to the situation. 
This opinion was chiefly founded upon the area or extent of the part which 
dried, or was exposed to view in the spring-tides, being found to measure 
about 280 by 300 feet, and consequently affording a sufficient space for 
a foundation, and even a degree of shelter from the force of the waves, for the 
lower courses of a building. 

Pillar-formed build- 
ing compared with 
one of stone. 

The depth at high-water upon the Bell Rock was much against the 
design of a building with pillars, as a vessel drawing 12 feet water, and 
loaded with 100 or even 200 tons, may come with full sail against any erec- 
tion made there. Were such a circumstance to happen to a pillar-formed 
building, and a ship to get thus entangled among the openings of the under 
part of the light-house, there is little doubt that the event would prove fa- 
tal to a building of that construction, however strongly framed. On the 
contrary, supposing a vessel to strike a building of stone, under these cir- 
cumstances, it is not at all likely, that she could have any effect upon a 
mass of matter extending to 2000 or 3000 tons, so as to injure such a fa- 

Author's designs and 
models of a stone- 

Under these impressions, the writer, after his first visit to the Bell Rock, 
in the year 1800, made a variety of drawings, and constructed new mo- 
dels for a building of stone, shewing various methods of connecting the 
stones, by dove-tailing them laterally, like those of the Eddystone light- 
house, and also course to course into one another perpendicularly. Other 
methods were likewise modelled, for connecting the whole building in a 
more simple manner, by means of joggles, or square blocks of stone, and 
also by dove-tailed bats of iron cased in lead, as delineated in the va- 
rious designs of Plate VII. These plans and models were duly submitted 
to the Light-house Board, accompanied with estimates of the expence, 
amounting to the maximum sum of L. 42,685, 8s. 

Jlr Telford request- 
ed to visit the Bell 

Sir William Pulteney having taken an interest in forwarding a bill for 
this measure in Parliament in the year 1803, gave Mr Thomas Telford, 
engineer, instructions to inquire into the circumstances of the Bell Rock, 
in the course of his journey to the Works of the Caledonian Canal. Mr 
Telford had accordingly taken some preparatory steps for making a 
Design ; and, with this view, he had engaged Mr Murdoch Downie, 


author of several Marine Surveys, to accompany him to the Bell chap, ii. 
Rock. But the weather proved unfavourable at the time for effecting a 
landing upon the rock ; and, the bill then in progress having been with- 
drawn before another opportunity occurred, Mr Telford's visit was not re- 

Mr Downie, however, who had previously been upon the rock, when ma- Mr Downie'e P aiar. 
king his Nautical Survey of the Eastern Coast of Scotland, prepared a of stone. 
drawing and an estimate of the expence of erecting a light-house upon it, 
which he stated at about L. 29,000. His light-house was to have con- 
sisted of eight columns of stone, of an elliptical or egg form, as he ex- 
pressed it, ranged round a common centre, having the longer axis and 
smaller end towards a circular column in the centre of the plan. These 
columns were to support a circular building of stone for the habitation of 
the light-keepers and the site of the light room. By this plan it was meant 
to give less resistance to the waves. But it did not seem to be well adapt- 
ed for the situation, as it wanted that solidity and unity of parts which are 
so essential to the stability of a building upon a sunken rock. Such a work 
would have been of difficult execution. It would have required similar ap- 
paratus with the solid masonry for its construction, and while in progress, 
it would have been in greater danger of being destroyed than a solid fa- 
bric. There seemed, therefore, upon the whole, to be but two opinions as 
to jthe proper description of a light-house for this situation, viz. either that 
it shoidd be constructed of iron, as was maintained by Captain Brodie, or 
of solid masonry, as proposed by the writer. 

Bill by Lord Advocate Hope. 

The erection of a light-house upon the Bell Rock had been occasionally BeU Rocl < Light- 
alluded to at the Convention of the Royal Burghs of Scotland, which meets MeetingoftL Royal 
annually at Edinburgh ; and, in consequence of recent losses on that reef, urg " 
the Convention of 1802 was moved, by Provost Duncan of Arbroath, to take 
this subject under its serious consideration. It was accordingly resolved, 
That the Lord Advocate Hope, one of the Commissioners of the Northern 
Light-houses, and Member of Parliament for the City of Edinburgh, 
shoidd be requested to use his influence in forwarding this desirable object. 
His Lordship being present, readily engaged to undertake the measure, 
and declared that he would not allow it to rest until something satisfactory 
should be done. 



chap. ii. The Commissioners of the Light-houses having afterwards furnished 

the particulars, the heads of a bill were arranged, which, in the session of 
1803, was brought forward by his Lordship and the late Sir William Pul- 
teney, who took a great interest in the Scotch business before the House of 
Commons. This bill had for its object to empower the Commissioners to 
borrow L. 30,000, and to exact the Northern Light-duty of lid. per ton 
upon British shipping, and 3d. per ton upon Foreigners, from all vessels 
bound to or from any port on the eastern coast of Great Britain, that should 
cross the latitude of the Bell Rock. 

Bill lost in the House 
of Lords. 

This bill passed the House of Commons in the session of 1803 ; but 
having met with opposition from the corporation of the City of London, as 
including too great a range of coast in the collection of the duties, such 
amendments and alterations were proposed in the House of Lords, as ren- 
dered it necessary for the Lord Advocate to withdraw the bill. 

Works proposed of 
less expence than a 
stone building. 

The expectations of nautical and commercial men were severely disap- 
pointed by the loss of this bill, which occasioned a delay of several years in 
the prosecution of the object. It was obvious, that, without considerable 
funds at command, it was impossible to undertake a work of such magnitude. 
The annual funds of the Light-house Board at this period amounted only 
to about L. 4000, and the maintenance of the light-houses already erected 
was equal to one-half of this sum, which would leave a surplus fund of about 
L. 2000 per annum. But, as the Commissioners found it to be their duty 
to go on with their improvements on the other parts of the coast, with- 
out confining their attention to one object, however important, it was 
impossible that this great work could be undertaken for a series of years, 
without the direct aid of the Government, or an extension of the Light- 
house duties, on the security of which money might be borrowed. In con- 
sequence of the loss of this bill, the dangers of the Bell Rock now became 
very generally the topic of conversation ; and various schemes were again 
suggested for constructing economical and temporary buildings to remedy 
the evil. 

Difficulty of deter- 
mining among these 

In a work of so much apparent difficulty, it was not easy for the 
Light-house Board to determine what was the most advisable design. 
The pillar-formed building was supported by many arguments. It would 
have been executed in a very short period, and would not, perhaps, have 
cost one-sixth part of the expence of a building of stone. A light-house, 


supported upon wooden pillars, had also stood for many years, and still re- chap. ii. 
mains, upon the Smalls Rocks, off St David's-Head, in Pembrokeshire, al- 
though the sea, in high tides, and stormy weather, occasionally breaks over 
the building. But a fabric of stone, for such a situation as the Bell Rock, 
was evidently preferable, and the examples of the Tour de Corduan, the 
Eddystone, and the Kilwarlin light-houses, already noticed, were all in 
favour of it. 

Amidst a diversity of opinion as to the practicability of the undertaking, Mr Rennie consuit- 
and especially as to the description of the building, whether it shovdd be the Author in re- 
of cast-iron or stone, and in the form of pillars or solid, the Commis- in^of "stone 8 a 
sioners ultimately determined upon submitting the several views of the 
subject to Mr John Rennie, engineer. In the year 1804, Mr Rennie 
and the writer accompanied Mr Hamilton, Sheriff of Lanarkshire, one 
of the Commissioners, and who had turned much of his attention to 
the subject, on a visit to the Bell Rock. They made a favourable land- 
ing ; and Mr Rennie had only been a short time upon the rock, when 
he gave his decided opinion upon the practicability of the proposed erection 
of stone. He had examined the author's designs and models, and after- 
wards made a Report, in which he coincided with him in recommending to 
the Board the adoption of a building of stone, on the principles of the 
Eddystone Light-house. Sanctioned with such authority, the Commis- 
sioners were finally confirmed in the resolution, that the Bell Rock Light- 
house should be a tower of masonry similar to that of the Eddystone. 

Hitherto the general opinion throughout the country, and especially at The Light-house 
all the sea-ports, had been anxiously expressed for the erection of a light-house of the Mercantile Se 
of some kind on the Bell Rock. But before going a second time to Par- sureT*' " * ' s mea 
liament with this measure, the Commissioners thought it advisable to take 
the sense of the mercantile interest at the ports more immediately 
connected with the navigation of the Frith of Forth, such as Leith, 
Aberdeen, Dundee, Montrose, Arbroath, and Berwick-upon-Tweed, as 
to the utility of the light-house, and the propriety of obtaining an act of 
Parliament, to empower them to levy duties for the erection and mainte- 
nance of the proposed building. A number of Reports were accordingly 
received, all approving of the measure ; but one of these only need be in- 
serted, from the Corporation of Traders in Leith, as it may be considered 
as conveying the sentiments of all the others. 




Report of the Tra- 
ders of Leith. 

Report of the Committee appointed by the Incorporation of the 
Traders in Leith, relative to the expediency of erecting a Light- 
house on the Cape or Bell Rock. 

" The Committee, justly sensible of the great importance of the object 
referred to their consideration, have endeavoured to inform themselves, more 
especially on those points to which their attention is particularly called by 
the letter of the Commissioners. 

" The result of these inquiries, as far as regards the number of vessels 
known, from the safety of the crews, to have been wrecked upon the Bell 
Rock, within these last ten years, amount to four, viz. two smacks trading 
between London and Banff, one brig from Holland, and a sloop from Ham- 

" These losses, although the vessels were all valuable, may at first view 
appear comparatively small, but to your Committee, they serve as a power- 
ful evidence, in support of the opinion given by all maritime people, of the 
fatal position and nature of this rock, where, from the tremendous sea 
which even a moderate gale occasions, total destruction is almost the inevi- 
table consequence of any vessel striking upon it. 

" Situate off the openings of the two Friths of Tay and Forth, the 
Bell Rock stands a frightful bar, to deter vessels making the land from 
attempting it in the night-time, when they require most to seek its shel- 
ter ; and, if unhappily overtaken with a gale at SE., when near the lati- 
tude of this rock, the alternative, dangerous as it must appear, of stretch- 
ing to the northward, along a scarce less frightful coast, to gain the Mur- 
ray Frith, is frequently, in such perilous cases, had recourse to. 

" In the beginning of 1800, fifty or sixty vessels were cast away ; and, 
from the circumstances of most of them being bound south of the Forth, 
but driven towards it by the violence of the storm, there can be no reason 
to doubt, that, had it been possible for these vessels to have attempted 
with safety the shelter of the Frith of Forth, many lives and much pro- 
perty would by this means have been preserved. 

" The dread, however, of the Bell Rock, induced them on that occasion 
to prefer hauling to the northward, and encountering a sea and tide sur- 
passed in few places of the globe. This fatal apprehension was followed by 
the disastrous consequences already mentioned. 

" The Committee have, indeed, no hesitation in giving it as their opi- 
nion, that the greater part of the losses which occur, even from the Coquet 

of Leith. 


Island, as far as the Murray Frith, arise from vessels either actually striking chap. it. 
upon, or from an over-solicitude to keep at a distance from, this fatal rock. Report of the Traded 
To the latter cause, there is great reason to helieve, from many concurrent 
circumstances attending her loss, and from parts of her wreck being wash- 
ed ashore near Buchanness, his Majesty's ship York, of 64 guns, fell a 
sacrifice, with all her crew. Indeed, if the number of vessels is calcula- 
ted, which, within these last ten years, have been cast away within the 
above-mentioned extent of coast, they will be found to amount to more 
than one hundred. 

" That the erection of a light-house upon the Bell Rock would obviate 
many of these dangers is sufficiently evident, and merchants, as well as 
seafaring men, trading to the east coast of Scotland, as well as to the north 
of England, are alike interested in the accomplishment of this desirable 

" In a national point of view, the advantages that would result from 
it are incalculable ; but none more forcible need be adduced, than that of 
its serving as the direct means of preservation to the invaluable lives of nu- 
merous British seamen. 

" All these considerations induce your Committee to give this mea- 
sure their full approbation ; and that such a necessary object has not 
been sooner attained, must rather have proceeded from the supposed diffi- 
culty of the execution, than any hesitation as to the expediency of it. 

" Your Committee, in reply to that part of the letter of the Commis- 
sioners, in which the Traffickers of Leith are required to signify, in the 
event of their concurrence in the measure, whether they will support the 
application of the Commissioners by petition to Parliament, have again to 
state, that giving, as they do, their full approbation to the expediency of 
erecting a light-house on the Bell Rock, they can have no hesitation in 
joining in any petition to Parliament to that effect. But the funds of this 
Incorporation being appropriated to specific purposes, no pecuniary aid can 
be afforded by them as a Society. 

" To so great a national benefit as this will certainly prove, they will 
contribute, by willingly submitting to a tax on all shipping passing the 
Bell Rock, provided the duty so imposed does not exceed that laid on for 
any light in England, whose situation may bear resemblance to that to be 
erected upon the Bell Rock. 

" The Trinity-House of Leith, to whom, the Committee is informed, 
the Commissioners have likewise applied, must be supposed better qualified 
to give detailed information upon the whole of this subject than your Com- 





Report of the Traders 
of Leith- 

mittee ; and the more especially, as one among their number has, for a period 
exceeding twenty years, made the dangers of the Bell Rock, and the means 
to be applied to avoid or lessen them, his pecidiar study. Captain Joseph 
Brodie has, at great risk, and certainly at no little expence, and without 
any expectation of recompence, beyond that of having served his country, 
frequently visited the Bell Rock, and at one time succeeded in erecting a 
Beacon upon it, which withstood the fury of the sea for several months. 

" The Committee, therefore, consider him well qualified to give the 
Commissioners information on the subject ; and the various models of light- 
houses applicable to this rock, which, with much labour and ingenuity, he 
has invented, will be found highly valuable, whenever the execution of the 
business shall come to be taken into final consideration. — (Signed) James 
Searth, Master ; Wm. Mowbray, Assist. ; Wm. Dougal, Assist. ; Arch. 
Geddes, James Pillans junior? 

Report of the Mer. 
chants of Berwick. 

The dangerous situation of the Bell Rock, and the losses which have 
either occurred upon, or in consequence of it, were also strongly expressed 
in all the other documents communicated to the Light-house Board; 
and we may further form a judgment of the extent of the serious conse- 
quences of this rock to the shipping on the coast, by what was stated in the 
communication from Berwick-upon-Tweed. It was therein mentioned, that 
two vessels had struck upon this rock in one night ; and that other two, 
which had been built at Berwick, and sold to a Shipping Company at 
.Banff, were afterwards lost upon the same reef. It also deserves notice, 
that Captain Allardice, who commanded one of those vessels, had the mis- 
fortune, in the course of his profession, to have been twice wrecked upon 
the Bell Rock. 

Resolution of the 
Light-house Board 
to apply again to 

These statements, furnished upon unquestionable authority, of the 
losses occasioned by the Bell Rock, satisfied the Commissioners of the 
propriety of persisting in their original plan of obtaining an act of 
Parliament and a loan for this special purpose. After various meetings 
of the Board, for adjusting the heads of a bill, the measure was finally 
resolved upon at a meeting, held on the 19th February 1806, at which 
the following members were present : Mr James Clerk, Sheriff-Depute of 
Edinburghshire, Mr Robert Hamilton, Sheriff-Depute of Lanarkshire, Mr 
William Rae, Sheriff-Depute of Orkney and Shetland, Mr James Trail, 
Sheriff-depute of Caithness, Mr John Connell, Sheriff-Depute of Renfrew- 
shire, Mr Edward M'Cormick, Sheriff-Depute of Ayrshire, and Mr David 
Monypenny, Sheriff-Depute of Fife. 


This meeting having also taken into consideration a memorial, prepa- chap. ii. 
red by Mr Hamilton, pointing out the importance and urgency of the mea- 
sure, ordered it to be printed ; and requested him to proceed to London, 
to submit the memorial, and the documents on which it was founded, to 
the consideration of His Majesty's Ministers, and other Members of Par- 

Mr Hamilton went to London in the month of April 1806, when the Mr Hamilton and 

x the Author go to 

author also attended, with his plans and estimates, to prove the pre- London. 
amble of the bill. Mr Hamilton having transmitted the memorial to the 
heads of the departments of the Treasury, the Admiralty, and the Board 
of Trade, requested an audience from them on the subject. He had a 
meeting with the Board of Trade, and urged the proposition for a loan, or 
advance from Government, of L. 25,000, on the security of the duties which 
the proposed light-house would produce. It was, however, recommended 
that application shoidd also be made to the other two Boards. Some time 
thereafter, a conference on the matter was held with Lord Howick, then at 
the head of the Admiralty, and Admiral Markham, — when the plans of 
the projected building were shewn to them, — it was stated that all that was 
wanting to enable the work to be proceeded with, was the advance from 
Government, — and the importance of the proposed light-house was at this 
interview pointed out, not only as to trade, but as a guide and protection 
for the Navy while cruising in the German Ocean. But their Lordships 
still considered the undertaking chiefly as of a local nature, and com- 
paratively of little benefit to the Navy. Not discouraged, however, by 
this unsuccessful application, Mr Hamilton soon after obtained an audi- 
ence of Lord Grenville, First Commissioner of the Treasury, who exa- 
mined the charts, plans, elevations and sections of the projected building 
with much attention, — declared himself fully convinced of the importance 
and expediency of the measure, — and promised that the loan by Govern- 
ment, and every other expedient for the advancement of the design, should 
have his support. The patronage of the First Minister of State having 
been thus obtained, Mr Hamilton returned to his public duties in Scot- 
land, leaving the farther proceedings in the application to the charge of 
the writer, with the assistance of Mr Longlands, solicitor for the Light- 
house Board in London. / / 






The Loan from Go- 
vernment becomes 

Bill by Lord Advocate Erslane. 

The Hon. Henry Erskine, Lord Advocate of Scotland, took charge of 
the Bill in Parliament. But, notwithstanding his Lordship's attention to 
the business, so much time was lost in furnishing various statements, rela- 
tive to the probable amount of the new duties to be levied, and the secu- 
rity to be given for repayment of the loan, that little progress was made 
with the bill, till the middle of the month of June. By this time, the 
prospect of the loan became so doubtful, that it was thought advisable by 
some friends to the measure to take the bill without it. But the Commis- 
sioners, after considering the tendency of such a bill, in tying up their 
funds for an indefinite period for one object, and thus preventing the ex- 
tension of the benefit of additional light-houses to other parts of the coast, 
were of opinion, that, unless the loan was granted, they must withdraw their 
petition for the bill, and allow the business to lie over till the duties were 
in such a condition as to enable the work to be undertaken. The author 
was therefore directed to consider himself as at liberty to leave London, if 
it should appear that the loan could not be obtained. 

Board of Trade fa- 
vourable to the Loan 

Lord Auckland, President of the Board of Trade, was favourable to the 
proposal of the loan ; and Sir Joseph Banks, the Vice-President, having 
entered warmly into the measure, and at a meeting of the 7th June, 
urged its necessity so strongly, that the Board desired a Memorial to be 
presented on the following points : — Of the coast to be subjected to the 
Duty of the Northern Lights, by the erection of the Bell Bock light- 
house ; — of the trade and mercantile interest to pay this additional duty ; 
— of the security to be given to Government for the repayment of the 
loan of L. 25,000; — and of the assurance to be given, that this sum, toge- 
ther with the surplus funds in the possession of the Commissioners, would 
accomplish a building of so much hazard. 

The following Memorial was accordingly presented. 

Memorial to the 
Board of Trade. 

" To the Right Hon. the Lords of the Committee of Council, relating to 
Trade, — The Humble Memorial of the Commissioners, for erecting 
Light-Houses on the Northern parts of Great Britain ; 

" That the memorialists have taken the liberty of stating, in a former 
Memorial hereunto annexed, the reasons that have induced them to apply 


to the Lords Commissioners of his Majesty's Treasury, for their support to chap, u, 
an application to Parliament, for the loan of so much money as will enable Memorial to the 
them to build a light-house upon the Cape or Bell Rock, — an object of Board of Tmde - 
much consequence to the navigation of the North Sea, from the many fatal 
shipwrecks it has occasioned. The Memorialists have been much pressed 
and solicited by the commercial interest of the country, to get this accom- 
plished ; and by opening the Frith of Forth as a place of safety, by the 
erection of this light-house, the navigation of the northern coasts of the 
kingdom will be greatly facilitated. 

" It now appears, by the accompanying Custom-House returns, on an 
average of three years, that the duties which would be received for a light- 
house on the Bell Rock would amount to L. 2617 : 3 : 9i ; and by the ac- 
counts of the Commissioners of Northern Lights, annually laid before Par- 
liament, it will be seen, that the memorialists have of annual surplus du- 
ties L. 1350, amounting together to L. 3967, which, it is thought, will be 
considered a sufficient security for the interest of the sum that may be ad- 
vanced by the public. 

" On erecting a light-house on the Bell Rock, the Commissioners, by 
the existing acts, woidd be empowered to levy the above duties of L. 2617, 
3s. 9id. ; and it appears by the representations from the ports more imme- 
diately interested, that they highly approve of the measure. 

" The memorialists have received several estimates of the expence of 
erecting a light-house upon the Bell Rock. They have more particularly 
had recourse to the professional abilities and advice of Mr Rennie and Mr 
Stevenson, Civil Engineers, from whose reports they have reason to believe 
that the sum will not exceed L. 43,000. The memorialists have already 
in the 3 per cent, consols L. 28,000 of surplus duties, (about L. 16,800). 
If the public, therefore, are induced to advance L. 25,000 by instalments 
in the course of three years, making together about L. 41,800, the memo- 
rialists presume, that, with the application of the whole surplus duties for a 
time, this sum will be perfectly sufficient to enable them to complete a work 
so long recommended, and so anxiously desired." (For the statements above 
referred to, see Appendix, No. III.) 

Observations by the several members of the Board of Trade having sir Joseph Banks 
been made upon this memorial, it was more especially referred to Sir Joseph tions^or'fte lo?"" 
Banks, to give an opinion, as having himself sailed along that coast. Sir 
Joseph, knowing from experience the horrors of sunken rocks, supported the 
proposition of the loan, not only as one of expediency, but of necessity and 


chap. ii. humanity to the seafaring people of a great portion of the kingdom, and gave 
his most decided and hearty concurrence to the recommendation to the Trea- 
sury. After describing the extensive advantages to be derived by shipping 
from the establishment of a light-house upon the Bell Rock, he pointedly 
alluded to the probable loss of the York Man-of-war upon it]; and observed, 
that the security and facility to be derived to the extensive shipping of this 
coast, should not be overlooked for the advance of so small a sum as 
L. 25,000. After the matter had been deliberated on for some time at the 
Board, Lord Auckland intimated to Mr Longlands, and the author, that a 
report would be made to the Treasury. 

Bui Read a em time This was communicated to the Lord Advocate, who, at an earlv 

m the House of Com- •> 

mens. day, moved for leave to bring in a bill, " To enable the Commissioners of the 

Northern Light-houses to levy certain duties upon the shipping, and also 
to enable the Lords of His Majesty's Treasury to grant a loan of L. 25,000 
from the 3 per cent, consolidated fund for the erection of a light-house 
upon a certain dangerous sunken reef, called the Bell Rock, lying at the 
distance of twelve miles from the nearest land, at the entrance of the Friths 
of Forth and Tay, upon the eastern coast of Scotland." His Lordship had no 
sooner made the motion, than Lord Henry Petty, then Chancellor of the 
Exchequer, stated, that he could not answer for the support which this bill 
might ultimately meet with from his Majesty's Ministers : — that he spoke 
not from his own knowledge of the subject, but merely from the views of the 
First Lord of the Admiralty, who had expressed his doubts as to the pro- 
priety of the loan in the then low state of his Majesty's Exchequer, and 
the great demands which were made upon the country ; but that he did not 
mean to oppose the present motion, only, under these circumstances, he 
thought it proper to state this much, in absence of the noble Lord alluded 
to. Leave having been given to bring in the bill, it was accordingly 
read a first time. 

second Readmg of On the second reading of the bill, the Lord Advocate introduced the 

business with his usual display of eloquence, pointing out, in forcible lan- 
guage, the horrors of a sunken rock so situate as the Bell Rock ; and con- 
cluded, by observing, that, as there could be but one opinion as to the im- 
portant object of this bill, he hoped, through the exertions of the Light- 
house Board, to which he had the honour to belong, and of other public 
functionaries, appointed for similar purposes, on other parts of the coast, 
the day would come, when every sunken rock and dangerous shoal, of simi- 
lar importance to navigation, would be distinctly pointed out to the mariner. 

by Sir John Sinclair. 


The only reply made was by Mr Spencer Perceval, who remarked, that he chap ii. 
had no intention to oppose the present measure, the importance of which he Report of the com- 
would not call in question, but he must agree with those who thought that 
this was not a favourable time for granting loans of public money. The 
bill was then read a second time. In its progress through the House of 
Commons, it was detained, from various causes, beyond the regular time. 
The Lord Advocate had also unfortunately been taken ill ; but in his ab- 
sence, Sir John Sinclair attended to the bill in the Committee, of which he 
was chairman, and brought up the following Report : 

Report of the Committee of the House of Commons. 

" The Committee, to whom was referred the Petition of the Commis- Report brought u P 
sioners of the Northern Light-houses, and to report the matter to the House, 
as it shall appear to them, 

" Proceeded to examine Mr Robert Stevenson, Civil Engineer, who, 
in his capacity of engineer forthe Northern Light-houses, has erected six light- 
houses in the northern parts of the kingdom ; and has made the erection of 
a light-house on the Cape or Bell Rock, more particularly his study, — espe- 
cially, since the loss of about 70 sail of vessels, in a storm which happened 
upon the coast in the month of December 1799, by which numerous ships 
"were driven from their course along the shore, and from their moorings in 
Yarmouth Roads, and other places of anchorage, southward of the Frith 
of Forth, and wrecked upon the eastern coast of Scotland, as referred to in 
the report made to this House, in the month of July 1803 ; the particulars 
of which he also confirms : That the Bell Rock is most dangerously situ- 
ate, lying in a track which is annually navigated by no less than about 
700,000 tons of shipping, besides his Majesty's ships of war, and revenue 
cutters : That its place is not easily ascertained, even by persons well ac- 
quainted with the coast, being covered by the sea about half flood, and the 
land-marks, by which its position is ascertained, being from 12 to 20 miles 
distant from the site of danger. 

" That from the inquiries he made at the time the York Man-of-war 
was lost, and pieces of her wreck having drifted ashore upon the opposite 
and neighbouring coast ; and from an attentive consideration of the circum- 
stances which attend the wreck of ships of such dimensions, he thinks it 
probable that the York must have struck upon the Bell Rock, drifted off, 
and afterwards sunk in deep water : That he is well acquainted with the 
situation of the Bell Rock, the yacht belonging to the light-house service, 




Report of the Com- 

having, on one occasion, been anchored near it for live days, when he had 
an opportunity of landing upon it every tide : That he has visited most of 
the light-houses on the coast of England, Wales and Ireland, particularly 
those of the Eddystone, the Smalls, and the Kilwarlin or South Rock, 
which are built in situations somewhat similar to the Bell Rock : That at 
high-water, there is a greater depth on the Bell Rock than on any of these, 
by several feet : and he is therefore fully of opinion, that a building of stone, 
upon the principles of the Eddystone light-house, is alone suitable to the 
peculiar circumstances which attend this rock, and has reported his opinion 
accordingly to the Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses as far back 
as the year 1800 ; and having given the subject all the attention in his 
power, he has estimated the expence of erecting a building of stone upon it 
at the sum of L. 42,685, 8s. 

" Your Committee likewise examined Mr John Rennie, civil-engi- 
neer, who, since the report made to this House in 1803, has visited the Bell 
Rock, who confirms the particulars in said report, and entertains no doubt 
of the practicability of erecting a light-house on that rock, is decidedly of 
opinion that a stone light-house will be the most durable and effectual, and 
indeed the only kind of building that is suited to this situation : That he 
has computed the expeuce of such a building, and, after making every allow- 
ance for contingencies, from his own experience of works in the sea, it ap- 
pears to him that the estimate or expence will amount to L. 41,843, 15s. 

" It appears further to your Committee, from the accounts presented to 
this House by the Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses, in the 
years 1803, 1804, and 1805, that, on an average of these years, the sur- 
plus duties arising from the light-houses already erected by that Board, is 
L. 512 : 18 : 8. But your Committee find, that the average of general ex- 
penditure for these years has been higher than usual, owing to the erection 
of additional light-houses, viz. one on the Island of Inchkeith, in the Frith 
of Forth, and a revolving light upon the Start-Point of Sanday, one of 
the Orkney Islands, on which there was expended, during these years, about 
L. 4800, causing an annual extra charge of L. 1600 upon the duties col- 
lected in that period. 

" That, agreeably to the act of the 26th of the King, the said Com- 
missioners of the Northern Light-houses have invested in the public Funds 
L. 28,000, affording dividends to the annual amount of L. 840. 

" That the duties that would be collected for the Bell Rock light, as 
appears by the returns from the customs presented to this House, and the 


resolution they have come to, would amount to about L. 2617 : 3 : 9 an- chap. ii. 

" That if the sum of L. 25,000 was to be advanced, by way of loan, 
from the consolidated fund, this, with the L. 28,000 now invested in the 
3 per cent. Consolidated Annuities, would enable the Commissioners to 
erect the proposed light-house, and that there would remain a sufficient 
fund for the payment of interest of the loan from the surplus duties, as well 
as for the repayment of the principal, in a reasonable time." 

The bill passed through the Committee of the Commons without any im- bui meets with some 

,. . ii-i t - -l . • • i opposition at the 

pediment, but, on the third reading, it met with some opposition in the third reading 
House, upon new and unexpected grounds. One of the members for Liver- 
pool opposed the loan, on the ground that that Port maintained its own sea- 
lights, and that the trade of the Frith of Forth ought also to support its 
lights. But this objection was withdrawn, upon explaining the position of 
the Bell Rock relatively to the Frith of Forth, and the difficulty and ex- 
pence of the proposed building, and shewing that the collection of its Light- 
duties were proportionally as much confined to the Frith of Forth, though 
extending between Berwick to the south, and Peterhead to the north, 
as the more limited sphere of the Liverpool lights were to the ports and 
havens in the Mersey. This difficulty was no sooner got over, than the 
bill was likely to have met with another check, from a clause which had been 
introduced, exempting this work from the duty on stone carried coastwise, 
which, it was calculated, would have amounted to between L. 2000 and 
L. 3000. This clause was withdrawn, by the advice of Mr Vansittart, 
Secretary to the Treasury, as being improper to appear in the shape of an 

The bill then went through the third reading, and passed the House is Passed, and ie- 
of Commons on the 16th of July. It was afterwards brought up to the sent. 
House of Lords, where it went through the Committee, and the several 
readings ; and having received the Royal Assent, became an act of the 

The writer immediately returned to Scotland, with feelings of the 
greatest satisfaction, on the accomplishment of a measure which, in its 
tendency, was so eminently calculated to meet the wishes of the mercantile 
interest of the country. But, along with these sensations, there was also 
a degree of responsibility, and a crowd of difficulties, which still presented 



chap. ii. themselves, in the execution of a work of so peculiar a nature. Hitherto this 
undertaking had been viewed only at a distance, clogged with many pre- 
vious obstacles, which, by the passing of the bill, were removed ; and the 
whole measure now pressed fully upon his mind. 

( 107 ) 





L he Act of Parliament, by which the Commissioners of the Northern 
Light-houses were empowered to undertake the works at the Bell Rock, 
having only received the Royal Assent late in the month of July 1806, 
there was not sufficient time for making the necessary preparations for their 
commencement that season. But the writer, on his return from London, 
received instructions from the Board to have such preliminary steps in 
view, as would enable him to begin the operations early in the summer of 
1807. This being arranged, he sailed in the month of August, on his 
annual voyage, for the inspection of the Northern Light-houses. 

The bill for the Bell Rock Light-house was drawn up, under a strong Act provides for a 
impression of the uncertainty which must attend the whole of the works at Beaconf ' L ' sh ' and 
the rock, and doubts were accordingly entertained as to the estimated expence 
being adequate to the accomplishment of the undertaking. A clause had, 
therefore, been introduced, authorising the collection of the light-house du- 
ties of one penny halfpenny per register ton from British vessels, and three- 
pence per ton from foreigners, " immediately upon mooring or anchoring a 
ship or vessel, and exhibiting a floating or other light, at or near the Bell 
Rock," and " half the amount of the said duties respectively," on the 
erection of " a proper beacon or distinguishing mark or object on the said 
Bell Rock." The measures first in order were, consequently, to fit out 
and moor a floating-light and to erect a beacon on the Bell Rock, that ship- 






Fishing Dogger pur- 
chased, and named 
The Pharos. 

ping might derive immediate advantage from them, while the light-house 
was in progress ; and also that the funds of the Board might, as early as 
possible, have the benefit of the additional duties. We therefore proceed 
to give an account of the outflt and mooring of this vessel, and of the erec- 
tion of the beacon-house, without attending strictly to the chronological 
order of the works. 

The writer had frequent communications with the late Captain Hud- 
dart, of the Trinity-House of London, and other nautical men, both as to 
the form of a vessel, and the moorings proper for a situation like the 
Bell Rock : here the depth of water could not be less than from seven- 
teen to nineteen fathoms at the lowest tide, whereas, on the English coast, 
the depth where floating lights are, in general, moored, does not exceed 
seven or eight fathoms, and their moorings, consequently, much more 
easily managed. The writer had also visited the floating light of the Nore, 
at the entrance of the river Thames ; and he was induced, upon the whole, 
to conclude, that a vessel built after the manner and construction of the 
Dutch fishing-doggers, would be the most suitable for riding at anchor in the 
open sea, and that her moorings should consist partly of an iron chain, and 
partly of a hempen cable. 

Pharos Floating Light-ship. 
In the year 1806, a great number of vessels were taken by our cruizers, 
upon the coasts of Holland, Denmark, and Norway, many of which were 
carried into Leith to be sold. One of these, a Prussian, which happen- 
ed to be captured while fishing on the Dogger Bank, was purchased for the 
Bell Rock service. This vessel was of a flat construction, rounded off both 
at the stem and stern, agreeably to the ordinary make of these doggers. 
She was called the Tonge Gerrit, but was afterwards named the Pharos, 
in allusion to the celebrated Pharos of Alexandria. She measured 67 
feet in length, and 16 feet in breadth, upon deck, 8 feet depth of hold, 
and was 82 tons register. It was, however, only the form of her hull 
that fitted her for our purpose ; her rigging and whole equipment having to 
undergo a complete alteration, for the light-house service. 

Fitted out under the The establishing of a floating-light being quite new upon the coast 

niiy!Hous°e, Leith?" of Scotland, and that every thing connected with this vessel might be 

done upon the best principles, the writer procured the assistance of Mr 

Joseph Webb, an experienced pilot of Yarmouth, who had attended the 


fitting up of one of the floating lights stationed off that coast, and who had chap. hi. 
been recommended by the Trinity Board of London as a person of skill, Floating-Light. 
for instructing the master of the vessel in all the details of the service. Se- 
veral of the Captains of the Trinity-House of Leith also obligingly formed 
themselves into a committee, and from time to time assisted in giving 
directions as to the necessary repairs and outfit of the vessel. 

Agreeably to this arrangement, the Prussian dogger was put into one 
of the graving docks of Leith, in the month of March 1807, and un- 
derwent a complete examination, when it was found that she required a 
few new timbers in her bottom ; and that to strengthen her upper works, 
several new beams and additional knees were necessary. Her bottom had to 
be new trenailed and caulked, and then sheathed with fir plank. Her ceil- 
ing, or interior lining, was also caulked, and made water-tight, in case 
of accident to the outer plank, in the event of her breaking adrift, and get- 
ting upon the Bell Rock. Her deck-plank and upper works were also 
entirely renewed ; and from stem to stern, under deck, her accommo- 
dations were laid out anew. She was furnished with three masts, of a 
length calculated to enable her to ride with as little incumbrance as possible 
in a storm ; the main-mast being only thirty-five feet above the deck, while 
the fore and mizen masts were each twenty-five feet. The rigging was also 
made of light cordage, and she was provided with storm-sails, to be used in 
the event of her breaking adrift in bad weather. By the time, therefore, 
that this vessel came from the hands of the carpenters, very little of the 
old work remained, as nothing had been omitted, which could, in any man- 
ner, add to her strength and durability. She was fitted up with births for 
about thirty artificers, besides her ordinary crew and officers, amounting to 
thirteen in number, independently of her hold for oil and stores of various 
descriptions. In the distribution of these, the fore-peak of the ship was 
allotted for the sailors ; the waist for the artificers ; and galley appropriated 
to the cooking of the victuals. Next to this, a large cabin was set off for 
the master, mate, and principal light-keeper, and for the foremen of the 
works ; while the after or stern part of the ship formed a cabin for the 
use of the engineer. 

The Pharos was furnished with a large copper lantern for each mast, Peculiar construction 
containing ten lamps, with small silver-plated reflectors, ranged upon a 
chandelier, moveable at pleasure, in a horizontal direction, for the conveni- 
ency of turning the lamps to trim them and clean the reflectors. To make 
the vessel ride as easily as possible, in a situation so exposed, the lanterns 



chap. hi. were made of a peculiar construction, so as to screw together upon the 
Fioating-Light. masts, in two pieces, longitudinally, as represented in Plate X., Figs. 
1, 2, and 3. By these means, the light could be seen in every direction, 
without the necessity of suspending them in the usual manner from yards, 
or other weighty apparatus, which tend not only to obscure the light, 
but also to make the ship ride heavily in bad weather. 

Construction of 

The moorings of the floating light consisted of a large mushroom 
anchor, of cast-iron, weighing about a ton and a half, and made with a 
shank and head, resembling in form, as nearly as may be, the vegetable 
from which it takes its name. This anchor was made with a malleable 
iron shank, but latterly these mushroom anchors were made wholly 
of cast-iron, as represented in Plate X., Fig. 4. A chain of fifty fa- 
thoms in length, was attached to the anchor, made of inch and half bars 
of iron, to which a hempen cable, of 14 inches in circumference, and 120 
fathoms in length, was connected, to be veered out according to the state 
of the weather. 

Pharos is towed to 
the Roads. 

The Pharos being ready for sea, was, on the 9th of July, towed out 
of the harbour of Leith to the Roads, by the Light-house Yacht, a cut- 
ter-rigged vessel attached to the general service of the Northern Light- 
houses. The Yacht had the Pharos' moorings on board, and was ap- 
pointed to conduct her to the Bell Bock, and lay them down. A 
curious enough circumstance took place, when the crew of the floating- 
light was mustered, before leaving the harbour : two of the seamen 
having taken alarm, at the destination of the ship, and the nature of 
the service in which they were about to embark, suddenly turned about, 
and, to the great surprise of their comrades, ran with the utmost precipi- 
tation from the ship ; to which they never again returned. Their places, 
however, were supplied with others, without much inconvenience. 

Committee of the 
Trinity-House go to 
the Bell Rock. 

As the gentlemen of the Trinity-house of Leith, had all along taken a 
particular interest in the fitting out of the floating-light, the Commissioners 
requested their assistance in fixing upon the precise spot in which she 
should be moored, for the direction of ships passing the Bell Rock. This 
they readily complied with, suggesting, at the same time, that some of the 
shipmasters of Arbroath, who were locally acquainted with the coast, 
should also be invited to give their opinion and advice upon this point. 



A few of the most experienced ship-masters and merchants of Ar- 
broath were accordingly invited to come off, when the floating light 
should make her appearance in their neighbourhood. Matters being thus 
arranged, the writer went on board of the Light-house Yacht, on the 10th, 
accompanied by Mr Thomas Grindlay, master of the Trinity-house of 
Leith, with Mr John Hay, and Mr Thomas Ritchie, Assistant-Masters. 



At 8 a. M. the Pharos got under way in Leith Roads, and sailed for Pharos sails for the 
her station at the Bell Rock, under the command of Mr George Sinclair, 
with a crew of twelve in number. But as she sailed very heavily, the Yacht, 
with her party, did not follow till noon, and about 2 P. M. came up with 
her, and took her in tow, when it came to blow fresh breezes from S W. At 
6, both vessels anchored for the night on the eastern side of the Isle 
of May, as, by continuing our course, we should have reached the Bell 
Rock under night, which was then an object of terror to every seaman, 
and must have been attended with danger, from its then undistinguished 

While the Yacht and Pharos lay at anchor at the Isle of May, Mr Da- 
vid Balfour, Mr Andrew Duncan, Mr David Cargill, Mr John Fleming, 
and Mr William Kidd, as a Committee from Arbroath, having hired a ves- 
sel, left that place in the morning, and hailed the Yacht, soon after she 
came to an anchor, when some of their party joined us on board. As the 
accommodations of the floating light were very ample, having only the 
ship's company on board, it was proposed that the whole party should 
meet in her, and pass the night; but she rolled from side to side, in 
so extraordinary a manner, that even the most sea-hardy of our number 
were content to remain in a state of separation, rather than accept of 
the best birth in the floating light. It was humorously observed of this 
vessel, " that she was in some danger of making a round turn, and 
appearing with her keel uppermost." Another said, " she would roll out 
her masts ;" and a third that she would " even turn a halfpenny, if laid 
upon deck." These, and such like remarks, afforded much pleasantry on 
board of the Light-house Yacht, and were suggested by the manner in 
which the Pharos rolled and yawed about, when compared with the more 
easy motion of the other vessels. Being then in light ballast trim to 
fit her for riding in bad weather, and very flat in the bottom, the smallest 
wave set her in motion, when at anchor ; and when under way, she was 
little better, for she answered the helm with so much difficulty, that a 

Committee from Ar- 
broath join the party. 





large decked Praam-boat, which she had in tow, was upset in the passage 
from Leith. The writer is the more particular on this subject, as the rol- 
ling motion of the floating-light became proverbial in the Light-house 
service, and continued a source of much trouble and uneasiness to all con- 
cerned, especially while she was used as a tender or store-ship for the 

Pharos anchors in a 
temporary birth. 

Early in the morning of the 11th, the vessels left their anchorage at 
the Isle of May, and sailed for the Bell Rock ; but on reaching it, in the 
course of the forenoon, the wind came to the eastward, accompanied with 
thick hazy weather, and drizzling showers of rain, which so completely hid 
the distant landmarks from view, that there was a necessity for ordering the 
Pharos to come to an anchor with her best bower, on the smoothest 
spot of ground that could be found, until a change of weather should ad- 
mit of her being moored in a proper manner. The weather afterwards 
became so foggy that every object was lost sight of. The vessel which 
had brought our friends from Arbroath, put into that harbour in the 
course of the evening, but the Light-house Yacht kept at sea till the 
morning of the 12th, when it came to blow so fresh, that she also went into 
that harbour, to wait a change of weather. On the 14th, it improved, and 
the Yacht again sailed for the Bell Rock. On returning to the floating 
light, we were happy to find that all was well on board, though Mr Sin- 
clair and Mr Webb, the pilot, complained that their anchorage was not 
very good, as the bottom was hard, and the soundings or particles brought up 
with the lead exhibited sharp coral and coarse gravel. After plying about for 
some time with the Yacht, and sounding in every direction, a place was 
at length fixed upon, about a mile and a half in a north-westerly direction 
from the Bell Rock. The Yacht, as before noticed, having on board the 
floating-light's moorings, anchored on the spot most approved of for laying 
them down. 

In laying down her 
Moorings, the whole 
chain goes over- 

Some arrangements having been made among the nautical gentlemen, as 
to the precise mode of going about this operation, it was resolved to suspend 
the mushroom anchor over the gunwale of the Yacht, and before letting it in- 
to the water, to bring the greater part of the chain upon deck, taking the 
precaution to make the further end of it fast to the lower part of the mast, 
in the vessel's hold, with a very strong and perfectly new stopper, or piece 
of rope, measuring 7 inches in circumference. It was not doubted but 
that this strong rope would have held the chain against any strain that 


might have been brought upon it, in the process of letting down the moor- chap. hi. 
ings. But the mushroom-anchor was no sooner let go from the ship's Fioating-Light. 
tackle, than the part of the chain which had been coiled upon deck went 
overboard with such velocity, that it communicated a similar impetus to 
the remainder of the chain in the hold, and the strain coming ultimately 
upon the stopper, snapped through the several parts which fixed the end of 
the chain to the mast, and, consequently, the whole went to the bottom 
with the mushroom-anchor. 

This untoward circumstance greatly disconcerted and embarrassed Moorings recovered 

, . c . in-i-i ii-ii with great difficulty. 

the operations ot mooring the floating-light, as the chain had now 
to be fished or hooked at the bottom, and raised from the depth of 
seventeen fathoms. After many trials, we at length succeeded in hook- 
ing it with a grappling-iron, but as it happened to lay hold only 
a few fathoms from the anchor, it required all the purchase-blocks and 
tackle of the Yacht and Pharos to raise it : for the weight, includ- 
ing the anchor, and so large a portion of the chain, could not be less 
than about three tons. This operation was begun at mid-day, and, al- 
though the united force of the crews of both ships was fully mustered, 
it was not till two o'clock on the following morning, — being a period 
of fourteen hours, — that the moorings were got up, and the Pharos 
brought alongside of the Yacht, to receive the hempen cable, which 
was made fast to the clinch, or great ring, connected with the chain 
moorings. The weather was fortunately the most favourable that could 
have been desired for this operation ; and it is impossible for the writer 
to describe the anxiety and exertions of all on board in getting this mat- 
ter adjusted. Were he to judge by his own feelings, he has no doubt 
that all on board would join in saying, that it was one of the most pain- 
fully laborious days they had spent in the course of their existence. For 
the space of about twenty hours, the crews of both ships had never been off 
deck, and during twelve of these the hand-spike, or the tackle, had not 
been five minutes together out of their hands, as the refreshments which 
they got were served up at the windlass. The same observations are 
literally applicable to the gentlemen of the quarter-deck, who divided their 
attention severally to the different tackles and purchases employed in rais- 
ing the moorings. 

The perplexing and tedious business of mooring the floating-light 
having been happily got over, it was judged necessary to see how she would 
ride at anchor for a time, before advertising the light to the public. The 




chap. m. writer accordingly returned on board in the course of three weeks, and 
Floating-Light. examined the moorings, which were found in good order. The anchorage 
ground was also considered of a very proper description, in so far as ob- 
servations, made during a tract of favourable weather, had afforded the 
means of judging. The vessel lay in an excellent position for the di- 
rection of shipping ; and being at this time only about a mile from the 
Bell Rock, her situation as a hulk or store-ship for the light-house ope- 
rations, was as favourable as the relative position of the rock would ad- 
mit. In this state of things, notice to the following effect was given in 
the newspapers, for the direction of mariners, and along with a copy of the 
notice, a chart or sketch of the opposite coast was sent to the different 

Description of 


" In virtue of an Act of Parliament of the 46th year of Geo. III. chap. 
132. authorising the Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses to erect a 
Light-house on the Bell Rock, to place a floating light there, and to 
collect duties thereupon, — notice is hereby given, that a vessel, fitted out 
for a floating-light, is now moored off the Cape or Bell Rock, situate at 
the entrance of the Friths of Forth and Tay, in North Lat. 56° 27', and 
West Long. 2° 27'. 

" The moorings of the floating-light consist of a mushroom anchor, and 
chain, laid down in 17 fathoms water, the Bell Rock bearing, by com- 
pass, E. S. E. distant one mile ; the Red Head, N. by E. i E. distant 
thirteen miles ; Fifeness, S. W. | W. distant twelve miles ; and the island 
of May S. W. f S. distant seventeen miles. 

" A light from oil, with reflectors, will be exhibited upon the 
night of the 15th day of September 1807, and thereafter every night, 
from the going away of day-light in the evening, till the return of 
day-light in the morning. To distinguish this light from the double 
lights at the entrance of the Frith of Tay, and on the Scares off the 
coast of Northumberland, and also from the single light on the Island of 
May, three distinct lights will be shown from the Bell Rock Floating- 
light, by a lantern hoisted to the top of each mast, which will be visible 
from every point of the compass, at the distance of from two to three 
leagues ; the lanterns on the fore and mizen masts being elevated 23 
feet, and that on the main mast 31 feet, above the vessel's deck ; the 
lights, when seen from either side of the ship, have the appearance of a 
triangle, but if seen end-on, they appear as two lights, the one above the 

OPERATIONS OF 1807. 115 

" This vessel is called the Pharos ; she was formerly a fishing dogger, and chap. iit. 
appears like a ship under jury masts ; during the day-time, a blue flag, with 1807, August. ~ 
a light-house in the field, will be displayed from the main-mast ; and, in 
thick and foggy weather, a bell will be tolled, night and day, on board, with 
an interval of about one minute. 

" Although this vessel has been fitted out in the completest manner, 
and every attention paid to mooring her properly, yet, as all floating-lights 
are liable to break adrift in tempestuous weather, mariners are requested 
not to neglect their landmarks, and to run with caution for the floating- 

" The Pharos being also intended to answer the purpose of a store-ship, 
while the light-house is building on the Bell Rock, it may be found neces- 
sary, in the course of the works, to alter her present station, of which due 
notice will be given." 

Commencement of the Operations on the Bell Rock. 

As the commencement of works of masonry, requiring stones of large 
dimensions, is unavoidably tedious, especially in the collecting of materials, 
we shall at present only notice, that the Light -house Board having re- 
solved on the use partly of granite and partly of sandstone, for the erection 
at the Bell Rock, measures were duly taken for procuring a supply of the 
former from the quarry of Rubeslaw near Aberdeen, and of the latter from 
Mylnefield near Dundee. But, instead of following out this part of our 
subject in its order, we shall first proceed to a detail of the operations afloat, 
as they may be termed, or of the works upon the rock itself, during the 
season of 1807, — particularly of the erection of the principal beams of the 
beacon-house, or temporary residence for the artificers on the rock, and of 
the progress made in the preparation of the foundation or site of the main 

We therefore observe, that a vessel had been built at Leith, in the s1oo p smeaton. 
course of the spring, expressly for the Bell Rock service, to be employed as 
a tender for the floating-light, and as a stone-lighter for the use of the 
work. This vessel was launched in the month of June ; she measured 40 
tons register, was rigged as a sloop, and fitted in all respects in the strongest 
manner, to adapt her as much as possible for the perilous service in which 
she was to be employed. She was called The Smeaton, — a name which the 
writer had great pleasure in suggesting, as a mark of respect for the me- 



chap. in. mory of the celebrated engineer of the Eddystone Light-house, whose nar- 
1807, August. rative was to become a kind of text-book for the Bell Rock operations. 
The Smeaton was ready for sea in the beginning of August, and readied 
Arbroath upon the 5th day of that month. Arbroath being the most con- 
tiguous harbour to the Bell Rock, naturally pointed out itself as the proper 
place for establishing the works, and preparing the materials, before ship^ 
ping them for the rock. The writer had, accordingly, been here for some 
time, making the necessary preparations ; and when the Smeaton arrived, 
he found himself in a condition for commencing the operations, in a syste- 
matic manner, upon the rock itself. 

The Positions of the The floating-light rode in safety at her moorings, and had hitherto been 

Beacon fixed on. supplied with necessaries by the Yacht belonging to the general service of 
the Light-house Board. In this vessel, occasional trips had also been 
made to the rock ; but on the arrival of the Smeaton, the Yacht sailed 
on a voyage, with stores for the use of the Northern Light-houses. In 
these preliminary trips, the writer had fixed, in his own mind, upon the 
parts of the rock most favourable for the position of the light-house, and 
on the south-west of it, he chose the site of the beacon-house, that it might 
be sheltered, in some measure, from the breach of the north-east sea ; and 
by placing them contiguous, or about twenty-five feet apart, they admitted 
of a ready communication with each other in the more advanced stages of 
the work. 

1807, 7th August The Smeaton having got on board necessaries for the floating-light, and 

fiOTsto'theBeii three sets of chain-moorings with mushroom-anchors, and large floating 
buoys, the writer sailed on another preliminary visit to the Bell Rock on 
the 7th day of August, carrying with him Mr Peter Logan, foreman 
builder, and five artificers, selected, on this occasion, from their having been 
somewhat accustomed to the sea ; the writer being aware of the distressing 
trial which the floating-light would necessarily inflict upon landsmen, from 
her rolling motion. Here he remained till the 10th, and as the weather 
was favourable, a landing was effected daily, when the workmen were em- 
ployed in cutting the large sea-weed from the sites of the light-house and 
beacon, which were respectively traced with pick-axes upon the rock. In 
the mean time, the crew of the Smeaton was employed in laying down 
the several sets of moorings within about half a mile of the rock, for the 
conveniency of vessels riding at the buoys by a hawser, instead of letting 
go an anchor, which, in that situation, could seldom have been purchased 


OPERATIONS OF 1807. 117 

or lifted again, as it would constantly have hooked the rocky bottom, a chap. hi. 
disadvantage to which the mushroom anchor, from its figure and con- lw, Apgusi. 
struction, is not liable, as will be understood by examining the diagram 
representing it in Plate X. Fig. 4. The artificers having fortunately ex- 
perienced moderate weather, returned to the work-yard at Arbroath, with 
a good report of their treatment afloat ; when their comrades ashore began 
to feel some anxiety to see a place of which they had heard so much, and 
to change the constant operation with the iron and mallet in the process 
of hewing, for an occasional tide's work on the roek, which they figured 
to themselves as a state of comparative ease and comfort. 

In answer to some advances which had been made on this subject by Rate of Artificers* 

" ' wages fixed on. 

the artificers, the foreman was instructed to select fourteen of the stone-cut- 
ters, who had been accustomed to the use of the pick-axe, and to boring 
or drilling holes with a jumper, after the manner of quarriers, to go off to 
the rock in the course of a few days. When these men, however, came 
to be spoken to more closely, some of them were disposed to hold their 
services rather at a high rate, demanding two guineas per week if they 
were to find their own provisions, and L. 1, 10s. if provisions were found 
to them. But they were informed, that the nominal rate of wages was to 
be L. 1 per week, being the same for those employed at the rock, as for those 
in the work-yard at Arbroath. The artificers at the rock were, in addition, 
to have their provisions, with certain premiums, to be arranged in the fur- 
ther progress of the work, particularly for each tide's work on Sunday, 
which was to be accounted and paid for as a day's work. After a 
good deal of trouble, two or three of the men acceded to the foreman's pro- 
posals, others refused to engage themselves, excepting at the highest rate ; 
while a third party objected only to working on Sunday. In any agreement 
to be entered into, it was held as an express condition, " That every man 
who embarked for the work at the Bell Rock, should remain for the space of 
four weeks, without returning ashore." Those chiefly wanted at this time 
were masons from Aberdeen, who were accustomed to the use of the boring- 
iron and pick, in working granite. Being engaged only from week to 
week in the work-yard, they were desirous of knowing the reason for re- 
maining a month at the rock; when they were informed that it was 
not unlikely some of them might suffer from sea sickness, and wearying 
of confinement on board of ship, might wish to return ashore, which 
would be attended with much inconveniency to the work, by too frequent a 




1807. August. 

change of hands. They were further told, that, by continuing for one month 
afloat, they would, in the course of that time, become so sea-hardy as 
probably to feel no desire to return till the end of the working-season, 
which, at this advanced period, could not last for many weeks. This con- 
dition was considered of importance in the commencement of the work, and 
it was the more readily agreed to, as the writer assured them that he should 
himself remain with them during that period. As one condition, how- 
ever, had been made to the Aberdeen masons, they felt no hesitation in 
proposing another on their own part, and they accordingly handed the fol- 
lowing offer of service, addressed to the foreman, dated 12th August 1807, 
which, from the tenor of the document, we shall here insert. 

Letter from the 
Aberdeen Masons. 

" In consequence of our communing with one another concerning the 
Bell Rock, we hereby agree to stay with you from the above date, till Au- 
gust 1808, being twelve months certain, and to take our turn at whatever 
work may start up concerning the Bell Rock business, — only, it is to be 
understood, that the rest of the masons must take turn and turn about with 
us : the terms of our agreement to be 20s. per week, summer and winter, wet 
and dry, with free quarters ashore, and likewise our victuals when we are at 
the rock. — As for the Sunday's work and premiums, we leave that to the 
honour of our employers. (Signed) William Bonyman, John Bruce, 
John Cruickshanks, Alexander Sherif, John Bonyman, Alexander David- 
son, James Macdonald, Robert Ferres, John Mason, William Chalmers." 

Every thing being arranged for sailing to the rock on Saturday the 
15th, the vessel might have proceeded on the Sunday ; but understanding 
that this would not be so agreeable to the artificers it was deferred until 
Monday. Here we cannot help observing, that the men allotted for the 
operations at the rock seemed to enter upon the undertaking with a de- 
gree of consideration, which fully marked their opinion as to the hazard- 
ous nature of the undertaking on which they were about to enter. They 
went in a body to church on Sunday, and whether it was in the ordinary 
course, or designed for the occasion, the writer is not certain, but the service 
was, in many respects, suitable to their circumstances. Indeed, the Reve- 
rend Mr Gleg, the minister of the parish, was in the constant habit of en- 
quiring after the success and safety of the works. Throughout this day 
the weather was remarkably serene, and the best hopes were entertained of 
a favourable tract of weather, which the inhabitants of Arbroath were dis- 
posed to consider as an omen of good fortune. 

OPERATIONS OF 1807. 119 

The tide happening to fall late in the evening of Monday the 17th, the chap. hi. 
party, counting twenty-four in numher, embarked on board of the Smeaton 1807, August. 
about 1 o'clock p. m., and sailed from Arbroath with a gentle breeze at Twent°y-four Artin- 
west. Our ship's colours having been flying all day in compliment to the R^ k ™ bark for the 
commencement of the work, the other vessels in the harbour also saluted, 
which made a very gay appearance. A number of the friends and acquain- 
tances of those on board having been thus collected, the piers, though at a 
late hour, were perfectly crowded, and just as the Smeaton cleared the har- 
bour, all on board united in giving three hearty cheers, which were re- 
turned by those on shore in such good earnest, that, in the still of the 
evening, the sound must have been heard in all parts of the town, re- 
echoing from the walls and lofty turrets of the venerable Abbey of 
Aberbrothwick. The writer felt much satisfaction at the manner of 
this parting scene ; though he must own, that the present rejoicing 
was, on his part, mingled with occasional reflections upon the respon- 
sibility of his situation, which extended to the safety of all who should 
be engaged in this perilous work. With such sensations he retired to 
his cabin ; but as the artificers were rather inclined to move about the 
deck than to remain in their confined births below, his repose was tran- 
sient, and the vessel being small, every motion was necessarily heard. 
Some who were musically inclined occasionally sung ; but he listened with 
peculiar pleasure to the sailor at the helm, who hummed over Dibdin's 
characteristic air, 

" They say there's a Providence sits up aloft, 
To keep watch for the life of Poor Jack." 

Erection of the Beacon-House. 

The weather had been very gentle all night, and, about four in the 
morning of the 18th, the Smeaton anchored on the spot where it was in- 
tended to lay down an additional set of chain-moorings which she had on 
board. Agreeably to an arranged plan of operations, all hands were called at 
5 o'clock, a. m., just as the highest part of the Bell Rock began to shew its 
sable head among the light breakers, which occasionally whitened with the 
foaming sea. The two boats belonging to the floating-light attended the 
Smeaton, to carry the artificers to the rock, as her boat coidd only accommo- 
date about six or eight sitters. Every one was more eager than his neighbour 
to leap into the boats, and it required a good deal of management on the part 



chap. tii. of the coxswains, to get men unaccustomed to a boat, to take their places for 
1807, August, rowing and at the same time trimming her properly. The landing-master 
and foreman went into one boat, while the writer took charge of another, 
and steered it to and from the rock. This became the more necessary in 
the early stages of the work, as places could not be spared for more than 
two, or at most three seamen to each boat, who were always stationed, 
one at the bow, to use the boat-hook in fending or pushing off, and the 
other at the aftermost oar, to give the proper time in rowing, while the 
middle oars were double banked, and rowed by the artificers. 

Tuesday, 18th. 
Commence work at 

6 A. M. 

As the weather was extremely fine, with light airs of wind from the east, 
we landed without difficulty upon the central part of the rock at half-past 5, 
but the water had not yet sufficiently left it for commencing the work. This 
interval, however, did not pass unoccupied ; the first and last of all the 
principal operations at the Bell Rock were accompanied by three hearty 
cheers from all hands, and, on occasions like the present, the steward of the 
ship attended, when each man was regaled with a glass of rum. As the wa- 
ter left the rock about 6, some began to bore the holes for the great bats or 
holdfasts, for fixing the beams of the Beacon-house, while the smith was 
fully attended in laying out the site of his forge, upon a somewhat sheltered 
spot of the rock, which also recommended itself from the vicinity of a pool of 
water for tempering his irons. These preliminary steps occupied about an 
hour, and as nothing further could be done during this tide towards fixing 
the forge, the workmen gratified their curiosity, by roaming about the rock, 
which they investigated with great eagerness till the tide overflowed it. 
Those who had been sick picked dulse (Fucus palmatus), which they 
ate with much seeming appetite ; others were more intent upon collecting 
limpets for bait, to enjoy the amusement of fishing when they returned on 
board of the vessel. Indeed none came away empty handed, as every thing 
found upon the Bell Bock was considered valuable, being connected with 
some interesting association. Several coins, and numerous bits of shipwrecked 
iron were picked up, of almost every description ; and, in particular, a mark- 
ing-iron lettered James, — a circumstance of which it was thought proper to 
give notice to the public, as it might lead to the knowledge of some un- 
fortunate shipwreck, perhaps unheard of till this simple occurrence led to the 
discovery. When the rock began to be overflowed, the landing-master 
arranged the crews of the respective boats, appointing twelve persons to 
each. According to a rule, which the writer had laid down to himself, he 
was always the last person who left the rock. Another maxim was, to al- 

OPERATIONS OF 1807. 121 

low the landing-master's boat to proceed about twice or three times her own chap hi. 

length a-head of the other boats, that in case of accident he might be ready I807, August. 

to assist ; and when he had thus cleared the rock, he waited till the others 

got out of the respective creeks ; after which they proceeded in company. 

Upon the present occasion, the boats reached the tender about half-past 

8, after havings been two hours upon the rock, and three hours absent 

from the ship. 

In a short time, the Bell Rock was laid completely under water, 
and the weather being extremely fine, the sea was so smooth, that its 
place could not be pointed out from the appearance of the surface, — 
a circumstance which sufficiently demonstrates the dangerous nature of this 
rock, even during the day, and in the smoothest and calmest state of the 
sea. During the interval between the morning and the evening tides, the 
artificers were variously employed in fishing and reading, others were busy 
in drying and adjusting their wet clothes, and one or two amused their 
companions with the violin and German-flute. 

About 7 in the evening the signal bell for landing on the rock was Method of fixing 
again rung, when every man was at his quarters. In this service it was Rock." 
thought more appropriate to use the bell than to* pipe to quarters, as the 
use of this instrument is less known to the mechanic than the sound of 
the bell. The landing, as in the morning, was at the eastern harbour. Dur- 
iug this tide, the sea-weed was pretty well cleared from the site of the opera- 
tions, and also from the tracks leading to the different landing-places ; for 
walking upon the rugged surface of the Bell Rock, when covered with sea- 
weed, was found to be extremely difficult, and even dangerous. Every 
hand that coidd possibly be occupied, was now employed in assisting the 
smith to fit up the apparatus for his forge. The frame-work of iron, form- 
ing the hearth, was now got into its place ; and the four legs which sup- 
ported it were let into holes, bored from six to twelve inches into the rock, 
according to the inequalities of the site : and then firmly wedged, first 
with wood, and then with iron, a method followed in all the operations 
of batting at the Bell Rock, and found greatly preferable to running in 
melted lead. The block of timber for supporting the anvil was fixed in 
the same manner, on which the anvil was simply laid, without any other 
fixture than the small stud, fitted as usual into its seat, depending upon 
the gravity of the mass for preserving its place against the effects of the 
sea. In this state things were left] on the rock at 9 P. M., when jthe boats 



chap. in. returned to the tender, after other two hours work, in the same order as 
~i807, August. formerly, perhaps as much gratified with the success that attended the work 
of this day, as with any other in the whole course of the operations. Al- 
though it could not be said that the fatigues of this day had been great, 
yet all on board retired early to rest. The sea being calm, and no move- 
ment on deck, it was pretty generally remarked in the morning, that the 
bell awakened the greater number on board from their first sleep ; and, 
though this observation was not altogether applicable to the writer himself, 
yet he was not a little pleased to find, that thirty people could all at once 
become so reconciled to a night's quarters within a few hundred paces of the 
Bell Rock. 

Wednesday, 19lh. 

Indications of the 

It was a ride laid down and adhered to by the writer, throughout 
the whole of the Bell Rock v*orks, that, as far as possible, the charge 
should be arranged into departments. It therefore fell to the officer termed 
the Landing-master, who was also master of the Floating-light, to take 
the responsibility of the safe and proper landing of the artificers and ma- 
terials upon the rock. With him, the writer generally arranged the busi- 
ness of the following day ; his crew watched the ebbing of the water, 
and the appearance of the rock, and from the state of the weather, he 
judged of the proper time for causing the signal bell to be rung, when the 
boats were to leave the ship for the rock. It was also a special injunction 
laid upon him to say, from the state of the weather, when it was necessary 
for the boats to leave the rock and return to the tender. 

Being extremely anxious at this time to get forward with fixing the 
smith's forge, on which the progress of the work at present depended, the 
writer requested that he might be called at day-break to learn the land- 
ing-master's opinion of the weather, from the appearance of the rising 
sun, a criterion by which experienced seamen can generally judge pretty 
accurately of the state of the weather for the following day. About 5 o'clock, 
on coming upon deck, the sun's upper limb or disk had just begun to ap- 
pear, as if rising from the ocean ; and in less than a minute he was seen 
in the fullest splendour ; but after a short interval he was enveloped in 
a soft cloudy sky, which was considered emblematical of fine weather. 
His rays had not yet sufficiently dispelled the clouds which hid the land 
from view, and the Bell Rock being still overflowed, the whole was one ex- 
panse of water. This scene in itself was highly gratifying ; and when the 
morning bell was tolled, we were gratified with the happy forebodings of 

OPERATIONS OF 1807- ]23 

good weather, and the expectation of having hoth a morning and an evening chap. hi. 
tide's work on the rock. 1807, August. 

The hoats left the ship at a quarter before 7 this morning, and land- Wednesday, 19th. 
ed upon the rock at 7. The water had gone off the rock sooner than 
was expected, for, as yet, the seamen were but imperfectly acquainted 
with its periodic appearance, and the landing-master being rather late with 
his signal this morning, the artificers were enabled to proceed to work with- 
out a moment's delay. The boat which the writer steered happened to be 
the last which approached the rock at this tide ; and, in standing up in the 
stern, while at some distance, to see how the leading boat entered the creek, 
he was astonished to observe something in the form of a human figure, in a 
reclining posture, upon one of the ledges of the rock : he immediately steered 
the boat through a narrow entrance to the eastern harbour, with a thou- 
sand unpleasant sensations in his mind. He thought a vessel or boat must 
have been wrecked upon the rock during the night ; and it seemed probable 
that the rock might be strewed with dead bodies, a spectacle which could 
not fail to deter the artificers from returning so freely to their work. Even 
one individual found in this situation, would naturally cast a damp upon their 
minds, and, at all events, make them much more timid in their future opera- 
tions. In the midst of these reveries, the boat took the ground at an im- 
proper landing place ; but, without waiting to push her off, he leapt upon the 
rock, and making his way hastily to the spot which had privately given him 
alarm, he had the satisfaction to ascertain, that he had only been deceived 
by the peculiar situation and aspect of the smith's anvil and block, which 
very completely represented the appearance of a lifeless body upon the rock. 
The writer carefully suppressed his feelings, the simple mention of which 
might have had a bad effect upon the artificers, and his haste passed for an 
anxiety to examine the apparatus of the smith's forge, left in an unfinish- 
ed state at the evening tide. 

After an excellent tide's work of three hours at the forge, and boring Dangerous situation 
the bat-holes for fixing the Beacon-house, we again took to our boats, 
and left the rock at 10 o'clock, the one boat preceding and waiting for 
the other till it cleared the rock, as formerly. In the course of this 
morning's work, two or three apparently distant peals of thunder were heard, 
and the atmosphere suddenly became thick and foggy. But as the Smeaton, 
our present tender, was moored at no great distance from the rock, the crew 
on board continued blowing with a horn, and occasionally fired a musket, 

Q 2 



1807, August. 


so that the boats got to the ship without difficulty. The occurrence of 
thick weather, however, became a serious consideration, in looking for- 
ward to the necessary change of quarters to the Pharos, distant about one 
mile from the rock, instead of a few hundred yards, as in the case of the 

Artificers amuse 
themselves with 


The continuation of the thick and foggy weather was transient, being 
what seamen term an easterly hoar, arising from the heat of the wea- 
ther, which disappeared soon after mid-day. The weather being clear in 
the evening, the boats landed again at half-past 6 o'clock, when the arti- 
ficers were employed for two hours, as in the morning, and returned again 
to the ship about a quarter past 8. The remainder of the day-light 
was eagerly spent in catching fish, which were got, at this time, in great 
abundance, both alongside of the vessel and in the boats at a distance ; 
and in the course of an hour about five dozen of codlings were caught, 
which not only afforded an agreeable relaxation, but afforded a plentiful 
dish of fish for the different messes on board. 

Thursday, 20th. 
Complete the fixing 
of the smith's for^e. 

Valuable services of 
the smith at the Bell 

The wind this morning inclined from the north-east, and the sky had 
a heavy and cloudy appearance, but the sea was smooth, though there was 
an undulating motion on the surface, which indicated easterly winds, and 
occasioned a slight surf upon the rock. But the boats found no difficulty 
in landing at the western creek at half-past 7, and, after a good tide's 
work, left it again about a quarter from 11. In the evening the arti- 
ficers landed at half-past 7, and continued till half-past 8, having com- 
pleted the fixing of the smith's forge, his vice, and a wooden board or 
bench, which were also batted to a ledge of the rock, to the great joy of 
all, under a salute of three hearty cheers. From an oversight on the part 
of the smith, who had neglected to bring his tinder-box and matches from 
the vessel, the work was prevented from being continued for at least an 
hour longer. 

It may here be proper to notice, that although a considerable quantity 
of jumpers or boring-irons, picks, and other quarry-tools, had been brought, 
in good order, for the use of the work ; yet, from the extent of work 
in preparing the foundations, together with the hard and compact nature 
of the sandstone, of which the Bell Rock is composed, the tools soon 
became blunt, and the work must have often been completely at a stand, 
had it not been for the conveniency of having a smith and his forge so 



near at hand. The writer doubts not that his readers may be at a loss 
to account for the operation of the bellows and other apparatus upon a 
sunken rock, and it may therefore be necessary, in the accompanying de- 
scription of the plates of this work, to give some explanation of this arcanum 
of Vulcan, on which the work had so great a dependence. The smith's 
shop, represented in Plate XI. was of course in open space : the large 
bellows were carried to and from the rock every tide, for the serviceable 
condition of which, together with the tinder-box, fuel and embers of the 
former fire, the smith was held responsible. Those who have been placed in 
situations to feel the inconveniency and want of this useful artizan, will be 
able to appreciate his value in a case like the present. Mr Smeaton often 
felt the want of a forge permanently upon the rock, and had the founda- 
tion of the Eddystone Light-house required more extensive preparations, 
this useful implement could hardly have been dispensed with ; but the 
Eddystone rock was so small as hardly to have room for it, in addition to 
other no less necessary apparatus. Could the operations of the black- 
smith, at the Bell Rock, have been continued, from the commencement of 
the operations, even for half an hour longer every tide than the pickmen or 
quarriers, it would have added much to the facilities and progress of the 
work. But a stage or platform, in that case, must have been erected, to 
which there were a number of intervening obstacles, that more than 
counter-balanced the temporary inconveniency felt from the want of this 
additional time. It often happened, to our annoyance and disappoint- 
ment, in the early state of the work, when the smith was in the mid- 
dle of a favourite heat, in making some useful article, or in sharpening the 
tools, after the flood-tide had obliged the pickmen to strike work, a sea 
would come rolling over the rocks, dash out the fire, and endanger his 
indispensable implement the bellows ; or if the sea was smooth, while the 
smith often- stood at work knee-deep in water, the tide rose by impercep- 
tible degrees, first cooling the exterior of the fire-place, or hearth, and then 
quietly blackening and extinguishing the fire from below. The writer has 
frequently been amused at the perplexing anxiety of the blacksmith, when 
coaxing his fire, and endeavouring to avert the effects of the rising tide. 
In this state of things, the erection of the Beacon was looked forward to 
as a happy period, when the smith should be removed above the reach 
of the highest tides. 


1807, August. 

Much wanted at the 

The weather still continued to be very fine ; though the winds were 
variable, they rather prevailed from the eastward, and were occasionally ac- 

Friday, 21st. 




1807, August. 

Seals desert the Bell 

coinpanied with a hazy atmosphere, inclining to fog. The boats landed to- 
day upon the rock at half-past 7 o'clock a. m., and left it at a quarter past 
11, the artificers having had an excellent tide's work of three hours and 
three-quarters. Every thing connected with the forge being now completed, 
the artificers found no want of sharp tools, and the work went forward 
with great alacrity and spirit. It was also alleged that the rock had 
a more habitable appearance, from the volumes of smoke which ascended 
from the smith's shop ; and the busy noise of his anvil ; the operations of 
the masons ; the movements of the boats, and shipping at a distance, all 
contributed to give life and activity to the scene. This noise and traf- 
fic had, however, the effect of almost completely banishing the herd of 
seals which had hitherto frequented the rock as a resting place, during the 
period of low water. Though these animals were thus prevented from re- 
posing upon the higher parts of the rock, yet they ventured, for a time, to 
lie upon the more detached outlayers which dry partially : here they seemed 
to look with that sort of curiosity which is observable in these animals when 
following a boat. But after the smith established himself, it was rare to 
see more than one or two of these amphibious animals about the rock, 
which seemed to be peculiarly adapted to their habits; for, excepting 
two or three days at neap tides, a part of it always dries at low water, at 
least during the summer season ; and as there was good fishing ground in the 
neighbourhood, without a human being to disturb or molest them, it had 
become a very favourite residence of the seal, if we may judge from their 
numbers, the writer having occasionally counted from fifty to sixty of these 
animals playing about the rock at a time. But when they came to be 
disturbed every tide, and their seclusion was broke in upon by the kind- 
ling of great fires, together, with the beating of hammers and picks dur- 
ing low water, after hovering about for a time, they changed their place, 
and seldom more than one or two were to be seen about the rock. The 
writer felt a desire to protect these animals, with a view to observe their 
habits, and in hopes of taming them, at least so far as he had observed was 
done at the Small's Light-house, off the coast of Pembrokeshire, another 
favourite resort of seals, where, by gentle treatment, they have become so 
tame and familiar as to eat bread out of the hands of the light-keepers. 
But here, indeed, they constantly find a resting place, as some of the 
Small's rocks are always above water. 

Pro ess of the work We had now been six days out from Arbroath, and, in that time, had 
the good fortune to have seven successive tides' work upon the rock, during 

OPERATIONS OF 1807. 127 

which, the smith's forge had been fixed, and twelve holes of 2 inches in chap, hi, 
diameter and 18 inches in depth, had been bored or drilled into the rock, 1807, August. " 
in the process of excavating the bat or stanchion-holes for fixing the princi- 
pal beams of the Beacon-house. Hitherto the artificers had remained on 
board of the Smeaton, which was made fast to one of the mooring buoys, at 
the distance only of about a quarter of a mile from the rock, and of course 
a very great conveniency to the work. Being so near, the seamen could 
never be mistaken cs to the progress of the tide, or state of the sea upon the 
rock, nor could the boats be much at a loss to pull on board of the vessel 
during fog, or even in very rough weather ; as she could be cast loose 
from her moorings at pleasure, and brought to the lee side of the rock. 
But the Smeaton being only about forty register tons, her accommodations 
were extremely limited. It may, therefore, be easily imagined, that an ad- Hampered state of 
dition of twenty-four persons to her own crew, must have rendered the 
situation of those on board rather uncomfortable. This vessel served as a 
tender only in fine weather, with the assistance of the boats of the floating- 
light, for she could not stow boats sufficiently large for attending the rock 
with such a complement of artificers. The only place for the men's ham- 
mocks on board being in the hold, they were unavoidably much crowded ; 
and if the weather had required the hatches to be fastened down, so great 
a number of men could not possibly have been accommodated. To add to 
this evil, the co-boose or cooking place being upon deck, it would not 
have been possible to have cooked for so large a company in the event of 
bad weather. 

The stock of water was now getting short, and some necessaries being 
also wanted for the floating-light, the Smeaton was dispatched for Ar- 
broath ; and the writer with the artificers, at the same time, shifted their 
quarters from her to the floating-light. 

The operations still continued to be favoured with pleasant weather ; Saturday, 226. 
to-day there were light airs of wind from south-east, and the morning bell the "pharos""" ten- 
was rung at 6. Although the rock barely made its appearance at this period 
of the tides till 8 o'clock, yet, having now a fidl mile to row from the 
floating-light to the rock, instead of about a quarter of a mile from the moor- 
ings of the Smeaton, it was necessary to be earlier astir, and to form different 
arrangements ; breakfast was accordingly served up at 7 o'clock this morn- 
ing. From the excessive motion of the floating-light, the writer had looked 
forward rather with anxiety to the removal of the workmen to this ship. 
Some among them, who had been congratulating themselves upon having 



chap. in. become sea-hardy while on board of the Smeaton, had a complete relapse on 
1907, August returning to the floating-light. This was also the case with the writer. 
From the spacious and convenient birthage of the floating-light, the ex- 
change to the artificers was, in this respect, much for the better. The 
boats were also commodious, measuring sixteen feet in length on the keel, 
so that, in fine weather, their complement of sitters was sixteen persons 
for each, with which, however, they were rather crowded, but she could not 
stow two boats of larger dimensions. When there was what is called a 
breeze of wind, and a swell in the sea, the proper number for each boat 
could not, with propriety, be rated at more than twelve persons. 

The act of getting into or out of a boat, when alongside of the float- 
ing-light, was at all times attended with more or less difficulty ; her rolling 
motion was so great, that the gunwale, though about five feet above the 
surface of the water, she dipped nearly into it, upon the one side, while her 
keel could not be far from the surface on the other. This was her state, 
even in moderate weather, in certain directions of the wind, especially for 
the period of about an hour, when she was thwarting to the tide, or rode 
in what sailors call the trough of the sea. The act of getting on board 
was then attended with great difficulty, even to seamen, and was parti- 
cularly so to landmen, requiring all the attention which the landing-master 
could bestow, in getting the artificers safely transferred from the boats to 
the ship, and vice versa. 

Difficulty of getting When the tide-bell rung, the boats were hoisted out, and two active 

on board and leaving i i i i £ • • t 

the pharos. seamen were employed to keep them trom receiving damage alongside 

The floating-light being very buoyant, was so quick in her motions, that 
when those who were about to step from her gunwale into a boat, placed 
themselves upon a cleat or step on the ship's side, with the man or rail 
ropes in their hands, they had often to wait for some time, till a favourable 
opportunity occurred for stepping into the boat. While in this situation, 
with the vessel rolling from side to side, watching the proper time for let- 
ting go the man-ropes, it required the greatest dexterity and presence of 
mind to leap into the boat. One who was rather awkward, would often 
wait a considerable period in this position : at one time his side of the ship 
would be so depressed, that he would touch the boat to which he belonged, 
while the next sea would elevate him so much, that he would see his comrades 
in the boat on the opposite side of the ship, his friends in the one boat 
calling to him to " Jump," while those in the boat on the other side, as 
he came again and again into their view, would jocosely say, " Are you 

OPERATIONS OF 1807. 129 

" there yet ? You seem to enjoy a swing." In this situation it was com- chap. hi. 

mon to see a person, upon each side of the ship, for a length of time, waiting 1807, August. 

to quit his hold. A stranger to this sort of motion was both alarmed 

for the safety, and delighted with the agility of persons leaping into the 

boat, under those perilous circumstances. No sooner had one quitted his 

station on the gunwale, than another occupied his place, until the whole 

were safely shipped. 

It also formed a critical operation with the sailors to keep the Difficulty of keeping 
boats at a convenient distance from the vessel, to guard against being 
too far off; as, in that case, the man, in the act of stepping off the 
ship's side, might have been in danger of falling into the sea. If, on the 
other hand, the boat was allowed to come in contact with the vessel, she 
would have been in danger of being staved or damaged. This state 
of things was fortunately not what we had to commence with, as the 
weather happened to be, as before noticed, serene, and the Smeaton's 
sides were comparatively low in the water. The excessive rolling of the 
Pharos did not therefore come upon the artificers all at once, otherwise 
some unpleasant accidents must have happened, for in these rolling opera- 
tions, if a stranger had, in a moment of alarm, let go his hold, at an im- 
proper time, he must have been pitched with violence into the sea. 

The party being seated in their respective boats, they were pulled 
to the Bell Rock in about twenty minutes, from the moorings of the 
Pharos, when the water was smooth and the wind moderate. This 
morning the boats reached the rock at 8 o'clock ; the work commen- 
ced exactly at a quarter past 8, and at half-past 11, the water again began 
to overflow the parts on which the artificers were at work. Every tide 
now gave the writer more pleasant prospects of the progress of the work 
than another, especially since the erection of the smith's forge. 

On leaving the rock to-day, a trial of seamanship was proposed amongst Artificers become ex. 
the rowers, for by this time the artificers had become tolerably expert in this pen rowers ' 
exercise. By inadvertency, some of the oars provided had been made 
of fir instead of ash, and although a considerable stock had been laid 
in, the workmen, being at first awkward in the art, were constantly 
breaking their oars ; indeed, it was no uncommon thing to see the 
broken blades of a pair of oars floating astern, in the course of a passage 
from the rock to the vessel. The men, upon the whole, had but little 





1807, August. 

Rations of artificers. 

work to perform in the course of a day ; for though they exerted 
themselves extremely hard while on the rock, yet, in the early state 
of the operations, this coidd not be continued for more than three or 
four hours at a time, and as their rations were large, consisting of one 
pound and a half of beef, — one pound of ship-biscuit, — eight ounces oat- 
meal, — two ounces barley, — two ounces butter, — three quarts of beer, — 
with vegetables and salt, they got into excellent spirits, when free 
of sea-sickness. The rowing of the boats against each other became a 
favourite amusement ; which was rather a fortunate circumstance, as it 
must have been attended with much inconvenience, had it been found 
necessary to employ a sufficient number of sailors for this purpose. 
The writer, therefore, encouraged this spirit of emulation, and the speed 
of their respective boats became a favourite topic. Premiums for boat 
races were also instituted, which were contended for with great eagerness, 
and the respective crews kept their stations in the boats, with as much pre- 
cision as they kept their beds on board of the ship. With these, and other 
pastimes, when the weather was favourable, the time passed away, among 
the inmates of the fore-castle and waist of the ship. The writer looks 
back with interest upon the hours of solitude which he spent in this lonely 
ship, with his small library. 

" Saturday night at 

This being the first Saturday that the artificers were afloat, all hands 
were served with a glass of rum and water at night, to drink the sailors 
favourite toast of " Wives and Sweethearts." It was customary, upon these 
occasions, for the seamen and artificers to collect in the galley, when the 
musical instruments were put in requisition ; for, according to invariable prac- 
tice, every man must play a tune, sing a song, or tell a story. In this man- 
ner Saturday night, in particular, passed away in a very happy manner, when 
much boisterous mirth and loud peals of laughter occasionally broke forth. It 
is true, that this could not proceed from a single glass, but every man sat 
down with a determination to be pleased. They had, besides, a pretty 
liberal allowance of good small beer, which the rations of the sick increas- 
ed ; and they contrived to make the glass go round, and seemed to feel no 
want whatever, while the ship kept from her excessive rolling motion. 

Sunday, 23d. The operations at the Bell Rock were still fortunate with regard to the 

weather. The morning of Sunday set in with light airs from the south-west, 
which, towards mid-day, came to what sailors term fresh breezes, but to- 
wards evening it fell calm, and the weather became foggy. 

OPERATIONS OF 1807. 131 

To some, it may require an apology, or, at least, call for an explanation, chap. hi. 
why the writer took upon himself to step aside from the established rides of i807, August, 
society, by carrying on the works of this undertaking during Sundays, n^"^"^™"" 
Such practices are not uncommon in the dock-yards and arsenals, when it is Sunda y- 
conceived that the public service requires extraordinary exertions. Surely, 
if, under any circumstances, it is allowable to go about the ordinary labours 
of mankind on Sundays, that of the erection of a light-house upon the Bell 
Rock, seems to be one of the most pressing calls which coidd in any case 
occur, and carries along with it the imperious language of necessity. 
AVhen we take into consideration, that, in its effects, this work was to 
operate in a direct manner for the safety of many valuable lives and much 
property, the beautiful and simple parables of the Holy Scriptures, in- 
culcating works of necessity and mercy, must present themselves to every 
mind unbiassed by the trammels of form or the influence of a dis- 
torted imagination. In this perilous work, to give up every seventh 
day, would just have been to protract the time a seventh part. Now, 
as it was generally supposed, after taking all advantages into view, that 
the work would probably require seven years for its execution, such an 
arrangement must have extended the operation to at least eight years, 
and have exposed it to additional risk and danger, in all its stages. The 
writer, therefore, felt little scruple in continuing the Bell Rock works in 
all favourable states of the weather. 

Having, on the previous evening, arranged matters with the landing-mas- Preparations for 
ter as to the business of the day, the signal was rung for all hands at half ^'" g prayers ° n 
past 7 this morning. In the early state of the spring-tides, the artifi- 
cers went to the rock before breakfast, but as the tides fell later in the day, 
it became necessary to take this meal before leaving the ship. At 8 
o'clock all hands were assembled on the quarter-deck for prayers, a solemnity 
which was gone through in as orderly a manner as circumstances would ad- 
mit. Round the quarter-deck, when the weather permitted, the flags of the 
ship were hung up as an awning or screen, forming the quarter-deck into a 
distinct compartment with colours; the pendant was also hoisted at the main- 
mast, and a large ensign flag was displayed over the stern ; and; lastly, 
the ship's companion, or top of the staircase, was covered with the flag 
proper of the Light-house Service, on which the Bible was laid. A par- 
ticular toll of the bell called all hands to the quarter-deck, when the writer 
read a chapter of the Bible, and, the whole ship's company being uncover- 
ed, he also read the following impressive prayer, composed by the Reverend 
Dr Brunton, one of the ministers of Edinburgh. R 2 



1807, August. j[ Prayer for the use of those Employed at the Erection of the Bell 

Rock Light-House. 

" Almighty and ever blessed God ! Thou art not confined to temples 
made with man's hands : The temple most acceptable to thee is the heart 
of thy worshipper : Thou hast promised, that wherever thy servants are 
assembled, thou wilt be with them, to bless them and to do them good. 
Unto us, O our Father ! may the promise be fulfilled. Even here, where 
no temple invites, and where no ordinances cheer us, be with us, we be- 
seech thee, while we meet in thy presence ; and strengthen us to discharge 
the duties of thy holy day. 

" The Sabbath was appointed to celebrate thy creating power : And here, 
where the magnificence of thy works surrounds us, — where we see thy won- 
ders in the deep, — where we behold every morning thy Sun arise from the 
world of waters, to spread, as at the first, light and beauty over Nature, 
— shall not our souls pour forth abundantly the tribute of adoration to 
thee, whose word alone spake the Universe into being ! 

" The Sabbath commemorates that Providence which watcheth continu- 
ally over the works of thy hand : And shall not we, whom dangers so often 
threaten, and whom difficulties so often alarm ; shall not we, conscious of 
our frailty, and removed far from human aid ; shall not we raise the voice 
of thanksgiving to God, who alone protecteth us, and who, even in the 
midst of danger, causeth us to dwell in safety ! 

" The Sabbath was appointed to commemorate the triumphs of redeeming- 
love : And shall not we hail it with delight, whose earliest infancy was 
hallowed in the name of Jesus ; on whose opening minds the doctrines of 
his faith were poured ; who, even in this remote abode, are permitted to 
call upon thy holy name in prayer, — to read the Oracles of everlasting 
truth, — to speak one to another of the God who hath loved and blessed 
us ! 

" Our souls do magnify the Lord, our spirits rejoice in God our Saviour • 
for he that is mighty hath done great things for his people, and his mercy 
is on them that fear him. We bless thee for the doctrines which our 
Master taught, — for the example which he set before us, — for the atone- 
ment by which he relieves us from the load of guilt, — for the hope which 
he hath restored of grace and glory. We bless thee for the institutions 
which thou hast appointed for enlightening thy people in religious know- 
ledge, and for training them to lives of usefulness and purity. With 

OPERATIONS OF 1807- 133 

shame we remember how often we have abused our Christian privileges, — chap. hi. 

how often we have neglected the exercises of private devotion, — how often 1807, August. 

we have failed to study thy holy word, — how often, while yet it was in our 

power to go up to the house of God, we have forsaken the assembling of 

ourselves together, — how often we have worshipped thee with our lips, 

while our hearts were far from thee. Visit us not, O God ! in anger, for 

our transgression ; but do thou enable us to lament and forsake it. Let 

not the circumstances in which we now are placed, be permitted to wean 

our affections from thy worship. But, while the service of humanity calls 

us tc labour even on this day of rest, save us, — O thou, who wilt have 

mercy and not sacrifice ! — save us from the temptation which might lead 

us to forget our God, and the duties which we owe to him. Rather, while 

we are deprived of thine ordinances for a season, do thou give us grace, 

through prayer and holy meditation, to compensate the loss ; that we may, 

with delight, look forward to the time when the courts of thy sanctuary 

shall be opened to us again ; when we, and those whom we love and value, 

shall again take sweet counsel together, and walk in company to the house 

of God. Give to us, even now, O God of our salvation ! those pious 

and holy dispositions which will prepare us for the nobler worship, offered 

to thee by the Angels of Heaven, and by the Spirits of just men made 


" We pray to our common Father in behalf of all mankind. May the 
day-spring from on high arise on those who now sit in darkness ; and, 
where the light of the Gospel already shines, may its influences be felt re- 
viving and purifying. 

" We pray especially for our native land ; — for her peace, — her prospe- 
rity, — her liberties, — and her honour. We pray for our king, and for all 
who are in authority over us. We pray particularly for those by whose 
command we are engaged in this arduous work. Bless them in their per- 
sons, in their families, and in the discharge of their official duty, Pros- 
per, we beseech thee, the work itself in which we are engaged. May it 
remain long after our eyes have ceased to behold it. Long after our ashes 
are cold in the dust, may he that was ready to perish have cause to bless 
the memory of those by whom it was reared. 

" We pray for the people of our land. Purify them unto thyself a pe- 
culiar people, zealous of good works : Bless them in their commerce, and 
in their harvests : Bless them in the pursuits of honest industry : Bless 
them in the relations of domestic life : Bless them, above all, with spiritual 
blessings in Christ Jesus. 



chap. m. " May the sons and daughters of affliction be enabled to profit by the 

1807, August. bitter lesson with which thou hast seen it meet to visit them. Restore the 

sick to usefulness, or prepare the dying for judgment and eternity. May 

the living lay it to heart that they must die, and act as it becometh those 

who know not how soon they shall be called hence. 

" Our friends and families, from whom we are separated for a time, we 
commit to thy protection, O God of love ! Unspeakably precious is the 
thought, that thou carest for them, — that thine eye is upon them continu- 
ally, — and thine everlasting arms around them. Grant that, in thy good 
time, we may meet them in peace ; — Grant that we may be united hereaf- 
ter in that land where separation and pain are unknown for ever. 

" Our enemies we beseech thee to forgive and bless. Bless us, even us 
also, O our Father! Give us thy grace in every season of trial; — give us 
thy protection in every hour of danger. Prepare us for the dispensations 
of thy Providence ; — prepare us for the discharge of duty ; — prepare us for 
the inheritance of the just. 

" And may grace, and mercy, and peace, from the Father, the Son, 
and the Holy Ghost, be with us for ever." 

Some of the artificers 
decline working on 

Upon concluding this service, which was attended with becoming reve- 
rence and attention, all on board retired to their respective births to break- 
fast, and, at half-past 9, the bell again rung for the artificers to take 
their stations in their respective boats. Some demur having been evinced on 
board, about the propriety of working on Sunday, which had hitherto been 
touched upon as delicately as possible, all hands being called aft, the writer, 
from the quarter deck, stated generally the nature of the service, expressing 
his hopes that every man would feel himself called upon to consider the erec- 
tion of a light-house on the Bell Rock, in every point of view, as a work of 
necessity and mercy. He knew that scruples had existed with some, and 
these had, indeed, been fairly and candidly urged before leaving the shore ; 
but it was expected, that, after having seen the critical nature of the 
rock, and the necessity of the measure, every man would now be satisfied 
of the propriety of embracing all opportunities of landing on the rock, 
when the state of the weather wordd permit ; and, in short, of exerting every 
effort in this as a common cause, at least until the Beacon should be erected, 
being an undertaking, on which the lives and safety of all connected with 
these works had a constant dependence. The writer, farther, took them 
to witness, that it did not proceed from want of respect for the appoint- 
ments and established forms of religion that he had himself adopted the 


resolution of attending the Bell Rock works on the Sunday ; but, as he 
hoped, from a conviction that it was his bounden duty, on the strictest 
principles of morality. At the same time it was intimated, that if any 
were of a different opinion, they should be perfectly at liberty to hold 
their sentiments, without the imputation of contumacy or disobedience ; 
the only difference would be in regard to the pay. 

Upon stating this much, he stepped into his boat, requesting all 
who were so disposed to follow him. The sailors, from their habits, found no 
scruple on this subject, and all of the artificers, though a little tardy, also 
embarked, excepting four of the masons, who, from the beginning, men- 
tioned that they would decline working on Sundays. The boats reached 
the rock at a quarter past 10 o'clock a. m., and after a very active tide's 
work of two hours and a half, the water again overflowed the rock. It 
may here be noticed, that throughout the whole of the operations, it 
was observable that the men wrought, if possible, with more keenness 
upon the Sundays than at other times, from an impression that they 
were engaged in a work of imperious necessity, which required every pos- 
sible exertion. On returning to the floating-light, after finishing the 
tide's work, the boats were received by the part of the ship's crew left on 
board, with the usual attention of handing ropes to the boats, and helping 
the artificers on board ; but the four masons who had absented themselves 
from the work did not appear upon deck. 



1807, August. 

As the season advanced, the period of low water occurred later, and the Additional pay on 
writer did not consider it advisable, in the present state of the works, to 
land on the rock under night, there being nothing to mark its place prior to 
the erection of the Beacon. Under more favourable circumstances, he 
would willingly have landed this evening, to entitle the artificers who 
accompanied him in the morning, to additional wages, as every tide's work 
on Sunday counted a day, according to the rate of pay and premiums which 
he had laid down. 

The weather, upon the whole, was very fine to-day, and the winds, Monday, 24th. 
though variable, were gentle ; but from the mildness of the season, it ^sCo^ing km*.' 
got rather foggy towards the evening. The boats left the floating- ^p ■« wa '«. 
light at a quarter past 9 o'clock this morning, and the work began 
at three-quarters past 9 ; but as the neap tides were approaching, the 
working-time at the rock became gradually shorter, and it was now with dif- 
ficulty that two and a half hours work could be got. But, so keenly had 



1807, August. 

Operations entirely 
confined to the 

Description of the 
operation of boring 
the rock. 


the workmen entered into the spirit of the Beacon-house operations, that 
they continued to bore the holes in the rock till some of them were knee 
deep in water. In this work the sailors were also engaged, taking their 
turns at the boring and other works. 

The operations at this time, were entirely directed to the erection of the 
beacon, in which every man felt an equal interest, as at this critical period 
the slightest casualty to any of the boats at the rock might have been fatal 
to himself individually, while it was perhaps peculiar to the writer more 
immediately to feel for the safety of the whole. Each log or upright 
beam of the beacon, was to be fixed to the rock by two strong and massive 
bats or stanchions of iron, of a construction which will be better under- 
stood by inspecting the diagrams on Plate VIII., and the accompanying 
description. These bats, for the fixture of the principal and diagonal beams 
and bracing-chains, required fifty-four holes, each measuring two inches 
in diameter, and eighteen inches in depth. The operation of boring or 
drilling these deep holes in the rock, was conducted with great dex- 
terity in the following manner : Three men were attached to each 
jumper or chisel ; one placed himself in a sitting posture, to guide the in- 
strument and give it a turn at each blow of the hammer ; he also sponged or 
cleaned out the hole, and supplied it occasionally with a little water ; while 
the other two, with hammers of sixteen pounds weight, struck the jumper 
alternately, generally bringing the hammer with a swing round the shoul- 
der, after the manner of blacksmiths' work. The three men relieved each 
other in the operation of guiding the jumper and striking with the 
hammers. The forms of the jumper, hammer, and sponging-rod, are repre- 
sented in Plate X., Figs. 7, 8, and 9- After many observations, as to the 
time occupied in boring these holes, the writer found that, when the 
tools were of a very good temper, they could be sunk at the rate of one 
inch per minute, including stoppages. The holes for the stanchions, when 
completed, measured seven inches in length, two inches in breadth, and 
eighteen inches in depth. After a jumper had been sunk to the neces- 
sary depth at each end of these holes, the most tedious part of the opera- 
tion was to cut out the piece of rock which remained between the two jum- 
per-holes, so as to clear it fully for the reception of the great iron stan- 
chions, which were of a dove-tail form. 

Progress of the work. There had already been so considerable a progress made in boring and 
excavating these holes, that the writer's hopes of getting the beacon erected 


this year, began to be more and more confirmed, although it was now ad- 
vancing towards what was considered the latter end of the proper work- 
ing season at the Bell Rock. The foreman joiner, Mr Francis Watt, 
was accordingly appointed to attend at the rock to-day, when the necessary 
levels were taken for the step or seat of each particular beam of the beacon, 
that they might be cut to their respective lengths, to suit the inequa- 
lities of the rock ; several of the stanchions were also tried into their 
places, and other necessary observations made, to prevent mistakes on the 
application of the apparatus, and to facilitate the operations, when the 
beams came to be set up, which would require to be done in the course of 
a single tide. 



1807, August. 

We had now experienced an almost unvaried tract of light airs of east- 
erly wind, with clear weather in the fore-part of the day, and fog in the 
evenings. To-day, however, it sensibly changed ; when the wind came 
to the south-west, and blew a fresh breeze. At 9 a. m. the bell runs, 
and the boats were hoisted out, and though the artificers were now pretty 
well accustomed to tripping up and down the sides of the floating-light, 
yet it required more seamanship this morning than usual. It therefore af- 
forded some merriment to those who had got fairly seated in their respective 
boats, to see the difficulties which attended their companions, from the 
hesitating manner in which they quitted hold of the man-ropes in leaving 
the ship. As it blew pretty fresh, the passage to the rock was tedious, 
and the boats did not reach it till half-past 10. By working upon the 
higher parts of the site of the beacon 1^ hours work was got, though 
not without difficulty, and the men left off at a quarter past 12 noon, 
completely drenched in water. 

Tuesday 25th. 

The masons and pickmen were employed in boring the bat-holes, and d fficuit situation of 
in dressing and preparing the rock between the holes, at the places on which the Smith " 
the beams of the beacon-house were to rest. It being now the period of 
neap-tides, the water only partially left the rock, and some of the men, 
who were boring on the lower ledges of the site of the beacon, stood 
knee-deep in water. The situation of the smith to-day was particularly 
disagreeable, but his services were at all times indispensable. As the 
tide did not leave the site of the forge, he stood in the water, and as there 
was some roughness on the surface, it was with considerable difficulty 
that, with the assistance of the sailors, he was enabled to preserve alive 
his fire ; and, while his feet were immersed in water, his face was not only 



chap. in. scorched, but continually exposed to volumes of smoke, accompanied with 
1807, August. sparks from the fire, which were occasionally set up, owing to the strength 
and direction of the wind. 

Wednesday, 26th. 
Wind-gauge, and no 
menclature for the 
winds much wanted- 

Difficult passage 
from the Rock to the 

The wind had shifted this morning to N. NW. with rain, and was blowing 
what sailors call a fresh breeze, — for as yet a correct and efficient wind-gauge 
remains a desideratum with the mechanical philosopher; and we have unfor- 
tunately'no proper or satisfactory nomenclature for expressing the force of the 
wind. To speak, perhaps, somewhat intelligibly to the general reader, the 
wind was such, that a fishing-boat could just carry full sail. The weather did 
not look very favourable in the morning; but as it was of importance, especial- 
ly in the outset of the business, to keep up the spirit of enterprise for landing 
on all practicable occasions, the writer, after consulting with the landing- 
master, ordered the bell to be rung for embarking, and at half-past II 
the boats reached the rock, and left it again at a quarter past 12, with- 
out, however, being able to do much work, as the smith could not be set 
to work from the smallness of the ebb and the strong breach of sea, which 
lashed. with great force among the bars of the forge. 

Just as we were about to leave the rock, the wind shifted to the SW., 
and, from a fresh gale, it became what seamen term a hard gale, or such 
as would have required the fisherman to take in two or three reefs in his sail. 
The boats being rather in a crowded state for this sort of weather, they were 
pulled with great difficulty towards the floating-light. Though the boats 
were handsomely built, and presented little obstruction to the wind, as 
those who were not pulling sat low, yet having the ebb-tide to contend 
with, the passage was so very tedious, that it required two hours of hard 
work before we reached the vessel. 

It is a curious fact, before noticed, that the respective tides of ebb and 
flood are apparent upon the shore about an hour and a half sooner than at 
the distance of three or four miles in the offing. But what seems chiefly 
interesting here is, that the tides around this small sunken rock should fol- 
low exactly the same laws as on the extensive shores of the mainland. When 
the boats left the Bell Rock to-day, it was overflowed by the flood-tide, but 
the floating-light did not swing round to the flood-tide for more than an 
hour afterwards. Under tins disadvantage the boats had to struggle with 
the ebb-tide and a hard gale of wind, so that it was with the greatest diffi- 
culty they reached the floating-light. Had this gale happened in spring- 

OPERATIONS OF 1807. 139 

tides when the current was strong, we must have been driven to sea in a chap, hi. 
very helpless condition. isor, August. 

The boat which the writer steered, was considerably behind the other, Life-buoy streamed. 
one of the masons having unluckily broken his oar. Our prospect of getting 
on board, of course, became doubtful, and our situation was rather perilous, 
as the boat shipped so much sea that it occupied two of the artificers to 
bale and clear her of water. When the oar gave way, we were about 
half a mile from the ship, but being fortunately to windward, we got into 
the wake of the floating-light, at about 250 fathoms astern, just as the 
Landing-master's boat reached the vessel. He immediately streamed or 
floated a life-buoy astern, with a line which was always in readiness, and 
by means of this useful implement, the boat was towed alongside of the 
floating-light, where, from her rolling motion, it required no small manage- 
ment to get safely on board, as the men were much worn out with their exer- 
tions in pulling from the rock. On the present occasion, the crews of both 
boats were completely drenched with spray, and those who sat upon the bot- 
tom of the boats to bale them, were sometimes pretty deep in the water, 
before it could be cleared out. After getting on board, all hands were 
allowed an extra dram, and having shifted, and got a warm and comfort- 
able dinner, the affair, it is believed, was little more thought of. 

This was the first difficult or tedious passage which had been experienced Tender ordered ex- 
in landing at the Bell Rock ; it was also the first time that the writer se^fafof the'sock. 
had really felt the inconveniency of not having a vessel entirely set apart 
for the purposes of a tender. The floating-light, from the construction 
of her moorings, and the service for which she was specially employed, could 
not be cast loose or brought to the lea side of the rock in any case of emer- 
gency. Neither could she be risked to ride at moorings near enough to the 
rock, to place her in a more eligible situation for the purposes of the work. 
When these circumstances were brought under the notice of the Commis- 
sioners, it was ordered that a vessel should be provided, exclusively as a 
tender for the operations of the rock ; and this was accordingly done be- 
fore the commencement of the works of another season. 

The tides were now in that state which sailors term the dead of the Thursday, 27th. 
neap, and it was not expected that any part of the rock would be seen Se P srterfft^nfld 
above water to-day ; at any rate, it was obvious, from the experience of yes- lng in Nea P-t id es. 
terday, that no work could be done upon it, and therefore the artificers 

S 2 


chap. in. were not required to laud. The wind was at west, with light hreezes, and 
1807, August. fine clear weather; and as it was an object with the writer to know the actual 
state of the Bell Rock at neap-tides, he got one of the boats manned, and, 
being accompanied by the landing-master, went to it at a quarter past 
12. The parts of the rock that appeared above water being very trif- 
ling, were covered by every wave, so that no landing was made. Upon 
trying the depth of water with a boat-hook, particularly on the sites of the 
Light-house and Beacon, on the former, at low water, the depth was found 
to be three feet, and on the central parts of the latter it was ascertained to 
be two feet eight inches. Having made these remarks, the boat returned 
to the ship at 2 p. m., and the weather being good, the artificers were 
found amusing themselves with fishing. The Smeaton came from Ar- 
broath this afternoon, and made fast to her moorings, having brought 
letters and newspapers, with parcels of clean linen, &c. for the workmen ; 
who were also made happy by the arrival of three of their comrades from 
the work-yard, ashore. From these men they not only received all the news 
of the work-yard, but seemed themselves to enjoy great pleasure in commu- 
nicating whatever they considered to be interesting with regard to the rock. 
Some also got letters from their friends at a distance, the postage of which, 
for the men afloat, was always free, so that they corresponded the more 

Fri lay, 28tK To-day the weather was not quite so agreeable as it had been yesterday, 

the wind being south-east, and blowing what sailors term a fresh breeze, 
by which we understand a force of wind that would be sufficient to cause 
the sails of a fishing-boat to be reefed. At \ past 1 p. m., the writer again 
went to the rock, accompanied by the landing-master, when a depth- of 
about four feet of water was found upon the site of the Light-house, which 
may be considered a medium depth, as nearly as this could be ascertained 
in its present unworked state, but there was some surf upon the rock. 

Saturday, 29th. In the course of the night, the wind had shifted from SE. to SW., and 

it blew very hard, being technically termed a stiff gale, or rather too much 
wind for a fishing-boat. It was therefore considered unsafe for the Smea- 
ton to continue at her moorings, and the signal was made for her to sail 
for Arbroath ; she therefore got under way, but although there was a packet 
of letters for the shore, and the artificers had their memorandums in readi- 
ness, yet the floating-light rolled so unmercifully, that it would have been at 
the imminent hazard of staving or dashing a boat to pieces, had it been at- 

OPERATIONS OF 1807. 141 

tempted to put one out. This was a disappointment in one way, though it chap. in. 
answered a good purpose in another, as two of the three men, who had come 1807, August, 
last from the work-yard, earnestly entreated that they might be allowed to re- ^ s e ^5* to«o " 
turn, as they could no longer endure the rolling of the floating-light, a re- ashore - 
quest in which they were anxiously accompanied by one of the masons, 
who had all along been much afflicted with sea-sickness. These applica- 
tions were necessarily refused; they then applied to have an interview 
with the writer, when they urged the misery they were likely to suffer on 
board, without their being able to do any work at the rock. To the two 
strangers the difficulty and danger of putting out a boat was stated, as 
rendering it impossible for them to leave the ship ; while the third per- 
son was reminded of his engagement to remain afloat for one month. In 
this manner these two men were put off, with the prospect of better 
weather in the course of a day or two. With regard to the other, 
he had suffered so severely, that the writer would have been happy to 
have had him ashore, and he was informed that if his comrades would 
ask leave for him, it would be granted. This being readily complied with, 
he was left at full liberty to return to the work-yard. But, for the pre- 
sent, the Smeaton was obliged to pass at a considerable distance, without 
being able to communicate with the floating-light. 

The wind was N.NE. this morning, in light airs, and the weather Sunday, 30th. 
was clear. This being Sunday, the usual ceremony was observed at 12 Land u P on the Rock 

° J J after five days ab- 

noou, when the writer read prayers on the quarter-deck. The ensuing sence ' 
set of spring-tides were now coining to hand, and, at 3 r. m., all the 
artificers embarked for the rock, excepting the four men who had de- 
clined it last Sunday. Their places, however, were willingly taken by the 
three men who came last from the shore, who were happy to get relief 
from the disagreeable motion of the floating-light upon any terms. The 
.boats reached the rock at half-past 3 ; but being rather early in the tide, 
the men rested on their oars till 4 o'clock, and then landed on the dif- 
ferent spots as they dried, where they remained till the tide ebbed suffi- 
ciently to allow them to commence work. This was the first time the 
artificers had landed on the rock for five days, owing to the state of the 
weather and tides, and it was not a little flattering, on this occasion, to see 
with what eagerness the workmen leaped upon it. Those who were not 
troubled with sea-sickness, felt a degree of languor on board from which their 
working hours formed rather a relaxation, while the sickly (by far the greater 
number) felt immediate relief upon setting their foot upon terra firma, even 




1807, August. 

in its most circumscribed boundary. While the water was going off the 
rock, the workmen were all busily employed in picking dulse, the Fu- 
cus palmatus of botanists, and indeed any other of the marine plants 
which happened to lie within their reach. Those who were the great- 
est sufferers from sea-sickness always ate the most greedily upon these 
occasions. Such incidental circumstances tended greatly to keep up the 
desire for landing at the rock, and seemed, in some measure, to compen- 
sate for the labour of rowing to and from it. 

Method of fixing the 
stanchions in the 

The operation of boring the bat-holes being in great forwardness, the 
men were now chiefly employed in chiselling or cutting out the piece of 
rock which remained between each pair of jumper-holes, forming a ridge of 
about two inches in thickness. When this was cleared away, the bat- 
hole was of the proper form, and, as before noticed, it measured about seven 
inches in length, two inches in breadth, and eighteen inches in depth, an 
excavation which, from its dimensions, must readily appear to have been at- 
tended with much difficulty. The holes, though bored with the same size of 
chisels, as nearly as might be, were not precisely of the same size ; but this 
was not essential, as the stanchion, when wedged in its place, complete- 
ly filled the aperture. This operation of chiselling out the middle piece, 
and widening the hole in the form of a dove-tail, was a much more in- 
tricate and tedious operation than boring perpendicularly with the jumper. 
At that process three men worked with great celerity, whereas two only 
could be employed in cutting out the divisions and widening the holes. 

The site of the building having already been carefully traced out with 
the pick-axe, the artificers, this day, commenced the excavation of the rock, 
for the foundation or first course of the light-house. Four men only 
were employed at this work, while twelve continued at the site of the 
Beacon-house, at which every possible opportunity was embraced, till this 
essential part of the operations should be completed. After having been two 
hours upon the rock this tide, the water began to rise upon the smith's 
forge and the site of the Beacon-house, and at a past 6 o'clock p. m. the 
artificers left the rock. 

Monday, 31st 
Longest day's work 
hitherto had on the 
Bell Rock. 

The winds varied to-day from N.N-E; to S. Though it blew pretty 
fresh, it was not accompanied with any swell in the sea, and the wea- 
ther upon the whole was very pleasant. At half-past 3 in the morn- 
ing, the writer was called by the landing-master, to consult about the state 
of the weather, and the practicability of landing upon the rock. After some 



hesitation, the result was to proceed : the signal bell for getting the 
boats ready was rung at 4 a. m., when all hands took to their respec- 
tive boats, and at half-past 4 the work commenced at the rock : it con- 
tinued till half-past 7, allowing an excellent tide's work of three hours, 
when the artificers again returned to the floating-light, and remain- 
ed till the evening tide. At 4 p. M. they landed, but did not begin to 
work till a quarter from 5 o'clock, when the water had sufficiently left 
the rock. At a quarter past 7 it was overflowed, when the boats re- 
turned to the ship, and the writer was not a little elated, as the morning 
and evening tide had afforded no less than five and a half hours work, 
being the greatest day's work hitherto obtained on the Bell Rock. 


1807, August. 

The weather was extremely pleasant throughout these twenty-four 
hours, though the wind veered and shifted about from N.W. to W.SW. 
At 4 o'clock this morning the bell made rather an unwelcome call, but 
all hands readily turned out. As before mentioned, when the work com- 
menced at these early hours, a dram and a biscuit were served out to the ar- 
tificers ; and the writer, upon these occasions, found a cup of coffee very sa- 
lutary. Having landed at a quarter from 5, the work was continued for three 
and a half hours, four men, as before noticed, being employed on the site 
of the Light-house, and twelve at the Beacon-house. The water over- 
flowed the rock at a quarter past 7, when the boats returned to the 

Tuesday, 1st. 

The Smeaton had arrived from Arbroath in the course of the last 
night, and made fast to her moorings at the eastern buoy, which was near- 
est to the rock, as will be seen from Plate V. Agreeably to appointment, 
she had brought off six blocks of granite, for the purpose of making an 
experiment regarding the landing of the stones on the rock. She also 
had in tow the praam, or decked boat, brought from Leith astern of the 
Pharos, of which mention has already been made. This boat, in smooth 
water, could carry about six or seven tons upon deck. 

Smeaton brings off 
the experimental car- 
go of stone. 

The writer had looked forward to the trial of landing weighty mate- various suggestions 
rials upon the rock, as a matter which was to determine an important s a to°n U 4 landing the 
point in the operations of the Bell Rock light-house, and which could hardly 
be resolved by any other means than actual trial. This part of the 
operation had always been a matter of the greatest uncertainty with 




1807, September. 

those conversant in such matters, and it became essential to determine 
the point at this period, by actual trial, before proceeding to the pre- 
paration of the craft and apparatus requisite for the works of next sea- 
son, which it would not have been safe or prudent to rest upon doubtful 
hypothesis. In speculating upon this point, some had suggested that 
each particular stone should be floated to the rock, with a cork-buoy at- 
tached to it, while others would convert the float into an air-tank for this 
purpose ; a third proposed to sail over the rock at high water, in a vessel of 
a flat construction, and drop the stones one after another, while under 
way, or at anchor on the rock. Others took up a still more extraor- 
dinary view of the case, and proposed to build so much of the Light-house 
ashore, in a kind of coffer-dam or vessel, as would raise the building to 
the level of the highest tide, and having previously prepared the rock for 
its reception, they would scuttle the vessel, and settle this ponderous 
mass, weighing perhaps 1000 tons, at once upon the rock. But it were 
endless to follow the various conceptions, even of men of experience, upon 
subjects of this kind. Though some of these propositions were inge- 
niously conceived, yet they could not be carried into effect in such a situa- 
tion as the Bell Rock. Taking into view the uncertain state of the weather, 
the brittle nature of stone, when worked to a delicate edge and formed into 
angular points, — and, above all, considering the disadvantages that would 
attend the loss, even of a single stone, by the unavoidable delay it would oc- 
casion to the work, which might even in some instances hazard a great part 
of the building, — the writer judged it safest to keep the vessels that were to 
bring the stones from the workyard at moorings, laid down at a convenient 
distance from the rock, so as to enable them to clear it, in case of drifting. 
He also determined, as the safest method, that their cargoes should be un- 
loaded at these moorings, laid on decked praam-boats, and towed to the 
rock by the landing-master's crew, at low water, when the artificers were 
at work, and ready to lay and secure the stones in their places on the 
building. To put this to the test of actual experiment, the trial praam- 
boat had been built, and the six rough blocks of stone were brought to 
the rock. 

Experiment of land- 
ing six blocks of 

The middle part of this day was occupied by the writer on board of the 
Smeaton, at her moorings, where he carefully attended to the process of 
bringing the praam alongside, fixing her head and stern-ropes, and stationing 
the seamen at their respective posts, for the purpose of landing this 

OPERATIONS OF 1807. 145 

small, but, in his view, important cargo. The mode by which the stones chap. hi. 
were taken out of the Smeaton's hold, and lowered on the praam's deck, isot, September. 
will be understood from Plate XI. This was done by means of a gaff- 
boom, which traversed upon the Smeaton's mast, with the necessary tackles 
for guying it. An essential part of this tackle was a travelling-crance, or 
ring of iron, by which the stone might be lifted either at the extremities or 
at the central parts of the boom, as best suited its position in the ship's hold, 
or its intended place on the praam's deck. The length of this gaff-boom 
was thirteen feet, being sufficient for lowering the stone upon the 
praam. Another part of this apparatus, for lifting the stone, was a 
winch, fixed before the Smeaton's mast, consisting of a wheel two feet in 
diameter, worked by a pinion. The stone being raised from the vessel's 
hold, was laid on her deck, in order to shift the crance tackle to the extre- 
mity of the gaff-boom. The chief charge of the stone was then taken by the 
landing-master, till it was laid on the praam's deck, landed on the rock, 
and ultimately delivered over to the foreman builder. In the act of work- 
ing this apparatus, one man was placed at each of the guy-tackles, who 
also assisted at the purchase-tackle for raising the stone ; and one of the 
ablest and most active of the crew was appointed to hold on the end of the 
tackle-fall or purchase, which often required all his strength, and his ut- 
most agility in letting go, for the purpose of lowering the stone at the 
instant when the word " Lower" was heard. Much depended upon the 
promptitude with which this part of the operation was performed, in a 
rolling sea, as our nautical readers will readily understand. For this 
purpose, the man who held the end of the tackle placed himself before the 
mast in a sitting, but more frequently in a lying posture, with his feet 
stretched under the winch, and abutting against the mast, as, by this 
means, he was enabled to exert his greatest strength. The signal 
being given by the men in the hold, that the Lewis-bat was fixed into 
the stone, and the tackle hooked, every man took his post. If the 
stone was very weighty, the two men who were to receive it on board of 
the praam, assisted in working the purchase, till the stone was got out 
of the hold, to be laid upon deck, when the word " Lower" was given, 
in an audible and stern tone of voice. After the traveller was shifted 
upon the gaff boom, the praam-men returned to their post, and the 
stone was again lifted to a sufficient height, to clear the vessel's gun- 
wale, when great attention became necessary in working the guy-tackles, 
till the stone was brought over the praam's deck, and the watchword 





lf?07, September. 

" Lower" given, if possible, with greater force than before. The tackles 
were then unhooked, and in this manner the operation proceeded until the 
stones were got on board of the praam-boat. 

This description may seem particular ; but the reason will appear ob- 
vious, when it is recollected, that the landing of the materials has been con- 
sidered one of the most nice and difficult parts of seamanship, and on 
which the best informed seamen were unable to say how it might answer, 
without great risk to the crew, and damage to the stones, and even oc- 
casionally losing them between the ship and the praam-boat. Both ves- 
sels being afloat, and riding in the open sea, at the distance of about a 
quarter of a mile from the Bell Rock, their motion was instantly commu- 
nicated to the landing-gaff, and so to the stone in the tackle. The six 
blocks of granite having been placed upon the praam's deck, she was towed 
to a floating-buoy, where she was made fast, until the proper time of tide, 
for taking her into one of the creeks of the rock. 

Stones first landed 
on the Rock. 

At a quarter past 4 p. m., the boats, with the artificers, left the float- 
ing-light, and the work of the evening tide commenced at a quarter before 5. 
The sailors having previously decorated the ships and the praam-boat with 
flags, she was towed to the rock by two boats. The writer having resolv- 
ed personally to attend the whole progress of this experiment went on 
board of the praam-boat, when she entered the eastern creek, where the 
foreman builder, at the head of the artificers, gave three hearty cheers. As 
the praam had not water to float her so far up the creek as the site of the 
building, her cargo was delivered upon Smith's Ledge, on the north side 
of this creek, as marked on Plate VI. In the present unprepared state 
of the machinery and implements upon the rock, the stones, in the pre- 
sent case, were raised with pinches, and pushed ashore upon planks. 
The whole of this experiment succeeded to the writer's utmost expecta- 
tion, who was thus led to conclude, that the materials might be landed 
with much more expedition and certainty than he had previously supposed. 
All hands spontaneously collected to witness the landing of the first stone, 
which had no sooner touched the rock, than other three cheers were given, 
and, on this occasion, a glass of rum was served out by the steward. 
Having continued two hours upon the rock this evening, the artificers 
left it at 7, and returned to the floating-light, while the landing-mas- 
ter's crew towed the praam-boat off to the Smeaton, that she might be taken 
to Arbroath, having completed all that was intended with her, this season. 

OPERATIONS OF 1807. 147 

The floating-light's bell rung this morning at half-past 4 o'clock, as a chap. hi. 
signal for the boats to be got ready, and the landing took place at half-past 1807, September. 
5. In passing the Smeaton, at her moorings near the rock, her boat fol- Wednesd ay, 2d - 

•1 • 1 -it • 1 -n ill f First mode of attach. 

lowed with eight additional artificers who had come from Arbroath with >ng the vessels to 
her at last trip, but there being no room for them in the floating-light's 
boats, they had continued on board. The weather did not look very pro- 
mising in the morning, the wind blowing pretty fresh from W. SW. ; 
and had it not been that the writer calculated upon having a vessel so 
much at command, in all probability he would not have ventured to land. 
The Smeaton rode at what sailors call a salvagee, with a cross-head made 
fast to the floating-buoy. This kind of attachment was found to be more 
convenient, than the mode of passing the hawser through the ring of the 
buoy, when the vessel was to be made fast. She had then only to be steered 
very close to the buoy, when the salvagee was laid hold of with a boat-hook, 
and the bite of the hawser thrown over the cross-head, instead of being 
obliged to put out the boat, in order to pass the rope through the ring of 
the buoy. But the salvagee, by this method, was always left at the buoy, 
and was, of course, more liable to chaff" and wear than a hawser passed 
through the ring, which could be wattled with canvas, and shifted at 
pleasure. The salvagee and cross method is, however, much practised ; 
but the experience of this morning showed it to be very unsuitable for 
vessels riding in an exposed situation, for any length of time. 

Soon after the artificers landed, they commenced work ; but the wind coming smeaton breaks a- 
to blow hard, the Smeaton's boat and crew, who had brought their comple- il s l. from her moor " 
ment of eight men to the rock, went off to examine her riding ropes, and see 
that they were in proper order. The boat had no sooner reached the vessel 
than she went adrift, carrying the boat along with her, and both had even 
got to a considerable distance before this situation of things was observed, 
every one being so intent upon his own particular duty, that the boat had 
not been seen leaving the rock. As it blew hard, the crew with much diffi- 
culty set the mainsail upon the Smeaton, with a view to work her up to 
the buoy, and again lay hold of the moorings. By the time that she 
was got round to make a tack towards the rock, she had drifted at least 
three miles to leeward, with the praam-boat astern ; and having both the 
wind and a tide against her, the writer perceived, with no little anxiety, 
that she could not possibly return to the rock till long after its being over- 
flowed ; for, owing to the anomaly of the tides formerly noticed, the Bell 
Rock is completely under water before the ebb abates to the offing. 

T 2 




1807, September. 

Perilous situation of 
those left on the 

In this perilous predicament, indeed, he found himself placed between hope 
and despair, — but certainly the latter was by much the most predominant feel- 
ing of his mind, — situate upon a sunken rock in the middle of the ocean, 
which, in the progress of the flood-tide, was to be laid under water to the depth 
of at least twelve feet in a stormy sea. There were this morning thirty-two 
persons in all upon the rock, with only two boats, whose complement, 
even in good weather, did not exceed twenty-four sitters ; but, to row 
to the floating-light with so much wind, and in so heavy a sea, a comple- 
ment of eight men for each boat, was as much as could, with propriety, be 
attempted, so that, in this way, about one-half of our number was unpro- 
vided for. Under these circumstances, had the writer ventured to dis- 
patch one of the boats in expectation of either working the Smeaton soon- 
er up towards the rock, or in hopes of getting her boat brought to 
our assistance, this must have given an immediate alarm to the artificers, 
each of whom would have insisted upon taking to his own boat, and leaving 
the eight artificers belonging to the Smeaton to their chance. Of 
course, a scuffle might have ensued, and it is hard to say, in the ardour 
of men contending for life, where it might have ended. It has even been 
hinted to the writer, that a party of the pickmen were determined to keep 
exclusively to their own boat against all hazards. 

The unfortunate circumstance of the Smeaton and her boat having 
drifted, was, for a considerable time, only known to the writer, and to 
the landing-master, who removed to the farther point of the rock, 
where he kept his eye steadily upon the progress of the vessel. While 
the artificers were at work, chiefly in sitting or kneeling postures, ex- 
cavating the rock, or boring with the jumpers, and while their numer- 
ous hammers, and the sound of the smith's anvil continued, the situa- 
tion of things did not appear so awful. In this state of suspense, with 
almost certain destruction at hand, the water began to rise upon those 
who were at work on the lower parts of the sites of the Beacon and 
Light-house. From the run of sea upon the rock, the forge fire was 
also sooner extinguished this morning than usual, and the volumes 
of smoke having ceased, objects in every direction became visible from all 
parts of the rock. After having had about three hours work, the men 
began, pretty generally, to make towards their respective boats for their 
jackets and stockings, when, to their astonishment, instead of three, they 
found only two boats, the third being adrift with the Smeaton. Not a 
word was uttered by any one, but all appeared to be silently calculating 
their numbers, and looking to each other with evident marks of perplex- 


ity depicted in their countenances. The landing-master, conceiving that chap. hi. 
blame might be attached to him for allowing the boat to leave the rock, 1807, September, 
still kept at a distance. At this critical moment, the author was stand- 
ing upon an elevated part of Smith's Ledge, where he endeavoured to 
mark the progress of the Smeaton, not a little surprised that her crew 
did not cut the praam adrift, which greatly retarded her way, and 
amazed that some effort was not making to bring at least the boat, and 
attempt our relief. The workmen looked steadfastly upon the writer, and 
turned occasionally towards the vessel, still far to leeward. All this passed 
in the most perfect silence, and the melancholy solemnity of the group made 
an impression never to be effaced from his mind. 

The writer had all along been considering of various schemes, — provi- Pilot boat accidental - 
ding the men could be kept under command, — which might be put in prac- relief. 
tice for the general safety, in hopes that the Smeaton might be able to pick 
up the boats to leeward, when they were obliged to leave the rock. He was, 
accordingly, about to address the artificers on the perilous nature of their 
circumstances, and to propose, That all hands should unstrip their upper 
clothing, when the higher parts of the rock were laid under water ; that 
the seamen should remove every unnecessary weight and encumbrance from 
the boats ; that a specified number of men should go into each boat, and 
that the remainder should hang by the gunwales, while the boats were 
to be rowed gently towards the Smeaton, as the course to the Pharos or 
floating-light lay rather to windward of the rock. But when he at- 
tempted to speak, his mouth was so parched, that his tongue refused 
utterance, and he now learned by experience that the saliva is as ne- 
cessary as the tongue itself for speech. He then turned to one of the 
pools on the rock and lapped a little water, which produced imme- 
diate relief. But what was his happiness, when, on rising from this un- 
pleasant beverage, some one called out " A boat, a boat !" and, on looking 
around, at no great distance, a large boat was seen through the haze making 
towards the rock. This at once enlivened and rejoiced every heart. The 
timeous visitor proved to be James Spink, the Bell Rock pilot, who had 
come express from Arbroath with letters. Spink had, for some time, seen 
the Smeaton, and had even supposed, from the state of the weather, that all 
hands were on board of her, till he approached more nearly, and observed 
people upon the rock ; but not supposing that the assistance of his boat 
was necessary to carry the artificers off the rock, he anchored on the 
lee-side and began to fish, waiting, as usual, till the letters were sent for, 


chap. hi. as the pilot-boat was too large and unwieldy for approaching the rock, 
1807, septembei7 when there was any roughness or run of the sea at the entrance of the land- 
ing creeks. 

The boats have a Upon this fortunate change of circumstances, sixteen of the artificers were 

the^ock" 5 ^ 8 ' sent, at two trips, in one of the boats, with instructions for Spink to proceed 
with them to the floating-light. This being accomplished, the remaining six- 
teen followed in the two boats belonging to the service of the rock. Every one 
felt the most perfect happiness at leaving the Bell Rock this morning, though 
a very hard and even dangerous passage to the floating-light still await- 
ed us, as the wind, by this time, had encreased to a pretty hard gale, ac- 
companied with a considerable swell of sea. The boats left the rock about 
9, but did not reach the vessel till 12 o'clock noon, after a most disagree- 
able and fatiguing passage of three hours. Every one was as completely 
drenched in water as if he had been dragged astern of the boats. The 
writer in particular, being at the helm, found, on getting on board, that his 
face and ears were completely coated with a thin film of salt from the sea 
spray, which broke constantly over the bows of the boat. After much 
baling of water and severe work at the oars, the three boats reached the 
floating-light, where some new difficulties occurred in getting on board in 
safety, owing partly to the exhausted state of the men, and partly to the 
violent rolling of the vessel. 

smeaton bears away As the tide flowed, it was expected that the Smeaton would have got 

to windward, but, seeing that all was safe, after tacking for several hours, 
and making little progress, she bore away for Arbroath, with the praam 
boat. As there was now too much wind for the pilot-boat to return to 
Arbroath, she was made fast astern of the floating-light, and the crew remain- 
ed on board till next day, when the weather moderated. There can be very 
little doubt, that the appearance of James Spink with his boat, on this 
critical occasion, was the means of preventing the loss of lives at the 
rock this morning. When these circumstances, some years afterwards, 
came to the knowledge of the Board, a small pension was ordered to our 
faithful pilot, then in his seventieth year ; and he still continues to wear 
the uniform clothes and badge of the Light-house service. 

indispensable utility The experience of this day's hard passage to the floating-light strongly 

o the eacon-house. y^pjjggggfl ^g wr it er w ith the hiconveniency and danger arising from the 

want of a proper tender, which could be cast loose at pleasure, and brought 

OPERATIONS OF 1807. 151 

to the lee-side of the rock, and could, at all times, be moored nearer than it chap. in. 
would have been safe or proper to have risked a vessel of the description of isot, September. 
the floating-light. Another circumstance, no less deeply interesting to the 
safety of those on the rock, was the erection of the beacon-house, as a place 
of refuge in cases like the present. Here the writer could not help con- 
gratulating himself not only upou the near prospect of completing this 
work, but also on the perseverance with which he had maintained the 
indispensable necessity of the erection of the beacon. He was aware of the 
well grounded fears for the safety of all concerned, in the event of its being 
washed away by the sea ; but, without such an erection on the Bell Rock, 
it is impossible to describe the continual hazard which must have at- 
tended the undertaking, or to determine the period when works so pe- 
culiarly situate, and especially so low in the water, might have been brought 
to a conclusion. 

The bell rung this morning at 5 o'clock, but the writer must acknowledge, Thursday, 3d. 
from the circumstances of yesterday, that its sound was extremelv unwel- !-'s hteen of the ****• 

. ncers decline em- 

come. This appears also to have been the feelings of the artificers, for when bartin e for the rock-. 

they came to be mustered, out of twenty-six, only eight, besides the foreman 

and seamen, appeared upon deck, to accompany the writer to the rock. Such 

are the baneful effects of any thing like misfortune or accident connected 

with a work of this description. The use of argument to persuade the 

men to embark, in cases of this kind, would have been out of place, as it 

is not only discomfort, or even the risk of the loss of a limb, but life itself, 

that becomes the question. The boats, notwithstanding the thinness of The boats proceed 

our ranks, left the vessel at half-past 5. The rough weather of yesterday W1th e ' ght " 

having proved but a summer's gale, the wind came to-day in gentle breezes, 

yet the atmosphere being cloudy, it had not a very favourable appearance. 

The boats reached the rock at 6 a. m., and the eight artificers who landed, 

were employed in clearing out the bat-holes for the beacon-house, and had 

a very prosperous tide of four hours work, being the longest yet experienced 

by half an hour. 

The boats left the rock again at 10 o'clock, and the weather hav- 
ing cleared up as we drew near the vessel, the eighteen artificers who 
had remained on board were observed upon deck ; but as the boats ap- 
proached, they sought their way below, being quite ashamed of their con- 
duct. This was the only instance of refusal to go to the rock which oc- 



chap. in. curred during the whole progress of the work, excepting that of the 
1307, September, four men who declined working upon Sunday, a case which the writer did 
not conceive to be at all analogous to the present. It may here be men- 
tioned, much to the credit of these four men, that they stood foremost in 
embarking for the rock this morning. Indeed, it seemed quite evident, that 
the backwardness of the artificers to-day arose from certain doubting ex- 
pressions about the state of the weather, made through the inadvertency of 
some of the nautical people on board, in allusion to the state of the weather 
of yesterday. 

A second landing was made in the evening tide, at a quarter past 6, 
with twenty of the artificers, six having been left on board for want of 
sitting-room in the boats ; but as the work was not carried on with torch- 
light, till after the erection of the beacon-house, the boats left the rock 
again at a quarter past 7, the men having been employed chiefly at the 
bat-holes of the beacon-house. 

Friday, 4th. 

All hands, twenty-six in number, landed this morning, having been as- 
sisted by the Smeaton's boat, as she had again returned from Arbroath to her 
moorings at the rock. After three hours' work, the boats returned to the 
Pharos at a quarter past 10, leaving eight hands on board the Smeaton, as 
formerly, which preserved a convenient complement of sitters in the other 
two boats. 

Captain Pool's ac- 
count of the drifting 
of the Smeaton. 

From the late accident of the Smeaton's drifting, precautionary measures 
were taken to impress upon Captain Pool, and his mate Mr Macurich, that 
their ship was not once to be put in competition with the safety of the 
people on the rock. Orders were also more strictly enforced upon the 
landing-master, that on no occasion whatever should the boats attending the 
rock be permitted to leave it, without carrying along with them the com- 
plement of men which they respectively brought to the rock. Upon ex- 
amining the master of the Smeaton as to the circumstances of his vessel 
breaking adrift, it appeared that the salvagee had been chaffed, and that 
it had given way by the excessive motion of the vessel. Being also ex- 
amined as to his intentions with regard to the people left on the rock on 
the 2d instant, he stated, that, when tacking the ship, he had seen the Pilot- 
boat a considerable time before it was likely that she could be seen at the 
rock; and that he was just about to cut the praam adrift, when he got sight of 
the boat. After setting sail on the Smeaton, his intentions were to try a 



tack or two, to see if she gained to windward, but if, on trial, she appeared 
to lose way, his intentions were to lash the helm to leeward, and leaving 
the boy on board of the vessel, he was to man the boat and make towards 
our relief. Captain Pool, in concluding his account of this matter, added, 

that " both ship and praam should have gone to the d 1, rather than 

that the people upon the rock should have been left to perish." But he 
stated, that he was in much confusion for a time ; — indeed, until he got 
sight of the pilot boat, that he was almost in a state of distraction, he 
and his ship's company being in a continual wrangle about what was best 
to be done in so critical a situation. This accident put an end to the 
mode of riding at the Bell Rock floating buoys by a salvagee and cross- 
head, the hawser being in future passed through the ring of the buoy, 
and the end of it taken on board of the vessel ; which was found to be 
much more safe, though not quite so expeditious as the other. 


1807, September- 

The wind having shifted to N. NW., the weather had a favourable ap- 
pearance this morning. But on landing at the rock at 7 a. m., there 
was a considerable swell from the eastward, so that the boats had some 
difficulty in approaching the eastern creek. The artificers, however, had 
a most excellent tide's work, having continued four hours at work, or till 
11 o'clock. The boring and preparations for the Beacon-house being 
nearly completed, only twelve of the artificers were employed at this 
work, while fourteen were excavating and preparing the site of the Light- 

Saturday, 5th. 

This being the third day after new moon, it was estimated the low- 
est ebb of the present spring-tides. The writer therefore caused a part of 
the site of the building to be reduced to what he considered a medium 
level of the whole. This he compared with low water-mark, as noted by 
the landing-master, at the moment when the tide ceased to ebb and be- 
gan to flow. An assistant with a rod having been stationed at low 
water-mark previously determined, another was placed at the spot ascer- 
tained to be the medium level of the site of the building ; a spirit-level 
was then set at a convenient position between these upright rods, when 
the writer found that the medium height of the site of the building, 
in the present rough and irregular state of its surface, was about three 
feet three inches above low water-mark of spring tides. By further ob- 
servation, it was also found, that the highest part of the foundation of the 
building, in its present unprepared state, was six feet above low water-mark. 


Ascertain the compa- 
rative level of the 
site of the building. 


chap. in. This highest part consisted of a large rounded mass, which declined gra- 
1807, September, dually on all sides, excepting on the north-east, where it was more abrupt. 
The writer had originally some thought of taking advantage of this part 
of the rock, by connecting it, after Mr Smeaton's plan, with the lower 
courses of the building. But after working for some time, with this ob- 
ject in view, it was found to contain several large fissures, which rendered 
it more advisable to clear away the whole, and reduce the site of the 
building to a uniform level. 

Tuu complement of Finding it impossible, with any degree of safety, to carry to the float- 

moored, ing-light, in the two boats belonging to this ship, more than eighteen 

artificers, and four seamen, together with the landing-master, the foreman 
and the writer, eight of the present complement of men were lodged on 
board of the Smeaton, and when she went to Arbroath for water and 
fuel, they necessarily accompanied her. Before sailing, she laid down 
a fourth mushroom-anchor, and mooring-chain, with a floating buoy, 
for the use of the praam-boat. It was not at all likely that there 
would be much use for so many sets of moorings for the operations of this 
season ; but it was desirable to have the probable number laid down that 
might ultimately be required for the works, in order that the fitness of 
their respective situations might be ascertained, before they came to be 
wanted for the purposes of the building. This last buoy was laid down 
in four fathoms water, with twelve fathoms of chain, at the distance of 
about ninety fathoms, in a N.E. direction from the rock. The other three 
buoys were respectively moored at greater distances from the rock, in 
depths varying from seven to eleven fathoms, the mushroom anchors ly- 
ing on a hard rocky bottom. 

Fioating-Light rides As before noticed, the work could not be carried on by torch-light with 

wind. eavy sa e ° any degree of safety, till the Beacon was erected, and the tide fell rather 
late for landing this evening. Although the weather would have admitted 
of this, yet the swell of the sea, observable in the morning, still continued 
to increase. It was so far fortunate that a landing was not attempted, 
for at 8 o'clock the wind shifted to E. SE. and at 10 it had become a 
hard gale, when fifty fathoms of the floating-light's hempen cable were 
veered out. The gale still increasing, the ship rolled and laboured ex- 
cessively, and at midnight eighty fathoms of cable were veered out ; while 
the sea continued to strike the vessel with a degree of force which had not 
before been experienced. 



During the last night there was little rest on board of the Pharos, 
and day-light, though anxiously wished for, brought no relief, as the gale 
continued with unabated violence. The sea struck so hard upon the ves- 
sel's bows, that it rose in great quantities, or in " green seas," as the sailors 
termed it, which were carried by the wind as far aft as the quarter-deck, and 
not unfrequently over the stern of the ship altogether. It fell occasionally 
so heavily on the skylight of the writer's cabin, though so far aft as to be 
within five feet of the helm, that the glass was broken to pieces before the 
dead-light could be got into its place, so that the water poured down in 
great quantities. In shutting out the water, the admission of light was 
prevented, and in the morning all continued in the most comfortless state 
of darkness. About 10 o'clock a. m., the wind shifted to NE., and blew, 
if possible, harder than before, and it was accompanied by a much heavier 
swell of sea ; when it was judged advisable to give the ship moTe cable. 
In the course of the gale, the part of the cable in the hause-hole had been 
so often shifted, that nearly the whole length of one of her hempen cables, 
of 120 fathoms, had been veered out, besides the chain-moorings. The 
cable for its preservation, was also carefully served or wattled with pieces 
of canvass round the windlass, and with leather well greased in the hause- 
hole. In this state things remained during the whole day. Every sea 
which struck the vessel, — and the seas followed each other in close succes- 
sion, — causing her to shake, and all on board occasionally to tremble. At 
each of these strokes of the sea, the rolling and pitching of the vessel 
ceased for a time, and her motion was felt as if she had either broke 
adrift before the wind, or were in the act of sinking ; but when another 
sea came, she ranged up against it with great force, and this became the 
regular intimation of our being still riding at anchor. 


1807, September 
Sunday, 6th. 

About 11 o'clock, the writer, with some difficulty, got out of bed, but state of the vessel 
in attempting to dress, he was thrown twice upon the floor, at the opposite dun " s ' be ^ 
side of the cabin. In an undressed state, he made shift to get about 
half way up the companion-stairs, with an intention to observe the state 
of the sea and of the ship upon deck, but he no sooner looked over the 
companion, than a heavy sea struck the vessel, which fell on the quarter- 
deck, and rushed down stairs into the officers' cabin, in so considerable a 
quantity, that it was found necessary to lift one of the scuttles in the 
floor, to let the water into the limbers of the ship, as it dashed from 
side to side in such a manner, as to run into the lower tier of beds. 

U 2 


chap. in. Having been foiled in this attempt, and being completely wetted, he again, 
1807, September, got below and went to bed. In this state of the weather the seamen had 
to move about the necessary or indispensable duties of the ship, with the 
most cautious use both of hands and feet, while it required all the art of 
the landsman to keep within the precincts of his bed. The writer even 
found himself so much tossed about, that it became necessary, in some mea- 
sure, to shut himself in bed, in order to avoid being thrown into the floor. 
Indeed, such was the motion of the ship, that it seemed wholly imprac- 
ticable to remain in any other than a lying posture. On deck the most 
stormy aspect presented itself; while below all was wet and comfortless. 

About 2 o'clock p. m., a great alarm was given throughout the ship, 
from the effects of a very heavy sea which struck her, and almost filled the 
waist, pouring down into the births below, through every chink and crevice 
of the hatches and sky-lights. From the motion of the vessel being thus 
suddenly deadened or checked, and from the flowing in of the water above, it 
is believed there was not an individual on board who did not think, at the 
moment, that the vessel had foundered, and was in the act of sinking. 
The writer could withstand this no longer, and as soon as she again began 
to range to the sea, he determined to make another effort to get upon deck. 
In the first instance, however, he groped his way in darkness from his own 
cabin through the births of the officers, where all was quietness. He next 
entered the galley and other compartments occupied by the artificers : here 
also all was shut up in darkness, the fire having been drowned out in the 
early part of the gale : several of the artificers were employed in prayer, re- 
peating psalms, and other devotional exercises in a full tone of voice: 
others protesting, that if they should fortunately get once more on shore, 
no one shoidd ever see them afloat again. With the assistance of the 
landing-master, the writer made his way holding on step by step, among 
the numerous impediments which lay in the way. Such was the creaking 
noise of the bulk-heads or partitions, the dashing of the water, and the 
whistling noise of the winds, that it was hardly possible to break in upon 
such a confusion of sounds. In one or two instances, anxious and repeated 
inquiries were made by the artificers, as to the state of things upon deck, 
to which the Captain made the usual answer, that it could not blow long 
in this way, and that we must soon have better weather. The next birth 
in succession, moving forward in the ship, was that allotted for the seamen. 
Here the scene was considerably different. Having reached the middle of 
this darksome* birth, without its inmates being aware of any intrusion, the 

OPERATIONS OF 1807. 157 

writer had the consolation of remarking, that although they talked of bad chap. m. 
weather, and the cross accidents of the sea, yet the conversation was carried 1807, September. 
on in that sort of tone and manner which bespoke an ease and compo- 
sure of mind, highly creditable to them, and pleasing to him. The writer 
immediately accosted the seamen about the state of the ship. To these 
inquiries they replied, that the vessel being light, and having but lit- 
tle hold of the water, no top rigging, with excellent ground-tackle, and 
every thing being fresh and new, they felt perfect confidence in their situ- 

It being impossible to open any of the hatches in the fore part of the 
ship, in communicating with the deck, the watch was changed by pas- 
sing through the several births to the companion-stair leading to the 
quarter-deck. The writer, therefore, made the best of his way aft, and on a 
second attempt to look out, he succeeded, and saw indeed an astonishing sight. 
The seas, or waves, appeared to be ten or fifteen feet in height of unbroken 
water, and every approaching billow seemed as if it would overwhelm our 
vessel, but she continued to rise upon the waves, and to fall between the seas 
in a very wonderful manner. It seemed to be only those seas which caught 
her in the act of rising, which struck her with so much violence, and threw 
such quantities of water aft. On deck there was only one solitary in- 
dividual looking out, to give the alarm, in the event of the ship break- 
ing from her moorings. The seaman on watch continued only two 
hours ; he who kept watch at this time, was a tall slender man of a 
black complexion ; he had no great coat nor over-all of any kind, but 
was simply dressed in his ordinary jacket and trowsers : his hat was 
tied under his chin with a napkin, and he stood aft the foremast, 
to which he had lashed himself with a gasket or small rope round 
his waist, to prevent his falling upon deck, or being washed overboard. 
When the writer looked up, he appeared to smile, which afforded a 
farther symptom of the confidence of the crew in their ship. This per- 
son on the watch was as completely wetted as if he had been drawn 
through the sea, which was given as a reason for his not putting on 
a great coat, that he might wet as few of his clothes as possible, and 
have a dry shift when he went below. Upon deck, every thing that 
was moveable was out of sight, having either been stowed below, previous 
to the gale, or been washed overboard. Some trifling parts of the quarter 
boards were damaged by the breach of the sea ; and one of the boats upon 



chap. in. deck was about one-third full of water, the oyle-hole or drain having been 
1807, September, accidentally stopped up, — and part of her gunwale had received consi- 
derable injury. These observations were hastily made, and not without 
occasionally shutting the companion, or covering up the stair-case, to avoid 
being wetted by the successive seas which broke over the bows, and fell 
upon different parts of the deck, according to the impetus with which the 
waves struck the vessel. By this time it was about 3 o'clock in the after- 
noon, and the gale, which had now continued with unabated force for 27 
hours, had not the least appearance of going off. 

Consultation about 
the probable event 
of her breaking 

The gale takes off. 

In the dismal prospect of undergoing another night like the last, and being 
in imminent hazard of parting from our cable, the writer thought it necessary 
to advise with the master and officers of the ship as to the probable event 
of the vessel's drifting from her moorings. They severally gave it as 
their opinion, that we had now every chance of riding out the gale, whieh, 
in all probability, could not continue with the same fury many hours 
longer ; and that even if she should part from her anchor, the storm-sails 
had been laid to hand, and could be bent in a very short time. They fur- 
ther stated, that from the direction of the wind being NE., she would sail 
up the Frith of Forth to Leith Roads. But if this should appear doubt- 
ful, after passing the Island and Light of May, it might be advisable at 
once to steer for Tyningham Sands, on the western side of Dunbar, and 
there run the vessel ashore. If this should happen at the time of high- 
water, or during the ebbing of the tide, they were of opinion, from the 
flatness and strength of the floating-light, that no danger would attend 
her taking the ground, even with a very heavy sea. The writer seeing 
the confidence which these gentlemen possessed with regard to the situa- 
tion of things, and their knowledge and ability, should the ship break 
adrift, found himself as much relieved with this conversation, as he had 
previously been with the seeming indifference of the forecastle-men, and the 
smile of the watch upon deck, though literally lashed to the foremast. 
From this time he felt himself almost perfectly at ease ; at any rate he was 
entirely resigned to the ultimate result. 

About 6 o'clock in the evening, the ship's company was heard moving 
upon deck, which, on the present occasion, was rather the cause of alarm. 
The writer accordingly rung his bell to know what was the matter, when 
he was informed by the steward, that the weather looked considerably bet- 



ter, and that the men upon deck were endeavouring to ship the smoke- 
funnel of the galley, that the people might get some meat. This was a 
more favourable account than had been anticipated. During the last 
twenty-one hours he himself had not only had nothing to eat, but he 
had almost never passed a thought on the subject. Upon the mention of 
a change of weather, he sent the steward to learn how the artificers 
felt, and on his return he stated that they now seemed to be all very hap- 
py, since the cook had begun to light the galley-fire, and make prepara- 
tions for the suet-pudding of Sunday, which was the only dish to be at- 
tempted for the mess, from the ease with which it could both be cooked and 
served up. 

chap. in. 

1807, September. 

The principal change felt upon the ship, as the wind abated, was 
her increased rolling motion, but the pitching was much diminished, 
and now hardly any sea came farther aft than the foremast ; but she 
rolled so extremely hard, as frequently to dip and take in water over 
the gunwales and rails in the waist, though, as before noticed, she was 
in light ballast trim. By 9 o'clock, all hands had been refreshed by the ex- 
ertions of the cook and steward, and were happy in the prospect of the 
worst of the gale being over. The usual complement of men was also now 
set on watch, and more quietness was experienced throughout the ship. 
Although the previous night had been a very restless one, it had not the 
effect of inducing repose in the writer's birth on the succeeding night, for 
having been so much tossed about in bed, during the last thirty hours, he 
found no easy spot to turn to, and his body was all sore to the touch, 
which ill accorded with the unyielding materials with which his bed-place 
was surrounded. 

This morning about 8 o'clock, the writer was agreeably surprised to see 
the scuttle of his cabin sky-light removed, and the bright rays of the 
sun admitted. Although the ship continued to roll excessively, and the 
sea was still running very high, yet the ordinary business on board 
seemed to be going forward on deck. It was impossible to steady a te- 
lescope, so as to look minutely at the progress of the waves, and trace their 
breach upon the Bell Bock, but the height to which the cross-running 
waves rose in sprays, when they met each other, was truly grand, and the 
continued roar and noise of the sea was very perceptible to the ear. To 
estimate the height of the sprays at forty or fifty feet, would surely be with- 
in the mark. Those of the workmen who were not much afflicted with 

Monday, 7th. 
Appearance of the 
sea upon the Bell 




1807, September. 

breaks adrift. 

sea-sickness, came upon deck, and the wetness below being dried up, the 
cabins were again brought into a habitable state. Every one seemed to 
meet as if after a long absence, congratulating his neighbour upon the 
return of good weather. Little could be said as to the comfort of the ves- 
sel, but after riding out such a gale, no one felt the least doubt or hesi- 
tation as to the safety and good condition of her moorings. The master 
and mate were extremely anxious, however, to heave in the hempen cable, 
and see the state of the clinch or iron ring of the chain-cable. But the 
vessel rolled at such a rate, that the seamen could not possibly keep their 
feet at the windlass, nor work the hand-spokes, though it had been several 
times attempted since the gale took off. 

About 12 noon, however, the vessel's motion was observed to be consi- 
derably less, and the sailors were enabled to walk upon deck with some de- 
gree of freedom. But, to the astonishment of every one, it was soon discover- 
ed that the floating-light was adrift ! The windlass was instantly manned, 
and the men soon gave out that there was no strain upon the cable. The miz- 
zen sail, which was bent for the occasional purpose of making the vessel ride 
more easily to the tide, was immediately set, and the other sails were also 
hoisted in a short time, when, in no small consternation, we bore away, about 
one mile to the south-westward of the former station, and there let go the best 
bower anchor and cable in twenty fathoms water, to ride until the swell of 
the sea should fall, when it might be practicable to grapple for the moor- 
ings, and find a better anchorage for the ship. 

Cable supposed to 
have been cut by a 
piece of wreck. 

As soon as the deck could be cleared, the cable-end was hove up, which 
had parted at the distance of about fifty fathoms from the chain-moorings. 
On examining the cable, it was found to be considerably chafed, but where 
the separation took place, it appeared to be worn through, or cut shortly off. 
How to account for this would be difficult, as the ground, though rough and 
gravelly, did not, after much sounding, appear to contain any irregular parts. 
It was therefore conjectured, that the cable must have hooked some piece 
of wreck, as it did not appear, from the state of the wind and tide, that 
the vessel could have fouled her anchor; when she veered round with 
the wind, which had shifted, in the course of the night, from NE. to 
N.NW. Be this as it may, it was a circumstance quite out of the power of 
man to prevent, as, until the ship drifted, it was found impossible to heave 
up the cable. But what ought to have been the feeling of thankfulness to 
that Providence which regulates and appoints the lot of man, when it is 

OPERATIONS OF 1807. 161 

considered, that if this accident had happened during the storm, or in the chap, hi. 
night after the wind had shifted, the floating-light must inevitahly have isot, September. 
gone ashore upon the Bell Rock. In short, it is hardly possible to con- 
ceive any case more awfully distressing than our situation would have been, or 
one more disastrous to the important undertaking in which we were engaged. 

In the present untoward state of things, the writer had chiefly to regret 
the necessity of making a permanent change in the position of the moor- 
ings of the floating-light, after her station had been publicly advertised, 
and within a week of the time of exhibiting the light. It had also be- 
come more evident that this vessel could not be continued as a tender or 
store-ship for the work. The object of consideration, therefore, was to 
place her in a situation where she would be most useful to shipping. It 
was evident that she must now be stationed at about double her former dis- 
tance from the rock, or, instead of one mile, that she must be moored up- 
wards of two miles from it, on ground formerly ascertained to have been 
good, but considered too distant from the operations. 

In the evening the Smeaton came off from Arbroath, with provisions and Difficulty of man- 
necessaries for the work. There being little wind, and a heavy swell in the light, 
sea, it was not safe that the vessels should come in contact with each other. 
Mr Macurieh, the mate, who came within hail, in the Smeaton's boat, 
informed us, that two seamen had come off to make up the complement of 
the crew of the floating-light, and that they would be brought on board 
the first opportunity. From the manner in which this address was made, 
and the enquiry as to how we rode out the gale, it was evident that the 
crew of the Smeaton were not aware that the floating-light had shifted her 
place ; nor, indeed, was this at all obvious, unless by a particular observation 
made by the mariner's compass, in reference to the position of the rock. 

The peculiarity of this service rendered it difficult to procure good sea- 
men to embark in it, and the original crew dropped off" one after another 
as the winter season began to advance ; for as yet our naval heroes had not 
shewn the possibility of remaining for months together, even off an enemy's 
coast. It was therefore found to be an extremely difficult matter to get the 
crew of the floating-light recruited from time to time; and, under the 
perplexity of our present situation, it was some alleviation to be told that 
there were men voluntarily offering their services. 





In the course of this day the wind had veered from N.NW. to NE., 
1807, September, but the weather was mild, and the sea had fallen considerably, so that the 
boat came alongside with the two seamen, and a supply of necessaries. 
The Smeaton was then dispatched to Arbroath for another set of moorings 
for the floating-light, in case of our not finding those from which she had 
drifted. Letters were also dispatched to the Light-house Board, intimat- 
ing the particulars of the floating-light's new ground, that additional notice 
might be given to shipping. 

Wednesday, 9th. 
Floating-light an- 
chored in her new 

The weather continued to be extremely agreeable, though the wind 
kept shifting about. Having got every thing in readiness for moving to the 
new station, which had again been carefully sounded, the floating-light was 
got under way, — which the author had fondly hoped never to have seen, till 
after her purpose as a temporary light had been supplied by a permanent 
building upon the Bell Rock. At 9 o'clock a. m. the best bower anchor 
was let go upon the new ground, in twenty fathoms water, on clean sand 
mixed with fine silt or mud, appearing to be the deposited matters borne 
along by the currents from the river Tay ; the Bell Rock bearing SE. | S. 
distant about 2i miles. 

Monday, 14th. 

It is found imprac- 
ticable to land to- 

The Smeaton returned to Arbroath, after landing her dispatches ; but 
the wind and the swell of the sea having again increased, she was obliged 
to remain in port till the 14th. As the floating-light still rode at single 
anchor, it was often an anxious wish to have her once more properly fixed 
with chain moorings ; but, as yet, no opportunity had occurred for re- 
covering the old chain, and it took some time to prepare a new one. The 
Smeaton having returned from Arbroath this morning, the writer went 
on board of her, carrying with him all the artificers. At 6 an attempt was 
made to land, but the sea ran so heavily, and the breakers rushed with 
such fury in every direction, that after rowing all around the rock, the 
boats were obliged to return without success. It deserves remark, how- 
ever, that this was the first attempt to land this season, in which it had 
been found impracticable, after actually embarking in the boats. 

Tuesday, 15th. 
State of matters at 
the rock, after a 
lapse of ten days. 

This morning at 5 a. m., the bell rung as a signal for landing upon the 
rock, a sound which, after a lapse of ten days, it is believed was welcomed 
by every one on board. There being a heavy breach of sea at the eastern 
creek, we landed, though not without difficulty, on the western side, 

OPERATIONS OF 1807. 163 

every one seeming more eager than another to get upon the rock, and never chap. in. 
did hungry men sit down to a hearty meal with more appetite than the ar- 1 so 7, September. 
tificers began to pick the dulse from the rocks. This marine plant had 
the effect of reviving the sickly, and seemed to be no less relished by 
those who were more hardy. 

While the water was ebbing, and the men were roaming in quest of 
their favourite morsel, the writer was examining the effects of the storm 
upon the forge, and loose apparatus left upon the rock. The six 
large blocks of granite which had been landed, by way of experiment, 
on the 1st instant, were now removed from their places, and, by the force 
of the sea, thrown over a rising ledge into a hole at the distance of twelve 
or fifteen paces from the place on which they had been landed. This 
was a pretty good evidence, both of the violence of the storm and the agi- 
tation of the sea upon the rock. The safety of the smith's forge was al- 
ways an object of essential regard. The ash-pan of the hearth or fire-place, 
with its weighty cast-iron back, had been washed from their places of sup- 
posed security : the chains of attachment had been broken, and these pon- 
derous articles were found at a very considerable distance, in a hole on the 
western side of the rock ; while the tools and picks of the Aberdeen ma- 
sons were scattered about in every direction. It is, however, remark- 
able, that not a single article was ultimately lost. A mushroom-anchor, 
weighing about 22 cwt., had been driven from its station at some distance, 
and thrown upon the rock, being found in one of the landing creeks. The 
floating-buoy being still attached to it, had received no material damage, 
though it had been chafed and was water-logged. This buoy, with its 
moorings, consisting of 24 fathoms of chain, and the anchor, had been 
given up as lost, ever since the gale ; but just as the boats were about to 
leave the rock, they were fortunately observed between two ledges of 
rock, by one of the seamen. 

After having been two hours and a half upon the rock this morning, Work, this tide, con- 
the boats left it at a quarter past 8. At half-past 6 v. m., they again re- hour. 5 ° n 5 ° r ° ne 
turned ; but the smith having fallen into the water in landing, got the 
tinder so wetted, that he could not strike fire, and the work was left off at 
7, after one hour's work, for want of sharp tools. — The site of the beacon 
being now prepared, and the stanchion-holes excavated, the mode of em- 
ploying the artificers was reversed, only four being occupied at the beacon 
works, and twelve in preparing the foundation of the light-house. 





1807, September. 
Floating-light first 

This being the night on which the floating-light was advertised to be 
lighted, it was accordingly exhibited, to the great joy of every one. For, 
besides the benefit to be derived by shipping in general, from this tempo- 
rary light, it was also to be of great service to the operations at the Bell 
Rock, as it became a point of reference for the conveniency and safety of 
the light-house vessels, either in riding at the buoys, or in cruising about 
the rock. The event of lighting up this ship, was, therefore, ushered in 
with three hearty cheers, and a dram was served out to all hands. 

Wednesday, 16th. The wea ther continuing to be moderate, with gentle breezes from NW. 

to N.NE., this morning the work commenced at the rock at half-past 6, 
and the boats left it again at a quarter from 9, after the artificers had 
been at work two hours and a half. 

Light-house Yacht 
becomes a Tender to 
the works. 

Artificers agree to 
remain at the rock 
after their engage- 
ment had expired. 

The writer was made happy to-day, by the return of the Light-house 
Yacht, from a voyage to the Northern Light-houses. She had sailed from 
the Bell Rock on the 5th of last month for the Orkneys, and had passed 
the Western Islands to the Clyde, returning to the eastern coast by the 
Forth and Clyde Canal, after having discharged stores at the several 
Light-houses in her track. The arrival of this vessel was a great relief, as 
she brought a set of moorings with her for the floating-light, which 
still rode at single anchor. Having immediately removed on board of this 
fine vessel of eighty-one tons register, the artificers gladly followed, for, 
though they found themselves more pinched for accommodation on board 
of the Yacht, and still more so in the Smeaton ; yet they greatly preferred 
either of these to the Pharos or floating-light, on account of her rolling 
motion, though in all respects fitted up for their conveniency. 

The writer called them to the quarter-deck, and informed them that 
having been one month afloat, in terms of their agreement, they were 
now at liberty to return to the work-yard at Arbroath, if they preferred this 
to continuing at the Bell Rock. But they replied, that, in the prospect of 
soon getting the beacon erected upon the rock, and having made a change 
from the floating-light, they were now perfectly reconciled to their situa- 
tion, and would remain afloat till the end of the working season. This was 
considered a matter of the greatest importance to the success of the work ; 
for, from the circumstances of the bad weather, and the drifting of the 
floating-light, it seemed extremely doubtful but the whole of the work- 
men might have been induced to go on shore, which would have deterred 

OPERATIONS OF 1807. 165 

others from embarking in this perilous service, at so advanced a period of chap. hi. 
the season. At all events, it must have required no small trouble to have i807, September. 
brought a new set of men to expertness in the minutiae of the traffic in 
boats, and getting in and out of the vessels. Of those who had originally 
come off to the work on the 17th of August, only one man, already al- 
luded to, who was a great martyr to sea-sickness, had returned to the 

The wind was at NE. this morning, and though there were only light ThuKa a y> I'tfa- 

, -i ii-i it mi Accident happens to 

airs, yet there was a pretty heavy swell coming ashore upon the rock. Ihe one of the boats. 
boats landed at half-past 7 o'clock a. m., at the creek on the southern side 
of the rock, marked Port Hamilton in Plate VI., which to-day was found 
to be the most accessible landing-place. But as one of the boats was in the 
act of entering this creek, the seaman at the bow oar, who had just enter- 
ed the service, having inadvertently expressed some fear, from a heavy sea 
which came rolling towards the boat, and one of the artificers having at the 
same time looked round and missed a stroke with his oar, such a preponder- 
ance was thus given to the rowers upon the opposite side, that when the 
wave struck the boat, it threw her upon a ledge of shelving rocks, where the 
water left her, and she having kanted to seaward, the next wave complete- 
ly filled her with water. After making considerable efforts, the boat was 
again got afloat in the proper track of the creek, so that we landed without 
any other accident than a complete ducking. This accident caused us to 
lose some time ; but, as the boats could not conveniently leave the, rock till 
flood-tide, and there being no possibility of getting a shift of clothes, the 
artificers began with all speed to work, so as to bring themselves in- 
to heat, while the writer, and his assistants, kept as much as possible in mo- 
tion. Having remained more than an hour upon the rock, the boats left it 
at half-past 9 ; and after getting on board, the writer recommended to the ar- 
tificers, as the best mode of getting into a state of comfort, to strip off their 
wet clothes, and go to bed for an hour or two. No farther inconveniency 
was felt, and no one seemed to complain of the affection called " catching 

It was a standing order in the landing department, that every man 
should use his greatest exertions, in giving the boats sufficient force or ve- 
locity to preserve their steerage-way in entering the respective creeks at the 
rock, that the contending seas might not have the command of the boat 
at places where the free use of the oars could not be had, on account of 


chap. in. the surrounding rocks. The late accident, accordingly, put all hands more 
1807, September, upon their guard, as such an occurrence might have proved fatal to all on 
board, under a very slight change of circumstances. 

Friday, isth. The gjgt object to be accomplished, with the assistance of the Light- 

ed in hfr ntw staT" house Yacht, was to get the floating-light secured at her new station, an 
operation which required the finest of weather. To-day, the wind was at 
NE., and although moderate, it was, of all others, most dreaded at the Bell 
Rock, the heavy gale of the 6th instant having been from this direction. 
The writer, however, judged it advisable to proceed with the laying down 
of the new moorings, and in case of any accident by the slipping of the 
chain, as formerly, the artificers, instead of going to the rock this tide, were 
kept on board, that the seamen and all hands might be on the spot to ren- 
der assistance. These new moorings consisted of 40 fathoms of chain, made 
from iron-bars of one inch square, with a cast-iron mushroom-anchor, weigh- 
ing 1 ton 1 cwt. 2 qrs. 4 lb. This anchor and chain, were let down 
in a depth of twenty-one fathoms, the Bell Rock being from the new 
station SE. i S., distant two and a half miles ; Redhead N. by E., dis- 
tant ten miles ; Arbroath N.NW, distant about ten miles ; Fifeness SW. 
by W., distant about eleven miles, and Isle of May SW. by S., distant 
sixteen miles. The moorings having been laid down on this spot, a 
buoy was placed upon them. The Yacht then took the floating-light 
in tow to her new station, where she was made fast to the chain, with a new 
cable measuring sixteen inches in circumference. This business was suc- 
cessfully accomplished at about 2 o'clock v. m., after six hours of very hard 

The first cables of the floating-light were of patent cordage, made of 
the very best materials, and most beautifully laid by machinery. But 
the sailors complained that these ropes were so stiff and unpliable, that 
they could neither be got stowed in the hold, nor run freely out of the 
hause-holes. These difficulties were also more felt with the patent laid 
cables, after the weather became somewhat cold. It was, therefore, found 
necessary to get a new cable, laid in the ordinary way, for the winter months. 

smeaton arrives with^f Another important occurrence, connected with the operations of this sea- 
Beacon in tow. e son, was the arrival of the Smeaton at 4 P. M., having in tow the six princi- 
pal beams of the Beacon-house, together with all the stanchions and other 
work on board for fixing it on the rock. The mooring of the floating-light 

OPERATIONS OF 1807. 167 

was a great point gained, but, in the erection of the beacon at this late pe- chap. iil 
riod of the season, new difficulties presented themselves. The success of iso7, September. 
such an undertaking, at any season, was precarious ; because a single day 
of bad weather occurring, before the necessary fixtures could be made, 
might sweep the whole apparatus from the rock. Notwithstanding these 
difficulties, the writer had determined to make the trial, although he 
could almost have wished, upon looking at the state of the clouds, and 
the direction of the wind, that the apparatus for the beacon had been still 
in the work-yard. 

The weather to-day did not prognosticate any thing very favourable ; Saturday, 19th. 
the wind, though in light breezes, continued at NE., and it was oc- ^ZfS^J° r 
casionally almost calm. The main beams of the Beacon were made up in 
two separate rafts, fixed with bars and bolts of iron. One of these rafts, 
not being immediately wanted, was left astern of the floating-light, and 
the other was kept in tow by the Smeaton, at the buoy nearest to the rock. 
The Light-house Yacht rode at another buoy, with all hands on board that 
could possibly be spared out of the floating-light ; including also ten addi- 
tional men, as carpenters, smiths and sailors, brought off for this operation. 
The party of artificers and seamen which landed this morning on the Bell 
Rock, counted altogether forty in number. At half-past 8 o'clock, a Der- 
rick or mast of thirty feet in height, was erected and properly supported 
with guy-ropes, for suspending the block for raising the first principal 
beam of the beacon ; and a winch-machine was also bolted down to the 
rock for working the purchase-tackle. The necessary blocks and tackle were 
likewise laid to hand and properly arranged. The artificers and seamen 
were severally allotted in squads to different stations ; some were to bring 
the principal beams to hand, others were to work the tackles, while a third 
set had the charge of the iron-stanchions, bolts, and wedges, so that the 
whole operation of raising the beams, and fixing them to the rock, might 
go forward in such a manner that some provision might be made, in every 
stage of the work, for securing what had been accomplished, in case of a 
change of weather. 

. Upon raising the derrick, all hands on the rock spontaneously gave 
three hearty cheers, as a favourable omen of our future exertions in point- 
ing out more permanently the position of the rock. Even to this single 
spar of timber, could it be preserved, a drowning man might lay hold. 
When the Smeaton drifted on the 2d of this month, such a spar would 


chap. in. have been sufficient to save us, till she could have come to our relief. These 
1807, September, preparations for the erection of the Beacon having been previously made, 
the writer collected the heads of the several departments on board of the 
Light-house Yacht, particularly the foremen of the builders and joiners, 
and the masters and mates of the vessels. Here the operation of raising 
and fixing the first four beams was again talked over and arranged, as, from 
the very limited period of working on the rock, every thing required to be 
performed in the most prompt and systematic manner, as previously set- 

Sunday, sotn. The wind this morning was variable, but the weather continued ex- 

L ams 0f ere h c e te P d rinCipal tremely favourable for the operations throughout the whole day. At 6 
a. m. the boats were in motion, and the raft, consisting of four of the six 
principal beams of the Beacon-house, each measuring about sixteen inches 
square, and fifty feet in length, was towed to the rock, where it was an- 
chored, that it might ground upon it as the water ebbed. At 7 a. m. the 
boats of the Floating-light, the Yacht, and the Smeaton, arrived at the 
rock, when the work immediately commenced. The sailors and artificers, 
including all hands to-day, counted no fewer than fifty-two, being perhaps 
the greatest number of persons ever collected upon the Bell Rock. It was 
early in the tide when the boats reached the rock, and the men worked a 
considerable time up to their middle in water, every one being more eager 
than his neighbour to be useful. Even the four artificers, who had hitherto 
declined working on Sunday, were to-day most zealous in their exertions ; 
they had indeed become so convinced of the precarious nature and neces- 
sity of the work, that they never afterwards absented themselves from 
the rock on Sunday, when a landing was practicable. 

Method of raisins Having made fast a piece of very good new line, at about two thirds 

of^teBracmJiouse. from the lower end of one of the beams, the purchase-tackle of the derrick 
was hooked into the turns of the line, and it was speedily raised, by the num- 
ber of men on the rock, and the power of the winch tackle. When this 
log was lifted to a sufficient height, its foot, or lower end, was stepped into 
the spot which had been previously prepared for it. Two of the great iron 
stanchions were then set into their respective holes, on each side of the 
beam, when a rope was passed round them and the beam, to prevent it 
from slipping, till it could be more permanently fixed. The derrick or up- 
right spar used for carrying the tackle to raise the first beam, was placed 
in such a position as to become useful for supporting the upper end of it, 




which now became, in its turn, the prop of the tackle for raising the second 
beam, which was laid in such a position, that when hoisted up, its foot laor, September. 
slipped into its place, when it was, in like manner, lashed to its great 
iron stanchions on each side. The first and second beams being lashed to 
one another at the top, served as a pair of sheers, from which the purchase 
tackle was now suspended, for raising the other two beams, which were 
also speedily got into their places. The whole difficulty of this operation 
was in the raising and propping of the first beam, which became a conve- 
nient derrick for raising the second, these again a pair of sheers for lifting 
the third, and the sheers a triangle for raising the fourth. Having thus got 
four of the six principal beams set on end, it required a considerable degree 
of trouble to get their upper ends to fit. Here they formed the apex of 
a cone, and were all together mortised into a large piece of beechwood, and 
secured, for the present, with ropes, in a temporary manner. During the 
short period of one tide, all that could further be done for their security, 
was to put a single screw-bolt through the great kneed bats or stanchions 
on each side of the beams, and screw the nut home. In this manner each 
beam, with its respective pair of bats, was fixed, besides being strongly 
bound together with ropes. 

While one set of the artificers were employed in this operation, another Method of fixing the 

. , . . , ,. -i-ii great iron stanchions 

fixed the great iron-stanchions into the rock, into which they were sunk into the rock, 
to the depth of about twenty inches. They were of a dove-tail or wedge 
form, at the lower end, where they measured an inch and a half in thick- 
ness ; were about four inches in their medium breadth ; and were let perpen- 
dicularly into the rock, but kneed or bent to suit the angle which the 
beams formed with it. These great bats or stanchions had much the 
figure and appearance of a soldier's musket ; they were five feet in length, 
and weighed about 140 lb. each. Instead of running the bat-holes full of 
melted lead, as is common in operations of this kind, but which, in case 
of friction or movement, is apt to be squeezed out of the holes, all the bats 
made use of at the Bell Rock, as before noticed, were fixed by means of 
wedges. Several of the artificers were therefore employed in wedging these 
stanchions first with fir-timber, then with oak, and lastly with iron, driven 
into spaces left for this purpose, between the bats and the rock. These 
wedges were driven so firmly, that although the stanchions were the only 
fixture for this wooden house, it had not been found necessary to drive 
any of the wedges a second time. 




1807, September. 
Have seven hours 
work upon the rock. 

In this manner these four principal beams were erected, and left in a 
pretty secure state. It, however, required the whole tide to get this much 
accomplished. Indeed, the men had commenced during ebb-tide, while 
there was about two or three feet water upon the site of the Beacon, and as 
the sea was smooth, they continued the work equally long during flood- 
tide. Two of the boats being left at the rock to take off the joiners, who 
were busily employed on the upper parts till 2 o'clock p. m., this tide's 
work may be said to have continued for about seven hours, which was the 
longest that had hitherto been got upon the rock by at least three hours. 

When the first boats left the rock with the artificers employed on the 
lower part of the work during the flood-tide, the Beacon had quite a novel 
appearance. The beams erected, formed a common base of about thirty- 
three feet, meeting at the top, which, independently of ulterior works, was 
about forty-five feet above the rock, and here half a dozen of the artificers 
were still at work. After clearing the rock, the boats made a stop, when 
three hearty cheers were given, which were returned with equal good will 
by those upon the Beacon, from the personal interest which every one felt 
in the prosperity of this work, so intimately connected with his safety. 

aii hands assemble All hands having returned to their respective ships, they got a shift of 

to prayers. i clothes, and some refreshment. Being Sunday, they were afterwards 

convened by signal on board of the Light-house Yacht, when prayers were 
read ; for every heart, upon this occasion, felt gladness, and every mind was 
disposed to be thankful for the happy and successful termination of the 
operations of this day. The crews then returned to their respective ships, 
and as nothing further could be done to the Beacon during the night tide, 
there was no landing made in the evening. 

Monday 2ist. The weather most fortunately continued favourable for the operations, 

the wind being westerly, with fresh breezes. The boats landed at half-past 7 
a. M., the number of persons on the rock being, as formerly, fifty-two ; the 
work was carried on till half-past 12, making four hours and a half 
upon the rock. The remaining two principal beams were erected in the 
course of this tide, which, with the assistance of those set up yesterday, was 
found to be a very simple operation. In hoisting up the sixth and last log, 
however, and just when it was about to be kanted into its place, the iron- 
hook of the principal purchase-block gave way, and this great beam, mea- 


suring fifty feet in length, fell upon the rock with a terrible crash ; 
but what is not a little wonderful, although there were fifty-two people en- 
gaged round the beacon, yet not one was hurt in the slightest degree by its 
fall. The beam itself was only a little shaken near the upper end, but was 
not materially damaged. Another block was immediately hooked, in the 
place of that which had failed, and the beam was got into its place without 
much delay. Every possible exertion was now made to fix the lower ends 
of the beams to the rock, by connecting them with their respective stan- 
chions, while three strong hoops of malleable iron were employed, for se- 
curing the whole in one mass at the top. 

The six principal beams of the beacon were thus secured, at least in a 
temporary manner, in the course of two tides, or in the short space of about 
eleven hours and a half. The only inconveniency attending this operation, 
arose from the derrick for raising the first beam being rather too short. It 
was only thirty feet in height, whereas it was found that it would have 
answered better had it been about forty-five feet. We were also a good 
deal troubled and perplexed with the logs afloat, from having the six prin- 
cipal beams in two rafts : it would have been more convenient had they 
been lashed together in pairs, and then rafted in one lot. The writer 
concludes, upon the whole, that about eight hours only were actually em- 
ployed in raising the beams of the beacon, and fixing them in a temporary 
manner. Such is the progress that may be made, when active hands and 
willing minds set properly to work in operations of this kind. 



1807, September. 

Having now got the weighty part of this work over, and being thereby Tuesday, 22a. 
relieved of the difficulty both of landing and victualling such a number i F n ° U be°ams e S eTu P ° rt " 
of men, the Smeaton could now be spared, and she was accordingly dis- 
patched to Arbroath, for a supply of water and provisions, and carried with 
her six of the artificers who could best be spared. The wind to-day was 
due west, and blowing so fresh, that the boats had some difficulty in 
landing the remaining thirty-six persons at 8 a. m. who continued on the 
rock till half-past 12, having had four and a half hours work. During 
this tide four of the struts, or supporting beams, were set up, butting 
against the inside of four of the principal beams. These supports were 
each about twenty feet in length, varying somewhat according to the inequa- 
lities of the rock. At the foot they were fixed to the rock with stanchions, 
similar to those of the principal beams, and at the top they were connect- 



chap. in. ed with pieces of oak, strongly strapped with iron, collapsing around the 
1 807, September, principal beams to which they were bolted. 

Wednesday, 23d. Landed at half-past 9 this morning, and succeeded in getting up the two 

difficuny S m leaving e remaining supports, and in fixing several of the bracing chains. But, instead 
the rock to-day. £ ending a t present into any farther details about the several parts of the 
beacon, it will be better to refer these to the letter-press description of 
Plate XII. After having been four and a half hours at work on the rock 
to-day, the boats left it, though not without considerable difficulty, as 
the wind had been blowing fresh all the last night, and to-day it was 
shifting and veering about from N.W. to N.NE., which had already set 
up a pretty heavy sea. In going out of the eastern harbour, the boat 
which the writer steered shipped a sea, that filled her about one-third 
with water. She had also been hid for a short time, by the waves break- 
ing upon the rock, from the sight of the crew of the preceding boat, who 
were much alarmed for our safety, imagining for a time that she had gone 

shipping separated The Smeaton returned from Arbroath this afternoon, but there was 

so much sea that she could uot be made fast to her moorings ; she 
therefore let go her small bower anchor, in order to get a supply of pro- 
visions put on board of the Light-house yacht, and receive other six of 
the artificers to carry ashore. But the anchor was no sooner let go than 
it broke among the rocks, and the vessel was obliged to return to Arbroath, 
without being able either to deliver the provisions, or take the artificers 
on board. The Light-house yacht was also soon obliged to follow her ex- 
ample, as the sea was breaking heavily over her bows. After getting two 
reefs in the mainsail, and the third or storm-jib set, the wind being SW., 
she beat to windward, though blowing a hard gale, and got into St Andrew's 
Bay, where we passed the night under the lee of Fifeness. In these 
circumstances, it was impossible for the writer to divest himself of much 
anxiety for the fate of the newly erected beacon, which was still but im- 
perfectly fixed to the rock, 

Thursday, 24th. At 2 o'clock this morning we were in St Andrew's Bay, standing 

off and on shore, with strong gales of wind at SW. ; at 7 we were off 
the entrance of the Tay; at 8 stood towards the rock, and at 10 passed 
to leeward of it, but could not attempt a landing. The beacon, however, 
appeared to remain in good order, and by 6 p. m. the vessel had again 

OPERATIONS OF 1807. 173 

beaten up to St Andrew's Bay, and got into somewhat smoother water for chap. m. 

the night. 1807, September. 

The wind still continues at SW., blowing very hard ; at 7 o'clock bore Frida y, 25th - 
away for the Bell Rock, but finding a heavy sea running on it, were un- 
able to land. The writer, however, had the satisfaction to observe, with his te- 
lescope, that every thing about the beacon appeared entire, and although 
the sea had a most frightful appearance, yet it was the opinion of every 
one, that, since the erection of the beacon, the Bell Rock was divested of 
many of its terrors, and, had it been possible to have got the boats hoisted 
out and manned, it might have even been found practicable to land : the 
vessel was, therefore, kept in the track of the rock, till it could be determin- 
ed if a landing might be effected with the afternoon's tide. The Yacht, 
in the mean time, stood towards the Redhead on the opposite shore, and at 
5 p. M. returned ; but both the wind and sea had rather increased. At 6 
it blew so hard, that it was found necessary to strike the topmast and take 
in a third reef of the mainsail, and under this low canvas we soon reached 
St Andrew's Bay, and got again under the lee of the land for the night. 
The artificers being sea-hardy, were quite reconciled to their quarters on 
board of the Light-house Yacht ; but it is believed that hardly any consi- 
deration would have induced them again to take up their abode in the 

In the course of the last night, the wind had shifted from SW. to 

Saturday, 26th. 
Land on the rock af- 

W. "N W., with moderate weather. At dav-light, the Yacht steered to- ter *" absence of 

t-» ^ t ^ our ^ays- 

wards the Bell Rock, and at 8 a. m., made fast to her moorings ; at 10, all 

hands, to the amount of thirty, landed, when the writer had the happiness 

to find that the beacon had withstood the violence of the gale and the 

heavy breach of sea, every thing being found in the same state in 

which it had been left on the 21st. The artificers were now enabled to 

work upon the rock throughout the whole day, both at low and high water, 

but it required the strictest attention to the state of the weather, in case of 

their being overtaken with a gale, which might prevent the possibility 

of getting them off the rock.' To-day, one half of the artificers remained 

on the beacon till half-past 6 p. M., having been eight hours and a half at 

work upon it. 

Two somewhat memorable circumstances in the annals of the Bell Rock ecTfro'm t^Trock to" 
attended the operations of this day ; one was the removal of Mr James tbe Beacon - 




1807, September. 

Dove, the foreman smith, with his apparatus, from the rock to the upper 
part of the beacon, where the forge was now erected on a temporary 
platform, laid on the cross beams or upper framing. The other was, 
the artificers having dined for the first time upon the rock, their din- 
ner being cooked on board of the Yacht, and sent to them by one of the 
boats. But what afforded the greatest happiness and relief, was the re- 
moval of the large bellows, which had all along been a source of much 
trouble and perplexity, by their hampering and incommoding the boat 
which carried the smiths and their apparatus. The men belonging to 
that boat were so delighted with this occurrence, that while the bellows 
were in the act of being hoisted up to their new station, they gave three 
such hearty cheers, from below, as astonished and surprised those who 
were working the tackle on the beacon, to such a degree, that, for a mo- 
ment, they let the rope slip through their hands, and had they not speedi- 
ly caught hold again, this useful implement might have been dashed to pie- 
ces, — which woidd have been a misfortune of no small import, considering 
the state of the works at the present crisis. 

Sunday 27th. It being now the period of neap-tides, other ten of the artificers were sent 

ashore to the work-yard at Arbroath, which reduced our complement at the 
rock to twenty. The boats landed the people this morning at 11, but the ma- 
sons had only about an hour's work on the highest part of the foundation of 
the light-house, which was only partially left by the water, the joiners and two 
blacksmiths being busily employed in completing and securing the several 
parts of the beacon, particularly in screwing the bolts of the stanchions and 
bracing-chains, and in staying the lower part of the beams. They continu- 
ed at these operations till 6 o'clock p. m., having been nine hours upon the 

Monday, 28th. 
The writer sails for 
Arbroath after hav- 
ing been four weeks 

The joiners and smiths were landed on the beacon at 7 a. m., where 
they continued all day, and were brought off again at 5 p. M. The Smea- 
ton had just returned from Leith, where she had been sent for sundry ma- 
terials connected with the work. The joiners and smiths were ten hours upon 
the rock to-day, which was the longest period they had hitherto been upon 
it at any one time. They now had their dinner regularly sent to the bea- 
con, and could continue at work throughout the whole day, while the weather 
was sufficiently moderate to admit of the boats plying to and from the rock. 
To-day the water did not leave it, and it was now the seventh day since the 
lowest part of the foundation or site of the light-house had been seen. 



The Beacon being now in a comparative state of security, the Smea- 
ton was left at the rock as a tender, and the writer sailed in the Light- 
house yacht, this afternoon, to inquire into the operations of the work- 
yard at Arbroath. After setting sail, and looking back upon the Bell 
Rock, it was quite astonishing to observe the change in the appearance of 
things, which the erection of these beams had produced. To shipping they 
became an excellent beacon ; while they induced the greatest confidence of 
safety in all who were actively engaged in this work. The vessel anchored 
in the bay of Arbroath, at a late hour, when the writer landed, for the 
first time since the commencement of the working season, on the 1 7th of 
August ; after having been between four and five weeks afloat. 


1807, September. 

This morning was occupied in going over the work-yard with Mr Da- 
vid Logan, clerk of works, who had charge of the hewing department. The 
first entire course of the building was now partly laid upon the platform : 
a few stones of the'second course, and several of the higher courses, were also 
in progress. But from the backward state of the quarries in the production 
of stones of large dimensions, it was found necessary to make some additional 
exertions for procuring a more regular supply, and a person was there- 
fore dispatched to the quarries of Aberdeen and Mylnefield for this pur- 

Tuesday, 29th. 

Having made some further arrangements in the work-yard, the writer Sails a s ain &r the 
again embarked in the Yacht, and sailed for the Bell Rock this fore- 
noon, carrying with him Mr Peter Logan, the foreman builder, and the 
artificers who had formerly been at the rock ; but who had expressly sti- 
pulated that they were not to be obliged to continue longer afloat than the 
approaching spring-tides, when it was expected the Beacon works would be 
completely secured for the winter. In the early part of this day, there was 
little or no wind, but in the afternoon it came to blow very hard from south 
by west, and in the evening it had increased to a hard gale. Having stood 
off to the Bell Rock, and put the vessel under low canvas, we hailed the 
floating-light, and found her labouring very hard with sixty fathoms of 
cable out. We then stretched to the southern side of the Bell Rock, 
when the vessel was laid to ; but the Smeaton, which was also in company, 
being a small vessel, and much hampered with boats, was not in a condi- 
tion to keep at sea, and as soon as the gale got up she stood in for Ar- 
broath, and landed Mr Francis Watt, the foreman-joiner, and the artificers 
under his charge, to wait a favourable change of weather. 




180T, September. 

Wednesday, 30th. 
The vessels again se- 
parated by a sale. 

This morning it was calculated, by Mr Gloag, the commander of 
the Light-house Yacht, that she had drifted about thirty miles, in a SE. di- 
rection from the Redhead. About mid-day, the wind shifted to NW., and 
we steered for St Abb's Head, which was seen about twilight in the evening, 
and our course was directed across the Frith of Forth. When in the act of 
putting about the ship, the stem boat was very nearly lost, having been 
struck by a heavy sea which unhooked the fore-tackle. At midnight we 
got within a few miles of the light of May, and soon afterwards found 
smooth water in St Andrew's Bay, where we tacked, or " stood to and 
again," as the sailors term it, all night. 

Thursday 1st. 

This morning the wind shifted to NE. with moderate breezes. In 
the course of the forenoon we beat towards the Bell Rock, and sailed 
round it, when every thing appeared to be in good order about the beacon. 
Having no shelter in St Andrew's Bay with this wind, the Yacht stood 
alternately towards Arbroath and the Bell Rock for the nighl The 
floating-light being a most excellent guide for putting about, before the 
vessel got too near to the rock. The older sailors on board of the Yacht, on 
this occasion, made frequent observations as to the utility of this tempo- 
rary light, expressing their admiration at the change of circumstances which 
had led to their cruising with so much confidence, both by day and night, 
in the immediate vicinity of this dangerous rock. 

Friday 2d. 

Effect a landing at 
the rock. 

The wind having come round to NW. with fresh breezes, it soon »un 
down the north-easterly swell of the sea, and at half-past 1 P. M., all hands, 
to the amount of twenty, landed on the rock, though not without difficulty. 
Twelve of the masons were engaged during three hours, or till 4 o'clock, in 
excavating the foundation of the light-house, while the eight joiners and 
smiths, who also had arrived with the Smeaton, were employed at the works 
of the beacon for nine hours and a half ; and having continued at work by 
torchlight, they left the rock at half-past 10 o'clock p. m. 

State of the Beacon 
after the late gale. 

On carefully examining into the state of things at the Bell Rock, 
after the late gale, the writer had the satisfaction to find, that the principal 
beams of the beacon, with their diagonal supports, cross-beams and stan- 
chions connecting them to the rock, had not the smallest appearance of 
working or~shifting, as mechanics express it. One of the tie chains had 
indeed given way, and hung loosely from the beacon, and one of the bra- 
cing screws had wrought off its nut. This was an evidence that the prin- 



cipal beams from the elasticity of the timber, had been acted upon by the 
sea, and that they still required some additional stay in the middle. 
Such, however, were the fixtures of the beacon to the rock with the iron 
stanchions, and its connection at the top, where it was strongly girt with 
circular hoops of iron, that it was perfectly firm at both extremities. 
The central support was intended to be effected by means of strong bars 
of iron, stretching between the principal beams ; but the season was now 
too far advanced for such an undertaking, and therefore, the bracing- 
chains, represented in Plate VIII., were attached for the present. 

1807. October. 

It was not a little remarkable, that notwithstanding the impression 
which the sea had produced during the late gale, in shaking the beacon, 
so as to break one of the tie-chains, unscrew one of the bracing-bolts, and 
in shaking several of the smith's tools from his hearth on the platform at 
the top, yet these tools, and other small articles of iron, were all found 
lying on the rock. The nut of the bolt, for example, was got immediately 
under the chain from which it had dropped. Several other striking ex- 
amples of this kind were observable, shewing how little will shelter articles 
somewhat ponderous in themselves, when they lie at a considerable depth 
in water. 

The wind being west to-day, the weather was very favourable for the 
operations at the rock, and during the morning and evening tides, with the 
aid^of torch-light, the masons had seven hours' work upon the site of 
the building. The smiths and joiners, who landed at half-past 6 a. m., 
did not leave the rock till a quarter past lip. M., having been at work, 
with little intermission, for sixteen hours and three quarters. When the 
water left the rock, they were employed at the lower parts of the beacon, 
and as the tide rose or fell, they shifted the place of their operations. From 
these exertions, the fixing and securing of the beacon made rapid advance- 
ment, as the men were now landed in the morning, and remained through- 
out the day. But, as a sudden change of weather might have prevented 
their being taken off at the proper time of tide, a quantity of bread and 
water was always kept on the Beacon. 

Saturday 3d. 
Working hours great- 
ly extended. 

The wind was southerly during the fore part of the day, and towards even- 
ing it became quite calm. The boats landed the artificers this morning at 
a quarter before 7 o'clock ; when the masons had three and a half hours' 

Sunday 4th. 



chap. in. work at the foundation of the building, but the spring-tides were now 

1807, October. taking off; the best of them having unfortunately been lost during the 

late gale. The smiths and joiners, however, continued their operations 

throughout the whole of the day, and did not leave the rock till half-past 

12 at night. 

During this period of working at the Beacon all the day, and often a great 
part of the night, the writer was much on board of the Tender ; but, while 
the masons could work on the rock, aud frequently also while it was co- 
vered by the tide, he remained on the Beacon ; especially during the night, 
as he made a point of being on the rock to the latest hour, and was gene- 
rally the last person who stepped into the boat. He had laid this down as 
part of his plan of procedure ; and in this way had acquired, in the course of 
the first season, a pretty complete knowledge and experience of what could 
actually be done at the Bell Rock, under all circumstances of the weather. 
By this means also his assistants, and the artificers and mariners, got into 
a systematic habit of proceeding at the commencement of the work, which, 
it is believed, continued throughout the whole of the operations. 

The external part of the beacon was now finished, with its supports 
and bracing-chains, and whatever else was considered necessary for its sta- 
bility, in so far as the season would permit ; and although much was 
still wanting to complete this fabric, yet it was in such a state that 
it could be left without much fear of the consequences of a storm. The 
painting of the upper part was nearly finished this afternoon ; and the 
Smeaton had brought off a quantity of brush-wood and other articles, 
for the purpose of heating or charring the lower part of the principal beams, 
before being laid over with successive coats of boiling pitch, to the height 
of from eight to twelve feet, or as high as the rise of spring-tides. A small 
flag-staff having also been erected to-day, a flag was displayed for the first 
time from the Beacon, by which its perspective effect was greatly improved. 
On this, as on all like occasions at the Bell Rock, three hearty cheers were 
given ; and the steward served out a dram of rum to all hands, while 
the Light-house Yacht, Smeaton, and Floating-light, hoisted their colours 
in compliment to the Erection. 

Monday 5th. To-day the wind was westerly, and the weather was very wet ; but this 

was thought nothing of at the Bell Rock, so long as the wind kept mode- 
rate. At a quarter past 8 a. m. the boats landed the artificers. The 

Beacon works 
linished for the 

OPERATIONS OF 1807. 179 

masons had only 2j hours' work at the site of the building, owing chap. in. 
to the smallness of the ebb-tide ; but the joiners and smiths continued i sot, October. 
their operations till half-past lip. m., and were consequently 15 hours and 
a quarter upon the Rock. 

In the afternoon, and just as the tide's work was over, Mr John Ren- Mr Rennie and one 
nie, engineer, accompanied by his son Mr George, on their way to the Rock! S ° 
harbour-works of Fraserburgh, in Aberdeenshire, paid a visit to the Bell 
Rock, in a boat from Arbroath. It being then too late in the tide 
for landing, they remained on board of the Light-house Yacht all night, 
when the writer, who had now been secluded from society for several weeks, 
enjoyed much of Mr Rennie's interesting conversation ; both on general 
topics, and professionally upon the progress of the Bell-Rock works, on 
which he was consulted as chief engineer. The weather continued very 
moderate all night ; but although there was little swell in the sea, yet 
our quarters on board of the Yacht were not the most agreeable, especially 
to strangers. The vessel, being perfectly new, was so completely water- 
tight, that it was hardly possible to keep her free of bilge-water, and so 
strong was the hydrogenous gas or offensive effluvia arising from it, that it 
had affected the colour of the paint of the cabin floor-cloth, and even, to a 
certain degree, blackened the silver plate, coins and watch-cases on board, 
notwithstanding the frequent pumping of the ship, and other means which 
were taken to sweeten her. 

The artificers landed this morning at 9, after which one of the boats Tuesday 6th. 
returned to the ship for the writer and Messrs Rennie, who, upon land- ^ orks give " up for 

x the scflson* 

ing, were saluted with a display of the colours from the Beacon, and by 
three cheers from the workmen. Both the weather and the tide were 
pretty favourable for the operations, and the masons continued about three 
hours at work. Every thing was now in a prepared state for leaving the 
rock, and giving up the works afloat for this season, excepting some small 
articles, which would still occupy the smiths and joiners for a few days 
longer. They, accordingly, shifted on board of the Smeaton, while the 
Yacht left the rock for Arbroath, with Messrs Rennie, the writer, and 
the remainder of the artificers. But, before taking leave, the steward 
served out a farewell-glass, when three hearty cheers were given, and an 
earnest wish expressed, that every thing, in the spring of 1808, might be 
found in the same state of good order as it was now about to be left. 



1807, October. 

Number of days the 
artificers were actu- 
ally at work. 


In concluding the account of the first season's work, the writer may 
observe, that he had not at any time previously to his engaging in the Bell 
Rock works, been more than five or six days at sea on a stretch, even in 
the course of his voyages to the Northern Light-houses. But on the pre- 
sent occasion he had now been afloat upwards of seven weeks, with the 
exception of a single day spent in the Work Yard. Upon his return to 
the shore, therefore, after having successfully closed these critical opera- 
tions, he felt a mixed emotion of happiness and gratitude, for so pros- 
perous a termination ; and, participating in those feelings which are 
known to actuate the mariner, after a dangerous voyage, he looked with 
thankfulness to that Providence which had preserved those engaged in the 
work under so many perilous circumstances. 

The period during which the works had been continued, appeared of 
much longer duration to every one than it really was, for, upon calculating 
the actual time spent upon the rock, it amounted to about 180 hours, 
of which only 133 or about 13 j days, of 10 hours each, could be said 
to have been actively employed. Upon looking back on this result, the 
writer is astonished at what had been accomplished in so short a period ; 
for besides the erection of the principal beams of the Beacon-house, some- 
thing considerable had also been done towards the preparation of the 
site of the Light-house. He cannot, therefore, help thinking, that the 
experience of this season's work at the Bell Rock, affords a good example 
of what may be executed under similar circumstances, when every heart 
and every hand is anxiously and zealously engaged ; for the artificers 
wrought at the erection of the Beacon as for life ; or somewhat like men 
stopping a breach in a wall to keep out an overwhelming flood. 

Progress of the Work. 

In stating the progress of the Bell Rock works at the close of the 
first season, it is hardly necessary to say, that, for success, and ultimate 
utility, they far exceeded the writer's most sanguine expectations. By 
the erection of the frame-work of the Beacon-house, the rock had in a 
great measure been robbed of its terrors to those employed in building 
the Light-house. At all times when a boat could be put to sea, or ap- 
proach this sunken reef, there was not now that actual danger in landing 
which formerly presented itself. Should the Tender in future go a-drift, 

OPERATIONS OF 1807. 181 

or a boat happen to be wrecked on the rock, the Beacon could now be chap. hi. 
looked to as a place of shelter, till more efficient means could be resorted 1807, October, 
to. This work had always been a great desideratum with the writer, who 
had now chiefly to consider how the future steps were to be attained, 
having much less to occupy his attention in regard to the safety of the 
people employed. 

The whole of the artificers being collected at the work-yard of Arbroath, 
in the latter end of the month of October, their number amounted to 
forty-four. It, therefore, became indispensably necessary to get forward 
with the quarries, otherwise a number of experienced workmen must have 
been paid off, which would have been attended with much disadvantage to 
the operations at the rock next year. There was now every prospect 
that by mid-summer, the foundation or site of the Light-house would be 
completely excavated and ready for commencing the building ; while as yet 
the hewing of one entire course had not been completed, for want of ma- 
terials, although the stones of three or four successive courses were in pro- 
gress. For example, 10 blocks of granite were still wanting of the first 
course, 30 blocks of the second, which measured 18 inches in thickness, 
and 20 blocks of the third, and so of other courses. The procuring of a 
sufficient stock of materials, and getting the quarries into a more regular 
system of supply, became an object which we shall more particularly notice 
under the article Building Materials, in the following chapter. 

The Work- Yard at Arbroath, where the stones were collected and 
hewn, consisted of an inclosed piece of ground, extending to about three 
quarters of an acre, conveniently situate on the northern side of the 
Lady Lane, or street, leading from the western side of the Harbour, being 
only about 200 yards distant from the Light-House shipping birth, as will 
be seen from Plate XII. Upon this plot of ground there was built a suite 
or range of barrack-rooms for the art|ficers, and the several apartments 
connected with the engineer's office, mould-makers' drawing-room, stores, 
work-shops for smiths and joiners, stable, &c. extending 150 feet along 
the north side of the work-yard, which were now fully occupied. Shades 
of timber were also constructed for the workmen in wet weather, and a 
kiln for burning lime. In a centrical position of this ground, a circular 
platform of masonry was built, on which the stones were laid when dressed, 
and each course tried and marked, before being shipped for the rock. 
This platform measured 44 feet in diameter ; it was founded with large 
broad stones, at the depth of about 2 feet 6 inches, and built to within 




chap, ui. 10 inches of the surface with ruble work ; on which a course of neatly 
1807, November, dressed and well jointed masonry was laid, of the red sandstone from the 
quarries to the eastward of Arbroath, which brought the platform on a 
level with the surface of the ground. Here the dressed part of the first 
entire course of the Light-House was now lying, and the platform was 
so substantially built as to be capable of supporting any number of courses 
which it might be found convenient to lay upon it, in the further progress 
of the work. 


Mr Gloag, who commanded the Light-house Yacht, had been suc- 
cessful in grappling and finding the old moorings of the Pharos floating- 
light, from which that vessel had drifted after the dreadful gale of the 
6th of September. These he had weighed, and removed to within about 
400 fathoms of the new ground taken up by that vessel, and had placed a 
buoy upon them, that, in case of her again drifting, any vessel carrying the 
floating-light could immediately be brought to ride at these spare moor- 
ings. The Yacht had also lifted three of the four floating buoys, with 
their chains and mushroom anchors, from the neighbourhood of the Bell 
Rock, leaving one set for the use of the vessel occasionally attending for 
the purpose of inspecting the Beacon. In the course of the month of No- 
vember several very severe gales of wind occurred, and Mr Watt, the 
foreman joiner, who had been appointed to examine the rock at spring- 
tides, when the weather would permit, with three or four artificers, found 
some small repairs necessary, in consequence of damage which the Beacon 
had sustained. 

Sunday 22d. 
The Writer visits the 

On the morning of the 22d of this month, the writer landed at the Bell 
Rock, when the greater part of the bracing-chains of the Beacon were 
in a loosened state, and hanging from their eye-bolts, like so much shipwreck. 
Two of the chain-bats were also drawn, which had lifted considerable masses 
of the rock along with them. But after a most careful and minute exa- 
mination of the six principal beams of the beacon, and their respective sup- 
ports, it was satisfactory to find that the great iron-stanchions had not the 
smallest appearance of working or shifting ; the wedges of timber and iron 
having exactly the same appearance as when they were at first driven home 
by the hammer ; the coating of pitch and tar was also as entire upon the 
seams and joints as when first applied. Every thing connected with the 
fixing of the beams at the top was likewise in good order. Nor was it 
less surprising, after so much stormy weather, to find that the ruble build- 



ing, with Pozzolano's mortar, used in filling several holes in the site of the 
Beacon, remained in its place, having now become fully as hard as the ad- 
joining parts of the rock. 

Although it was found that the bracing-chains could not withstand the 
shaking and tremulous motion of the Beacon, yet they were again set 
up and tightened, with the exception of the two that had lifted their bats, 
with a mass of the rock ; which were knocked off altogether. It is here 
worthy of remark, that the bolts of the bracing screws had always a ten- 
dency to unlock, and one of the nuts, as before noticed, had even unscrewed 
no less than three inches. To prevent this in future, a piece of small wire 
was turned round the threads of each screw, which had a tendency to pre- 
serve them ; but still the chains stretched, became loose, and broke their 
eye-bolts, or lifted part of the rock with the strain. The bracing-chains 
may, however, be conceived to have had some effect in checking the force 
of the waves, as was observable in the operation of the sea upon the ex- 
tensive beds of marine plants. It often happened, when heavy seas were 
rolling along the Bell Rock, which at a distance threatened to overran 
the whole, that, upon reaching these beds of fuci, with which the flat and 
level parts of the rock were thickly coated, the velocity and force of the 
waves were immediately checked, and in a great measure destroyed. 


1S0T, November. 

The unlocking of screws, where washers had been introduced as a secu- 
rity, was rather unexpected, and the writer took an opportunity of con- 
versing with his much respected friend Professor Playfaie, of Edinburgh, 
regarding this circumstance. The Professor observed, that he had experien- 
ced some inconveniency of this kind from the unlocking of almost all the 
screws of a telescope, which had been sent to him from London by the 
mail-coach. Indeed from the spiral form of the screw, which is, in fact, an 
inclined plane, Mr Playfair readily accounted for such an occurrence ; and 
when reflected upon, it seems to be an effect rather to be looked for, and is 
a reason why rivetting the point of a bolt, in preference to screwing it, 
should generally be resorted to, where much friction or motion is to be ap- 

Professor Playfuir's 
observations about 
the unlocking of 

At this visit to the Bell Rock, the writer went also on board of the s . tate °f *e Floating- 
Floating-light, where every thing was found in good order. On some occa- 
sions Mr Sinclair, the commander, stated, that the vessel had rolled exces- 
sively hard ; that she had shipped two or three very heavy seas over the 


chap. in. waste-boards, and that he had found it occasionally necessary to veer out 
189T, December. 80 fathoms of cable. He also stated, that the floating-light had been run 
foul of by a large smack-rigged vessel, with all her canvas set, though the 
lights were burning perfectly clear. This vessel had struck upon the lar- 
board quarter, damaged the taff-rail, and started three of the floating-lights' 
trenails. That they immediately hailed the vessel, but she sheered-off, and 
her crew made no reply. The smack was beating to the northward, and 
was much lumbered on the quarter-deck with packages of earthen-ware, 
which were distinctly seen upon her deck from the brilliancy of the lights. 

The sailors on board of the floating-light were all in good health, and ap- 
peared to be satisfied with their situation. The master, however, mentioned, 
that his crew, particularly the young men, calculated very sharply about 
their turns for leave on shore, which came round in the course of about six 
weeks. Indeed, the probability is, that had the seamen not been rather com- 
pelled to this duty, as a protection against the Impress-service, it might 
have been found extremely difficult to get able seamen to undertake so 
dreary a life as the continual round of riding at anchor in the open sea, 
without the company of other shipping, or the pleasure of intercourse with 
the shore, as is the case in the ordinary road or anchorage for shipping. 

The several departments of the Bell Rock works being arranged for the 
winter months, the sloop Smeaton was appointed to make several trips to the 
quarries for stones, while the Light-house Yacht, being stationed at Arbroath, 
was to attend the Floating-light, and carry off the artificers to examine 
the state of the Beacon at spring-tides. The writer having adjusted these 
matters, returned to Edinburgh on the 4th of December. Here he was 
employed in preparing the necessary implements, procuring materials, and 
in other objects connected with the work, which will fall more properly to 
be noticed in the transactions of the year 1808. 

( 185 ) 



After taking some notice of the preparations made during the winter 
months, or early part of the year 1 808, it is proposed, in describing the 
progress of the works of this season, to adopt the form of a journal or diary, 
as in the preceding chapter. The last year's operations being more of a pre- 
liminary nature, the implements and apparatus employed were few in num- 
ber, and simple in their construction. But the facilities to be afforded 
by the erection of the Beacon were such, that not only the site of the build- 
ing was expected to be prepared, but it was hoped that some of the courses of 
masonry would also be laid during the ensuing summer. It therefore be- 
came necessary to be provided with shipping, and every article, both of 
implements and building materials, however small the actual progress of 
the work might ultimately be. 

1808, January. 


It has already been noticed, in the course of last year's operations, that 
much inconveniency, and no small degree of hazard, were experienced in 
making the numerous passages between the Bell Rock and the Floating- 
light, especially when the boats were crowded with artificers. Not having 
previously been so fully aware of these circumstances, and with a view to 
save expence, the Floating-light was likewise applied to the purpose of a 
tender. She was consequently moored at a more considerable distance from 
the rock, as will be understood from Plate V. ; but as, from the nature of 
her tackling, she could not be cast loose upon any emergency, she was 
found to be but ill adapted to the uses of a tender. 


The New Tender. 




1808, January. 
Is named The Sir 
Joseph Banks. 

The writer having represented this to the Light-house Board, was 
immediately authorised to provide a vessel, to he exclusively employed for 
the service of the rock. He accordingly purchased one upon the stocks at 
Arbroath, in such forwardness, that she was launched upon the 18th of 
January 1808. This vessel was built by a Mr Thomas Fernie, and was 
considered so complete in the mould or figure of her hull, that some of 
the best judges of shipping have described her as one of the handsomest 
vessels which perhaps had hitherto been built in Scotland. On account 
of the exertions of the late Sir Joseph Banks, in his capacity of one 
of the Lords of Trade, in procuring the loan from Government, for the 
use of the Bell Rock Light-house, already alluded to in the Introduction 
to this work, the writer suggested, as a mark of respect, that the new 
tender should be named " The Sir Joseph Banks," to which the Light- 
house Board most readily acceded. 

Is rigged as a 

She was no sooner launched, than her rigging and equipment, in the 
best manner, were undertaken by professional people ; but the inspection of 
the interior fitting and accommodations was kindly undertaken by the late 
Provost Balfour of Arbroath, a gentleman who took great delight in ar- 
chitectural pursuits, and who, upon all occasions, felt the most lively inte- 
rest in the operations of the Bell Rock. In order that this vessel might 
stow two large boats upon deck, and be got as quickly as possible under 
sail, in the event of her breaking adrift, she was rigged as a schooner ; and 
that, by the application of a tackle from each mast, the boats might be 
conveniently managed, in getting them in and out of the vessel. The Sir 
Joseph Banks being only 81 tons register, it was necessary to lay out the 
births, for the several departments of the service, with all possible attention to 
the economising of room. The forepeak was accordingly fitted up with a co- 
boose for cooking ; immediately aft of this birth, a compartment was set off 
for the ship's company and the landing-master's crew, with births for fifteen 
sailors. But Jack is by no means ill to satisfy with his sleeping-place, and 
it was often found necessary to encroach upon the allotted number for this 
birth, according to the exigencies of the service. The waist or middle 
of the ship was set apart for the artificers, and was capable of contain- 
ing forty men. Still proceeding aft, a small birth was set off for the mate 
and steward, which communicated both with the artificers' birth, and also 
with the cabin for the engineer's assistants, the landing-master, and the cap- 
tain of the tender. In the sternmost part of the ship, a cabin was fitted up 
for the use of the writer ; the whole being found extremely commodious 

OPERATIONS OF 1808. 187 

and suitable. From the great proportion of the ship required for the chap. iv. 
birthage of seamen and artificers, the hold of this small vessel was much isos, January, 
curtailed, there being hardly more room left than was sufficient for contain- 
ing a stock of provisions, water and fuel, for any length of time, besides 
stowing two or three tiers of casks of lime, cement, and other necessaries 
for the use of the work. 

Continuing the description of the marine part of the establishment, we Praam-boats, or 

n j -.. ! , .-, P . Stone-lighters. 

next notice three new praam-boats, or stone-lighters, built tor conveying 
the building materials to the Bell Rock, from the vessels employed in 
bringing them from the work-yard at Arbroath. The term Praam-boat is 
applied to a certain description of Norwegian boats, having their stem and 
stem rounded after a peculiar fashion. The introduction of this phrase, in 
the Bell Rock service, was purely accidental, having been applied, by Cap- 
tain Grindlay, Master of the Trinity-House of Leith, to the first or experi- 
mental stone-lighter, from its resemblance to the praams of Norway. 
Those now alluded to, however, were built of a more rounded form, after 
the Dutch manner. They measured over all, on deck, about 28 feet by 8 
feet 6 inches, and their depth of holdjmay be stated at 2 feet, for, being built 
by different carpenters, they were not exactly of the same dimensions. They 
had a considerable spring or sheer, and were constructed for carrying their 
cargoes entirely upon deck, which formed a kind of cockpit in the waist, 
having a high gunwale on each side, and a break, both fore and aft, 
as will be seen in Plate XL, the first tier of stones seldom reaching above 
the level of the gunwale. They had, consequently, little or no hold, having 
only what was sufficient for stowing some pig or cast iron ballast, a few empty 
casks, with the necessary warps, kedge-anchors, and grappling-irons. 

These lighters were built of uncommonly strong materials, both in Precautions taken t OT 
their timbers, outward planks, and ceiling or lining, which last was caulked ter-t^%dTuo^" 
and secured in a manner similar to that described for the Floating-light, so 
that although the outward skin were damaged, by striking or rubbing on the 
rock, there would still be an additional defence against sinking. Such, how- 
ever, was the presentiment of danger attached to the landing-department, 
that besides the precaution of a water-tight lining, each praam was pro- 
vided with twelve strong empty casks, which were stowed in the hold, 
and were sufficient to float and render her buoyant, in case of accident. 
The praams, therefore, became so many life-boats moored in the neigh- 
bourhood of the rock. 

A a 2 





1808, January. 
Method of mooring 
the Praam-boats. 

These praams had but one hawse-hole, and that they might ride 
more easily at their moorings in the open sea, it was placed amid-ships, 
and as low or near the water-line as possible. The chain-hawsers with 
which they were connected to their respective floating-buoys and mushroom- 
anchors, were made of rod-iron, one- half inch in diameter, turned into as 
short links as possible. This piece of chain was about five fathoms in 
length, and was attached to the praam by a strong hook, connected with 
her bits, the farther end being made permanently fast to the mooring-chain 
of the mushroom-anchor. From the lowness of the hawse-hole, and its 
central position in the praam, and from having only a short piece of chain 
to carry, which connected the boat to the mooring-buoy, may be attributed 
the astonishing ease and safety with which these boats rode at anchor. So re- 
markable was this, that while the tender, and the other vessels in the service, 
were tossed about, and shipping a great deal of sea, and even at times obliged 
to slip their moorings, the praams floated with an easy undulating motion, 
and were generally as dry upon deck during a gale, though loaded with 
ten tons of stone, as if, to use a sailor's phrase, they had been riding in a 
mill-pond. The facility, also, with which the praams were attached and 
disengaged from their moorings, was another very great conveniency to the 
work. In unmooring them, all that became necessary was to unhook the 
hawser-chain from the bits, and throw it overboard, with a small floating- 
buoy attached to it, for the purpose of suspending the hawser-chain for the 
time. In the same manner, in making the praams fast to their moorings, 
this chain was simply to be laid hold of, by taking the small floating-buoy 
on board. The chain was then slipped into the hawse-hole, by a corres- 
ponding slit in the stem of the praam, and then attached to the bits, when 
the process was complete. By inspecting the diagrams in Plate XI., this 
process will be better understood. 

Attending Boats. 

The two cutters or boats employed last year for transporting the artifi- 
cers from the Floating-light to the Bell Rock, were found to be rather too 
small in rough weather. They measured 16 feet in length of keel, 5 feet 
3 inches in breadth, on the mid-ship thwart or seat, and 2 feet 6 inches in 
depth. These boats were of as large dimensions as the floating-light could 
stow, after making the necessary allowance for ranging her cables on deck. 
They had square sterns, were rowed with four oars, and accommodated 
twelve sitters, including sailors. But the Sir Joseph Banks being entirely 
fitted as a tender for the works, the stowing of large landing-boats be- 
came a principal object. Her boats were therefore made as large as pos- 


sible, due regard being had to their convenient management and fitness 
for the small creeks or landing-places at the rock. After a careful consi- 
deration of these circumstances, it was resolved that the two new attending- 
boats should measure 20 feet in length of keel, 5 feet 8 inches in breadth, 
and 2 feet 10 inches in depth. They were rowed with eight oars, double 
banked, or two upon each thwart, and could accommodate eighteen sitters 
each. They were round in the stern, fitted with a backboard and a conve- 
nient seat for the cockswain, who steered with a yoke and lines, instead of 
a tiller. 


chap. iv. 

1808, January. 

One of these boats was called The Mason, the other The Seaman. The 
latter was fitted up as a Life-boat, somewhat after Greathead's method, being 
lined and girded with cork, to the depth of three streaks below the gunwale. 
In case of accident, therefore, by the bilging of either boat upon the rock, 
she was rendered more buoyant by the cork lining and sheathing. They 
were built in Leith, and before being sent to the rock, the buoyancy of 
the Life-boat was tried, when it was found that she would float with thirty 
people on board. 



From the wasting effects of the sea, the Bell Rock is formed into nume- 
rous benches and gullies, and its surface is consequently extremely rough 
and irregular. The site of the Light-house being in a central position on 
the rock, it became necessary to make some provision for conveying the large 
blocks of stone speedily from the respective landing-places to the site of 
the building ; or at least within the range of the cranes or machinery to 
be employed in laying them. In ordinary situations, the most obvious me- 
thod would have been to clear away the inequalities of the rock ; but here, 
from the lowness of its position in the water, such an operation would have 
been extremely tedious and difficult. Besides, every portion of the Bell Rock 
was held sacred, excepting in so far as it was absolutely necessary to exca- 
vate or remove part of it, in fixing the Beacon-house, and in preparing the 
foundation of the Light-house. Instead, therefore, of quarrying the rock, 
the writer found that the most advisable process would be, to lay cast-iron 
railways round the site of the Light-house, projecting to the several land- 
ing-places, on which waggons could easily be wheeled in all directions, as 
will be seen by tracing the dotted lines on Plate VI. 




1S08, January. 


Triangular Crane. 


For this purpose, patterns were prepared in the course of the winter,, 
from which castings of the several compartments of the railways were made 
by Mr John Baird, of the Shotts Iron Works. These rails were cast in 
lengths of four feet, and supported upon props and frames of cast-iron, 
varying in height from six inches to five feet, according to the inequali- 
ties of the rock, that the whole might be laid upon one level. Besides the 
tracks for the wheels of the waggons, it was necessary also to provide a 
tracking-path of the same metal, which was formed of ribbed work, 
rested upon the supports of the rails, as will be understood from the dia- 
grams in Plate X. The waggon-tracks were of the form technically termed 
Plate-rails, which were found convenient for making the necessary fixtures. 
The edge-rail is less liable to friction, and is certainly greatly preferable to 
the plate-rail, where the track is liable to be impeded with dust, and other 
adventitious matters ; objections which do not apply at the Bell Rock, 
where the rails were every tide considerably under water. 

It was necessary that every thing intended to be left on the Bell Rock 
during the working season, should have as little buoyancy as possible, and 
as it would have been extremely inconvenient to have removed the waggons 
from the rock, which were to be employed in conveying the blocks of stone 
from the landing-places to the Light-house, they were constructed entirely 
of iron, excepting two pieces of oak timber, which were bolted upon the top, 
to form a seat for the stones. These waggons, represented in Plate X., 
moved upon four trucks or wheels of cast-iron, measuring one foot two 
inches in diameter, placed two feet six inches asunder, being the length 
of the axle, and breadth of the railway. Each waggon was provided 
with a handle, which shifted at pleasure to either end, for the conveniency 
of reversing the motion, without the necessity of turning the vehicle. But 
what was more pecidiar to these waggons, was a joint in the middle of 
the perch or double frame, connecting the wheels, by means of which they 
were made applicable to the circular tracks of the railway round the site 
of the building. 

Connected with the cast-iron railways, preparations were also made at 
the eastern landing place, for lifting the stones by means of cranes or 
other machinery from the Praam-boats, and laying them upon the wag- 
gons to be conveyed to the building. After a good deal of consideration, 
patterns were prepared for an apparatus consisting chiefly of six pieces of 
cast-iron, four of which measured 12 feet in length, and of a correspond- 

OPERATIONS OF 1808. 191 

ing strength. As will be seen in Plate XI., these bars met at the top chap. iv. 
in the form of two sets of sheers, but their lower ends were placed isoa, January, 
about 9 feet asunder. Connected with these, a pair of sheers were set 
up, which were moveable upon a bolt, and worked with a crab or winch 
machine, the whole being strongly batted to the rock. When the moveable 
pair of sheers, with their attached chain and hook, were suspended outwards 
over the stone to be lifted from the praam, the chain was hooked to the 
Lewis-bat, previously inserted into the block. The sheers were then raised 
till they were brought to a perpendicular position, when the motion of the 
winch was reversed, and the sheers were lowered inwards upon the wharf, 
and the stone thus laid upon the waggon. The chain was then unhooked, 
and the sheers were ready for lifting another stone, as will be better under- 
stood by referring to Plate XL, with its letter-press description. 

Having, in the foregoing article, described the implement employed in Crane with moveable 
landing the stones on the Bell Rock during the year 1808, we are now to 
notice the crane employed in laying or building them. It appears from Mr 
Smeatou's Narrative, that the implements chiefly used for building at 
the Edystone, were a pair of moveable sheer-poles and a set of triangles, 
most ingeniously applied to their respective purposes. But such imple- 
ments must have come far short of the expedition which the writer had 
conceived to be necessaiy at the Bell Rock, both on account of the much 
greater extent of the building, and also from its foundation being so 
much lower in the water. After considering the subject, and making 
minute inquiries into the practice at various public works, he found no 
implement of the description, which he considered applicable to his pur- 
pose. The common sheer-poles, still chiefly in use, were recommend- 
ed as having upon the whole been successfully employed at the Edy- 
stone. In some instances, the common crane, with the beam fixed at the 
top, at right angles to the shaft, was applied for laying heavy materials. 
The writer, however, laid it down as a proposition to himself, That a more 
effective mode of building must be adopted at the Bell Rock than had 
hitherto been in use, by which all the stones at any time likely to be land- 
ed in the course of a tide, might be built and secured before the artificers 
left the rock. 

The chief difficulties attending the application of the common crane in 
such a situation, consisted in the laying the stones perpendicularly into 
their respective places, as they were all of a dove-tail or angular form, 
as will be seen from Plate XIII. The fixed beam of the common crane was 


chap. iv. further objectionable, from its being more liable to interfere with the guy 
1809, January. ropes. It would also have been difficult to have lifted it either laterally or 
perpendicularly upon the building, from one course to another. To these may 
also be added the great obstruction which the beam would have presented to 
the waves of the sea at high water. All these objections, however, were in a 
great measure got over, by substituting a moveable beam to work upon a bolt 
at the foot or lower end of the upright shaft, instead of a fixed beam 
at the top in the usual manner. But as we shall have occasion again 
to notice this machine in the operation of building, we shall here refer to 
Plate XIV. with its letter-press description. Three of these cranes, with 
moveable beams, were prepared for the work, in the course of the winter, 
one with an upright shaft of 28 feet in length, for laying the prepared 
stones upon the platform in the work-yard at Arbroath, and other two, 
with shafts of 21 feet, for building at the rock. 

siing can. Though none of the stones of the Bell Rock Light-house were like- 

ly to exceed two tons in weight, in their finished state ; yet, in their 
undressed state, they were much more ponderous. From the waste at- 
tending their dove-tailed form, and the working them square on all their 
sides, the blocks from the quarry were greatly reduced ; in many instan- 
ces, to one-half of the cubical contents of their quarry dimensions, before 
they were brought to the size of the moulds. The stones had not only 
to be conveyed from the harbour of Arbroath to the work-yard, a distance 
of from two to three hundred yards, but also required to be frequently 
lifted from place to place ; as, for example, when in a hewn or dres- 
sed state, they were removed to the circular platform, in the middle of the 
work-yard, to be tried and marked ; — they were again shifted from this posi- 
tion, and ultimately carried to the harbour to be shipped for the rock. From 
the various movements which each stone had thus to undergo, it became an 
object of importance to the facility and economy of the work, to consider 
how this could be most conveniently accomplished. Had a cart or carriage, 
with four wheels of the ordinary construction for great loads, been em- 
ployed, it would have been extremely troublesome, in all the operations of 
loading, turning and moving from place to place. To have attempted to avoid 
this by the use of waggons with low wheels, and the introduction of railways 
along the quays and public streets of Arbroath, would also have been ob- 
jectionable, especially as the object could be much more conveniently ob- 
tained by the use of what is called the AVoolwich Sling-cart, represented in 
Plate X. By this machine, the weight is simply raised off the ground with a 


wheel and pinion apparatus fixed upon the frame of the cart, and in this 
manner, the stone, instead of being lifted upon the body of the carriage, had 
only to be suspended at the necessary height for overcoming the inequali- 
ties of the road. This vehicle had long been used with great advantage by 
military engineers, in moving ordnance ; but was probably first employed 
at Mylnefield Quarry, and the Bell Rock works, in transporting blocks of 

Another implement prepared, in the course of the winter, for the 
Bell Bock work-yard, was the Carpenter's jack, used for raising ships upon 
the blocks or props for the purposes of repair. This machine, which is simple 
in its construction, and direct in its application, consists of a rack and pinioo, 
enclosed in a frame of oak timber, strongly bound with iron, as represented 
in Plate X. By working the handle of the jack, the stone-cutter is 
enabled, without the assistance of his fellow workmen, to turn and lay 
the heaviest stone to his hand. This apparatus the writer first saw used 
to much advantage, by the quarriers at Portland Island, in the year 1801 ; 
and though it had not perhaps at that time been put into the hands of the 
stone-cutter, it was obvious that it might also be applied to his purpose 
with equal effect. 



1808, January. 

Carpenter's Jack. 

It may further be noticed, regarding this useful implement, as strongly 
marking the prejudices of habit, that Mr Mylne, the proprietor of Mylne- 
field Quarry, who, with enlightened views, furnished his works with ma- 
chinery of the very best description, among other articles, provided a num- 
ber of these jack-machines for his quarriers, but, for a long time, they could 
not be induced to make use of them. One of the men, however, happening, 
of his own accord, to apply the jack in turning a heavy block, its utility soon 
became apparent ; and Mr Allan the manager, who had previously taken 
considerable pains to get the jack introduced, was at length not a little 
pleased to find it, after having been laid up in store as useless, in much re- 
quest throughout that extensive quarry. 

A Lewis Bat, of some form, for lifting large stones, is believed to have 
been known to the ancients. But that now in common use is generally 
understood to have been at least improved by the French engineers, who, 
in honour of their Sovereign, gave it the name of Lewis. This useful 
implement is so universally known in practice, for its great utility in build- 
ing with heavy materials, that it is hardly necessary to do more than sim- 


Lewis Bat. 



chap. iv. ply allude to it. It consists of five pieces of iron, three of which, forming a 
1808, January. dovetail, like an inverted wedge or the keystone of an arch, are inserted 
into a corresponding hole cut in the stone. The fourth is the bolt con- 
necting the shackle-piece, by which the weight is suspended, as will be 
better understood by referring to the sketch or diagram illustrative of it in 
Plate XI. Of this implement, it became necessary to furnish several do- 
zens, as well from the variety in the weight, as from the figure of the stones, 
many of them requiring two Lewises to produce a proper balance. But 
the number was more particularly encreased, from the different sets re- 
quired for the workyard, the stone-lighters, and for the Bell Rock, where 
it was necessary to provide against loss, to which this service was so pe- 
culiarly liable. 


As the whole of the stones of each course or tier of this building were 
connected or let into one another, by a system of dovetails, diverging from 
the centre to the circumference, after the manner of the Edystone Light- 
house, as will be seen from Plate XIII, each particular stone required 
to be cut with accuracy, to fit its precise place in the building ; and as even 
the form into which the blocks of granite were made, often depended upon 
the adventitious produce of the quarries, it became a very considerable ope- 
ration to prepare the necessary moulds or patterns for the respective courses. 
When, therefore, the thickness was ascertained that a lot of these stones 
would admit being dressed, a plan of the particular course was first 
drawn upon paper by the Clerk of Works ; a certain compartment of the 
course was then protracted of the full size, upon a platform of polished 
pavement, measuring 70 feet in length, and 25 feet in breadth, and oc- 
cupying part of the ground floor of the workmen's barrack. From this 
enlarged draught, Mr James Slight, the principal mould-maker, took his 
dimensions in making the moulds of the full size of the ground-plan of 
each stone, on which were marked the necessary directions for the stone- 
cutter, both as to the thickness of the course, and the position of the 
connecting joggle-holes, trenails and wedges. 

These moulds being made with great precision, were carefully marked 
and numbered with oil paint, according to the positions which the respec- 
tive stones were to occupy. They were made of well seasoned fir timber, 
and dressed clean in the form of open frame-work, measuring from three 
to four inches in breadth, and from one-half to three-fourths of an inch 
in thickness. At the angles and joints, thin plates of iron were screwed 



upon these frames, to strengthen and preserve them, while the work- 
men were making their draught-lines, and in their numerous applications 
of them in the process of hewing the stones. Each course of the solid 
part of the building required from three to five moulds, of the form 
delineated in Plate X., which were carefully laid aside in sets, till the 
particular course to which they belonged should be landed upon the 
rock, and secured in the building. In a work of this kind, such a precau- 
tion was indispensably necessary ; for, in case of loss or accident to any 
of the stones, in landing them at the Rock, it would then only have been 
necessary to send to the work-yard, referring to the particular number of 
the mould, from which another stone could speedily have been prepared. 


1808, January. 

In the first designs for the Bell Rock Light-house, the writer had 
modelled a cofferdam, five feet in height, intended to have been erected of 
cast-iron, round the site of the building, that the work in its early stages 
might be continued for a longer period, both during the ebb and flood 
tides. The experience of last season's work, however, shewed that the 
erection of the proposed cofferdam would have been attended with con- 
siderable difficulty; and, to have rendered such an apparatus equally 
useful during ebb-tide as flood-tide, would have required the pumping of 
water by machinery more complicated and powerful than the situation of 
the Bell Rock would have admitted. 


This idea was therefore laid aside, and two Pumps, of a simple con- Pumps. 

struction, were prepared, for clearing the foundation-pit of water. They 
measured about twelve feet in length, and were of a square form, both 
externally and internally, having each a void of ten inches. They were 
made of fir timber, three inches in thickness, strongly jointed, and put 
together with white-lead paint, having also a number of cross bars 
and bolts of iron, to strengthen them for withstanding the atmospheric 
pressure upon so considerable a surface. These pumps were furnished with 
a wooden spear or rod, having a cross head or handle at one end, and a lea- 
thern valve attached to the other. This valve was of a very simple construc- 
tion ; it collapsed when plunged into the water, and was inflated by the re- 
turn draught delivering a quantity of water equal to the cubical contents 
of the void or chamber of the pump. 

There were four Crabs or Winch-machines prepared for working the dif- winch-Machines. 
ferent purchases required in the various departments of the work, as, for ex- 



chap. rv. ample, in lifting the stones from the praam-boats, as represented in Plate 

1808, January. ~ XI. Another of these machines was fixed on the temporary wooden bridge 
of communication, erected between the Beacon-house and Light-house, as 
will be seen in Plate XII. Other two of these machines are likewise re- 
presented for raising the stones from stage to stage upon the building, as 
will be more particularly described in the letter-press description of this 
Plate. These machines were made wholly of iron, excepting the bushes 
for the gudgeons working in, which were of bell-metal. They were calculat- 
ed to work with what is called double and single purchases, according to 
the weight of the stones to be lifted. They were very powerful in their 
operation : the winch or barrel being twelve inches in diameter, gave the 
single purchase a power of about fifteen to one, and the double purchase 
about sixty to one. These machines were calculated to work with five tons. 
The weight of the largest size was altogether about 10 cwt., so that they 
were not easily shifted by the impvdse of the sea, when batted to the rock, 
as represented in Plate XI. 

Building Materials. 

stone. The Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses, as before noticed,, 

having finally resolved that the erection upon the Bell Rock should be of 
stone, constructed upon principles similar to the Edystone Light-house, it 
became a question of importance in the economy of the work, to fix the 
quality and description of stone to be used. Considering this subject in 
reference to the Edystone Light-house, it appears that the hearting or in- 
terior of the solid part is of sandstone from Portland Island, and that the 
exterior of that building is of Cornish granite, both of which were highly 
suitable in quality, and were fortunately procurable from quarries the most 
contiguous to Plymouth, where these works were situate. 

SemandVaswrn It may farther be noticed, that granite is perhaps the only stone upon 
shores of Britain. ^ e coast f England, which possesses durability for withstanding the ef- 
fects of the weather in a situation so exposed, or strength sufficient for 
undergoing the process of landing the stones when in their prepared state. In 
Scotland, however, the case is widely different, for here, the country abounds 
with excellent building materials of almost every description ; and except- 
ing in those districts which produce granite, that stone is rarely had recourse 
to for buildings of any description. It is curious to observe, and it may 
here not be out of place to remark, in looking into the mineralogy of 



the British coast, on the great scale, that we find the shores of the whole 
southern parts of the kingdom, or from Portland Island in Dorsetshire, to 
Flamborough Head in Yorkshire, consist chiefly of chalk, limestone, clay, 
and beds of gravel. But if we continue our course from thence northward, 
to Stonehaven in Kincardineshire, including the Frith of Forth, the strata, 
with little exception, are sandstone, greenstone, limestone and coal. The 
Aberdeenshire coast is chiefly of granite, syenite, and gneiss, while a 
part of Banffshire consists of serpentine and porphyry : but here the sand- 
stone again makes its appearance, and stretches along the northern shores 
of the Moray Frith, Caithness and Sutherland, nearly as far to the west- 
ward as Cape Wrath. To this great extent of sandstone country, may also 
be added the islands of Orkney and Shetland, with some considerable ex- 
ceptions, however, in so far as regards Shetland ; but, in Orkney, these 
are confined to comparatively small portions of gneiss with granite veins, 
which occur in Pomona or the Mainland, and in the Island of Grsemsay. 


1808, January. 

From this state of the mineral strata, it naturally follows, that those 
who inhabit the sandstone districts employ that beautiful, easily worked, 
and, in many instances, highly durable stone, in architecture ; and so of the 
other districts, according to the predominating species of their stone. For 
a building, therefore, in a country situate like that of the Bell Rock, 
abounding with sandstone of the first quality, this description of stone obvi- 
ously presented itself, both as the most accessible and economical. But 
when the importance of this work came to be fully considered in all its re- 
lations, a little additional expence was not to be allowed to regulate a point 
so essential, without a due regard to what might ultimately prove the most 
durable and permanent fabric. 

The attention of the Commissioners was consequently directed to the use 
of granite, as combining the greatest number of properties for such a building. 
Some doubts, however, having existed, as to the certainty of procuring blocks 
of that stone of sufficient dimensions, it became a matter of importance to 
determine this point, and also to ascertain the quality of the sandstone, 
of which it had been proposed to form at least the hearting of the solid 
part. The Commissioners, therefore, in the month of November 1806, re- 
quired a special opinion from Mr Rennie and the writer upon this sub- 
ject ; who accordingly visited the sandstone quarry of Mylnefield near 
Dundee, and the granite quarries in the neighbourhood of Aberdeen, 

The use of granite 
and sandstone is re- 
solved upon. 



chap. iv. and made a report to the Board, which is given in the Appendix, 


, January. No. IV. 

Report of Mr Rennie 
and Mr Stevenson. 

This report sets forth, that many granite quarries were found in ac- 
tivity at Aberdeen, some of which were capable of producing larger 
blocks of stone than are usually met with, but that still it was doubt- 
ful, whether any single quarry would be found to produce a sufficient 
number of large blocks for this work in any reasonable time. Upon the 
quality of the stones respectively ; the report states, that " the granite of 
Aberdeen is very strong and durable in its nature, and having been used 
in works where the sea has acted upon it for time immemorial, no doubt 
can possibly be entertained as to its adaptation to a work of this kind. 
There is also every reason to believe that the Mylnefield stone resists the 
sea and weather equally well, but we have not been able to collect such 
positive proof of this as of the other ; for, although a great number of 
Mylnefield stones have been used in the piers of the harbour of Dundee, 
yet, as these works consist of stones from other quarries, having the same 
appearance, and nearly the same composition, there is no possibility of 
our saying whether some of the stones that appear in a wasting state, may 
not have been from that quarry, although we have great reason to believe 
they have not. However, where facts cannot be positively ascertained 
doubts exist, and we think that a Light-house upon the Bell Rock is too 
important a work to permit the leaving of the slightest doubt about the du- 
rability of the materials. We have, therefore, no hesitation in recommend- 
ing that the outer part of the building, at least as high as the first apart- 
ment, should be of granite ; and as this is the great bulk of the work, it 
may be as well to complete the outer course of granite." 

The Reporters then go on to state, from a review of the several quarry 
prices, that, for the outer casing, the sum of about L. 2,500 would be saved 
by the use of sandstone from Mylnefield, instead of granite from Aberdeen ; 
and that, for the hearting of the solid part, an additional saving of about 
L. 1000 would further be made, if the sandstone of the Redhead quarries, in 
the immediate neighbourhood of Arbroath, instead of the Mylnefield stone, 
was used. On considering this subject, however, in all its bearings, the 
Commissioners resolved that measures should be taken for procuring granite 
for the whole outward casing of the Light-house, and that the Mylnefield 
sandstone should be used for the interior work. To the other properties 
of these stones, one of some consideration for a work of this description 

OPERATIONS OF 1808. 199 

was their ponderosity, there being only about 13£ cubic feet of Rubislaw chap. iv. 
granite to the ton, and 15 feet of Mylnefield stone, while the more com- i808, January, 
mon kinds of sandstone contain about 15| feet to the ton. 

These, and other matters of minor importance alluded to in this re- 
port, having been adjusted by the Light-house Board, the writer took 
the necessary measures for entering into contracts and agreements for the 
supply of stones from these quarries. The difficulties which subsequently 
attended the procuring of a regular supply of stones for the work have al- 
ready been alluded to ; and to this subject we shall again have occasion to 
recur, as it was ultimately found necessary to restrict the use of granite to 
the outward casing of the first thirty feet or solid part of the building. 

The best composition for building-mortar appears to have been a problem M°rm of the an- 
from the earliest history of the arts. Vitruvius, who lived about 130 years 
before the Christian sera, seems to have been practically, as well as scien- 
tifically, acquainted with the whole subject of architecture. But, al- 
though he, and other eminent authors who followed him, have minutely 
treated of the composition of mortar, stating, no doubt, all that was known 
of the practice of the ancients ; yet, it has always been a favourite maxim to 
maintain, that the secret of compounding mortar has at some period of its 
history been irrecoverably lost. It is certainly true, that many of the 
works of ancient times exhibit wonderful specimens of the excellency of 
their building materials. It may, however, be drawn no less conclusively 
from the writings of intelligent travellers, that many of their finest edi- 
fices have been subject to premature decay, which affords a proof that at 
least no systematic rule was universally observed in the preparation of their 
calcareous cements ; but that, like the artists of the present day, the qua- 
lity of their materials depended much upon those adventitious circum- 
stances which too often regulate the views of their successors, by an over- 
anxious desire for economy, without keeping duly in view the permanency 
of their works. 

In Great Britain, the composition of mortar does not seem to have oc- Attention of the mo- 
cupied much of the attention of the learned, prior to the beginning of the derns t0 this subJMt " 
18th century, or the time of Sir Christopher Wren. And, indeed, the 
subject was not pursued with much intelligence and effect, till after the 
great discoveries of Dr Black, about the year 1754, which unfolded the 
principles of latent caloric, and the expulsion of fixed air, by which lime- 


chap. iv. stone loses about one-half of its weight in the process of calcination. These 
1808, January. discoveries were succeeded by the excellent treatise of Dr Higgins on 
Water Cements, published in 1780; and in 1793, Mr Smeaton's Narra- 
tive of the Edystone Light-house appeared, containing, not only an ac- 
count of the preparation of the mortar for that celebrated building, but 
also of his experience for thirty-six years, as an engineer of the most ex- 
tensive practice of his day. The composition of mortar has also occupied the 
attention of several French authors, as Belidor, Loriot, Viccat and others, 
but without perhaps adding much to our stock of practical knowledge. 

Experience of the Were the writer permitted to state the result of his professional ob- 

servations for the last twenty years, he mignt notice, that no error is 
more commonly met with in water buildings, than that of employing 
house or common mortar in the erection of sea-walls. It may also be 
stated, generally, in compounding mortar, that the cheapest article is 
too apt to be made use of in the greatest proportion. We accordingly 
find, that lime is not unfrequently made too rich, as it is technically 
termed when a small proportion of sand is applied to the mixture ; an error, 
which is attended even with worse consequences than when the lime is 
made poor, or when too great a proportion of sand is used. But, perhaps, 
the worst of all mortar is that wherein very fine pit-sand, containing 
a portion of earthy matters, is used, and when the whole is mixed up with 
impure water. So little attention is often paid to the quality of mortar, 
in common buildings, that one would imagine it were applied, as if intended 
more to prevent the sifting winds from penetrating the walls, than as 
the medium by which they were ultimately to be bound or formed into 
a compact fabric. 

It is not possible to give any formula for the composition of mor- 
tar which will apply generally; so much depends upon the quality of 
the limestone, the mode of its treatment in burning, the use of clean 
sharp sand and pure water. When these ingredients are judiciously se- 
lected, duly apportioned, and well beaten together, they will immediately form 
a paste of some tenacity, which will ultimately take bond and give a consist- 
ency to the work. From all the experiments that have been made, it seems 
to be essential to the composition of the best water-cements, that the 
limestone should contain about one-seventh of alumine or clayey matter. 
But as this description of limestone admits of a less proportion of sand in 
the mortar compounded of it, than that which is more purely calcareous, it 

OPERATIONS OF 1808. 201 

is not so much in request for the common operations of building, as being chap, iv. 
less economical. It may, however, be stated, as a pretty general maxim, isos, January. 
that where comparatively pure calcareous matter is met with, at least 
three measures of clean sharp sand, free of earthy particles, mixed with 
one of burned lime, in the state of powder, and a due portion of pure water, 
well beaten together, will form good mortar for common use. 

From the similarity of the situations and the buildings upon the Edy- Mortar of the E<iy- 
stone and Bell Rocks, and from Mr Smeaton's celebrity as an engineer, 
his Narrative of the former work became a text-book to the writer in 
the erection of the latter. In considering the importance of this subject, 
with a view to the erection of the Bell Rock Light-house, the judicious re- 
marks, and numerous experiments, of Dr Higgins on water cement, 
were carefully examined, and they will always be consulted with in- 
terest by the professional reader. The composition of the Edystone mor- 
tar consisted of equal portions, by measure, of Aberthaw lime and Pozzolano 
earth, both in the state of powder, mixed up with sea-water. When 
the writer first visited Plymouth in the year 1801, the Edystone Light- 
house had been erected about 42 years ; and he was informed by Mr 
Tolsher, agent for the establishment, that the original pointing of the 
joints of that building had never required repair. 

Of the ingredients of the Bell Rock mortar, as the pozzolano was not Beii Rock Mortar. 
only the most expensive, but, from the distracted state of Europe, du- 
ring the progress of the works, could hardly be procured at any price, it 
became an object to be as independent of that article as possible. A 
train of experiments was therefore undertaken by the writer, when it was 
idtimately found, that pozzolano and lime, in the state of a dry impal- 
pable powder, and clean sharp sand, in equal proportions by measure, 
mixed with sea-water, formed a mortar equally good in all respects as 
when no sand was added. Under favourable circumstances, this mixture 
did not seem to be more tardy in fixing, than when the sand was excluded, 
while nothing could exceed the compact and indurated state of the com- 
position. The writer accordingly built some small rubble-walls with it 
within sea-mark, which were allowed to stand for a few months, and when 
pulled down, they appeared like so many pieces of conglomerated rock, the 
mortar being as hard and compact as the sandstone of good quality with 
which these little walls were built. From the excellency of the Bell Rock 




1808, January. 




mortar, it may not be amiss to go a little farther into detail, by noticing 
each of the ingredients of which it was composed. 

In the course of investigating this subject, specimens of lime, from the 
counties of Edinburgh, Haddington, Fife and Forfar, were subjected to 
various trials with mixtures of pozzolano and sand. The results were 
not a little curious, as the experimental balls, made with different proportions 
of these limes, did not set or harden ; but, on the contrary, the particles seem- 
ed to repel each other as the mixture became heated, and ultimately crumb- 
led into its constituent ingredients. From these experiments, it was found 
advisable to bring a cargo of limestone from Aberthaw in Wales, being 
the same as that used for the Edystone Light-house. This lime is found 
imbedded in a clayey matrix, in the state of water-worn nodules, varying 
in size from a cubic inch to that of a cubic foot. This limestone is of a 
bluish or beautiful French grey colour, of the specific gravity of 2.70. 
It is easily calcined, and in that state is reducible to the finest powder. 
It is the mountain or first floetz limestone of geologists ; and, when bro- 
ken, it pretty generally displays the Cornua amvionis, and many other 
curious animal remains. This limestone is found in great abundance on 
the sea-shore at Aberthaw, where the softer matters being washed away 
from the lower stratum of certain high cliffs, containing these rounded 
masses, the upper parts fall in great quantities, from which the succeeding 
tides wash away the earthy matters, leaving the limestone upon the beach 
in the state of debris. When a vessel is to load limestone here, she is 
grounded on the shore at about half-tide, and loaded when the water re- 
cedes. The price paid to the proprietor for a cargo is at the rate of one 
shilling per ton, as a lordship. 

Pozzolano, the second mentioned ingredient of the Bell Rock mortar, is 
a kind of earthy lava, of a brownish red or greyish colour. It contains in 
the hundred parts, silica 55, alumina 20, lime 5, and oxide of iron 20. 
It was not so easily procured as the limestone from Aberthaw. It is 
very abundant on the coast of Italy and shores of Sicily, where it is 
found in considerable masses, and is usually imported in a crude earthy 
state, requiring to be pounded, or beat in a mill, to fit it for the finer purposes 
of mortar. It is generally brought to this country as ballast ; and, in 
time of peace, when the ports are open, is sold for about L. 5 per ton. 
During the progress of the Bell Rock works, however, from the long con- 
tinued and almost universal restrictions upon British trade with foreign 



ports, as much as L. 15 per ton has been paid for pozzolano for the 
use of these works. The writer having had great difficulty in procur- 
ing a supply of it for commencing the works, got a quantity of Tarras 
from Holland, the Dutch ports being, at this time, open to British ves- 
sels. Tarras or Trass is found near Andernach, and is brought down the 
Rhine to Holland. It is very similar in its nature and properties to poz- 
zolano, and, like it, is of a reddish or greyish colour. It contains 37 parts 
silica, 28 alumina, 6.5 lime and 8.5 iron. Its property of setting in 
water is very remarkable, and, when good, it admits even a greater propor- 
tion of lime in the composition of mortar than pozzolano. The Dutch 
are very attentive in ascertaining the quality of the trass before using it 
in building their dikes. The following simple experiment is always 
employed. A small vessel, made of a mixture of lime and trass, is filled 
with water, and if at the end of three days the water does not filter through 
the vessel, the trass is considered good ; if, on the contrary, water passes 
through, the trass is rejected as bad. 


1808, January. 

According to Dr Higgins, the sand used for mortar should be Sand. 

free of earthy particles, and have as many sharp angular points as pos- 
sible. The writer having accordingly examined the shores in the neigh- 
bourhood of Arbroath, for sand answerable to this description, he found 
it of excellent quality about a mile and a half westward from that 
place. Upon examining this sand with a magnifying-glass, its appearance 
was like so many small shining crystals shooting into numerous points. — 
It is often a difficult question with mineralogists, to account for the pro- 
duction of sand in many situations upon the coast ; but here the question 
involves no perplexity, as St Andrew's Bay, which is generally understood 
to extend from Fifeness to the Redhead, a distance of about 25 miles, 
is not only bounded by sandstone, but forms the embouchure of the river 
Tay, and of several other considerable streams, wnich fall into the sea 
upon its shores. 

It usually forms a condition in the Specification of mortar for house- water. 

building, that it shall be mixed with pure water, free of earthy or saline 
particles. In situations where water is scarce, many impurities are apt to 
be mixed with it, which injure and even destroy the adhesive quality 
of the mortar. The use of sea or salt water is guarded against in these 
cases, from its liability to produce an efflorescence on the walls ; when 




1S08, January. 


the saline particles deliquesce with the changes of the weather, and pro- 
duce the appearance of dampness. 

To have attempted to avoid the use of salt-water in the preparation of 
the mortar for the Bell Rock Light-house, — which was all prepared on 
the spot, — independently of the risk of deteriorating the mortar, would 
have been attended with much additional trouble and expence. Besides 
the practice at the Edystone, the writer had previously ascertained, that 
the use of sea-water produced no bad effect upon the tenacity or adhe- 
sive quality of the mortar into which it was introduced, and the object of 
avoiding the appearance of dampness in this building was extremely trif- 
ling. The stones were to be very correctly jointed, and the whole of the 
interior walls to consist of polished masonry, so that the fine lines of the 
joints exposed to the action of the air were so inconsiderable, as hardly to 
be taken into account. Salt-water was, therefore, uniformly used in the 
preparation of the Bell Rock mortar. 

cement. The recent discovery of a very excellent water-cement, for which Mr 

Parker of London obtained a patent, under the title of " Roman Cement," 
became another matter of importance to the Bell Rock works. This sub- 
stance is produced from calcined nodules of argillaceous limestone, found 
upon the southern shores of England. It is of a brownish colour, and from 
its excellent property of setting in water, when good and fresh, its appli- 
cation as a mortar, for the lower courses of the Light-house, demanded at- 
tention. But, for general use as a mortar, it would not only have been 
expensive, but often highly inconvenient in building, from the speedy man- 
ner in which it hardens. It is also of too brittle a nature to be suitable 
for the general purposes of common mortar ; though it forms a paste of 
great value for lipping or pointing the outward joints of water buildings, 
not only by preserving the mortar till it gets into a fixed state, but also 
as forming a durable joint. A considerable supply of this cement was ac- 
cordingly used throughout the building, for pointing the exterior joints. 
This cement is sold at the rate of five shillings per Winchester bushel, 
in the state of powder, packed into casks, lined with paper, to prevent 
it, in some measure, from imbibing humidity from the atmosphere, by which 
its adhesive properties are destroyed. 

oaken Trenails and Following out the principle of the Edystone Light-house in most of its 

wedges. details, the oaken trenail and wedge were used for fixing the stones, till the 

OPERATIONS OF 1808. 205 

mortar took band, and a superincumbent weight was got upon them to pre- chap. iv. 
vent the sea from sweeping them away. These being also introduced into isos, March. 
all the lower courses of the Bell Rock Light-house, a sufficient quantity was 
procured for the probable number of courses that might be built during the 
ensuing season. The precise lengths of the trenails and wedges could 
not be fixed, from the uncertainty of the granite quarries, which regulated 
the thickness of the courses of the building ; but, for the present, the trenails 
were provided of the length of 2 feet, and l^th inch in diameter. The wed- 
ges were of the length of 18 inches, measuring 3 inches in breadth, 1 inch 
in thickness at the top, and tapering to |th of an inch in thickness at the 
point, as will be seen in Plate X. Figs. 10. and 11. But when we come 
to speak of the process of building, their respective uses will be described. 

On the writer's visit to Arbroath, in the end of March, he was The writer visits the; 
anxious to land upon the Bell Rock, to ascertain the precise state of e ° c ' 
the Beacon, after the storms of the winter, that he might be enabled to 
judge of the propriety of converting it into a habitable place for the artifi- 
cers during the working season. He accordingly sailed from Arbroath 
on the 30th current, at 1 a. m. in the Light-house Yacht. The wind 
was from E.NE., but the weather, though cold, was upon the whole fa- 
vourable for the trip. At 7 the Floating-light was hailed, and all on board 
found to be well. It was now unfortunately too late in the tide for land- 
ing upon the rock this morning ; and it became necessary to cruise about 
till the following day, there being at this season only one tide with day- 
light. In the mean time, in sailing round the rock, just as it was begin- 
ning to be covered with the tide, the base of the Beacon was distinctly 
seen between the rolling seas, which broke upon it ; while at the top, the 
flag-staff proudly continued to surmount the whole. 

In the course of the day the writer examined the Floating-light, Fioating-Light. 
where every thing connected with the security of the vessel, and her 
moorings, was in good order. What seemed chiefly to please Mr Wil- 
son the commander, was a late improvement in the application of a winch, 
with wheel and pinion fixed at the break of the quarter-deck, which was 
now employed to great advantage in working the cable with stoppers as on 
board of war-ships, the hempen cable, forming part of her moorings, being 
too thick and unwieldy for holding-on by hand. The vessel's manner of 
riding during some late gales was described as having been very difficult, 
and even alarming at times; but it was nevertheless, added, that no- 



1808, March. 

thing had been felt so severely as the gale of the 6th and 7th of September 
last, when the writer was on board. 

Tne crew spend their 
time happily. 

The crew were observed to have a very healthy-like appearance, and 
looked better than at the close of the works upon the rock. They 
seemed only to regret one thing, which was the secession of their cook, 
Thomas Elliot, — not on account of his professional skill, but for his 
facetious and curious manner. Elliot had something peculiar in his his- 
tory, and was reported by his comrades to have seen^ better days. He 
was, however, happy with his situation on board of the Floating-light, and, 
having a taste for music, dancing, and acting plays, he contributed much 
to the amusement of the ship's company, in their dreary abode during the 
winter months. He had also recommended himself to their notice as a 
good shipkeeper, for as it did not answer Elliot to go often ashore, he had 
always given up his turn of leave to his neighbours. At his own 
desire, he was at length paid off, when he had a considerable balance 
of wages to receive, which he said would be sufficient to carry him to 
the West Indies, and he accordingly took leave of the light-house service. 

The Light is compa- 
ratively feeble. 

Mr John Reid, the principal light-keeper, stated, that every thing 
specially connected with his department on board, answered its purpose 
to his entire satisfaction. In stormy weather, however, when the ship 
rolled much, great difficulty was experienced in trimming the lights, 
which often required the assistance of all hands. In the course of this 
night's cruise, the writer had a good opportunity of observing the lights 
at different distances from the vessel. Even at the distance of two or three 
leagues, it appeared feeble, compared with a regular reflecting-light. It 
was also upon the whole so unsteady, from the rolling motion of the ship, 
that, in running for it, mariners could never venture to make very free 
with their course. 

Landing at the rock 
found difficult. 

At day-break, on the following morning, the Light-house Yacht, attend- 
ed by a boat from the Floating-light, again stood towards the Bell Rock, 
On coming within a proper distance of it, the usual tools carried by the 
artificers on such occasions were put into this boat, and every thing 
got into a state of readiness for making an attempt to land. 


The weather felt extremely cold this morning, the thermometer being 
at 34 degrees, with the wind at east, accompanied by occasional showers 
of snow, and the marine barometer indicated 29.80. At half-past 7, 

OPERATIONS OF 1808. 207 

the sea ran with such force upon the rock, that it seemed doubtful if a chap. rv. 
landing could be effected. At half-past 8, when it was fairly above 1808, March. 
water, the writer took his place in the Floating-light's boat with the 
artificers, while the Yacht's boat followed, according to the general rule 
of having two boats afloat in landing expeditions of this kind, that 
in case of accident to one boat, the other might assist. After several 
unsuccessful attempts, the boats for a time were beat back by the 
breach of the sea upon the rock. On the eastern side, it separated 
into two distinct waves, which came with a sweep round to the wes- 
tern side where they met ; and at the instant of their confluence, the 
water rose in spray to a considerable height. Watching what the sailors 
term a smooth, we caught a favourable opportunity, and in a very dex- 
terous manner the boats were rowed between the two seas, and made 
a favourable landing at the western creek. 

At the latter end of last season, as was formerly noticed, the Beacon state of the Beacon, 
was painted white, and from the bleaching of the weather and the sprays of 
the sea, the upper parts were kept clean ; but within the range of the tide, 
the principal beams were observed to be thickly coated with a green stuff, 
the conferva of botanists. Notwithstanding the intrusion of these works, 
which had formerly banished the numerous seals that played about the rock, 
they were now seen in great numbers, having been in an almost undisturb- 
ed state for six months. It had now also, for the first time, got some 
inhabitants of the feathered tribe : in particular the Scarth or Cormorant, 
and the large Herring-gull, had made the Beacon a resting-place, from 
its vicinity to then- fishing grounds. About a dozen of these birds had 
rested upon the cross beams, which, in some places, were coated with 
their dung; and their flight, as the boats approached, was a very un- 
looked for indication of life and habitation on the Bell Rock, convey- 
ing the momentary idea of the conversion of this fatal rock, from being a 
terror to the mariner, into a residence of man, and a safe-guard to 

Upon narrowly examining all the parts of the Beacon, then in the state re- p r0 pHety of convert- 
presented in Plate VIII., and especially the great iron stanchions with which ms il int0 a Barrack > 
the beams were fixed to the rock, the writer had the satisfaction of finding 
that there was not the least appearance of working or shifting at any of the 
joints or places of connection ; and excepting the loosening of the bracing- 
chains, every thing was found in the same entire state in which it had 




1808, March. 

been left in the month of October. This, in the estimation of the 
writer, was a matter of no small importance to the future success 
of the work. He, from that moment, saw the practicability and pro- 
priety of fitting up the beacon, not only as a place of refuge in case of ac- 
cident to the boats in landing, but as a residence for the artificers during the 
working months. With a view to this, he determined on the entire re- 
moval of the bracing-chains, which, in general, were either so relaxed or 
loosened by the unlocking of the screws, the stretching of the links, or the 
drawing of the chain-bats, from the tremulous motion of the beacon, as to 
be comparatively of little use. Measures were therefore taken for pro- 
curing great iron-bars to fix in a horizontal position between each pair of the 
principal beams, at the height of about 8 feet from the rock, as the best 
means of strengthening them. 

Bread and water 

Having made these remarks upon the lower parts of the beacon, 
and its connection with the rock, the writer ascended to the higher 
parts, where he had also the satisfaction to find that the fixtures of 
the cross beams were in the same good condition. Upon looking into 
the bread and water-chest fixed on the top, in case of accident to the 
boats, or in the event of shipwreck upon the Bell Rock, the sea-bis- 
cuits which had been carefully put into a tin cannister, were in good 
order ; but, in the compartment of the chest allotted for water, the frag- 
ments of several of the quart bottles in which it was contained were 
found, which had probably burst with the freezing of the water, for it can 
hardly be supposed to have arisen from the shaking or tremulous motion 
of the beacon ; be this as it may, only twelve of the eighteen bottles re- 
mained entire. 

Advantages of the 
Beacon in its present 

While upon the top of the beacon, the writer was reminded by the Land- 
ing-master, that the sea was running high, and that it would be neces- 
sary to set off while the rock afforded any thing like shelter to the boats, 
which, by this time, had been made fast by a long line to the Beacon, and 
rode with much agitation, each requiring two men with boat-hooks to keep 
them from striking each other, or from ranging up against the beacon. But 
even under these circumstances, the greatest confidence was felt by every one, 
from the security afforded by this temporary erection. For, supposing 
that the wind had suddenly encreased to a gale, and that it had been found 
unadvisable to go into the boats; or, supposing they had drifted or 
sprung a leak from striking upon the rocks ; in any of these possible and 

OPERATIONS OF 1808. 209 

not at all improbable cases, those who might thus have been left upon chap. iv. 
the ^ock had now something to lay hold of, and, though occupying isos, March, 
this dreary habitation of the sea-gull and cormorant, affording only bread 
and water, yet life would be preserved, and, under all such circumstan- 
ces, the mind would still be supported, by the hope of being ultimately 
relieved. After, with some difficulty, getting off the Beacon, a proper 
time was again watched, and, by active rowing, the boats soon cleared the 
Rock in safety, though not without shipping two or three pretty heavy seas. 
About 12 noon the Light-house Yacht bore away, and at 7 in the evening 
she reached the Bay of Arbroath, where the writer landed about 8 P. m., 
and on the following day returned to Edinburgh. 

The Impress Service — that much-to-be-regretted system — being in great impress service, how 

r . , , . . , °„ . & it affected the Bell 

activity, not only at the larger ports, but, owing to the pressure ot the war Rock operations. 
with France and the Northern Powers, orders having likewise been issued 
for the establishment of an Impress at Dundee, Arbroath and Aberdeen, 
it became necessary to be doubly careful in obtaining protections for all 
our seamen. There being now five vessels employed in the service of the 
Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses, including the Bell Rock 
craft, a requisition was accordingly made to the Admiralty for a protection 
for 35 seamen, which was readily granted. In so far as the liberty of the 
subject is infringed by the impress service, its existence is much to be 
regretted ; but, in regard to the works in question, it had the effect of 
rendering them popular, instead of their being shunned by seamen, which 
might otherwise have been the case. 

As the impress officers were extremely rigid in the execution of their Protection Medal. 
duty, it became necessary to have the seamen carefully identified ; and, 
therefore, besides being described in the usual manner in the Protection- 
bills, which, agreeably to the Admiralty regulations, must always remain 
on board of the respective ships for which they are granted, it was found 
advisable to give each man a ticket, descriptive of his person, to which 
was attached a silver medal emblematical of the Light-house service, as 
represented in Plate XII. On the one side of this medal was the figure 
of the Bell Rock Light-house, and on the other, the word ' Medal,' re- 
ferring to the Admiralty Protection, and a description of the person by 
the Engineer. The following is a copy of the ticket of one of our best sea- 






1808, April. 
Protection Ticket. 

" Bell Rock Work-yard, Arbroath, %lst March 1808. 
" John Pratt, seaman in the service of the Honourable the Commission- 
ers of the Northern Light-houses, aged 35 years, 5 feet 8 inches high, 
black complexion, and slightly marked with the small-pox. 

" Robert Stevenson, 
" Engineer for Northern Light-houses." 

" The bearer John Pratt, is serving on board of the Sir Joseph Banks 
Tender and Craft, employed at the erection of the Bell Rock Light- 

The signature of the Master of the Tender, 
The signature of the bearer, 

" David Taylor. 
" John Pratt." 

These tickets were found to be indispensably necessary in the Light- 
house service, as it was impossible that every man, or even each boat's crew, 
could carry the ship's protection about with them. But the check afford- 
ed by the several signatures as noted above, was generally respected by the 
Impress officers. 

Light-house Yacht 
again visits the 

Directions having been given in the month of March for tightening 
the bracing-chains, and fixing certain ring-bolts, both at the eastern and 
western landing places of the rock, for the conveniency of the boats, the 
Light-house Yacht again sailed on the 12th of April, carrying off artifi- 
cers and all necessaries for the service. After accomplishing this duty she 
returned to Arbroath on the 14th, and in this state things remained till 
the commencement of the works in the month of May. 

Preparatory state of 
the Works. 

The several implements already alluded to and described, were in a state 
of great forwardness about the close of the winter, having been prepared in 
Edinburgh, under the immediate directions of the writer. At Aberdeen, 
Mr Alexander Gildowie, stone-agent, used every exertion to procure an 
additional supply of granite from Rubislaw and other quarries. But the se- 
verity of the winter was such as to prevent much progress from being made. 
At Mylnefield Quarry, owing to the liability of that stone to board or 
split in frosty weather, from its lying in regular strata, by which moisture 
is more readily absorbed and acted upon in the laminae, the operations had 
been entirely suspended for several months. 

OPERATIONS OF 1808. 211 

In the month of April, the writer visited the works at Arhroath, chap. iv. 
which he found still in a much retarded state, for want of a regular supply i908, April. 
of granite. Owing to this, it had not as yet been possible to complete strictea^truf lower 
even one entire course of the building, although the figure and dimen- ctmrses - 
sions of the moulds had been repeatedly altered to accommodate the quar- 
ries. It had already become apparent, that the works would unavoidably 
be stopped, if the whole of the outward casing were to consist of granite. In 
order, therefore, to avoid a circumstance which might prove hazardous to 
the whole operations, the Light-house Board resolved to restrict the use of 
this material to the lower courses of the building. 

It having thus been found necessary to lessen the quantity of granite Use ° f sandstone ex- 
at the Bell Rock, and proportionally to encrease the quantity of sand- 
stone, a new engagement was entered into with the proprietor of Mylne- 
field, for an additional supply, at the rate of one shilling and sixpence per 
cubic foot, put free on board. On visiting this quarry in the month of 
April, the writer had assurance of being largely supplied with stone, if a 
greater range or variety in the thickness of the courses were allowed. 
This, however desirable, was altogether impossible, in so far as regarded 
the lower courses ; the thickness of which could only be regulated piece- 
meal, as' the dimensions of the granite stones could be determined. 

Every exertion had already been made on the part of Mr Skene of Mr Skm ^ contract 

'i - i i i -i i • • i i i ' -i". t0 ^'PP'v Granite. 

Rubislaw, who had entered into a contract with the Light-house Board to 
supply granite, at the rate of one shilling and threepence per cubic foot, wi- 
the use^of the Bell Rock, — having been chiefly induced to enter into this con- 
tract, on account of the celebrity of the work ; — but after furnishing a few of 
the lower courses, he found that he could not implement his agreement with- 
out incurring considerable loss, and running the risk of retarding the build- 
ing : he therefore applied to be relieved of his contract. From the com- 
mencement of the work, Mr Skene had, with much liberality, stated, that 
in case the quarries upon his estate should be found defective in producing 
the necessary size and quantity of materials, his contract should never be 
allowed to form any bar or stoppage to the Commissioners in applying to 
others. This had accordingly been acted upon by the Stone-agent ; but 
after making every exertion for the space of about 12 months, he had been 
able to procure only a few additional blocks of the requisite dimensions, even 
with the range of all the quarries of Aberdeen, besides those of Rubislaw. 
The price of suitable blocks had, in the mean time, advanced to three 




1608, May. 

He is remunerated 
for loss. 


shillings and threepence, and even to five shillings per cuhie foot. At' the 
commencement of the Bell Rock works, the quarries of Aberdeen were 
chiefly worked for paving- stones, and for common house purposes, and were 
consequently unprovided with implements or tools suitable either for work- 
ing or transporting stones of large dimensions, for which they had hitherto 
had no regular demand. 

Mr Skene having sustained considerable pecuniary loss, in opening ad- 
ditional quarries for the Light-house, ' he had certain claims upon the 
Board, which were remitted to Mr Kennedy, advocate, of Aberdeen, upon 
whose opinion and report remuneration was made to the extent of about 
L. 370. 

The Sir JosephBanks 
takes the station of 
the Light-house 

The Light-house Yacht being employed in the general service of the 
Northern Light-houses, she left the Bell Rock on the 16th of April, to 
load stores at Leith. But the Sir Joseph Banks Tender being now com- 
pletely equipped, she sailed to supply her station, for the first time, on the 
20th of May, having on board several sets of moorings for the use of the 
vessels in attendance at the Rock. The mushroom-anchors of these moor- 
ings weighed about one ton each, and had about thirty-two fathoms of 
chain attached to them, which was made from iron, measuring seven-eighths 
of an inch in thickness. These moorings were laid down in fourteen fa- 
thoms water, at about 200 fathoms, apart, on a rocky bottom, and at the dis- 
tance of about a quarter of a mile on the north-western side of the Rock, 
as will be seen from Plate V. After completing this operation, and sup- 
plying the Floating-light with necessaries, the Tender returned to Ar- 
broath previously to the commencement of the operations at the Rock for 
the season. 

Wednesday 25th. 
The writer begins 
the operations of the 

Iii the month of May, the number of artificers in the work-yard, consist- 
ing of masons, smiths, mill-wrights, joiners and labourers, amounted to sixty. 
On the 25th, the writer embarked at Arbroath, on board of the Sir Joseph 
Banks, for the Bell Rock, accompanied by Mr Logan senior, foreman- 
builder, with twelve masons, and two smiths, together with thirteen sea- 
men, including the master, mate and steward. The vessel sailed at 3 o'clock 
p. M., under a salute of three hearty cheers from a great assemblage of people 
on the quays ; but before getting to the Rock, it was too late for making 
fast to the moorings that night; and she kept cruising about, with the 


Floating-light in view, which proved a great comfort to the seamen, in di- 
recting them to tack the ship, hefore she got too near the Rock. 

On this occasion, the prospects of the writer were very different from 
the state of things upon his sailing to commence the last year's opera- 
tions, when much doubt and uncertainty attended every step. The ex- 
perience of last season, together with the facility and confidence afford- 
ed by the erection of the Beacon, which had withstood the storms of a 
winter, together with the use of a new Tender, which could now be 
moored so near to the Rock as to be perfectly convenient for the boats, and 
was at the same time capable of being cast loose from her moorings, to 
take the people on board on any emergency ; — these circumstances gave 
a degree of security and promptitude to the work, which relieved all con- 
cerned of much anxiety. 



1808, May. 

The wind to-day was at south-east, and though the weather was not very 
pleasant, yet it was moderate. Mr James Wilson, now Commander of 
the Pharos Floating-light, and Landing-master, in the room of Mr Sin- 
clair, who had left the service, came into the writer's cabin this morning at 
6 o'clock, and intimated that there was a good appearance of landing on 
the rock. The bell being accordingly rung, the boats were hoisted out, 
and at half-past 7 the artificers were seated and arranged by the land- 
ing-master in their respective boats, who, with the foreman-builder, went 
into the boat on the off-side, while the writer steered the one on the side 
of the ship next to the Rock. Every thing being arranged, both boats 
proceeded in company, and at 8 a. si. they reached the Rock. The light- 
house colours were immediately hoisted upon the flag-staff of the Beacon, 
a compliment which was duly returned by the tender and floating-light, 
when three hearty cheers were given, and a glass of rum was served out 
to all hands, to drink success to the operations of 1808. 

Thursday 2Gth. 

When the writer made a landing here, in the month of March, he was State of the BeU 

. , ■ i ■ • • ni p i -r« i ti Rock after the storms 

so entirely occupied m examining all the parts ot the .beacon, that little at- of winter. 
tention was paid to the general appearance of the Rock. Its surface was 
now found to be covered with a new crop of Fuel, where it had been de- 
stroyed and rubbed off in the course of the last season. Even the iron 
work, and lower parts of the Beacon, and the site of the foundation 
of the Light-house, where it had been dressed and worked with the 
pick, was now also thickly coated with the a species of Conferva, of a 



1S08, May. 

State of the Founda. 

Landing attended 
with considerable 


deep green colour, resembling very fine grass where the water had left 
it, while in the pools it had the most beautiful arborescent appearance. 
The limpets and white bucky were, as formerly, in considerable numbers, 
and the barnacle had coated all the higher parts of the rock, giving it 
a whitish appearance. On the extreme points, a few detached clusters of 
mussels were seen, of a very diminutive size, varying from a quarter to half 
an inch in length. The six blocks of granite, which had been landed as an 
experiment on the 1st of September 1807, were now scattered about in 
different directions, covered with the delicate looking plant above descri- 
bed. The general aspect of the rock remained otherwise unaltered. 

The north-western half of the site of the building being higher than the 
other, it had, in the course of last season, been wrought down to a regular 
surface ; but the other half contained depressions or holes, varying in depth 
from six inches to no less than three feet. By 8 o'clock the tide had left the 
higher parts of the foundation dry, when it appeared from observation, that 
the water ebbed at the rate of one inch in two minutes and thirty seconds, 
and that the difference of the perpendicular height, between the lowest and 
highest parts of the foundation-pit, at the commencement of the works this 
season, was still about four feet. After having been an hour and three 
quarters at work, the water began to overflow the site of the building, when 
the boats left the rock, the landing-master taking the lead ; but after get- 
ting clear, he waited, agreeably to usual practice, till the other boat got 
out of the creek, when both proceeded for the Tender. 

In the evening tide the artificers landed at a quarter past 7, though 
the sea ran pretty high, and the boats shipped a good deal of water. 
Being rather early in the tide for working at the site of the building, the 
time was occupied in getting the smith's forge put in order upon the 
cross-beams of the Beacon, a step of great importance to the future pro- 
gress and advancement of the work. At half-past 7, the higher parts 
of the foundation being left dry, a few of the artificers set to work, the 
others beginning as the water went off. At half-past 9 the tide again 
overflowed the rock, when the boats left it, after the artificers had been two 
hours at work. In coming out at the eastern creek this evening, the land- 
ing-master's boat was struck by a heavy sea, and thrown to one side of the 
creek ; but, by his dextrous management, the boat's head was fortunately 
kept seaward, and she got out in safety, though not without having ship- 
ped a good deal of water. 


OPERATIONS OF 1808. 215 

This morning the wind was at east, blowing a fresh gale, the weather chap. iv. 
being hazy, with a considerable breach of sea setting in upon the rock. The isos. May. 
morning-bell was therefore rung, in some doubt as to the practicability of Friday. 27th. 
making a landing. After allowing the Rock to get fully up, or to be suffi- 
ciently left by the tide, that the boats might have some shelter from the 
range of the sea, they proceeded at 8 a. m., and upon the whole made 
a pretty good landing ; and after two hours and three quarters' work re- 
turned to the ship in safety. 

In the afternoon the wind considerably increased, and as a pretty Found necessary 

i -n ■ imi l -i-i-i-n/rm stiI1 'o excavate to 

heavy sea was still running, the 1 ender rode very hard, when Mr 1 ay- the depth of fourteen 
lor, the commander, found it necessary to take in the bowsprit, and strike 
the fore and main top-masts, that she might ride more easily. After 
consulting about the state of the weather, it was resolved to leave the 
artificers on board this evening, and carry only the smiths to the Rock, 
as the sharpening of the irons was rather behind, from their being so much 
broken and blunted, by the hard and tough nature of the rock, which be- 
came much more compact and hard as the depth of excavation was in- 
creased. Besides avoiding the risk of encumbering the boats with a num- 
ber of men, who had not yet got the full command of the oar in a breach 
of sea, the writer had another motive for leaving them behind. He want- 
ed to examine the site of the building without interruption, and to take 
the comparative levels of the different inequalities of its area ; and as it 
would have been painful to have seen men standing idle upon the Bell 
Rock, where all moved with activity, it was judged better to leave them 
on board. The boats landed at half-past 7 P. M., and the landing-master, 
with the seamen, was employed during this tide, in cutting the sea-weeds 
from the several paths leading to the landing-places, to render walking 
more safe, for, from the slippery state of the surface of the rock, many 
severe tumbles had taken place. In the mean time the writer took the 
necessary levels; and having carefully examined the site of the building, 
and considered all its parts, it still appeared to be necessary to excavate to 
the average depth of fourteen inches, over the whole area of the foun- 
dation. Having made these remarks, we again left the rock, at half-past 9, 
after having been two hours upon it. At the entrance of the eastern creek, 
the sea ran high, and all on board got a thorough wetting ; but so long 
as the boats were kept from striking upon the rock, the sprays which 
came on board were but little regarded. 




1808, May. 

Saturday 28th. 
Artificers much af- 
flicted with sea-sick. 


The wind still continued from the eastward, with a heayy swell ; and to- 
day it was accompanied with foggy weather, and occasional showers of 
rain. Notwithstanding this, such was the confidence which the erection 
of the Beacon had inspired, that the boats landed the artificers on the Rock, 
under very unpromising circumstances, at half-past 8, and they continued 
at work till half-past 11, being a period of three hours, which was consi- 
dered a great tide's work, in the present low state of the foundation. Three 
of the masons on board were so afflicted with sea-sickness, that they had 
not been able to take any food for almost three days, and they were liter- 
ally assisted into the boats this morning by their companions. It was, 
however, not a little surprising, to see how speedily these men revived 
upon landing on the Rock and eating a little dulse. Two of them af- 
terwards assisted the sailors in collecting the chips of stone, and carrying 
them out of the way of the pickmen ; but the third complained of a 
pain in his head, and was still unable to do any thing. Instead of re- 
turning to the tender with the boats, these three men remained on the Bea- 
con all day, and had their victuals sent to them along with the smiths. 
From Mr Dove, the foreman-smith, they had much sympathy, for he pre- 
ferred remaining on the Beacon at all hazards, to be himself relieved 
from the malady of sea-sickness. The wind continuing high, with a heavy 
sea, and the tide falling late, it was not judged proper to land the artificers 
this evening, but in the twilight the boats were sent to fetch the people 
on board who had been left on the Rock. 

Sunday 29th. The wind was from the S. W. to-day, and the signal-bell rung, as 

among the Artificers usual, about an hour before the period for landing on the Rock. The wri- 
ter was rather surprised, however, to hear the landing-master repeatedly 
call, " All hands for the Rock ;" and, coming on deck, he was disappointed 
to find the seamen only in the boats. Upon inquiry, it appeared, that 
some misunderstanding had taken place about the wages of the artificers 
for Sundays. They had preferred wages for seven days statedly, to the 
former mode of allowing a day for each tide's work on Sunday ; as 
they did not like the appearance of working for double or even 
treble wages on Sunday, and would rather have it understood that their 
work on that day arose more from the urgency of the case, than with a 
view to emolument. This having been judged creditable to their reli- 
gious feelings, and readily adjusted to their wish, the boats proceeded 
to the Rock, and the work commenced at 9 a. m. The artificers were 
chiefly employed in removing the iron-stanchions, or frame-work of the 


forge, which had last year been fixed on the rock, and which was 
now set on a temporary scaffold erected for it on the Beacon. Having 
now got two smiths' hearths above the reach of the tide, the work of this 
department made great progress, both in the sharping of the numerous 
picks and irons, and in making bats for fixing the different railway tracks 
upon the Rock. After getting three and a half hours' work, the boats re- 
turned to the ship at 12 noon, when the excellent prayer, composed by the 
Rev. Dr Brunton, given in a former part of this work, was read upon the 
ship's quarter-deck, in the same manner as had been done last year. 

The sloop Smeaton arrived this afternoon with a quantity of cast-iron 
rails, to be laid upon the Rock, for transporting the blocks of stone from the 
different landing-places to the site of the building. She had also on board 
some Norway logs, intended to be batted on the Rock, for supporting the 
railways across the gullies, or inequalities of the surface. The boats of the 
Sir Joseph Banks and Floating-light, being employed during the evening 
tide in delivering the Smeaton, by landing the cast-iron on the Rock, and 
bringing the timber on board of the Tender, the artificers could not be land- 
ed this evening. 



1808, May. 

The weather to-day was moderate, and there was much less breach in 
the sea than there had been since the commencement of the work this sea- 
son. The wind kept steadily in the south-west, and the barometer had 
changed its range from 29.40 to 29-90, and the thermometer from 
about 40° to 45°. The abundance of fish caught near the Rock was ano- 
ther proof of the more favourable state of the weather ; for the fish never 
failed to come upon the anchorage-ground during good weather, while they 
as regularly disappeared on a change for the worse. 

The Tender's bell rung this morning, as the signal for going to the 
Rock, at 9 o'clock ; and at half-past 9, the water having partially left the 
foundation-pit, the work commenced, and continued two and three-fourth 
hours, or till a quarter from 1 o'clock p. m., when the tide again overflowed 
the whole site of the building. The masons and seamen returned with the 
boats on board the Tender, but the mill-wrights and joiners, who had 
come off with the Smeaton to fit up the railways, and such of the masons 
as were apt to be sick, remained with the smiths on the Beacon through- 
out the day. 


Monday 30th. 

Fish very abundant 
at the rock. 


chap. iv. The number of workmen at the Rock was now increased to twenty-eight, 

1808, May. including six sailors from the landing-master's crew, who were constantly 
General usefulness of employed in baling water, and keeping the foundation clear of the chips, 
works. struck off by the pick. They also conveyed the irons to the forge, by hoist- 

ing them up to the Beacon by a whip-tackle. The seamen were of the 
greatest service in many of the operations, for Jack is a man of all trades ; 
but as they had their boats to attend, and were always at the landing- 
master's call, they were not taken into account in the enumeration of 

Mortar Gaiiery fitted Mr Francis Watt commenced, at this tide, with five joiners, to fit up a 
up ' temporary platform upon the Beacon, about twenty-five feet above the 

highest part of the Rock. This platform was to be used as the site of the 
smith's forge, after the Beacon should be fitted up as a barrack ; and here 
also the mortar was to be mixed and prepared for the building, and it was 
accordingly termed the Mortar Gallery. This platform was supported 
with joisting, well framed, and properly fixed to the principal beams ; but 
the flooring or boarding, though two inches in thickness, was only slightly 
nailed to the joisting, so that when the sea rose, and struck it in bad wea- 
ther, it might lift, without endangering the general frame of the fabric. 
At the end of the working season this floor was lifted, and the joisting only 
left during the winter months. 

smeaton is ballasted The landing-master's crew completed the discharging from the Smeaton 
at the Beii Rock. ^ ^ rema j n( j er f h er car g of the cast-iron rails and timber. It must not 
here be omitted to notice, that the Smeaton took in ballast from the 
Bell Rock, consisting of the shivers or chips of stone, produced by the 
workmen in preparing the site of the building, which were now accumu- 
lated in great quantities on the Rock. These the boats loaded, after dis- 
charging the iron. The object in carrying off these chips, besides ballast- 
ing the vessel, was to get them permanently out of the way, as they were 
apt to shift about from place to place, with every gale of wind ; and it of- 
ten required a considerable time to clear the foundation a second time of this 
rubbish. The circumstance of ballasting a ship at the Bell Rock afforded 
great entertainment, especially to the sailors; and it was perhaps with 
truth remarked, that the Smeaton was the first vessel that had ever taken 
on board ballast at the Bell Rock. 

OPERATIONS OF 1808. 219 

The winds were variable to-day, but chiefly from the north, accompa- chap. iv. 
nied with fine weather. On landing at a quarter from 11a. m., the higher 1808, May. 
parts of the site of the building were dry, and the work continued two and Tuesda y» 31st - 
a quarter hours, when it was again stopped by the return of the flood-tide. 
The joiners and smiths, together with those who were apt to be sick on 
board of the Tender, remained on the Beacon throughout the day, and 
at a quarter past 1 P. M. the boats left the Rock with the masons. 

There were eighteen seamen from the Smeaton, Sir Joseph Banks, 
and Floating-light, employed to-day under the direction of Mr Wilson, 
the landing-master, in laying the cast-iron work of the railways in a com- 
pact manner, into the various crevices and # holes in the Rock, to prevent its 
being tossed about by the sea, until it should be wanted in the course of 
fixing the tracks to the Rock. 

The Smeaton being finally discharged, and partly loaded with stone shivers chips of the rock in 
from the Bell Rock, she sailed for Leith, in order to fetch the remainder of Ldth. re ' luest 
the cast-iron, and some additional logs of timber. Mr Pool, the commander 
of this vessel, afterwards acquainted the writer, that when the ballast was 
landed upon the quay at Leith, many persons carried away specimens of it, 
as part of a cargo from the Bell Rock ; when he added, that such was the 
interest excited, from the number of specimens carried away, that some of his 
friends suggested, that he should have sent the whole to the Cross of Edin- 
burgh, where each piece might have sold for a penny. 

In the evening the boats went to the Rock, and brought the joiners and Fish cau s h ' at the 
smiths, and their sickly companions, on board of the Tender. They also 
brought with them two baskets full of fish, which they had caught at high 
water, from the Beacon, reporting, at the same time, to their comrades, 
that the fish were swimming in such numbers over the rock at high water, 
that it was completely hid from their sight, and nothing seen but the move- 
ment of thousands of fish. They were almost exclusively of the species 
called the Podlie, or young Coal-fish. This discovery, made for the first 
time to-day by the workmen, was considered fortunate, as an additional 
circumstance likely to produce an inclination among the artificers to take up 
their residence in the Beacon, when it came to be fitted up as a barrack. 

The boats landed to-day at 11 A. M., but the tides being neap, the wed/esda' 
water went off very slowly, and it was 12 noon before it left the site of the 



1808, June. 

Saturday, 4th. 

First course finished 
to-day. Its cubical 
contents, &c. 

Certainty of com- 
mencing building 
this season. 


building. After continuing at work one hour and three quarters, the 
artificers left the rock with all hands, when the tender immediately got under 
weigh, or rather cast off from her moorings, by simply letting go one end 
of the mooring hawser, and sailed for Arbroath. But the wind being 
N.N. W., it was 8 o'clock p. m. before she got into the harbour. 

This being the birth-day of King George III., who now entered into 
the 70th year of his age, and 50th of his reign, a considerable effort was 
made to get the first entire course of the building laid upon the platform at 
Arbroath, where it was to be marked and numbered, and made ready for 
shipping for the Rock. It may seem strange, that after continuing the ope- 
rations of the work-yard for about twelve months, there should only have 
been but one course ready to ship for the Rock. Such also was the difficulty 
of procuring granite of a large size, that this course was obliged to be hewn 
of the thickness of only one foot. The chief advantage of thick courses 
in water buildings, besides a saving of hewing, is that of getting sooner out 
of the reach of the tide, there being nearly as much time necessary for lay- 
iuo- a thin course as a thick one. The stones for the first entire course were 
not quarried particularly for it, but were taken from the whole materials in 
the yard. The enumeration of the various kinds and quantity of work in 
this single course of the Light-house, may perhaps surprise the reader. 
Though only one foot in thickness, it contained 508 feet cubic of granite 
in outward casing ; 876 feet cubic of Mylnefield stone in the hearting ; 
104 tons of solid contents ; 132 feet superficial of hewing in the face work ; 
4519 feet superficial of hewing in the beds, joints and joggles; 420 feet li- 
neal boring of trenail holes ; 378 feet lineal cutting for wedges ; 246 oaken 
trenails ; 378 oaken wedges in pairs. 

In the work-yard, about sixty stone cutters were employed in hewing 
and preparing the various courses of the solid part of the building. Stones 
were now got pretty readily from Mylnefield quarry; and besides the 
quarries at Aberdeen, others had been opened near Peterhead, belonging 
to Mr John Hutchison, which produced a great many fine blocks. As 
much of the Aberthaw limestone had been broken and prepared for burning 
as would charge the kiln. A number of casks of the capacity of about 32 
gallons, had also been provided and were ready to be filled, in equal num- 
bers, of clean sharp sand, lime and pozzolano earth, in the state of fine 
powder. After much trouble and correspondence with timber-merchants 
in Leith, London, and other parts, a considerable quantity of trenails 

OPERATIONS OF 1808. 221 

and wedges of British oak were procured, which were to he used in con- chap. iv. 
necting the courses of the solid part of the huilding, while the works were iso8, June. 
low, and in danger of being washed away or injured by the sea. These 
oaken trenails and wedges were made up in bundles, containing about 20. 
In short, every thing was in a state of readiness in the work-yard, for build- 
ing the first three courses of the Light-house. The preparations for its foun- 
dation at the Rock were now also in considerable forwardness, and the works, 
upon the whole, put on an appearance which left no doubt as to the com- 
mencement of the building this season. 

The writer sailed from Arbroath in the evening of the 6th of June Artificers sail for the 


in the Tender, with a fine breeze of northerly wind, having on board 
34 artificers, consisting of masons, smiths, mill-wrights and joiners, be- 
sides the landing master's crew, consisting of twelve seamen, who worked 
the ship. There were also on board Mr Peter Logan, foreman builder ; 
Mr Francis Watt, foreman mill-wright ; Mr James Dove, foreman smith ; 
Mr James Wilson, landing master ; Mr David Taylor, master ; Mr Wil- 
liam Reid, mate, and Mr John Peters, steward, counting in all fifty-four 
persons. The weather was clear, and the vessel had no sooner got out 
of the harbour, than the lights of the float were distinctly seen ; and be- 
fore day-break, the Tender was made fast to her moorings off the Bell 

At 3 o'clock in the morning, the ship's bell was rung as the signal for Tuesday, 7th. 
landing at the Rock. These artificers, to which this had been the first trip, itXf atTneariy 
found their quarters rather confined in the ship, and some of them being hour on the Rock * 
sickly, were glad of an opportunity of landing, and came almost im- 
mediately upon deck, notwithstanding the earliness of the hour at which 
the tide happened. But those who were more accustomed to the business, 
calculated their time, knowing that sufficient warning was always given, 
especially at hours so early. When the landing was to be made before 
breakfast, it was customary to give each of the artificers and seamen a 
dram and a biscuit, and coffee was prepared by the steward for the cabins. 
Exactly at 4 o'clock, the whole party lauded from three boats, including 
one of those belonging to the Floating-light, with a part of that ship's 
crew, which always attended the works in moderate weather. The land- 
ing-master's boat called the Seaman, but more commonly the Life-boat, took 
the lead. The next boat called the Mason, was generally, steered by the 




1906, June. 

writer ; while the Floating-light's boat Pharos, was under the manage- 
ment of the boatswain of that ship. 

How the Artificers 
»re employed. 

Having now so considerable a party of workmen and sailors on the 
Rock, it may be proper here to notice how their labours were directed. 
Preparations having been made last month for the erection of a second 
forge upon the beacon, the smiths commenced their operations, both upon 
the lower and higher platforms, where forges had been erected. They 
were employed in sharpening the picks and irons for the masons, and in mak- 
ing bats and other apparatus of various descriptions, connected with the 
fitting of the railways. The landing-master's crew were occupied in assisting 
the mill- wrights in laying the railways to hand. Sailors, of all other descrip- 
tions of men, are the most accommodating in the use of their hands. They 
worked freely with the boring irons, and assisted in all the operations of 
the railways, acting by turns as boatmen, seamen, and artificers. We had 
no such character on the Bell Rock as the common labourer. All the ope- 
rations of this department were cheerfully undertaken by the seamen, who, 
both on the rock and on ship-board, were the inseparable companions of every 
work connected with the erection of the Bell Rock Light-house. It will 
naturally be supposed, that about twenty-five masons, occupied with their 
picks in executing and preparing the foundation of the light-house, in the 
course of a tide of about three hours, would make a considerable impression 
upon an area even of forty-two feet in diameter. But in proportion as the 
foundation was deepened, the rock was found to be much more hard and dif- 
ficult to work, while the baling and pumping of water became much more 
troublesome. A joiner was kept almost constantly employed in fitting the 
picks to their handles, which, as well as the points of.the irons, were very fre- 
quently broken. At 8 o'clock, the water overflowed the site of the building, 
and the boats left the rock with all hands for breakfast. Several of the artifi- 
cers would willingly have remained upon the beacon to avoid the rolling mo- 
tion and sickness incident to the ship ; yet, being all wetted, and those espe- 
cially who were employed in excavating the site of the light-house and rail- 
ways, being completely bespattered with the chips and particles elicited from 
the Rock, the whole party embarked in the boats ; but such as chose were 
at liberty to return to the beacon with the smiths after breakfast. 

Interesting appear- 
ance of the Bock. 

Excepting at the erection of the principal beams of the beacon, the 
Bell Rock this morning presented by far the most busy and active ap- 
pearance it had exhibited since the erection of the Beacon. The surface 

OPERATIONS OF 1808. 223 

of the Rock was crowded with men, the two forges flaming, the one above chap. iv. 
the other, upon the Beacon, while the anvils thundered with the rebound- isos, June. 
ing noise of their wooden supports, and formed a curious contrast with 
the occasional clamour of the surges. The wind was westerly to-day, and 
the weather being extremely agreeable, as soon after breakfast as the tide 
had sufficiently overflowed the rock to float the boats over it, the smiths, 
with a number of the artificers, returned to the Beacon, carrying their 
fishing-tackle along with them, which had all been put in a state of requi- 
sition before they left the shore. In the course of the forenoon, the Bea- 
con exhibited a still more extraordinary appearance than the Rock had done 
in the morning. The sea being smooth, it seemed to be afloat upon the 
water, with a number of men supporting themselves in all the variety of 
attitude and position ; while, from the upper part of this wooden house, 
the volumes of smoke which ascended from the forges, gave the whole a 
very curious and fanciful appearance. 

The length of the day now afforded two tides with dav-light. The boats, Artificers remain on 

,„..,,,.„ ,. J & the rock all day. 

therefore, landed the artificers at 5 o'clock p. m., and after three hours' 
work, as in the morning, all hands again left it at 8 o'clock, and returned 
on board of the Tender. Those who had been left upon the beacon, com- 
plained of being very tired, with supporting themselves so long in one posi- 
tion without motion, or even a sufficient space to rest their feet upon. 

From the excellence of the weather, and for the greater conveniency of 
the work, the Tender had been made fast to one of the Stone-lighter's float- 
ing buoys, to be nearer to the Rock than her own moorings, which were 
placed at such a distance as might enable her, in casting off, to clear the 
Rock on any tack. But, in the course of this tide, it was observed that 
a heavy swell was setting in from the eastward ; and the appearance of 
the sky indicated a change of weather, while the wind was shifting about. 
The barometer also had fallen from 30 to 29.60. It was therefore judged 
prudent to shift the vessel to the SW. or more distant buoy. Her bow- 
sprit was also soon afterwards taken in, the top-masts struck, and every 
thing made snug, as seamen term it, for a gale. During the course of the 
night, the wind increased and shifted to the eastward, when the vessel rol- 
led very hard, and the sea often broke over her bows with great force. 

Although the motion of the Tender was much less than that of the Wednesday, sth. 
Floating-light, at least in regard to the rolling motion ; vet, she sended or ? ender beais awa y 

00 a J for Leith Roads. 



1806, June. 

Wednesday, 9th. 

Friday, 10th. 


pitched much. Being also of a very handsome build, and what seamen tenrr 
very clean aft, the sea often struck her counter with such force, that the 
writer, who possessed the aftermost cabin, being unaccustomed to this new 
vessel, could not divest himself of uneasiness ; for, when her stern fell in- 
to the sea, it struck with so much violence, as to be more like the resis- 
tance of a rock than the sea. The water, at the same time, often rushed 
with great force up the rudder-case ; and forcing up the valve of the 
water-closet, the floor of his cabin was at times laid imder water. The 
gale continued to increase, and the vessel rolled and pitched in such 
a manner, that the hawser by which the Tender was made fast to the 
buoy snapped, and she went adrift. In the act of swinging round to the 
wind, she shipped a very heavy sea, which greatly alarmed the artificers, 
who imagined that we had got upon the Rock. But this, from the direction 
of the wind, was impossible. The writer, however, sprung upon deck, where 
he found the sailors busily employed in rigging out the bowsprit, and in 
setting sail. From the easterly direction of the wind, it was considered 
most advisable to steer for the Frith of Forth, and there wait a change of 
weather. At 2 P. M. we accordingly passed the Isle of May ; at 6 an- 
chored in Leith Roads, and at 8 the writer landed, when he came in upon 
his friends, who were not a little surprised at his unexpected appearance, 
which gave an instantaneous alarm for the safety of things at the Bell 

The wind still continued to blow very hard at E. by N., and the Sir 
Joseph Banks rode heavily, and even drifted with both anchors ahead, in 
Leith Roads. The artificers did not attempt to leave the ship last night ; 
but there being upwards of fifty-people on board, and the decks greatly lum- 
bered with the two large boats, they were in a very crowded and impatient 
state on board. But to-day they got ashore, and amused themselves by 
walking about the streets of Edinburgh, some in very humble apparel, from 
having only the worst of their jackets with them, which, though quite suit- 
able for their work, were hardly fit for public inspection, being not only 
tattered, but greatly stained with the red colour of the rock. 

To-day the wind was at S. E., with light breezes and foggy weather. 
At 6 a. M. the writer again embarked for the Bell Rock, when the ves- 
sel immediately sailed. At 11 P. M., there being no wind, the kedge- 
anchor was let go off Anstruther, one of the numerous towns on the coast of 
Fife, where we waited the return of the tide. 


Before leaving Leith Roads, the muster-roll was called, to see that 
all hands were on board ; and we also shipped an additional seaman. 
The vessel, therefore, required a great stock of provisions and water, and, 
from her very hampered situation, with the stores and apparatus of va- 
rious kinds which she had on board, it became necessary to embrace 
every opportunity of filling up the stock of water, as landsmen use a much 
greater quantity of that indispensable article for every purpose than sea- 
men. Mr Taylor, who commanded the Tender, and whose attention in 
this respect was quite indefatigable, sent the boat ashore at Anstruther, at 
a very early hour this morning, for an additional supply. 


1808, June. 
Saturday, 11th. 

Throughout these twenty-four hours, the winds were variable and the 
weather was hazy. At 6 a. m. the Sir Joseph got under weigh, and at 11 
was again made fast to the southern buoy at the Bell Rock. Though 
it was now late in the tide, the writer being anxious to ascertain the state 
of things after the gale, landed with the artificers, to the number of forty- 
four. Every thing was found in an entire state ; but, as the tide was nearly 
gone, only half an hour's work had been got when the site of the build- 
ing was overflowed. During the period of high-water, the boats were em- 
ployed in bringing stores and provisions from on board the Smeaton, which 
had also returned from Arbroath, whither she had run for shelter. In the 
evening the boats again landed at 9, and, after a good tide's- work of three 
hours, with torch-light, the work was left off at midnight. 

Work continued on 
the Rock till mid- 

To the distant shipping, the appearance of things under night on the Appearance of the 
Bell Rock, when the work was going forward, must have been very re- R °° k at mgbt ' 
markable, especially to those who were strangers to the operations. Mr John 
Reid, principal light-keeper, who also acted as master of the Floating-light 
during the working months at the rock, described the appearance of the 
numerous lights situate so low in the water, when seen at the distance of 
two or three miles, as putting him in mind of Milton's description of the 
fiends in the lower regions ; adding, " for it seems greatly to surpass Will-o'- 
the-Wisp, or any of those earthly spectres of which we have so often heard." 

The weather was somewhat blowy to-day, and the wind veered from 
E. to S.W. The boats landed at a quarter past 9 this morning, but 
not without considerable difficulty, owing to a heavy swell of sea which ac- 
companied the change of wind. After continuing at work for three hours 
and a half at the site of the building, and the fixtures for the railways, 


Sunday, 13th 


chap. iv. the water came in upon the artificers, and the boats left the rock with all 
iso8, June. hands, after having experienced some difficulty at the entrance of the 
eastern landing creek, by the breach of the sea. In this respect, the larger 
boats of the new Tender were not found to be so well adapted for pulling 
through a swell of sea in these narrow creeks, as the smaller boats of the 
Floating-light. The breadth of the former being greater, the oars were 
more apt to get entangled with the sea-weed and jutting points of the rock, 
so that it was with difficulty they could be equally pulled on each side ; 
and if they did not exactly stem the sea, but got a preponderance to 
one side, the waves were apt to throw them upon the shelving rocks. 
Smaller boats, under these particular circumstances, would have been more 
handy, but of two evils we are often left to choose the least, and the 
larger boats were found to be more generally useful. For the conveni- 
ency of accommodating a greater number of artificers, it was necessary to 
have the boats of as large dimensions as the Tender could stow ; it being 
hardly possible in this service to have more than two upon deck, and one 
over the stem. 

About 1 p. M. the boats returned to the Tender in safety ; aud prayers 
were soon afterwards read upon deck, when all hands, including the boats 
crews from the Floating-light and Smeaton, being present, they counted 
sixty individuals. Owing to the difficulty experienced in getting clear of 
the rock this morning, and the swell of the sea still continuing, a landing 
was not attempted in the evening. 

The wind blew fresh from the S.W. this morning, and the tides were 
again getting into the state of neap ; yet the ebb was very considerable 
yesterday, and some parts of the rock were even dry about half an hour be- 
fore the calculated time. The boats landed to-day at 11, and left the 
Rock again at half-past 2 o'clock p. m. The artificers were again land- 
ed in the evening, but the tide did not leave the foundation-pit. All 
hands, however, were employed on the higher parts of the rock, in 
the tracks of the railways, where bat-holes were to bore and seats for 
the cast-iron props or supports of the railways to level. After being em- 
ployed in this manner for an hour and a half, the boats returned to the 

Artificers appear From the difficulties attending the landing on the rock, owing to the 

orftteBo'ck to-day. breach of sea which had for days past been around it, the artificers 

Sixty persons on the 
quarter-deck at 
prayers to-day. 

Monday, 13th. 

OPERATIONS OF 1808. 227 

showed some backwardness at getting into the boats this morning ; but chap. iv. 

after a little explanation this was got over. It was always observable, i8os, June, 
that for some time after any thing like danger had occurred at the 
Rock, the workmen became much more cautious, and on some occasions 
their timidity was rather troublesome. It fortunately happened, how- 
ever, that, along with the writer's assistants and the sailors, there were 
also some of the artificers themselves who felt no such scruples, and in 
this way these difficulties were the more easily surmounted. In matters 
where life is in danger, it becomes necessary to treat even unfounded pre- 
judices with tenderness, as an accident, under certain circumstances, would 
not only have been particularly painful to those giving directions, but have 
proved highly detrimental to the work, especially in the early stages of its 

The wind was at south this morning, accompanied with very heavy Tuesday, uth. 
showers of rain; and though the boats effected a landing at 12 noon; yet, brrat" SaUs f ° r Ar ~ 
during the whole tide, there was not less depth than 15 inches of water on 
the highest part of the site of the building, while the sea was continually 
ranging into it. The artificers were, therefore, employed on the higher 
parts of the eastern railway-track. After an hour and three-quarters 
work, the boats returned to the Tender, which had already cast off from 
her moorings, and kept plying about till they left the rock with the ar- 
tificers, when she immediately sailed for Arbroath, and got into the harbour 
at 6 p. m. Here the artificers were employed in the work-yard for six days, 
until the return of spring-tides. During this interval ashore, the smiths 
were busily employed in giving the picks and other tools a thorough re- 
pair. Every measure was also adopted that could possibly facilitate the 
fitting up of the railways, without the aid of which the blocks of stone 
could not possibly be conveyed along the rugged surface of the rock after 
they were landed. 

The operations at the rock, both in the preparation of the foundation First entire course 
of the building, and in the fitting up of the railways for landing the P S™. fr ° m the 
materials, became more and more urgent as the work advanced ashore. 
The first course had now been removed from the platform, and the greater 
part of the second was laid in its place ; and, in the course of three 
weeks, it was also expected to be in readiness to ship for the rock, while a 
number of the higher courses were in a considerable state of forwardness. 
Some of the Aberthaw limestone having been burnt, and reduced to 





1808, June. 

a state of powder, it was put into casks, while equal quantities of pozzolano 
and clean sharp sand were also made up in the same manner, to be used in 
building up the inequalities on the south east or lowest part of the margin 
of the foundation-pit, that by this means the water might be more speedily 
pumped out, and a longer period of the tide obtained for carrying on the 

Trial of the landing 

It being apparent, from the present state of things, that we should be 
ready for building in the course of the next spring-tides, if the weather 
proved favourable, it was necessary to have all the apparatus for landing the 
stones at the rock in a working state. While at Arbroath, the writer had 
a trial made of one of the new praams or stone-lighters, by towing her into 
the bay of Arbroath, with a large stone upon deck, where the sloop Smea- 
ton had been previously anchored with her gaff-boom and tackle rigged. 
This experiment was made in pretty rough weather, when the block of 
stone was lifted with the tackle in and out of the Smeaton's hold, and again 
placed on the praam's deck, as was to be done in the operation of landing at 
the rock. The apparatus is represented in Plate XI., and the trial was 
highly satisfactory, the tackle requiring only some trifling alterations. The 
Smeaton was then brought into the harbour aud trimmed with ballast, con- 
sisting of pieces of granite, neatly fitted into her hold, over which a 
platform was laid, which completed her for the service of taking the stones 
from Arbroath to the Bell Rock. 

Monday, 20th. 

Tender sails for the 

Things on shore having been thus arranged, the writer again embarked 
on the 20th in the Sir Joseph Banks Tender, and sailed for the Bell Rock 
at 1 P. M., accompanied by the sloop Smeaton, and having on board of 
both vessels sixty-two artificers and seamen. At 8 the Floating-light was 
hailed, and at 9 the Tender and Smeaton were made fast to their respec- 
tive buoys. 

Tuesday, 21st. 

Fifty-eight artificers 

At 3 o'clock this morning, the bell was rung, as a signal for landing at 
the rock. From the number of artificers, it required considerable manage- 
ment and exertion on the part of the landing-master to get them pro- 
perly seated in the four boats belonging to the Tender, the Smeaton, 
and Floating-light, which last attended the rock during the morning 
tides, and assisted in all the operations of the landing-master's depart- 
ment. At 4 o'clock fifty-eight persons landed ; but the tides being ex- 
tremely languid, the water only left the higher parts of the rock, and no 

OPERATIONS OF 1808. 039 

work could be done at the site of the building. A third forge was, how- chap. iv. 
ever, put in operation, during a short time, for the greater conveniency leos, June. 
of sharpening the picks and irons, and for purposes connected with the pre- 
parations for fixing the railways on the rock. 

The weather towards the evening became thick and foggy, and there Advantage of a Ben 
was hardly a breath of wind to ruffle the surface of the water ; had it Rocki 
not therefore been the noise from the anvils of the smiths who had been left 
on the Beacon throughout the day, which afforded a guide for the boats, a 
landing could not have been attempted this evening, especially with such 
a company of artificers. This circumstance confirmed the writer's opinion 
with regard to the propriety of connecting large bells to be rung with 
machinery in the light-house, to be tolled day and night during the con- 
tinuance of foggy weather, by which the mariner may be forewarned of 
too near an approach to the Rock, while every distant object is obscured 
in the mist. 

The tides went so little back at the Rock to-day, that no work was done 
excepting to the railways ; it being impossible to pump the water out of 
the foundation- pit, as the tide never left the south-eastern margin of it. 
After remaining two hours, all hands returned towards the Tender, where 
guns were occasionally fired, horns sounded, and the ship's bell tolled, as 
signals for the boats to find their way from the Rock to the vessels ; and, 
in this manner, the whole party got safely on board about 8 o'clock p. m. 

At 6 a. M. the artificers landed, but the foundation could only be par- Wednesday, asa. 
tially cleared of water, so as to enable a few hands, standing ankle-deep 
in water, to work round the edges where the site of the Light-house was 
highest. After two and a half hours' work, the boats, with the artifi- 
cers, returned to their respective ships. 

This morning several casks of pozzolano, lime and sand were landed, Bunding materials 
to make mortar, in order to build round the lower edges of the founda- tinVtwT season' St 
tion-pit. This being something like an approximation to the long 
wished-for commencement of building the Light-house, the artificers 
thought the opportunity too good to pass over in silence, and the casks 
were accordingly landed under a salute of three hearty cheers. At half 
past 6 p. M. the boats again landed upon the rock, but, even when 
the tide was at the lowest, the water stood to the depth of 18 inches upon 




1808, June. 

the site of the building, and no work was done. This was rather a re- 
lief to the smiths, who having no irons to sharp, got rapidly forward with 
the necessary fixtures for the railways. 

Thursday, 83d. 
Small ruble walls 
built instead of cof- 

The weather continued to be extremely mild, and the winds were ge- 
nerally from the eastward and southward, accompanied with thick and 
hazy weather, which, in communicating with the rock, was not only irk- 
some but even dangerous. At 7 o'clock this morning, the tide proving 
more favourable, the artificers began to work. At 9 the rock was again 
overflowed, and the boats returned to the Tender after two hours' work. 
Part of the operations of this morning's tide consisted in building up 
the crevices and inequalities of the rock round the margin of the foun- 
dation, with pozzolano mortar, and the chips produced from the excava- 
tion, with a view to dam out the water. These little walls varied from 
six inches to eighteen inches in height ; a small sluice or aperture being 
formed in one of them by which the water, during ebb-tide, was allowed 
to drain off. 

It formed part of the writer's original design, as formerly noticed, to 
erect a cast-iron coffer-dam of about five feet in height, round the site of 
the building ; but the surface of the rock was so irregular, that the diffi- 
culty of tightening it, and also of emptying the contained water, so as to get 
the benefit of it during ebb-tide, would have been so great, that, taking 
these circumstances into account, together, with the loss of time which 
would attend the erection of such a preparatory work, the idea of a coffer- 
dam was laid aside, soon after entering upon the actual execution of the 

Inconveniencies of 
foggy weather. 

The boats landed this evening, when the artificers had again two hours' 
work. The weather still continuing very thick and foggy, more difficulty 
was experienced in getting on board of the vessels to-night, than had oc- 
curred on any previous occasion, owing to a light breeze of wind which car- 
ried the sound of the bell, and the other signals, made on board of the ves- 
sels, away from the Rock. Having, fortunately, made out the position of 
the sloop Smeaton, at the NE. buoy, — to which we were much assisted by 
the barking of the ship's dog, we parted with the Smeaton's boat, when the 
boats of the Tender took a fresh departure for that vessel, which lay about 
half a mile to the south-westward. Yet such is the very deceiving state of 
the tides, that although there was a small binnacle and compass in the 


landing-master's boat, we had, nevertheless, passed the Sir Joseph a good chap, iv. 
way, when, fortunately, one of the sailors catched the sound of a blowing- 1908 > June - 
horn. The only fire-arms on board, were a pair of swivels of one inch 
caliber ; but it is quite surprising how much the sound is lost in foggy 
weather, as the report was heard but at a very short distance. The sound, 
from the explosion of gunpowder, is so instantaneous, that the effect of the 
small guns was not so good as either the blowing of a horn., or the tolling 
of a bell, which afforded a more constant and steady direction for the pilot. 
It may here be noticed, that larger guns would have answered better, but 
these must have induced the keeping of a greater stock of gunpowder, 
which, in a service of this kind, might have been attended with risk. A 
better signal would have been a bugle-horn, the tremulous sound of which 
produces a more powerful effect in fog, than the less sonorous and more sud- 
den report of ordnance. 

The artificers landed to-day, both with the morning and evening tides. Friday, 34th. 
During the first, they had two hours and three-quarters, and in the latter, 
two hours and a quarter, making together five hours work ; the weather 
still continuing thick and foggy, with the wind at south-east. 

The boats landed this morning at a quarter from 8 o'clock, and the arti- Saturday, 25th. 
fleers left off work at half-past 10. During the evening's tide, the ope- 
rations were again continued with torch-light, from half-past 7 till 11 
o'clock p. M., having to-day had four hours and three-quarters work upon 
the rock. 

A remarkable fact may here be mentioned as an evidence of the force Force of the sea up; 
of the sea upon the Bell Rock. The reader may remember, that the 
mushroom anchor, with its chain and buoy, which had drifted during 
the very hard gale of the 6th September 1807, were found upon the Rock 
after the gale : at that time the buoy and chain were taken up, but the 
anchor having got into a pretty large hole or cavity of the rock, no conve- 
nient opportunity occurred for lifting it last season. No doubt, however, 
was entertained that a mass of iron, weighing about a ton, without any 
timber or buoyant matter attached to it, would remain in this position un- 
disturbed, till a convenient time should occur for recovering it. But, at 
the commencement of the works this season, to the surprise of every one, 
the anchor in question could not be seen. To-day, however, it was dis- 
covered at the opposite side of the Rock, by one of the smiths who was 



1803, June. 

Sunday, 26th. 


at work upon the highest platform of the beacon ; and the weather be- 
ing extremely fine, it was weighed or lifted by the landing-master's crew. 
For this purpose, spars were laid across two boats, between which the 
anchor was made fast : as the tide rose the boats floated, and the an- 
chor thus suspended, was conveyed to one of the vessels in the offing; 
when a chain and buoy being attached to it, it was again laid down in a 
proper birth, as the moorings of one of the praam-boats. 

The weather kept still very favourable for the operations at the rock, 
though, from the prevailing fogs, it was not only inconvenient, but ha- 
zardous, to ply even in the short distance between the rock and the vessels 
in the offing. The boats landed this morning at half-past 8, and again re- 
turned to the Tender at 12. In the evening, they landed at half-past 8 
and continued with torch-light till half-past 11 P. M., having had five hours 
work during the two tides. 

Monday, anh. The weather was still thick and hazy, but the sea kept smooth, and the 

tides were very favourable, so that in the morning, the artificers were at 
work from half-past 8 till half-past 11 o'clock ; and in the evening, from 
a quarter past 9 till midnight ; or had altogether five hours and three- 
quarters work to-day. 

The writer wishing, in such favourable weather, to try the practicability 
of bringing the Stone-lighters directly into the landing creeks of the Rock, 
with the stones and building materials, by which great facility might occa- 
sionally be given to the work, in landing the stones directly from the ves- 
sels, instead of doing it on all occasions by loading and discharging the 
praam-boats ; an experiment was accordingly made this evening, and the 
sloop Smeaton was towed into the eastern creek, when it was ascertained that 
her cargo, in such weather, might have been very speedily landed. But 
when the tide left the rock, the vessel heeled to the one side, her sails hung 
loose, and she had so much the appearance of a wreck, that the sight cast an 
immediate gloom particularly upon the countenances of the seamen, to 
whom a vessel, in this state, could not be viewed without some degree of 
horror. Whether it was partly from this circumstance, or that the tide 
and weather would so seldom answer this nice operation, or that the land- 
ing-master's crew had become so expert in transporting the praam-boats, 
the idea of laying the stone-vessels upon the rock, was, from this night's 
experiment, completely abandoned. 

OPERATIONS OF 1808. 233 

Land in the morning at 9, and continue at work till 1 P. M., and chap. iv. 
again in the evening, when the work is continued by torch-light, from i8os,june. 
half-past 10 till half-past 12, having had five hours' work to-day. Tuesda - V 28th - 

The wind was at south-east this morning, with gentle breezes and Wednesday, 29th. 
clear weather. The boats landed at 11 a. m., and the foundation pit hav- 
ing been speedily cleared of water, the work was continued till half-past 
1. p. M., being three hours. The evening tides now falling late, and 
becoming neap, no landing was made this night. 

The boats landed the artificers on the rock at half-past 11 this morn- Monday, sotn. 
ing, but the tides being extremely languid, there was only about an hour's R ck. rer iwesf of 
work got upon the site of the building, and about 2\ hours' at the Rail- Lhe works - 
ways. Finding that little more could be got done during the present set 
of spring-tides, on returning to the vessel at 3 p. M., she was got un- 
der way, and sailed for Arbroath, which she reached at 7 P. M. ; but, being 
too early in the tide for getting into the harbour, the author landed with 
the boat, and felt not a little satisfied with the progress and success of the 
work. The site of the building had been excavated as low in some parts 
as it was necessary or proper to carry it, and there was now a good pros- 
pect of having it completely prepared in the course of the next spring- 
tides. About 100 feet of the eastern branch of the Railway had also 
been laid, while the best of the season was still to come. The business of 
the work-yard was going on with no less vigour ashore. The greater quan- 
tity of the stones wanted from Aberdeen for the courses in hand, had been 
brought to Arbroath, and the supply was becoming both more regular 
and abundant from the quarry of Mylnefield. The second course, which 
contained very weighty stones, being 18 inches in thickness, was now near- 
ly all laid down upon the platform in the middle of the work-yard, where 
each stone was carefully fitted and marked as it was to lie in the building, 
in the same manner as had been done with the first course. 

It so happened that the artificers employed afloat, or, at the Bell Rock, The Artifices' pay 

,. . "- , ' and premiums this 

were upon this occasion ashore on the regular pay-day, which took place month. 
on the first of every month. The seamen's wages were paid once a 
quarter, and their premiums at the end of the working season. Such of the 
artificers as had been off at the Rock this month, had each a considerable 
sum to receive for wages and {premiums, say L. 6, the stated wages being 
L. 1 for six days ; and having no disbursement to make for victuals, the si- 



1809, July. 

Tuesday, 5th. 
Artificers embark for 
she Rock. 

Wednesday, 6th. 

Commence opera- 
tions for the ensuing 

Thursday, 7th. 
How employed. 


tuation of those afloat became enviable, and the workmen who had not 
been at the Rock, now began to make application for what they called 
their turn afloat. This change was not a little gratifying, considering 
the hesitation and backwardness shewn last season to this part of the service. 

At 1 1 o'clock p. m., the Sir Joseph Banks Tender set sail from Ar- 
broath for the Bell Rock, to commence the operations for the ensuing 
spring tides, having on board 38 masons, 6 joiners, 3 smiths, and the land- 
ing-master's crew, consisting of 12 seamen, in all 59. The winds being va- 
riable, the vessel only got a short way off the shore in the course of the 
night, and did not reach her moorings till the next day at noon. 

Landed on the Rock, with the three boats belonging to the Tender, at 
5 p. M., and began immediately to bale the water out of the foundation-pit, 
with a number of buckets, while the pumps were also kept in action with 
relays of artificers and seamen. The work commenced upon the higher 
parts of the foundation, as the water left them, but it was now pretty ge- 
nerally reduced to a level. The pumps were laid in a diagonal position as 
represented in Plate XI. ; four men wrought at the cross handle amTguided 
the pump-spear, to which a rope was attached, and in this manner, about 
20 men could be conveniently employed at each pump, and it is quite 
astonishing in how short a time so great a body of water could be drawn 
off. The water in the foundation-pit at this time, measured about two feet 
in depth, on an area of 42 feet in diameter ; and yet it was drawn off 
in the course of about half an hour. After this, the artificers commenced 
with their picks, and continued at work for two hours and a half, some 
of the sailors being at the same time busily employed in clearing the foun- 
dation of chips, and in conveying the irons to and from the smiths on the 
beacon where they were sharped. At 8 o'clock, the sea broke in upon us, 
and overflowed the foundation pit, when the boats returned to the Tender. 

The landing-master's bell rung this morning about 4 o'clock, and at 5 
the boats landed the artificers, when the pumps and buckets were set to work 
to clear the foundation-pit of water. The pumps, as formerly noticed, were 
left upon the Rock, being fixed between four bars of iron, batted or wedged 
into it, upon which plates were fitted with forelocks, which kept them from 
shifting, It was common also to drive a few wedges of iron between the 
pumps and these fixtures, for greater security against their being lifted by 
the pressure of the water, which, in spring tides, was from 12 to 14 feet in 

OPERATIONS OF 1808. 205 

depth. At half-past 5, the foundation being cleared, the work commenced on chap, iv 
the site of the building. But from the moment of landing, the squad of 1808, July. 
joiners and mill-wrights was at work upon the higher parts of the Rock, in 
laying the railways, while the anvils of the smiths resounded on the Bea- 
con, and such columns of smoke ascended from the forges, that they were 
often mistaken by strangers at a distance, for a ship on fire. After conti- 
nuing three hours at work, the foundation of the building was again 
overflowed, and the boats returned to the ship at half-past 8 o'clock. 
The masons and pickmen had, at this period, a pretty long day on 
board of the Tender, but the smiths and joiners were kept constantly at 
work upon the Beacon ; the stability and great conveniency of which had 
now been so fully shewn, that no doubt remained as to the propriety of fit- 
ting it up as a barrack. The workmen were accordingly employed, dur- 
ing the period of high-water, in making preparations for this purpose. 

The foundation-pit now assumed the appearance of a great platform, and Foundation stone 
the late tides had been so favourable, that it became apparent that the first prepar ' 
course, consisting of a few irregular and detached stones for making up cer- 
tain inequalities in the interior parts of the site of the building, might be laid 
in the course of the present spring-tides. Having been enabled to-day to 
get the dimensions of the foundation or first stone accurately taken, a mould 
was made of its figure, when the writer left the Rock, after the tide's work 
of this morning, in a fast rowing boat, for Arbroath; and upon landing, 
two men were immediately set to work upon one of the blocks from Mylne- 
field quarry, which was prepared in the course of the following day, as 
the stone-cutters relieved each other, and worked both night and day, so 
that it was sent off in one of the Stone-lighters without delay. 

On returning to the Rock, the writer found that the artificers had 
been able to land regularly, both at the morning and evening tides, and 
that they had added eight hours to the working period. He was, however, 
extremely sorry to find that he had missed the visit of his excellent friend 
Mr Patrick Neill, who, in the zeal of his pursuits in botany and natural 
history, had expressed a strong desire to examine the fuci and animals 
upon the Bell Rock, and had taken the opportunity of a passage with the 
Smeaton from Leith. But his engagements did not admit of his remaining 
till the writer's return ; and he had left the rock in a boat going to the 
Redhead, about seven miles east from Arbroath, where he expected to over- 





1809, July. 

Saturday, 9th. 

i'oundution stone 
landed at high- 
H ater. 


take the writer, but instead of which, they unluckily passed each other un- 
der night. 

The weather still continued to be very agreeable, the wind being mode- 
rate and chiefly from the S.W. At 6 a. m. the signal bell was rung for 
embarking for the Rock. At 7 the artificers landed, and began to clear 
the foundation-pit of water, and the work continued from a quarter past 7 
till half-past 11, having had three hours' and a quarter's work, when the 
Rock was again overflowed, and the boats returned to the Tender. 

The site of the foundation-stone was very difficult to work, from its 
depth in the Rock, but being now nearly prepared, it formed a very 
agreeable kind of pastime, at high-water, for all hands to land it upon the 
Rock. The landing-master's crew and artificers accordingly entered with 
great spirit into this operation. The stone was placed upon the deck 
of the Hedderwick Praam-boat, which had just been brought from Leith, 
and was decorated with colours for the occasion. Flags were also displayed 
from the shipping in the offing, and upon the Beacon. Here the writer 
took his station with the greater part of the artificers, who supported them- 
selves in every possible position while the boats towed the praam from her 
moorings, and brought her immediately over the site of the building where 
her grappling anchors were let go. The stone was then lifted off the deck 
by a tackle hooked into a Lewis-bat, inserted into it ; when it was gently 
lowered into the water, and grounded on the site of the building, amidst 
the cheering acclamations of about sixty persons. The landing of this stone 
at high-water became necessary, from there being still a want of a sufficient 
length of railway for conveying it along the Rock at low-water to the site of 
the building. But this method was rarely resorted to, as it was apt to skirt 
or break the edges of the stones ; and as a continuation of good weather 
was not to be calculated upon, it was observed as a rule never to land 
more stones in any one tide than could be built, because the force of 
the sea was more than sufficient to remove the heaviest stones, as we have 
seen in the case of the first six blocks of granite which were landed by 
way of experiment, and also of the cast-iron mushroom anchor, which 
was drifted about the Rock, although it weighed upwards of a ton. 

The boats landed at half-past 7 this evening, and the artificers imme- 
diately began to bale and pump the water from the foundation-pit, and the 

OPERATIONS OF 1808. 337 

work was afterwards continued by torch-light till a quarter-past 1 1, having chap. iv. 
had three hours' and a quarter's work this tide. isos, July. 

The wind to-day was variable, with gentle breezes varying from S.E. Sunday, 10th. 
to N.E. ; and every thing being in a state of preparation for laying Sa^^asoDic 
the foundation-stone, which had yesterday been landed with so much ceremony, 
eclat, the sailors again displayed their flags at all points, and a cheerful 
happiness was discernible in every countenance. At half-past 8 the boats 
landed the artificers, and the weather being remarkably fine, as many of 
the crews of the Floating-light, the Tender and the Smeaton, as could be 
spared from their respective ships, landed this morning, to witness the 
long-wished-for ceremony of laying the first stone of the Light-house. We 
had, besides, an acquisition to our numbers, in a party consisting of about 
sixteen persons from Dundee, who came to the "Rock, just as preparations 
were making for laying the stone. 

Whether we consider this building as an erection of great difficulty, or, in 
a nautical point of view, as adding much to the comfort and protection of the 
mariner, and safety of property, upon a range of coast extending almost to 
the whole eastern shores of Great Britain, its importance is evident. If it 
be proper, therefore, on any occasion, to attach importance to the act of laying 
the first stone of a public building, that of the Bell Rock Light-house can- 
not be said to yield to any in point of celebrity, either for the peculiarity 
of its situation, or the importance of its object. Under these con- 
siderations it is obvious, that but for the perilous and uncertain nature of 
any arrangement which could have been made for this ceremony, instead 
of its having been performed only in the presence of those immedi- 
ately connected with the work, and of a few accidental spectators from the 
neighbouring shore, counting in all about eighty persons, many thousands 
woidd have attended upon an occasion which must have called forth the 
first dignitaries of the country, in conferring the highest honours of masonry. 
The writer may, however, confidently affirm, that, situate as the work was, 
nothing could add to the satisfaction felt by all present, in having now got 
matters in so advanced a state, as to be able to commence the building 

At 11 o'clock, the foundation stone was laid to hand. It was of a square 
form, containing about 20 cubic feet, and had the figures or date of 1808 
simply cut upon it with a chisel, a derrick or spar of timber having been 



chap. iv. erected at the edge of the hole and guyed with ropes. The stone was then 
J808, July. " hooked to the tackle and lowered into its place, when the writer, attended 
by his assistants Mr Peter Logan, Mr Francis Watt, and Mr James Wil- 
son, applied the square, the level, and the mallet, and pronounced the follow- 
ing benediction : " May the Great Architect of the Universe complete and 
bless this building," on which three hearty cheers were given, and success 
to the future operations was drunk with the greatest enthusiasm. 

Prayers read after 
the tide's work. 

By 12 o'clock noon, the tide had overflowed the site of the building, and 
the boats left the Rock after a tide's work of three hours and a half. On 
returning to the ship, prayers were read, when every heart perhaps felt more 
than ordinary thankfulness. The artificers were again landed in the even- 
ing at half-past 8, and continued at work, with torch-light, till a quarter 
past 12, having been three hours and three quarters' at work, or seven 
hours in all to-day. 

Monday, nth. The boats landed at 9 o'clock this morning, and after three hours' and 

a quarter's work, they left the Rock at a quarter past 1 p. M. The artifi- 
cers landed again in the evening, and work with torch-light from 10 to a 
quarter past 12, having had two hours' and a quarter's work. 

Tuesday, lath. After clearing the foundation-pit of water, by means of the two pumps 

and a number of buckets, the work commenced at a quarter past 10, and 
left off at half-past 12 noon, having had two hours' and a quarter's work. In 
the evening, the artificers again landed at 9, but it was not till a quarter 
past 11 that the water was cleared out, and it began to overflow the site of 
the building again at midnight, so that only three quarters of an hour's 
work was got upon the Rock with the evening tide. 


Wednesday, 13th Land at a quarter before 10 a. m., and begin to work at half-past 10, 

and left off at a quarter from 1 P. M., having had two hours' and a half. In 
the evening at 12 o'clock, the foundation-pit was cleared of water ; but at a 
quarter past 12, the sea broke into it again, so that no work was done, 
owing to the state of the tide. 

Thursday, 14th. Land to-day at half-past 12 noon, and had one hour's work. But the 

Tender leaves the ^ es being no w in the state of neap, the Tender sailed with the artificers 

and landing-master's crew to Arbroath, to wait the return of spring-tides. 

The work now put on a very promising appearance. The first stone had 



been laid, and the levelling of the site of the building was in such a state, 
as to afford every prospect of being able to commence the building of the 
first entire course, after a few good tides. The reach of the Railways from 
the site of the building, to the eastern landing-place, was also in a state 
of great forwardness, and the other parts of the apparatus being now in 
readiness, there was every prospect of making rapid progress after the 
foundation course was laid, and building operations were fairly begun. 

18(18, July. 

In the work-yard, however, things had not so prosperous an appearance, Price of granite 
as a number of blocks of granite were still wanting to complete the first four 
courses of the building ; and such was the urgency of the demand, lest the 
work should be stopped in its progress, that the writer authorised Mr 
Gildowie of Aberdeen to advance the price of stone, according to circum- 
tances, as an additional stimulus to the exertions of the quarriers. From 
this state of matters, it was now pretty obvious, that not more than two or 
three courses of the light-house could be built this season. 

To-day, at 1 o'clock P. m., the Tender left Arbroath for the Bell Rock, 
having on board 16 masons, 5 mill-wrights and joiners, 2 black-smiths, 
and 13 seamen, in all 35 persons, including the officers of the ship. The 
wind was at E. N. E., with light breezes and fine weather ; but as it fell 
calm, the boats left the Tender at 5 p. m. with the artificers, while 
yet about 5 or 6 miles from the rock : but owing to the strength of the 
ebb-tide, it was found impossible to reach it in time for the tide, and they 
returned to the vessel at 9 p. m. without having effected a landing. 

At half-past 5 a. m., the Tender was made fast to the south-west 
buoy, when the artificers landed. The two pumps were immediately 
set to work, and at half-past 7 the work commenced, and continued till a 
quarter past 9, when the site of the building was again overflowed, and the 
boats left the Rock after an hour and three-quarters' work. In the evening 
the work commenced at 7, and left off at half-past 9, after two hours' and a 
half's work. 

Friday, 22d. 

Artificers sail for ihe 

Saturday, 23d. 

The wind was at S.S.E., with strong gales, accompanied 'with a heavy 
breach of sea, so that the boats could not land, and there was consequent- 
ly no work done to-day. The ship had also such a rolling motion, that 
the people could not be collected on deck, as usual, for reading prayers. 
The wind was at east, accompanied with a pretty heavy swell of sea 

Sunday, 24th. 

A raft of timber goet 


chap. iv. to-day, so that it was not without considerable difficulty that the boats 
isos, July. landed, when two hours' and a quarter's work were got, having been on the 
Rock from three quarters past 7 till 10 a. m. But in this state of the wea- 
ther a landing was not attempted in the evening. In the course of this 
night, a raft of six Norway logs, intended for laying the railways over 
certain gullies or inequalities of the rock, drifted from one of the floating 
buoys to which it had been made fast. It was afterwards picked up by 
some fishermen in the Frith of Forth, near Anstruther, who were paid 
L. 2 for their trouble, in name of salvage and expences. 

Tuesday, 25th. The weather was more settled to-day, and the sea had become much 

smoother. At a quarter past 8 a. m. the work commenced, and left off 
again at half-past 11, after an excellent tide's work of three hours and a 
quarter. The masons were chiefly employed at the foundation of the build- 
ing, — the millwrights and joiners at the railways, — the blacksmiths were 
kept busy at both operations, — while the landing-master's crew took part 
in the whole. 

State of things, at 
night, upon extin- 
guishing the.torcbes. 

Wednesday, 26th. 

The first, or founda- 
tion course is finish- 
ed to-day. 

The boats landed again in the evening at 8 p. m., and the foundation hav- 
ing been cleared, the artificers began to the low-water works at a quarter 
past 9, and continued till 11. After an hour and three-quarters' work 
they left the rock, but the joiners and blacksmiths had been employed on 
the beacon since morning. 

The wind being at S.E. this evening, we had a pretty heavy swell 
of sea upon the rock, and some difficulty attended onr getting off in safety, 
as the boats got a-ground in the creek, and were in danger of being upset. 
Upon extinguishing the torch-lights, about twelve in number, the dark- 
ness of the night seemed quite horrible ; the water being also much charged 
with the phosphorescent appearance which is familiar to every one on ship- 
board, the waves, as they dashed upon the rock, were in some degree like 
so much liquid flame. The scene, upon the whole, was truly awful. 

The work on the rock began this morning at 9 o'clock, and left off at 
a quarter past 12 noon, when the tide overflowed the site of the building. 
The masons then went on board of the Tender, but the smiths and joiners, 
as usual, continued their operations on the beacon. The weather being 
moderate, the boats landed again in the evening, at a quarter past 10, and 
left off at midnight, having had altogether four hours' and three quarters' of 

OPERATIONS OF 1808. 241 

low-water work to-day, when the last of the eighteen detached pieces of chap, iv. 
stone, forming the Foundation-course, were laid. The several holes or ca- 1808 ' Jul ^- 
vities in it, varying in depth from six to eighteen inches, had now been 
built up with stones, exactly cut and fitted to their respective places, as 
represented in Plate XV. ; and which brought the whole surface to a 
uniform level. 

In leaving the Rock this evening, every thing, after the torches were ex- The force of habit 
tinguished, had the same dismal appearance as last night, but so perfectly ing at night on the 
acquainted were the landing-master and his crew with the position of 
things at the Rock, that comparatively little inconveniency was experien- 
ced on these occasions, when the weather was moderate : such is the effect of 
habit, even in the most unpleasant situations. If, for example, it had 
been proposed to a person accustomed to a city life, at once to take up his 
quarters off a sunken reef, and land upon it in boats at all hours of the night, 
the proposition must have appeared quite impracticable and extravagant ; 
but this practice coming progressively upon the artificers, it was ultimately 
undertaken with the greatest alacrity. Notwithstanding this, however, it 
must be acknowledged, that it was not till after much labour and peril, and 
many an anxious hour, that the writer is enabled to state, that the site 
of the Bell Rock Light-house is fully prepared for the First entire 
course of the building. 

The sloop Smeaton had accordingly loaded the first cargo of cut stone Thursday, ?8th. 

- i T . .. ., First cargo of an en- 

at Arbroath for the Light-house, consisting of twenty blocks of the First '■«: course landed. 
entire course, and had last night come to her moorings ; and this morning 
the praam-boats were employed in landing her cargo upon the Rock. 
From the want of a complete line of Railway from any of the landing- 
places to the site of ithe building, this operation could only be effected at 
high-water, when the stones were let down, one after another, upon the 
unincumbered area of the foundation of the Light-house, by means of a 
slip-rope passed through the Lewis-bat of each stone. This, as before no- 
ticed, was by no means a very desirable mode of landing the materials, and 
was indeed, one that could rarely be resorted to, except in the finest wea- 
ther. The artificers having landed at 9 a. m., the foundation was clear- 
ed of water by 10, when the masons made preparations for commencing the 
building operations. Having had two hours' and three quarters' work, 
they left the Rock, after laying the blocks of stone which s had been landed, 
in a compact and regular manner upon the site of the building. 





1808, July. 
Friday, 29th. 

The wind was at east to-day, with a gentle breeze. At 10 a. m. the 
workmen landed, but the tides becoming neap, it was two hours and a 
half before the foundation could be cleared of water, and at a quarter 
from 2 p. M. it was again overflowed, having only had an hour and a quar- 
ter's work with the morning tide, when the twelve remaining blocks of the 
Smeaton's cargo were laid to hand, and ready for being built with mortar. 
In the present state of the tides, it was not judged necessary to land this 

The Snieaton makes 
a second trip for a 
. jrgo in 20 hours. 

The Smeaton having been unloaded yesterday forenoon, she was again 
dispatched to Arbroath for another cargo of the First course, which she got 
on board that same night by 12 o'clock, and had returned to her moor- 
ings at the Bell Rock this morning ; Captain Pool, with his usual acti- 
vity, having only been absent from the Rock about twenty hours. 
In the mean time, the writer visited the operations of the work-yard, to 
ascertain more fully what prospect there was of having a supply of pre- 
pared stones for continuing the works of this season, to the extent of three 
or four courses of the Light-house. Some arrangement also was necessary 
for the removal of Cranes and other articles of machinery for the use of 
the building operations. 

Saturday, 30th. 
Tender sails for Ar- 

The Tender left her moorings at the Rock this morning for Arbroath, 
with such of the artificers as could be spared. Those left shifted on board 
of the Smeaton, and were to be employed at the Beacon, and in laying 
the Railways, now much wanted, for transporting the stones along the 
Rock. They also attended to the arrangement of the materials landed 
upon the site of the building, where, from the lowness of its situation, 
they lay in safety. In the work-yard considerable progress had now been 
made with the Second entire course of the building, and after much trouble, 
the necessary blocks of granite had at length come to hand, for completing 
it, but still many stones were wanting for the higher ones. 


Wednesday, 3d. 

Returns to the Rock. 

The Tender sailed this afternoon from Arbroath, having on board two 
of the cranes already alluded to, as in preparation for the work, upon a new 
construction, as will be seen in Plate XIV. These were intended to be erect- 
ed on the site of the building, for laying the stones in a more perfect and ex- 
peditious manner than had hitherto been followed in operations of this kind. 
She carried also forty-seven persons, including artificers and seamen ; but as 



the winds were light, little progress was made during the afternoon, for, as 
yet, the utility of the Steam-boat, in cases of this kind, had not been 


1A08, August. 

At 4 o'clock this morning the Tender reached her moorings, and was 
made fast to the south-west buoy, as laid down upon Plate V. At 
5 o'clock, 32 artificers and 11 seamen landed upon the Rock, from three 
boats. The landing-master's crew transported one of the cranes from on 
board of the Tender, on one of the praams, and landed it at high-water 
upon the Rock. Having again landed in the evening, the foundation-pit 
was cleared of water by 6 o'clock, when the Crane was set up and properly 
guyed with ropes. The center-stone and three others were then laid with 
mortar, and trenailed to the Rock. After two hours' work, the site of the 
building was again overflowed, and at 8 o'clock the artificers returned on 
board of the Tender. 

Thursday, 4th. 
Four stones laid. 

As the stones were all dove-tailed into one another, they required 
to be laid perpendicularly into their respective places, which was also essen- 
tial to preserving a proper bed of mortar under them. This could only be 
effected in a speedy and dextrous manner by means of a crane ; but it will 
further be seen, from the angular figure of the stones, that this could not 
be effected by one of these machines of the ordinary construction, as has 
formerly been noticed. It had been recommended to the writer to use 
the common sheer-poles, with which the Edystone Light-house was built, 
which, notwithstanding all the improvements in machinery, were still chief- 
ly in use for laying heavy stones ; but sheer-poles, besides being difficult to 
preserve on a sunken rock, could neither have laid the materials so well, 
nor with a tenth part of the expedition, as the crane with the moveable 
beam delineated in Plate XIV. 

Advantages of the 
new cranes over 

Stones laid at the depth of about 14 feet under high-watermark, re- Mr smeaton's plan 

_ - ii-i i- «iii .°f Trenails and 

quired more than merely laying them on their respective beds, and trusting wedges followed. 
to their own gravity. For this purpose nothing seemed to be so well < 

adapted as the oaken trenails which Mr Smeaton used in the erection of 
the Edystone Light-house. Two jumper-holes, of an inch and a half in 
diameter, had accordingly been drilled through each stone, which were con- 
tinued or perforated to the depth of six inches into the rock or course im- 
mediately below, which became the most tedious part of the building opera- 
tion. When the oaken trenail was inserted into the hole, it had a saw- 





1808, August. 

draught across the lower end, into which a small wedge was inserted : and 
when driven home, it hecame quite firm. The trenail was then cut flush 
with the upper bed of the stone, and split with a chisel, when another 
wooden wedge was inserted and driven into the upper end of the trenail, as 
represented in diagram 10. [of Plate X. Nor was this all, for, in follow- 
ing up Mr Smeaton's principle, two pairs of oaken wedges, as represented 
in Plate X., Fig. 11. were also driven gently into the perpendicular joints, 
prior to grouting them with mortar. The whole stones of a course had 
thus to be laid with great nicety, corresponding to a number of checks 
and marks, previously arranged in the work-yard, that the wedges might fit 
without trouble at the Rock, and preserve the respective positions of the 
superincumbent courses, and make band throughout the whole fabric. 

Friday, 5th. 
16 Stones laid. 

The boats landed the artificers this morning at half-past 5 o'clock, and 
the foundation-pit being cleared of water, seven stones were laid and se- 
cured with trenails by 8 o'clock. The artificers are again landed at 6 p. m. 
and in the course of two hours nine additional stones were laid. 

Saturday, 6th, till 
Wednesday, 10th. 
92 Stones laid. 

From Saturday the 6th till AVednesday the 10th inclusive, the weather 
and tides were favourable, which afforded an opportunity of landing both 
with the morning and evening tides, and in the course of these five days 
twenty-six hours' work were obtained, and ninety-two stones were laid. 
The landing-master's crew also continued their operations in delivering the 
Smeaton, and laying her cargoes on the Rock. 

Thursday, 11th. 
11 Stones laid. 

The boats landed the artificers to-day at 9 a. m., and in about three quar- 
ters of an hour the site of the building was cleared of water, when eleven 
stones were laid in the course of an hour and three quarters. There 
being a considerable swell in the sea to-day from south-east, the praams 
could not land any materials upon the Rock at high-water, and nothing 
could be done in this way at low-water, as the Railways were not yet in a 
working condition. 

men ar nar°rowiy nUe During the morning-tide, while the work was in progress, a very se- 

escape being drown- I1QUS acc j(lent was like to have happened to a party of gentlemen from 
Leith, who came to see the operations at the Rock. They attempted to 
land in a very small boat belonging to their yacht ; but, as a considerable 
swell of sea set round it in all directions, after several attempts, they found 
this to be impracticable. The writer then hailed the gentlemen, and ad- 

OPERATIONS OF 1808. 345 

vised them to return, and remain on board of their vessel, until the state of chap, iv. 
the tide would enable him to send a proper boat for them. In the mean ,808 ' -^"s 11 "- 
time, however, a boat from the Floating-light, pretty deeply laden, with 
lime, cement and sand, approached, when the strangers, with a view to 
avoid giving trouble, took their passage in her to the Rock. The accession 
of three passengers to a boat, already in a lumbered state, put her com- 
pletely out of trim, and, as it unluckily happened,- the man who steered her 
was not in the habit of attending the Rock, and was not sufficiently aware 
of the run of the sea at the entrance of the eastern creek. Instead, there- 
fore, of keeping close to the small rock called " John Gray," the situa- 
tion of which will be seen in Plate VI., he gave it a wide birth, as the 
sailors term it ; a heavy sea having struck the boat, drove her to leeward, 
and the oars getting entangled among the rocks and sea-weed, she became 
unmanageable, and was thrown on a ledge by another heavy swell, which in- 
stantly leaving her, she kanted seaward upon her gunwale, when the people, 
and part of the cargo, were thrown into the sea. Before she righted, 
or any assistance could be rendered by those on the Rock, another sea came 
which filled her and scattered the passengers, eight in number, in all direc- 
tions. Some clung to the boat, others to the sea-weed, and two or three 
having got hold of oars and loose thwarts, which floated about, were carried 
out of the creek, to a considerable distance from the spot where the acci- 
dent happened. By the very prompt and active assistance of Mr James 
Wilson, the landing-master, and his crew, the whole were, however, 
speedily got out of the water, excepting a Mr Strachan, one of the stran- 
gers, who had clung to the sea-weed upon a small insulated rock, bearing 
his name, in Plate VI., to which it was impossible at this time of tide 
to approach, without the assistance of a boat. Mr Wilson, with a dex- 
terity peculiar to himself, made towards this spot, where Mr Strachan, 
with great resolution and perseverance, still kept his hold, although 
every returning sea laid him completely under water, and even hid 
him from the view of the spectators on the Rock. In this situa- 
tion he must have remained for ten or twelve minutes. When the boat 
reached the insulated rock, the most difficult part was still to perform, as 
it required the greatest nicety of management to guide her in a rolling 
sea, so as to prevent her from being carried forcibly against Mr Strachan, 
who was in danger of being struck with the stem of the boat, to which he 
lay completely exposed. Notwithstanding the breach of the sea, however, 
and the narrowness of the passage, the boat was conducted at the proper 
moment close to Mr Strachan, without either touching him or the insulated 



190S, August. 

Friday, 12th. 
First entire course 

Artificers are wel- 
comed into Ar- 
broath Harbour. 

One of the Artificers 
disabled. He re 
ceives an annuity. 


rock to which he clung, till he was lifted into the hoat. Mr Strachan was 
of course much exhausted, from having heen so completely overrun by the 
sea, and having had but a very short space for breathing between the 
returning waves. 

The gentlemen thus extricated in safety from the most imminent peril, 
were immediately removed on board of their own vessel, no doubt very 
thankful for the narrow escape they had made, and with grateful recol- 
lections of the exertions made by Captain Wilson and his crew. With 
regard to the people belonging to the Light-house service, none of them 
were materially injured beyond the disagreeable ducking which they ex- 
perienced ; but the boat was almost completely wrecked : her cargo was 
also injured, and partly lost. 

The artificers landed this morning at half-past 10, and after an hour and 
a half s work, eight stones were laid, which completed the First entire course 
of the building, consisting of 123 blocks, the last of which was laid with 
three hearty cheers. Immediately after this tide the Tender left the Rock 
for Arbroath, with all hands on board ; and having a fine breeze at south, 
she got into the harbour at half-past 6 p. M., to Wait the return of the 

Those on board felt not a little happy, when the ship, which, on her 
passage, had been decorated with colours, intimating that the First entire 
course was laid, was received with cheering from the workmen ashore, 
and the inhabitants of Arbroath. The service of the Bell Rock now be- 
came every trip more desirable with the artificers, who, having been enabled 
to work both during the morning and evening tides, with the exception of 
the evening of the 11th, the premiums over and above their stated wages 
became more and more an object, while the experience acquired in landing 
123 blocks of stone, had fully established the practicability of the whole 

On the writer's arrival at the work-yard this evening, he learned, with 
much regret, that an unfortunate accident had happened to one of the 
masons, of the name of Hugh Rose, while employed in raising a block 
of stone, of between two and three tons weight, with the carpenter's jack, 
represented in Plate X. The jack had not been set with sufficient care, 
and slipped from under the stone, which instantly fell upon his knees. 



For a considerable time Rose was thus kept in a sitting posture, with a 
great part of the weight of this large stone resting upon his legs, till re- 
lieved by the other workmen who came to his assistance, and again apply- 
ed the jack to raise the stone. His legs were, however, sprained in a 
very painful and distressing manner, which kept him from work for up- 
wards of a twelvemonth. He was one of the best workmen in the Yard, 
and a man of great bodily strength ; but became so much disabled by this 
accident, that the Light-house Board was afterwards pleased to settle an 
annuity of L. 20 per annum upon him. 


1808, August. 

The work at this moment had much the appearance as if it would be 
retarded, as several blocks of stone were still wanted from the quarries at 
Aberdeen, to complete the Third entire course, the Second being now 
ready to be removed from the work-yard to the Rock. This course was 
18 inches in thickness, the granite stones of which measured from 4 to 
7 feet in length, varying in breadth from 3 feet to 4 feet 6 inches. 
Stones of these dimensions coidd not be landed with safety at high-water, 
but the railways on the Rock were nearly completed from the eastern 
landing-place to the site of the building, so that every thing was now in 
readiness for commencing the landing of the materials with low-water. 

Friday, 19th. 
Granite Stones much 

Having made all the necessary arrangements for making dispatch with 
the Third course, the writer sailed at mid-day on the 24th, with the Tender, 
for the Bell Rock, having on board forty-three persons in all, and the wind 
being favourable, the vessel was made fast to her buoy at the Rock at 
7 P. M. The Smeaton also came to her moorings with a cargo of the Second 
course, when the landing-master's crew brought the praam-boat along-side, 
and was loaded with 10 stones, which were landed, and laid this evening 
after three hours' work. 

Wednesday, 24th. 
10 Stones laid. 

The weather having been extremely favourable, regular tides' work were 
got both morning and evening, so that the Second entire course, containing 
136 stones in number, and 152 tons weight, was laid in the course of seven 
tides ; the sloop Smeaton having been kept constantly plying between the 
Bell Rock and Arbroath, where, on her arrival, she was immediately 
loaded, whether by night or day. From the favourable state of the weather, 
the complete and effective condition of the landing apparatus, and the dex- 
terity of the landing-master's crew, a cargo of stones was discharged from 
the vessel, and landed on the Rock in as short a time as the stones coidd 
be built, and the holes bored into the course below, and trenails fixed into 

136 Stones 
T tides. 

laid in 


chap, iv. them. To facilitate the lifting of the stones off the waggons, after they 
1808, September. were brought on the railways to the site of the building, and for laying them 
at once on every part of its area, though measuring 42 feet in diame- 
ter, a second crane was erected on the First entire course, as represented in 
Plate IX., which thus admitted of the Second course being built with 
great facility, without once requiring to shift the cranes horizontally ; as the 
beams, when extended in opposite directions, reached from the centre to 
the extremity of the course. 

second course com. On completing the laying of the Second entire course, the Light-house 

began to assume the appearance and form of a building ; for, although still 
under a part of the excavated rock, it was, nevertheless, 4 feet above the 
level of the lower bed of the foundation-stone, — a consideration which was 
highly gratifying to those immediately connected with the work. Having 
successfully completed this course, the writer sailed with the Smeaton for 
Arbroath, accompanied by such of the artificers as bad been employed in 
building, and leaving the Tender at the Rock, with the mill-wrights, join- 
ers, smiths, and masons, who worked at the Railways, and in preparing the 
upper part of the Beacon as a barrack. After landing at Arbroath, the 
Smeaton was immediately dispatched for Aberdeen, in quest of a few blocks 
of granite, still much wanted for the courses in hand. 

Friday, 9th. Having now got the Third entire course nearly ready for shipping, 

thfRock.^oston'es the Tender returned to Arbroath for the artificers, and a supply of water 
uiA - and provisions ; and sailed again this morning at two o'clock for the Bell 

Rock, having forty persons on board. At 9 she was made fast to the 
S.W. buoy, when the boats were hoisted out and landed the artificers, who 
remained till 12 noon. These two hours were occupied in adjusting the 
cranes, and making preparations for commencing the building operations. 
A landing is again made in the evening at 9, and at midnight the artificers 
returned on board of the Tender, having been three hours on the Rock, 
when ten stones of the Third course were laid and trenailed to the course 

Saturday, 10th. Land at 9 a. M., and by a quarter past 12 noon, 23 stones had been laid. 

discontinued. The works being now somewhat elevated by the lower courses, we got quit 

of the very serious inconvenience of pumping water to clear the founda- 
tion-pit. This gave much facility to the operations, and was noticed with 
expressions of as much happiness by the artificers as the seamen had shewn 

OPERATIONS OF 1808. 249 

when relieved of the continual trouble of carrying the smiths' bellows off chap. iv. 
the Rock, prior to the erection of the Beacon. isob, September. 

While the workmen were laying the closing or last stone of the former One of the Artificers 

Ti-n r i * t o i loses a finger. 

course, John Bonnyman, one of the most active and expert of the masons, 
met with an unlucky accident in the following manner. The moveable 
beam of the building-crane having been lowered to a horizontal position, 
for the purpose of laying the stone at the circumference of the course, 
Bonnyman, who was directing it into its birth with a small pince in his 
right hand, had inadvertently rested his left hand on the beam, near the 
sheave or pulley, at its extremity, when one of the links unfortunately 
caught his hand, and before the crane could be stopped, the chain had passed 
over the middle joint of the fore-finger, and cut it so nearly off, that he ap- 
plied to the writer, who was standing by, to relieve him of the almost de- 
tached part. But having no great inclination for the performance of ope- 
rations of this kind, the severed parts were set together and bandaged in 
as careful a manner as circumstances woidd admit, when the patient was 
sent in a fast-rowing boat to Arbroath for medical aid. It was neverthe- 
less soon afterwards found necessary to amputate the finger, and Bonny- 
man became a successful candidate for a light-keeper's birth. 

Having landed this morning at 10, the work was continued during four Sunday, nth. 
hours, when 14 stones were laid; but its regidar progress had now to be worfs^top^afor 
stopped for a time, owing to the want of stones from the work-yard, want of s^ anite - 
where some blocks of granite were waited for from the quarries. In the 
afternoon the Smeaton arrived with a few hearting or interior stones of 
the course in hand ; but the wind having been for some days past in the 
N.E., accompanied with a considerable swell of sea, it was not found practi- 
cable to make a landing, and the praam-boat, after having been loaded, was 
made fast to her moorings : consequently no landing was made on the 
Rock with the night tide. 

The wind being still at N.E., the swell was so great that the boats Monday, 12th. 
landed with much difficulty on the Rock this morning at half-past 1 1 0'- Buildin s le vei with 

. . tne higher parts of 

clock, but could only remain for an hour and a half, owing to the heavy sea the R °<*- 
which ran upon it. This tide was employed in completing the boring of 
the trenail-holes, and in securing the stones which had been laid. The 
cranes were also raised from the second to the third course, which being 



chap. iv. 18 inches in thickness, the artificers who worked them now stood nearly 
1808, September, on a level with the highest parts of the Rock. 

Tuesday, 13th. The wind being still at N.E., accompanied with a heavy breach on the 

liSy landing. Rock, no attempt would have been made to land to-day, had not the wri- 
ter felt a more than ordinary desire to examine the state of the work, from 
the manner in which the sea broke upon the building. In accomplishing 
this about noon, the boats were frequently put back, but were at length 
successful, when it was found that the force of the sea had raised two of 
the stones exposed to its immediate wash, which, in the unfinished state of 
the course, formed an abrupt face to the waves. These two stones were 
lifted perpendicularly off their beds, the one to the height of 6, the other 
of 10 inches ; but they were fortunately still held by the trenails, and sup- 
ported as if on stilts. Had this not been timeously observed, the pro- 
bability is, that the operation of another tide might have swept them 
into deep water, which would have been attended with much additional ha- 
zard, by delaying the work in its present state, at so advanced a period of 
the season. 

Two stones loosened The trenails of these stones having been drawn or bored out, the stones 

The vessels slip their were laid a second time, when every precaution was taken to secure the 
mortar, by stuffing bagging-cloth round the joints, and loading them 
with bars of iron. The guy-ropes of the cranes were also tightened, and 
every thing put in as complete a state of security as circumstances would 
admit. At 1 P. M. the boats again returned to the Tender, which now 
rode so heavily at her moorings that it was found necessary to get her 
under way, when she sailed for Arbroath with the artificers. The Smea- 
ton also slipped her moorings ; but instructions were previously given to 
Mr Pool, to keep as close as possible to the loaded praam-boat, still riding 
at her moorings, that, in the event of her breaking adrift, he might be at 
hand to take her in tow. In the evening, however, the weather mode- 
rated considerably, and, after landing the masons at Arbroath, to re- 
main till the return of spring-tides, the Tender returned to her station 
at the Rock, with the workmen employed at the Beacon-house and Rail- 
ways. ( 

Saturday, nth. -j^g Light-house Yacht having to-day returned from the Northern 

The St praamboats' Light-houses, she transported the builders from Arbroath to the Rock, 
ride out the gaie. an ^j SU ppii e d. the Floating-light and Tender with provisions and neeessa- 



ries. By this means, the latter vessel was enabled to remain at her moor- 
ings during the present neap-tides, by which the operations on the higher 
parts of the Beacon made great progress. The writer also embarked this 
morning in the Light-house Yacht, and having hailed the Floating-light 
at noon, found that she had rode out the late gales with great ease. 
At 3 o'clock p. M. the Yacht was made fast to a set of moorings which had 
been laid down for her early in the season ; . and at 5, thirty artificers land- 
ed, when 1 stones were laid in two hours and a quarter. Notwithstand- 
ing the heavy seas which had run upon the Rock since the completion of 
the Second course, every thing was found in good order. The stones of 
the course in hand were all in their respective places, and the joints were 
full of mortar. The cranes also stood quite firm, with their guys and 
tackling. It was no less satisfactory to find that the loaded praam rode at 
her moorings in perfect safety, without having apparently shipped any sea 
during the gale. 


1808, September. 

The artificers landed this morning at 5 o'clock, and continued at work 
till a quarter past 8. The railways being now in a pretty complete state, 
and a further supply of stones having been brought to the Rock, the land- 
ing-master got 21 blocks conveyed from the eastern wharf to the build- 
ing. In the same manner, with the evening tide, 10 stones were landed, 
and the work continued from half-past 5 to half-past 8, having had six 
hours' and a quarter's work to-day, during which no fewer than 31 stones 
were laid. 

Sunday. 18th. 

31 Stones laid in 6\ 

The artificers landed this morning, and continued at work for three Monday, i9th. 
hours, when 7 stones were laid. The wind being at S.E. there was a very The western track 
heavy swell of sea in the eastern creek ; and not having as yet been able ^tei** mU 
to lay the Railway-track to the western creek, the stones were obli- 
ged to be landed on the eastern side of the Rock, which was often attended 
with great disadvantage to the work. For it was only in the very finest wea- 
ther that materials could be dropped or lowered upon the Rock at high-water; 
an operation which was further attended with great inconveniency, from the 
sparse manner in which it was found necessary to drop them from the 
praam, to prevent their being injured. The fear also of a storm overtaking 
the work while the stones were in this situation, was none of the least 
sources of uneasiness which attended this practice : for, though the sea 
might not carry them entirely off the Rock, they might nevertheless be so 



ch ap, iv. damaged, as to render them unfit for the work, and the loss of a single stone 
1809, September, could not be replaced without returning to the work-yard, and having re- 
course to the mould from which it was cut. 

One of the beams 
cannot be got out of 
the eastern creek. 

As the landing-master's crew were in the act of towing one of the praam- 
boats into the eastern creek this morning, an unlucky sea struck her, and 
carried her upon the same ledge of the Rock, which, on the 1 1th of last 
month, had almost proved fatal to the Floating-light's boat. By the ac- 
tive exertions of the crew, however, the praam on the present occasion 
was got off without sustaining much damage, her bottom being only 
slightly rubbed ; and the cargo, consisting of 7 blocks of stone, with ce- 
ment, &c. was landed in safety. The boats returned to the Rock at 6 p. m., 
and left it again at 9, after having had three hours' work, and laid 5 stones, 
being all the materials that coidd be got this tide, owing to the rough state 
of the weather ; for it was not till after three successive attempts had been 
made, that Mr Wilson succeeded in getting the praam into the creek this 
evening, the wind being at S.E., and still continuing to blow fresh with a 
heavy swell of sea, insomuch, that it was found impracticable to get her 
out again after unloading ; and she, therefore, remained till the tide had 
flowed sufficiently to float her over the lower parts of the Rock to the west- 

Tuesday, 20th. 

15 Stones are laid. 
The weather conti- 
nues to be very bois- 

The artificers landed this morning at 6 o'clock, and left the Rock again 
at a quarter past 10, having had four hours' and a quarter's work, when seven 
stones were laid. In the evening, the artificers landed at 6, and continued 
at work till 10, having had a tide of four hours, in which time eight stones 
were laid. Owing to the surf of sea upon the Rock to-day, it was with 
the utmost difficulty that the heavy blocks could either be got out of the 
Smeaton into the praams, or conveyed in safety to the Rock. It was 
only by the experience now acquired, and the activity of the landing-mas- 
ter's crew, that any thing was done to the building during the whole of 
these spring-tides. Indeed the Smeaton was forced to leave her moorings, 
and return to Arbroath, before the whole of her last cargo could be de- 
livered. In this state of the weather, the workmen could not be regularly 
employed in building ; but there was so much to do with each course, in 
boring trenail holes, and laying railways during the time of low-water, 
that the artificers were always fully employed, when it was possible to 
land. During the period of high-water, the mill-wrights and joiners 
were occupied in framing the upper part of the Beacon-house. 



To-day the wind was at S.W., blowing a fresh gale, and it was not ex- 
pected that the Smeaton could have possibly returned from Arbroath, with 
the remaining stones of the course in hand, consisting of 17 blocks, with 
which, from the advanced period of the season, and the boisterous state 
of the weather, it was proposed to terminate the building for this year. The 
Smeaton, however, got to Arbroath last night, at a late hour ; and Mr 
Lachlan Kennedy, Engineer's clerk, — whose department it was to attend 
to the dispatch of the vessels, — with that promptitude and zeal in the 
service which uniformly marked all his transactions, called the artificers 
in the work-yard barrack at midnight, when they commenced, with torch- 
light, to cart the stones to the quay, and had loaded the Smeaton, by half- 
past 2 a. m., so that she saved tide out of the harbour, and at half-past 6 
got to her moorings at the Rock. 


1808, September. 

Wednesday, 21st. 
Engineer's clerk 
most active in dis- 
patching the ship- 

Mr Thomas Macurich, mate of the Smeaton, and James Scott, one 
of the crew, a young man about 18 years of age, immediately went 
into their boat to make fast a hawser to the ring in the top of the float- 
ing-buoy of the moorings, and were forthwith to proceed to land then- 
cargo, so much wanted at the Rock. The tides at this period were very 
strong, and the mooring-chain, when sweeping the ground, had caught 
hold of a rock or piece of wreck, by which the chain was so shortened 
that when the tide flowed, the buoy got almost under water, and little 
more than the ring appeared at the surface. When Macurich and Scott 
were in the act of making the hawser fast to the ring, the chain got sud- 
denly disentangled at the bottom, and this large buoy, measuring about 7 
feet in height, and 3 feet in diameter at the middle, tapering to both 
ends, being what seamen term a Nun-buoy, vaulted or sprung up with such 
force, that it upset the boat, which instantly filled with water. Mr 
Macurich, with much exertion, succeeded in getting hold of the boat's 
gunwale, still above the surface of the water, and by this means was saved ; 
but the young man Scott was unfortunately drowned. He had, in all proba- 
bility, been struck about the head by the ring of the buoy, for although 
surrounded with the oars and the thwarts of the boat which floated near 
him ; yet he seemed entirely to want the power of availing himself of such 
assistance/and appeared to be quite insensible, while Pool, the master of the 
Smeaton, called loudly to him : and, before assistance could be got from the 
Tender, he was carried away by the strength of the current, and disappeared ! 
A signal of distress was immediately hoisted, when one of the boats of the 

The unfortunate loss 
of James Scott, one 
of the seamen. 


chap. iv. landing-master's crew instantly attended to Macurich's safety, and picked 
1808, September, him up in a very exhausted state, but he happily soon recovered. 

His mother gets a 
a small annuity. 

The young man Scott was a great favourite in the service, having had 
something uncommonly mild and complaisant in his manner ; and his loss 
was therefore universally regretted. The circumstances of his case were 
also peculiarly distressing to his mother, as her husband, who was a sea- 
man, had, for three years past, been confined to a French prison, and the 
deceased was the chief support of the family. In order, in some measure, 
to make up the loss to the poor woman for the monthly aliment regularly 
allowed her by her late son, it was suggested, that a younger boy, a bro- 
ther of the deceased, might be taken into the service. This appeared to 
be rather a delicate proposition, but it was left to the landing-master to 
arrange according to circumstances : such was the resignation, and at the 
same time the spirit of the poor woman, that she readily accepted the pro- 
posal, and in a few days the younger Scott was actually afloat in the place 
of his brother. On representing this distressing case to the Board, the 
Commissioners were pleased to grant an annuity of L. 5 to Scott's mother. 

17 stones are laid. The Smeaton not having been made fast to the buoy, had, with the 

The Building opera ° •iii 

tions completed for ebb-tide, drifted to leeward, a considerable way eastward of the Rock, 

the ^£3.^on 

and could not, till the return of the flood-tide, be worked up to her moor- 
ings, so that the present tide was lost, notwithstanding all exertions 
which had been made both ashore and afloat with this cargo. The artifi- 
cers landed at 6 a. m., but as no materials could be got upon the Rock 
this morning, they were employed in boring trenail holes, and in vari- 
ous other operations, and after four hours' work they returned on board 
the Tender. When the Smeaton got up to her moorings, the landing- 
master's crew immediately began to unload her. There being too much 
wind for towing the praams in the usual way, they were warped to the 
Rock, in the most laborious manner, by their windlasses, with succes- 
sive grapplings and hawsers laid out for this purpose. At 6 P. M., the ar- 
tificers landed, and continued at work till half-past 10, when the remain- 
ing seventeen stones were laid, which completed the Third entire course, 
or Fourth of the Light-house, with which the building operations were 
closed for this season. 

summary of the The building, being now on a level with the highest part of the mar- 

at U theRock!' at gin of the foundation-pit, or about 5 feet 6 inches above the lower bed of 

OPERATIONS OF 1808. 255 

the foundation-stone, is computed to contain about 388 tons of stone ; chap, iv. 
consisting of 400 blocks, connected with 738 oaken trenails, and 1215 1908 ' September, 
pairs of oaken wedges. The number of hours of low-water work upon 
the Rock this season, amounted to about 265, of which number only 80 
were employed in building. It was further highly satisfactory to find, 
that the apparatus, both in the work-yard at Arbroath, and also the craft 
and building apparatus at the Rock, were found to answer every purpose 
much beyond expectation. The operations of this season, therefore, af- 
forded the most flattering prospects of the practicability of completing 
the solid part, or first 30 feet of the building, in the course of another year. 

Owing to very heavy gales of wind from a north-eastern direction, the Sunday, 25th. 
Sir Joseph Banks Tender, the Sloop Smeaton, and Light-house Yacht, were, 5SSa*SS£ '° 
on the 22d, obliged to slip their moorings, and proceed with all hands 
for Arbroath. The Tender and the Smeaton again returned to their sta- 
tions at the Bell Rock on the 25th ; the former to attend the mill-wrights, 
joiners, and smiths, while they completed certain operations connected with 
the Railways, and Beacon-house/ that everything might be left in as secure a 
state as possible for the winter months ; the crew of the Smeaton being 
at the same time occupied in lifting the several sets of moorings, build- 
ing-cranes, and other apparatus connected with the works, which she car- 
ried to Arbroath. 

The writer having also sailed on the 25th in the Light-house Yacht, Appearance of things 

i • i - • c i -vr i t • i i • t i • at the Kock after the 

on his annual inspection ot the .Northern JLight-houses, wished, in passing lategaie. 
the Bell Rock, to have landed, but this he found impossible, owing to the Northern Light- 
heavy sea which still ran upon it. The vessel, however, sailed as near the houses- 
Rock as possible, that he might, in some measure, learn the state of mat- 
ters after the late gales of the 22d and 23d. He could discern that the 
Beacon was in good order, but found that the strong Triangular-sheers of 
cast-iron, represented in Plate XI., at the Eastern wharf, were thrown 
down and broken to pieces ; and that the North-west buoy had drifted 
from its moorings. The circumstance of the breaking of these sheers great- 
ly surprised the writer, as they consisted of bars of iron, whose cross section 
was about 10 inches ; having each four longitudinal ribs, of about an inch 
and a half in depth, and thus forming a common circumference of 16 inches. 

After sailing by the Orkney Islands, and visiting all the Light-houses Monday "'ist. 
on the coast of Scotland, the writer landed at Greenock on the 19th of Oc- Visits the Rcck on 

his return. 



tober, and soon afterwards returned to the works at Arbroath. At half-past 
1808, October. n a M-> on fa e 31st> ^e landed on the Bell Rock, and remained till half- 
past 3 P. M., examining every thing minutely, when he had the satisfac- 
tion of finding the stones and joints of the building quite entire. The 
Railways and Beacon were also in good order ; while the moorings, and 
all the moveable apparatus, had been conveyed to Arbroath. 

Arran >e emmt"for the During the months of November and December, the affairs of the 
Winter, work-yard went forward in the usual busy manner. A small squad of 

artificers went off to the Bell Rock at each period of spring-tides, when 
the weather permitted, with tools and implements to repair and refit any 
temporary damage which the Beacon or Railways might sustain, and likewise 
to examine the state of the several courses of masonry. In the work-yard 
the masons were employed in hewing or cutting stones for the next year's 
operations ; the joiners, in preparing the upper framing of the accommo- 
dation part of the Beacon-house. The Tender was occupied in carrying 
off the workmen who landed at the Rock ; in relieving the crew of the 
Floating-light in their turns ashore, and supplying that ship with provisions 
and necessaries ; while the sloop Smeaton made several trips to the granite 
quarries of Aberdeen and Peterhead, and the Light-house Yacht was laid 
up in ordinary at Leith. 

In this state of arrangement, the business of the Bell Rock was left 
during the winter months ; and the writer is now to continue the narrative, 
by giving the account of the operations of the year 1809. 

( 257 ) 



An the month of January 1809, the winds prevailed much from the east chap. v. 
and north-east, which never fail to produce a heavy sea on the eastern 1809, January. 
shores of Great Britain, and particularly at the Bell Bock, from its expos- 
ed position to these points. This state of the weather, therefore, render- 
ed it extremely difficult to communicate with the Floating-light, for the 
purpose of relieving the seamen in their turns ashore, and supplying the 
ship with provisions and necessaries. 

It was also found impracticable to land upon the Bock itself sooner in Railways injured, 
this month than the 20th, when, after several attempts, Mr Francis Watt bolts unlocked. 
and Captain Wilson, two of the engineer's assistants, landed with four sea- 
men, and four artificers with their tools, at 12 noon, and remained till a 
quarter past 1 p. m. By this time several of the supports of the iron-rail- 
ways on the Bock had got loose, and two of the castings forming the wag- 
gon-track and footpath had broken adrift. One of these was found at a con- 
siderable distance from its place, but the other had entirely disappeared, and 
must have been washed off the Bock, although it weighed upwards of 100 lb. 
In these gales, no fewer than ten of the bracing-chains of the Beacon were 
shaken entirely loose, seven of which had unscrewed the tightening-bolts, 
and the remaining three lifted the pieces of rock into which the chain- 
bats had been fixed. The tightening-bolts were again screwed up, and 
pieces of small wire twisted round the points of the screws, to prevent the 
nuts from unlocking. The three bolts, with their chains, which had lifted 





1809, January. 

the parts of the rock, were disengaged from the Beacon altogether, to pre- 
vent injury to the wooden beams, by their motion with the force of the sea ; 
and things were otherwise left in as serviceable a state as the circumstan- 
ces of a limited stay upon the Rock at this season of the year would ad- 
mit. It was, upon the whole, highly satisfactory to learn, that the Beacon, 
this important auxiliary to the operations, had received no material in- 
jury, after such a continued tract of stormy weather; the great iron 
stanchions sunk into the Rock, which kept the main beams in their 
places, and all the joints and fixtures of the higher parts of the fram- 
ed work, being quite entire, and without the smallest appearance of having 

Proofs of strong i 
rents in the Sea. 

Three large drift- 
stones found upon 
the Bock. 

On this trip to the Rock, the Light-house Yacht picked up a floating- 
buoy belonging to the navigation of the river Weser. It was marked 
" Bremen 1808, W. R. No. 2.," and measured six feet in length, and three 
feet in diameter over the head, being of the form known to mariners as a 
Cann buoy. It appeared to have drifted, in the course of this winter, 
from the shores of Germany, which, in a direct line, is a distance of at 
least 340 miles. This circumstance, as the buoy presented, while afloat, 
but a small surface for the wind to act upon, being heavily bound with 
iron, and having about two fathoms of mooring chain appended to it, 
affords an extraordinary proof of the effects of the tides and currents in the 
We may likewise here notice, among other instances corroborative 


of this curious anomaly of the tides, the drifting, within the same period, 
of part of the apparatus belonging to the works of the Bell Rock ; particu- 
larly the two buoys, formerly mentioned, that parted from their moorings, 
and came ashore, the one, along with a raft of timber, at Fifeness, and 
the other at the Island of May, after having been upwards of two months 
at sea. But, perhaps, the most remarkable occurrence of this kind, was 
that of the Praam-boat, also formerly mentioned, which broke loose from 
the Floating-light, and was found at the Redhead about 13 miles distant, 
having been at sea for the space of three months and eight days. 

The artificers again landed at the Rock on the morning of the 31st at 7 
o'clock, being rather before day-break, and left it again at 10, after having 
been on it about three hours. Several of the bracing-chains were found 
loosened, notwithstanding the precautions hitherto used for preventing the 
bolts from unlocking. But the writer had resolved, when the weather 
would admit, to remove these chains altogether, and introduce strong bars 



of malleable iron, about eight feet above the Rock, as represented in 
Plate VIII., to connect the several beams in a horizontal direction. At 
this landing, three large masses of rock were found close to the Beacon, 
which had been drifted upon the Rock by the force of the sea. They 
were of various dimensions, the largest containing no less than about 20 
cubic feet, equal perhaps to a ton and a quarter in weight. After a careful 
examination, in every direction, of the low-water surface of the rock, it was 
ascertained that these stones had formed no part of it, though of the 
same description of rock ; and it was therefore concluded, they must have 
been 1 ] thrown up from deep water. The refitting of the chains of the Bea- 
con and the cast-iron Railways, so occupied the time of the artificers, that 
they could not get the stones so broken as to be removed, and thereby 
prevent their being perhaps thrown, by the force of the sea, against the 
Beacon and Railways, like so many battering rams. 

chap. v. 

1809, January. 

During the month of February, the weather continued to be extremely February, 
boisterous, and it was not without considerable difficulty that the Floating- 
light could be visited at the stated periods ; while two unsuccessful at- 
tempts were made, on the 1st and 20th, to land at the Bell Rock. 

In the work-yard, the preparation of the several courses of the building p ro gressof the works 
was going progressively forward. The Ninth course was now finished, ertbns'made l" ^h*' 
and part of the Tenth laid upon the platform. At Mylnefield Quarry, Q" 3 "**- 
the operations were at a stand ; for in winter, as formerly mentioned, no 
work is done here, owing to the liability of the stones to split in frosty 
weather, especially when newly taken from the quarry, the lamina? of 
the strata being then charged with moisture. But, as granite imbibes 
water very slowly, and is not liable to those changes, every exertion con- 
tinued to be made at the quarries of Aberdeenshire, that, if possible, 
the outside casing of granite might be carried to the height of 30 feet, 
or to the top of the solid part of the building, instead of 16 feet, or to 
high-water mark, as had been latterly intended. The stone-agent at 
Aberdeen, accordingly, had a person traversing the numerous quarries in 
that neighbourhood, while one of the foremen from the work-yard at 
Arbroath, was similarly employed, during the winter months, at Peter- 
head; and whenever a stone was found answerable to the Light-house 
moulds, it was immediately purchased, and laid aside for the use of the 
Bell Rock. 





1809, February. 

Employment of Ship, 

The sloops Smeaton and Alexander made several trips to the North, 
and also to Mylnefield, near Dundee, for stones which had been quar- 
ried in the course of the summer months, and were in no danger from 
the frost; but owing to the difficult nature of the navigation of the 
Tay in winter, these voyages were frequently attended with considerable 
danger. On the last trip which the Smeaton made to this quarry, she 
had a very narrow escape, and lost both her boat and an anchor ; but the 
hazardous state of the vessel and all on board, will be better understood 
by the following very distinct and explicit letter or journal from Mr Thomas 
Calder, commander of the Light-house Yacht, who, on this occasion, was 
acting master on board of the Smeaton. 

Captain Calder's ac- 
count of a trip to 
the Tay. 

" Arbroath, 25th February 1809. 
" Mr Stevenson. 

" Sir, — At 3 o'clock p. M., on the 21st inst., 1 got under way from 
the South Ferry Roads for Mylnefield quarry, wind at West. At 7 were 
about a mile from the quarry pierhead. Light airs of wind. Got beset 
amongst ice, and brought up with the small bower-anchor. At midnight, 
all hands employed hanging fenders over the bows and sides, to save the 
vessel from getting cut with the ice. 

" At day-light, on the 22d., being high-water, got under way ; ice all 
round, and had frequently to let go an anchor, to allow it to drift past 
us. Could not get up to the quarry, and at 10 put into Dundee. During 
the remainder of this day had light breezes, with hard frost. 

" On the 23d, at 7 a. m. got again under way, with a westerly wind, but 
still could not make up to the quarry. At 10, had drifted down as far as the 
Lights of Tay, having little wind, but a heavy sea from E.SE. At 11, the 
boat filled, and was turned bottom up ; nothing could be done for her safety ; 
cut her adrift. At noon, had a very heavy sea on our broadside, breaking 
over all, with little or no wind. Got into three fathoms water, the sea 
sweeping every thing off the deck that was moveable. All hands in the 
rigging for safety, except the man at the helm. Endeavour if possible to 
o-et back, but all in vain. Let go our anchor in two fathoms water, the 
sea breaking over all. At 9 o'clock p. m., being then high-water, let go 
the best bower-anchor. At midnight calm weather, with heavy breaking 


OPERATIONS OF 1809. 261 

" At 9 a. m. of the 24th, got under way again, and took our fate, chap.- v. 
being in much peril to ride longer. Could not purchase our anchor, and 180£>, February. 
were therefore obliged to cut the cable. Had light airs of wind, but still 
a heavy sea. Went over the bank in going out of the Tay, and, at 9 in 
the evening, had the good fortune to get into Arbroath. In the course of 
this trip we saw one sloop sink with all hands in the rigging, while close 
by us, but we could render them no assistance, and we were still drift- 
ing towards the shore. Another sloop, named the Lady Kinnaird, I be- 
lieve bound for Leith, God only knows what her fate was ; being thick with 
snow I lost sight of her frequently. It was often impossible for a man to 
stand on deck ; and we took to the rigging for safety. The Smeaton and 
these two vessels being a long way a-head of six of the Dundee London 
smacks, were certainly the means of saving them. The ship's company 
is now employed in rigging the Light-house Yacht, and fitting her for sea. 
I am, Sir, your humble servant, Tho s . Calder." 

The month of March set in with some pretty good weather, and eight March. 

artificers landed upon the Rock on the 5th, at half-past 11a. m., and re- vedf Jol^gof p?a°". 
mained till half-past 1, when they got the three large stones, formerly form Ufted b y the 
mentioned as lying near the Beacon, broken, and reduced to such a size 
as to admit of their removal. Several of the fixtures of the Railways 
had got loose, and were again secured ; and two lengths of the waggon- 
tracks were broken to pieces by the movement of the above mentioned 
stones, which, in their progress across the rock, had made indelible ruts 
upon it. The bracing-chains of the Beacon still required to be screw- 
ed up ; but the essential parts of this fabric were in the most entire 
and perfect state ; although all the joisting of the lower platform, ex- 
cepting three pieces, had been carried away. The deals of this floor had been 
lifted at the end of the working season, being only about 30 feet above the 
Rock, but the joisting presented so little resistance to the waves, that it 
had been allowed to remain, being only fixed in a slender manner, that 
both the floor and the joisting might lift with the force of the sea, with- 
out endangering the safety of the Beacon. 

On this occasion, the people of the Floating-light informed the landing a vessel in danger 
party, that they had just been spoken to by the crew of a large brig from fte b BeifRock. ked ° n 
Gottenburgh, bound for Liverpool. This vessel having got out of her 
reckoning, had been lying-to in the entrance of the Frith for three days, 
not knowing the land. But having been directed as to their situation, 

of the Work. 


chap. v. the strangers now shaped their course for the Orkneys. Had it not been 

1809, March. for these instructions, this vessel, in all probability, might have been 

wrecked on the Bell Rock ; and, therefore, looking prospectively to the 

completion of this work, we may see its extensive and important advantages 

to shipping. 

Fourteenth course During the remainder of this month, no opportunity occurred for 

and further progress' landing on the Rock, but the other departments of the service went for- 
ward with all possible dispatch. The Thirteenth course was nearly com- 
pleted, and a part of the Fourteenth had been laid on the platform. The 
last of the moulds for the granite stones, to the height of 30 feet, had 
now been sent to the quarries of Aberdeen and Peterhead, where the 
Smeaton, and the hired sloop Alexander, were each loading a cargo. Mr 
Peter Logan had now left the quarries at Peterhead, where he had been 
for some months ; and Alexander Davidson, one of the principal granite 
masons, appointed to attend the quarries at Aberdeen, was also soon to be 
removed from that station, to perform the same duty at the sandstone 
quarry of Mylnefield. Measures had likewise been taken for providing the 
necessary castings for the extension of the Railways to the western landing 
place at the Rock, which altogether were to include a range of about 800 feet. 

The uncertainty attending the fixing of the malleable iron shank into 

Cast-iron Mushroom 

Anchors. Difficulty t ]j e \ arse cas t-iron head of the mushroom anchor, represented in Plate X. 

in procuring Trenails. ° ii-iii-i 

Fig. 4., from its liability to shake loose, had induced the writer to make 
trial of a mushroom anchor, made wholly of cast-iron, which was finish- 
ed in a very complete manner by the Shotts Iron Company. At the 
same works, castings were also made for a set of new sheers for those bro- 
ken in the month of September at the eastern landing creek, which answer- 
ed all the purposes of a crane, as represented in Plate XI. The two new 
praam-boats building at Arbroath, had advanced considerably in the course 
of this month, and were now ready for the laying of the decks. Of all the ma- 
terials connected with those which may be termed of a trifling nature, none 
was more difficult to be procured than the oaken trenails, for fixing the stones 
of the lower or solid part of the building while the work was in progress. 
After much correspondence with London and other ports, a considerable 
quantity was procured from trenail merchants of Wapping. But such was 
the demand for oak timber at this period, owing to the great supply wanted 
for the Navy, that it was not only at a considerable expence, from about L. 3 
to L. 5 per hundred, but with great difficulty, that trenails of the dimen- 

OPERATIONS OF 1809. 263 

sions wanted could be collected. It was found by a calculation, at this chap. v. 
time, that 2544 trenails, from 20 to 26 inches in length, and 1-J in- isos, March. 
ches in diameter, and 3720 pairs of wedges, from 15 to 19 inches in 
length, 3 inches in breadth, and 1 inch in thickness at the top, would still 
be wanted. Fortunately, however, a great quantity of oak timber, sui- 
table for trenails, was brought about this time from the Highland dis- 
tricts to Perth, for making the spokes of carriage-wheels. A supply of 
these was accordingly got, at a much cheaper rate than the ordinary tre- 
nails of the carpenter, and which were also considered better for the pur- 
poses of the work. 

In order that the building operations at the Rock might suffer purchase of the 
as little delay as possible, from the difficulty attending the regular Sl00p Patnot - 
transportation of the stones from Arbroath, and also to provide against 
the numerous accidents to which the vessels in this service were incident, 
it was judged proper to have another vessel besides the Smeaton for this 
department of the service. The writer consequently corresponded with 
various ports, with a view to procure a vessel of about 40 tons burden, or 
nearly the size of the Smeaton. Two vessels of this description were offered 
for sale, at the same price of L. 470 ; but one of them, the sloop Patriot 
of Kirkaldy, was stated to be a new vessel, which had hardly been at sea, 
while the other was several years old ; the Kirkaldy vessel was therefore 

On the 5th and 6th April, the boats of the Floating-light landed April, 

the artificers on the Bell Rock at 11 o'clock a. m., and they remained till 1, 
having had two hours' work each tide in refitting the railways, and set- 
ting up the bracing- chains of the Beacon, which were still found in a loose 
state. Notwithstanding all the precautions used, one of them had un- 
screwed its nut to the extent of 3 inches, by the friction arising from 
the agitation of the sea, but every thing else was found to be in good 

From the 6th to the 20th, the weather was particularly boisterous, Fioating-jight en- 
the winds being chiefly from the eastward, with occasional showers of snow, heavy 11^™ 
On the 16th it was found necessaiy to veer out the cable of the Floating- 
light from the 30th to the 90th fathom service; and, on the 17th, at 
2 o'clock a. m., she had shipped so heavy a sea, that it filled both of the 
boats amid-ships, and ran down the companion and hatches in such quan- 



1809, April. 

Twelfth course com- 
pleted by the Stone- 


Employment of Ship- 

Sloop Patriot con- 


titles as to give great alarm to all on board, who, for a time, concluded 
that the vessel was sinking. 

About the beginning of this month, the stone-cutters in the work- 
yard had just completed the hewing of the sandstone or hearting of the 
Fourteenth course of the building : but those employed at the granite 
blocks of the course were at a stand, both with that and the Thirteenth 
course, for want of materials : a supply, however, having timeously arrived 
from Aberdeen and Peterhead, these courses were proceeded with, though, 
as yet, none higher than the Twelfth was in a finished state. As the 
sandstone masons were considerably ahead of those who wrought the gra- 
nite, the former were chiefly employed in laying the courses on the plat- 
form, and boring the trenail holes. The necessary implements were also 
prepared, and in readiness for shipping for the Rock, with 62 barrels of 
lime, 78 barrels of pozzolano, and 60 barrels of sand. 

The Light-house Yacht was now fitted out for her voyage with 
stores for the Northern Light-houses, and the other general business con- 
nected with her department. The Sir Joseph Banks Tender was ready for 
sea by the 17th of April ; and the Smeaton and Alexander were still 
making trips to the quarries, and occasionally supplying the Floating-light 
with provisions. 

The sloop Patriot, of 45 register tons, formerly mentioned as having 
been purchased for the work, had her hatches enlarged, for the conveniency 
of loading and delivering stones ; and was otherwise fitted up for the 
service at the Rock. On the 20th, she took on board five cast-iron mush- 
room anchors, with chains and floating-buoys, together with a quantity of 
cast-iron work for extending the Railways. With this cargo she sailed 
from Leith on the 21st of April, reached the Bell Rock on the morn- 
ing of the 22d, and was discharged with the assistance of the boats of the 
Tender and Floating-light. In the course of this trip, the Patriot was ob- 
served to make a considerable quantity of water ; and instead, therefore, 
of proceeding for the quarries for a cargo of stone, it was found necessa- 
ry to send her to Arbroath for examination, when James Macdonald, the 
master, reported that he could not proceed to sea until the vessel under- 
went repair. A warrant was accordingly obtained from the Judge- Ad- 
miral for a survey of carpenters, who declared her " not sea-worthy." On 
farther opening the bottom planks, it appeared, that, upon the star- 

OPERATIONS OF 1809. 265 

board-bow, both planks and trenails were in a state of decay, and the chap. v. 
expence of the necessary repairs was estimated at L. 80. Upon this 1809, April. 
report of the carpenters being produced, a correspondence was enter- opinion of Mr solid 
ed into with the late owner of the vessel, who resisted the charge ; and 
the matter being submitted by the Light-house Board to Mr Solicitor- 
General Boyle, then ex officio one of the Commissioners, (now Lord Jus- 
tice-Clerk,) he was of opinion, from the circumstance of the Patriot's ha- 
ving been sold as aii almost new vessel, that the late owner was liable for 
the estimated repairs. Upon this opinion being made known, the sum 
of L. 80 was immediately paid, and the vessel was put under repair. 

Two of the praam-boats built at Arbroath had been launched, by Two Praams 

J launched. 

the names of " Femie," and " Dickie," after the respective builders, 
and were fitted out with complete sets of warps and grapplings for landing 
the stones at the Bell Rock. Every thing being in readiness for com- 
mencing the operations, it was fully expected that the solid part would be 
completed in the course of the ensuing season, and the Light-house thus 
carried to the height of 30 feet. 

The Sir Joseph Banks Tender, having been fitted out for sea, sailed Thursday, 20th. 
on the 20th of April, with the Hedderwick praam-boat in tow, to attend Jf nc ! er *?Pt 

L ' x ' Floating light put 

the works at the Bell Rock. She had also on board 15 artificers, consisting' under char s e of Mr 


of mill-wrights, joiners, smiths and masons, to be employed in extending 
the Railways, and fitting up the Beacon-house as a place of residence for 
the workmen. Having left the harbour of Arbroath at 5 a. m., the Float- 
ing-light was hailed at 8, when her boat came alongside with Captain 
Wilson, the landing-master, who was now to leave his charge on board of 
the Floating-light for a time, and attend as landing-master at the Bell 
Rock, while Mr John Reid, mariner, and principal light-keeper, took 
charge as master of the Floating-light, acting in these capacities with 
much credit to himself and advantage to the service. 

The first attention of the landing-master was to lay down a mushroom- Two sets of Moor. 
anchor, weighing 18 cwt. 1 qr. with 32 fathoms of |th inch chain, in 13 fa- ings Iaid dowD ' 
thorns water, as the future moorings of the Tender ; the Beacon on the 
Bell Rock bearing E. by S. distant \ mile. A set of moorings were also 
laid down about 300 fathoms to the eastward of this for the praam-boat, 
with a mushroom-anchor, weighing 15 cwt. 24 lb., with 25 fathoms of 
chain, in 11 fathoms water. The artificers, having left the Tender in two 
boats, landed on the Rock at 9 a.m. and returned on board again at 




1809, April. 

Friday, 21st. 
Tender slips her 

Saturday, 22d. 
Other three sets of 
Moorings laid down. 

Sunday, 23d. 

Artificers cannot 

Monday, 24th. 

Tuesday, 25th. 


half-past 12 noon. But, in the afternoon, the weather becoming more 
coarse, with the wind from the NE., accompanied with showers of snow, 
a landing was not attempted in the evening. 

The wind to-day being still from the NE., a heavy sea set upon the 
Rock. The artificers, notwithstanding, left the Tender in two boats, at 
10 a. M., but, after various attempts to land at the western creek, it was 
found impracticable, and the boats returned to the vessel at half past 11 ; 
when the Tender was found to ride so heavily at her moorings, that it 
was judged advisable to slip her hawser ; when she set sail, and at 5 P. M. 
anchored in the bay of Arbroath ; but, in the course of the night, she again 
returned to her moorings off the Bell Rock. 

The wind having come round to the south to-day, the weather had 
moderated ; and at 10 a. m. the artificers landed, their number having been 
augmented by nine additional men from Leith, so that they now counted 
twenty-five. The latter part of this day was employed in laying down three 
sets of moorings with mushroom-anchors, weighing from 15 to 23 cwt., for 
the use of the Stone-Lighters, and other craft employed at the work. 
The positions of these, as nearly as may be, will be seen in Plate V. 

At 6 a. M. the artificers left the vessel, with an intention to land on 
the Beacon at high-water, but there being too much sea, they returned 
without effecting their purpose. At one P. M., being low-water, fifteen of 
them made a landing, and remained till 4 o'clock, making preparations for 
commencing the operations at the Railways and Beacon-house. This af- 
ternoon the Smeaton supplied the Floating-light and Tender with neces- 
saries, and returned to Arbroath, carrying with her twelve of the artificers 
for the work-yard. 

At 7 a. m. the artificers left the Tender, and landed on the Beacon, 
where they remained all the day. The masons, who could only be em- 
ployed on the Rock during low-water, in boring holes for the bats, and in 
dressing the Rock for the supports of the Railways, landed at 1 P. M., and 
left off work at 3, having been two hours at work, when the tide overflowed 
the Rock ; but the joiners and smiths continued on the Beacon till 7 P. M. 

During these twenty-four hours the wind was from the westward, with 
moderate breezes and showers of rain. At half-past 6 a. m., the smiths 

OPERATIONS OF 1809- 267 

and joiners landed on the Beacon, and continued the whole day. At half- chap, v. 
past 3 P. M., the low-water artificers landed, and the whole returned again I809 ' Apnl ' 
on board of the Tender at half-past 8. 

The weather continued to be very unsettled, and there being still great Wednesday, 26th. 
quantities of snow lying on the hills of Angus, it was an observation ^ ors ^ed^tate 
made by the sailors, " That the wind never continued twenty-four hours of the weather 1 . 
in one direction, while there was any whiteness on the Braes of Angus." 
To-day, it was at E.NE., with strong breezes and hazy weather. At half- 
past 8 the joiners and smiths left the vessel for the Rock, but could not 
make a landing, and returned again at half-past 9, when she immediately 
slipped her moorings and sailed for Arbroath, to wait the return of the 

At Arbroath, the several departments of the work went forward with Progress of the work. 
alacrity, and the courses of the building, as high as the 19th, were now ready 
for shipment. The Patriot having undergone a complete repair, was 
equipped for sea. The Smeaton was employed chiefly in attending the 
quarries at Mylnefield, and the Alexander those of Aberdeenshire. The 
Tender took on board provisions, water, and other necessaries for the sup- 
ply of the Floating-light and artificers, and also some of the dressed timber 
for fitting up the cabins of the higher parts of the Beacon-house. 

The Tender accordingly left the harbour of Arbroath this morning, Sunday, 30th. 
under the command of Mr David Taylor, and sailed for the Bell Rock Tender 5ails for the 

* Rock. 

with Mr Francis Watt and eighteen artificers. At 6 a. m. they spoke 
the Floating- light, and got Mr James Wilson, the landing-master, on 
board. The wind being from the westward with moderate breezes, the 
artificers were landed at 7 a. m., and remained on the Rock till 11 p. m. 
While the water was lowt hey were employed at refitting and extending 
the Railways ; and when the Rock was overflowed, they ascended to the 
Beacon, and continued their operations. The wind came to blow so fresh 
from the N.W., or in the direction of the Tender's moorings from the 
Rock, that it was not judged safe to make her fast ; and as soon as the 
artificers got on board, she beat to windward and got into St Andrew's bay 
for the night. 

In the morning the Tender stood again towards the Bell Rock. In the May. 

course of the day the wind shifted from W.NW. to N.E. The writer Mond ay> i*t. 




1 809, May. 

Writer visits the 

Tuesday, 2d. 

Wednesday, 3d. 
Some timber is 


reached the Rock this morning, in the Smeaton, at half-past 7, when he 
landed with nineteen artificers, and remained till noon, and then went on 
board of the Tender, now at her moorings. 

The several tides' work which had been got upon the Rock this season, 
had enabled the artificers to refit the damage which the railways had sus- 
tained during the winter months, and to make further progress with the 
great circular track round the building, which measured fifty-five feet in 
diameter ; but, as yet, the western reach had made but little advancement. 
The fitting up of the temporary residence on the higher part of the Beacon, 
began to make some more habitable-like appearance ; the joistings for the re- 
spective floors were laid, and a few of the upright spars of the framing had 
also been set up. This work continued to create much interest with every 
one connected with the operations, as its completion was to relieve those 
affected with the sea-sickness, and the whole troop from the continual 
plague of boating to and from the Rock by day and night. Having 
examined the works here, the writer left the Rock at 11 p. m. with the 
artificers, who went on board of the Tender, while he embarked in the 
Smeaton and sailed for Arbroath. 

It blew so fresh, from West to N.W., that no landing could be made 
to-day, and the Tender was obliged to slip her moorings, and beat up in- 
to St Andrew's bay, to pass the night in smooth water. 

The wind was still blowing fresh from the same quarter, and, of course, 
directly upon the Rock from the moorings of the Tender ; it was therefore 
judged proper, in the present unsettled state of the weather, that she should 
keep under sail, instead of making fast. At 9 a. m. the artificers landed, 
and returned on board at 1 P. M. In the evening they again landed and 
remained till 9. Notwithstanding the state of the weather, several boat- 
loads of timber and iron were landed for the use of the Railways and 

Thursday, 4th. 

From the state of the winds at W.NW., instead of making fast to 
her moorings, the Tender kept plying about the Rock all day, and passed 
the night reaching about in St Andrew's Bay, and returned to the Rock 
at the proper time of tide in the morning. At 7 a. m., eighteen artificers 
landed, and remained at work till 6 p. m., when they again returned on 


This morning, Captain Taylor embraced the opportunity of the wind 
having veered to the north, to make the Tender fast to her moorings, but 
there was too much wind and sea for landing on the Rock. The vessel 
was, therefore, made as snug as possible, with her top-masts struck, her 
yards lowered, and boltsprit run in, to enable her to ride more easily. 



1809, May. 
Friday, 5th. 


The wind was at North to-day, and the weather being more mo- Saturday, 6th. 
derate, Mr Watt, with eight of the artificers, landed at 6 a. m., on the ^"^ d ™f h e ' of 
Beacon, and at 10, being then low-water, the remaining twelve followed. 
At half-past 3 p. m., the whole returned on board, as the wind blew very 
hard. The boltsprit was launched out, and the ship was got ready for sea, 
in case of the wind shifting to the N.W., which might endanger the ves- 
sel's drifting upon the Rock. 

The wind remained in the same direction, but the weather was much Sunday, 7th. 
more moderate, and at 7 a. m., eight artificers left the vessel for the Beacon, 
where they were employed at the upper works. At 10 the remaining twelve 
artificers landed and continued at work till 4 p. m., when the whole return- 
ed on board of the vessel. At 5, the joiners and smiths again went to the 
Beacon, and remained till half-past 8. 

At 6 a. M., the artificers employed at the Beacon landed, and at Monday, 8th. 
noon the low-water workmen followed, and returned on board again at 
5 P. M. At 9, the joiners and smiths also returned to the vessel for the 
night. The weather was so fine to-day, that the crew of the Tender were 
enabled to paint her upper works ; for, although this had been intended 
all the season, yet the present was the first favourable opportunity. 

The weather still continued moderate, but as the tides became neap, lit- Tuesday, 9th. 
tie coidd now be done to the Railways. The operations were, therefore, Artificers ret " rn w 

* - ■ x Arbroath. 

confined, at this time, chiefly to the upper works of the Beacon. At 6 a. m., 
eight artificers went to the Beacon, and at half-past 10, the other twelve 
landed on the Rock, and remained till half-past 1. At 6 p. m., the whole 
came on board, when the vessel made sail for Arbroath, to wait the return 
of spring-tides. 

The Sir Joseph Banks having been supplied with necessaries for the Saturday, i3th. 
ensuing spring-tides, left Arbroath at 2 a. m., having in tow the Hed- Ten <*er sails for the 
derwick praam-boat ; and at 2 p. m., both the ship and praam were made 




1809, May. 

fast to their respective moorings, when six joiners and two smiths were 
landed on the Beacon. At 5, the remaining eighteen artificers landed on 
the Rock, and continued till 9, when the whole returned on board of the 
Tender, after a good evening's work at the Railways and cabins of the 

Sunday; 14th. 
Joiners get high pre- 
miums. One of 
them is hurt. 

At half-past 6 a. m., twenty-seven artificers landed on the rock, and 
returned again at half-past 9. At half-past 10, the joiners and smiths 
again went to the Beacon, and at 6 p. m. the remaining eighteen artificers 
landed, and the whole returned to the ship at half-past 9 ; the masons 
having been six hours and a half on the rock to-day, while the joiners and 
smiths were about fourteen hours at work on the rock and Beacon together, 
so that their premiums for extra hours' work, independently of their stated 
pay and allowances, were considerable, averaging about L. 3 per month for 
the workmen, and double that sum for the foremen. Unfortunately, one of 
the joiners was pretty severely hurt, by the fall of a mason's pick upon one 
of his feet, from the smith's gallery on the Beacon, which disabled him for 
some time from working in the water. 

Monday, 15th. 

The work makes 
rapid progress. 

The weather continuing moderate, and the tides being good, the work 
went on without interruption during these tides. This morning at half- 
past 6 o'clock, twenty-seven artificers landed on the rock, and continued 
till a quarter past 10. At noon, the joiners and smiths returned to the 
Beacon, and commenced their operations, as usual, at the higher parts of it ; 
and at half-past 6, or at low-water, the remaining eighteen artificers land- 
ed, when the whole were employed at the railways, fixing mooring rings, 
and laying down small floating-buoys as guides for the landing-master, in 
approaching the rock from the westward with the loaded praams. In 
all these operations, the sailors took an active part, and the number of 
hands at work to-day, including them, amounted to thirty-eight. In this 
manner, the work was continued without any material interruption during 
five days. The low-water operations, including the night-tides, generally 
continued for six hours, and the joiners and smiths, for twelve or fourteen 
hours each day. 

Saturday, 20th. 

One of the Buoys 
gets water-logged. 
Tender leaves her 

The wind, which had been easterly during these spring-tides, continued 
moderate till yesterday, when it blew what sailors term a stiff" breeze, 
which soon set up a considerable sea upon the Rock, and the tides being 
now in the state of neap, no landing was attempted to-day. One of the 

OPERATIONS OF 1809. 271 

mooring buoys having got water-logged, must soon have disappeared chap, v. 
and sunk, had not the Tender been hauled alongside, when it was taken 1809 ' Ma y- 
upon deck. An auger-hole was bored in it and the water let off, being 
what the sailors term " bleeding ;" when the hole was closed with a plug, 
and the buoy was again lowered in the water, and floated as before. The 
spring-tides being now considered over, the Tender sailed for the bay of 
Arbroath, where she was made fast to a set of moorings laid down for the 
conveniency of the work during the summer months, and at 8 p. m. the ar- 
tificers came on shore in the boats. 

The operations at the Rock, during the last spring-tides, had ex- Sunday, aist. 
hausted the stock of timber, of which a great quantity could not be kept ^"th^itSkl sa ' s 
either on board of the Tender, or on the Beacon, while much loss and in- 
conveniency had frequently been experienced by attempting to keep it afloat 
in rafts. At 5 o'clock this morning, the boats left Arbroath with seventeen 
artificers, and two rafts of timber, which were taken on board of the Tender, 
when she immediately sailed for the Bell Rock. But there being little 
wind, it was 7 in the evening before she was made fast to her moorings ; 
and; from the state of the tide, no landing was made this evening. 

The weather was moderate to-day, and, at 9 a. m., Mr Watt and the Monday, 22d. 
artificers left the vessel for the Beacon ; but the wind having been at S.E., j^Jg^iSS 
it was with great difficulty that a landing was effected. At half-past 11, track of-- Railway, 
the masons and other low-water artificers landed, and proceeded with the 
operations of the railways ; but the spring-tides being as yet very languid, 
little work was done, and the boats returned to the Tender in about an hour 
and a half. The joiners and smiths, however, continued their operations 
on the higher parts of the Beacon till 9 p. m. Had it not been a matter 
of extreme importance to get the circular track of the Railway completed, 
so that the waggons might be wheeled round the site of the building, and 
the materials brought within reach of the building-cranes in every direc- 
tion, as will be understood from Plates VI. and IX., the artificers, at this 
period of the tides, would not have remained at the Rock, but have return- 
ed to the work-yard at Arbroath. In this stage of the work, however, the 
gaining of a single tide was an object of great moment to its future pro- 

The artificers employed at the Beacon, landed upon it at 6 o'clock Tuesday, 23d. 
., being then high- water. At 12 noon, one of the building cranes was A "«nptmade to 

erect one of the 

A. M 


chap. v. brought to the Rock in a praam, by the landing-master's crew ; but, as 
iso9, May. the water did not leave the Rock sufficiently for getting hold of the ring- 
bats of the guy-tackles, the crane could not be set up 3 : it was therefore 
laid upon the building, and made fast to Lewis-bats fixed in the upper 
course, and left in that state for the present. The praam-boat was towed 
to her moorings at 2 o'clock p. M., but the joiners and smiths continued 
at work till 10 o'clock, when they came on board of the Tender. 

smeaton sails with Things being now in a state of preparation for commencing the build- 

season, ing operations for the season, the sloop Smeaton was loaded with twenty-six 

blocks of stone belonging to the Fifth course. She had also on board a few 
casks of pozzolano, cement, lime, and sand, with trenails, wedges, and other 
materials connected with the building. At 5 p. M., the writer embarked with 
Mr Peter Logan the building-foreman, Captain Wilson the landing-master, 
and fifteen masons, and sailed for the Bell Rock with the first cargo of 
stones for this season's operations. The wind was moderate, but being east- 
erly, it was not till 9 o'clock that the vessel reached the floating-light, 
when the writer, accompanied by the landing-master, went on board to exa- 
mine her moorings after the gales of winter, while the Smeaton continued 
her course to the Bell Rock. 

Wednesday, 24th. The last night was the first that the writer had passed in his old quarters 

Floating light's board of the Floating-light for about twelve months, when the weather was 

moorings examined. do 

so fine, and the sea so smooth, that even here he felt but little or no motion, 
excepting at the turn of the tide, when the vessel gets into what the seamen 
term the trough of the sea. At 5 a. m., all hands were called to man the 
windlas for heaving up the moorings, consisting of a cast-iron mushroom an- 
chor, weighing 17 cwt., and forty fathoms of chain, made from bars of iron 
one and a half inch square, and a hempen cable of 120 fathoms, measuring 
16 inches in circumference. At 6, the crew began to lay the part of this 
cable upon deck that had been in the hold, and afterwards to heave up 
that which was in the water : the whole was found in a serviceable con- 
dition, excepting where the operation of worming and rounding had 
been used to defend the part which was most liable to be chafed on the 
oround. This operation consists in warping a small rope of about two 
and a half inches in circumference, round between the strands or hollows 
in the cable, so as to give the whole a more uniform surface. This 
small rope, however, was found in several places, to cut yarns of the 
cable, and appeared to be attended with very bad consequences. The 


master and mate therefore concurred in opinion, that the worming should _ chap, v. 
be discontinued in future, as the small rope stretched more than the cable, 1809 ' Ma >'- 
and chafed it. There was also a small rope wound round the cable in a 
circular form, which, being laid with parcelling, or strips of canvas, was 
a good defence to it. 

At 8 a. M., the best bower-anchor and cable were in readiness to be let Wednesday, 24th. 
go, to hold the ship while the mushroom-anchor was lifted. The crew then nght^Moorfngf " g " 
began to heave up the mooring-chain, which had now been in the water 
upwards of two years. The first 10 fathoms of the chain were distinctly- 
observed to have suffered by the action of the marine acid. The links had 
a grooved-like appearance, perhaps, from the softer parts of the iron being 
wasted, in the lengthway of the link, and those parts which were more 
hard were observed in a raised form like threads ; but at the weldings or join- 
ings of the links, where the iron was more consolidated, from having received 
additional beating, it had not suffered oxidation in the slightest degree. The 
next 10 fathoms of the chain had also a slight appearance of waste. It may 
be remarked, that the half of the chain next to the hempen cable, was gene- 
rally suspended between the ship and the ground, in moderate weather, and 
was therefore more exposed to waste from the current of the tides than the 
half next to the anchor. On heaving up this last part, which lay chiefly on 
the ground, it was found to be almost as free of rust, some trifling spots ex- 
cepted, as when it was first laid down : in general, the hammer marks, 
and even somewhat of the bluish appearance peculiar to the surface of forged 
iron, were perceptible. The mushroom-anchor had not sustained the slight- 
est change, and, although the ground was rather soft, did not appear to have 
been imbedded in the mud ; so that the ship had rode chiefly by the weight 
of the chain. On narrowly examining it, when laid upon deck, two of the 
links were observed to be insufficient, the rust having exposed the faulty 
parts to view. These defective links were accordingly broken out or re- 
moved, and the sound ones connected by means of shackles, kept on board 
for this purpose. At noon, after seven hours of hard labour, the examina- 
tion of the moorings was completed, and the writer left the Floating- 
bight, accompanied by the landing-master, to attend the work on the Rock 
at low-water. 

At 6 a.m. Mr Watt, who conducted the operations of the Railwavs state of the works at 

i i i i j • i ■ • n •'the Rock. 

and Beacon-house, had landed with nine artificers. At half-past 1 p. m., 
Mr Peter Logan had also landed with fifteen masons, and immediately pro- 

M m 




1 809. May. 

ceeded to set up the crane, which still lay lashed to the building. The 
sheer-crane or apparatus for lifting the stones out of the praam-boats at the 
eastern creek had been already erected, and the Railways now formed 
about two-thirds of an entire circle round the building: some progress 
had likewise been made with the Reach towards the western landings 
place. The external framing of the cabins of the Beacon was in the state 
described in the second year's work, and partly represented in Plate IX. 
The floors being also laid, the Beacon now assumed the appearance of a habi- 
tation. The Smeaton was at her moorings, with the Fernie Praam-boat 
astern, for which she was laying down moorings, and the Tender being also 
at her station, the Bell Rock had again put on its former busy aspect. 
At 11 a. M., the Hedderwick praam was loaded with 11 stones, which 
were safely landed upon the Rock : and at 2 P. M. the Fernie was loaded 
with 16 stones, and towed to her moorings, to wait the proper time of tide 
for getting to the Rock. The Smeaton being discharged, she sailed for Ar- 
broath at 5 p. m. 

Plants and Animals 
.on the building. 

The wind was from the east, with light airs, and there was hardly any 
ruffle or motion on the surface of the water. The masons were chiefly em- 
ployed during this tide in clearing the upper course of the building from 
sea-weed, of which, since the month of September, it had acquired a thick 
coating. The weed consisted chiefly of Fucus digitatus, which, on the 
new wall, had attained the length of about 18 inches, with a proportional 
thickness of stalk and breadth of frond, during the preceding eight or nine 
months. The barnacle was also pretty numerous, and a good many white 
buckies and small mussels had attached themselves to several parts of 
the building. The masons left the Rock this evening at 6 o'clock, having 
had four hours and a half's work ; but the joiners and smiths continued 
till 10 p. m., and had therefore been 16 hours on the Rock to-day. 

Thursday, 25th. At half-past 2 this morning, the landing-master's bell was rung on 

board of the Tender ; and at a quarter past 3, the writer landed with fif- 
teen masons, nine mill-wrights and joiners, two blacksmiths, and ten sea- 
men, in all thirty-six, with their respective foremen. The low-water work 
continued two hours and a half, when those employed at the Beacon were 
left as usual to continue their operations. In the afternoon, at 3 o'clock, 
the builders were again landed, and remained on the Rock till 8, hav- 
ing been five hours at work, when all hands returned on board of the 

1809, May. 
Friday, 2fith. 

OPERATIONS OF 1809- 275 

The wind had shifted to the south, with fresh hreezes, which set a con- chap. v. 
siderable sea upon the Rock. The boats landed the artificers at a quarter 
past 3 this morning, who continued on the Rock till a quarter past 6, when 
it was overflowed. They landed again at a quarter past 3 p. M., and re- 
mained till a quarter past 6, when all hands returned on board of the Ten- 
der for the night. The masons, for the two last days, were employed in 
cutting out the square joggle-holes in the upper course of last season's work, 
represented with deep shaded lines in Plate XIII., which were not, as 
usual, cut in the respective stones before they left the work-yard, that 
there might be the less resistance to the waves during the storms of win- 
ter. The seamen were employed this tide in landing wedges and trenails, 
with cement, lime, sand, and pozzolano, the necessary materials for mortar : 
these were stowed on the mortar gallery or the lower floor of the Beacon- 
house ; which, in a work of this nature, was found to be of inestimable 
value for this purpose. The mill-wrights, joiners, and smiths continued 
their operations as formerly at the Railways and upper part of the 

The landing-master's bell rung this morning at half-past 4, and at a Saturday, ?Tth. 
ouarter past 5, the artificers and seamen, thirty-six in number, commenced Builders commence 

H * _ and lay 5 stones. 

work, and continued for 2 hours and a halt. 1 he crane having been rais- 
ed, and the necessary preparations made for beginning the building for 
the season, five stones of the Fifth course were landed and laid. In the 
afternoon, the artificers returned to the Rock at a quarter past 4, and re- 
mained till 9, when other five stones were laid. The seamen landed six 
stones with the Hedderwick praam, and sixteen stones with the Fernie, be- 
ing her first cargo. The mill-wrights, joiners, and smiths, were employed at 
the Railways, and fitting up the cabins of the Beacon-house. 

Sunday, 28th. 
22 stones laid. 

Landed this morning at half-past 5, and continued at work till a quarter 
to 9 ; and, in the evening tide, the work commenced at a quarter past 
5, and continued till 9, when all hands left the Rock. The landing-mas- 
ter's crew brought two cargoes of the praam-boats to the Rock, consisting of 
22 stones, which were laid or built. During the first and middle parts of 
these twenty-four hours, the wind was from the west, blowing fresh, but to- 
wards the evening it shifted to the N.E., with rain. 

The wind having blown fresh all night, and a considerable sea set up, Monday, 29th. 
there was no possibility of landing on the Rock to-day. In the course ^er rides very 

Mm 2 



chap. v. of the night it blew so fresh, that Captain Taylor struck the top-masts of 
j 809, May. the Tender, launched in her boltsprit, hoisted the boats on board, and 
had every thing in a state calculated to make her ride at her moorings 
as easily as possible. At 2 p. M. the vessel pitched very hard, and one 
of the mooring-hawsers having got foul of the cathead or timber, the 
ship came with such a jerk, from the run of the sea, as was sufficient to 
carry it away. But the Tender still kept her station, in company with 
the sloop Smeaton, and the praam-boats Hedderwick and Fernie. 

Tuesday 30th. 

Apparatus on the 
Rock viewed from 
a boat. 

Wednesday, 31st. 
13 stones laid. 
Landing rendered 
difficult from snow 

To-day the wind shifted from N.E. to west, but there was still too 
heavy a sea for landing on the Rock. The writer being on board, looked 
often and anxiously for the safety of the crane and the unfinished course 
of the building. At low-water, he accompanied the landing-master in a 
boat, and went round the Rock, when he had the satisfaction to find that 
every thing had the appearance of being in good order. 

The landing-master's bell, often no very favourite sound, rung at 
6 this morning ; but on this occasion, it is believed, it was gladly re- 
ceived by all on board, as the welcome signal of the return of better wea- 
ther. At a quarter past 7, the artificers landed, and continued at work 
four hours and a half. At 7 p. m. they landed again, and at 10 all hands, 
36 in number, returned to the Tender. The masons laid 18 stones to-day, 
which the seamen had landed, together with other building materials. Du- 
ring these twenty-four hours the wind was from the south, blowing fresh 
breezes, accompanied with showers of snow. In the morning, the snow 
showers were so thick, that it was with difficulty the landing-master, who 
always steered the leading-boat, could make his way to the Rock through 
the drift. But at the Bell Rock, neither snow, nor rain, nor fog, nor wind, 
retarded the progress of the work, if unaccompanied by a heavy swell or 
breach of the sea. 

Thursday, 1st. 
State of the weather. 
Zeal of the Writer's 

The weather, dining the months of April and May, had been un- 
commonly boisterous, and so cold that the thermometer seldom exceeded 
40°, while the barometer was generally about 29-50,: We had not only 
hail and sleet, but the snow, on the last day of May, lay on the decks and 
rigging of the ship to the depth of about three inches ; and, although now 
entering upon the month of June, the length of the day was the chief indi- 
cation of summer. Yet such is the effect of habit, and such was the expert- 
ness of the landing-master's crew, that, even in this description of wea- 

OPERATIONS OF 1809- &7'7 

ther, seldom a tide's work was lost. Such was the ardour and zeal of chap, v. 
the heads of the several departments at the Rock, including Mr Peter 1809, June. 
Logan, foreman builder, Mr Francis Watt, foreman mill-wright, and Cap- 
tain Wilson, landing-master, that it was on no occasion necessary to ad- 
dress them, excepting in the way of precaution and restraint. Under these 
circumstances, however, the writer not unfrequently felt considerable anxie- 
ty, of which this day's experience will afford an example. 

This morning, at a quarter past 8, the artificers were landed as usual, Eleven of the ana- 
arid, after three hours and three quarters' work, 5 stones were laid, the "n! !eft °" thc Bea ' 
greater part of this tide having been taken up in completing the boring 
and trenailing of the stones formerly laid. At noon, the writer, with the 
seamen and artificers, proceeded to the Tender, leaving on the Beacon the 
joiners, and several of these who were troubled with sea-sickness, among 
whom was Mr Logan, who remained with Mr Watt, counting altoge- 
ther eleven persons. During the first and middle parts of these twenty- 
four hours, the wind was from the east, blowing what seamen term 
" fresh breezes ;" but, in the afternoon it shifted to E.N.E., accompanied 
with so heavy a swell of sea, that the Smeaton and Tender struck their 
topmasts, launched in their boltsprits, and " made all snug" for a gale. 
At 4 p. M. the Smeaton was obliged to slip her moorings, and passed 
the Tender, drifting before the wind, with only the foresail set. In passing, 
Mr Pool hailed that he must run for the Frith of Forth, to prevent the 
vessel from " riding under." 

On board of the Tender the writer's chief concern was about the eleven They encounter a se- 
men left upon the Beacon. Directions were accordingly given that every vere g?Je ' 
thing about the vessel should be put in the best possible state, to pre- 
sent as little resistance to the wind as possible, that she might have the 
better chance of riding out the gale. Among these preparations, the best 
bower cable was bent, so as to have a second anchor in readiness, in case the 
mooring hawser should give way, that every means might be used for keep- 
ing the vessel within sight of the prisoners on the Beacon, and thereby 
keep them in as good spirits as possible. From the same motive the boats 
were kept afloat, that they might be less in fear of the vessel leaving 
her station. The landing-master had, however, repeatedly expressed his 
anxiety for the safety of the boats, and wished much to have them hoist- 
ed on board. At 7 p. m., one of the boats, as he feared, was unluckily 
filled with sea from a wave breaking into her, and it was with great diffi- 




1809, June. 


culty that she could be baled out and got on board, with the loss of her 
oars, rudder, and loose thwarts. Such was the motion of the ship, that in 
taking this boat on board, her gunwale was stove in, and she otherwise 
received considerable damage. Night approached, but it was still found 
quite impossible to go near the Hock. Consulting, therefore, the safety 
of the second boat, she also was hoisted on board of the Tender. 

The Tender is also 
vety uncomfortable. 

Friday, 2d. 

The Artificers are 


At this time, the cabins of the Beacon were only partially covered, and 
had neither been provided with bedding nor a proper fire-place, while the 
stock of provisions was but slender. In these uncomfortable circumstances, 
the people on the Beacon were left for the night, nor was the situation of 
those on board of the Tender much better. The rolling and pitching mo- 
tion of the ship was excessive ; and, excepting to those who had been ac- 
customed to a residence in the Floating-light, it seemed quite intolerable. 
Nothing was heard but the hissing of the winds and the creeking of the 
bidk-heads or partitions of the ship: the night was therefore spent In 
the most unpleasant reflections upon the condition of the people on the 
Beacon, especially in the prospect of the Tender being driven from her 
moorings. But even in such a case, it afforded some consolation that the 
stability of the fabric was never doubted, and that the boats of the Float- 
ing-light were at no great distance, and ready to render the people on the 
Rock the earliest assistance which the weather would admit. The writer's 
cabin being in the sternmost part of the ship, which had what sailors term 
a good entry, or was sharp built, the sea, as before noticed, struck her 
counter with so much violence, that the water, with a rushing noise, con- 
tinually forced its way up the rudder case, lifted the valve of the water- 
closet, and overran the cabin floor. In these circumstances, daylight was 
eagerly looked for, and hailed with delight, as well by those afloat, as by 
the artificers upon the Rock. 

In the course of the night, the writer held repeated conversations with 
the officer oa watch, who reported that the weather continued much in the 
same state, and that the barometer still indicated 29.20 inches. At 6 a. m., 
the landing-master considered the weather to have somewhat moderated ; 
and from certain appearances of the sky, he was of opinion that a change 
for the better would soon take place. He accordingly proposed to at- 
tempt a landing at low-water, and either get the people off the Rock, or 
at least ascertain what state they were in. At 9 a. m., he left the vessel 
with a boat well manned, carrying with him a supply of cooked pro- 

OPERATIONS OF 1809. 279 

visions, and a tea-kettle full of mulled port wine, for the people on the chap, v. 
Beacon, who had not had any regular diet for about 30 hours, while they 1809 > June - 
were exposed, during that period, in a great measure, both to the winds 
and the sprays of the sea. The boat having succeeded in landing, she return- 
ed at 11 a. m. with the artificers, who had got off with considerable difficul- 
ty ; and who were heartily welcomed by all on board. 

Upon enquiry, it appeared that three of the stones last laid upon the Mr Logan's account 
building had been partially lifted from their beds by the force of the sea, Beacon" 3 ' 6 ° f ' he 
and were now held only by the trenails, and that the cast-iron sheer-crane 
represented in Plate XI., had again been thrown down and completely 
broken. With regard to the Beacon, the sea, at high-water, had lifted 
part of the mortar gallery or lowest floor, and washed away all the lime 
casks and other moveable articles from it ; but the principal parts of 
this fabric had sustained no damage. On pressing Messrs Logan and 
Watt, on the situation of things in the course of the night, Mr Logan 
emphatically said : " That the Beacon had an ill-fared twist when the sea 
broke upon it at high water, but that they were not veiy apprehensive of 
danger." On enquiring as to how they spent the night, it appeared that 
they had made shift to keep a small fire burning, and, by means of some 
old sails, defended themselves pretty well from the sea sprays. 

It was particularly mentioned that, by the exertions of James Glen, one Jam« cien's ex«- 
of the joiners, a number of articles were saved from being washed off the *""*' 
mortar gallery. Glen was also very useful in keeping up the spirits of the 
forlorn party. In the early part of life, he had imdergone many curious ad- 
ventures at sea, which he now recounted somewhat after the manner of the 
Tales of the Arabian Nights. When one observed that the Beacon was a 
most comfortless lodging, Glen would presently introduce some of his ex- 
ploits and hardships, in comparison with which, the state of things at the 
Beacon bore an aspect of comfort and happiness. Looking to their slender 
stock of provisions, and their perilous and uncertain chance of speedy relief, 
he would launch out into an account of one of his expeditions in the North 
Sea, when the vessel being much disabled in a storm, was driven before the 
wind with the loss of almost all their provisions ; and the ship being much 
infested with rats, the crew hunted these vermin, with great eagerness, 
to help their scanty allowance. By such means, Glen had the address to 
make his companions, in some measure, satisfied, or at least passive, with 
regard to their miserable prospects upon this half-tide rock in the middle of 



1 909, June. 


the Ocean. This incident is noticed, more particularly, to shew the effects 
of such a happy turn of mind, even under the most distressing and ill-fated 

State of matters after 
the gale. 

The people from the Beacon had no sooner got safely on board of the 
Tender, and were provided for, than the writer went to the Rock with the 
landing-master, carrying along with them five artificers, and landed, though 
not without considerable difficulty ; for, although the wind had shifted to 
the westward, yet there was still a very heavy swell of sea. The first 
object at the Rock was to relay the three stones which had been lifted 
about three inches off their beds. On examining the Beacon narrowly, it 
appeared to be all in good order, excepting the mortar gallery, which, as 
before noticed, had been lifted, and all the lighter articles that could not 
be stowed in the upper apartments, carried into the sea ; and two of the 
four legs of the sheer-crane were broken in pieces. But the crane upon 
the building, fortunately still kept its erect position. After fixing the 
three stones and making these remarks, the boat after two hours' absence 
returned to the Tender. 

Saturday, 3d, 

Tender obliged to 
leave her station. 

Sunday, 4th. 

The wind was at N.W. to-day, so that the vessel rode with her 
stern towards the Rock ; and as it came to blow excessively hard, there 
was some danger, in the event of any thing giving way, that she might 
drift upon the Rock. Accordingly, Mr Taylor, who commanded the Ten- 
der, came into the writer's cabin between 1 and 2 o'clock this morning, 
and, after some consultation, it was thought advisable to slip the hawser, 
and to stand with the ship towards the land. It then blew so fresh, that 
though the sails were double reefed when the vessel got under way, it was 
still found necessary to take in a third reef in the mainsail, and at 6 a. m. 
she got into the harbour of Arbroath. 

At this time the sea was in such a state of agitation with the shifting 
and violence of the winds, that apprehensions were entertained about the 
safety of the sloop Smeaton, as she was deeply laden when she left her 
moorings, especially as her cargo was quite invaluable to the progress of the 
works of this season. At 5 o'clock this morning, however, Mr Pool made 
his appearance^with the vessel, and got safely into the harbour of Arbroath. 

In the work-yard, the hewing or cutting of the several courses went on 
with great alacrity : the freestone masons were now at work as high as the 



Twentieth and Twenty-first courses, and the granite masons had com- 
pleted the Sixteenth course, which was now lying on the platform, marked 
and ready for shipment. A great stock of lime, in a pounded state, had 

chap. v. 

1809, June. 
Thursday 8th. 
Progress of the work» 

been prepared, and a quantity of clean sharp sand collected, which were put at Arbroath. 
up in separate casks. A large supply of oaken trenails and wedges was 
also made up in bundles, each containing twenty-four trenails, and a like 
number of pairs of wedges. The hewing of the stones, and the preparation 
of the building materials, were placed under the charge of Mr David 
Logan, as clerk of works ; and the writing of the books, disbursement of 
cash, and the dispatch of the vessels with the materials, provisions and 
necessaries for the Rock, formed the department of Mr Lachlan Ken- 
nedy, engineer's clerk. 

The Tender and Smeaton having remained in port till last evening, both 
vessels sailed for the Rock, and reached their moorings at 5 o'clock a. m. 
The boats were immediately hoisted out, when the mill-wrights, joiners 
and smiths, ten in number, landed on the Beacon, with their foreman, 
and proceeded to the fitting up of the cabins. Notwithstanding the 
hazardous situation upon the Beacon in which these artificers had lately 
been placed, Mr Watt, with his principal assistant James Glen, were not 
to be moved with trifles, and the work, as formerly, was continued by the 
joiners' squad of artificers during the whole day, trusting to the even- 
tual prospect of their being taken off by the boats at night. At low- 
water, or about 3 P. M., Mr Peter Logan landed, with the sixteen artificers 
who composed the builders' squad, and the whole left it again at 8 p. m. 
The three stones which had been re-laid on the 2d of this month, having 
had the pozzolano mortar washed out by the heavy sea, before it had time 
to fix, it was found necessary to lift again, and lay them a third time. 
In the late gales, the casks of lime and cement left on the Beacon ha- 
ving been washed off by the sea, an entirely new stock was required. 
The praams were accordingly employed in delivering the Smeaton and 
landing a supply of these articles, together with four blocks of stone. 
The operations of the building-artificers continued only three hours to-day, 
and no more than four additional stones were laid. 

Friday 9th. 
i Stones are laid. 

The Patriot having now undergone a complete repair, she was loaded 
with stones for the first time, and the writer took a passage in her to the 
Bell Rock, when he had the pleasure of finding that she wrought or sailed 
extremely well. She was made fast to her moorings at 6 a. m., but only 


Saturday, 10th. 
Patriot obliged '. 
slip her moorings 


1809, June. 

10 Stones laid. 
Artificers divided in- 
to squads. 

Sunday, 11th. 
No landing on the 
Rock to day. 

Monday, 12th. 

1 7 stones laid. 
Ships belonging to 
the service. 


one praam-load had been discharged from her to-day, when the wind came 
suddenly from the N.E., and it was found necessary to let slip her moor- 
ings at 6 P. M., when she made sail for the Frith of Forth. 

Notwithstanding the boisterous state of the weather, the artificers were 
enabled to continue their visits to the Rock, and landed this morning at 5. 
At this time they counted twenty-six, and were, as formerly, divided into 
two squads ; the mill-wrights, joiners, and smiths, ten in number, wrought 
at the fitting up the Railways while the Rock was accessible, and when it 
was covered with the tide, they were employed in fitting up the Beacon- 
house. The operations of the builders were as yet wholly confined to low- 
water work. Both squads were attended, and occasionally assisted, by the 
landing-master's crew of about twelve sailors, who were always ready for 
every sort of work. Including the low-water periods of morning and even- 
ing tides the whole had six hours' and a quarter's work to-day, when ten 
stones were laid. But those employed at the Beacon did not leave off 
till half-past 9 P. m., having been sixteen hours upon the Rock, when 
all hands returned to the Tender ; and, owing to the bad state of the wea- 
ther, the boats were immediately hoisted on board. 

The wind was still from the N.E., accompanied with so heavy a swell 
of sea, that it was found impossible to land this morning. At 12 noon, 
all hands, forty-two in number, were assembled on deck, when prayers were 
read as usual. At 5 p. M., the weather being somewhat more moderate, 
the boats left the vessel with the artificers. But on a more narrow inspec- 
tion of the state of the sea upon the Rock, it was found impracticable to 
effect a landing, and they returned to the Tender, after having been about 
an hour absent. This evening, the Light-house Yacht came to the Bell 
Rock from her first voyage to the Northern Light-houses for the sea- 
son, but there was too much sea for making her fast to any of the moor- 
ings. Captain Calder, after ascertaining that all was well, laid the Yacht 
to for the night, and kept the Floating-light in view. 

The wind having fortunately shifted to the S.W., in the course of the 
night, the weather became more moderate, and at a quarter past 6 the 
artificers landed. Including both tides, the builders had seven hours' work 
to-day, and laid seventeen stones, those employed at the Beacon conti- 
nuing at work throughout the day. The Smeaton having arrived from 
Arbroath with another cargo of stones, and the Patriot from Largo Bay, 



in the Frith of Forth, where she had rim for shelter, the Rock had now a 
very busy appearance, the following vessels belonging to the service being 
at their respective moorings, viz. the Light-house Yacht ; the Sir Jo- 
seph Banks Tender ; the Sloops Smeaton and Patriot, besides the Hed- 
derwick and Femie decked Praam-boats ; and at the distance of about two 
miles and a half, the Floating-light was stationed as represented in Plate Y. 

The artificers landed this morning at the Rock,'at a quarter past 6, and 
had three hours' and a half's work ; and in the evening, the builders again re- 
turned at 7 o'clock, and remained three hours and a quarter, when the whole 
left the Rock. In the course of this day twelve stones were laid, which dis- 
charged the Patriot, and she returned to Arbroath for another cargo. 

At 7 this morning, the whole of the artificers land, and have four hours 
and a quarter of low-water work, when 21 stones are laid. In the even- 
ing, they land again at half-past 6, and have three hours' and three quarter's 
work in completing the boring and trenailing of the stones of the course 
which had already been built. The landing-master's crew discharged the 
Smeaton's cargo to-day, consisting of twenty-six blocks, together with four 
casks of pozzolano, four casks of lime, four casks of sand, one cask of cement, 
three bundles of oaken trenails, and six bundles of wedges ; and at 8 
o'clock p. m. she sailed for Arbroath. The cargo of the Smeaton was 
partly landed upon the Rock ; but, calculating upon the settled appearance 
of the weather, the greater part of it kept on board of the praams at their 

chap, v. 

1809, June. 

Tuesday, 13th. 
1 2 stones laid. 

Wednesday Hth- 
21 stones laid. 

At a quarter from 7 o'clock this morning the artificers landed, and ha- 
ving had five hours' and a quarter's work, eight stones were laid, and the 
remainder of the tide was occupied in boring and trenailing. In the even- 
ing, at half-past 6, they again landed and laid eighteen stones, having had 
five hours' and a half's work. The Patriot arrived from Arbroath with 
another cargo, consisting of thirty-nine blocks of stone, four casks of 
pozzolano, four casks of lime, four casks of sand, four bundles of wedges, 
and four bundles of trenails. There were thirty-six blocks of stone 
landed to-day on the Rock, with the above materials. The stones, 
when landed, were laid on the south-west side of the building till 
those previously built were trenailed ; and the lime, &c. were carried up 
to the mortar-gallery on the Beacon. The three remaining stones of 
this cargo were left on board of one of the praams at her moorings, and 

Nn 2 

Thursday, 15th. 
18 stones laid. 


chap. v. the Patriot thus discharged, again sailed for Arbroath at 9 P. M. to load 

1809, Jun7 another cargo. 

i-riday, i6th. This morning, at a quarter past 7, the artificers landed on the Rock, 

Great exertions used and had an excellent tide's work, which continued for five hours and a quar- 

in supplying mate- _ *» i • -r» ■ » l i*ittt 

rials. ter, when 24 stones oi the Patriot s last cargo were laid. Landing again 

at half-past 8 in the evening, they continued at work an hour and a quar- 
ter, when four stones were laid ; and at 10 o'clock all hands left the Rock ; 
the joiners, smiths, and such of the masons as were inclined, having been, 
as usual, left all day on the Beacon, had their victuals sent to them from 
the Tender. In the present favourable state of the weather, through the 
exertions of Mr Lachlan Kennedy, in dispatching the vessels, both by 
night and day, and also by the activity of Captains Pool of the Smeaton, 
and Macdonald of the Patriot, the work was largely and regularly supplied 
with building materials. The Smeaton having returned with a cargo from 
Arbroath, was made fast to her moorings at 11 this morning ; but, as the 
wind blew strongly from the westward, it was found impracticable to land any 
stones to-day, without the greatest risk of injuring the materials. About 
mid-day, after the landing-master's crew had taken the artificers on board 
of the Tender, they towed the Fernie praam-boat alongside of the Smea- 
ton, and endeavoured to load her, but it was found impracticable ; and, af- 
ter three stones had been laid on the praam's deck, any further attempt was 
given up. 

Saturday, 17th. At 8 A. M., the artificers and sailors, forty-five in number, landed on 

Artifice? left aii the Rock, and, after four hours' work, seven stones were laid. The re- 
mainder of this tide, from the threatening appearance of the weather, was 
occupied in trenailing, and making all things as secure as possible. At 
12 noon, the Rock and Building were again overflowed, when the masons 
and seamen went on board of the Tender, but Mr Watt, with his squad 
of ten men, remained on the Beacon throughout the day. As it blew 
fresh from the N.W. in the evening, it was found impracticable either 
to land the building-artificers, or to take the artificers off the Beacon, 
and they were accordingly left there all night, but in circumstances very 
different from those of the 1st of this month. The house being now in a 
more complete state, was provided with bedding, and they spent the night 
pretty well ; though they complained of having been much disturbed at 
the time of high-water, by the shaking and tremulous motion of their 
house, and by the plashing noise of the sea upon the mortar gallery. 

night on the Bea- 


Here James Glen's versatile powers were again at work, in cheering up chap. v. 
those who seemed to be alarmed, and in securing every thing as far as 1809, June, 
possible. On this occasion, he had only to recall to the recollections of 
some of them the former night which they had spent on the Beacon, the 
wind and sea being then much higher, and their habitation in a far less com- 
fortable state. 

The Patriot came to the Rock this morning from Arbroath, loaded smeaton and Patriot 
chiefly with timber and apparatus for the works of the Beacon. At 5 a. m., 
Captain Wilson, the landing-master, and his crew, made a second attempt 
to deliver the Smeaton of her cargo, but were only enabled to get out other 
five stones, with which the Fernie praam was towed to her moorings, 
without being able to land upon the Bock. The wind still continuing to 
blow fresh from the N.W., at 5 p. m., the writer caused a signal to be 
made from the Tender for the Smeaton and Patriot to let slip their 
moorings, when they ran for Lunan Bay, an anchorage on the east side of 
the Redhead. Those on board of the Tender spent but a veiy rough 
night, and, perhaps, slept less soundly than their companions on the 
Beacon, especially as the wind was at N.W., which caused the vessel to 
ride with her stern towards the Bell Rock ; so that, in the event of any 
thing giving way, she could hardly have escaped being stranded upon it. 

The weather having moderated to-day, the wind shifted to the west- Sunday, isth. 
ward. At a quarter past 9 a.m., the artificers landed from the Ten- 16stones laid - 
der, and had the pleasure to find their friends who had been left on 
the Rock quite hearty, alleging that the Beacon was the preferable 
quarters of the two. The builders laid 16 stones in four hours and a 
half, when the whole returned on board of the Tender ; and at 3 p. m. all 
hands, coimting fifty-four, assembled upon deck to prayers. In the even- 
ing, at 9, the artificers again landed, and left off" work at a quarter from 
12 o'clock at night, having been employed in boring, trenailing, and wedg- 
ing the stones which had been built in the morning. 

The wind was at N.E. to-day, with gentle breezes, but accompanied by Monday, 19th. 
the heaviest swell of sea which had yet been observed at the Bell Rock. It 
was what seamen term a Ground Swell, and, although the landing-master's Rcck ' 
crew were employed alongside of the Smeaton, in loading the praams, the 
surface of the water being comparatively smooth, yet the breach upon the 
Rock was truly surprising. It is when the sea is in this state, — being the 

Remarkable breach 
of sea upon the 


chap. v. result no doubt of a distant gale of wind, — that the sprays conducted by 
1809, June. a building, rise to such a height as is represented in the Vignette of 
Smeaton's Narrative of the Edystone Light-house. In the forenoon, the 
writer, accompanied by the landing-master, in a well manned boat, went off' 
to observe the effect of the breach of the sea upon the building and appa- 
ratus. The work had now attained the height of about 8 feet, on which 
one of the cranes was erected, the top of which was about 30 feet above the 
low-water mark. In the course of this tide, the sea, at the meeting of the 
waves round the building, was observed to rise in the most beautiful conical 
jets, of about 30 or 40 feet in diameter at the base, to the height of 10 
or 15 feet above the crane. Between these seas, but more particularly 
at low-water, it was observed with a telescope, that some of the last laid 
stones had been partially lifted ; but others, which had not been tre- 
nailed, it was feared had been washed off the building. 

Tuesday, 20th. jfo n Am M the boats landed, with much difficulty to-day, in order 

3 stones m danger of J J 

being washed away. i ascertain the state of the building and apparatus. On examination it 
was happily found, that none of the stones were lost, and that those 
observed yesterday to have been lifted off their beds, were the three 
which had not been trenailed, but which being fortunately confined by 
two of the jumpers or boring-irons left in the trenail holes of the 
lower course, were thus held in their places. After laying these stones, 
the remainder of this tide, which lasted for three hours and a quarter, 
was occupied in grouting or filling the perpendicular joints, and plas- 
tering them over with Parker's Roman cement, to preserve the pozzo- 
lano mortar. At this period, it not only happened to be rough wea- 
ther, but the building being now at that height, relatively to the tides, 
which seamen term " Between wind and water," the upper part of the 
work was exposed to the wash of every wave towards high-water. It 
was, therefore, often found necessary to repeat the grouting of the same 
joints with mortar several times. As the evening tide fell wholly under 
night, the building artificers did not land ; but the squad employed at 
the Beacon and Railways remained at the Rock throughout the day, 
and were, indeed, only restrained from taking up their quarters also for 
the night, in consequence of a positive injunction which the writer 
thought it prudent to enforce, until the Beacon should be in a more ha- 
bitable state. 

OPERATIONS OF 1809. 287 

The artificers employed at the Beacon landed upon it this morning at chap. v. 
7 o'clock ; and, at a quarter past 11, the builders landed, and continued i809, June, 
at work till 4 p. M., having had five hours' and a quarter's work, when 22 Wednesday, 2ist. 

' ■ a T. 22 stones laid. 

stores were laid. The landing-master's crew, at the same time, transport- 
ed 19 blocks to the Rock with the praam-boats, which completely dis- 
charged the Smeaton of her cargo of 32 stones, four casks of pozzolano, 
and a similar quantity of cement, lime, and sand, with four bundles of 
trenails, and the like number of wedges, when she immediately left her 

The artificers landed upon the Rock this morning at half-past 11, and, Thursday, 22d. 

e , . , ., ,. iii • Great waste of mor- 

from the advanced state of the building, they were enabled to continue at tar. 
work for six hours and a half, being the longest tide's work which had yet 
been got upon the Rock by the building artificers. During this tide only 
four stones were laid, but the time was otherwise occupied in boring, tre- 
nailing, wedging, and grouting the joints of the stones last built. From 
the great waste of mortar, owing to the wash of the sea, in the present 
stage of the building, the usual proportions of its ingredients were not found 
sufficient for the courses in hand ; and having no conveniency for keeping 
more than a few casks on the Beacon, while it was an object to have the 
lime always fresh, it was found necessary to dispatch a boat to-day express 
to Arbroath, for additional supplies of pozzolano, lime and sand. 

The work commenced at 12 noon, and continued six hours and a quar- Friday, 23d. 
ter; but, owing to the roughness of the weather, no stones were laid 
to-day, as, notwithstanding every precaution in pointing the joints with 
cement, the mortar was continually washed away. This tide was, there- 
fore, occupied in the operation of grouting, and securing the mortar with 
tow, loaded with pieces of iron laid horizontally along such of the joints 
as were accessible to this, which had the effect of preserving them until 
the cement dried sufficiently to defend it against the wash of the sea. 

Mr Peter Logan, the foreman builder, and his squad, twenty-one in Saturday, 24th. 
number, landed this morning at 3 o'clock, and continued at work four hours croLng ^meneea 
and a quarter, and, after laying 17 stones, returned to the Tender. At 
6 a. 31., Mr Francis Watt, and his squad of twelve men, landed, and 
proceeded with their respective operations at the Beacon and Railways, and 
were left on the Rock during the whole day, without the necessity of 
having any communication with the Tender, the kitchen of the Beacon- 

on the Beacon. 


chap. v. house being now fitted up. It was to-day also, that Peter Fortune, — a most 
1809, June. obliging and well known character in the Light-house service, — was removed 
from the Tender to the Beacon, as cook and steward, with a stock of pro- 
visions as ample as his limited store-room would admit. At 2 p. m. the 
building-artificers again landed, and continued at work till a quarter 
past 8, when 40 of the stones, formerly landed, were now laid, making no 
fewer than 57 blocks which had been built to-day in the course of both 
tides. The weather being extremely fine, with light airs of wind from the 
S.E., the landing-master's crew discharged the Patriot into the praam- 
boats, which were then towed to their moorings, as the stones could not at 
this time be received at the Rock. 

situation of the Mor- When as many stones were built as comprised this day's work, the de~ 
smiths. mand for mortar was proportionally encreased, and the task of the mortar- 

makers on these occasions was both laborious and severe. This operation 
was chiefly performed by John Watt, — a strong active quarrier by profes- 
sion, — who was a perfect character in his way, and extremely zealous in his 
department. While the operations of the mortar-makers continued, the 
forge upon their gallery was not generally in use ; but, as the working-hours 
of the builders extended with the height of the building, the forge could 
not be so long wanted, and then a sad confusion often ensued upon the 
circumscribed floor of the mortar-gallery, as the operations of Watt and 
his assistants trenched greatly upon those of the smiths. The casks with 
the ingredients for the mortar, consisting of pozzolano, lime, and sand, were 
laid to hand by the sailors. These materials were lifted in spadefulls, 
and thrown into the cast-iron mortar tubs, represented in Plate X. Fig. 12., 
where they were beat with an iron-shod pestle, to a consistency suitable 
to the respective purposes of the work. Under these circumstances, the 
boundary of the smiths was much circumscribed, and they were personally 
annoyed, especially in blowy weather, with the dust of the lime in its 
powdered state. The mortar-makers, on the other hand, were often not 
a little distressed with the heat of the fire and the sparks elicited on the 
anvil, and not unaptly complained that they were placed between the 
" Devil and the Deep-sea." 

Sunday; 25th. rp ne wor k being now about 10 feet in height, admitted of a Rope-ladder 

27 stones laid. ° ° r 

Rope-ladder distend- being distended between the Beacon and the Building, as represented in 
Plate IX. By this "Jacob's- Ladder, " as the seamen termed it, a communi- 
cation was kept up with the Beacon, while the Rock was considerably under 



water. One end of it being furnished with tackle-blocks, was fixed to 
the beams of the Beacon, at the level of the mortar-gallery, while the 
further end was connected with the Upper-course of the building by means 
of two Lewis-bats, which were lifted from course to course as the work ad- 
vanced. In the same manner, a rope furnished with a travelling-pulley, 
was distended, for the purpose of transporting the mortar-buckets, and 
other light articles, between the Beacon and the building, which also pro- 
ved a great conveniency to the work. At this period the rope-ladder, and 
tackle for the mortar, had a descent from the Beacon to the building ; by 
and by they were on a level ; and, towards the end of the season, when the 
solid part had attained its full height, the ascent was from the mortar-gal- 
lery to the building ; as will be understood by examining the second year's 
work, as shewn in the Plate above alluded to, and when viewed in connec- 
tion with the progress of the work. The building-artificers were ac- 
cordingly enabled to land this morning at 3 a. m., and to continue 
at work five hours and a quarter, when 27 stones were laid of the Se- 
venth course. The praam-boats were brought from their moorings, where 
they lay loaded with 43 stones, besides a supply of pozzolano, lime, sand, 
cement, trenails, and wedges. The Smeaton having made a trip ashore 
for a supply of the castings for the western Reach of the Railway, she 
discharged 1 5 tons of cast-iron work, and returned to Arbroath for a cargo 
of stones. At 12 noon, all hands, fifty-seven in number, being collected 
upon the deck of the Tender, prayers were read as usual. At three quar- 
ters past 2 o'clock p. m., the building-artificers again landed, and had five 
hours' and three quarters' work, at boring, trenailing, wedging, and grout- 
ing the stones laid during the two previous tides, which completed the Se- 
venth course of the building. 

chap. v. 

1809, June. 

The weather still continuing to be very favourable for the operations, 
the building-artificers landed on the Rock at a quarter past 3 a. m., and 
continued at work five hours and a half, when 21 stones were laid. In 
the course of this tide, it was discovered that the Patriot had by mistake 
carried off the trainer or gauge-rule to be used for regulating the posi- 
tion of the stones in buildng the Eighth course, which, for a time, stop- 
ped the progress of building. A fast rowing boat was dispatched to 
Arbroath for this useful implement, a diagram of which will be seen in 
Plate X. In the mean time, the remainder of the landing-master's crew- 
were employed in laying the cast-iron work in order upon the Rock, so as 


Monday, 26tk. 

21 stones laid. 
Builders stopped by 
a simple mistake. 


1809, June. 

Tuesday, 27th. 
33 stones laid, and 
fc'6 landed. 


to be at hand in the course of fitting up the Railways. In the evening, 
at a quarter past 4 K M., the artificers landed, and had five hours and a 
half at boring, trenailing, wedging, and grouting the last laid course of 
the building. 

The Joiners' squad of artificers, with Mr Fortune, their cook and 
steward, landed this morning at 5 a. m. for the day, and the Builders' 
squad continued on the Rock till a quarter past 10. They again landed, 
at half-past 4, and returned on board of the Tender with all hands, at 
10 p. M. The express-boat came from Arbroath with the trainer this 
forenoon : 33 stones were laid to-day, and the weather being extremely 
fine the landing-master's crew delivered no fewer than 66 blocks at the 

Wednesday, 28th. 

32 stones laid. 
Artificers now at 
work while the Rock 
is under water. 

Thursday, 29th. 
25 stones laid, and 

As the work was daily getting higher, the artificers landed on the 
Beacon, and began this morning at a quarter before 6 o'clock, having pass- 
ed along the rope-ladder, distended between it and the Building, while 
the Rock was yet under water, when the builders got five hours and a 
quarter's work. In the evening, they landed again at 6 o'clock, and 
remained till 11. In the course of this day 32 stones were laid, but, 
owing to the wind blowing fresh from N.TSTE., the praams could not 
approach the eastern creek, and the western reach of Railway being yet 
unfinished, no materials were landed. The Joiners' squad, as usual, re- 
mained all day on the Rock, and were enabled to make great progress 
with the lodging part of the Beacon or " Hurricane-house," as the sea- 
men termed it. 

The wind was still in the N.E., but being more moderate, the work, 
in all its departments, proceeded with great spirit ; 50 blocks of stone were 
accordingly landed to-day, with the necessary proportions of lime and 
other materials. At half-past 6, the whole of the artificers landed, and 
remained till half- past 11, having been five hours on the Rock. The 
builders again landed at 6 p. m. ; and at midnight, all hands left the 
Rock. The builders having to-day been no less than ten hours and a half 
at work, had laid 25 stones. The roughness of the weather yesterday 
washed a great part of the mortar out of the joints, and this morning's 
tide was chiefly occupied in grouting and pointing the Eighth course, which 
being closed, the work was brought to the height of about 11 feet above 
the lower bed of the Foundation-stone. 

OPERATIONS OF 1809. 291 

The artificers landed on the Rock this morning at a quarter past 6, 


and remained at work five hours. The cooking apparatus being now in J, 8 " 9 ' J "" e , 
full operation, all hands had breakfast on the Beacon at the usual hour, is stones are laid. 

■i.-ii i i i l ml l i -l t Michael Wishart 

and remained there throughout the day. The crane upon the building meets with a serious 
had to be raised to-day from the Eighth to the Ninth course, an operation 
which now required all the strength that could be mustered for working 
the guy-tackles ; for, as the top of the crane was at this time about 35 feet 
above the Rock, it became much more unmanageable. This will be bet- 
ter understood by examining the apparatus in Plate IX., and comparing 
the appearance of the crane-tackle of the second year's work with that of 
the first. In order, to give an additional purchase in tightening the tackle, 
one of the blocks of stone was suspended at the end of the moveable- 
beam of the crane, which, by adding greatly to the purchase or weight, 
tended to slacken the guys in the direction to which the beam with the 
stone was pointed, and thereby enabled the artificers more easily to brace 
them one after another. While the beam was thus loaded, and in the 
act of swinging round from one guy to another, a great strain was sud- 
denly brought upon the opposite tackle, with the end of which the ar- 
tificers had very improperly neglected to take a turn round some station- 
ary object, which would have given them the complete command of 
the tackle. Owing to this simple omission, the crane, with the large 
stone at the end of the beam, got a preponderancy to one side, and the 
tackle alluded to having vended, the crane fell upon the building with a 
terrible crash. The surrounding artificers immediately flew in every di- 
rection to get out of its way ; but Michael Wishart, the principal build- 
er, having unluckily stumbled upon one of the uncut trenails, fell upon 
his back. His body fortunately got between the moveable-beam and the 
upright shaft of the crane, and was thus saved ; but his feet got entangled 
with the wheels of the crane, and were severely injured. Wishart being a 
robust young man, endured his misfortune with wonderful firmness : he was 
laid upon one of the narrow framed beds of the Beacon, and dispatched in a 
boat to the Tender ; where the writer was when this accident happened, 
not a little alarmed, on missing the crane from the top of the building, 
and at the same time seeing a boat rowing towards the vessel with great 
speed. When the boat came alongside with poor Wishart stretched up- 
on a bed, covered with blankets, a moment of great anxiety followed, which 
was, however, much relieved, when, on stepping into the boat, he was 
accosted by Wishart, though in a feeble voice, and with an aspect pale 
as death, from excessive bleeding. Directions having been immediately 





IS09, July. 

given to the coxwain to apply to Mr Kennedy at the work-yard, to 
procure the hest surgical aid, the boat was sent off without delay to 
Arbroath. The writer then landed at the Rock, when the crane was 
in a very short time got into its place, and again put in a working state. 
The builders commenced work with it at 7 o'clock in the evening, and con- 
tinued till midnight, and in the course of this day 18 stones were laid. 
Robert Selkirk was appointed by Mr Logan to succeed Wishart, as prin- 
cipal builder. 

Saturday, 1st. 
Artificers have no 
less than ten hours' 
-.vork, and lay 59 

The artificers landed this morning at half-past 7, and as the building 
was gradually rising out of the reach of the tide, the work was continued 
no less than six hours and a half at this time, being the longest tide's 
work which the builders had hitherto had. They again landed at half- 
past 7 in the evening, and did not leave off till midnight, having, to- 
day, had ten hours and a half's work, when no fewer than 59 blocks of 
stone were built ; 56 of which were landed on the Rock to-day, being 
the entire cargo of the Patriot, including six casks of pozzolano, and a 
similar quantity of lime and sand ; besides twenty parcels containing 200 
trenails and 200 pairs of wedges ; together with six sacks of moss (hyp 
num), two bales .of green woollen-cloth, a bale of red binding tape, with 
nails, &c. for lining the cabins of the Beacon-house. 

Sunday, 2d. 
The Writer visits the 
Carr Rock. Some of 
the vessels slip their 

After a trip which he had taken in the Light-house Yacht to examine 
the Carr Rock, with a view to the erection of a Beacon, as described in 
the Introduction of this work, page 53., the writer landed on the Bell 
Rock this • evening. He found that the artificers had commenced work 
at a quarter from 8 o'clock a. m., and continued for seven hours and a 
quarter, when seven blocks of stone were laid, with which the Ninth 
course of the building was completed. The remainder of this long 
tide's-work was occupied in boring trenail holes, driving trenails and wedges, 
and in filling the perpendicular joints of the course with thin mortar, mix- 
ed up into that consistency which is technically termed Grout. Having 
again landed in the evening, the same operation was continued from 8 till 
11 o'clock P. m. ; but the wind having shifted from south to E.NE., it 
blew so fresh that the torches could not be kept burning, being now 
more exposed, and without the shelter which the foundation-pit formerly 
afforded. The work was, therefore, obliged to be dropt, before the tide 
had overflowed the Rock. From the state of the weather, it was also 
judged necessary to give directions to the landing-master to employ his 



crew in removing the iron-jumpers and other implements to the Beacon ; 
and to remove every encumbrance from the boats, so as to lighten them as 
much as possible, and fit them the better for carrying the artificers, thir- 
ty-two in number. At midnight, all hands left the Rock in four boats, two 
of which belonged to the Tender, one to the Light-house Yacht, and one 
to the Smeaton ; and, after much difficulty, they reached their respective 
vessels. The Yacht and Smeaton then slipped their moorings, and pro- 
ceeded for Arbroath, as they rode very hard, but the Tender kept her po- 


1809, July. 

The wind still continued to blow so fresh, that no landing could be 
made to-day on the Rock. As the Tender's stock of provisions was get- 
ting low, a considerable effort was made by the Patriot, which had come 
from Arbroath with supplies, to prevent the necessity of her leaving her 
moorings. After several vain attempts however, the Patriot was obliged to 
bear away for the Frith of Forth to wait a change of weather. 

Monday, 3d. 
No landing on the 
Rock to-dav. . 

The writer having come to Arbroath with the Yacht, had an opportu- 
ty of visiting Michael Wishart, the artificer who had met with so severe 
an accident at the Rock on the 30th ult, and had the pleasure to find him 
in a state of recovery. From Dr Stevenson's account, under whose charge 
he had been placed, hopes were entertained that amputation would not 
be necessary, as his patient still kept free of fever or any appearance of 
mortification ; and Wishart expressed a hope that he might, at least, be 
ultimately capable of keeping the light at the Bell Rock, as it was not 
now likely that he would assist farther in building the house. 

Michael Wishart is 

In the work-yard, the operations were going on as usual, under the Progress of the 

t • t* ik/r -r\ -it i.i • Works at Arbroath. 

direction of Mr David .Logan, and the stone-cutters were now working 
at the Twenty-third course. The Twentieth course being nearly finished, 
it was partly laid on the platform, and ready to be fitted, marked, and 
numbered for shipping to the Bell Rock. Dispatch was also making 
in the joiners' shop where Mr James Slight, was preparing the moulds 
for the succeeding courses, diagrams of which will be seen in Plate X. 

The Tender had kept her station at the Rock. Though the wind was 
still at N.E., it had abated a little, and the artificers landed at 1 1 a. m., 
to the number of twenty-four, and were employed for three hours in com- 
pleting the trenailing of the Ninth course. At 3 p. M., the building artifi- 

Tuesday, 4th. 


chap, v. cerS) fourteen in number, left the Rock, and went on board of the Tender, 
1809, July. jj U t th e joiners and smiths remained upon the Beacon till half-past 9 p. M., 
when they also returned on board of the vessel. 

Wednesday, 5th. The wind having shifted to the east, and the weather being moderate, 

joiners 5 it on the the artificers landed at half-past 11 this forenoon, when 19 stones were 
laid after four hours work. At 8 p. M. the boats again left the vessel, and 
made an attempt to land on the Rock, but it was found impracticable, 
there being then too much sea. The joiners' squad were therefore left on 
the Beacon all night. 

16'stonra'iaid ^ e building artificers having landed at a quarter past 12 to-day, 16 

joiners resolve to re- stones were laid, when they again left the Rock at a quarter past 4, having 

main on the Beacon. m ■ 7- 

been four hours at work. 1 he weather having a very unfavourable ap- 
pearance, the landing-master expressed a wish to bring all hands with him ; 
but the Joiners' squad, with Mr Fortune their cook, had now resolved to 
continue their quarters on the Beacon-house, instead of having " the 
continual plague of boating ;" and being now better provided with ne- 
cessaries, they felt much more at ease. The boats were now less crowded, 
and this arrangement was a great relief to the landing-master's crew. The 
writer was at Arbroath when the Beacon was thus taken possession of ; 
and though he felt no uneasiness as to its permanency in withstand- 
ing the effects of the sea, yet he was not without scruples about the dan- 
ger of accidental fire, from the chips of wood which unavoidably encum- 
bered the place while the joiners were at work. Considering, therefore, 
the awful circumstances to those inhabiting the Beacon under such a 
possible calamity, together with its disastrous consequences to the work, 
it became a matter of much solicitude to guard against such a misfor- 

Favourable to the This practical expression of the opinion of the mill-wrights, joiners and 

Light-house. smiths, with regard to the safety of the Beacon, was nevertheless highly sa- 

tisfactory to the writer, as it shewed a degree of confidence in this tem- 
porary erection, which left no doubt as to its utility in the future opera- 
tions. It was also an excellent prelude to the inhabitation of the Light- 
house itself when completed, as some were even doubtful if light-keepers 
would be found disposed to take up their residence permanently upon a 
rock, which, every tide, was sunk under water to the depth of from 10 to 
16 feet, of which no instance had hitherto occurred, as the First entire 

OPERATIONS OF 1809- 295 

course of the Edystone Light-house is understood to have been on a le- _ chap, v. 
vel with high-water mark. iso9, Juiv. 

The wind having shifted to the S.E. to-day, with easy weather, the Friday, 7th. 
Patriot returned from Largo Bay to her moorings, when the praam-boats 
discharged 19 stones of her cargo, and landed them on the Rock. The 
artificers landed at 10 a. m. and remained at work no less than nine hours 
and a half, when 15 stones of the Tenth course were laid. The builders 
then went on board of the Tender, leaving the mill-wrights, joiners and 
smiths, in possession of the Beacon-house. 

The builders landed to-day at a quarter past 12 noon, and remained se- Saturday, 8th. 

J ^ r , 1] stones laid. 

ven hours and three quarters, when they laid 1 1 blocks, while the landing- The Tide, for the 

. _ i -n i t'i • i i fi rst time, does not 

master s crew transported 4o stones to the liock. 1 he tide s work was overflow the bum- 
now so much lengthened, that time was afforded for boring the trenail 
holes into the course below, fixing the trenails and wedges, and grouting 
up the perpendicular joints with pozzolano mortar, in a more deliberate 
manner than when the work was lower in the water. It was remarked 
to-day, with no small demonstration of joy, that the tide — being neap — 
did not, for the first time, overflow the building at high- water. Flags were 
accordingly hoisted, on the Beacon-house, and crane on the top of the 
Building, which were repeated from the Floating-light, Light-house Yacht, 
Tender, Smeaton, Patriot, and the two Praams. A salute of three guns 
was also fired from the Yacht at high-water, when all the artificers be- 
ing collected on the top of the building, three cheers were given, in tes- 
timony of this important circumstance. A glass of rum was then served 
out to all hands on the Rock, and on board of the respective ships. 

Having thus got the Light-house above the sea-level in ordinary neap- Number of Joiners 

._, . li-ii l-iiTi-i • reduced. Balance 

tides, and the Beacon into a habitable state, while the Railway operations crane begun. 
were confined to the western reach, it was now found expedient to dimi- 
nish the number of mill-wrights and joiners at the Rock. At this pe- 
riod, the writer went to Edinburgh to attend a general meeting of the Com- 
missioners of the Northern Light-houses, and to report the advanced state 
of the works, — news which was received with the greatest satisfaction by 
the Board. He also visited the Shotts Iron-works, and took measures for 
the immediate construction of a Crane, upon a new principle. This had 
occupied his attention, along with the general scheme of the work. But, 
since the unfortunate accident which happened to Wishart, by the fall 




1809, July. 

of the Moveable-beam-crane, it had became more apparently necessary, 
as the increasing height of this machine rendered the guy-tackles too 
taunt, to use a sailor's expression for any thing that is high, or when the 
ropes, which support a spar or mast, form too small an angle at the top. 
Instead of these unmanageable tackles, the upright shaft of the new 
crane was to be kept in an erect position by a balance-weight acting up- 
on the opposite end of the loaded working-beam, which was thus to be 
kept in a state of equilibrium. As Mr Watt, foreman of the Bea- 
con and Railway works, could now be spared from the Rock for a time, 
he was sent to Shotts to get the patterns made for this machine, and 
other implements connected with the progress of the higher parts of the 
building ; from whence the castings were sent to Edinburgh to be fitted 

Sunday. 9th. 
Tenth course com- 

Monday, 10th, 

On the writer's return to the Bell Rock to-day, it appeared from the 
notes of the foreman builder, and log-book of the landing-master, that the 
work had made very good progress, of which the building itself bore tes- 
timony, being now about 13 feet in height. The wind was at N.E. this 
morning, and blowed so fresh that a landing could not be made till a 
quarter past 4 o'clock p. m., when the closing- stone of the Tenth course 
was laid, after three hours and a quarter's work ; but the landing-mas- 
ter's crew could not approach the Rock with the praam-boats. 

Twenty of the artificers landed this morning at half-past 5, and conti- 
nued at work till half-past 7- Again, in the evening, the work was re- 
sumed at 6, and continued till a quarter from 9. The artificers were em- 
ployed to-day in dressing off and completing the last laid course. Still 
the wind being from the N.E., accompanied with a heavy sea, the praams 
could not approach the Rock, and consequently no materials were land- 

Tuesday, 11th. 
31 stones laid, and 
numerous articles^ 

The wind having shifted to the westward, the sea was greatly run 
down ; and the landing-master's crew being early at work this morning, 
transported no fewer than 65 blocks to tthe Rock in the course of the day. 
At 6 a. M. the artificers landed, when 19 stones of the Eleventh course 
were laid. They again landed at 4 p. M. and laid 22, making altogether 
nine hours and a quarter upon the Rock to-day, when 31 stones were built. 
The Patriot had left Arbroath last night, and got to the Rock this morn- 
ing with 43 pieces of stone, twelve bundles containing 396 wedges, five 



bundles containing 165 trenails, three casks of cement, six casks of poz- 
eolano, six casks of lime, six casks of sand, besides provisions for the use 
of the Beacon-house and Tender, viz. five hogsheads of water, five bags 
of coals, three casks of beef, five bags of biscuit, one cask of oatmeal, 
one firkin of butter, one cask of flour, one cask of pot barley, with salt and 

chap. v. 

1809, July. 

At a quarter past 5 this morning, the artificers, 21 in number, landed, 
and remained eight hours on the Rock, when 21 stones were laid. They 
landed again in the afternoon at half-past 3, and remained till 9 p. m., 
when 16 stones were laid. The landing-master's crew transported three 
stones to the Rock to-day, which completed the Eleventh course. The 
Smeaton arrived from Leith this forenoon, with 53 casks of pozzolano earth, 
39 of which were stowed on board of the Tender to be at hand : the 
Smeaton then proceeded with the remainder to Arbroath, where she loaded 
stones for the Rock. 

Wednesday, 12th. 
37 stones laid. 

The weather still continuing favourable, the artificers landed this 
morning at half- past 6 and remained till half-past 11, when 15 stones 
were laid. They landed again at 5 and remained till 11 p. M., when 14 
stones were laid. 29 stones were transported to the Rock to-day in the 

The artificers landed this morning at a quarter from 7, and remained 
six hours and a quarter on the Rock, when 18 stones were laid. They 
landed again in the evening and remained four hours and a quarter, when 
9 stones were laid, which completed the Twelfth course ; the praam- 
boats having landed 27 stones. 

Thursday, 13th. 
29 stones laid. 

Friday, 14-th. 
27 stones laid. 


The wind was southerly, with occasional showers of rain to-day, but Saturday, isth, 
the sea was smooth. The artificers landed at a quarter past 7 this morn- ' 
ing, and as the water did not overflow the building, they continued on the 
Rock till midnight, being 16 hours and a half, and laid no fewer than 
52 stones, which, in the early part of the day, had also been transported to 
the Rock by the landing-master's crew. This was the most successful 
day's work which had hitherto been made. The Twelfth course was thus 
completed, which brought the building to the height of 15 feet above the 
lower bed of the foundation-stone. 




IS09, July. 

Sunday, 16th. 
39. Stones laid. 

Hitherto no order had heen given for loading the Bell Rock vessels 
with stones on Sundays, but Mr Kennedy, to whose department this 
belonged, had, with his usual unwearied attention, commenced on 
Sunday night, at 12 o'clock, which enabled the Patriot to sail at 5, and 
reach the Rock at 10 a. m., with a cargo of stones. The artificers 
landed at half-past 7, and laid 21 stones in the course of seven hours and a 
half; and having again landed in the evening at 7, they laid 11 stones in 
four hours, all of which had been landed on the Rock to-day from the praams. 
Besides laying, boring, trenailing, wedging, and grouting these . stones, 
several other operations were proceeded with on the Rock, at low-water, 
when some of the artificers were employed at the Railways, and at high- 
water at the Beacon-house. The seamen having prepared a quantity of 
tarpaulin, or cloth laid over with successive coats of hot tar, the joiners had 
just completed the covering of the roof with it. This sort of covering was 
lighter and more easily managed than sheet-lead in such a situation. As a 
farther defence against the weather, the whole exterior of this temporary re- 
sidence was painted with three coats of white-lead paint. Between the tim- 
ber-framing of the habitable part of the Beacon, the interstices were to be 
stuffed with moss, as a light substance that would resist dampness, and 
check sifting winds : the whole interior was then to be lined with green 
baize-cloth, so that both without and within the cabins were to have a 
very comfortable appearance. 

Monday, 17th. 
9 Stones laid. 

The artificers landed this morning at half-past 7, and remained at work 
five hours and a half, when 9 stones were laid ; but the wind having shift- 
ed to the N.E., which increased to a hard gale, in the course of this after- 
noon, both the Smeaton and Patriot were obliged to slip their moorings, 
when they proceeded in company to Leith Roads for shelter. The Ten- 
der, however, being in a more light trim, and better adapted for riding, 
continued at her station. 

One of the Artificers 
is accidentally killed 
in the work-yard. 

While some of the masons were employed to-day in raising a large 
stone in the work-yard at Arbroath, the purchase unfortunately slipped, 
and the stone fell upon William Walker, one of the labourers, who was 
putting a prop under it, to preserve its position till a better purchase 
could be taken. By this accident, Walker's thigh-bone was unfortunate- 
ly broken, and, though medical assistance was procured without delay, 
the poor man died in the course of a few hours, leaving a wife and two 
young children. The Commissioners of the Light-houses, in consider- 

OPERATIONS OF 1809. 299 

ation of the circumstances of this case, settled^ an annuity of L. 5 upon chap. v. 

his widow. 1809, July. 

The wind still continued to blow fresh from the N.E., but the artificers 

Tuesdav 18th. 

were enabled to land on the Rock at a quarter from 11, where they remain- 0ne of the workmen 

,, , , . , . -, . , . remains in the Bea- 

ed two hours and three quarters, employed in shitting the crane on the con alone. 
building, and making other preparations for laying the Thirteenth course. 
Although the building-artificers generally remained on the Rock through- 
out the day, and the mill-wrights, joiners, and smiths, while their number 
was considerable, remained also during the night, yet the Tender had hi- 
therto been considered as then- night-quarters. But the wind having, in 
the course of the day, shifted to the N.W., and as the passage to the Ten- 
der, in the boats, was likely to be attended with difficulty, the whole of the 
artificers, with Mr Logan, the foreman, preferred remaining all night on 
the Beacon, which had, of late, become the solitary abode of George For- 
syth, a jobbing-upholsterer, who had been employed in lining the Beacon- 
house with cloth, and in fitting up the bedding. Forsyth was a tall, thin, 
and rather loose-made man, who had an utter aversion at climbing upon 
the trap-ladders ,of the Beacon, but especially at the process of boating, 
and the motion of the ship, which he said, " was death itself." He, 
therefore, pertinaciously insisted with the landing-master in being left upon 
the Beacon, with a small black dog as his only companion. The writer, 
however, felt some delicacy in leaving a single individual upon the Rock, 
who must have been so very helpless, in case of accident. This fabric had, 
from the beginning, been rather intended by the writer to guard against 
accident from the loss or damage of a boat, and as a place for making mor- 
tar, a smith's shop, and a store for tools, during the working months, than 
as permanent quarters : nor was it at all meant to be possessed until the 
joiner-work were completely finished, and his own cabin, and that for the 
foremen, in readiness, when it was still to be left to the choice of the arti- 
ficers to occupy the Tender or the Beacon. He, however, considered For- 
syth's partiality and confidence in the latter, as rather a fortunate occurrence. 

The whole of the artificers, 23 in number, now removed, of their own 

Wednesday, 19th. 

accord, from the Tender, to lodge in the Beacon, together with Peter ^^ "move 

, . with reter Fortune 

Fortune, a person singularly adapted for a residence of this kind, both from to the Beacon. 
the urbanity of his manners, and the versatility of his talents. Fortune, 
in his person, was of small stature, and rather corpulent. Besides being a 
good Scotch cook, he had acted both as groom and house-servant ; he had 






been a soldier, a suttler, a writer's clerk, and an apothecary, from which he 
possessed the art of writing and suggesting recipes, and had hence, also, 
perhaps acquired a turn for making collections in natural history ; but in 
his practice in surgery, on the Bell Rock, for which he received an annual 
fee of three guineas, he is supposed to have been rather partial to the use 
of the lancet. In short, Peter was the fac-totum of the Beacon-house, 
where he ostensibly acted in the several capacities of cook, steward, sur- 
geon, and barber, and kept a statement of the rations or expenditure of the 
provisions, with the strictest integrity. 

Thursday, 20th. 
Praam-boats cannot 
approach the Rock. 

The wind was at the S.E. to-day, accompanied with a considerable 
swell of sea ; and, although the Smeaton and Patriot had returned 
from Leith Roads, and the praams had been loaded, and were riding 
at their moorings, yet they could not approach the K-ock. The building ar- 
tificers, however, found employment in boring, trenailing, wedging, and 
grouting the last laid course. The smiths and mill-wrights worked at the 
western Railway, and the joiners at sundry jobs about the Beacon-house. 

Friday, sut. The weather having improved, the Smeaton was entirely discharged to- 

weaT laidand69 day of her cargo of 69 stones, which were also landed on the Rock, with a 
due proportion of other building materials, as pozzolano, lime, and sand, 
&c. ; and 18 stones of the Thirteenth course were laid to-day. 

Saturday, 22d, 
An embargo is laid 
on Shipping. 

In the present important state of the building, when it had just attain- 
ed the height of lb" feet, and the upper courses, and especially the im- 
perfect one, were in the wash of the heaviest seas, an express-boat arrived 
at the Rock, with a letter from Mr Kennedy of the work-yard, stating, 
that, in consequence of the intended Expedition to Walcheren, an em- 
bargo had been laid on shipping at all the ports of Great Britain ; 
that both the Smeaton and Patriot were detained at Arbroath, and that, but 
for the proper view which Mr Ramsay, the port-officer, had taken of his 
orders, neither the express-boat, nor one which had been sent with pro- 
visions and necessaries for the Floating-light, would have been permitted 
to leave the harbour. The writer set off without delay for Arbroath, and, 
on landing, used every possible means with the official people ; but their 
orders were deemed so peremptory, that even boats were not permitted to 
sail from any port upon the coast. In the mean time, the collector of the 
Customs at Montrose applied to the Board at Edinburgh, but could, of 
himself, grant no relief to the Bell Rock shipping. 

OPERATIONS OF 1809. .'301 

At this critical period, Mr Adam Duff, then Sheriff of Forfarshire, chap, v. 
now of the county of Edinburgh, and ens officio one of the Commissioners i809, July, 
of the Northern Light-houses, happened to be at Arbroath. Mr Duff r ^^^ h u f h e° r " 
took an immediate interest in representing the circumstances of the case Board of customs, 
to the Board of Customs at Edinburgh. But such were the doubts 
entertained on the subject, that, on having previously received the appeal 
from the Collector at Montrose, the case had been submitted to the 
consideration of the Lords of the Treasury, whose decision was now waited 

In this state of things, the writer felt particularly desirous to get the operations at the 
Thirteenth course finished, that the building might be in a more secure seis were under em" 
state, in the event of bad weather. An opportunity was therefore em- arg °' 
braced on the 25th, in sailing with provisions for the Floating-light, to 
carry the necessary stones to the Rock for this purpose, which were landed 
and built on the 26th and 27th. But so closely was the watch kept up, 
that a Customhouse-officer was always placed on board of the Smeaton 
and Patriot while they were afloat, till the embargo was specially removed 
from the Light-house vessels. The artificers at the Bell Bock had been re- 
duced to fifteen, who were regularly supplied with provisions, along with the 
crew of the Floating-light, mainly through the port-officer's liberal interpreta- 
tion of his orders. After completing the Thirteenth course, they were em- 
ployed in erecting a kind of stool or prop of masonry on the western 
side of the building, for which the stones had fortunately been landed pre- 
vious to the embargo. This prop, as will be understood by examining 
the second year's work of Plate IX., consisted of large blocks of stone, 
measuring 5 feet in length, 2 feet 6 inches in breadth, and 15 inches in 
thickness, and, when completed, it was 6 feet in height, and 6 feet square 
at the top, so that the men in working the crane had a sufficient space for 
standing. By this means, the foot of the lower crane was elevated 6 feet 
above the Rock, which, added to the length of the working-beam, made a 
height of about 18 feet, and, in the present state of the building, the stones 
were thus raised to the level of the last built course. The crane on 
the top of the building, with which the stones were laid, was, therefore, 
now only employed to take them from the lower crane, instead of lifting 
them at once from the waggons on the Railway. During this period, also, 
the Beacon-house and Railways were completely overhauled, and matters 
of minor importance attended to, which were obliged to be left behind 
when the works were going on briskly. 




1S09, August. 

The embargo is 
taken off the Light- 
house vessels. 

The necessity of 
stopping the Bell 
Hock shipping 
doubted, under any 

The Lords of the Treasury had no sooner received the appeal from the 
Board of Customs at Edinburgh, than an order was issued for all vessels 
and boats belonging to the service of the Commissioners of the Northern 
Light-houses, to be released and permitted to sail upon their respective 
voyages. But before this order coidd be made effective, ten days of the 
finest weather of the season had elapsed. Every one connected with the 
work had now become impatient to be again at work, when the writer had the 
happiness to receive a letter from Mr Charles Cuningham, Secretary to the 
Commissioners of the Northern Light- houses, stating that an order might 
be expected to reach the Collector of the Customs at Montrose on the 
30th. Mr Kennedy was consequently sent to Montrose to wait the arrival 
of the post, which happened at midnight, when Mr Paton the Collector, 
with much attention, gave immediate orders for the liberation of the 
Bell Rock vessels ; and as both the Smeaton and Patriot were loaded and 
ready for sea, they sailed from Arbroath on Sunday the 30th, with the wind 
at E.S.E., and arrived at their moorings at the Rock early on the 31st. 

On the subject of this embargo, as applicable to the boats and vessels in 
the Bell Rock service, it would be difficult, and perhaps improper, to give 
any opinion regarding the discretion or prudence exercised by the Officers 
of the Customs, especially as the Board itself found it necessary to appeal to 
the Treasury for instructions. If, however, the Superior Officers at Mon- 
trose, aware of all the circumstances of this peculiar case, had allowed the 
work at the Bell Rock to proceed, till special orders could have been received 
on this peculiar point, there is reason to believe it would not have been called 
in question by the Board of Customs at Edinburgh. But when the vessels 
were peremptorily stopped, and the matter brought formally under its no- 
tice, an appeal to the Treasury was considered indispensable. 

Tuesday, 1st. 
78 stones landed, 
and 40 laid. 
24 artificers inhabit 
the Beacon. 

There being a considerable swell and breach of sea upon the Rock yes- 
terday, the stones could not be got landed till the day following, when the 
wind shifted to the southward, and the weather improved. But to-day no 
less than 78 blocks of stone were landed, of which 40 were built, which 
completed the Fourteenth, and part of the Fifteenth courses. The num- 
ber of workmen now resident in the Beacon-house were augmented to 
24 ; including the landing-master's crew from the Tender, and the 
boat's crew from the Floating-light, who assisted at landing the stones. 
Those daily at work upon the Rock at this period amounted to 46. 
A cabin had been laid out for the writer on the Beacon, as will be 

OPERATIONS OF 1809- '303 

seen from Plate VIII. but his apartment had been the last which was _ CHAP - v - 
finished, and he had not yet taken possession of it; for though he gene- i809, August. 
rally spent the greater part of the day, at this time, upon the Rock, yet he 
always slept on board of the Tender. 

To-day the wind was from the S.E., accompanied with a pretty heavy Wednesday, 2d. 
swell of sea, which, in the early part of the season, would perhaps have ™l fhe wMkHuhe 
been sufficient to deter the attempt of landing building materials ; but such Rock ' 
was the dexterity of the landing-master and his crew, that 23 stones were 
transported to the western creek, and afterwards, by great exertions, got 
along the Rock, though the Railways were still in an incomplete state. With 
these, the builders were enabled to finish the Sixteenth course, consisting 
of 53 stones. The work was visited to-day by Mr Sheriff Duff, who, with 
his accompanying friends, were much gratified in landing on the Bell 
Rock, and viewing the advanced state of the works. 

The wind being from south-east, a heavy swell of sea ran upon the Thursday, 3d. 
Rock, so that no stones were landed to-day. The building being now 23 stones laid - 
about 19 feet in height, it was found to produce a smoothness on the lee- 
side, and as the north-east wind produced the heaviest seas, the lower crane, 
erected on the prop, being placed on the south-west side, was somewhat 
sheltered from that quarter, and admitted of a considerable quantity of ma- 
terials being occasionally laid around it ; and, therefore, although none 
were landed to-day, yet 23 blocks of the Seventeenth course were built. 

The weather proved very fine, and the seamen were employed on Friday, 4th. 
board of the Floating-light in shifting her winter cable, and inspecting 2 stones Iaid ' 
her chain-moorings, as she had just undergone such repair in her upper- 
works, as could be conveniently given her while afloat. The artificers 
on the Rock laid two stones to-day, and were otherwise employed in tre- 
nailing and grouting the Seventeenth course. 

The weather still continued favourable, and the landing-master's crew Saturday, 5th 
discharged the Patriot of her cargo,- of which 40 stones were landed on the 8 stones Iaid " 
Rock, and the remaining 12 were kept on board of one of the Praam-boats 
at her moorings. The artificers built 8 stones to-day, so that 32 of the 
40 which had been landed, were either laid without mortar, upon the 
building, or ranged round the stool of the lower crane, in readiness for 
next tide. 




1809, August. 
Sunday, 6th, 

In the course of the last night, however, the wind had shifted to the 
N.E., accompanied by a heavy swell of sea, and it was impossible for the 
landing-master's boats to approach the Rock. But the artificers being 
now stationary upon the Beacon, they could pass from it to the building 
at all times of tide, by means of the rope-ladder, formerly noticed, as will 
be understood by examining the second year's work, represented in Plate 
IX. They accordingly laid 25 stones to-day, and completed the Seven- 
teenth course, consisting of 60 blocks. The Praam-boat, with the remain- 
ing 12 stones of the Patriot's cargo on board, rode at her moorings with 
great ease, and although the swell was very considerable, yet she had 
very little motion ; and even when deeply loaded, these decked boats ship- 
ped no water. So easily did they ride at anchor, that the sickly artificers, 
while on board of the Tender, though much easier than the Floating- 
light, were often heard to express a wish that their births could be shifted 
to a Praam-boat. 

Narrow escape from 

At day-break, this morning, a large schooner, the Fly of Bridport, 
Green, master, bound from London to Dundee, was observed standing right 
upon the Bell Rock, when she was suddenly taken aback on seeing the 
Beacon and works on the Rock. The crew of this vessel being entire stran- 
gers, had hoisted a signal, when the landing-master immediately went on 
board, and after some consultation, Pool, the master of the Smeaton, was 
sent to conduct the Fly into the Frith of Tay. 

Monday, 7th. 

The wind had shifted to the S.W. to-day, but still a heavy swell of 
the sea prevented the landing of materials, and the artificers were accord- 
ingly employed in shifting the crane on the building, and at low-water 
they were all engaged in fixing and extending the Railways towards the 
western creek. 

Tuesday, 8th. 
12 stones laid. 
Mr Sheriff Hamilton 
visits the works. 

The sea having fallen considerably, the loaded Praam-boat got 
to the Rock, and the artificers laid the 12 stones which had now been on 
board of her since the 5th. The works at the Rock were visited to-day by 
Mr Robert Hamilton, Sheriff of Lanark, and ex officio one of the Com- 
missioners of the Northern Light-houses, who expressed much satisfaction 
at the progress of the operations. 

Wednesday, 9th. 
36 stones laid. 

The number of artificers were augmented from 24 to 26, and measures 
were taken for leveling the necessary sites on the Rock for some additional 

OPERATIONS OF 1809. 305 

supports for the legs or principal beams of the Beacon. These supports chap. v. 
had been prepared in the course of the winter, but had not yet been ap- i809, August. 
plied, from the pressing nature of the building operations. They consisted f rthe°Beacon 1 ianded 
both of iron and of timber, the former to connect the principal beams ho- to-da y- 
rizontally, and the latter diagonally, in order that, by every possible means, 
this essential part of the establishment might be preserved through the 
winter, and divested of the twist so expressively felt and complained of by 
Mr Logan, on the 30th of May. To-day 36 stones were landed and built, 
which finished the Nineteenth course, and brought the building to the 
height of about 23 feet. 

To-day 26 stones of the Twentieth course were landed and laid. Thursday, loth. 

The wind was at S.E. on the 11th, and there was so very heavy a „, Frida y» Uth - 

J J Sheer-crane broken 

swell of sea upon the Rock, that no boat could approach it. Such indeed l v the force of the 
was the force of its breach, that one of the legs of the cast-iron Sheer- 
crane at the eastern creek, represented in Plate XL, was again broken. 
It is not a little remarkable, that these bars, which contained about 
16 square inches of section, should nevertheless have been snapped, by 
the force of the sea, on three different occasions. It must, however, be re- 
marked, that these sheers, in their operation, had necessarily a certain ac- 
tion laterally, in effecting the laying of a stone upon the waggon ; in heavy 
seas, therefore, the apparatus was subject to a jerking motion, which pro- 
ved sufficient to break it ; so essential is it, that every thing within the 
range of the sea should be Dead-fast, as workmen emphatically express 
it, or as firm and steady as possible. 

The gale still continuing from the S.E., the sea broke with s'reat Saturday, 12th. 

1 i -r. -1 t 1 1 -r. r™ Some of the Artificers 

violence both upon the Building and the Beacon. The former being 23 feet become alarmed and 
in height, the upper part of the crane erected on it having been lifted from 
course to course as the building advanced, was now about 36 feet above the 
Rock. From observations made on the rise of the sea by this crane, the 
artificers were enabled to estimate its height to be about 50 feet above the 
Rock, while the sprays fell with a most alarming noise upon their cabins. 
At low-water, in the evening, a signal was made from the Beacon, at the 
earnest desire of some of the artificers, for the boats to come to the Rock ; 
and although this covdd not be effected without considerable hazard, it was 
however accomplished, when twelve of their number, being much afraid, 
applied to the foreman to be relieved, and went on board of the Tender. 




1809, August. 

Sunday, 13th. 
Effects of the late 

Monday, 14th. 

Tuesday, 1 5th. 

5 stones laid. 
TheWriter takes pos- 
session of his cabin 
in the Beacon. 


But the remaining fourteen continued on the Rock, with Mr Peter Logan, 
the foreman builder. Although this rule of allowing an option to every 
man either to remain on the Rock or return to the Tender, was strictly 
adhered to ; yet, as it would have been extremely inconvenient to have 
had the men parcelled out in this manner, it became necessary to embrace 
the first opportunity of sending those who had left the Beacon to the work- 
yard, with as little appearance of intention as possible, lest it should hurt 
their feelings, or prevent others from acting according to their wishes, 
either in landing on the Rock or remaining on the Beacon. 

All hands were employed at low-water to-day, in refitting the sheer- 
crane at the eastern landing-place, and in adjusting other things about 
the Beacon and Rock, which had been scattered and deranged during 
the late gale. In particular, the guy-ropes of the cranes required to be tight- 
ened ; for, although they were of patent-cordage, and had often been well 
tried, yet, upon this occasion, they were stretched and much relaxed with 
the excessive motion of the sea. The whole appurtenances of the mortar- 
gallery had been sent adrift ; even the blacksmith's anvil was upset ! and 
found lying at the foot of the Beacon, while his bellows, and the greater 
part of the deals with which the floor was laid, were forced up and car- 
ried away, with all the lime and cement casks. 

The wind still continued from the S.E., and though blowing with less 
force, yet the sea rolled over the Rock too heavily for approaching it with 
building materials. But, in the course of the day, efforts were made for 
getting the landing-apparatus again into a working state. 

The wind had fortunately shifted to the S.W. this morning, and 
though a considerable breach was still upon the Rock, yet the landing- 
master's crew were enabled to get one Praam-boat, lightly loaded with five 
stones, brought in safety to the western creek : these stones were im- 
mediately laid by the artificers, who gladly embraced the return of good 
weather to proceed with their operations. The writer had this day taken 
possession of his cabin in the Beacon-house. It was small, but commo- 
dious, and was found particularly convenient in coarse and blowing wea- 
ther, instead of being obliged to make a passage to the Tender in an open 
boat, at all times, both during the day and the night, which was often at- 
tended with much difficulty and danger. 



The sea was much run down to-day, but the wind from the west, pre- 
vented the landing of stones on the western side of the Rock, and the 
repairs of the sheer-crane were still incomplete. Captain Wilson under- 
took, however, to land two Praam-boats of stones on the top of the build- 
ing at high-water. He accordingly laid the Hedderwick and Fernie 
in succession, alongside of the building, and in this manner 30 stones were 
landed ; the repairs of the sheer-crane were completed, and during the 
evening tide, other two praam-loads were landed at low-water at the east- 
ern creek, making in all 52 stones, of which 18 of the Twentieth course 
were built. 

chap. v. 

1809, August. 
Wednesday, 16th. 
•52 stones landed and 
18 built. 

The wind had shifted from W. to N.E. to-day, but the weather being 
fine, 29 stones were landed, and 25 built. 

Thursday, 17th. 

The weather is rather boisterous to-day, accompanied with rain, and a 
considerable swell of sea. The two praam-boats, however, were got to the 
Rock, when 16 stones were landed, which, with those already at hand, fi- 
nished the Twentieth and commenced the Twenty-first course. 

Friday, 18th. 

For some days past, the weather had been occasionally so thick and 
foggy, that no small difficulty was experienced in going even between the 
Rock and the Tender, though quite at hand. But the Floating-light's 
boat lost her way so far in returning on board that the first land she made, 
after rowing all night, was Fifeness, a distance of about 14 miles, as 
will be seen from Plate IV. The weather having cleared in the morn- 
ing, the crew stood off again for the Floating-light, and got on board in 
a half famished and much exhausted state, having been constantly row- 
ing for about 16 hours. 

Saturday, 19th. 
Floating-light boat 
loses her way. 

The wind shifted this morning from E. to S.W. with much rain. 
The sloop Patriot returned from the Frith of Forth this forenoon, to 
which she had been driven by the late gales. The weather being more 
favourable to-day, 31 stones were landed on the Rock, and 29 stones were 
built, with which the Twenty-first course was finished, which brings the 
building to the height of 25 feet. The crane was also shifted, and every 
preparation made for commencing with the next course. 

29 stones built. 

The weather being very favourable to-day, 53 stones were landed, and Sunday, goth. 

« t i •/» i • i ■ i -i i m -i An entire course laid 

the builders were not a little gratified m having built the Iwenty-second to-day. Prayers read 

y~. _ on the Rock. 



chap, y 

1809, August. 


course, consisting of 51 stones, being the first course which had been com- 
pleted in one day. This, as a matter of course, produced three hearty 
cheers. At 12 noon, prayers were read for the first time on the Bell Rock : 
those present, counting thirty, were crowded into the upper apartment of 
the Beacon, where the writer took a central position, while two of the ar- 
tificers joining hands supported the Bible. 


Monday, 2ist. The wind was from the S.W. this morning, blowing fresh, with rain, 

the ia™course ofthe The Praam-boats, however, lauded thirty-two stones, which were also built. 
At 6 P. m. the Smeaton arrived from Arbroath, having on board the 
last cargo of the solid part of the building. She was, of course, decorated 
with all her colours ; and, in compliment to the advanced state of the 
work, there was a display of flags from the Floating-light and the other 
vessels on the station, and also from the Beacon-house and the Building 

Tuesday, 22d. 
Floating-light breaks 

During last night it blew excessively hard, and the operations to-day 
were much interrupted by the breaking loose of the Floating-light. At 
5 o'clock this morning an alarm was given throughout the Beacon-house 
of this circumstance, when a signal was instantly made for the Tender to 
get under way ; at the same time one of her boats came to the Bock, and 
the writer left the Beacon, and sailed with the Tender to the assistance of 
the Floating-light. It was sometime before the watch on the deck had 
observed, by their greater distance from the buoy upon the spare moorings, 
that the vessel had actually got adrift. Mr John Reid, acting master, 
was immediately called, when the best bower anchor was let go with a suf- 
ficient scope of cable, about a mile from her original station. Here she 
was obliged to be left till the weather should become moderate enough to 
admit of her being towed to her former station. 

Wednesday, 23d. From the untoward circumstance of the Floating-light's breaking 

adrift, the landing-master and his crew were fully employed with the Ten- 
der in this service, so that no materials could be got landed on the Bell 
Rock, either yesterday or to-day. 

Thursday, 24th. The wind was still from the westward, but had now moderated consi- 

derably, when 28 stones of the Smeaton's cargo were landed on the Rock, 
and 14 blocks were laid, with which the Twenty-third course was comple- 

OPERATIONS OF 1809. 309 

To-day, the remainder of the Smeaton's cargo was lauded, and the ar- chap. v. 
tificers laid 45 stones, which completed the Twenty-fourth course, reckon- i809, August. 
ing above the first entire one, and the twenty-sixth above the Rock. BuUtog^perattons 
This finished the solid part of the building, and terminated the height of concluded for the sea- 
the outward casing of granite, which is 31 feet 6 inches above the Rock 
or site of the foundation-stone, and about 17 feet above high- water of 
spring-tides. Being a particular crisis in the progress of the Light-house, 
the landing and laying of the last stoue for the season was observed with 
the usual ceremonies. 

From observations often made by the writer, in so far as such can be Probable height of 

, . ■, ., .-i , • ,i . , , waves in free space. 

ascertained, it appears tnat no wave in the open seas, m an unbroken inducememsforstop. 
state, rises more than from 7 to 9 feet above the general surface of the , p n e ? a t* ns . bu,ld,ns 
ocean. The Bell Rock Light-house may therefore now be considered as 
from 8 to 10 feet above the weight of the waves ; and, although the 
sprays and heavy seas have often been observed, in the present state of the 
building, to rise to the height of 50 feet, and fall with a tremendous noise 
on the Beacon-house, yet such seas were not likely to make any impres- 
sion on a mass of solid masonry, containing about 1400 tons : its form being 
at the same time circular, and diminishing in diameter from the base to 
the top, as represented in the second year's work, Plate IX. It had for 
some time been a matter of doubt with the writer, whether he might not 
attempt to carry the building to the top of the stone stair-case, or 13 feet 
above the solid, the wall being here of the medium thickness of 6 feet. 
Several considerations, however, induced him to stop for the season with 
the completion of the solid, especially as it left the work in a more entire 
and defensible condition than if the door and part of the void had been 
built. One of the chief objections to continuing the operations, was 
the dread of encountering the gales experienced in former years early in 
the month of September. Another special obstacle was the difficulty and 
danger attending the guying or fixing of the present crane on the top of 
the building, which had now got to too great a height for its stability, as 
the guy-ropes which supported it were of the unmanageable length of about 
80 feet. Even in the month of July, as before noticed, this state of things 
had become so obvious, that it was then determined to make the crane 
upon a new construction, which was to be kept in equilibrium by means 
of a balance-weight, and thus do away with the guy-ropes altogether. 
This crane had accordingly been prepared, but, like most machines upon 
a new construction, it was not found to operate in so satisfactory a man- 




1 809, August. 

ner as to warrant its immediate removal to the Bell Rock. It was there- 
fore resolved rather to perfect the Balance-crane in the course of the win- 
ter months, and begin with a better prospect of success in the spring. 
The building operations were therefore brought to a conclusion ; and the 
writer now took his leave of the Bell Rock till the ensuing season, except- 
ing in so far as an occasional visit might occur. 

Tuesday, 29th. 

Wednesday, 30th. 
Tender to continue 
her station, and Bea- 
con to be occupied 
for a time. 

Congratulations on 
the Artificers re- 
turning ashore after 
several months' ab- 

The Floating-light had been made fast to the spare moorings to-day, 
but those which had given way were again fished up, when she was towed 
back to her former station for the winter. It appeared that one of the 
shackles had got loose when she went adrift. 

From the 25th till the 30th, the seamen and artificers were busily em- 
ployed, at the proper time of tide, in removing every thing from the Rock 
that was not farther wanted for the season, and in securing such things as 
were to be left. It was still necessary, however, to keep the Tender on 
the station, and also to occupy the Beacon-house, and to retain the floor of 
the open gallery for the smiths, as an additional strut or support was to 
be erected on the inside of each of the six principal beams of the Beacon. 
There were also 36 strong tie-bars of malleable-iron to be bolted to these 
beams, in a horizontal direction, as represented in Plate VIII., in lieu of 
the bracing-chains, which were not found to answer, for connecting the 
whole together. 

These operations being arranged with Mr Francis Watt, as fore- 
man, the whole of the artificers left the Rock at mid-day, when the 
Tender made sail for Arbroath, which she reached about 6 p. m. The 
vessel being decorated with colours, and having fired a salute of three 
guns on approaching the harbour, the work-yard artificers, with a multitude 
of people, assembled at the harbour, when mutual cheering and congra- 
tulations took place between those afloat and those on the quays. The 
Tender had now, with little exception, been six months on the station at 
the Bell Rock, and, dming the last four months, few of the squad of 
builders had been ashore. In particular, Mr Peter Logan, the foreman, 
and Mr Robert Selkirk, principal builder, had never once left the Rock. 
The artificers having made good wages during their stay, like seamen up- 
on a return-voyage, were extremely happy, and spent the evening with 
much innocent mirth and jollity. 

OPERATIONS OF 1809- 311 

In reflecting upon the state of matters at the Bell Rock, during the chap. v. 
working months, when the writer was much with the artificers, nothing 1809, September. 
can equal the happy manner in which these excellent workmen spent ve^properTonduct 
their time. They always went from Arbroath to their arduous task ofthe Artlficeis - 
cheering, and they generally returned in the same hearty state. While 
at the Rock, between the tides, they amused themselves in reading, fish- 
ing, music, playing cards, drafts, &c. or in sporting with one another. In 
the work-yard at Arbroath, the young men were almost, without excep- 
tion, employed in the evening at school, in writing and arithmetic, and not 
a few were learning architectural drawing, for which they had every conve- 
nience and facility, and were, in a very obliging manner, assisted in their 
studies by Mr David Logan, Clerk of Works. It therefore affords the 
most pleasing reflections, to look back upon the pursuits of about 60 in- 
dividuals, who, for years, conducted themselves, on all occasions, in a sober 
and rational manner. 

The operations at the Bell Rock for the remainder of the season being Tuesday, sth. 

/»iii n l t» ir»*i i-rtT Tender again returns 

confined to the lower parts or the .Beacon and Railways, were chiefly low- to her station at me 
water works. The Tender had again been fitted out for her station, with 
a supply of provisions and necessaries for ten seamen and nineteen artifi- 
cers, carrying with her supplies for the Floating-light and Beacon-house. 
At 11 a. M she left Arbroath on this service ; but the wind being S.E., 
it was not till Thursday the 7th, at 8 o'clock p. M; that she was made 
fast to her moorings. 

At 6 o'clock this morning, Mr Watt, with eighteen artificers, landed Frida y ; 8th. 

1 -11 Experiences very 

on the Rock, commenced the work, and remained on the Beacon till Thurs- bad weather. 
day, the 14th, when the vessel returned to Arbroath, having had extreme- 
ly boisterous weather, and been twice obliged during that period to slip 
and leave her moorings. The prevailing winds were S.E., and the ba- 
rometer oscillated between 29.5 and 29.60. 

Looking forward with confidence to the completion of the Bell Rock Monday, lrtii. 
Light-house in the course of the next year, the writer, with much expec- to Fiamborough-head 
tation, began to prepare every part of the establishment. He had early 
anticipated the necessity of fixing upon the description of light which 
would be necessary for characterising and distinguishing its range or com- 
partment of the coast. With this in view, he had already made a train 
of experiments with shades of different coloured glass at Inchkeith Light- 





1S09, September. 

house, the result of which tended to shew that light passing through Red- 
coloured shades, alternating with periodic intervals of Darkness, and light 
of the Natural appearance, were the most effectual and suitable means 
for answering this purpose. Notwithstanding that his opinion on this 
subject was quite decided, he was still desirous of seeing the effect pro- 
duced by the light of Flamborough-head, on the coast of Yorkshire, which 
was the first erection of this description on the British coast, and had, in- 
deed, been only lately exhibited. That his observations might therefore 
be the more certain and complete, he embarked in the sloop Smeaton, on 
the 16th of this month, reached the Yorkshire coast on the 18th, and 
in the course of that night had the light in view, at various distances, 
both in clear and foggy weather, which extended the range of his re- 

Experiences a sud- 
den gale of wind. 

In the course of this night, the wind blew fresh from the S.W., and an 
immense number of large vessels, chiefly in the Coal-trade, passed our small 
ship, which obliged the crew to keep a sharp look-out, to avoid the immi- 
nent danger of being run down, especially after the weather became thick. 
As our course lay close to Flamborough-head, we had several hairbreadth 
escapes ; for the vessel had no sooner put about to avoid the land, than 
she was in danger of being run foul of by the passing vessels. In this si- 
tuation things remained from about 1 o'clock on the morning of the 19th 
till 5, when, all of a sudden, the wind shifted, in the most surprising 
manner, from W.SW. to N.W., when the weather immediately clearing, 
was succeeded by a heavy gale, which forced our ship into Burlington-Bay, 
where she was safely anchored. 

Storm described. 
Great want of a Pu- 
blic Harbour on this 

As this was one of the most extraordinary tornadoes that the wri- 
ter ever witnessed, he will endeavour to give some account of it. On 
the morning of the 18 th, the day preceding the storm, when off Scar- 
borough, he had requested to be called early, that he might see the 
coast, and enjoy the sight of the rising sun. The weather was then ex- 
tremely fine, but the sun had a most piercingly brilliant appearance as it 
came into view upon the horizon ; and he was assured by Captain Pool, 
that the general aspect of the heavens indicated a change of weather for 
the worse. In the course of the 18th the sky became cloudy, and the 
wind shifted from point to point, but prevailed chiefly from the S.W. 
At midnight, the weather was foggy, and the wind blew so fresh that the 
second reef was taken into the Smeaton's mainsail, and her topmast was 



struck. During the whole of the night, a fleet of vessels passed to the 
northward with a fair wind : these were understood to be colliers, in ballast, ,809 > Se Pternber. 
on their return voyage from London to Sunderland and Newcastle. 
At 5 a. m., however, while the Smeaton was lying-to, and waiting for 
day light, the wind shifted so suddenly to N.W., that it appeared to 
those below as if she had been upset, or had run upon a rock. In an in- 
stant all was bustle and confusion, till the vessel was got before the wind. 
The writer being in bed, immediately sprung up, and, on inquiring into 
the matter, the answer was, " It blows mere fire." The man at the helm, 
at the same time, pointed out a vessel in a disabled state, having been dis- 
masted with the sudden change of the wind. Our small bark was fortu- 
nately in the opening of Burlington Bay, where she got to an anchor about 
6 o'clock a. m. In the course of the day, not fewer than 160 vessels took shel- 
ter in the same place, many of them in a mutilated and dismantled state, ha- 
ving, to use a sea phrase, had their sails "split in ribbons;" and two were towed 
into the Bay, one of which, a large brig, already alluded to, was totally 
dismasted. Such a scene, arising from what may be termed a " Summer's 
Gale," had rarely been seen on this coast. Three vessels were also driven 
ashore and wrecked in Robin Hood Bay, a few miles north of Flam- 
borough-head, and several others, as the writer afterwards learned, had 
been stranded on various parts of the coast, between Yarmouth Roads 
and the Shetland Islands. The want of some place of refuge for the ex- 
tensive shipping of this coast in disastrous circumstances like the present, 
is very apparent. Had there been a harbour at Bridlington of sufficient 
capacity for large ships, perhaps not fewer than 100 sail would have re- 
fitted there, which were obliged to go to sea in a very crippled condition. 
Probably a Northern Ramsgate could not be better set down than here or 
somewhere upon the Norfolk coast. 

The writer is the more particular in noticing the anomalous state of the Progress of the ga ie 
weather on this occasion, because the progress of this gale seems to have 
been comparatively slow. It appeared upon inquiry, from the date of various 
shipwrecks, to have visited Shetland on the evening of the 17th, Peterhead 
on the 18th, and Yarmouth at noon of that day. Now, as the distance be- 
tween Sumburgh-head in Shetland and Yarmouth is about 430 miles, and 
if we allow 42 hours, as nearly as could be ascertained, for the progress cf 
the wind between these points, it thus appears that the N.W. gale had not 
made its way against the S.W. wind, at a greater rate than about 10 miles 
per hour, though, from a train of experiments made in the neighbourhood 





1809, September, 

of Leith, by Mr Andrew Waddell, F. R. S. E., and obligingly communi- 
cated to the writer, he has often observed the velocity of the wind to be 
about 60 miles per hour. But here we cannot enough regret the want of 
an efficient Anemometer, or instrument for measuring the force of the wind. 
Indeed, we hardly know any desideratum of more universal interest, for, 
notwithstanding the labours of Lind and others on this subject, from the 
want of a proper scale, we are still groping in the dark with the use of such 
indefinite terms, as " Light airs, inclining to calm," — " Fresh breezes," — 
" Fresh gales," — " Hard gales," — and " Very hard gales ;" for it rarely hap- 
pens that the sailor will admit the term " Storm" into his nomenclature. 

Monday, 25th. 
Mr B. Mills suggests 
with colours. 

Voyage to the 
Northern Lights. 

Having landed at Bridlington on the 20th, the writer had the plea- 
sure of meeting with Mr Benjamin Mills, Collector of the Customs there, 
and agent for Flamborough-head Light-house. This gentleman accom- 
panied the writer to the Light-house, about six miles distant. He was also 
at pains to explain the mode in which he had originally proposed the erec- 
tion of a Distinguishing-light, from oil, with reflectors, for this station ; as 
a Coal-light, formerly here, had long since been actually extinguished, on 
account of its being often mistaken for other lights on the coast. Mr 
Mills, observing the consequent disasters to shipping on these shores, pro- 
posed to construct a Revolving-light, distinguishable by means of colours, the 
machinery to be kept in motion by the agency of a neighbouring rill of water. 
Though the apparatus described to the writer seemed, upon the whole, not 
very applicable in practice, yet it is believed that Mr Mills was the first 
who suggested the idea of a distinguishing light, by means of coloured shades 
of glass. Some useful remarks having been made on the effects of Flam- 
borough-head light, the writer sailed for the Frith of Forth, and reached 
Edinburgh on Monday the 25th. 

Soon afterwards, he embarked at Greenock in the Light-house Yacht, 
on his annual voyage for the inspection of the Northern Light-houses, pro- 
ceeding down the Clyde by the Mull of Kintyre, through the sounds of 
the Western Islands to Cape Wrath and the Orkneys, and from thence, 
along the eastern coast to the Frith of Forth, which he reached in the 
beginning of November ; when he found the Bell Rock works about to be 

State of the works 
when concluded for 
the season. 

The complement of artificers which had been employed at the Rock, 
and lodged in the Beacon-house, from the period of completing the build- 

OPERATIONS OF 1809- 315 

ing operations in the month of August, till November, was twenty-four, chap. v. 
who, as before noticed, were chiefly employed in fixing additional sup- 1809, November. 
ports to the Beacon, and in extending and completing the Railways lead- 
ing to the western creek. The works therefore, were only continued du- 
ring the period of spring-tides ; and in neap-tides the artificers returned 
to the work-yard. The plate-iron-forge, anvil, and other weighty articles, 
had been removed from the Beacon, and set up in a centrical position on 
the top of the building, where the smiths had been for some time at work : 
the rope-ladder of communication, which had been found so useful this sea- 
son, was taken down, and every thing arranged in the most compact and 
orderly manner for the winter. In the course of these latter operations, the 
Tender had been twice obliged to slip her moorings, and leave the artificers 
upon the Beacon. At one of these times, she proceeded for Leith Roads, 
when Mr Watt stated that very bad weather had been experienced on the 
Beacon, and that, on several occasions, considerable alarm was felt, more 
particularly when the Tender was driven off her station, the artificers con- 
ceiving themselves in a more forlorn and helpless situation while she was 
out of view. Having made the necessary arrangements for the Rock being 
visited during the winter months, the writer left the works on the 8th 

The Tender sailed to-day at 2 P. M., and next morning at 8, Mr Wednesday, 22a. 
Watt and five artificers were landed from two boats, and remained on the SdSishei C * !a " 
Rock till 11, when they had great difficulty in returning to the vessel, as 
the wind blew fresh from the N.E. The boats were no sooner hoisted on 
board, than, instead of sailing for Arbroath, the Tender was obliged to 
steer for Leith Roads, where she lay till the 29th : she then again made sail 
for Arbroath ; but, from the severity of the weather, was put past her port, 
and went into Montrose. When the artificers landed, at this time, they 
found that the prop of the lower building-crane had been demolished du- 
ring the late gales, and that the stones were scattered about the Rock in 
every direction, having done considerable damage to the contiguous Railways. 

The Tender sailed early in the morning of the 14th December for the December. 
Rock, having on board six artificers and twelve seamen, with a supply of Ar ™c«figa* v^t 
provisions for the Floating-light. The artificers landed in the evening, and the Rock - A Iarge 

* -in-i ^ buov has drifted. 

though the tide did not leave the Railways, every thing appeared to be in 
the same state as at their former visit. Two of the large stones which had 
formed the prop of the crane, had been thrown forcibly against the Beacon ; 




CHA P. V. 
1803, December. 

but it was impossible, under the present circumstances, to effect their re- 
moval. The large buoy placed upon the spare moorings of the Floating- 
light, had drifted between the night of the 9th and the morning of the 
10th December, the wind then blowing hard at S.SW. ; and the two 
spar-beacons, attached to small mushroom anchors, used as a direction to the 
western creek, had also been washed away during the same gale. But, on 
the whole, no material damage had been sustained either at the Rock or 
on board of the Floating-light. 

Saturday, 8th. 
Artificers visit the 
Rock. Floating-light 
has had bad weather. 

At 3 o'clock this morning, the Tender sailed for the Rock, and carried 
off a mushroom-anchor and chain, which were laid down as spare-moorings 
for the Floating-light, to be in readiness in case of her accidentally drifting, 
as the season would not admit of the old moorings being grappled for. 
On landing the artificers, they found every thing much in the same state as 
at their former visit, excepting two additional lengths of the Railways, ex- 
tending to about eight feet, which had been broken by the loose stones of 
the prop of the crane. The crew of the Floating-light had also expe- 
rienced some very bad weather, and on several occasions the ship is repre- 
sented as having laboured much. In particular, on the 15th, with the 
wind at S.E., when in the act of swinging round to the tide, she was 
boarded by a heavy sea which unshipped the boats ; and found its way be- 
low, in such quantity, that it extinguished the fires, and created consider- 
able alarm ; but the vessel, being strongly built, and well found in all her 
materials, sustained no damage. 

Having now gone through the journal of the Bell Rock operations for 
the year 1809, we shall proceed with a narrative of the works for the 
year 1810, in the course of which the Bell Rock Light-house was completed. 

f 317 ) 


1810, January. 



A HE shipping establishment connected with the Bell Rock service du- 
ring the winter of 1809 and 1810, consisted only of the Pharos Floating- 
light and Sir Joseph Banks Tender ; the other vessels being laid up in or- 
dinary. The latter vessel was appointed to carry artificers to the Rock at 
spring-tides, for the inspection of the works, and to repair any small damage 
that might occur at the Beacon-house and Railways. She also supplied 
the Floating-light with provisions and necessaries, and changed the crew 
in their respective turns of leave on shore. The landing-master, Captain 
Wilson, was the appointed commander of this vessel ; but as he and part 
of his crew were occupied constantly at the Rock during the building-sea- 
son, they were occasionally relieved from the unpleasant duty of the Pha- 
ros, by such of the officers and seamen belonging to the other ships in the 
Light-house service, as were kept in pay during the winter months. 

Five artificers from the work-yard at Arbroath were allotted for visit- Frid Sth 
ing the Bell Rock, with Mr Francis Watt, the foreman mill-wright. The Tender visits 

° . & the Floatmg-light 

They accordingly sailed on one of their trips on the 5th of January at 12 and Beii Rock. 
noon ; but the Tender did not reach the Floating-light till next morning 
at 1 o'clock. The weather being moderate, a supply of fuel, water, and ' 

provisions, was immediately sent on board, when Captain Taylor, with Mr 
William Reid his mate, and four seamen, shifted to the Tender, and Cap- 
tain Calder of the Light-house Yacht, with John Blackwood his mate, and 
four seamen, took their station in the Floating-light. The Tender then 
stood towards the Rock, when the artificers landed with the boats at 9, 



chap. vi. and remained till 12 noon, and in the afternoon, the vessel returned and 
i8io, January. got into the harbour of Arbroath ; Mr Watt reporting that every thing 
was in good order. 

Saturday 20th. i n the same manner, and with similar success, the Floating-light and 

Bell Rock were visited on the 20th of this month. 

February. The Tender was in a state of readiness for the spring-tides, on the 5th 

Artincerscannotiand of February, but the winds, though westerly, were so stormy, that she 
on the Rock. could not go to sea. The weather having moderated on the 11th, 

though then the period of neap-tides, she went off to change the crew 
of the Floating-light, and supply that ship with necessaries ; and after- 
wards stood towards the Rock ; but as it did not appear above water, a 
landing could not be effected, though, from the general aspect of things, 
the Beacon and Building were concluded to be in good order, and the ves- 
sel returned to Arbroath on the afternoon of Monday the 12th. 

Wednesday, 21st. 
Still prevented from 


Sunday, 11th. 

A landing is effected. 

Large stones drifted 

upon the Rock. 

The Tender sailed this morning at 5 o'clock, with a fine breeze at west, 
having on board the usual complement of artificers, a change of crew, and 
a supply of provisions for the Floating-light. At 9 she got off to the Rock, 
but the wind, by this time, blew so fresh, that it was found impracticable 
to land ; every thing, however, about the Building and Beacon appeared to 
be in good order. At 11, the Tender stood towards the Floating-light, 
and, after considerable difficulty, the provisions were got on board, and a 
transfer made of the crews ; when the Tender sailed for Arbroath, and got 
into the harbour at 4 p. M., having been only about eleven hours in 
making this trip. 

At 4 o'clock this morning, the Tender sailed for the Rock with the 
wind at N. by E., when the artificers made a landing at half-past 10, 
and remained till 1 a. m., having found every thing in good order, ex- 
cepting some parts of the Railways, which had received damage from 
the movement of a large drift-stone or traveller, estimated to contain 
upwards of one ton of rock, which was broken and removed, to prevent 
its doing more damage. The building, as high as the daily rise of the 
tide, was now covered with a strong growth of sea-weed. On the course, 
however, immediately above the Rock, the fuci had been prevented from 
taking root from the chips of stone which continually washed about the 
building. Some holes in the Rock, near the Beacon, which, in the year 

OPERATIONS OF 1810. 519 

1807, had been filled with ruble-building, a species of work rather unex- chap. vi. 

pectedly found to withstand the force of the sea, had in the late gales been isio, March. 

shaken loose, and laid open. — In the course of the gales of the 25th, 26th, 

and 27th of March, as is supposed, two large drift-stones or travellers had 

done considerable injury to the Railways. It also appeared, from certain 

marks upon the beams of the Beacon, at the height of about five feet above 

the Rock, that these stones, containing from seven to ten cubic feet each, 

or upwards of half a ton, had actually been lifted by the sea and driven with 

force against the Beacon. In the course of these gales, also, the large 

cask-buoy, used as the moorings of the Tender, had broken adrift. During 

these gales, the Floating-light rolled very heavily, and had shipped several 

great seas, but nothing of any consequence happened in the way of damage 

to the vessel or her appurtenances. 

As the finishing of the Light-house, in the course of next season, de- Beacon now rendered 

very secure. 

pended wholly upon the stability of the Beacon, every possible attention 
was paid to its safety; and it was most satisfactory to learn, by Mr Watt's 
report, that every thing about it continued in good order. On almost every 
visit during the two former winters, some of the bracing-chains were found 
in a broken state ; but since the months of September and October last, 
when they were removed, and replaced with thirty-six great bars of iron 
bolted to the principal beams, as shown in Plate VIII., every thing had 
remained in a state of connected firmness. 

The hewing or cutting of the several courses, forming the void of the Progress of the work 

at Arbroath. 

Light-house, was also in great forwardness in the work-yard at Arbroath ; 
and by the latter end of the month of April, the Forty-fourth course, 
forming part of the store-room, shewn in the section of Plate XVI., was 
laid on the platform, and ready for shipping to the Rock. The burning and 
pounding of the Aberthaw lime, and the preparation of other materials, 
were also going on. 

The season, though now advanced to the month of April, was still April. 

boisterous. The day, however, was getting long, and the influence of praarSn^nS 
the sun began to be felt in checking the frosts, which often stopped both 
the quarrying operations and the stone-cutters. The lengthening of the 
day, as well as moderate weather, was a great regulating circumstance in 
the Bell Rock works ; for, during the winter months, only one low-water 
tide occurred with day-light ; and, indeed, in the depth of winter, there 


chap, vi. ma y foe said to be no very favourable opportunity of landing on the Rock 7 
i8io, April. as low-water at new and full moon happens here about 8 o'clock, which ren- 
ders the chance of landing extremely uncertain and precarious. 

Retrospective view Previously to entering upon the operations of the season 1810, it mav 

of the works. Mylne- .... , .- «i . , 

field Quarry. be proper, in this place, to take a retrospective view of the various depart- 

ments of the work. The granite courses of the Bell Rock Light-house having 
been completed, for a considerable time, it was only the sandstone quarries 
that were to be attended to. As formerly noticed, the stone of Mylnefield, 
like that of most quarries which lie in strata or alternate beds, is liable 
to' split and become useless, from the effects of frost, owing to the natural 
sap or moisture which they contain. Water, being unlike other bodies 
which follow the general law of contracting in volume with a reduction of 
temperature, is found, on the contrary, to encrease in bulk at the moment 
of congelation, producing the most surprising effects in rending rocks, even 
with an explosive force. In sandstone quarries, therefore, the work is 
usually suspended dining the months of December, January, February and 
March, when the frost happens to be intense, as was the case in the win- 
ter of 1809 — 1810, when the thermometer occasionally fell so low as the 
17th degree of Fahrenheit. Notwithstanding every precaution in the 
work-yard at Arbroath, by covering the quarried materials with straw and 
brushwood, many excellent and valuable stones were lost by the intenseness 
of the frost. Such, however, was the desire of getting early forward with 
the work, in order to insure the completion of the building operations in 
the favourable part of the season, that the writer took the earliest measures 
for getting an additional supply of stones from Mylnefield; and, by the begin- 
ning of the month of April, the Smeaton and Patriot, together with the 
hired sloop Alexander, were loaded and sent to Arbroath. 

craigieith Quarry. From this description of the nature of the stone of Mylnefield, it be- 

came necessary, for the furtherance of the upper parts of the Light-house 
during the winter months, that they should be prepared of stone which 
would admit of being worked without much risk of injury during frosty wea- 
ther. For the cornice of the building, and the parapet of the light-room, 
the writer, therefore, made choice of the Liver-rock of the Craigleith Quar- 
ry, well known for its durability and beauty, and for its property of not be- 
ing liable to be affected by frost. By this means also, the iron-work or 
frame of the Light-room might be fitted to the masonry on the spot where 
it was to be prepared, which would thereby lessen the actual work upon the 

OPERATIONS OF 1810. 321 

Rock. Another advantage attending this arrangement, was the opportunity 
it afforded of making practical trial of the Balance-crane, with which the i8io, April. 
masonry of the ensuing season was to be built, as it had been found neces- 
sary to make several alterations on its construction. 

The use of a piece of vacant ground was accordingly got at Greenside, state of the works 
contiguous to the author's house, in Edinburgh, where a number of masons 
were employed, at the sight of Mr Peter Logan, foreman builder. A very 
considerable difficulty was, however, experienced in procuring so many prin- 
cipal stones of the liver-rock, of the description and dimensions necessary 
for the cornice and balcony ; the stones of which also formed the Light-room 
floor in one length, as will be understood by examining Plates XIII. and 
XVI. But, as these works commenced at Edinburgh in the latter end of 
October 1809, they were completed early in the month of March 1810, 
and the whole of this critical and difficult part of the building was then 
ready for shipping to the Bell Rock. The several compartments of the 
Light-room were now also in progress. The sheets of silver-plated copper 
for the reflectors having been ordered from Messrs Boulton and Watt, — 
the glass from the British Plate-Glass Company, — the cast-iron sash- 
frames from Mr John Patterson of the Edinburgh Foundery, — while the 
construction of the reflectors and reflecting-apparatus, together with the 
framing of the whole Light-room and its appurtenances, were executed under 
the immediate directions of Mr Thomas Smith, the writer's predecessor, 
who had now retired from the more active duties of engineer to the Light- 
house Board. 

Having, in the course of the two last seasons, landed and built upwards Practical conclusions 
of 1400 tons of stone upon the Bell Rock, while the work was low in the compieUnVthe 11 ° f 
water, and before the Beacon was habitable, and finding that it did not now Y°J ks ' a 1 d mode of 

distinguishing the 

require more than about 700 tons to complete the masonry, the writer con- Li e ht - 
eluded, that, barring accidents of a very untoward nature, there was every 
prospect of the Light-house being finished in the course of the ensuing sea- 
son. A question, of much importance, however, still remained in some mea- 
sure undetermined, regarding the characteristic description of the light most 
suitable for the Bell Rock, so as to render it easily distinguishable from 
all others upon the coast. There being Stationary-lights already in the 
Frith of Forth ; this mode could not be adopted for the Bell Rock. Re- 
volving-lights had also lately been erected upon the Fearn Islands, the 
most contiguous Light-house-station to the southward, as will be seen from 




1810, March. 

the General Chart of the coast in Plate III. Considering, therefore, the 
liability of the mariner to mistake the appearance of lights in stormy 
weather, or from an error in his course in returning from a distant voyage, 
it was of the last importance that the Bell Rock Light-house should be 
easily distinguishable. The most suitable means for accomplishing this 
seemed to be by the exhibition of different colours from the same Light- 
room. The only colour which had yet been found to answer, was pro- 
duced by interposing shades of red glass before the reflectors. But 
this was the colour used for distinguishing the Light of Flamborough- 
head, on the Yorkshire coast, and, though about 169 miles to the southward, 
it would still have been desirable to have avoided the same colour. A 
train of experiments was therefore made from Inchkeith Light-house, with 
plates of glass, coloured red, green, orange, yellow, blue, and purple, 
procured from Birmingham and London. These were fitted to the reflec- 
tors at Inchkeith, within view of the writer's windows in Edinburgh. The 
Tender was likewise appointed to cruise, that more distant observations 
might be made, for ascertaining the effect of these coloured shades. But af- 
ter the most full and satisfactory trials, the red colour was found to be 
the only one applicable to this purpose. In tolerably clear weather, the 
light of one reflector tinged red, alternating with a light of the natural ap- 
pearance, with intervals of darkness, was easily distinguishable at the dis- 
tance of eight or nine miles ; while the other colours rendered the light 
opaque, being hardly distinguishable to the naked eye at more than two or 
three miles. After various trials and observations made in this manner, 
both on land and at sea, the writer at length resolved on recommending the 
use of red, as the only colour suitable for this purpose ; and, in order to vary 
the light as much as possible from that of Flamborough-head, a square 
Reflector-frame was adopted at the Bell Rock, with two of its faces or sides 
having red coloured shades, and the other two exhibiting lights of the na- 
tural appearance. At Flamborough-head, the Reflector-frame is trian- 
gular, and on one side it is furnished with red coloured shades, while the 
other two sides exhibit lights of the natural appearance. The design at the 
Bell Rock, on the contrary, was to exhibit a light tinged red, alternating 
with one of the natural appearance ; and, upon this principle, the apparatus 
was put in a state of preparation. 

State of the Works- 
at Arbroath. 

In the work-yard at Arbroath things were going forward very prosper- 
ously, at the sight of Mr David Logan, clerk of works. The hewing or 
preparation of the stones for the Light-house was now advanced to within 

OPERATIONS OF 1810. 3<?3 

about eight courses of the cornice, which, with the parapet, as already ob- chat, vi. 
served, was all set up at Edinburgh, and ready for being shipped when isio, March. 
wanted at the Rock. A kiln of the Aberthaw limestone having already 
been calcined, was partly reduced to the state of powder, and put up into 
casks, as fonnerly. The operation of pounding the lime was very te- 
dious and unpleasant, being performed by labourers upon a stone-bench in 
the lime-house, where it was reduced chiefly by means of friction, between 
the bench and stones, managed by hand. Due proportions of pozzolano- 
earth and clean sharp sand were made up in casks, and the oaken trenails and 
wedges in bundles ; but the supply wanted of these materials was, in future, 
to be comparatively trifling. The building being now considerably above 
the rise of the tide, the use of mortar was less, while the system of trenail- 
ing and wedging was to be discontinued, after the building had reached the 
top of the stone staircase, or to the height of 13 feet above the solid. The 
several implements connected with the building operations being also laid 
to hand, nothing was now required but good weather and favourable tides, 
to proceed with the works at the Rock. 

Among the preparations at Arbroath for the furtherance of the work at Gangway or Bridge 
the Bell Rock, was the construction of a gangway or bridge of timber between for the Rock ' 
the Beacon and the Building, instead of the Rope-ladder employed with so 
much effect last season, as will be understood by examining the second and 
third years' work, represented in Plate IX. This more stable and commo- 
dious way of communicating with the works, was also to be useful as a stage 
for raising the building materials, instead of the lower crane, the stool or 
prop of which had become too low, and, as before noticed, had been wash- 
ed away by the sea in the course of last month. This bridge consisted of 
two principal beams of Memel timber, measuring 44 feet in length, 6 inches 
in thickness, and 13 inches in depth. At one end these beams were to 
abut against the principal beams of the Beacon, and to be strongly bolted 
to them ; at the opposite end, one was to be rested on the sole or instep 
of the door, while the other was to be let 6 inches into a hole cut into 
the upper granite course of the Light-house. They were placed 7 feet 
apart, and formed a roadway of 6 feet in breadth between the rails, which 
was strongly bound in a lateral direction with cross framing mortised into 
the principal beams, and otherwise fixed with screw-bolts. The bridge was 
further to be supported by four diagonal spur-beams, which met in pairs ■ 
on each side, at the middle of the roadway, and there formed king-posts, 
to steady and support it. A crab or winch-machine was to be placed upon 



1810, April. 

Wednesday, 18th, 
Operations com- 
mence for the season. 
Wooden Bridge is 

Monday, 23d. 
Charles Gray gets 
one of his fingers 
severely bruised. 


it, for raising the stones at once from the rock to the level of the top of 
the solid part of the huilding. 

After making the experiments relative to the distinguishing of the 
light, the Tender sailed from Leith Roads on the morning of Tuesday, 
the 3d of April, and got into Arbroath on the 6th, where she lay. 
Being fitted out for the Rock, with a sufficient stock of water and 
provisions, and having also on board the beams and apparatus for the 
wooden bridge, she sailed at 1 o'clock this morning, with eleven masons, 
three joiners, and two blacksmiths, together with Mr Francis Watt, fore- 
man, in all seventeen artificers, who were to be employed during the en- 
suing spring-tides, in erecting the bridge between the Beacon and Build- 
ing. At 3 P. M. she was made fast to the new moorings, which had 
been laid down for her in lieu of those which had drifted on the 36th of 
March ; but the weather was then so boisterous, that no landing could be 
made on the Rock till the following morning, at 6 o'clock, when they com- 
menced the operations of the season by laying the deals of the mortar-gallery, 
or lowest floor of the Beacon. Although the weather continued to be extreme- 
ly boisterous till the 23d, the Tender's marine barometer oscillating between 
29.05 and 29.60, yet the wind being westerly, the artificers were enabled 
to pursue their operations by landing daily ; for, upon this occasion, the Bea- 
con was not taken possession of, and they returned at night to the Tender. 
On the 24th the weather became very fine ; the barometer remaining for se- 
veral days at about 30.10. The work now proceeded with so much alacrity 
and dispatch, that by the 28th the fixing of the bridge was completed, and 
the Tender returned with all hands to Arbroath. 

While the Tender waited the operations of the artificers at the Rock, 
the Smeaton made two trips to it, and laid down six sets of moorings 
with their floating-buoys, so that every thing was now in a state of readiness 
for the commencement of the works. When unloading these moorings, 
Charles Gray, a seaman, unfortunately got one of his fingers so bruised be- 
tween the hatchway of the ship and a mushroom-anchor, that it was found 
necessary to amputate part of it. 

M The Smeaton having come to Leith for the Balance-crane, the writer 

Tuesday, 1st. ^[\ e A this afternoon with her for the Bell Rock, to commence the build- 

The Writer proceeds » aIitu «"•"> «* — 

for the Rock, to be- . otie rations for the season. The weather, for the last eight days, 

gin building for the " & 1 J 

OPERATIONS OF 1810. 325 

had been extremely stormy, and, though still unfavourable, yet, being 
moderate, hopes were entertained that she would soon make her way down isio, May. 
the Frith of Forth. After beating to windward for a day and a night, 
however, she was obliged to bear away for Burntisland Roads, where 
he left the vessel, to pursue his journey by land to Arbroath, accom- 
panied by Mr James Dove, foreman-smith, to whom particularly the change 
in the mode of travelling was a great relief, as, notwithstanding his having 
had considerable practice at sea, he was still a great martyr to sickness, 
and even felt a dislike for every thing connected with a ship, which was 
strongly marked by the following trifling occurrence. On leaving the 
Smeaton, Captain Pool, presenting the bread-basket to Mr Dove, obser- 
ved, that, although he could not eat on board, he might perhaps be 
thankful of a biscuit when he got on shore ; on which Mr Dove grave- 
ly replied, that "it would be long to the day before he would be thank- 
ful for a sea-biscuit." The object of bis journey at this time was to fit 
up the Balance-crane on the top of the building, and to superintend its 
operation for a time on the Rock. This useful implement had been 
constructed in the course of last season, but was not then found to be in 
a sufficiently serviceable state. It was accordingly new-modelled, and, 
though an opportunity had been afforded of making trial of it at Edin- 
burgh, in raising the weighty stones of the cornice and balcony of the 
Light-house, yet the writer wished Mr Dove also to fit it at the Bell 
Rock. They reached Arbroath on the evening of the 3d. 

The Smeaton arrived at Arbroath to-day with the Balance-crane, which _ Saturday, sth. 

i. iii-imi i „ "^ e Tender is readv 

was immediately put on board, ot the lender, now ready to proceed for for sea. 
the Rock with the first good weather. The Smeaton then took on board 
the stone ballast, and platform, laid in her hold for the greater conveniency 
of stowing and discharging the prepared stones of the buildiug. The wind 
had now changed to the S.W., and hopes were entertained of a return of 
good weather. But this being the period of neap-tides, and considering 
that it might be three or four months before some of the artificers again re- 
turned to the shore, as the Beacon was now habitable, it was intimated to 
them on Saturday, that the Tender would not sail till Monday. They 
accordingly attended church to-day, with their wonted decency of deport- 

The artificers having been warned to take their quarters on board of the Monday, 7th. 
Tender last night, the writer sailed this morning from Arbroath at half- 


chap, vi. p as t 2 } accompanied by Mr Peter Logan, foreman builder, Mr Francis 
writer raflswfth the Watt, f° reman mill-wright, and Mr James Dove, foreman smith, together 
Artificers for the with sixteen artificers, and the regular crew of the vessel, in all counting 
thirty-two persons ; but the Tender having the Hedderwick praam-boat 
in tow, went slowly off. At 12 noon the Floating-light was hailed, when 
Captain Wilson, the landing-master, came on board, to take his station 
for the season, and at 1 p. m. the Tender was made fast to her moorings at 
the Bell Rock. The praam-boat was immediately hauled alongside, and 
the apparatus of the Balance-crane laid upon her deck, when she was 
towed to her moorings, there being too much sea at this time, for attempt- 
ing to land upon the Rock. As the barometer stood at 30.04, hopes were 
entertained that the weather would soon improve. 

Tuesday, 8th, The wind was at east to-day, and the sea still broke so heavily upon 

cawe. the Rock, that no landing could be made. At high-water, the spray was 

observed to fly considerably above the building, perhaps not less than 20 

feet, in all about 50 feet above the Rock, while the seas were raging and 

breaking among the beams of the Beacon with much violence. 

Wednesday, 9th, The same boisterous state of the weather still continued, and the sea- swell 

easily. " was nothing abated to-day, so that no landing could yet be made upon the 

Rock. The landing-master, however, went in a boat, and examined the 
Praam-boat at her moorings, where every thing was found in good or- 
der. It is here worthy of remark, that while the Tender and Floating- 
light rolled much, and occasionally shipped pretty heavy seas, the praam, 
with a cargo of about three tons on board, was perfectly dry upon deck, 
and to use the seamen's expression, " rode as easily as an old shoe." 

Thursday, loth. The wind had shifted to-day to W.NW., when the writer, with con- 

state of the Bunding. si a e rable difficulty, was enabled to land upon the Rock, for the first time 
this season, at 10 a. m. Upon examining the state of the Building, and 
Apparatus in general, he had the satisfaction to find every thing in good 
order. The mortar in all the joints was perfectly entire. The building, 
now 30 feet in height, was thickly coated v/iihfuci to the height of about 
15 feet, calculating from the Rock : on the eastern side, indeed, the growth 
of sea-weed was observable to the full height of 30 feet, and even on the top 
or upper bed of the last laid course, especially towards the eastern side, 
it had germinated, so as to render walking upon it somewhat difficult. 
The smith's forge, which had been removed from the mortar-gallery to 

OPERATIONS OF 1810. 327 

the top of the Building, in the month of Septemher last, to give more chap. vs. 
accommodation to the works of the joiners, was left there for the season, 1810i May . 
— the bellows excepted, which were kept under cover in the Beacon 
throughout the winter ; and, it is not a little remarkable, that, although the 
sea had risen to a considerable height, and fallen in great quantities upon 
the top of the building ; yet such was the centrical position of the forge, 
that it remained quite entire : even the spar of timber, and the small 
cords which had been stretched for steadying it, and forming an awning of 
about 8 feet in diameter, for sheltering the smith, were also still in then- 
places. This was a proof that no very heavy seas had broken so high as 
the top of the solid, otherwise the forge and the apparatus for supporting 
the awning, must have long since been swept away by the breach of the 

The Beacon-house was in a perfectly sound state, and apparently just state of the Beacon. 
as it had been left in the month of November. But the tides being 
neap, the lower parts, particularly where the beams rested on the Rock, 
could not now be seen. The great iron-bars, however, which measure 3 
inches square, and from 7 to 9 feet in length, stretching between the 
principal beams, in place of the bracing chains, which were found con- 
stantly liable to break and unscrew, were in view, and in good order. 
The whole frame of this fabric was now in a firm and secure state. 
The floor of the mortar-gallery having been already laid down by Mr 
Watt and his men on a former visit, was merely soaked with the sprays ; 
but the joisting-beams which supported it had, in the course of the 
winter, been covered with a fine downy conferva, produced by the 
range of the sea. They were also a good deal whitened with the mute 
of the cormorant and other sea-fowls, which had roosted upon the Beacon 
in winter. Upon ascending to the apartments, it was found that the 
motion of the sea had thrown open the door of the cook-house : this 
was only shut with a simple latch, that, in case of shipwreck at the 
Bell Rock, the mariner might find ready access to the shelter of this 
forlorn habitation, where a supply of provisions was kept ; and being with- 
in two miles and a half of the Floating-light, a signal could readily be 
observed, when a boat might be sent to his relief as soon as the weather 
permitted. An arrangement for this purpose formed one of the Instruc- 
tions on board of the Floating-light, but happily no instance occurred for 
putting it in practice. The hearth or fire-place of the cook-house was 
built of brick, in as secure a manner as possible, to prevent accident from 




1810, May. 

fire ; but some of the plaster work had shaken loose, from its damp 
state, and the tremulous motion of the Beacon in stormy weather. The 
writer next ascended to the floor which was occupied by the cabins of him- 
self, and his assistants, which were in tolerably good order, having only 
a damp and musty smell. The barrack for the artificers oyer all, was next 
visited : it had now a very dreary and deserted appearance, when its former 
thronged state was recollected. In some parts, the water had come 
through the boarding, and had discoloured the lining of green cloth, but 
it was, nevertheless, in a good habitable condition. While the seamen were 
employed in landing a stock of provisions, a few of the artificers set to work, 
with great eagerness, to sweep and clean the several apartments. The 
exterior of the Beacon was, in the mean time, examined, and found in 
perfect order. The painting, though it had a somewhat blanched appear- 
ance, adhered firmly both on the sides and roof, and only two or three panes 
of glass were broken in the cupola, which had either been blown out by 
the force of the wind, or perhaps broken by sea-fowl. 

Thursday, 10th, 
State of the Timber 

Having, on this occasion, continued upon the building and beacon a 
considerable time, after the tide had begun to flow, the artificers were occu- 
pied in removing the forge from the top of the building, to which the gang- 
way or wooden bridge gave great facility ; and, although it stretched or had 
a span of 42 feet, its construction was extremely simple, while the road- 
way was perfectly firm and steady. In returning from this visit to the 
Rock, every one was pretty well soused in spray, before reaching the Ten- 
der at 2 o'clock p. M., where things awaited the landing party in as comfort- 
able a way as such a situation would admit. 

Friday, 11th, 
Balance- crane land- 
ed. Position of the 

The wind was still easterly, accompanied with rather a heavy swell 
of sea, for the operations in hand. A landing was, however, made 
this morning, when the artificers were immediately employed in scraping 
the sea-weed off the upper course of the building, in order to apply the 
moulds of the first course of the staircase, that the joggle-holes might be 
marked off in the upper course of the solid, which, as formerly, had not 
been done to the finishing course of the season. This was also necessary 
previously to the writer's fixing the position of the entrance-door, which 
was regulated chiefly by the appearance of the growth of the sea-weed 
on the building, indicating the direction of the heaviest seas, on the op- 
posite side of which the door was placed. The landing-master's crew 

OPERATIONS OF 1810. 329 

succeeded in towing into the creek on the western side of the Rock, the chap, vi. 
praam-boat, with the balance-crane, which had now been on board of the 1810 > Ma >- 
praam for five days. The several pieces of this machine having been conveyed 
along the Railways upon the waggons, to a position immediately under 
the bridge, were elevated to its level, or thirty feet above the Rock, in the 
following manner. A chain-tackle was suspended over a pulley from the 
cross-beam, connecting the tops of the king-posts of the bridge, which 
which was worked by a winch-machine, with wheel, pinion and barrel, round 
which last the chain was wound. This apparatus was placed on the Bea- 
con-side of the bridge, at the distance of about twelve feet from the cross 
beam and pulley in the middle of the bridge. Immediately under the cross- 
beam a hatch was formed in the roadway of the bridge, measuring 7 feet in 
length and 5 feet in breadth, made to shut with folding boards like a 
double-door, through which stones and other articles were raised ; the fold- 
ing-doors were then let down, and the stone or load was gently lowered 
upon a waggon which was wheeled on railway tracks towards the Light- 
bouse. In this manner, the several castings of the balance-crane were got 
up to the top of the solid of the building. , 

The several apartments of the Beacon-house having been cleaned out Artificers take pos - 
and supplied with bedding, a sufficient stock of provisions was put into the 
store, when Peter Fortune, formerly noticed, lighted his fire in the Beacon, 
for the first time this season. Sixteen artificers, at the same time, mounted 
to their barrack-room, and the foremen of the works also took possession of 
their cabin, all heartily rejoiced at getting rid of the trouble of boating, and 
the sickly motion of the Tender. The boats had landed on the Rock 
this morning at 9, and the writer left it again with the landing-master 
and his crew at 3 p. m., and went on board of the Tender for the night, 
after having seen some progress made in setting up the balance-crane. 

The Smeaton having been loaded at Arbroath with the first cargo of Smeaton arrives with 
stones, consisting of thirty-eight blocks of the Twenty-seventh course, got 
to her moorings at the Bell Rock this morning, and was made fast, 
though not without considerable difficulty. But, nothing could be done 
towards delivering her until the balance-crane was got into a working state. 

The wind was at E.NE., blowing so fresh, and accompanied with so Saturday, 12th. 
much sea, that no stones could be landed to-day. The people on the with the°Rock! ' 
Rock, however, were busily employed in screwing together the balance- 




1810, May. 

Sunday, 13th. 
Balance-crane ready 
for use. 

Theory of the land 
and sea hreeze ex- 


crane, cutting out the joggle-holes in the upper course, and preparing all 
things for commencing the building operations. 

The weather still continues boisterous, although the barometer has all 
the while stood at about 30 inches. Towards evening, the wind blew so 
fresh at E. by S., that the boats both of the Smeaton and Tender were 
obliged to be hoisted in, and it was feared that the Smeaton would have 
to slip her moorings. The people on the Rock were seen busily em- 
ployed, and had the balance-crane apparently ready for use, but no com- 
munication could be had with them to-day. 

The wind had now prevailed long from the eastward, and it was re- 
marked on board of the Tender, that, in moderate weather, it gene- 
rally inclined from the northward in the mornings, and from the east- 
ward and southward, as the sun advanced to the meridian; in this re- 
spect, resembling the land and sea breezes, familiar to those acquainted 
with tropical climates. This phenomenon is accounted for, by consider- 
ing the state of the inland country, where the Grampian-hills lie about 20 
miles northward from the coast, thickly covered with snow. The winds, 
therefore, in the early part of the day, generally came from these colder 
regions, towards the milder and somewhat more rare atmosphere of the sea. 
But in the after part of the day, the heat of the sun, acting more power- 
fully upon the arable lands and objects in the fore-ground of this mountain- 
ous range, rarified the air more highly upon the shores than on the sea, 
which produced a tendency in the winds to blow towards the land. Ex- 
tending this view of the subject to the great tracts of snow-covered moun- 
tains, in the north-eastern districts of Europe, it is natural to suppose 
that the current of the winds will be from these colder regions towards the 
expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. Hence the prevailing winds in the spring 
of the year are from the eastward, in their passage across Great Britain 
to the Atlantic. 

Monday, 14th. 
Smeaton slips her 

The wind continued to blow so fresh, and the Smeaton rode so heavily 
with her cargo, that at noon a signal was made for her getting under way, 
when she stood towards Arbroath; and, on board of the Tender, we are 
still without any communication with the people on the Rock ; where the 
sea was seen breaking over the top of the building in great sprays, and 
ranging with much agitation among the beams of the Beacon. 

OPERATIONS OF 1810. 33 1 

The Smeaton did not go into Arbroath last night, as the appearance of chap. vi. 
a northerly or land breeze induced the active spirit of Captain Pool to 1810, May! 
stand off again for the Bell Rock ; but he had no sooner reached his moor- nl csdav . 1 ' 3 . t !. 1 " „ , 

o Keturns to the Rock. 

ings at 5 o'clock this morning, than the wind again shifted to the S.E., 
and he could not get hold of the ring of the Floating-buoy of his moorings, 
and was, therefore, obliged to return again towards Arbroath. There was 
still no communication between the Tender and the Rock, as the sea con- 
tinued to run very heavily upon it. 

The wind had shifted to the N.E. this morning, and hopes were enter- Wednesday, 16th. 
tained that it might take a more northerly direction, but it continued with- RoadsT" t0 Lmh 
out change, and for two or three days past the Barometer had been fall- 
ing, and was now at 29. 50. It was, therefore, still impossible to land upon 
the Rock. The appearance of the weather brought the Smeaton out of 
the harbour, Captain Pool having become very impatient to get his first 
cargo landed ; but, on his arrival, instead of being able to make fast to his 
moorings, the writer found it necessary to direct him to proceed for Leith 
Roads, as the proper place for the vessel in the present state of the 

The Smeaton had no sooner reached the Frith last night, and an- Thursday, nth. 
chored in Leith Roads, than the wind came round to the north, and Pool, qu1£ y VorThe°iast C 
without delay, once more weighed anchor and sailed for the Bell Rock 2"^°, of st ? nes ' 

' People at the Rock 

which he reached this morning. The Patriot, at the same time, came off ex P eri ™ce boisterous 
from Arbroath with water, fuel, and provisions for the supply of the Floatino-- 
light, the Tender, and Beacon-house, and after discharging these, she pro- 
ceeded for Mylnefield Quarry, for the last cargo of stones wanted for the Bell 
Rock Light-house. On this trip the writer had great pleasure in dis- 
patching her, as this state of things greatly narrowed the operations. The 
wind, in the course of the day, had shifted from north to west ; the sea 
being also considerably less, a boat landed on the Rock at 6 p. m., for the 
first time since the 11th, with the provisions and water brought off by the 
Patriot. The inhabitants of the Beacon were all well, but tired above mea- 
suer for want of employment, as the balance-crane and apparatus was all in 
readiness. Under these circumstances, they felt no less desirous of the return of 
good weather than those afloat, who were continually tossed with the agitation 
of the sea. The writer, in particular, felt himself almost as much fatigued 
and worn out as he had been at any period since the commencement of the 



chap. vi. work. The very backward state of the weather at so advanced a period of 
i8io, May. the season, unavoidably created some alarm, lest he should be overtaken 

with bad weather, at a late period of the season, with the building opera- 
tions in an unfinished state. These apprehensions were, no doubt, rather 
increased by the inconveniences of his situation afloat, as the Tender rolled 
and pitched excessively at times. This being also his first off-set for the sea- 
son, every bone of his body felt sore, with preserving a sitting posture, while 
he endeavoured to pass away the time in reading ; as for writing it was 
wholly impracticable. He had several times entertained thoughts of leav- 
ing the station for a few days, and going into Arbroath with the Tender 
till the weather should improve ; but, as the artificers had been landed 
on the Rock, he was averse to this at the commencement of the season, 
knowing also that he would be equally uneasy in every situation, till the 
first cargo was landed ; and he, therefore, resolved to continue at his post 
until this should be effected. 

State of lower parts 
of the Beacon. Ef- 
fects of marine ver- 

Friday, 18th. 
23 blocks of stone 
landed and raised 
with the new tackle. 

At low-water to-day, an opportunity was afforded of examining the 
lower parts of the Beacon-house. The kneed Bats, or great iron stanchions, 
employed for fixing the principal beams to the Rock, which will be seen 
by examining Plate VIII., were found in good order, without the least 
appearance of movement or decay. The same observation is also applicable 
to the exterior of the principal beams of the Beacon, wherever the charring 
of the timber and successive coats of boiling pitch had been applied ; but 
at the foot or sole of the respective beams, where they rested upon a site 
cut for them upon the rock, where the pitch could not be applied, the onis- 
cus or vermis so destructive to timber exposed to the wash of the sea, had 
made a considerable impression, and the beams were found to be hollowed 
out. In several instances, they even stood clear of the Rock, depending 
only upon the stanchions and bolts for their support. The circumstance 
of these vermes attacking the sole of the beams, had not been anticipated, 
otherwise preventive means might have been adopted, by sheathing them 
with copper, especially where they rested on the Rock. 

The company of artificers, lodged on the Beacon, having been increased 
from sixteen to twenty-two, their time hang very heavily on their hands, till 
the stones were landed on the Rock. The wind being now N.W., the sea 
was considerably run down, and this morning at 5 o'clock, the landing-mas- 
ter's crew, thirteen in number, left the Tender ; and having now no deten- 



tion with the landing of artificers, they proceeded to unmoor the Hedder- 
wick Praam-boat, and towed her alongside of the Smeaton ; and in the 
course of the day, twenty-three blocks of stone, three casks of pozzolano, 
three of sand, three of lime, and one of Roman cement, together with 
three bundles of trenails, and three of wedges, were all landed on the 
Rock and raised to the top of the building, by means of the tackle sus- 
pended from the cross-beam on the middle of the bridge. The stones were 
then moved along the bridge on the waggon to the building, within reach 
of the balance-crane, with which they were laid in their respective places 
on the building. The masons immediately thereafter proceeded to bore the 
trenail holes into the course below, and otherwise to complete the one in 
hand. When the first stone was to be suspended by the balance-crane, the 
bell on the Beacon was rung, and all the artificers and seamen were col- 
lected on the building. Three hearty cheers were given while it was 
lowered into its place, and the steward served round a glass of rum, when 
success was drank to the further progress of the building. 


1810, May. 

Having thus had the satisfaction of finding that the bridge and its appa- 
ratus answered every purpose for raising the materials ; that the balance- 
crane was no less suitable for building the stones, which, from their dove- 
tailed form, as before noticed, required that they should be slipped or laid 
perpendicularly into their sites ; and the artificers being now comfortably 
lodged in the Beacon-house, there hardly remained a doubt that the Bell 
Rock Light-house would be completed in the course of the current year. It 
often happens, however, that accidents occur on the first trial of machinery ; 
and, accordingly, in shifting the wheel and pinion work of the winch- 
machine upon the bridge, from the single to the double-purchase, in or- 
der to raise a pretty heavy stone, the bolt of the bush gave way, just as the 
stone had attained its full height, and was about to be lowered on the 
bridge- waggon, to be moved within the sphere of the balance-crane. The 
fall of the stone, though only from a height of 8 or 9 inches, commu- 
nicated a sudden shock throughout the Beacon-house, and produced an 
alarm among the workmen for the moment. Had this accident occurred 
before the waggon was wheeled under the stone, in all probability it would 
have killed some of those who were at work below upon the Rock ; besides 
breaking the stone and the railway, which must have stopped the work for 
a considerable time, until another stone could have been prepared and sent 
from the work-yard at Arbroath. 

One of the stones in 
danger from the 
breaking of a bolt. 




1810, May. 

Saturday, 19th. 
1 5 stones landed. 

The Smeaton having been completely discharged last night, sailed 
at 10 p. M. for Arbroath, to load a second cargo for the Bell Rock. The 
Patriot had towed off the Dickie Praam-boat to-day, being of a somewhat 
smaller size, and more handy than the Fernie, which now lay in ordinary, 
at Arbroath, in case of accident to the Hedderwick or Dickie. The wind, 
however, being rather unsteady, it was feared that no materials would 
have been landed ; but Captain Wilson, with his usual dexterity and skill, 
succeeded in transporting fifteen stones, which were raised to the top of the 
building, by means of the tackle on the bridge, and built by the balance- 
crane with wonderful facility. 

Smeaton makes rapid 

This morning at 1 o'clock, the Smeaton got into' Arbroath, when Mi- 
Kennedy, engineer's clerk, had the artificers immediately called, who 
loaded her with the Twenty-eighth course of the building, consisting of 
thirty-three pieces of stone, besides six casks of pozzolano, six casks of 
lime, six casks of sand, four bundles of trenails, four bundles of wed- 
ges, and eight stone joggles, together with four logs of timber, one Rail- 
way-waggon, and a supply of water, beer, fuel and provisions for the Bea- 
con-house. At 2 p. m. she sailed again for the Bell Rock, and reached 
it at 5, to the surprise of every one, Captain Pool being no less active in 
his trips than Mr Kennedy was zealous in the dispatch given at the work- 

Sunday, 20th. 
Prayers first read on 
the Light-house. 

The wind was southerly to-day, but there was much less sea than yesterday, 
and the landing-master's crew were enabled to discharge and land twenty- 
three pieces of stone, and other articles for the work. The artificers had 
completed the laying of the Twenty-seventh or First course of the staircase 
this morning, and in the evening, they finished the boring, trenailing, 
wedging, and grouting with it mortar. At 12 o'clock noon, the Beacon- 
house bell was rung, and all hands were collected on the top of the building, 
where prayers were read, for the first time, on the Light-house, which for- 
cibly struck every one, and had, upon the whole, a very impressive effect. 
The artificers then went to their barrack to dinner, and the landing-mas- 
ter's cr ewent off to the Tender. In the afternoon, the remainder of the 
Smeaton's cargo was discharged, and she sailed for Arbroath at 11 p. m. 

Monday, 2ist. The Patriot had arrived at Arbroath with the last cargo of stones from 

the'undTng^maater's Mylnefield Quarry for the Light-house, on the 19th, and was fully dis- 
charged to-day, and was now fitting with her ballass and platform for car- 

OPERATIONS OF 1810. 335 

rying off the worked materials to the Rock. The wind being [at south, chap. vi. 
caused a considerable swell on the Rock, and it was with great difficulty mo, May. 
that the landing-master got the remaining ten stones of the Smeaton's last 
cargo landed from the Hedderwick. His crew were not only completely 
drenched, but were much exhausted with the fatigue of pulling the loaded 
praam-boat against the swell of the sea ; and on reaching the Rock, it re- 
quired their utmost exertions to prevent her from driving to leeward upon 
the rugged ledges which encumbered the eastern creek. 

The dispatch made by the Smeaton in performing her trips between Ar- Tuesday, 22a. 
broath and the Bell Rock, was quite surprising, being seldom more than one ^mrfeted! 1 ° 0UrSe 
day absent. On the last trip, for example, she had only left the Rock on Sun- 
day night at 11, and this morning at 8 o'clock, she returned to her moorings 
with thirty-five pieces of stone. Of these, seventeen were landed to-day, 
with which the Thirty-first course of the building was completed, and the 
remainder of the day was occupied in boring the trenail holes in the lower 
course, fixing the trenails and wedges, and grouting the whole carefully with 

The Patriot arrived at the Rock this morning, with her first cargo of Wednesday, 23d. 
building materials for the season, consisting of 42 stones, together with a 
supply of pozzolano, lime, sand, wedges, trenails, and 8 stone joggles. The 
Smeaton was completely discharged of her cargo, and sailed again at 2 p. m., 
when the writer took his passage with her to Arbroath. 

The weather continued moderate at the Rock, with the wind at west, Thursday, 24th. 
and 18 stones of the Patriot's cargo were landed and built to-day. The foSTfX work, 
Accounts connected with the Light-house service were collected at this pe- | nd safety of the 
riod, being paid at the terms of Whitsunday and Martinmas. The writer 
at the same time arranged some matters more fully in the work-yard, con- 
nected with the loading of the materials at Arbroath. In particular, Mr 
David Logan, clerk of works, was held responsible for providing every 
thing contained in the Requisition of the foreman-builder ; while Mr Ken- 
nedy, engineer's clerk, was answerable for the other parts of the respective 
Requisitions from the Tender and Beacon, and for the dispatch given in 
the loading and sailing of the vessels. The masters of the stone-vessels 
were accordingly directed, on their arrival by night or day, to deliver all 
letters at the office. In the same manner, before leaving the Rock, 
Regulations for the proper conduct of the works there, were also in- 


chap. vi. stituted ; where his assistants were also held responsible for the duties of 
lsio. May. " their several departments ; Mr Peter Logan, for the execution of the 
masonry ; Mr Francis Watt, for the good condition of the Beacon- 
house, Railways, and Machinery ; Captain Wilson, for the state of the 
Praams and other boats employed in the landing of materials^ and for the 
safety of the stones and building-materials in transporting them from the 
ship's hold till they were placed upon the waggons on the Rock. The 
steward, Mr John Peters, was answerable for making the necessary Requi- 
sitions for a sufficient stock of provisions, water and fuel ; while Captain 
Taylor, master of the Tender, was to see a proper stock of these articles 
landed and kept in store upon the Rock. From the hazardous situation 
of the Beacon-house with regard to fire, being composed wholly of tim- 
ber, there was no small risk from accident ; and on this account, one of the 
most steady of the artificers was appointed to see that the fire of the cook- 
ing-house, and the lights in general, were carefully extinguished at stated 

Friday,- 35th. 

The weather continued to be extremely fine, with the wind at west,, 
and the barometer standing about 30 inches. The landing operations 
proceeded briskly, so that the building was to-day ready for the Door- 

Saturday, 26th. 
Balance-crane shaft 
is broken. 

The door-lintel being of large dimensions, equal to about a ton and a 
half in weight, and considerably heavier than any of the other stones of this 
course, in raising it with the balance-crane, sufficient attention had not been 
paid to increase the balance-weight proportionally, and an unequal 
strain being then brought upon the opposite arms of the crane, the up- 
right shaft yielded, and broke at one of the joints ; fortunately no 
person was hurt, though a stop was put to the work for the present. 
This unlucky accident happened about 4 in the afternoon, when the Pa- 
triot, then at her moorings, discharging a cargo of stones, was imme- 
diately dispatched to Arbroath with the broken shaft, where she arrived 
about 2 o'clock on Sunday morning. The writer was at this early hour ra- 
ther alarmed, by Captain Macdonald knocking at his bed-room door, and 
calling out in a hollow tone, " that the Balance-crane had given way." An 
express was immediately sent for Mr James Dove, who, only two days 
prior to the accident, had left the Bell Rock, and was in the neighbour- 
hood of Arbroath, and when the messenger reached him, he was prepa- 
ring to go with his friends to the church of his native parish. 

OPERATIONS OF 1810. 337 

The shaft of this crane consisted of four hollow pipes of cast iron, in chap, vi. 
lengths, the lower one of 8 feet, and the three upper ones of 6 feet, fitted !810, Ma - V - 

° ' i The Writer is wel- 

to each other with a flush or square joint, so that the body of the crane comed in at the door 
might traverse upon them without interruption, as will be understood by 
examining Plate XVII. There was, unavoidably, a degree of weakness at 
these joints, which required considerable precaution in shifting or adjust- 
ing the balance-weight, according to the strain occasioned by a heavy stone. 
This accident, though speedily repaired, produced a delay of no less than 
three days to the building operations, which, together with the time occu- 
pied in making provision for a new method of inserting the door-hinges in- 
to the building, made this part of the masonry, upon the whole, appear ex- 
tremely tedious. Having got the door-lintel laid, the writer was not a 
little gratified on being welcomed, with acclamation, in at the Door of the 
Bell Rock Light-house. Limited as the height of the building still was, 
the formation of the door stamped a new character upon it, and the lintel 
gave it an additional appearance of strength. 

The fixtures of the hinges of the door and shutters of the windows are Fixtures of the hin- 
of a peculiar construction, as will be seen in the different diagrams of window-shutters. 
Plate XIX. They consisted of boxes or cases made of brass, of a dove- 
tailed form, measuring 16 inches in length, and 1 inch in depth in the 
void ; one of these cases was inserted into a cavity cut in the upper bed of 
one of the rybat-stones on each side of the door or window, and run up 
with melted lead. Into this case the dovetail-end of the hinge was after- 
wards introduced, and fixed in its place by driving a middle-piece, after 
the manner of a Lewis-bat. The advantage of this method is, that, in the 
event of its being found necessary, at any future period, to renew or repair 
a hinge, all that becomes necessary is to draw the middle-piece and extract 
the Lewis from the box, without requiring to cut or mangle the build- 
ing, as would be found necessary by the usual method of inserting hinges 
into walls. The hinges and cases were made of fine brass ; those for the 
door weighing 50 lb., and those for the window-shutters being smaller, 
weighed about half as much. 

The weather, during the last week of the month of May, was very fa- F J d UDe ', 
vourable for the operations ; and the barometer stood to-day at no less than 
30 inches and 42 hundred parts. The wind was S.E., and the atmosphere 
somewhat foggy, but not such as to prevent the landing operations from go- 
ing forward. The Patriot was now at her moorings discharging ; and 





1810, June. 

Saturday, 2d. 
Shipping makes 
great dispatch. 

Sunday, 3d. 
Patriot makes a 
trip in 33 hours. 

the landing-master's crew transported one of the praam-boats to the Rock 
with 14 stones, which enabled the builders to complete the Thirty-third 
course, being the one immediately above the door-lintel, consisting of 32 

The weather still continuing to be extremely fine, the landing-master and 
his crew left the Tender at 4 a. m., and proceeded to deliver the remainder 
of the Patriot's cargo, consisting of 14 stones, with a proportion of pozzolano, 
lime, sand, and Roman cement, together with six bundles of trenails and 
wedges. She then made sail for Arbroath, and the Smeaton at the 
same time arrived with the Thirty-fourth course, consisting also of 32 
stones. She had previously put a new cable on board of the Floating- 
light, this being the period at which her winter-tackle was annually shifted. 
The Smeaton got to her moorings at 11 A. M., when Captain Wilson and 
his crew immediately proceeded to deliver her, and by 4 in the afternoon she 
was cleared, and had sailed again for Arbroath to load, having thus been 
discharged in five hours, being the shortest period in which any cargo had 
hitherto been delivered at the Bell Rock. This formed a striking contrast 
with the delivery of the first cargo of the season, which had been on board 
from the 18th till the 29th of May, or eleven days, in the course of which 
the Smeaton was put thrice into Arbroath, and once up to Leith Roads, 
shewing how very dependent these works are upon the state of the weather. 
To-day there were no fewer than 56 pieces of stones transported to the 
Rock, being the greatest number hitherto landed in one day. 

The dispatch given in the loading department at Arbroath was nothing 
short of that of the landing at the Rock. The Patriot only got to the 
Light-house loading-birth last night at 11 P. M., when Mr Kennedy com- 
menced loading her at midnight, with 34 pieces of stone, 9 stone 
joggles, two casks of pozzolano, two casks of lime, two casks of sand, 
and three bundles of trenails and wedges : she sailed again at 4 a. m., 
and got fast to her moorings at 5 in the afternoon, having been absent 
from the Rock only 33 hours. The landing-master's crew towed the 
Hedderwick praam-boat alongside, and loaded her with 18 pieces of stone, 
which were safely landed on the Rock. At 1 1 P. M. the boats return- 
ed to the Tender, having been at work since 4 o'clock this morning. 
The weather was so inviting at this time, that, contrary to usual practice, 
a quantity of the stones was laid upon the Rock round the western side 
of the building, which were afterwards raised by the purchase- tackle on the 
bridge : the building was thus continued for a longer period than the 

OPERATIONS OF 1810. 839 

tide permitted the landing-master's crew to proceed with their operations. chap, vi. 
Some risk, however, attended this arrangement, as part of the stones were isio, June, 
necessarily left on the Rock, exposed to the wash of the sea, from one tide 
to another. But the workmen heing now permanently on the Rock, this could 
scarcely happen to a great extent, as the sea generally takes a tide or two 
to get into so rough a state as to be dangerous in cases of this kind. The 
Thirty-fifth course was laid to-day, consisting of 32 pieces of stone ; but it 
required the work to be continued from 5 in the morning till 8 in the even- 
ing, before the trenailing, wedging, and grouting with mortar, were com- 
pleted ; the artificers having of course pay for their extra hours. 

To-day there was a strong breeze of wind from the east, with hazy wea- Monday, 4th. 
ther, but, as the mercury still maintained the high state of 30.32, every laid. 5 
confidence was felt in the landing operations. The Patriot was accord- 
ingly discharged of the remainder of her cargo, and 16 stones, with other 
building materials, were landed on the Rock, though not without con- 
siderable difficulty, from the heavy swell of sea which was running upon 
it. The artificers also succeeded in building all the stones which were 
on the Rock, and finished the Thirty-sixth course, consisting of 24 

This being the Birth-day of our much revered Sovereign King The King's birth- 
Geokge III., now in the Fiftieth year of his reign, the shipping of day observed- 
the Light-house service were this morning decorated with colours ac- 
cording to the taste of their respective captains. Flags were also hoisted 
upon the Beacon-house and Balance-crane on the top of the Building. At 
12 noon, a salute was fired from the Tender, when the King's health was 
drunk, with all the honours, both on the Rock, and on board of the ship- 

The weather still continuing very favourable for the operations, the work Tuesday, 5th. 
proceeded with much regularity and dispatch. Twenty stones were landed Ratetfw^s! et ' 
to-day from the Smeaton, and the artificers completed the Thirty-eighth 
or finishing course of the staircase, which brought the building to the height 
of 45 feet. As the walls were here reduced from 5 feet 9 inches to 3 feet 
2 inches in thickness, the scarsement at the level of this course formed 
a kind of floor or bench 2 feet 7 inches in breadth, at the top of the 
staircase, intended for keeping the water-cisterns, fuel, and provisions. 
The laying of this course being attended with^ a good deal of additional 





1810, June. 

Progress of the 
Works at Edin- 

trouble, the artificers were occupied with it from 5 o'clock in the morn- 
ing till 8 in the evening, when all hands being collected on the build- 
ing, three hearty cheers were given, and a dram served out, at the com- 
pletion of the first floor. During this season, nine hours were counted a 
day's work at the Bell Rock, instead of three hours of tide-work, as in the 
early stages of the business. The artificers having, therefore, had six extra 
hours to-day, at the rate of 6d. per hour, each had 3s. per day to receive, in 
addition to his stated wages of 3s. 4d. ; and, as the work was continued on 
Sundays, they were now making upwards of two guineas per week, free of 
incumbrance, while the foremen were in the receipt of about double that 
sum. The inhabitants of the Beacon were consequently in great spirits, 
both at the satisfactory progress of the work, and at the amount of their 
extra wages. 

While the work thus proceeded at the Bell Rock, it was making also 
good progress at Arbroath, as the whole of the courses, excepting three, were 
now ready for shipping to the Rock. Advice was also received from Edin- 
burgh, that the Light-room Reflecting-apparatus and Revolving-ma- 
chinery were getting regularly forward, so that every prospect was afforded 
of the work being brought to a conclusion in the course of the season. 

Artificers liable to 
accident. Small 
Boat and Life-buoy 

As the Light-house advanced in height, the cubical contents of the 
stones were less, but they had to be raised to a greater height ; and the walls 
being thinner were less commodious for the necessary machinery, and 
the artificers employed, which considerably retarded the work. Incon- 
venience was also occasionally experienced from the men dropping their 
coats, hats, mallets, and fother tools, at high-water, which were carried 
away by the tide ; and the danger to the people themselves was now 
greatly increased. Had any of them fallen from the Beacon or Building 
at high-water, while the landing-master's crew were generally engaged with 
the craft at a distance, it must have rendered the accident doubly painful 
to those on the Rock, who at this time had no boat, and consequently no 
means of rendering immediate and prompt assistance. In such cases, it 
would have been too late to have got a boat by signal from the Tender. A 
small boat, which could be lowered at pleasure, was therefore suspend- 
ed by a pair of davits projected from the cook-house, the keel being 
about 30 feet from the Rock, as will be seen from Plate VIII. This 
boat, with its tackle, was put under the charge of James Glen, of whose 
exertions on the Beacon mention has already been made, and who having 

OPERATIONS OF 1810. 341 

in early life been a seaman, was also very expert in the management of a chap, vi. 
boat. A life-buoy was likewise suspended from the bridge, to which a 1810 > June - 
coil of line 200 fathoms in length was attached, which could be let out 
to a person falling into the water, or to the people in the boat, should 
they not be able to work her with the oars. 

The landing-master succeeded to-day in transporting 44 stones to the Wednesday, 6th. 
Rock, and the artificers laid the Thirty-eighth course, which consisted of stones discontinued. 
16 blocks. The trenailing and wedging of the stones being now discon- 
tinued, as the building was above the ordinary range of the sea, a great re- 
lief was instantly felt, as will be understood from examining the several 
courses in Plate X11I. ; and as the work was thereby much simplified, it 
was now expected that two courses might be laid per day. 

To-day 12 stones were landed on the Rock, being the remainder of the Thursday, 7th. 
Patriot's cargo ; and the artificers built the Thirty-ninth course, consisting on the Beacon. Fit- 
of 14 stones. The Bell Rock works had now a very busy appearance, as Mngef troublesome. 
the Light-house was daily getting more into form. Besides the artificers 
and their cook, the writer and his servant were also lodged on the Beacon, 
counting in all twenty-nine ; and at low-water the landing-master's crew, 
consisting of from twelve to fifteen seamen, were employed in transporting 
the building materials, working the landing apparatus on the Rock, and 
dragging the stone-waggons along the railways, of which an idea will be 
formed by examining Plate XVIII. There were 27 stones discharged 
to-day from the Smeaton ; and the artificers laid the Thirtieth course of 
the building, in which the windows of the water, fuel, and provision store- 
room occur. The fitting of the hinge-boxes for the window storm-shut- 
ters, occupied a considerable portion of time, as has already been described 
in allusion to the entrance-door. 

In the course of this day the weather varied much. In the morning it Friday, 8th. 
was calm ; in the middle part of the day there were light airs of wind J^x^^he^tk. 
from the south, and in the evening fresh breezes from the east. The baro- 
meter in the writer's cabin in the Beacon-house oscillated from 30 inches 
to 30.42, and the weather was extremely pleasant. This, in any situation, 
forms one of the chief comforts of life, but, as may easily be conceived, it 
was doubly so to people stuck as it were upon a pinnacle in the middle of 
the ocean. 




1810, June. 
Saturday, 9th. 
Balance-crane shift- 
ed to-day. 

The weather continued to he very agreeable, and ships every where 
seen upon the sea. At the Bell Rock we had only the Tender and the 
Floating-light, the Smeaton and Patriot being at Arbroath. The Dickie 
praam-boat was brought from her moorings this morning, when 9 stones 
were landed. The artificers were chiefly occupied to-day, in shifting the 
balance-crane from the top of the solid, to the top of the staircase, across 
which it was supported on strong beams, while struts were projected under 
the body of the crane, and butting against the interior of the walls of the 
building, as will be understood by examining the third year's work of Plate 
IX. The balance-crane was, however, so constructed, that its foot might 
have been allowed to rest upon the solid of the building throughout the 
whole operation, and the shaft lengthened as the building rose, by adding 
additional pieces, till the whole of the masonry was completed, which would 
have formed a length of shaft extending to 50 feet. It was, however, 
found, upon the whole, to be more convenient and economical to lift the 
crane from floor to floor as the work advanced. 

Sunday. 10th. 
Crane erected at 
western Wharf. 

Two stones upset 
by the Sea.. 

Although stones had hitherto been occasionally landed on the western, 
as well as the eastern side of the Bell Rock, according to the state of the 
weather; yet, as the railways and apparatus of the eastern creek were much 
sooner in a working condition than those of the other, and being only 90 
feet from the Light-house, while the western Railway extended to 290 feet in 
length, as will be seen from Plates VI. and XVIII., the eastern creek was 
generally used in all directions of the wind, when the weather was mo- 
derate. To-day, however, the wharf at the western creek had been com- 
pleted to its full extent, and one of the moveable-beam cranes was erected 
at it, upon a piece of frame- work constructed of Norway logs, forming also 
a platform employed in landing the stones. 

In the course of last night, the wind had blown pretty strongly from 
the S.E., and towards morning it shifted to the S.W., which created a 
considerable swell of sea. Owing to the time unavoidably occupied in the 
shifting the balance-crane, and fitting the brass cases for the Lewis-bat 
hinges of the window-shutters of the provision-store, together with the eager- 
ness, and even impatience of Captain Wilson, the landing-master, on all oc- 
casions, to get his part of the business accomplished by the speedy delivery 
of the stone-vessels, he had landed both the Thirty-first and Thirty-second 
courses, which were thus piled in rather too great a number at the western 
side of the building. During the night, though the range of the sea was 


considered trifling, yet it bad upset two of the stones, which, when the chap, vi. 
tide left the Rock, were found lying at some distance with the Lewis-bats 1810 > June - 
turned downwards. These two courses, being too much at the mercy of 
the waves, were raised to their places on the building, and, though not 
laid with mortar for the present, were, nevertheless, out of the reach of 
heavy seas, and more at the command of the artificers. 

Although the praam-boats, from their built, and the construction of a Praam boat is 

, . . -T -i • i i i f i ■ i sent from lhe Rock 

their moorings, rode easily with a cargo on deck, as tormerly noticed, yet with her cargo. 

a certain risk also attended this state of things, and the writer rather 
wished the Smeaton and Patriot to remain at their station, with the 
stones on board, until an opportunity was afforded of landing and get- 
ting them at once laid in their places upon the building. One of the 
praam-boats had, however, been brought to the Rock with 11 stones, not- 
withstanding the perplexity which attended the getting of those formerly 
landed taken up to the building. Mr Peter Logan, the foreman builder, 
interposed, and prevented this cargo from being deHvered, but the land- 
ing-master's crew were exceedingly averse to this arrangement, from an 
idea that " ill luck" would in future attend the Praam, her cargo, and 
those who navigated her, from thus reversing her voyage. It may be no- 
ticed, that this was the first instance of a Praam-boat having been sent from 
the Bell Rock with any part of her cargo on board, and was considered 
so uncommon an occurrence, that it became a topic of conversation among 
the seamen and artificers. 

At 1 P. M. the bell rung for prayers, which were read by the writer in 
the Beacon ; after which the artificers went to dinner, and the work again 
commenced and was continued till 9. 

The first operation of the building-artificers this morning, was to lift Monday, nth. 
the two courses laid on the top of the walls last night, and build them with 
mortar ; some of the stones of the upper course, in the mean time, being 
stowed round the foot of the balance-crane These two courses consist- 
ed each of 16 stones, besides the dove-tail joggles for connecting the per- 
pendicular joints, as shewn in diagrams of Plate XIII. The landing- 
master's crew proceeded this morning to discharge the Patriot, and having 
loaded the Hedderwick Praam-boat, she was towed to her moorings to 
remain until the stones could be received at the Rock. In the afternoon 
the Patriot sailed ; and in the evening the Smeaton arrived from Ar- 



1810, June. 


broath with another cargo, bringing also letters, papers, provisions, water, 
and fuel for the Beacon. 

Tuesday, 12th. 
Stones sent from the 
Rock are safely 

Wednesday, 13th. 
Floor of the Light, 
room flat laid. 

Mr John Reid has 
got leave ashore, 
after being three 
months afloat. 

Thursday, 14th. 

To-day the stones formerly sent from the Rock were safely landed, 
notwithstanding the augury of the seamen, in consequence of their being 
sent away two days before. These, together with 14 dove-tail joggles, 
were immediately taken up to the top of the building, and laid, for the 
present, without mortar, on the top of the Thirty-fourth course. 

The artificers were employed with the Forty-sixth course to-day, and 
in making preparations for laying the Forty-seventh, being the floor for the 
Light-room stores. In the afternoon and evening, the joiners were em- 
ployed in fitting up a piece of frame-work, as a centre for supporting the 
interior ends of the stones composing the Floor course, which projected from 
the outward face of the building towards the centre of the apartment, as 
will be understood from Plates XIII. and XVI. 

The Floating-light having got her winter cable on board, and being 
otherwise in good order, Mr John Reid, principal Light-keeper, and act- 
ing master, while Captain Wilson was employed at the Bell Rock, having 
been upwards of three months afloat, it was thought proper that he should 
now have liberty for a time on shore, that, in his turn, he might relieve Mr 
Wilson. Mr Taylor, commander of the Tender, accordingly went on 
board of the Floating-light, leaving the landing-master in charge of the 
Tender, along with his other duties at the Rock. 

To-day 27 stones and 11 joggle-pieces were landed, part of which con- 
sisted of the Forty-seventh course, forming the store-room floor. The 
builders were at work this morning by 4 o'clock, in the hopes of being 
able to accomplish the laying of the 18 stones of this course. But at 8 
o'clock in the evening they had still two to lay, and as the stones of 
this course were very unwieldy, being 6 feet in length, they required 
much precaution and care both in lifting and laying them. It was, how- 
ever, only on the writer's suggestion to Mr Logan, that the artificers 
were induced to leave off, as they had intended to complete this floor be- 
fore going to bed. The two remaining stones were, however, laid in their 
places without mortar, when the bell on the Beacon was rung, and all 
hands being collected on the top of the building, three hearty cheers 
were given on covering the first apartment. The steward then served out 

OPERATIONS OF 1810. "45 

a dram to each, when the whole retired to their barrack much fatigued, chap, n. 
but with the anticipation of the most perfect repose even in the " hur- 1810 > Jutie - 
ricane-house," amidst the dashing seas on the Bell Rock. 

While the workmen were at breakfast and dinner, it was the writer's First letter written 
usual practice to spend his time on the walls of the building, which, not- hou"e. 
withstanding the narrowness of the track, nevertheless formed his principal 
walk, when the Rock was under water. But this afternoon he had his 
writing-desk set upon the store-room floor, when he wrote to Mrs Steven- 
son, certainly the first letter dated from the Bell Rock Light-house, giving 
a detail of the fortunate progress of the work, with an assurance that 
the Light-house would soon be completed at the rate at which it now 
proceeded ; and the Patriot having sailed for Arbroath in the evening, he 
felt no small degree of pleasure in dispatching this communication to his 

The floor-courses of the Bell Rock Light-house lay horizontally upon the Friday, isth. 
walls, as will be seen from the sections in Plates VII. and XVT. They £lXandSL 
consisted in all of 18 blocks, but only 16 were laid in the first instance, as Li s ht - houses - 
the centre-stone were necessarily left out, to allow the shaft of the balance- 
crane to pass through the several apartments of the building. In the same 
manner also, the stone which formed the interior side of the man-hole, 
was not laid till after the centre stone was in its place, and the masonry 
of the walls completed. The number of stones above alluded to are in- 
dependently of the sixteen joggle pieces with which the principal blocks of 
the floors were connected, as shewn in the diagrams of Plates VII. and 
XIII. The floors of the Edystone Light-house, on the contrary, were 
constructed of an arch-form, and the haunches of the arches bound with 
chains, to prevent their pressing outward, to the injury of the walls. In 
this, Mr Smeaton followed the construction of the Dome of St Paul's ; and 
this mode might also be found necessary at the Edystone, from the want of 
stones in one length, to form the outward wall and floor, in the then state of 
the granite quarries of Cornwall. At Mylnefield Quarry, however, there 
was no difficulty in procuring stones of the requisite dimensions; and 
the writer foresaw many advantages that would arise, from having the 
stones of the floors to form part of the outward walls without introducing 
the system of arching : in particular, the pressure of the floors upon the 
walls would thus be perpendicular ; for, as the stones were prepared in the 
sides, with groove-and-feather, after the manner of the common house- 



chap, vi. floor, they would, by this means, form so many girths, binding the exterior 

i8io, June. walls together, as will be understood by examining the diagrams and section 

of Plate VII., with its letter-press description ; agreeably to which he 

had modelled the floors in his original designs for the Bell Rock, which 

were laid before the Light-house Board in the year 1800. 

3i Persons lodged in The weather still continuing favourable for the operations at the Rock, 

the Beaeon-house. -ii-i t i ii • i i n i 

Pay and Premiums the work proceeded with much energy, through the exertions both of the 
seamen and artificers. For the more speedy and effectual working of the 
several tackles, in raising the materials as the building advanced in height, 
and there being a great extent of Railway to attend to, which, required 
constant repairs, two additional mill-wrights were added to the complement 
on the Rock, which, including the writer, now counted thirty-one in all. 
So crowded was the men's barrack, that the beds were ranged five tier in 
height, allowing only about 1 foot 8 inches for each bed, while the greatest 
extent of floor-room measured only about 8 feet 6 inches across, between 
the beds on opposite sides, as will be seen in the sections and diagrams of 
Plate VIII. The artificers commenced this morning at 5 o'clock, and, in 
the course of the day, they laid the Forty-eighth and Forty-ninth courses, 
consisting each of 16 blocks. From the favourable state of the weather, and 
theregular manner in which the work now proceeded, the artificers had ge- 
nerally from four to seven extra hours' work, which, including their stated 
wages of 3s. 4d., yielded them from 5s. 4d. to about 6s. lOd. per day, 
besides their board ; even the postage of their letters was paid while they 
were at the Bell Rock. In these advantages, the foremen also shared, 
having about double the pay and amount of premiums of the artificers. 
The seamen being less out of their element in the Bell Rock operations 
than the landsmen, their premiums consisted in a slump sum, payable at the 
end of the season, which extended from three to ten guineas. 

seamen find one of As the laying of the floors was somewhat tedious, the landing- 

thetet sets of moor- master an( j his crew had got considerably beforehand with the building 
artificers in bringing materials faster to the Rock than they could be built. 
The seamen having, therefore, some spare time, were occasionally employed, 
during fine weather, in dredging or grappling for the several mushroom- 
anchors and mooring-chains, which had been lost in the vicinity of the Bell 
Rock, during the progress of the work, by the breaking loose and drifting 
of the floating-buoys. To encourage their exertions in this search, Five 
Guineas were offered as a premium for each set they should find ; and after 

OPERATIONS OF 1810. 347 

much patient application, they succeeded to-day in hooking one of these chap, vj. 
lost anchors with its chain. isio, June. 

It was a general remark at the Bell Rock, as before noticed, that fish Experiment otcoi- 
were never plenty in its neighbourhood, excepting in good weather. In- Fwhes. 
deed, the seamen used to speculate about the state of the weather from 
their success in fishing. When the fish disappeared at the Rock, it was 
considered a sure indication that a gale was not far off, as the fish seem- 
ed to seek shelter in deeper water, from the roughness of the sea, during 
these changes of the weather. At this time, the Rock, at high-water, 
was completely covered with .podlies, or the fry of the coalfish, about six 
or eight inches in length. The artificers sometimes occupied half an 
hour after breakfast and dinner in catching these little fishes, but were 
more frequently supplied from the boats of the Tender. This evening the 
landing-master's crew brought to the Rock a quantity of newly caught cod- 
fish, measuring from 15 to 24 inches in length. The membrane called 
the sound, which is attached to the back-bone of fishes, being understood 
to contain, at different times, greater portions of azote and of oxygen 
than common air, the present favourable opportunity was embraced 
for collecting a quantity of this gas in a drinking-glass, inverted into a 
pail of salt-water. The fish being held under this glass as a receiver, their 
bladders were punctured, and a considerable quantity of gas was thus col- 
lected. A lighted match was afterwards carefully introduced into the glass, 
when the gas exhibited in a considerable degree the bright and luminous 
flame which an excess of oxygen is known to produce. 

The weather was hazy, and the wind had shifted to-day from west to east, Saturday, i6th. 
accompanied with a heavy ground-swell in the sea. At the Bell Rock, ^eUs.° f gr ° und 
this was sometimes observed to be the precursor of a gale, while, on other 
occasions, the swell did not make its appearance till the force of the 
wind had ceased. Many speculations have been made by naturalists upon 
the probable cause of ground-swells, so often observed by seamen, and which 
sometimes appear even without the accompaniment of wind, either before or 
after. To account for this, it may be noticed, that the waters of the German 
Ocean or North Sea, from their connection with the Atlantic Ocean, are 
often affected by gales of westerly winds, which never reach our shores, 
though they have the effect of forcing an undue portion of the waters 
of the Atlantic into the British seas, which tend to overfill all the friths 
and bays, producing the phenomenon of a ground-swell ; — a condition of 




1810, June. 


things which may also be supposed to follow from the account given of 
the gale experienced by the writer off Flamborough-head, on the 19th 
September 1809, described at page 320. ; which might as readily have been 
checked in its progress, by the contrary wind, before it reached the nor- 
thern shores, as off the coast of England. This subject is further illus- 
trated by the writer in a paper read before the Wernerian Society, on the 
bed of the German Ocean, and given in the Appendix, No. V. 

dress, and activity of 
his crew. 

The landing-master having this day discharged the Smeaton, and load- 
ed the Hedderwick and Dickie praam-boats with 19 stones, they were 
towed to their respective moorings ; when Captain Wilson, in consequence 
of the heavy swell of sea, came in his boat to the Beacon-house, to consult 
with the writer as to the propriety of venturing the loaded praam-boats 
with their cargoes to the Rock, while so much sea was running. After 
some dubiety expressed on the subject, in which the ardent mind of the 
landing-master suggested many arguments in favour of his being able to 
convey the praams in perfect safety, it was acceded to. In bad wea- 
ther, and especially on occasions of difficulty like the present, Mr Wilson, 
who was an extremely active seaman, measuring about 5 feet 3 inches in 
height, of a robust habit, generally dressed himself in what he called a Monkey 
Jacket, made of thick duffle-cloth, with a pair of Dutchman's petticoat- 
trowers, reaching only to his knees, where they were met with a pair of long 
water-tight boots ; with this dress, his glazed hat, and his small brass speak- 
ing-trumpet in his hand, he bade defiance to the weather. When he made 
his appearance in this most suitable attire for the service, his crew seemed to 
possess additional life, never failing to use their utmost exertions when the 
captain put on his " stonn-rigging:'' They had this morning commenced 
loading the praam-boats at 4 o'clock, and proceeded to tow them into the 
eastern landing-place, which was accomplished with much dexterity, though 
not without the risk of being thrown, by the force of the sea, on certain 
projecting ledges of the rock. In such a case, the loss even of a single stone 
would have greatly retarded the work. For the greater safety in entering 
this creek, it was necessary to put out several warps and guy-ropes, to guide 
the boats into its narrow and intricate entrance ; and it frequently hap- 
pened that the sea made a clean breach over the praams, which not only 
washed their decks, but completely drenched the crew in water. 

want of the western On this, as on many other occasions, the want of the western wharf was 
wharf ' particularly felt ; for, although it had long been used with great advantage 




in the ordinary traffic of the Rock, and was now carried to its full extent, 
it was still not fit for all the purposes of landing weighty materials, other- 1810 ' June- 
wise the landing operations would have heen accomplished with much 
more ease and facility to-day. So much, however, had heen to do in horing 
the rock, inserting iron-bats and other operations, accessible only at the 
lowest tides, that, although Mr Watt and his squad of artificers had em- 
braced every opportunity, by day and night, — for this work to the last was 
carried on by torch light, — yet the wharf of the western railway was not 
entirely completed. 

The building-artificers were employed to-day in raising the Balance- Operation of shtft- 

, ,. . . ing the Balance 

crane to the light-room-store, where it was supported upon two beams crane, its properties. 
of oaken timber, which were made to rest upon the outward extremity 
of the floor, or close to the wall of the house. The removal of the 
crane from one storey to another was attended with considerable trouble. 
The body of the crane, as will be understood by examining Plates IX. 
and XVIL, was raised upon the shaft at every two or three courses 
which were added to the height of the building. This mode might 
have been continued throughout, without once raising the foot of the 
crane, by simply adding to the length of the shaft. But, all things taken 
into view, it was considered preferable to lift the whole machine from 
floor to floor. This was accomplished in the following manner : Two 
beams of fir-timber were laid across the walls of the house, on which the 
body of the crane was rested. This new position did not prevent the 
purchase-tackle of the crane from being worked, and it was therefore 
applied to lift the foot and the four lengths of the shaft, which were 
laid aside till successively wanted in the course of building. The foot, 
with two lengths of the shaft, being placed upon the oaken beams above 
alluded to ; a cutter or spear-bolt was passed through one of the numerous 
holes in the shaft ; when the beams on which the body of the crane rested 
on the walls being removed, the crane was again in a complete work- 
ing condition. The Balance-crane had therefore the property of being 
applicable to raising itself, from stage to stage, as well as of laying the 
stones, and preserving its equilibrium when loaded. In case, through in- 
attention or accident, an undue proportion of weight had been brought 
upon one end of the beam of the crane, as was the case when the door-lintel 
was laid, four spurs or diagonal supports of oak, were attached to the 
shaft, the lower ends of which rested upon the floor and butted against the 
wall, while the upper ends fitted into a collar or circular piece of cast-iron, 




1810, June. 

Sunday, 17th. 
Western wharf 
finished to-day. 

which embraced the shaft immediately under the body of the crane. These 
preparatory operations occupied a great part of this day, after which there 
was no further delay occasioned by the Balance-crane, till it was again to 
be raised to the next floor, except the occasional lifting of the body, and 
applying additional lengths to the shaft, as the building rose, things which 
were accomplished without retarding the work. 

It was fortunate, in the present state of the weather, that the Fiftieth 
course was in a sheltered spot, within the reach of the tackle of the winch- 
machine upon the bridge ; a few stones were stowed upon the bridge itself, 
and the remainder upon the building, which kept the artificers at work. 
The stowing of the materials upon the Rock, was the department of 
Alexander Brebner, mason, who spared no pains in attending to the safety 
of the stones, and who, in the present state of the work, when the stones 
were landed faster than could be built, generally worked till the water rose 
to his middle. At 1 o'clock to-day the bell rung for prayers, and all hands 
were collected into the upper barrack-room of the Beacon-house, when the 
usual service was performed. 

Remarkable state of 
the sea at the Bell 
Rock to-day. 

At low-water this afternoon all hands were employed in completing 
the western wharf, — a work which had now been in progress for a twelve- 
month. One of the moveable-beam cranes was elevated on it, under a 
salute of three hearty cheers. This wharf was formed of timber, consist- 
ing of successive layers of Norway logs, like the Eastern Wharf, as repre- 
sented in Plate XI., which were raised to the level of the Railways, or 
about 6 feet in height, and fixed down with bat-bars of iron, measuring 
7 feet in length, having been sunk about 12 inches into the Rock. 

The wind blew very hard in the course of last night from N.E., and 
to-day the sea ran so high that no boat could approach the Rock. During 
the dinner-hour, when the writer was going to the top of the building as 
usual, but just as he had entered the door, and was about to ascend the 
ladder, a great noise was heard over-head, and in an instant he was soused 
in water, from a sea which had most unexpectedly come over the walls, 
though now about 58 feet in height. On making his retreat, he found 
himself completely whitened by the lime which had mixed with the water, 
while dashing down through the different floors ; and, as nearly as he could 
guess, a quantity equal to about a hogshead had come over the walls, and 
now streamed out at the door. After having shifted himself, he again sat 

OPERATIONS OF 1810. 351 


down in his cabin, the sea continuing to run so high that the builders 
did not resume their operations on the walls this afternoon. The incident is^o, June, 
just noticed, did not create more surprise in the mind of the writer, than 
the sublime appearance of the waves, as they rolled majestically over the 
Rock. This scene he greatly enjoyed while sitting at his cabin window : 
each wave approached the Beacon like a vast scroll unfolding ; and, in 
passing, discharged a quantity of air, which he not only distinctly felt, but 
was even sufficient to lift the leaves of a book which lay before him. 
These waves might be 10 or 12 feet in height, and about 250 feet in length. 
Their smaller end being towards the north, where the water was deep, and 
they were opened or cut through by the interposition of the Building and 
Beacon. The gradual manner in which the sea, upon these occasions, is ob- 
served to become calm or to subside, is a very remarkable feature of this 
phenomenon. For example, when a gale is succeeded by a calm, every 
third or fourth wave forms one of these great seas, which occur in spaces, of 
from 3 to 5 minutes, as noted by the writer's watch ; but, in the course of 
the next tide, they become less frequent, and take off, so as to occur only in 
10 or 15 minutes ; and, singular enough, at the third tide after such gales, 
the writer has remarked, that only one or two of these great waves appear 
in the course of the whole tide. 

From Monday 18th till this date, the work went forward in the Thursday, 2ist, 

J m _ Landing-master's ■ 

usual routine, and the building was now in readiness for the floor of the crew have now more 

kitchen or third apartment. In the present state of things, the two 

stone-vessels Smeaton and Patriot, could not be fully employed, as, owing 

to the greater height of the building, every operation required much 

more time, in proportion to the tonnage which the vessels brought off 

to the Rock. Indeed, the original intention of providing two vessels for this 

department was chiefly to guard againt accident, as, in this service, they 

were much exposed to danger, in the event of which, without a second 

vessel, the work must have been arrested in its progress. Having now 

also the full use of the western creek, the process of landing was seldom 

delayed, excepting from want of demand on the part of the builders ; it 

was still, nevertheless, necessary to keep up the establishment of shipping, 

for the reason above stated. 

The 19th was a very unpleasant and disagreeable day, both for the Disagreeable state of 
seamen and artificers, as it rained throughout with little intermission from the weathen 
4 a. m. till 11 p. M., accompanied with thunder and lightning, during which 



chap. vi. period the work nevertheless continued unremittingly •, and the builders laid 
i8io, June. the Fifty-first and Fifty-second courses. This state of weather was no less 
severe upon the mortar-makers, who required to temper or prepare the mor- 
tar of a thicker or thinner consistency, in some measure, according to the 
state of the weather. From the elevated position of the building, the mortar- 
gallery on the Beacon was now much lower, and the lime buckets were made 
to traverse upon a rope distended between it and the building, as will be 
seen from Plate IX. On occasions like the present, however, there was 
often a difference of opinion between the builders and the mortar-makers. 
John Watt, who had the principal charge of the mortar, was a most 
active worker, but being somewhat of an irascible temper, the builders 
occasionally amused themselves at his expence. For, while he was 
eagerly at work with his large iron-shod pestle in the mortar-tub, they 
often sent down contradictory orders, some crying, " Make it a little 
stiffer, or thicker, John," while others called out to make it " thinner ;" to 
which he generally returned very speedy and sharp replies ; so that these con- 
versations at times were rather amusing. The brass cases of the upper-hin- 
ges of the window of this apartment, occurring in the Fifty-second course, 
occasioned a good deal of detention, on the 20th, in laying it, when the 
artificers were employed from 4 in the*morning till 9 in the evening. 

Extra pay. 

During wet weather, the situation of the artificers on the top of the build- 
Responsiwe situation j n ~ was extremely disagreeable ; for, although their work did not require 

of the principal » J ° 111. • 1 /• • -i • . 

workmen. great exertion, yet, as each man had his particular part to perform, either in 

working the crane, or in laying the stones, it required the closest ap- 
plication and attention, not only on the part of Mr Peter Logan, the fore- 
man, who was constantly on the walls, but also of the chief workmen. 
Ttobert Selkirk, the principal builder, for example, had every stone to lay 
in its place. David dimming, a mason, had the charge of working the 
tackle of the balance-weight, and James Scott, also a mason, took charge 
of the purchase with which the stones were laid ; while the pointing the 
joints of the walls with cement, was entrusted to William Reid and 
William Kennedy, who stood upon a scaffold suspended over the walls in 
rather a frightful manner. The least act of carelessness or inattention on 
the part of any of these men might have been fatal, not only to them- 
selves, but also to the surrounding workmen, especially if any accident 
had happened to the crane itself, while the material damage or loss of a 
single stone would have put an entire stop to the operations, until 
another could have been brought from Arbroath. The artificers having 
wrought seven and a half hours of extra time to-day, had 3s. 9d. of extra 

OPERATIONS OF 1810. 353 

pay, while the foremen had 7s. 6d. over and above their stated pay and chap, vi. 

board. Although, therefore, the work was both hazardous and fatiguing, 18i0 * June - 

yet the encouragement being considerable, they were alwise very cheerful, 

and perfectly reconciled to the confinement, and other disadvantages of 

the place. , 

During fine weather, and while the nights were short, the duty on Carpenter of the 
board of the Floating-light was literally nothing but a waiting on, and the servicef 
therefore one of her boats, with a crew of five men, daily attended the 
Rock, but always returned to the vessel at night. The carpenter, how- 
ever, was one of those who was left on board of the ship, as he also acted in 
the capacity of assistant light-keeper ; being, besides, a person who was apt 
to feel discontent, and to be averse to changing his quarters, especially to work 
with the mill-wrights and joiners at the Rock, who often, for hours together, 
wrought knee-deep, and not unfrequently up to the middle in water. Mr 
Watt having, about this time, made a requisition for another hand, the 
carpenter was ordered to attend the Rock in the Floating-light's boat. 
This he did with great reluctance, and found so much fault, that he soon 
got into discredit with his messmates. On this occasion, he left the 
Light-house service, and went as a sailor in a vessel bound for America, — 
a step which, it is believed, he soon regretted, as, in the course of tilings, 
he would, in all probability, have accompanied Mr John Reid, the 
principal Light-keeper of the Floating-light, to the Bell Rock Light- 
house, as his principal Assistant. The writer had a wish to be of sendee ' 
to this man, as he was one of those who came off to the Floating-light 
in the month of September 1807, while she was riding at single anchor, 
after the severe gale of the 7th, at a time when it was hardly possible 
to make up this vessel's crew ; but the crossness of his manner prevented 
his reaping the benefit of such intentions. 

The trips of the stone-vessels became more and more remarkable Patriot makes a trip 
for dispatch. The Patriot having only sailed for Arbroath yesterday morn- back to the Rock, i a 
ing at 8 o'clock, returned this evening at the same hour with a car°-o ; 
when the landing-master immediately got his praam-boats alongside, 
and came to the Rock with 16 stones, 8 joggles, 8 casks of pozzolano, 
and the same quantity of lime and sand, with seven logs of timber for 
the Railways, which were immediately taken up to the Beacon, till they 
were wanted on the Rock. Such, therefore, was the dispatch given to 
the loading of the materials at Arbroath, together with the persevering 


24< hours. 



1810, June. 

An attempt made to 
land stones at high- 
water, with the 

Progress of landing 
the stones. The Sea- 
men become discon- 


activity of Mr Spink, — who had succeeded Mr Macdonald in the com- 
mand of the Patriot,— and his mate Mr Peter Soutar, that, although 
she did not reach Arbroath till the morning of the 21st, at 1 o'clock, yet 
being instantly loaded, she was made fast to her moorings again at the 
Rock, after an absence of only 24 hours. 

The weather was extremely fine to-day, and the artificers laid the Fifty- 
sixth course, or kitchen-floor, forming, like the other floors of the building, a 
part also of the outward wall. For supporting the inward extremity of these 
long stones, until a sufficient weight was built upon the exterior wall, the 
joiners had erected a piece of frame-work on the floor below on which they 
rested. This morning at 4 o'clock, the landing-master's crew had com- 
menced their operations, and by 12 noon 34 stones were landed, together 
with the several articles mentioned above, which discharged the Patriot, 
and she again sailed for Arbroath. An attempt was made to-day to land 
materials at high-water with the bridge-apparatus ; but, although the wa- 
ter was smooth, yet there was a certain lift in the sea, which occasion- 
ally brought a sudden strain on the frame of the bridge, and made the 
whole shake and jerk in such a manner as to communicate a considerable 
degree of tremor to the whole fabric of the Beacon-house, shewing that 
this mode of landing weighty stones could hardly be ventured upon, even 
in the very finest weather. 

The building operations had for some time proceeded more slowly, from 
the higher parts of the Light-house requiring much longer time than an 
equal tonnage of the lower courses. The duty of the landing-master's crew 
had, upon the whole, been easy of late ; for, though the work was occasion- 
ally irregular, yet the stones being lighter, they were more speedily lifted 
from the hold of the stone-vessel to the deck of the praam-boat, and again 
to the waggons on the railway, after which they came properly under the 
charge of the foreman-builder ; the artificers working the several purchase- 
tackles in raising the stones through the successive stages, from the railways 
to the bridge, and.from thence to the top of the building, as represented in 
Plates IX. and XVIII. It is, however, a strange, though not an uncommon 
feature in the human character, that when people have least to complain of, 
they are most apt to become dissatisfied, as was now the case with the seamen 
employed in the Bell Rock service, about their rations of beer. Indeed, ever 
since the carpenter of the Floating-light, formerly noticed, had been brought 
to the Rock, expressions of discontent had been manifested upon various oc- 
casions. This being represented to the writer, he sent for Captain Wil- 


son, the landing-master, and Mr Taylor, commander of the Tender, with 
whom he talked over the subject. They stated, that they considered the 
daily allowance of the seamen in every respect ample, and that the work 
being now much lighter than formerly, they had no just ground for com- 
plaint; Mr Taylor adding, that if those who now complained " were 
even to be fed upon soft bread and turkeys, they would not think them- 
selves right." At 12 noon, as before noticed, the work of the landing- 
master's crew was completed for the day. But at 4 o'clock, while the Rock 
was under water, those on the Beacon were surprised by the arrival of a 
boat from the Tender, without any signal having been made from the 
Beacon. It, however, brought the following note to the writer from the 
landing-master's crew. 

" Sir, Sir Joseph Banks, Tender. 

" We are informed by our masters, that our allowance is to be as 
before, and it is not sufficient to serve us, for we have been at work since 
4 o'clock this morning, and we have come on board to dinner, and there is 
no beer for us before to-morrow morning, to which a sufficient answer is re- 
quired before we go from the Beacon ; and we are, Sir, your most obe- 
dient servants." 

On reading this, the writer returned a verbal message, intimating, that 
an answer would be sent on board of the Tender, at the same time order- 
ing the boat instantly to quit the Beacon. He then addressed the follow- 
ing note to the landing-master. 

" Beacon-house, 22d June 1810, 
« Sir, 5 o'clock, p. m. 

" I have just now received a letter purporting to be from the landing- 
master's crew and seamen on board of the Sir Joseph Banks, though with- 
out either date or signature ; in answer to which, I inclose a statement of 
the daily allowance of provisions for the seamen in this service, which you 
will post up in the ship's-galley, and at 7 o'clock this evening I will come 
on board to enquire into this unexpected and most unnecessary demand for 
an additional allowance of beer. In the inclosed, you will not find any 
alteration from the original statement, fixed in the galley at the beginning 
of the season. I have, however, judged this mode of giving your people 
an answer, preferable to that of conversing with them on the Beacon. I 
am, Sir, your most obedient servant, 

" To Captain Wilson. Robert Stevenson." 



1610, June. 

Correspondence with 
the LandiDg-master. 


chap, vi. « Beacon-house, 22d June 1810. — Schedule of the daily Allowance 

i8io, June. f Provisions to be served out on board of the Sir Joseph Banks Tender." — 
" 11 lb. beef; lib. bread; 8 oz. oatmeal; 2 oz. barley; 2 oz. butter; 
3 quarts beer ; vegetables and salt no stated allowance. When the sea- 
men are employed in unloading the Smeaton and Patriot, a draught of 
beer is, as formerly, to be allowed from the stock of these vessels. Fur- 
ther, in wet and stormy weather, or when the work commences very early 
in the morning, or continues till a late hour at night, a glass of spirits will 
also be served out to the crew as heretofore, on the requisition of the Land- 

" Robert Stevenson." 

writer goes on board On writing this letter and schedule, a signal was made on the Beacon 
for the landing-master's boat, which immediately came to the Rock, and 
the schedule was afterwards stuck up in the Tender's galley. When suf- 
ficient time had been allowed to the crew to consider of their conduct, a 
second signal was made for a boat, and at 7 o'clock the writer left the Bell 
Rock, after a residence of four successive weeks in the Beacon-house. The 
first thing which occupied his attention on board of the Tender, was to 
look round upon the Light-house, which he saw with some degree of 
emotion and surprise, now vieing in heightwith the Beacon-house ; for, al- 
though he had often viewed it from the extremity of the western Rail- 
way on the Rock, yet the scene, upon the whole, seemed far more interest- 
ing from the Tender's moorings, at the distance of about half a mile. 

Two of the seamen The Smeaton having just arrived at her moorings with a cargo, a sig- 

service. nal was made for Captain Pool to come on board of the Tender, that he 

might be at hand to remove from the service any of those who might per- 
sist in their discontented conduct. One of the two principal leaders in 
this affair, being the master of one of the praam-boats, and who had also 
steered the boat which brought the letter to the Beacon, was first called 
upon deck, and asked if he had read the statement fixed up in the galley 
this afternoon, and whether he was satisfied with it. He replied that he 
had read the paper,, but was not satisfied, as it held out no alteration on 
the allowance ; on which he was immediately ordered into the Smeaton's 
boat. The next man called had but lately entered the service, and be- 
ing also interrogated as to his resolution, he declared himself to be of the 
same mind with the Praam-master, and was also forthwith ordered into the 
boat. The writer, without calling any more of the seamen, went forward 
to the gangway, where they were collected, and listening to what was 

OPERATIONS OF 1810. 357 

passing upon deck : he addressed them at the hatchway, and stated that chap, vi. 
two of their companions had just been dismissed the service, and sent on 1810 > June - 
board of the Smeaton, to be conveyed to Arbroath. He therefore wished 
each man to consider for himself, how far it would be proper, by any un- 
reasonableness of conduct, to place themselves in a similar situation, espe- 
cially as they were aware that it was optional in him either to dismiss them, 
or send them on board a Man-of-war. It might appear that much iuconve- 
niency would be felt at the Rock by a change of hands at this critical 
period, by checking for a time the progress of a building so intimately 
connected with the best interests of navigation ; yet this would be but 
of a temporary nature, while the injury to themselves might be irrepa- 
rable. It was now, therefore, required of any man who, in this disgrace- 
ful manner, chose to leave the service, that he should instantly make 
his appearance upon deck, while the Smeaton's boat was alongside. But 
those below having expressed themselves satisfied with their situation, 
viz. William Brown, George Gibb, Alexander Scott, John Dick, Robert 
Couper, Alexander Shephard, James Grieve, David Carey, William Pear- 
son, Stuart Eaton, Alexander Lawrence, and John Spink, were according- 
ly considered as having returned to their duty. This disposition to mu- 
tiny, which had so strongly manifested itself, being now happily suppres- 
sed, Captain Pool got orders to proceed for Arbroath Bay, and land the 
two men he had on board, and to deliver the following letter at the office 
of the work-yard. 

" On Board of the Tender off the Bell Rock, 
" Dear Sir, 22d June 1810. 8 o'clock p. m. 

" A discontented aud mutinous spirit having manifested 
itself of late, among the Landing-master's crew, they struck work to-day, 
and demanded an additional allowance of beer, and I have found it necessary 
to dismiss D d and M e, who are now sent on shore with the Smea- 
ton. s You wiD, therefore, be so good as to pay them their wages, including 
this day only. Nothing cau be more unreasonable than the conduct of 
the seamen on this occasion, as the landing-master's crew not only had 
their own allowance on board of the Tender, but, in the course of this day, 
they had drawn no fewer than 24 quart pots] of beer from the stock of the 
Patriot, while unloading her. 

" I remain, yours truly, 

" Robert Stevenson." 
" To Mr Lachlan Kennedy, \ 
Bell-Bock Office, Arbroath." J 




1810, June. 

Saturday, 23d. 
Progress of the 
Works at Arbroath. 

On dispatching this letter to Mr Kennedy, the writer returned to 
the Beacon ahout 9 o'clock, where this afternoon's business had produced 
many conjectures, especially when the Smeaton got under way, instead of 
proceeding to land her cargo. The bell on the Beacon being rung, the 
artificers were assembled on the bridge, when the affair was explained to 
them. He, at the same time, congratulated them upon the first appear- 
ance of mutiny being happily set at rest by the dismissal of its two prin- 
cipal abettors. 

The Smeaton having landed the disaffected men and delivered the letter, 
returned to the Bell Rock last evening at 8 o'clock, when the landing- 
master and his crew immediately proceeded to discharge her, leaving the 
loaded praams at their moorings for the night. By letters from the work- 
yard from Mr David Logan, clerk of works, the writer learned, that, when 
the two courses which the stone-cutters had now in hand were completed, 
there would only be one more to prepare, and that already several of the 
masons were about to be paid off. 

The S \vorks ***' At the Rock, the landing of the materials, and the building operations 

sited by Mr Murdoch f the lieht-room-store, went on successfully, and in a way similar to those 

of Soho. ° . , , ; n -i i ii 

of the provision-store. To-day it blew fresh breezes ; but the seamen ne- 
vertheless landed 28 stones, and the artificers built the Fifty-eighth and 
Fifty-ninth courses. The works were visited by Mr Murdoch junior, 
from Messrs Boulton and Watt's works of Soho. He landed just as the 
bell rung for prayers ; after which the writer enjoyed much pleasure from 
his very intelligent conversation : and having been almost the only stran« 
ger he had seen for some weeks, he parted with him, after a short inter- 
view, with much regret. 

Wednesday, 27th. 
Sixty-second course 

There were 46 pieces of stone landed to-day, 16 of which were built, 
being the Sixty-second course, in which the upper brass cases for the hinges 
of the storm-shutters occurred, each of which weighed about 25 lb., or 100 lb. 
for the four cases with their hinges. The sole or foot of the balance-crane 
was also shifted, an operation which became necessary at the height of about 
every 16 feet of the Light-house; and it was now raised from the store- 
room to the kitchen-floor. The shaft of the crane consisted of one piece 
of 8 feet, and three of 6 feet, making its whole length 26 feet, of which, 
about 7 feet were occupied with the body and foot of the crane. The ope- 
rations of laying the courses in which the hinge-cases of the storm-shut- 

OPERATIONS OF 1810. 359 

iers of the different windows occurred, like those of the entrance-door, be- chap, vr. 
ing very tedious, the Beacon-bell was rung this morning at the very early 1810 ' June - 
hour of 3 o'clock, and as the work continued till half-past 9 at night, 
the artificers had 8 hours and a half's extra work, which yielded them 4s. 
3d. of extra pay. 

The Sixty-third and Sixty-fourth courses were laid to-day, consisting „ Thu "- s day, 88th. 

J J j ' o Workmen wetted by 

of 16 stones each. Last night the wind had shifted to north-east, and the sea on the top 

/» i -I'll n 1-nim of the wafts. 

blowing fresh, was accompanied with a heavy suri upon the Hock. To- 
wards high-water it had a very grand and wonderful appearance. Waves 
of considerable magnitude rose as high as the solid or level of the en- 
trance-door, which, being open to the south-west, was fortunately to the 
leeward ; but on the windward side, the sprays flew like lightning up the 
sloping sides of the building ; and although the walls were now elevated 
64s feet above the Rock, and about 52 feet from high-water mark, yet the 
artificers were nevertheless wetted, and occasionally interrupted in their 
operations on the top of the walls. These appearances were in a great mea- 
sure new at the Bell Rock, there having till of late been no building to 
conduct the seas, or object to compare them with. Although, from the 
description of the Edystone Light-house, the mind was prepared for such 
effects, yet they were not expected to the present extent, in the summer 
season ; the sea being most awful to-day, whether observed from the Bea- 
con or the Building. To windward, the sprays fell from the height above 
noticed, in the most wonderful cascades, and streamed down the walls of 
the building in froth as white as snow. To leeward of the Light-house, 
the collision or meeting of the waves produced a pure white kind of drift, 
which is attempted to be represented in the Frontispiece to this work : 
it rose about 30 feet in height, like a fine downy mist, which, in its fall, 
felt upon the face and hands more like a dry powder than a liquid sub- 
stance. The effects of these seas, as they ranged among the beams, and 
dashed upon the higher parts of the Beacon, produced a temporary tremu- 
lous motion throughout the whole fabric, which to a stranger must have 
been frightful. 

The artificers laid the Sixty-fifth course to-day, forming the fourth or Saturday, 30th. 
bed-room floor. They had, however, no extra hours' work, a circumstance p^r/o^he nit*^ 
which had not occurred for several weeks before. Although, from the ra- light ' 
pid progress which was now making with the Building, there was every 
prospect that it would be finished in the course of this .year ; yet, as the 
Light-room and its apparatus were very critical parts of the operation, 


chap, vi. which would necessarily fall to he transported to the Rock at a late period 
i3io, June. of the season, and were, consequently, liable to many casualties, it was 
proper to make provision for continuing the Floating-light for another 
winter, in case the light should not he exhibited from the Light-house. 
This vessel had now been on her station for three years ; and as she lay 
at anchor in 19 fathoms water, it had, consequently, been impossible 
thoroughly to examine her bottom. What rendered her state more un- 
certain, was the condition of the logs of timber employed for support- 
ing the temporary Railways on the Rock for nearly a similar period. 
These logs were of the common Norway-fir, and when laid down mea- 
sured about ten inches upon each side ; but after lying about three years 
on the Rock, they were so much wasted by the small insect formerly 
mentioned, that they would not now square to more than 7 inches, with- 
out leaving traces of the ravages of this animal, having thereby lost at 
the rate of about one-half inch on each side of sound timber per annum. 
Directions had been given to Mr John Reid, who, during the summer 
months, had the command of the Floating-light, and who was also pro- 
fessionally a ship-carpenter, to take a convenient opportunity of trimming 
the vessel, in such a manner as to give her a list first to one side and 
then to the other, so as to get her bottom as fully examined as possible. 
This having been done, Mr Reid intimated that he considered her in a 
sound state. The writer accordingly left the Beacon-house to-day, accom- 
panied by the landing-master, to see some of the side-planks which had 
been dubbed or dressed with a carpenter's adze, and, on examination, he 
had the satisfaction to find that they appeared perfectly fresh. This was a 
matter of some consequence to the work, as it must have been attended 
with great inconvenience, to have removed such a vessel as the Floating- 
light, and put another in her place, even for a short period. After this 
inspection, the writer returned to the Rock, having previously requested 
of Mr Reid to make a report in writing, which he did in the following 
terms : 

" Pharos Floating-Light, off" the Bell Rock, 
« Sir, 30th June 1810. 

" According to your orders, I have, on several occasions, du- 
ring this month, careened the Float, and inspected her bottom as much as 
possible while the vessel is at anchor ; but I can see no appearance of 
the wood-worm in any part of it. There is indeed plenty of sea-weed, 
mussels, and red-worms (creatures with many feet), but it is not this kind 


of worm that perforates the planks of shipping ; and as this destructive ani- chap. vi. 
mal generally makes its appearance between wind and water, I am apt to isio, July. 
believe that the Pharos' bottom is perfectly sound and healthy. With re- 
gard to the beam and knee observed to be working a little, I will send a 
note of the scantling of the timber that will be necessary for securing it, to 
Mr Dickie, the carpenter, at Arbroath. I, for one, have no objections to 
another winter on board, without further repairs ; for though she rolls hea- 
vily in the trough of the sea, yet she has, upon the whole, been a very 
kindly ship to me. — I am, Sir, your most obedient servant, 

" To Mr Stevenson. John Reid, Carpenter." 

While William Kennedy, one of the masons, was stepping off the Narrow escape of 
bridge into the entrance-door of the Light-house, one of the cast-iron slips one oftheMa30rs ' 
of the balance-weight of the crane, weighing about 70 lb., fell from the top 
of the building and grazed his left shoulder, but, fortunately, in so gentle 
a manner, that it hardly ruffled the skin ; a few inches nearer, it would 
have carried away his arm or killed him on the spot. 

Sunday, 1st. 

The artificers laid 12 stones to-day, and the seamen landed no fewer 
than 34 blocks. — The writer had now been at the Bell Rock since the writer describes his 
latter end of May, or about six weeks, during four of which he had 
been a constant inhabitant of the Beacon, without having been once off 
the Rock. After witnessing the laying of the Sixty-seventh or second 
Course of the bed-room apartment, he left the Rock with the Tender, 
and went ashore, as some arrangements were to make for the future con- 
duct of the works at Arbroath, which were soon to be brought to a close ; 
the landing-master's crew having, in the mean time, shifted on board 
of the Patriot. In leaving the Rock, the writer kept his eyes fixed 
upon the Light-house, which had recently got into the form of a house, 
having several tiers or storeys of windows. Nor was he unmindful of his 
habitation in the Beacon, now far overtoped by the masonry ; where he 
had spent several weeks in a kind of active retirement, making practical 
experiment of the fewness of the positive wants of n ,n. His cabin 
measured not more than 4 feet 3 inches in breadth on the floor ; and 
though, from the oblique direction of the beams of the Beacon, it widened 
towards the top, yet it did not admit of the fidl extension of his arms 
when he stood on the floor ; while its length was little more than sufficient 
for suspending a cot-bed during the night, calculated for being triced up 
to the roof through the day, which left free room for the admission of 




chap. vi. occasional visitants. His folding-table was attached with hinges, imme- 
lsio, July. diately under the small window of the apartment, and his books, barometer, 
thermometer, portmanteau, and two or three camp-stools, formed the bulk 
of his moveables. His diet being plain, the paraphernalia of the table 
were proportionally simple ; though every thing had the appearance of 
comfort, and even of neatness, the walls being covered with green cloth, 
formed into pannels with red tape, and his bed festooned with curtains of 
yellow cotton-stuff. If, in speculating upon the abstract wants of man in such 
a state of exclusion, one were reduced to a single book, the Sacred Vo- 
lume, whether considered for the striking diversity of its story, — the mora- 
lity of its doctrine, — or the important truths of its Gospel, would have 
proved by far the greatest treasure. 

Monday, 2d. In walking over the work-yard at Arbroath this morning, the writer 

anlmpresseffsea-" ' found that the stones of the course immediately under the cornice were 
all in hand, and that a week's work would now finish the whole ; while the 
intermediate courses lay ready numbered and marked for shipping to the 
Rock. Among other subjects which had occupied his attention to-day, was a 
visit from some of the relations of George Dall, a tyoung man who had 
been impressed near Dundee in the month of February last : A dispute 
had arisen between the Magistrates of that borough and the Regulating 
Officer as to his right of impressing Dall, who was bona fide one of the pro- 
tected seamen in the Bell Rock service. In the mean time, the poor lad 
was detained, and ultimately committed to the prison of Dundee, to remain 
until the question should be tried before the Court of Session. His 
friends were naturally very desirous to have him relieved upon bail. 
But as this was only to be done by the judgment of the Court, all that 
could be said was, that his pay and allowances should be continued 
in the same manner as if he had been upon the sick-list. The cir- 
cumstances of Dall's case, were briefly these. He had gone to see some of his 
friends in the neighbourhood of Dundee, in winter, while the works 
were suspended, having got leave of absence from Mr Taylor, who 
commanded the Bell Rock Tender, and had in his possession one of 
the Protection Medals, represented in Plate XII., and alluded to at 
page 209- Unfortunately, however, for Dall, the Regulating-Officer 
thought proper to disregard these documents, as, according to the strict 
and literal interpretation of the Admiralty regulations, a seaman does 
not stand protected unless he is actually on board of his ship, or in aboat 
belonging to her, or has the Admiralty-protection inhis possession. This or- 



der of the Board, however, cannot be rigidly followed in practice ; and there- chap. vi. 
fore, when the matter is satisfactorily stated to the Regulating-Officer, the isio, j»iy. 
impressed man is generally liberated. But in Dall's case this was peremp- 
torily refused, and he was retained at the instance of the Magistrates. 
The writer having brought the matter under the consideration of the Com- 
missioners of the Northern Light-houses, they authorised it to be tried on 
the part of the Light-house Board, as one of extreme hardship. The 
Court, upon the first hearing, ordered Dall to be liberated from prison ; and 
the proceedings never went further. 

During the three years in which the operations of the Bell Rock Light- Tuesday, 3d 

iii • i ■»«• ■ c i t» i t» i Magistrates of Ar- 

house had been in progress, the Magistrates of the Royal Burgh of Ar- broath visit the Ben 
broath, where the work-yard was established, had shewn the utmost at- 
tention in forwarding the works, by every means in their power. In par- 
ticular, a free or peculiar birth had been given to the vessels of the 
Light-house service, where a crane was permitted to be erected ; and the 
building materials were allowed to be reshipped for the Light-house, with- 
out any additional charge for shore-dues. Indeed, the whole community of 
this town seemed to view the work, and those concerned with the opera- 
tions, in a very favourable manner. The writer was- therefore happy, 
at this time, in having an opportunity of giving effect to an arrange- 
ment long talked of, with the Magistrates and some of their friends, 
of taking a sail to the Bell Rock, to see the progress of the works. 
This having been accordingly intimated to Provost Airth, he gladly 
embarked in the Tender, along with two of the former Chief-Magis- 
trates, Balfour and Milne, and Bailies Duncan, Fleming, Anson, Wight- 
man, and Kid, together with Mr John Colville, Town-Clerk, Messrs 
Bruce, Bell, Balfour, Johnston, Christie and Lindsay, &c. in all six- 
teen. The vessel sailed from Arbroath at an early hour, but the wea- 
ther became thick and foggy, with the wind at S.E., and it was 2 o'clock 
p. M., before she reached her moorings at the Rock, which being then co- 
vered with water, the party had to wait till about 6 before a land- 
ing could be made. During these four hours, the vessel had a very unplea- 
sant rolling motion : the party cast many a weary look towards the Rock 
for its appearance ; and, on landing, much satisfaction was expressed 
at getting a firm footing upon the railways. The party soon began to 
clamber up to the Beacon, and, after examining all its parts, crossed 
the bridge, but only a few ventured to the top of Light-house, from 



1810, July. 

Wednesday, 3d. 
Number of Artificers 
on the Rock reduced 
to 22. 


the narrowness of the passages, and difficult position of the ladders. After 
spending fully three hours upon the Rock,, the water began to rise upon 
the Railways, when the gentlemen again embarked, and were greeted with 
cheers from the workmen. The wind being fair, and the weather plea- 
sant, the Tender soon reached Arbroath, when the party landed, much de- 
lighted with their trip, while the writer was not a little pleased at having 
thus had an opportunity of gratifying so many of his friends. 

The artificers had yesterday laid the Sixty-eighth course of the build- 
ing, consisting of 16 stones, of which 10 had also been landed. The 
Tender having returned from Arbroath this afternoon, the landing-master's 
crew left the Patriot, and took up their quarters again on board of the 
Tender. The artificers lodged in the Beacon had of late varied from 
twenty-six to thirty-one in number ; but the Railways being finished, the 
work now admitted of their being reduced to twenty-two. During the 
time that the Rock was covered with water, and materials could not be 
landed, the masons were employed in dressing off and repolishing any ine- 
qualities which appeared on the interior walls of the different apartments. 
The raising of stones from the waggons on the Rock to the top of the 
building, now about 80 feet in height, had become rather a tedious opera- 
tion. The lift with the balance-crane in particular being upwards of 45 
feet, it required some precaution and trouble in coiling such a length of 
chain upon the barrel. It therefore became necessary to lessen this operation, 
by placing a winch-machine on the store-room floor, and projecting a beam 
from the western window, to form a stage in taking up the stones, as 
will be understood by examining the third year's work of Plate IX., and 
the general view of the operations at the Rock respresented in Plate 

Narrow escape of 
the Smeaton at the 
Bell Rock. Advan- 
tage of Alarm-bells. 

Being now within twelve courses of being ready for building the cornice, 
measures were taken for getting the stones of it and the parapet-wall of the 
Light-room brought from Edinburgh, where, as before noticed, they had 
been prepared, and were in readiness for shipping. The honour of convey- 
ing the upper part of the Light-house, and of landing the last stone of the 
building on the Rock, was considered to belong to Captain Pool of 
the Smeaton, who had been longer in the service than the master of 
the Patriot. The Smeaton was therefore now partly loaded with old 
iron, consisting of broken railways and other lumber, which had been 
lying about the Rock. After landing these at Arbroath, she took on 

OPERATIONS OF 1808. 365 

board James Craw, with his horse and cart, which could now he spared at chap, vi. 
the work-yard, to he employed in carting the stones from Edinburgh to 1810 ' Julv ' 
Leith. Alexander -Davidson and AVilliam Kennedy, two careful masons, 
were also sent to take charge of the loading of the stones at Greenside, and 
stowing them on board of the vessel at Leith. The writer also went on 
board, with a view to call at the Bell Rock, and to take his passage up 
the Frith of Forth. The wind, however, coming to blow very fresh from 
the eastward, with thick and foggy weather, it became necessary to 
reef the mainsail, and set the second-jib. When in the act of making 
a tack towards the Tender, the sailors who worked the head sheets 
were all of a sudden alarmed with the sound of the smith's hammer 
and anvil on the Beacon, and had just time to put the ship about to save 
her from running ashore on the north western point of the Rock, marked 
" James Craw's horse," in Plate VI. On looking towards the direc- 
tion from whence the sound came, the Building and Beacon-house were 
seen, with consternation, while the ship was hailed by those on the Rock, 
who were no less confounded at seeing the near approach of the Smea- 
ton, and, just as the vessel cleared the clanger, the smith and those 
in the mortar-galley made signs in token of their happiness at our 
fortunate escape. From this occurrence the writer had an experimental 
proof of the utility of the large Bells which were in preparation to be 
rung by the machinery of the Revolving-light ; for, had it not been the 
sound of the smith's anvil, the Smeaton, in all probability, would have 
been wrecked upon the Rock. In case the vessel had struck, those on board 
might have been safe, having now the Beacon-house as a place of refuge ; 
but the vessel, which was going at a great velocity, must have suffered se- 
verely, and it was more than probable that the horse would have been 
drowned, there being no means of getting him out of the vessel. Of this 
valuable animal and his master, both delineated in Plate X., Ave shall 
take an opportunity of saying more in another part of the work. 

The weather cleared up in the course of the night, but the wind shift- The Artificers on the 
ed to the N.E., and blew very fresh : and it was with difficulty that a alarmed 8 "* 1 ' 7 
communication could be made with the Tender, after which the Smea- 
ton bore away for Leith about 7 a. m. At 9 she was abreast of Fife- 
ness, and at half-past 1 p. m. got safely into Leith harbour, after a 
passage of about six hours, which was fully the quickest which the writer 
had made from the Bell Rock to Leith, a distance of about 38 miles. 
From the force of the wind, being now the period of spring-tides, a very 





1810, July. 

Progress of the 
Light-room works. 

Works at Arbroath 
completed. " 

heavy swell was experienced at the Rock : at 2 o'clock on the follow- 
ing morning, the people on the Beacon were in a state of great alarm 
about their safety, as the sea had broke up part of the floor of the mor- 
tar-gallery, which was thus cleared of the lime-casks, and other buoyant ar- 
ticles ; and the alarm-bell being rung, all hands were called to render what 
assistance was in their power for the safety of themselves and the mate- 
rials. At this time, some would willingly have left the Beacon and gone 
into the Building : the sea, however, ran so high, that there was no pas- 
sage along the bridge of communication ; and when the interior of the 
Light-house came to be examined in the morning, it appeared that great 
quantities of water had come over the walls, now 80 feet in height, and had 
run down through the several apartments, and out at the entrance-door. 
From this state of things the work was stopped for two days, in the course 
of which the joiners got the mortar-gallery refitted, and the landing-mas- 
ter's crew supplied it with a fresh stock of materials for making mortar. 
Notwithstanding this state of the sea upon the Rock, the Tender and 
Patriot still kept at their moorings. Such, indeed, was the practice of 
the seamen, in this kind of life, that, unless when the wind blew from 
N.W., or in such a direction as made the vessels ride with their sterns 
towards the Rock, they never thought of moving from their moorings, 
unless the vessels were deeply loaded. 

On reaching Edinburgh, the writer found the Light-room and Re- 
flecting-apparatus in considerable forwardness at the Greenside Company's 
works. He had also received advice from Prescot, that the plate-glass for 
the windows would soon be in a state of readiness ; and Messrs Meirs and 
Son of London intimated, that they would cast the Bells at any time, on 
receiving a week or ten days notice. The only article connected with the 
light-room, regarding which there was a doubt, was the coloured glass for 
distinguishing the light, which had long since been commissioned from Mr 
Okey of London, who, though a very ingenious artist, was rather an irre- 
gular correspondent. 

The upper course of the Light-house at the work-yard of Arbroath, 
was completed on the 6th, and the whole of the stones were therefore now 
ready for being shipped to the Rock. The operations of the hewers or 
stone-cutters were thus brought very nearly to a close : only the 23 
steps of the stone staircase of the Light-house remained to be dressed ; 
and this piece of work was reserved for some of the principal masons, 

OPERATIONS OF 1810. 367 

on their return from the Rock, as the steps could not be conveniently chap, vi. 
built until the balance-crane and other bulky apparatus were removed mo > Jl,l >'- 
from the building. From the present state of the works, it was im- 
possible that the two squads of artificers at Arbroath and the Bell 
Rock could meet together at this period ; and as, in public works of this 
kind, which had continued for a series of years, it is not customary to 
allow the men to separate without what is termed a " Finishing-pint," 
five guineas were for this purpose placed at the disposal of Mr David 
Logan, clerk of works. With this sum the stone-cutters at Arbroath 
had a merry-meeting in their barrack, collected their sweethearts and 
friends, and concluded their labours with a dance. It was remarked, how- 
ever, that their happiness on this occasion was not without alloy. The con- 
sideration of parting, and leaving a steady and regular employment, to go 
in quest of work, and mix with other society, after having been harmo- 
niously lodged for years together in one large " Guildhall or Barrack," 
was rather painful. The completion of this part of the work at Arbroath 
was felt as an era in the Light-house affairs, by admitting of the dis- 
charge of so considerable a number of the artificers. Mr David Logan, 
by this means also, got off to the Bell Rock, having been hitherto chiefly 
confined to the operations ashore. 

While the writer was at Edinburgh, he was fortunate enough to meet Mr smeaton's 
with Mrs Dickson, only daughter of the late celebrated Mr Smeaton, S^Weworks 
whose works at the Edystone Light-house had been of such essential conse- '"" Ed,nburgh - 
quence to the operations at the Bell Rock. Even her own elegant ac- 
complishments are identified with her father's work, she having herself made 
the drawing of the vignette on the title-page of the Narrative of the Edy- 
stone Light-house. Every admirer of the works of that singularly eminent 
man, must also feel an obligation to her for the very comprehensive and dis- 
tinct account given of his life, which is attached to his Reports, published 
in three volumes quarto, by the Society of Civil Engineers. Mrs Dickson 
being, at this time, returning from a tour to the Hebrides and Wes- 
tern Highlands of Scotland, had heard of the Bell Rock works, and 
from their similarity to those of the Edystone, was strongly impressed 
with the desire of visiting the spot. But, on inquiring for the writer at 
Edinburgh, and finding from him that the upper part of the Light-house, 
consisting of nine courses, might be seen