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David Thomson
Historic Covesea Lighthouse extinguished after 166 years

In 1845 Alan Stevenson, uncle of the writer Robert Louis Stevenson, designed and oversaw construction of the Covesea lighthouse at Lossiemouth. The Stevenson family had designed and built all of the lighthouses around Scotland, and also managed them until the northern Lighthouse Board took over that responsibility.

Alanís father Robert Stevenson had married the daughter of Thomas Smith who made and serviced all the street lights in Edinburgh. That led to his appointment as engineer to the lighthouse board, a position that was held later by his sons and grandsons.

The Covesea light commenced operation in 1846 and served continuously until last year, 2012 when it was extinguished and replaced by a navigational buoy with an X band radar beacon which is anchored by the Halliman skerries. The original lighthouse lens is now on display in the Lossiemouth Fisheries and community Museum.

The lighthouse was erected following strong local pleas after the loss of 16 vessels sunk in a storm in 1826. Lights were requested for Lossie and Tarbet Ness just across the Moray Firth. It took time to convince the Northern Lighthouses commissioners, but eventually they agreed to erect a beacon on the Halliman Skerries, and Lighthouses at Tarbet Ness and Lossiemouth.

The Lossie light was constructed on the Covesea headland. Its beautiful conical tower is 36 metres high (118 feet) and the light itself was 49 metres above sea level. The Northern Lighthouse Board (the Scottish subsidiary of Trinity house) managed the light most of its life. In 1984 the light was automated, making keepers redundant. When in operation the light had a white sector seaward, and a red sector showing to the east towards the Halliman rocks. It flashed every 20 seconds.

The Covesea lighthouse property is being preserved as a tourist attraction, with its keepers cottages available for short term rentals. The Lossiemouth Business Association is actively seeking to develop the area and facilities. It recently received a grant of £ 300,000 to purchase the lighthouse from the Board.


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