Fair Isle North Lighthouse

(Skroo Lighthouse)

One of two lighthouses on the remote island of Fair Isle, between Orkney and Shetland, the Fair Isle North Lighthouse is located at Skroo at the northeasternmost tip of the island. It has a similar history to Fair Isle South Lighthouse; both were the work of David A. Stevenson (1854 - 1938) and his brother Charles Stevenson (1855 - 1950), and both were first illuminated in 1892. However, the North Lighthouse is a much smaller tower, only 14m (47 feet) in height because it can take advantage of the 65-m (215-foot) high cliffs on which it stands, to elevate the light giving a range of 25 miles (41 km). A foghorn is located further out on The Nizz, accessed by a path marked by iron railings.

The lamp was originally illuminated using paraffin and turned by a clockwork-mechanism that was powered by a descending weight. When this weight came close to its lower limit, an alarm was rung to alert the keepers. An electric lamp was eventually installed using electricity supplied by diesel generators located in an adjacent engine room. A further generator powered lights in the keepers' cottages. At the time of automation in 1983, a new light array had been installed, powered by large capacity nickel cadmium batteries periodically charged by photoelectric panels, topped-up by diesel generators. The rotating pedestal was also replaced by an electrically-driven equivalent. The fog signal was automated by installing a back scatter fog detector. The lighthouse in now remotely monitored from the Northern Lighthouse Board Headquarters in Edinburgh and the accommodation block was subsequently demolished.

Fair Isle North Lighthouse was subjected to enemy action during the Second World War. On 28th March 1941 a plane dropped two bombs which missed their target and the keepers' cottages were machine-gunned. A second attack took place on 18th April the same year when another plane dropped bombs which destroyed outhouses. On 21st January 1942 Roderick Macaulay, Assistant Keeper, walked through the snow to help restore the light on Fair Isle South Lighthouse, which had also been bombed, killing three people, and then returned to take his own watch in the north. He was awarded the British Empire Medal.

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