Automatic Tide Marker Station

(Pilot House)

Automatic Tide Marker Station, Irvine Beach Park
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Automatic Tide Marker Station, Irvine Beach Park

A unique white-painted four-storey tower located within Irvine Beach Park, to the south of the mouth of the River Irvine, the Automatic Tide Marker Station began operation on 23rd May 1906 to give an indication of water depth at the entrance to Irvine Harbour to incoming ships. Although no longer functioning, the system relied on a float in a wooden chamber next to the river which rose and fell with the tide. This was connected via a cable to a series of chains and pulleys which displayed a signal in the form of balls on the tower. The signal used oil-lamps at night. Known locally as the 'Pilot House', it replaced a manual system instituted in the 1830s which was designed to prevent ships running aground. The apparatus was designed and patented by Martin Boyd (1846 - 1918), the Irvine harbourmaster. Although it fell from use in the early 1970s, the 15.2-m / 50-foot high building is now B-listed but also on the Buildings at Risk Register, awaiting a new use.

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