1st February 1811

Bell Rock lighthouse is lit for the first time

Bell Rock lighthouse takes its name from the submerged reef on which it was built by Robert Stevenson between 1807 and 1810.  It was first lit at the start of February the following year, making it the oldest offshore lighthouse still in use in the world.

Built of Cairngall granite, it’s 35m tall and its light has a range of 21 miles (18 nautical miles). It is painted white. The rock on which it stands is only exposed at low tide, making it a significant risk to passing maritime traffic. It is around 12 miles from shore and required that the men working to build the lighthouse lived there throughout its construction. Initially, they lived on a boat, but they soon constructed an elevated hut on the rock itself.

Distinctive lantern

The day before its first illumination, the Cheltenham Chronicle wrote that it had been fitted with red and yellow glass to distinguish its beam from any other and that “from the great height of the building, twelve miles advanced into the German ocean, it is confidently expected that the light will, in ordinary weather, be visible at so great a distance as to greatly assist in preventing the recurrence of such mistakes as have this winter happened in what seafaring people term Berwick Bay.”



Other events that occured in February

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