Bressay Lighthouse History

Bressay Lighthouse was built in 1858 and designed by brothers David and Thomas Stevenson, of the famous Stevenson family of lighthouse engineers.

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David initially believed that building a lighthouse in Shetland would be too dangerous and expensive and that “any ship which took this route must be mad.” Despite the reservations, the lighthouse was built by local firm Alex Wilson. The construction cost £2324 15s 5d with additional costs of almost £250 for machinery and reflector panels. This is roughly £198,000.00 in today’s money, which is quite good value when considering the first Head Lightkeeper received £53.00 per year – equivalent to £36,000.00 today.

The light has provided a timely warning for many mariners over the last 140 years and still provides a welcome sight for many travellers heading north to these isles.

The light was fully automated in 1989 and the lighthouse keeper’s cottages were sold to the Shetland Amenity Trust in 1995 for use as self catering accommodation. The actual light remains under the responsibility and care of the Northern Lighthouse Board.

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