Round Island (TH)
Photo with kind permission of Trinity House.
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POSITION 49° 58'.7 N 06° 19'.3 W
Location: Most northerly sector of the Isles of Scilly
No. On Admiralty List of Lights: 0018
Present Tower Built: 1906
Tower Composition: Granite
Height of tower: 62 ft 6 ins (19 m) to top of drum ventilator
Focal height of light: 180 ft 6 ins (55 m) above mean tide level
Builders: Trinity House contractors
Designer: Sir James Nicholas Douglass
Resident Engineer: William Tregarthen Douglass
First Lit: October 1887
Round Island is the most northerly outpost of the Isles of Scilly and is a 40m mass of granite. The top of this rock is formed into a platform. In 1887 Trinity House built a lighthouse and dwellings under conditions of extreme difficulty. The sheer rock face made the unloading of building materials almost impossible.
Prior to human presence on this inhospitable rock island, it was home to thousands of puffins. However these extremely tame birds laid hundreds of eggs which the workers utilized for food. At times the birds would even wander inside of the partly built structure, which caused the men to spend a considerable time in their removal.
Sadly within less than two years of the Round Island lighthouse becoming operational, these puffins were no where to be found on the rock.
This lighthouse station was designed by Sir James Nicholas Douglass, with his son William Tregarthen Douglass the resident engineer for the project. The contract was carried out at the same time as the Bishop Rock lighthouse was being strengthened and rebuilt.
Today the only access, apart from by helicopter, is by a flight of steps cut into the solid rock.
The enormous hyperradial optic, fitted to only two other lighthouses at the beginning of the 20th century, was replaced in 1967 with more modern apparatus.
Sadly this period of time did not allow for the costly preservation of the majestic optical assembly, with its removers unceremoniously dumping it over the side of the rock and into the sea.
In 1987 the automation of the lighthouse saw the removal of the 20 year old system when the present equipment was installed.
Round Island Lighthouse is monitored and controlled from the Trinity House Operational Control Centre in Harwich.