Muckle Flugga Lighthouse

Shetlopedia - The Shetland Encyclopaedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Muckle Flugga seen from Saxa Vord
Picture by Shetlopedian Raventowers.
Muckle Flugga
Picture by: Jonny McIntosh
Old postcard of Muckle Flugga Lighthouse. Published by H. Morrison & Sons, Lerwick, about 1905
The landing place at Muckle Flugga
Old postcard by J. D. Rattar,showing the shore station and NLB's tender "Pole Star" in the background
August 2007


Basic Information :

Name Muckle Flugga Lighthouse
Position Latitude 60° 51.3’N

Longitude 00° 53.0’W
(HP 607197)

Location On the holm Muckle Flugga, north of the island of Unst
Description A white tower, 64 foot high, 71 steps to the top
Built by Thomas & David Stevenson
First lit January 1st 1858
Character Flashing (2)White every 20 secs
Nominal Range 22 miles
Elevation 217 foot
Automated March 1995.
Other information First named "North Unst", but changed to "Muckle Flugga" in 1964

It is Britain's most northerly lighthouse.

History - The First Tower

As far back as 1851 it was decided to build a lighthouse on North Unst, but due to difficulties determing the exact location, nothing had been done at the start of 1854. During the Crimean War the government urged the commissioners to set up a light on Muckle Flugga to protect Her Majesty's ships.
A temporary lighthouse, a structure 50 foot high and 200 foot above sea level, was made and lit on October 11th 1854. It was thought to be high and safe enough, but when winter storms began, waves broke heavily on the tower and burst open the door to the living quarters. The principal keeper reported that 40 foot of stone dyke had broke down, and they had no dry place to sit or sleep.
Plans were made for a higher and more permanent lighthouse, but there were still disagreements about where to locate it, Muckle Flugga or Lamba Ness.
The orders to start the work on the new Muckle Flugga tower were finally given in June 1855.

Notice to Mariners

"The Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses hereby give notice that, with the view to a permanent light being ultimately established in the same locality, a temporary lighthouse tower has been erected off the north end of the Island of Unst, in Shetland, and that the light will be exhibited therefrom for the first time on the night of Wednesday, llth October, 1854, and every night thereafter, from the going away of daylight in the evening till the return of daylight in the morning.
The following is a specification of the lighthouse, and the appearance of the light, by Mr. David Stevenson, Engineer to the Commissioners:-
The temporary lighthouse is erected on Muckle Flugga, being one of the group of rocks called Burra Fiord Holms, which lie off the headland of Hermaness, being the northern extremity of the Island of Unst. The lighthouse is in N. lat. 60° 51' 20", and W. long. 0° 53' 8".
The small rock called the Out Stack, which is the most northern rock of the Shetland Isles, bears from the lighthouse about E. by N. 1/2 N. by compass, and is distant about half a nautic mile.
The North Unst Light will be known to mariners as a Fixed Light, of the natural color. It is elevated about 165 feet above the level of high water of ordinary spring tides, and may be seen at the distance of about 19 nautic miles, and at lesser distances according to the state of the atmosphere.
The Commissioners further give notice, that by Order in Council, dated the 3rd. day of July last, the following tolls are authorized to be levied in respect of the said lighthouse, viz. :-
For every vessel belonging to the United Kingdom, (the same not belonging to her majesty, her heirs or successors, nor being navigated wholly in ballast,) and for every foreign vessel privileged to enter the ports of the United Kingdom upon paying the same duties of tonnage as are payable by British vessels which may pass or derive benefit from the light, the toll of two-sixteenths of a penny per ton of the burden of every such vessel for every time of passing or deriving benefit therefrom, if on a coasting voyage.
For each time of passing or deriving benefit on an oversea voyage, one penny per ton for every such vessel.
For every foreign vessel not navigated wholly in ballast, and not privileged in manner before specified, double the respective-tolls above set forth.
Which tolls are liable to the following abatements on payment-for a coasting voyage, 10 per cent; for an oversea voyage, 25 per cent.

By order of the Board,
Northern Lighthouse Office,
Edinburg, 20 September, 1851."<ref>Hunt A.M., Freeman, The Mechant's Magazine and Commercial Review, Vol. 31, July to December 1854, New York, 1854. p. 628-629.</ref>

Muckle Flugga Shore Station

Muckle Flugga Shore Station with Saxa Vord in the background.
Photo by Kozetland1.
Muckle Flugga Shore Station

Muckle Flugga was one of the few lighthouses in Scotland which had a separate shore station that served as accommodation for the lighthouse keepers when they were off duty. (The Out Skerries Lighthouse on Bound Skerry had their shore station on Grunay - similar to Sule Skerry and its shore station in Stromness - Orkney). When the light was automated the shore station was sold off. The building is divided into four flats, three private dwellings and the Hermaness Visitor Centre at the entrance to the neighbouring Hermaness National Nature Reserve, managed by Scottish National Heritage (SNH)[1].
The rest of the land inside the stone walls, including the slipway, boathouse and ancillary buildings is now owned by Muckle Flugga Charters [2] who operate boat tours around Shetland and offer visitor accommodation in one of the cottages on the site.
The small area of flat ground above the slipway was cultivated by the keepers as their vegetable garden. Trees and bushes have now been planted here.

External links



Personal tools

Other Useful Pages
Shetlopedia Projects