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The old Ness beacon
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The old Ness beacon

The old Ness beacon, 1979.
Picture added on 04 March 2012 at 18:44
Chancing upon a website giving the rateable value of the current Ness beacon as £4000 wef 01 Apr 2010, possibly the least vital piece of information I've come across in recent years, I thought I'd see if I could come up with something more involving. (I have a mild interest in such things because my maternal grandfather probably made the coal gas for the beacon, and other minor lights, when he was NLB depot manager early in the 20th century. Shovelling coal in, coke out was an important part of his duties.) I mainly wanted to know when it was first set up, but what little I've found is confusing.
The London Gazette warned mariners that the structure had been painted this fetching shade of black in 1888. Yet there are sources that confidently state it was erected in 1895. If so, what did those guys think they were painting? 'History Man' Jim Troup, in the booklet 'STROMNESS' he wrote with Frank Eunson in 1967, nails his colours to the fence and says the beacon was erected 'late in the [19th] century'. Anyhow, whenever it was founded - and don't imagine nobody's going to tell us - it did the business for a hundred years or more, maybe with renovations or rebuilds I don't know about. As a mere landlubber I much preferred it to the present one.
Added by Ian Hourston on 03 April 2012
A map dated 1882, reproduced as endpapers in that wonderful book Sea Haven, shows a beacon on the Skerry of Ness.
Added by Ian Hourston on 19 April 2012
Have just googled an item in the London Gazette of 30 Aug 1895, advising that this beacon was about to be lit, presumably for the first time, in September of that year. It hadn't occurred to me that beacons could be unlit, or without some other means of advertising their presence beyond a fresh coat of black paint. Anyhow, my confusion over dates is explained, though I still haven't found a date for the first beacon.
Added by Ian Hourston on 19 April 2012
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