As many times as I have visited North Queensferry I have managed to completely missed this, it really is the smallest! I found it this week while looking for the Waterloo Monument to start the next part of the Coastal Path. I failed to find the monument but was not disappointed for long when I stumbled across this.
It is situated right on the waterfront of the Firth of Forth, on Town Pier, in between the two magnificent bridges giving it fantastic views over the water towards South Queensferry, and Edinburgh.
The lighthouse was built to guide ferries safely to the waters edge. At the time there was no proper docking places, mere slipways down to the waters edge and considering that in 1811 the Ferry Passage was used by 1,515 carriages, 13,154 horses, 18,057 cows, 25,151 sheep, 2,615 dogs and 5,520 barrel bulk, some kind of lighting system was desperately needed!
So in 1817 work began on the Lighthouse, build by John Rennie, with the lighting designed by the famous Robert Stevenson who also designed the Bell Rock Lighthouse off the coast of Angus. Standing at a mere 11 feet with only 24 winding steps to the Lantern Room at the top it is hexagonal in shape and had a large copper dome, although this has now been painted dark grey. At the time it was lit by an Argand Oil Lamp backed by a parabolic reflector until paraffin was brought into use in 1850.
Once the Forth Road bridge opened in 1964 and the ferry service was discontinued the lighthouse was no longer needed and fell into disrepair. That was until 2009 when the North Queensferry Heritage Trust took it over and began its restoration. The stone on the outside was repaired, all the glass was replaced, as well as the cast iron window frames and the dome was stripped back and repainted.
In June 2010 the HRH Princess Royal attended the reopening and lit the lamp for the first time in 120 years. Visitors are now free to visit during opening hours and you can even light the light for £8, if you book ahead. Only one or two people can enter at the same time as the staircase is very narrow so try and visit when its likely to be quiet. We went on a weekday morning and there was no one around so we got to take our time. This was a fascinating find, a nice wee slice of history and fantastic views!