Back in April I was given a particularly great opportunity to have a look inside our most “local” lighthouse, Strathy Point. Through a very kind work colleague of Bob’s, who lives in the lighthouse compound, we managed to have a really good nose around.
The tower itself, which only came into service in 1958, marked a previously “dark” area on the north coast. The first proposal for a lighthouse to be positioned here was submitted, and rejected, back in 1900 and a temporary light was displayed at Strathy Point during the Second World War. Joan, my new friend at the lighthouse, lent us a short film which followed one of the Northern Lighthouse Board’s visits to various lighthouses around the north of Scotland in 1958 (the film can be viewed online here). The film shows the opening of Strathy Point lighthouse.
After a review of local shipping and, apparently, local consultation, a decision was made by the General Lighthouse Authorities in 2010 that the light should be switched off. This happened in March 2012, a sad occasion for the residents of Strathy and the surrounding villages who had become so used to seeing the light sweeping across the nearby land.
The lighthouse tower was then sold in 2013 to a very friendly man named John, who is currently renovating the internals of the building. We enjoyed our tour around. My favourite part had to be the lamp room, which John has a couple of stools in for making the most of the impressive panoramic views. I had a vision while up there of how I would have done it up with a lovely window seat around the sides and Joan and I agreed that the wide staircase on the way up to the lamp room would be the perfect place for some nice, curved bookcases!
One of the glass panes up in the lamp room has sustained some damage fairly recently after the tower was struck by lightning. There was also damage done to the outside of the structure.
While we were there, John took us down a ladder leading to a platform and showed us a hidden room that is only accessible from the tower. He told us about his plans for the room, which will turn it from a disused water tank store to another viewing area for gazing out to sea.
We all thoroughly enjoyed our visit, including our little man, who seemed particularly keen on trying to climb the first steps of the ladder up to the lamp room. It was fantastic to be able to see inside and I am very grateful to Joan for showing us around and for then offering us a cup of tea in her former lighthouse keeper’s cottage – and allowing an 18-month-old into her home. Also, thanks to John for letting us be nosey! 🙂