Robert Stevenson, 1815; circular lighthouse and block of 2-storey keepers' houses. D A Stevenson, 1889; engine house, and additions and alterations to houses.
LIGHTHOUSE: 6-stage tower. Painted rubble; painted ashlar dressings. Raised margins. Modern glazing in windows, except in quatrefoil. Projecting crenellated course between 2nd and 3rd stages. 3 band courses between upper stages. Quatrefoils to N, E, S and W at 6th stage, blinded except to W. Window to remaining stages to W, blinded at 1st stage. Window to 3rd stage and blinded window to 5th stage to E. Corbelled gallery, with diamond-patterned metal railing. Domed lantern, with 3 rows of triangular framed glazing. Single storey corridor adjoined to E, linking tower to keepers' houses.
INTERIOR spiral stair; cast-iron balustrade with timber handrail. Brass fittings. Original clockwork machinery.
LIGHTHOUSE KEEPERS' HOUSES: 2-storey, with basement to S and with cellars; contains 3 houses, 2 at ground floor, 1 at 1st floor. Painted rubble; painted droved ashlar dressings. Rusticated quoins. Band course between floors. Raised margins. Base course. Flat-roofed, with eaves cornice and blocking course. Corniced and shouldered wallhead stacks at centre to N and S. Sash and case windows; 8-pane glazing to W, 2-pane glazing at 1st floor and 4-pane glazing at ground floor to E and N.
E ELEVATION: 3-bay main block. Outer bays advanced, with tripartite windows to both floors. Door (modern) at centre at 1st floor (enlarged from window); winding forestair up (1889), with door to N return and small windows to E and S, and with decorative polygonal piers at base; (originally window at ground at centre). Single storey wings (1889) flanking to left and right; window to wing to right.
S ELEVATION: single storey and basement wing adjoined to right; window to W; panelled door to left and window to right below at basement; wallhead stack to S. Door into cellars to left of wing.
N ELEVATION: blinded window at centre at 1st floor. Wing adjoined to left, with wallhead stack; wing enlarged and slightly recessed to right, with bipartite window; extended beyond elevation to right, with chamfered angle, to clasp W elevation.
W ELEVATION: 5-bay. Linking corridor adjoined at ground at centre. Window above and in remaining bays at ground and 1st floors.
CORRIDOR: linking tower and keepers' houses. Similarly detailed; double-leaf boarded doors. Door to left and window to right to S; engine house adjoined to left. Door to left to N (original entrance to all 3 houses); modern harled block adjoined to right, with 3 windows to N.
ENGINE HOUSE: adjoined to lighthouse and linking corridor to S. Painted brick. Flat-roofed, with blocking course. Metal-framed small-pane glazing. Segmental-arched openings. Bays recessed by pilaster strips. Door to right, and window to left and centre to W. Machinery door to left and window to right and centre to E. 2 windows to left to S; lower block (originally workshop and store), surmounted by tank, adjoined to right with 2 windows to S, window to W and door to E.
Single storey building to S. Enlarged in brick to E and S (1889).
Similarly detailed. Door and flanking windows to right to N, to
original section; blocking course slightly raised above door and
inscribed "1815". 2 later segmental-arched doors to left. Enlarged as lean-to (originally containing ash pits) to S, with door and 2 windows.
Foghorn (D A Stevenson, 1889) situated to W. Set on raised concrete platform, continued round base of foghorn engine house.
ENCLOSURE WALLS: painted rubble walls. Crenellated wall to N of lighthouse; pillar well in wall. Wall continued to form cultivation enclosure to E.
Former milkhouses to E. Former byre further E.
Statement of Special Interest
Corsewall Lighthouse is permanently manned. A plaque in the lighthouse is inscribed "Designed by Messrs Stevenson, Civil Engineer, Edinburgh and constructed by M M Soutter Harle, Paris and Messrs James Dove & Co,
Edinburgh". According to the NEW STATISTICAL ACCOUNT the foundation stone was laid on 17th June 1815, and the lighthouse came into use on 15th September 1816. The cellars of the houses originally contained a washing house and storage for supplies and coals. The engine house originally contained an engine house, workshop and store. Petroleum and lighthouse oil stores, built in 1889 and adjoined to the houses to the SE, have been removed.
Corsewall Lighthouse, in south west Scotland, was designed by celebrated lighthouse engineer Robert Stevenson and built by contract workers. Its purpose is to mark the east side of the channel between the Rhinns of Galloway and the Irish coast. The light remains operational, though automated in 1994, but the surrounding buildings are now in private ownervessel.
Corsewall is typical of the 18 Scottish lights constructed to Stevenson’s designs between 1812 and 1833. It was built for the Northern Lighthouse Board (est.1786), which is responsible for lighthouses around the coast of Scotland and the Isle of Man.
Stevenson (1772-1850) visited the site in December 1815, at which time 9m of the tower and part of the two-storey keepers' accommodation had been completed. His specification for the light, published in local newspapers in October 1816, advertised that "The light will be from oil with a reflecting and revolving apparatus …" giving "… light of natural appearance alternating with red".
The lighthouse has a tapering circular masonry tower 26.2m high, set on a castellated cylindrical base. The light is 33.5m above sea level and reached by a winding stair. The light room has a domed copper roof with three rows of triangular metal-framed glazing, surrounded by a walkway with a latticed parapet.
The original lantern consisted of an oil lamp with 12 reflectors, which had to have daytime covers to prevent spontaneous combustion. Lighthouse construction was completed in 1816 and the light first exhibited in 1817.
The tower and keeper's accommodation are composed of whin rubble, which let in dampness from the atmosphere. Around 1835, the buildings were given a coat of linseed oil and sand to cure the problem.
David Alan Stevenson (1854-1938), Robert Stevenson’s grandson, modernised the lighthouse in 1889-91 by adding a brickwork engine house to power a new foghorn, and refurbishing the accommodation. Further improvements were carried out in 1910.
The lighthouse suffered minor bomb damage in 1941. In November 1970, the supersonic jet Concord flew over the lighthouse on one of its trial flights, shattering some of the panes of glass in the lantern.
Corsewall Lighthouse became a Category A listed building in July 1972 and was automated in 1994. Its present light has five white flashes every 30 seconds and can be seen for some 41km. The lighthouse remains in use and is monitored remotely from the Northern Lighthouse Board’s offices in Edinburgh. An Automatic Identification System (AIS) has been installed as an aid to navigation.
Supervising engineer: Lachlan Kennedy
is situated on the northern tip of the Rhinns of Galloway. One definition of the name Corsewall is the place of the Cross. Another is the Well of the Cross, probably from the original name Corsewall. There are many cross names, Kross in Iceland, Corse and Cross is Orkney and similar names in Shetland.
As far back as 1814 a Mr Kirkman Finley made an application to the Trade of Clyde for a light on Corsill Point. The Northern Lighthouse Board Engineer investigated the possibility, and in 1815 decided that a light at the entrance of Lochryan in Galloway and also one on Point of Ayre is the Isle of Man, would be the most beneficial improvement that could be made on the West coast. On Mr Stevenson's Inspection Voyage in December of that year he found that the building operations were going on with all expedition and the first stage of the tower (30ft in height) and a part of the dwelling house were being built.
Shortly after the light was first exhibited in 1817 the engineer reported that the Principal Keeper at Corsewall, having fallen asleep while on duty, whereby the revolving apparatus of the light had stopped for a certain period, had been suspended by him from the keeping of the said light and had been sent to the Bell Rock to act as Assistant.
In November 1970, Concorde flew over the lighthouse on a trial flight and quite a number of panes of glass were broken. Since then the Concorde has passed overhead frequently but no further damage had been observed.
Corsewall Lighthouse was automated in 1994 and is now remotely monitored from the Northern Lighthouse Board’s offices in Edinburgh. The former Lightkeepers accommodation was sold and is now operated as the Corsewall Lighthouse Hotel.
It should be noted that at some sites the Northern Lighthouse Board have sold some redundant buildings within the lighthouse complex and are not responsible for the maintenance of these building.