Port Patrick

Light's of the Southwest Coast of Scotland

In Salutem Omnium
For the Safety of All
Holy Isle near Arran
Flag of Scotland
© Composted by:
Bob Schrage
updated: 03-01-2019


Lighthouse plaque
Pladda (Scottish Gaelic: Pladaigh) is an uninhabited island 1 km off the south coast of the Isle of Arran in the Firth of Clyde western Scotland. It is home to the automated Pladda Lighthouse. The island is privately owned, having been put up for sale by Arran Estate in 1990.

Pladda lighthouse is a white tower with a height of 29 meters. It is the oldest of the Arran lighthouses and situated on the Isle of Pladda just off the Southern tip of the Isle of Arran. Pladda lighthouse is not only the oldest lighthouse around Arran but also one of the oldest lighthouses in Scotland. Pladda lighthouse was built in 1790 by Thomas Smith and showing a lower light from a small lantern 6 m. below the main light to allow seafareres to distinguish Pladda from other lighthouses close by, notably those on the Mull of Kintyre, Cumbrae and Copeland at the Irish coast.

The lighthouse was rebuilt between 1821 and 1830. Pladda was one of Northern Lights' lighthouses where paraffin as a new fuel together with multiple wicks were tested successfully in 1870. This allowed substantial savings with a simoultaneous increase in power between 10% and 100%. Fog signals were introduced in the 1870s as well. In 1901, the formerly fixed light was changed to a more powerful group-flashing which was Northern Light's plan for most Scottish lighthouses at the time. Pladda lighthouse operates fully automatic since 1990.

Pladda Lighthouse was built on the pear-shaped island of Pladda, off the South East corner of Arran. Lighted in October 1790, it joined those on the Mull of Kintyre, Cumbrae in the Firth of Clyde, and Copeland light on the Irish coast.

In 1870 trials were carried out at Pladda with paraffin, a light material oil which now superseded colya, just as that on Joseph Mumi's recommendation had succeeded sperm oil. In 1874 the Commissioners ordered sirens driven by hot air engines from America. Pladda was about the third station in 1876 to have a fog signal.

Pladda Foghorn

In 1901 fixed lights were no longer regarded as suitable for the great landfall and coastal lights and a powerful group flashing light was installed.

Provisions and other light stores were brought to the lighthouse by boatmen permanently attached to the station and they also carried out the reliefs. These attending boats were limited to 4 visits to the rock per month, 2 on Sundays to enable the lightkeepers to attend church. All this changed in 1972 with the introduction to the service of the helicopter, which was used to transport the keepers back and forward.

The Station was automated in 1990 and the Lightkeepers withdrawn. The light is now remotely monitored from the Northern Lighthouse Boards Headquarters in Edinburgh. 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

For a long time, lighthouses mostly burned wood, coal and candles before oil became predominant. Oil was mostly used in the form of whale oil and colza oil before the introduction of kerosene in the mid 19th century and eventually electricity. Mainland stations excepted, lights were mostly manned by 3 lighthouse keepers with 3 colleagues on shore leave on a 4 weeks on 4 weeks off rotation. Keepers were expected to be on duty at night to supervise the proper function of the lights, keep a 24-hour watch for fog and maintain and service the station during daytime. A first programme of automation in the early 20th century reduced the numbers necessary to staff a station and many lighthouse keepers were made redundant. In the 1980s and 1990s, all Scottish lighthouses were eventually fully automated and the process was completed in 1998.

Pladda originally had a high and low light in two seperate lightrooms,only the high light was in use in 1973, one of the keepers used the lower lightroom for growing tomatoes.

Pladda was originally an Island station so there was plenty of accommodation,though washing facilities were not exactly modern, there was a so called portable shower, a containor filled with water and hand pumped to pressurise it and feed a hand held water dispensor - absolutely useless. The old washroom had an old gas fired copper (boiler used for laundry) so you could heat a reasonable amount of water and splash it about when having a stand-up bath.


Character: Fl(3) W 30s 40m 17M
(fl. 0.7s - ec. 3.1s)

EngineerThomas Smith (1752-1815)

Lat, Lon55°25.500' N, 05°07.100' W

EstablishedOctober 1790
CharacterFlashing(3) White every 30 secs.
Range31.4 km / 17 nM
Tower29 meters, 128 steps to top of the tower
Elevation40 meters above sealevel
Fog hornDiscont. (was 1 blast every 20s)

AuthorityNorthern Lighthouse Board

Pladda lighthouse
Pladda lighthouse
Pladda lighthouse
Pladda map
Pladda map

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