Rubha nan Gall

Rubha nan Gall Lighthouse
Rubha nan Gall
Current Version Built:
Height (ft):
David Stevenson and Thomas Stevenson
Northern Lighthouse Board

Rubha nan Gall, which is Scottish Gaelic for "Strangers Point" is a small rocky peninsular that juts out into the Sound of Mull, an important route for shipping on the West coast of Scotland, nowadays primarily used by Caledonian MacBrayne ferries and fishing vessels operating out of Oban and Tobermory.

Rubha nan Gall Lighthouse, sometimes referred to as Tobermory Lighthouse, is the southernmost of four similarly styled lighthouses that were all constructed along Scotland's West coast in 1857, marking passage between the Islands and the Mainland, along with Lights on South Rona, Eilean Bàn, and Ornsay. These new lighthouse greatly improved lighthouse coverage on the West Coast, as aside from Lismore, Ardnamurchan, Eilean Glas and Cape Wrath lights there wasn't much in the way of navigation aid north of Oban until this point.

Rubha nan Gall Lighthouse was built to the Design of brothers David and Thomas Stevenson for the Northern Lighthouse Board. Similar to it's sister light at Eilean Bàn, Rubha nan Gall Lighthouse is built just offshore, and access to the tower is via a short causeway that leads onto a high sided iron bridge, supported by a stone foundation pier - these are the only two lighthouses in Scotland to incorporate such a structure. The tower is painted in the usual Northern Lighthouse Board house style; the main section of the tower is white, the watch room and gallery is painted a gold/buff colour with white railings, and the lantern, which is made up of flat tesselating triangular panes is topped by a domed copper roof, ball vent and Weather vane that are all painted black.

The first light installed in the Lantern in 1857 burnt sperm whale oil lamp, amplified by a Fresnel lens; This setup shone a white light with red and green sectors depending on which direction it was viewed from. 1898 saw the lamp's conversion to a paraffin-fuelled light.

Automation became possible in 1960 when the light was switched to run on cleaner burning acetylene gas - this meant the light could practically run indefinitely, only requiring occasional refulling. A sun valve mounted on the roof would turn the gas supply off in hours of daylight. With the automation of the light the cottages were suplus to the requirements of the Northern Lighthouse Board, and like with the keeper' accomodation at many of their properties, it was sold off.

In 2012 the light source was changed to a bright LED device which does not require a fresnel lens; the original lenses are now on display at the Nelson Monument in Edinburgh. Even with these upgrade works, due to the remote location of the lighthouse there is still no running water or mains electricity on site - electricity is provided by a bank of solar panels on a metal platform, and water for the accomodation is collected from a natural spring. The keepers' cottages are now used as holiday lets, whilst the tower, causeway and bridge continue to be maintained by the Northern Lighthouse Board.