Tiumpan Head

Tiumpan Head Lighthouse
Tiumpan Head
Current Version Built:
Height (ft):
David Alan Stevenson
Northern Lighthouse Board

Tiumpan Head lies on the East coast of the Isle of Lewis and is a prominent headland just North of the Port of Stornoway, protruding into The Minch, the waters between the Island and the Scottish Mainland. Stoer Head is almost exactly East from here.

The Lighthouse was built here in 1900 by the Northern Lighthouse Board to a design drawn up by two of Scotland’s most well known Lighthouse builders, David Alan Stevenson and Charles Stevenson. When the lighthouse came into operation on 1st December 1900 the light was produced by an impressive fresnel lens designed by Chance Brothers of Birmingham, driven by a clockwork mechanism typical of those found in many other Scottish lighthouses, designed and built by James Dove and Co of Edinburgh. The rotating lens gave a single flash once every 6 seconds (a 2 second flash with a 4 second eclipse).

The station consists of a 21 meter high cylindrical white-painted tower with a watch room, gallery, and the standard Northern Lighthouse Board lantern room design, consisting of three rows of flat tessellated triangular panes of glass, and a copper domed roof. The watch room is painted in the usual buff/gold, as are most of the station's window borders, quoins and the coping stones of the perimeter wall. The lantern is black, with a small portion of the landward side being blanked out.

The light became automatic 1985 and the associated keepers' cottages along with the remaining buildings that had become surplus to the requirements of the Northern Lighthouse Board were sold off, later becoming the home to the Tiumpan Head cattery.

In April 1987 the original fresnel lens was removed from the lighthouse and replaced with two banks of sealed beam units set at slightly differnet angles, each bank consisting of eight halogen lamps (Four in two rows). The sealed beam units rotated giving a character of 2 white flashes ever 15 seconds, visible for 25 Nautical Miles. In 2016 the sealed beam units were replaced with an LED light source, which flashes on and off rather than rotating, reducing maintainence costs - the character since these upgrades is 1 white flash every 15 seconds, which remains visible for 25 Nautical Miles.

It is on a trip to the Lighthouse in 1956 to switch on the new Fog Horn with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles that Princess Anne gained her interest in Pharology (the study of Lighthouses), later becoming a patron for the Northern Lighthouse Board and the Master of Trinity House. The fog horn building has since been demolished and the five cylindrical air tanks, and the rectangular water tanks that were used to run the engines for the fog signal were removed, although several sections of the water tanks can be seen in nearby fields, still painted in the dark red colour scheme they would have been painted in, now finding use as water troughs for animals in nearby fields.