Following the Lights: new exhibition tells the story of Scotland's lighthouses

07 March 2023
The Scottish Maritime Museum celebrates the history of lighthouses, their keepers and the engineers who made them possible in a new exhibition, ‘Following the Lights’.

 Following the Lights charts Britain’s lighthouse design through centuries of innovation from the first lighthouse in 1635 and 1821 Fresnel lens - ‘the invention that saved a million ships’ – to solar energy today.

Drawing on a collection of rare artefacts, letters, photography and memorabilia gathered by lighthouse enthusiast and photographer Peter Gellatly, the exhibition also offers visitors a unique insight into the working life of lighthouse keepers.

Exhibition highlights

Exhibition highlights include a series of photographs of Scottish lighthouses taken between 1901 – 1929 by C. Dick Peddie, Secretary of the Northern Lighthouse Board.

As well as an example of the groundbreaking Fresnel Lens, engineering artefacts include a lamp from the 1827 Buchan Ness Lighthouse, designed by the famous Stevenson family, and an AGA lamp (1911) from Preston Dock Buoy Lighthouse, which the harbour master rowed out to light each evening.

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Following the Lights also features a WW2 RAF lighthouse recognition map. These military-issued charts helped mariners and airmen identify lighthouses which had been decommissioned or painted in camouflage to avoid the German Luftwaffe using them as directional markers to strike strategic targets.

Exhibition details

Following the Lights runs until 18 June 2023 at the Scottish Maritime Museum, Harbour Road, Irvine, Ayrshire KA12 8BT; tel: 01389 763444; website.