Douglas Head Light

The original light was built 1831/2 (Manx Advertiser of 31st May 1831 states that building of the new light has commenced) - long argued for by many who felt that a light was needed to mark the entrance to Douglas Bay. The Manx Advertiser of 4th December 1832 states that Wm Quilleash, master of the James Wilson had been appointed light keeper which light was due to be lit on the 21st December 1832. Originally built for Douglas Harbour Commissioners it was transferred to the Northern Commissioners of Lights in 1859. The original light would appear to be much squatter than its replacement.

The location of the light was suggested by Robert Stevenson of the Northern Commissioners - he suggested two locations, one on the upper headland and one below this - conditions re fencing etc imposed by Lieutenant Goldie of the Nunnery estate made the upper site impracticable thus the Habour Commissioners decided on the lower site for which they paid £7pa rent (see minutes Harbour Board 13 May 1831).

The tower was built by their own workers - the accounts for 1831 & 1832 show the suppliers - the apparatus was supplied by Robinson + Wilkins (London) at a cost of some £991 - other requirements were sourced locally -
Thomas Brine Lintels; R. Geddes freestone; Thomas Boyd glass
John Burrow bricks + puncheons; Thomas Gelling iron work; Wm Quiggin & Co timber &c; Mann & Co paint

Original Light - pre 1892

Douglas Light

Rebuilt in 1892. The white, 65ft, stone tower stands in a courtyard surrounded by flat roofed and castellated service buildings. As it is on Douglas Head which was one of the favourite haunts of the holiday trippers it was probably one of the most visited of all lighthouse sites

The foghorn, known locally as 'moaning minnie', was added in 1908. It caused many complaints in Douglas but it was later moved around the head to reduce the nusiance. As this view is, I think, taken from the same vantage point as that of the original light it indicates that the two lights were built on adjacent sites. As Peter Kelly has remarked what is unusual is that no photograph showing two towers appears to exist.

New Light + fog horn post 1907

Douglas Head Light

Contemporary view; as with all other Manx Lights it is now completely automatic.

A brief description of the old light is given in IoM Times 20th Sept 1891:

Douglas Light Head

The tower has been condemmed by the Commissioners of Northern Lights and is to be razed to the ground and a new one built in its place.

The lantern is composed of 8 brilliant reflectors composed of pure silver and which bear date 1831. The light is a very powerful one and can be seen in ordinary clear weather for 14 to 15 miles. The light was intended more particularly for coasting boats that they may be kept clear of the land.

A new foot path has been constructed by the Commissioners round the top of Port Skillion down to the Light which was only finished last week.



Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
© F.Coakley , 2001