Buchan Ness set for major makeover

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ONE of Buchan’s most iconic landmarks, Buchan Ness Lighthouse, is to undergo a complete refurbishment.

The Northern Lighthouse Board (NLB) has submitted a listed building consent application to Aberdeenshire Council for proposed work at the Boddam lighthouse.

It is hoped if approval is received the work, which is subject to an open competitive tender, will begin in April next year and should take between four to six months to complete.

Buchan Ness lighthouse was engineered by Robert Stevenson and was established in 1827. It has a character of flashing white every five seconds and currently has a range of 28 nautical miles.

The tower is 35 meters high and is painted white with two red bands, making it a day mark and easily distinguished from Girdle Ness light further down the coast. Buchan Ness lighthouse continues to have an important role in marking a turning point with both light and radar beacon; it improves mariners spatial awareness, acts as a backup in the event of GPS failure, and provides a long-range visual mark of the approaches to Peterhead harbour.

There have been many changes at the light since 1827, being changed in 1910 to dioptric, and in 1978 it was converted to electric operation. The light was automated in 1988 and is now remotely monitored. The well-known ‘Boddam Coo’ foghorn was discontinued in 2000.

The proposed work will see the original machine case and lens carriage being retained at the light however the lens bullseyes, which were installed in the 1970s, when the light was electrified, will be removed.

The lenses originally came from Out Skerries lighthouse in Shetland but were only part of the original installation there. The light installed at that time was a 3.5kw lamp and there are now difficulties in obtaining further supplies of the 3.5kw lamps.

These lamps will be replaced by two LED lanterns, as a flashing light rather than a rotating light, and the new system will consume an average 80w, which will make a significant saving.

The dual LED provides an 18-mile light which may be seen as a whiter light and will require less maintenance.

The Northern Lighthouse Board has installed similar lights at Crammag Head, Fidra and Elie Ness. It has consulted with the users of its service, the mariner, and in its 2010 Aids to Navigation Review referred to the future planned reduction in the range of the Buchan Ness Lighthouse. There were no objections to the proposed change.

The ‘backup’ power for the light will be changed to battery, which removes the need for a standby generator, and will also reduce maintenance at the station and the need to retain fuel on site. The tower will also be painted, retaining its red bands.

With the introduction of the new system the maintenance should move from annual visits by technicians to visits every two years. The site will continue to be visited every month by the board’s retained lighthouse keeper to carry out basic checks.

The Northern Lighthouse Board sold the former keepers cottages a number of years ago and these are now in private ownership and are not part of the refurbishment plans.