A Lightkeepers Day
I've been asked about a lightkeepers day/days,so delving back to pre-1993 (Before my redundancy due to automation) the following is based on Northern Lighthouse Board (Scottish) practise,over a typical three day period based mainly on the Point of Ayre station.

10.00 hrs.Take over watch from previous watchkeeper (otherwise he is not allowed to leave.)

On Monday mornings if we had not blown for for fog during the last seven days we would sound the fog signal for half an hour,then get the engines and brass cleaned,topped with oil etc.

We might then do "Works Orders" (Extra paid work) such as painting,repairing roads,walls,fences etc,the times these were done varied from station to station--some did set hours eg.10.00 to 13.00 hrs.others did the work as and when,quite often when on watch,I've spent a few summer evening limewashing boundary walls?

11.45 hrs.Time to do the "met" report(meteorological report) ready for transmission at 12.00 hrs.

Breaks for meals and coffee breaks taken as and when needed-one advantage of deciding own works schedule?

14.45 hrs. Met time

17.45 hrs. Met time

18.00 hrs. Hand over to next duty keeper.

Thus the day passed by--if no works orders you were free to do your own thing (hobbies etc.) providing you kept a weather eye open for fog.

Quite often at the Point of Ayre there were loads of visitors whom you might show up the tower.


02.00 hrs. Take over watch

02.45 hrs. Met report

03.30 hrs. Rewind the lens clockwork drive

05.00 hrs. Rewind the lens clockwork drive

05.45 hrs. Met report

06.00 hrs. Rewind and hand over to next duty keeper.

Your there for the four hours so it's a good watch to catch up with minor maintenance and cleaning,hobbies or reading etc.

As from the late 1960's you were officially excused morning cleaning duties after the 2-6 watch.


18.00 hrs. take over watch. Met reports every three hours and generally the light would be lit (pre-Electric) or switched on during this watch,once the light was in you would rewind every 90 minutes.

22.00 hrs. Hand over to next duty keeper.


06.00 hrs Take over watch Tend the light, Met reports etc.

10.00 hrs. Hand over to next duty keeper.Available for works orders if required.


22.00 hrs Take over watch Tend the light, Met reports etc.

24.00 hrs If blown for fog during the day--change fog recorder chart.

02.00 hrs. Hand over to next duty keeper.

Then either repeat the above or day's off.

If anybody had shown visitors around the lightroom they were generally responsible for cleaning the lightroom brass etc.Otherwise it was usually cleaned on a weekly basis.

When we still had the Chance Brothers Paraffin Vapour lamp we usually stripped and cleaned that on a fortnightly basis.

The lens and internal lantern windows we usually cleaned monthly. External lantern windows were cleaned as and when required,especially after gales when a lot of salt spray would be around,this also applied to our Radio Beacon mast insulators,otherwise radio transmissions would get lower and lower and hence range would decrease?

Duties varied from station to station--some stations were "Control" stations for some of the Rock stations,so had Radio communication responsibilities,some Met stations were tasked with giving present weather conditions to the public.(The phone always rings when your at the top of the ladder)

There was always general cleaning,checking standby equipment etc.

Generally once station work was over and you were on watch--it was up to you to decide how to pass the time--hobbies etc,as long as you kept a weather eye open (Visibility, rewinds and met reports etc.)

In theory if you still had a paraffin light you kept the light watch in the lightroom,after electrification you had an official watchroom somewhere on the station.The only station I spent a lot of time in the lighthroom was Maughold Head where there was 127 steps down to the tower before climbing to the top and a "wind" every 40 minutes.

So the main requirements to be a lightkeeper was to stand your own company and not get bored? Especially at tower rocks,where there was generally little extra work? The most excitement being whether the "Relief" would take place or not?

So no more romantic notions about lightkeepers?the job itself was "boring"ie.watch keeping especially when there was only the light,compensations were the location of many of the lighthouses,if you liked Diy (Many varied jobs from ditch digging to roofing) and you had time for your own interests.