I think I'm best starting with how British lighthouses are run,since it
differs from the American way. There are three Lighthouse Authorities.|
Trinity House-responsible for England and Wales
Commissioners of Irish Lights-responsible for Northern Ireland and Eire.
Northern Lighthouse Board -responsible for Scotland and Isle of Man.
The Lighthouse Authorities are effectively self-financing in that
shipowners pay so much per ton shipped,rates varying with type of voyage,home voyage (between British ports) or foreign voyage and
number of voyages made in the year.
What follows is the way Northern Lighthouse Board(NLB) ran things as there were at times considerable variation in how different authorities ran their service.
In the last thirty years before automation was completed there were two main types of station Rock or Shore.
Rock lighthouses where just the keepers went,doing a month on
duty followed by a fortnight ashore,usually stationed for three to five
years,accommodation for families being provided at a "shore station".
Shore lighthouses where keepers and theirs families were
stationed,from three to five years.
Two Man station-where there was just the light.Two keepers a PLK and an Assistant Lightkeeper(ALK).Once the light was on the watches were divided between them until the light was extinguished in the morning.Made good use of Occasional Keepers especially in the winter months.
Fog Signal station-one PLK and Two ALK'S.Since this was a fog signal station it meant a 24 hour watch system ie.always someone on watch.
Island stations-Could be any of the above,where only the keepers and families were on the island.Most of these were changed to Rock stations in the 1960's.
Relieving Stations--In the mid-1970's a few of the more isolated shore stations eg.Neist Point(Skye)and Cape Wrath lighthouse,were in effect,turned into Rock stations,with the keepers doing month on-month off and families living elsewhere.
There was a big upheaval in the early 1970's when our working
hours were equated to a "forty hour week"
Principal Light Keeper.(PLK)Head keeper responsible for the overall running of the station.Usually transferred between stations every three to five years
Assistant Light Keeper.(ALK)Usually transferred between stations every three to five years
Local Assistant Lightkeeper.(LALK)Normally appointed to one station,resides locally and commutes to work.
Supernumerary Lightkeeper.(SLK)Trainee Keeper.
Occasional Lightkeeper.(OK)Part Time Keeper,normally appointed to one station,allows coverage of keepers days off,holidays and sickness,etc.
Attendant.Part Time Keeper,usually visits an unmanned station fortnightly or monthly to check and clean.Primary role to be ON call.First one called out if anything reported amiss with the light.
Retained Lighthouse Keeper.(RLK)
Admission as a Lightkeeper.
A Lightkeepers Day.