Don’t Let the Lighthouses Go Dark – special reprint

The following article by Bella Bathhurst from the Notting Hill Editions Journal was passed to me by a BC lightkeeper. It was so well written I asked permission to reprint it here. Pay special attention to the author’s reasons for keeping lighthouses.

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Don’t Let the Lighthouses go Dark by Bella Bathhurst
– published November 10, 2011

 – published with permission from Notting Hill Editions Journal

We are jettisoning lighthouses at our peril, writes Bella Bathurst, a lighthouse historian. Even in the age of GPS, they remain immensely useful, and retain deep symbolic power.

Twelve years ago, I wrote a book called The Lighthouse Stevensons about the construction of the lights around the Scottish coastline by Robert Louis Stevenson’s family. I was lucky to arrive at exactly the right moment.  In 1999, the last of the British lights were being automated and the few remaining keepers were disappearing towards extinction. The men I spoke to were mostly at or near retirement age anyway; most saw the logic of their own removal even if they weren’t persuaded by its effects.  At the beginning of the third millennium, you don’t need three grown men to change a lightbulb.  But what none of those last keepers would ever have understood or sanctioned was the idea of the lights themselves being switched off. 

The Skerryvore Lighthouse, 10 miles south-west of Tiree, in the Hebrides

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