On the 12 September 2012 there will be a change at Bressay lighthouse when the light, which has been operational for over 150 years, will be permanently discontinued by the Northern Lighthouse Board (NLB). However, there will be a seamless transfer of the provision of an aid to navigation for Bressay Sound. Instead of the 23 mile light shining from the original Stevenson lighthouse a new 10 mile light will be provided by Lerwick Port Authority.
This switchover follows years of discussion between the NLB and Lerwick Port Authority. Captain Phil Day, NLB Director of Marine Operations said “From the conclusions of the Northern Lighthouse Board’s 2005 Review of its aids to navigation requirements it was considered that as the Bressay light was within Lerwick Harbour limits it qualified for transfer to the Authority under the terms of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995. The Board and the Port Authority have considered the best possible solution to ensure the continued safety of the mariner in these waters and we are delighted with the final outcome”.
Rather than the Port Authority taking over the existing Stevenson structure they have opted to erect a new light structure, which will exhibit a 10 mile light showing the same character of flashing (2) every 20 seconds. This new structure has been placed on the site of the former radar station and fog signal adjacent to the existing light. Lerwick Harbourmaster, Captain Calum Grains said “with the continued development of new technology, this LED light is a suitable and efficient solution which will maintain a harbour light at Kirkabister”.
The switching off of the existing light means the Northern Lighthouse Board, who have been responsible for the light since it was engineered by David and Thomas Stevenson in 1858, will no longer require the Grade B Listed lighthouse structure. Over the years various changes have taken place at the lighthouse station, it was electrified in 1967, automated in 1989 and a few years later the former keepers cottages now no longer required were sold. The cottages are now in the ownership of Shetland Amenity Trust, who has developed the properties as successful holiday lets. The Board have agreed that the ownership of the surplus Stevenson tower will be transferred in the near future to Shetland Amenity Trust for its preservation in Shetlands cultural history.
A Notice to Mariners was issued by the Northern Lighthouse Board on 21 August 2012 advising the mariner of the change in status of the light.