[taken from 1847 Bye-laws and Rules and Regulations of the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses]



I . Each Lighthouse shall in every case be placed in charge of two Keepers appointed by the Board, the one denominated the Principal Light-keeper, and the other the Assistant Light-keeper.

II. Each principal Light-keeper shall be, from the Assistant Light-keepers, regularly promoted according to their seniority, as vacancies occur, unless the Engineer shall report that any obstacle exists to such promotion, which obstacle, if sanctioned by the Board, shall be specially noticed in the Minute making an appointment not according to seniority.

III. Before any individual can be received into the service as a Light-keeper, he must be duly qualified by six weeks’ attendance at the Bell-Rock Lighthouse, and one month’s attendance at Inchkeith Lighthouse, for instruction.

IV. No individual shall be sent for instruction as a Light-keeper until his case and recommendations shall have been submitted to and approved of by the Board.

V. When an individual ordered for instruction shall have attended at the Lighthouse Stations for the prescribed period, the respective Principal Light-keepers at each station shall grant him a certificate setting forth the general conduct of and progress in instruction made by such individual during his residence at the Lighthouse (which the Light-keepers are hereby required to grant), and upon such certificate being laid before the Board, he shall, if the Board see fit, then be placed upon an " Expectant List," which list shall not contain more than twelve names.

VI. Upon vacancies occurring among the Light-keepers, these vacancies shall be filled up from the Expectants in order according to seniority of qualification, unless the Engineer shall report that any reason to the contrary exists, which, if sanctioned by the Board, shall be specially noticed in the Minute making an appointment not according to seniority ; and as individuals, though placed upon the Expectant List, are not in the service of the Board, nor in any way under its cognisance, it is understood that they are to satisfy the Engineer (who will report to the Board) of the respectability of their character and employment from the period of their having been placed on the Expectant List, in terms of the preceding Rule.

VII. No individual shall be promoted from the Expectant’ List to be a Light-keeper, who at the time of such promotion is under 21 or above 30 years of age.

VIII. All Light-keepers shall at the time of their appointment, or as soon thereafter as convenient, appear before the Board and receive a regular certificate of their appointment, which certificate shall in every case bear the same date as the Minute making the appointment.

IX. On a vacancy occurring, by the death or incapacity of a Light-keeper, or other cause, the Engineer shall forthwith report the same to the Secretary of the Board.

X.The Engineer may make such temporary arrangements for supplying a vacancy as he may find most suitable to the convenience of the service, but no permanent change shall take place in the station of Light-keepers until the Engineer shall have submitted the same to the Board for approval.

XI. In all cases where an " Occasional Keeper" (see Introduction, p. 13) is called for, in terms of the 27th Instruction to Light-keepers, and shall be retained longer than six weeks at any station, the Engineer is to report the special cause of his being so retained. The Occasional Keeper to be annually called in for a fortnight, in the month of January, to do duty, so as to keep him in the practice thereof.

XII. Upon a Light-keeper being superannuated, in terms of the Regulations on that subject (Chap. VIII. Rule X.), the meeting of the Bell-Rock Committee, to which the Superannuation Committee shall report, on the report being approved of, shall fill up the vacancy caused by such superannuation.

XIII. The Light-keepers may have occasional leave of absence for necessary business or for health, and the Engineer may grant such leave, but he shall immediately make a report to the Secretary stating the circumstances, the period for which such leave has been granted, and the arrangement made for supplying the place of the Light-keeper on leave.

XIV. The Monthly Returns hereinafter required to be made (Instructions, No. 12) by the Light-keepers to the Engineer, are to be by him laid before the Board as the same are received.

XV. There shall be hung up in the Board-room, a List of the Principal and Assistant Light-keepers ; shewing their names—the date of their entering the service—their ages—the Stations at which they act—the date of Promotion in the case of Principal Light-keepers. This List shall also contain the names of the Principal and Assistant Light—keepers respectively, in order according to seniority,—a similar List of the Expectants, according to seniority of qualification, and also a List of superannuated Light-keepers, with the date of their superannuations, the period of their services, and their retiring allowances.

XVI. Light-keepers shall observe the following Instructions :—

1 . The Lamps shall be kept burning bright and clear every night from sunset to sunrise ; and in order that the greatest degree of light may be maintained throughout the night, the Wicks must be trimmed every four hours, or oftener if necessary ; and the Keeper who has the first watch shall take care to turn the oil valves so as to let the oil flow into the Burner a sufficient tune before lighting.

2 . The Light-keepers shall keep a regular and constant Watch in the Light-room throughout the night. The First Watch shall begin at sunset. The Light-keepers are to take the watches alternately, in such manner that he who has the first watch one night, shall have the second watch next night. The length or duration of the watch shall not, in ordinary cases, exceed four hours ; but during the period between the months of October and March, both inclusive, the first watch shall change at eight o’clock. The watches shall at all times be so arranged as to have a shift at midnight.

3 . At stations where there is only one Light-room, the daily duty shall be laid out in two departments, and the Light-keepers shall change from one department to the other every Saturday night.

4. FIRST DEPARTMENT.—The Light-keeper who has this department, shall immediately after the morning Watch, polish or otherwise cleanse the Reflectors or Refractors till they are brought into a proper state of brilliancy ; he shall also thoroughly cleanse the Lamps, and carefully dust the Chandelier. He shall supply the Burners with cotton, the Lamps with oil, and shall have every thing connected with the Apparatus in a state of readiness for lighting in the evening.

5. SECOND DEPARTMENT.—The Light-keeper who has this department shall cleanse the glass of the Lantern, lamp-glasses, copper and brass work and utensils, the walls, floors, and balcony of the Light-room, and the apparatus and machinery therewith connected ; together with the Tower stair, passage, doors and windows, from the Light-room to the Oil cellar.

6. For the more effectual cleansing of the glass of the Lantern, and management of the Lamps at the time of lighting, both Light-keepers shall be upon watch throughout the first hour of the first watch every night, during the winter period, between the first day of October and last day of March, when they shall jointly do the duty of the Light-room during that hour. These changes to and from the double watch shall be intimated by the Keepers in the Monthly Returns for October and April.

7 . At those stations where there are two Light-rooms, each Light-keeper shall perform the entire duty of both departments in that Light-room to which he may be especially appointed. But after the first hour of the first Watch, the Light-keeper who has charge of this watch shall perform the whole duty of trimming and attending the Lights of both Light-rooms till the expiry of his watch ; and in like manner, his successor on the watch shall perform the whole duty of both Light-rooms during his watch.

8 . The Light-keeper on duty shall on no pretence whatever, during his watch, leave the Light-room and balcony, or the passage leading from one Light-room to another, at stations where there are two Lights. Bells are provided at each Light-room to enable the Light-keeper on duty to summon the absent Light-keeper ; and if at any time the Light-keeper on duty shall think the presence or assistance of the Light-keeper not on duty is necessary, he shall call him by ringing his bell, which should be immediately answered by the return signal, and the Keeper so called, should repair to the Light-room without delay. In like manner, when the watches come to be changed, the bell shall be rung to call the Light-keeper next in turn. After which the Light-keeper on duty shall, at his peril, remain on guard till he is relieved by the Light—keeper in person who has the next watch.

9. Should the bell of the Light-keeper whose turn it is to mount guard, happen to be in an unserviceable state, the other house-bell shall be used, and some of the inmates of that house shall call the Light-keeper not on duty, so as by all means to avoid leaving the Light-room without a constant watch during the night.

10. The Principal Light-keeper is held responsible for the safety and good order of the Stores, Utensils, and Apparatus of what kind soever, and for every thing being put to its proper use, and kept in its proper place. He shall take care that none of the stores or materials are wasted, and shall observe the strictest economy, and the most careful management, yet so as to maintain in every respect the best possible light.

11 . The Principal Light-keeper shall daily serve out the allowance of Oil and other Stores for the use of the Light-room. The oil is to be measured by the Assistant, at the sight of the Principal Light-keeper.

12. The Light-keeper shall keep a daily Journal of them quantity of Oil expended, the routine of their duty, and the state of the Weather, embodying any other remarks that may occur. These shall be written in the Journal-Books to be kept at each station for the purpose, at the periods of the day when they occur, as they must on no account be trusted to memory. On the first day of each month they shall make up and transmit to the Engineer a return, which shall be an accurate copy of the Journal for the preceding month.

13 . The Light-keepers are also required to take notice of any Shipwreck which shall happen within the district of the Lighthouse, and to enter an account thereof~ according to the prescribed form, in a Book furnished to each Station for this purpose ; and in such account he shall state whether the Light was seen by any one on board the shipwrecked Vessel and recognised by them, and how long it was seen before the vessel struck. A copy of this entry shall form the Shipwreck Return, to be forthwith forwarded to the Engineer.

14. A book containing a note of the Vessels passing each Lighthouse daily shall be kept ; and an annual Schedule, shewing the number of vessels in each month, shall be sent to the Engineer in the month of January.

15. The Monthly and Shipwreck Returns are to be written by the Assistant, and the accompanying letters by the Principal Light-keeper. The whole shall be carefully compared and signed by both Light-keepers, as directed by the printed form, and despatched by post to the Engineer as soon as possible.

16. For the purpose of keeping up the practical knowledge of the "Occasional Keeper," he shall be annually called in by the Principal Light-keeper to do duty for a fortnight in the month of January ; and the same shall be stated in the Monthly Letter.

17. The Principal Light-keeper is held responsible for the regularity of the Watches throughout the night, for the cleanliness and good order of the Reflecting or Refracting Apparatus, Machinery, and Utensils, and for the due performance of the whole duty of the Light-room or Light-rooms, as the case may be, whether performed by him personally, or by the Assistant.

18. The Principal Light-keeper is also held responsible for the good order and condition of the Household Furniture belonging to the Lighthouse Board, as well in his own as in the Assistant’s house. This duty extends also to the cleanliness of the several apartments, passages, stairs, roofs, water-cisterns, storerooms, workshops, privies, ash-pits of the dwelling-houses, offices, court, and immediate access to the Lighthouse.

19 . The Light-keepers shall endeavour to keep in good order and repair the Dykes enclosing the Lighthouse grounds, the Landing-places, and Roads leading from thence to the Lighthouse and the Drains therewith connected, together with all other things placed under their charge.

20. When stores of any kind are to be landed for the use of the Lighthouse, the Light-keepers shall attend and give their assistance. The Principal Light-keeper must, upon these occasions, satisfy himself as far as possible, of the quantity and condition of the stores received, which must be duly entered in the Store-book and Monthly Return-book.

21. The Light-keepers are to make a Report of the quality of the Stores, in the Monthly Return for March annually, or earlier should circumstances render this necessary ; and this Report must proceed upon special trial of the several Cisterns of Oil and of the other Stores in detail, both at the time of receiving them and after the experience of the winter months.

22. At all stations where Peat Fuel is in use, there must be such a quantity of Peats provided, that the Stock of the former year shall be a sufficient supply to the end of the current year.

23. Should the supply of any of the Lighthouse Stores at any time appear to the Principal Light-keeper to be getting short, so as thereby to endanger the regular appearance of the Light, he shall immediately intimate the same to the Engineer, and he must be guided by prudence in reducing the stated number of Burners until a supply be received.

24. The Light-keepers are prohibited from carrying on any trade or business whatever. They are also prohibited from having any boarders or lodgers in their dwelling-houses, and from keeping dogs at the Lighthouse establishments.

25. The Light-keepers are also directed to take care that no smuggled goods are harboured or concealed in any way in or about the Lighthouse premises or grounds.

26. The Light-keepers have permission to go from home to draw their salaries, and also to attend church. The Assistant Light-keeper, on all occasions of leave of absence, must consult the Principal Light-keeper as to the proper time for such leave, and obtain his consent ; in like manner, the Principal Light-keeper shall duly intimate his intention of going from home to the Assistant Light-keeper ;—it being expressly ordered that only one Light-keeper shall be absent from the Lighthouse at one and the same time.

27. While the Principal Light-keeper is absent, or is incapacitated for duty by sickness, the full charge of the Light-room duty and of the premises shall devolve upon the Assistant, who shall in that case have access to the keys of the Light-room stores, and be held responsible in all respects as the Principal Light-keeper ; and in the case of the incapacity of either Light-keeper, the assistance of the Occasional Light-keeper shall be immediately called in, and notice of the same given to the Engineer. Notice of any such occurrences to be taken in the Monthly Return, or by special letter to the Engineer, should circumstances render this necessary.

28 . The Light-keepers are required to be sober and industrious, cleanly in their persons and linens, and orderly in their families. They must conduct themselves with civility to strangers, by shewing the premises, at such hours as do not interfere with the proper duties of their office ; it being expressly understood, that strangers shall not be admitted into the Light-room after sunset. But no money or other gratuity shall be taken from strangers on any pretence whatever.

29 . The Light-keepers are to appear in their Uniform-dress when any of the Commissioners or Principal Officers visit a station, and also on Sunday ;—on which day, at noon, the weather permitting, the Lighthouse flag shall be hoisted by the Assistant Light-Keeper, or in his absence by the Principal Light-keeper, when it shall remain displayed until sunset.

30. These Instructions are to be read in the Light-room by the Principal Light-keeper, in the hearing of his Assistant, on the term days, before drawing his salary ; and notice thereof taken in the Monthly Returns.

31 . In the event of any neglect occurring in the performance of any part of the duties required from a Light-keeper, the offending party shall, jointly with the other Light-keeper or Light-keepers at the station, send immediate notice of the circumstance to the Engineer ; and in the event of one party refusing or neglecting to concur in giving this intimation, the others (whether Principals or Assistants) shall proceed to give the notice in their own names.

32. The breach of any of the foregoing Rules and Instructions shall subject the Light-keepers to dismissal, or to such other punishment as the nature of the offence may require.

33. It is recommended that the Principal Light-keeper, or other Principal Officer at the respective Lighthouses for the time being, shall, every Sunday, perform the service pointed out for the inmates, by reading a portion of the Scriptures, and any other religious book furnished by the Board, and the Prayer composed for their use by the Rev. Dr Brunton, one of the Ministers of Edinburgh, or other Prayers in any work furnished by the Board. For this purpose, the Principal Light-keeper shall invite the families to assemble at noon in the Visiting Officer’s room.

34. The Light-Keepers are to observe that the above general . Regulations are without prejudice to any more special Instructions which may be made applicable to any particular Lighthouse, or to such orders as may from time to time be issued by the Engineer.




Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
© F.Coakley , 2001