Harbour Lights

In the 1851 Parliamentary Memorials and Papers relating to the Harbours of the Isle of Man occasioned by a 1849 memorial from the Harbour Commissioners for more funds, Captain John Washington reports 'with the exception of the Douglas Head Light, which is well maintained... the lights at all the small harbours were in a very inefficient state at the time of my visit'. (He later recommended that this light be transferred to the Northern Commissioners and not be a drain on Harbour dues).
Harbour lights would appear to exist at


old pier at Douglas

The old Douglas pier of 1760, was damaged in a storm of 1786 and a new pier, the Red Pier, started shortly afterwards and completed in 1793.

The architect was George Steuart who designed many buildings, including Castle Mona, for the Dukes of Atholl. It was the Duke, then Governor General, who laid the foundation stone.
It was built from red sandstone (from Runcorn), hence the epithet, and extended some 530 ft and in the most part is 40ft wide. At the end was a 50ft diameter raised platform in the centre of which was built the handsome lighthouse.
The red pier became a popular promenade with a request that heavy footwear not be worn to save wear.

pier lighthouse


As in most other harbours the harbour light was at the end of the quay, though as this engraving (from a photograph of the early 1850's)shows the light would appear to be rather primitive.
Another light was at the end of the quay/breakwater west off St Patrick's Isle.

Peel Breakwater

detail of Peel Breakwater light


By the 1850's it would appear to have been replaced by a stone tower.

peel c.1858


Ramsey c.1857

Judging from this 1857 engraving a stone tower existed on the southern breakwater.

By early 1900's maps indicate a light on both breakwaters






Castletown Breakwater

The light at Castletown would appear from this 1860's engraving of a mid 1850's photo to be similar in construction to that at Peel.

The modern light is shown right.

castletown harbour light

Port Erin

An ill fated 800ft breakwater was started in 1864 with the intention of making Port Erin a major port However a series of violent storms in 1868 damaged it extensively and only a truncated version was rebuilt

Port Erin



Port St Mary



Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
© F.Coakley , 1999