the Isle of Man


A scheme to place a lighthouse on the Calf of Man was considered as early as 1658, prompted by concern by Liverpool merchants, but opposed by Trinity House on the grounds that the dues would be burdensome.

In 1692 " severall persons trading from Whitehaven and other places " ...being " desirous for the better security of themselves, their shipps and goods that one or more Lighhouses bee builded" [quoted by Moore from Lib. Sacc] applied to the Earl of Derby for permission to build such lights. The Earl of Derby appointed commissioners for this task but nothing seems to have been done.

A survey of the Calf of 1771 shows a light though no trace exists beyond a pile of stones. It was suggested [see Ind Arch p34] that Bushel's House may in fact be the ruin of a late medieval beacon tower.

Alexander Cook in his letter to the 1792 Commission of Enquiry suggests the Calf, Langness, Douglas Head and Point of Ayre as suitable locations.

The Calf scheme was again raised in 1794 with the idea of building two leading lights on the Calf to act as a guide to avoid Chicken Rock. Robert Stevenson visited the site in 1801 and pointed out that no parliamentary provision existed to support Manx lights. The Northern Commissioners (who dealt with the Scottish coast) wished to erect a light but Trinity House claimed that they had the sole right (within English though not within Manx waters). Although this point was initially conceded it was when the commissioners stated that no dues should be payable for ships making towards Scottish ports that Trinity House gave way with the result that Island lights are handled by the Northern Commissioners rather than Trinity House. [see Roberson 1971 J.MM]

A summary of the legislation regarding Lighthouses is given by James Gell in his appendix to "An Abstract of the Laws ... by John Parr" Manx Soc vol XII 1867.
The list of Island Lights (N to S) is: Island Lights

Habour lights are considered separately.
All lights on the Island are now automatic and unwatched. An 1897 list gives details of the lights etc.


The only book dealing specifically with Manx Lights is John Hellowell's profusely illustrated Tour published in 1998 (well after these pages were put together) - well recommended though as an academic I wish he had included full references.

John Hellowell A Tour of Manx Lighthouses Peter Williams Associates Milford Haven (ISBN 0-9534321-0-6) 1998
Derrick Jackson Lighthouses of England and Wales David & Charles (0-7153-6902-4) 1975
Christopher Nicholson Rock Lighthouses of Britain Patrick Stephens (0-85059-655-6) 1983 [chap 12 covers Chicken Rock]
W.A. Robertson Manx Lighthouses and the Northern Lighthouse Board
Journal of the Manx Museum vol VII No. 87 1971
K. Rodgers Our Heritage: A Manx Mosaic from the Past Port St Mary 1997 (ISBN 1-899932-01-1) has chapter (pp 4-10) "Lighhouses of the Isle of Man" which appears to have drawn on mainly secondary sources.
W. Lockington Marshall The Calf of Man Shearwater Press (0-904980-19-7) 1978 [chap 5 covers political history of Calf Lights]
T.A. Bawden et al Industrial Archaeology of The Isle of Man David & Charles (0-7153-5440-x) 1972 has a small section (pp34/7) on lighthouses.


Chart 2094 Hydrographic Office 1851
Prints of Calf and Lights, author's collection, are from those published 1834 by Ashe and are by A.E.Watts
Douglas Head and Point of Ayre - Edwardian Postcards c 1920 or earlier

Many thanks to John Hellowell for the boat trip which allowed the views of Chicken and Langness lights.



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