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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

News

Bell Rock Lighthouse featured in national museum’s Shining Lights exhibition

October 23 2010

The Bell Rock Lighthouse 11 miles off the Arbroath coast and one of the wonders of the engineering world is featured in a new exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. Shining Lights: The Story of Scotland's Lighthouses tells of the people who designed, built and operated the country's lighthouses, lighting a safe passage for mariners along the jagged and dangerous coastline for more than 250 years. The exhibition will feature many objects from the National Museum's collections unseen for over two decades, including spectacular giant optics, lighthouse models, beacons, photographs, books and charts dating from as far back as the 17th century. A series of interactive exhibits will further explain the development of lighthouse technology right up to the present day. The exhibition also marks next year's 200th anniversary of the lighting of the Bell Rock the world's oldest surviving rock lighthouse. Designed by Robert Stevenson, the building of the lighthouse was an astonishing feat of engineering that marked the coming of age of the Stevenson family's connection with Scottish lighthouses. Almost all of Scotland's 208 lighthouses were developed, designed and built by a member of this engineering dynasty whose talents contributed significantly to scientific and technological development across the world. The family's impressive credentials are a central part of the exhibition. Principal curator Alison Morrison-Low said, "Lighthouses remain some of our best-loved landmarks and we believe visitors will be fascinated to see and hear about their history, from the Scottish engineering ingenuity involved to the personal stories of the men and women who kept the lights shining for passing mariners. "The lighting of the Bell Rock 200 years ago was a tremendously important development, both for lighthouse technology in general and for the Stevensons, Scotland's lighthouse family. We're delighted to be able to mark the anniversary with such an important exhibition." Broadcaster, historian and author Neil Oliver is also looking forward to the exhibition. He said, "As someone who has swum out to the Eddystone Lighthouse and slept in the most remote lighthouse in Britain I have a real love for these beautiful, dramatic and amazing structures. "I'm glad that Scotland's vital role in the creation of lighthouses will be told in this exciting exhibition and I'm really looking forward to seeing it for myself." Shining Lights: The Story of Scotland's Lighthouses runs from October 15 to April 3 at the National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh.Find out more at the national museum's website.

Angus & The Mearns

Bell Rock lighthouse in focus with 100-year-old 3D technology

May 3 2018

An exhibition of early 20th century 3D photographs featuring images of Scottish lighthouses, including the Bell Rock off the Angus coast, has gone on display at the Signal Tower museum in Arbroath. The stereoscopic images were captured by Edinburgh-born C. Dick Peddie between 1905 and 1913 when he took part in the annual lighthouse inspection voyages. Peddie had pursued a career in law, and it was said that he "convinced every one of his ability, industry and aptitude for work", but in 1900, he was appointed as Secretary of the Northern Lighthouse Board (NLB), and attended the Commissioners’ annual inspection voyages of the structures. A keen artist and caricaturist in his spare time, he began to photograph these journeys – often capturing unguarded, informal images of colleagues, as well as more technical photographs of the lighthouses. Peddie retired from the NLB in 1929 after almost 29 years of service, but the many photographs he took, brought to life by the stereoscopic viewer, have left an invaluable insight into the NLB at the time. It is these images that visitors can see through an original viewing device at the Signal Tower museum. Invented in the early 19th century, stereoscope technology, which allows photographs to be seen in 3D, became hugely popular among photographers in the 1850s. The three-dimensional effect is created when two photographs of the same scene are captured and then viewed through a specially designed viewer. Initially, this was achieved by using two cameras side by side, but by the early 20th century, the technology had advanced to the point that Peddie had access to a camera with two lenses, which simplified the process. The two pictures are then seen through a viewer, and the brain combines the images and processes it to give the perception of 3D depth. Stereoscopy became a huge industry, and photographers travelled around the world to capture views, sometimes with explanatory text on them, for the new medium and feed the demand for 3D. Kirsten Couper, museum officer said, “The importance of the Peddie Collection stems from the unique  scenes he captured as a consequence of his position as Secretary. “This access allowed him to collect the earliest and richest photographic account of the life and work of the NLB’s tenders - including the Commissioners’ inspection voyages”. Fraserburgh-based collections officer Michael Strachan said: “It is remarkable to think this magnificent collection had previously been loaned to the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses before being reclaimed by its owner in 2001 and lost. “It was found only by chance when I noticed a few of the cards on eBay in 2015, and thanks to funding from the Northern Lighthouse Heritage Trust the entire collection of lighthouse material was purchased and accessioned into the Museum’s Recognised Collection of National Significance. “ Admission is free, and the exhibition runs until August 31.  

Angus & The Mearns

Bell Rock lens room shines again after years in the dark

April 7 2017

Arbroath’s Signal Tower Museum has shone new light on an important piece of local maritime heritage with the re-opening of the Bell Rock lens room after several years in the shade. Closed since 2010, the lens room has undergone an extensive refurbishment, thanks to funding from the Northern Lighthouse Heritage Trust. The seafront building’s keepers, ANGUSalive, can now show the stunning lens in a new and contemporary display that highlights its structure and beauty. Museum officer Kirsten Couper said: “We are all delighted to open the doors to the lens room once again. "We are often asked by visitors about the lens and having this space re-opened is a wonderful addition to the telling of the story of the Bell Rock lighthouse. "We are sure the public will share our pleasure at seeing the new lens room.” Originally the shore station for Robert Stevenson’s Bell Rock lighthouse, which lies 11½ miles off the Angus coastline, the Signal Tower now acts as a beacon of local heritage, promoting education and learning, as well as illuminating visitors on the history of lighthouses and lighthouse keeping. The Bell Rock is the world’s oldest surviving sea-washed lighthouse and has protected the Angus coastline and its people using a number of different lighting and lens mechanisms since its completion in 1811. Its electrification in 1964 saw it fitted with a new powerful light - surrounded by eight panels of lenses - which was originally used by the Isle of Man’s Chicken Rock Lighthouse. The lens was then gifted to the Signal Tower Museum by Northern Lighthouse Board in 1988 during the automation of the lighthouse. Refurbishment work has included some restoration of the lens and its mechanism and the museum room features new interpretation panels explaining the history of lighthouse lenses and lighting mechanisms as well as graphics giving a photographic panorama of the view from the Bell Rock itself. Children from Arbroath's Timmergreens primary and local band Slipway combined at the re-opening ceremony to perform the Bell Rock Light and The Smokie Song for invited guests that included Peter Mackay, chairman of the Northern Lighthouse Heritage Trust.

Angus & The Mearns

Much-loved photographer Jim Ratcliffe’s life through a lens on show at Signal Tower

March 12 2016

The work of well-known Arbroath photographer Jim Ratcliffe will be the subject of a special display next week. Mr Ratcliffe, who died aged 78 in January, donated more than 75,000 negatives to the Signal Tower Museum’s archives in 2015. On Tuesday at 2pm, Fiona Scharlau, Angus Archives manager, is hosting a Jim Ratcliffe Collection drop-in at the visitor attraction. Visitors will have an opportunity to view a slideshow of photographs taken by Mr Ratcliffe in Arbroath during the 1970s. People are asked to come along and help identify people and places which were captured by Mr Ratcliffe’s lens. The freelance photographer operated in Arbroath since the 1960s and catalogued every picture taken in that time.

Perth & Kinross

Perthshire connection helps Russian war veterans to victory

April 16 2013

A group of Russian war veterans have won their latest battle with a little help from The Courier. The air force veterans marshalled the power of the press as they fought a rearguard action to save the Museum of the Transport Air Force Division at Vnukovo in Moscow from closure. The museum was created in the 1970s as a tribute to the heroism of pilots during the Second World War and houses a collection of more than 4,000 items of memorabilia, documents and military awards donated by the air force veterans and their families. The future of the museum came under threat after it was decided to close the municipal cultural centre where it is located for renovation. Incensed by the prospect of losing the museum, the families of the war heroes started a petition and held a protest at the local war memorial. They even enlisted the help of a modern aviation hero, pilot Evgeny Novoselov, who in 2010 made a miracle emergency landing of his aircraft, saving the lives of all 81 people on board, who wrote a letter of support to President Vladimir Putin. As part of their plan the veterans armed themselves with copies of articles from The Courier which told of a mysterious wartime mission by Soviet airmen to Perthshire which showed the amount of foreign interest in the veterans’ story and proved vital to their fight. News of the success came from Anna Belorusova, a Russian woman who has made a pilgrimage to Errol airfield to learn more about her heroic grandfather Peter Kolesnikov, who served with the squadron. “What became the turning point in sealing the museum’s future came from Scotland with the recent Courier articles disclosing the mystery wartime mission of the best airmen of the Vnukovo Transport Air Force Division at the RAF Errol base, as part of 305 RAF Squadron,” she said. “The Courier articles closing the gap in the division war history and confirming that the memory of the Russian airmen war time presence is still alive in Scotland, have given the second breath to the Vnukovo museum defenders. “The Scottish articles were seen and appreciated at the top Moscow offices and the happy ending came last week. It has been decided that the museum is to stay and to develop, for the 70th Victory Anniversary and further on. Elena Nikitina, the chief curator, said: “We are very grateful to the Scottish people for their friendly hospitality to our airmen in Errol during the war, which they had very fond memories of.”

News

BBC documentary to mark Bell Rock lighthouse’s 200th anniversary

January 22 2011

The eyes of Scotland will be on Arbroath next month with a BBC documentary set to air and major events planned to mark the bicentenary of the Bell Rock lighthouse. February 1 marks the 200th anniversary of the lighting of the beacon, and the sky above the town will be illuminated by a firework display with 2000 people expected to attend. The Princess Royal and author Bella Bathurst will lead the celebrations in Edinburgh while BBC2 Scotland will broadcast ia programme on the lighthouse at 9pm. The display at Inchcape Park next to the Signal Tower Museum will flare into life with a special, giant firework in the shape of thelighthouse, accompanied by music from the days when the Bell Rock was new. The Earl of Southesk, patron of the Year of the Light, will start the countdown to the fireworks display at 7.30pm and the event will also feature a funfair and stalls. Year of the Light steering committee chairman Harry Simpson said, "If it's a clear night, the Year of the Light's spectacular musical fireworks display will be visible at the Bell Rock, where, on February 1, 1811, the first beam of light shone from the top of the lighthouse constructed by Robert Stevenson and his highly-skilled team." That evening Bella, author of bestseller The Lighthouse Stevensons, will give a public talk at the Hub, Castlehill, Edinburgh.Stevensons' lessonsPrincess Anne, as patron of the Northern Lighthouse Board, will hold a reception at Holyrood House on the evening of Thursday, February 3. She will open a conference The Bell Rock Lighthouse, The Stevensons, And Emerging Issues In Aids To Navigation at the Royal Society of Edinburgh, George Street, the following day. These events are part of a wider programme of celebrations which includes the exhibition Shining Lights at the National Museum of Scotland which runs until April 3, as well as the Year of the Light. Bella's lecture will look not only at the story of the building of the Bell Rock but at the role lighthouses play in navigation today and our changing relationship with the sea. She said, "We have layered our seabed with oil rigs, gas exploration platforms and telecoms cables, and we're at a point of huge expansion of tidal and wave energy devices. "It's important to recognise that the Stevensons still have something to teach us."'Extreme construction'She added, "Their lighthouses are templates for extreme construction. "They're built in the worst places, with the greatest exposure, for the longest time. And the lessons the Stevensons learned do not date. "They can still tell the inquiring engineer what they wanted to know about every corner of the British coastline, from the tip of Shetland to the Lizard Point." Sir Andrew Cubie, chairman of the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses, said the conference will examine the construction of this extraordinary building and will also deliberate on its place in today's world. These events have been organised by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Northern Lighthouse Board and are supported by Inchcape Shipping Services (ISS), which owes its name to the notorious reef off Arbroath. Lord Wilson of Tillyorn, president of the RSE, said the bicentenary of the Bell Rock lighthouse is a chance to reflect not only on the achievements of its builders but on the more recent past of lighthouses and their future. The oldest standing rock lighthouse in the world, the Bell Rock is one of the most exceptional feats of engineering in Scottish history.

Angus & The Mearns

Arbroath service to remember the men who gave their lives during the building of the Bell Rock Lighthouse

June 11 2011

A ceremony for people of all faiths and churches will take place in Arbroath on Sunday in memory of those who died during the construction of the Bell Rock Lighthouse. At 4pm in the courtyard of the Signal Tower Museum, the congregations of all the Arbroath churches will join together at The Light of the World Service. Throughout 2011, the people of Arbroath have been celebrating the bicentenary of the Bell Rock Lighthouse with the Year of the Light, a programme of special events organised by residents, communities, organisations and businesses. The Light of the World Service is the latest of these and the Rev John Cuthbert of St Mary's Episcopal Church said the service is in memory of those who lost their lives on the Bell Rock prior to and during the construction of the lighthouse, which was completed by Robert Stevenson and his men in 1811. According to the website www.bellrock.org.uk, five men died during the construction. "We felt it was only fitting to celebrate the bicentenary of this iconic lighthouse which has been saving lives for 200 years with a ceremony for people of all faiths and churches," said Mr Cuthbert. "The theme of The Light of the World Service will be the Bell Rock, its lighthouse and the sea that surrounds it and has played such an important part in the story of Arbroath and its people over the years. "During the service, there will be a wonderfully appropriate selection of music, hymns and readings, including, thanks to the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses, Robert Stevenson's prayer for the men who were working alongside him on the Bell Rock Lighthouse. "Stevenson, who was a religious man, wrote this prayer on the front page of his Bible and repeated it every morning during the construction of the Bell Rock Lighthouse. Perhaps this prayer is one of the reasons so few men were lost while the lighthouse was being built, despite it being located in the middle of the North Sea, on a deadly reef covered by the tide twice a day." The service is open to all visitors. In the event of bad weather, the service will be held at St Mary's Episcopal Church in Springfield Terrace. For more details visit www.angusahead.com/bellrocklighthouse.

Angus & The Mearns

New photo book shines a light on Stevensons’ life-saving masterpieces

November 11 2015

Spectacular images of Courier country beacons have cast a new light on the structures which have kept generations of seafarers safe. In a book charting Scotland’s lighthouse heritage, photographer Ian Cowe’s journey took him around the nation’s coastline by foot, car, boat and helicopter to capture the work of the Stevenson family, who battled against the elements for over a century and a half to build the sentinels of the sea. The Bell Rock off the coast of Angus and Inchkeith in the Firth of Forth feature in the new work, Scottish and Manx Lighthouses, a labour of love for Robert Gordon University lecturer Mr Cowe, whose images have featured in the Northern Lighthouse Board’s calendar and a Shining Lights exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland. Over more than 150 years, Robert Stevenson and his descendants designed most of Scotland’s lighthouses. The Bell Rock, 11 miles into the Firth of Tay from Arbroath, receives prominence in the book as the world’s oldest surviving sea-washed light. The book’s story begins in the 17th Century with some of the earliest attempts at constructing lighthouses, shown in comparison with the magnificent Stevenson towers which followed and the formation of the Northern Lighthouse Board in 1786. Mr Cowe’s book features brief historical accounts of many of the Stevenson lights as well as the author’s personal experiences of visiting the wild and captivating locations.

Angus & The Mearns

Year of the Light: Arbroath ready to mark 200 years of the Bell Rock Lighthouse

January 29 2011

The Bell Rock Lighthouse, 11 miles off the coast of Arbroath, is considered one of the world's greatest feats of engineering. Next week will see the bicentenary of Robert Stevenson's landmark first shining across the North Sea, and Jennifer Cosgrove discovered more about a whole year of celebrations to mark the occasion. In addition, there are letters, drawings, ledgers and plans from the business archive of Robert Stevenson and Sons. There are notes from writer Sir Walter Scott's experience of his visit to the lighthouse and a 1960s film of an annual inspection of the lighthouse. The library's senior manuscripts curator Sheila Mackenzie said, "We acquired the collection of Robert Stevenson and Sons, which contains all the correspondence and ledgers of the firm. A lot of their work was with lighthouses, both in Scotland and other countries such as Japan and New Zealand. "I think we should be celebrating Scotland's wonderful 19th Century civil engineers, including, James Watt, Thomas Telford, John Rennie, and the Stevenson family. "Maritime history is part of being Scottish and you don't need to have a specific interest in engineering or lighthouses to enjoy the display, as it is of general interest. I'm not a technical person, but am so enthusiastic about it." The display will be on show until February 28, and there are a number of other themed events and exhibitions taking place in Scotland and as far away as London and Cornwall. Information about these can be found on The Museum of Scottish Lighthouses website. As patron of the Northern Lighthouse Board, Princess Anne is to hold a reception at the Palace of Holyroodhouse to mark the bicentenary on February 3. Her passion for lighthouses stretches back to a childhood visit with her mother to Tiumpan Head on Lewis. The following day, she will attend a bicentenary conference at the Royal Society of Edinburgh, entitled The Bell Rock Lighthouse, the Stevensons and Emerging Issues in Aids to Navigation. The iconic lighthouse really has caught people's imaginations, including local man David Taylor, who set up the excellent website bellrock.org.uk in memory of his great-great-great-grandfather Captain David Taylor and the important part he played in the construction of the lighthouse. Captain Taylor was the son of a handloom weaver living near Arbroath and he became master of the lighthouse's supply vessel, where the builders stayed while they were constructing Bell Rock. He was then appointed first Superintendent of the Bell Rock's shore station at the Signal Tower in Arbroath. Fascinated by tales of his family's connections to the Bell Rock and the lighthouse, when David retired back in 1999, he began work on the website and it has gone from strength-to-strength. It has received visits from over 165 countries in the run-up to the 200th anniversary and attracted attention from people from as far afield as Fiji, Vietnam, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso. David said, "Ever since I was able to remember anything, I have known about my famous ancestor's involvement with the building of the Bell Rock. It has shone down through the generations like a beacon of light." A number of commemorative items are being produced to mark the bicentenary, including certificates for all children whose birth is registered in Arbroath during 2011. Every baby registered will be presented with a special certificate signed by David Taylor, John Boath the last principal keeper on the Bell Rock and Carolyn MacPherson, chief registrar with Angus Council. There will also be a limited edition whisky and a highly-collectible first day cover stamp. Meanwhile, the annual Seafront Spectacular, Seafest and Blues festival will have a Bell Rock theme. Harry Simpson, chair of Arbroath and Area Partnership's Year of the Light Steering Committee, said the programme took around a year and a half to plan, and was community-led through and through. "It celebrates the history of the building of the Bell Rock lighthouse and also commemorates the people who actually built it. We also want to promote the town and surrounding area. "Everybody who was involved: the volunteers, the council, the community planning team they have all worked really hard to get to where we are today."The fireworks Display takes place at Inchcape Park, next to the Signal Tower Museum, on Tuesday, February 1, at 7.30pm. Admission is free. For more information on the Bell Rock Bicentenary and related events, visit www.angusahead.com/bellrocklighthouse, www.nls.uk, www.lighthousemuseum.org.uk and www.bellrock.org.ukOn February 1, 1811, the Bell Rock lighthouse lanterns were lit for the first time. It had taken Stevenson and his men four years to complete what was to become Scotland's most famous lighthouse. Arbroath has long been associated with the lighthouse and the town will celebrate with a 12-month programme called The Year of the Light, which officially opens with a spectacular fireworks display on February 1, at Inchcape Park, next to the Signal Tower Museum. Other events throughout the year include a special service in memory of all those who have lost their lives on the Bell Rock, a yacht regatta, boat trips around the lighthouse and an entertaining selection of concerts, music and talks. The programme is very much a community-led event and The Year of the Light steering committee is supported by the local community planning team, with funding from a variety of sources, including the Angus and Dundee Tourism Partnership's innovation and development fund. According to legend, the Bell Rock was so named because the Abbot of Aberbrothock Arbroath's original name warned sailors of the danger by placing a bell on the Inchcape Rock. It was later removed by the dastardly pirate Ralph the Rover, who is said to have met a well-deserved watery end on the rock. The Bell Rock had always been a notorious spot for mariners, with many ships and lives lost in its vicinity. During the great storm of 1799 on the east coast, at least 70 vessels came to grief if not on the Bell Rock itself, then on the shores trying to avoid it. It was not until 1806, after the loss of the 64-gun HMS York with all hands on board in 1804, that permission to build the lighthouse was finally granted. The Northern Lighthouse Board's young engineer Robert Stevenson put forward plans for a lighthouse on the Bell Rock, using construction techniques drawn up by John Smeaton some 50 years earlier at the Eddystone near Plymouth. He was appointed resident engineer and assistant for the project, along with chief engineer John Rennie. There has always been controversy over which engineer actually 'built' the lighthouse and, historically, it has been attributed to Stevenson. He was the engineer in charge of the construction on a daily basis and, although Rennie was responsible for modifying final designs, it would appear he only visited the site twice during the years of construction. Building the Bell Rock lighthouse was a massive undertaking involving many Arbroath craftsmen including blacksmiths, builders and stonemasons both offshore and at the town's harbour. The reef where the lighthouse was to be built was only visible for a few hours each day and work was only possible between April and October, severely restricted by the weather and the seasons. In August 1807, 24 men sailed from Arbroath to the Bell Rock to start work on the structure and, despite many obstacles, it was complete and operational within four years. The imposing 35m-high structure is the oldest standing rock lighthouse in the world. It became automated in 1988 and is operated by the Northern Lighthouse Board. Arbroath's Signal Tower Museum, by the harbour, was once the shore station for the lighthouse keepers and their families. It became a local authority museum in 1974 and is now undergoing renovation work that will include new displays focusing on Arbroath's fascinating maritime heritage and paying tribute to the vision and bravery of the men who built and manned the lighthouse. It is due to re-open in spring. In the centre of the Signal Tower courtyard there will be a replica of the first complete course (layer) of the lighthouse in full size 42 square feet diameter which will give visitors an idea of the sheer scale of the building. The ball mechanism on the top of the tower will also be restored and will enable signalling to be reintroduced for special occasions. Even animals were recognised during the efforts to construct the lighthouse, none more so than Bassey the carthorse, who was used to pull a converted artillery carriage to draw the raw blocks of stone for the Bell Rock lighthouse from the quarries to the mason's yard and then down to the pier at Arbroath. Bassey drew over 2000 tonnes of stone and was much admired because of this. Stevenson even named a section of the Bell Rock in his honour. After the lighthouse was built, Bassey was moved to the island of Inchkeith in the Forth. He died in 1818 and his skeleton was bought, prepared and displayed by the notable anatomist, Dr John Barclay, in a personal collection. It was later gifted to the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh before being transferred to the Bell Pettigrew Museum of Natural History in St Andrews in 1922, where it can still be seen. There are also celebratory events going on outside of Angus, one of which is now under way at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh. A display showcasing a variety of treasures which chart the Bell Rock's past was recently unveiled at the library's public exhibition space on George IV Bridge, including artefacts detailing its construction. Visitors can see a drawing of the Beacon House the first building on the rock, which was created to house the workmen and the blacksmith's forge. Stevenson's ideas for the creation of the lighthouse and original designs are also on show, as well as documents outlining the dangers the Bell Rock posed. On February 1, 1811, the Bell Rock lighthouse lanterns were lit for the first time. It had taken Stevenson and his men four years to complete what was to become Scotland's most famous lighthouse. Arbroath has long been associated with the lighthouse and the town will celebrate with a 12-month programme called The Year of the Light, which officially opens with a spectacular fireworks display on February 1, at Inchcape Park, next to the Signal Tower Museum. Other events throughout the year include a special service in memory of all those who have lost their lives on the Bell Rock, a yacht regatta, boat trips around the lighthouse and an entertaining selection of concerts, music and talks. The programme is very much a community-led event and The Year of the Light steering committee is supported by the local community planning team, with funding from a variety of sources, including the Angus and Dundee Tourism Partnership's innovation and development fund. According to legend, the Bell Rock was so named because the Abbot of Aberbrothock Arbroath's original name warned sailors of the danger by placing a bell on the Inchcape Rock. It was later removed by the dastardly pirate Ralph the Rover, who is said to have met a well-deserved watery end on the rock. The Bell Rock had always been a notorious spot for mariners, with many ships and lives lost in its vicinity. During the great storm of 1799 on the east coast, at least 70 vessels came to grief if not on the Bell Rock itself, then on the shores trying to avoid it. It was not until 1806, after the loss of the 64-gun HMS York with all hands on board in 1804, that permission to build the lighthouse was finally granted. The Northern Lighthouse Board's young engineer Robert Stevenson put forward plans for a lighthouse on the Bell Rock, using construction techniques drawn up by John Smeaton some 50 years earlier at the Eddystone near Plymouth. He was appointed resident engineer and assistant for the project, along with chief engineer John Rennie. There has always been controversy over which engineer actually 'built' the lighthouse and, historically, it has been attributed to Stevenson. He was the engineer in charge of the construction on a daily basis and, although Rennie was responsible for modifying final designs, it would appear he only visited the site twice during the years of construction. Building the Bell Rock lighthouse was a massive undertaking involving many Arbroath craftsmen including blacksmiths, builders and stonemasons both offshore and at the town's harbour. The reef where the lighthouse was to be built was only visible for a few hours each day and work was only possible between April and October, severely restricted by the weather and the seasons. In August 1807, 24 men sailed from Arbroath to the Bell Rock to start work on the structure and, despite many obstacles, it was complete and operational within four years. The imposing 35m-high structure is the oldest standing rock lighthouse in the world. It became automated in 1988 and is operated by the Northern Lighthouse Board. Arbroath's Signal Tower Museum, by the harbour, was once the shore station for the lighthouse keepers and their families. It became a local authority museum in 1974 and is now undergoing renovation work that will include new displays focusing on Arbroath's fascinating maritime heritage and paying tribute to the vision and bravery of the men who built and manned the lighthouse. It is due to re-open in spring. In the centre of the Signal Tower courtyard there will be a replica of the first complete course (layer) of the lighthouse in full size 42 square feet diameter which will give visitors an idea of the sheer scale of the building. The ball mechanism on the top of the tower will also be restored and will enable signalling to be reintroduced for special occasions. Even animals were recognised during the efforts to construct the lighthouse, none more so than Bassey the carthorse, who was used to pull a converted artillery carriage to draw the raw blocks of stone for the Bell Rock lighthouse from the quarries to the mason's yard and then down to the pier at Arbroath. Bassey drew over 2000 tonnes of stone and was much admired because of this. Stevenson even named a section of the Bell Rock in his honour. After the lighthouse was built, Bassey was moved to the island of Inchkeith in the Forth. He died in 1818 and his skeleton was bought, prepared and displayed by the notable anatomist, Dr John Barclay, in a personal collection. It was later gifted to the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh before being transferred to the Bell Pettigrew Museum of Natural History in St Andrews in 1922, where it can still be seen. There are also celebratory events going on outside of Angus, one of which is now under way at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh. A display showcasing a variety of treasures which chart the Bell Rock's past was recently unveiled at the library's public exhibition space on George IV Bridge, including artefacts detailing its construction. Visitors can see a drawing of the Beacon House the first building on the rock, which was created to house the workmen and the blacksmith's forge. Stevenson's ideas for the creation of the lighthouse and original designs are also on show, as well as documents outlining the dangers the Bell Rock posed.

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