Robert Stevenson and the Lighthouse Stevensons

For nearly 150 years, Robert Stevenson, his sons and grandsons designed many of the lighthouses around Scotland's coast.

Who was Robert Stevenson?

  • Robert Stevenson was born in Glasgow on the 8th June 1772.
  • Robert's father died when Robert was very young. His mother wanted him to be a minister.
  • His mother married a man called Thomas Smith. He was an engineer for the Northern Lighthouse Board. An engineer is someone who designs, builds and looks after buildings and structures.
  • Robert became his assistant and then his partner.
  • Robert was very successful as a lighthouse engineer. When he was only 19 he was put in charge of the building of a lighthouse on the Ayrshire coast.
  • He was Engineer to the Northern Lighthouse Board from 1808 until 1842 and was responsible for the building of at least 15 major Lighthouses
  • Robert died in Edinburgh in 1850, aged 78.
Robert Stevenson, the engineer and lighthouse builder. Can you spot the lighthouse in this painting? Image courtesy of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.
See the Bell Rock Lighthouse as it is today.

The Bell Rock Lighthouse

  • Robert was in charge of the building of the Bell Rock Lighthouse, eleven miles out from Arbroath on the east coast of Scotland.
  • Building the Bell Rock Lighthouse was very difficult and took four years to finish.
  • The tower is 36 metres high and there are 96 steps to the top.

Click through the slideshow below to find out more about the Bell Rock Lighthouse.

The Bell Rock Lighthouse on a fine day

The Bell Rock Lighthouse is 36 metres high. There are 96 steps to the top of tower.

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The Lighthouse Stevensons

  • Robert wasn't the only member of his family to design lighthouses.

  • His sons Alan, David and Thomas also became lighthouse engineers.

  • His grandsons (David's sons) David Alan Stevenson and Charles Stevenson designed lighthouses too.

  • Thomas' son chose not to be an engineer. His name was Robert Louis Stevenson and he was a famous writer.

There's more to learn...

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Robert Stevenson holding image

Robert Stevenson and the Lighthouse Stevensons