Following our recent blog on the Larick Beacon (or 'The Pile' as many know it) we've been contacted by the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses. They've managed to find some records of the beacon and have been kind enough to send them over to us. The records paint a picture of the day to day running of what was an essential element in an Estuary with strong currents and dangerous tides. I'm sure we've all looked out over the Tay at low tide and wondered why more boats don't end up in trouble stranded on the huge sandbanks that appear twice daily. Nowadays its mainly down to GPS and other electronic trickery but 150 years ago the beacons and lighthouses were essential features. This came at a cost for some though.
The smalls lighthouse above is a very similar construction. It shows the octagonal living quarters below the beacon itself. The keepers shifts lasted roughly 14 days. Yes that's 14 days and nights at a time before being swapped out by the alternate shift. I work offshore and that seems ok but somehow being 500mtr from shore seems different. I assume that wood for the Beacon and provisions were brought over regularly. One of the first keepers were a Mr and Mrs Ireland who alternated with an N.Barron and co-worker of the same name. Presumably a father and son team or perhaps cousins.
The wind direction and weather was recorded in the above Journal as well as the time the light was extinguished. It shows a period of 4 days of fog which included 47 hours of bell ringing to worn seafarers. Task for the keepers included blacking the piles and painting the structure. The keepers seemed to vary their shift a little presumably to help each other out. The longest shift covered appears to be 8 months straight (although 2 separate days off when they went back to shore are included in this). Christmas day, as we know it now, wasn't observed in Scotland until well into the next century at that time so no mention is made. No mention of new year either which at the time was observed on the 6th of January when kids would hang up a stocking.
The keepers also seemed to have some responsibility for Tayport High and Low Lighthouses and spent there time ashore tending to these.
Thats about it for the records but I certainly won't look at The Pile the same way. Careers were served out there. On the right day, with the right weather, fishing off the top deck maybe wasn't all bad.
If anyone had further detail or anything I've written seems incorrect please comment below.