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Shipping & Ports

Wee Cumbrae Lighthouse Lamp


Wee Cumbrae played an important part in the Firth of Clyde's shipping history. Engineers built the Clyde's first lighthouse on Wee Cumbrae in 1757. There has been a lighthouse on the island ever since.

Many sailors died on the Cumbraes' rocky shores in the 1700s and as shipping to new ports at Greenock and Port Glasgow increased, action had to be taken. The first lighthouse was a coal buring tower on the summit of Wee Cumbrae but sailors could not see it in low cloud. A new tower, which still exists, replaced it nearer to the sea in 1793. Ships had to pay a toll for passing the lighthouse.

To help sailors navigate, each lighthouse flashes its own distinctive signal. The lenses rotate around the light. A sailor sees the light when the lenses point in his direction.

Museum of the Cumbraes
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North Ayrshire Council