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Collection NLC - Commissioners of the Northern Lighthouses

Identity area

Reference code

GB 234 NLC


Commissioners of the Northern Lighthouses


  • 1786-1994 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

150 linear metres

Context area

Name of creator

Commissioners for Northern Lighthouses (1786-1994)

Administrative history

The Erection of Lighthouses Act 1786 (26 Geo. III, c.101) founded the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses (numbering 19), who had the power to borrow money, purchase land, levy dues from ship owners, and to construct lighthouses. The first lighthouse constructed by the NLC was Kinnaird Head, near Fraserburgh, opened in 1787. The jurisdiction of the Commissioners was extended by statute to include the Isle of Man (under the Isle of Man and Calf of Man Lighthouses Act 1815: 55 Geo. III, ch.lxvii) and lighthouses established by burghs and other local authorities under the Lighthouses Act 1836 (6 & 7 Will. IV, c.79), which also made plans for new lighthouses to be built by the Commissioners subject to approval of Trinity House. The powers of Trinity House were strengthened and the funding of lighthouses consolidated into the Mercantile Marine Fund under the Merchant Shipping Law Amendment Act 1853 (16 & 17 Vict., c.131). The Merchant Shipping Act 1894 (57 & 58 Vict., c.60) confirmed the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses as the authority for lighthouses in Scotland and the adjacent seas and islands, and the Isle of Man. The Merchant Shipping Act 1979 freed the Commissioners from the supervision of Trinity House.

The Northern Lighthouse Board, together with Trinity House (England, Wales and the Channel Isles) and the Commissioners of Irish Lights (Eire and Northern Ireland) are the General Lighthouse Authorities for the United Kingdom and Ireland. Running costs are met from a 'General Lighthouse Fund', financed by the collection of Light Dues paid by commercial ships calling at British and Irish ports, and by fishing vessels over 10 metres in length. The fund, although administered by the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, is entirely self-financing, and receives no grant from the Exchequer. The powers and duties of the General Lighthouse Authorities are laid down in the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 (c.21). All the NLC's lighthouses have been automated for operational purposes since end March 1998.

Archival history

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Scope and content

NLC1 Annual reports, 1848-1852, 1873-1937

NLC2 Board minutes and related papers, 1786-1989

Secretary's Department

NLC3 Correspondence and reports, 1901-1987

NLC4 Staff records, 1837-1980

NLC5 Orders and Circulars: General Orders, 1844-1991

NLC6 Returns: Shipwreck Returns, 1927-1983

Engineer's Department

NLC11 Engineer's department: Letterbooks and correspondence files, 1838-1958

Records of individual lighthouses

NLC20 Ailsa Craig Lighthouse, 1862-1985

NLC21 Ardnamurchan Lighthouse, 1972-1987

NLC23 Barns Ness Lighthouse, 1982-1986

NLC24 Barra Head Lighthouse, 1953-1980

NLC28 Buchan Ness Lighthouse, 1915-1971

NLC36 Copinsay Lighthouse, 1915-1990

NLC38 Corsewall Lighthouse, 1883-1992

NLC40 Cromarty Lighthouse, 1868-1985

NLC42 Davaar Lighthouse, 1868-1980

NLC44 Dubh Artach Lighthouse, 1929-1971

NLC47 Eilean Glas Lighthouse, 1853-1925

NLC48 Esha Ness Lighthouse, 1955-1966

NLC51 Fidra Lighthouse, 1951-1970

NLC53 Flannan Isles Lighthouse, 1899-1971

NLC57 Holy Island (Inner) Lighthouse, 1900-1978

NLC58 Holy Island (Outer) Lighthouse, 1926-1964

NLC62 Inchkeith Lighthouse, 1845-1869

NLC63 Isle of May Lighthouse, 1836-1989

NLC70 Loch Indaal Lighthouse, 1869-1948

NLC72 Maughold Head Lighthouse (Isle of Man), 1914-1993

NLC73 McArthur's Head Lighthouse, 1861-1969

NLC75 Muckle Flugga Lighthouse, 1936-1995

NLC78 Neist Point Lighthouse, 1898-1988

NLC80 Noss Head Lighthouse,1892-1967

NLC83 Out Skerries Lighthouse, 1854-1935

NLC85 Pentland Skerries Lighthouse, 1871-1994

NLC86 Pladda Lighthouse, 1970-1990

NLC87 Point of Ayre Lighthouse (Isle of Man), 1957-1993

NLC91 Rona Lighthouse, 1857-1975

NLC92 Rubh' Re Lighthouse, 1944-1985

NLC94 Ruvaal Lighthouse, 1858-1983

NLC95 Sanda Lighthouse, 1863-1991

NLC96 Scurdie Ness Lighthouse, 1975-1983

NLC97 Skerryvore Lighthouse, 1968-1991

NLC99 St Abb's Lighthouse, 1844-1993

NLC107 Tarbat Ness Lighthouse, 1868-1976

NLC108 Tiumpan Head Lighthouse, 1920-1984

NLC110 Turnberry Lighthouse, 1873-1985

NLC111 Ushenish Lighthouse, 1857-1971

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


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Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Paper records

Finding aids

Full catalogue available through National Records of Scotland online catalogue at

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