South Scotland

Little Ross lighthouse lens lights up Stewartry Museum

Little Ross Lighthouse Image copyright Steve Fareham
Image caption The lens from the Little Ross lighthouse has gone on display

A spectacular lens from a historic Galloway lighthouse has finally gone on full view, more than 10 years after it was gifted to a local museum.

For more than a century, it was a beacon for seafarers in the Solway Firth.

It spent much of the last decade in darkness however, after it was removed from the Little Ross lighthouse, near Kirkcudbright.

But now it is lighting up the Stewartry Museum in a new display.

Image caption The lens was made in Paris in the late 19th century.

In 2004 the lens was airlifted off Little Ross island and delivered to the Kirkcudbright museum in a large wooden crate.

It went on display shortly afterwards but it remained in the crate, meaning visitors only had a partial view of the 19th century craftsmanship.

Last year curator Anne Ramsbottom vowed to showcase the lens properly.

With the help of a reinforced display cabinet, a local removals firm and a number of volunteers, it now takes centre stage in the community museum.

She said: "Visitors are really excited about it. Because it's a lens, it refracts the light and so when we light it, it has these beautiful rainbows in it.

"Sometimes on a bright day, when we get a bit of sun in, then we actually get that going round the room and people really enjoy that.

"It shows itself off really really well."

The lens was made in Paris in 1896 by Barbier & Benad, the world leader for lighthouse construction and equipment at the end of the 19th century.

The lighthouse was manned by two keepers until 1960 when the clockwork mechanism and paraffin burner were replaced by an automated propane system.

Coincidently, in the same year, lighthouse keeper Hugh Clark was found dead on the island after he was shot by his assistant Robert Dickson.

At the High Court in Dumfries, Dickson was sentenced to death for the crime, but he was reprieved shortly before his execution.

The lens was donated to the museum by the Northern Lighthouse Board.

Image copyright Stewarty Museum
Image caption The lens was moved into a specially built display case after 10 years in a crate.
Image copyright Walter Baxter
Image caption Little Ross Lighthouse was the scene of an infamous local murder.

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