The history of the lighthouses and their keepers is celebrated in a new exhibition

Now the remarkable history of the lighthouses, their keeper and the engineers who made them possible is celebrated in a major new exhibition.

Lighthouses, one of the original seven wonders of the world, have been a beacon of safety since the first was built in Alexandria, ancient Egypt, more than 2,000 years ago.

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Following the Lights – which opened at the Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine – traces Britain’s iconic lighthouse design through centuries of innovation.

Designs featured include the first British lighthouse in 1635, the Fresnel lens of 1821 – credited as the “invention that saved a million ships” – and today’s solar-powered versions.

HeraldScotland: A number of artefacts are on display for the'Following the Lights' exhibitionA number of artifacts are on display for the “Following the Lights” exhibition (Image: Scottish Maritime Museum)

Starting with a collection of rare artefacts, letters, photographs and memorabilia brought together by lighthouse enthusiast and photographer Peter Gellatly, the exhibition also offers visitors a unique insight into the working life of lighthouse keepers.

Highlights include a series of photographs of Scottish lighthouses taken between 1901 and 1929 by C. Dick Peddie, Secretary of the Northern Lighthouse Board.

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Engineering artifacts include an 1827 Buchan Ness lighthouse lamp designed by the famous Stevenson family.

Miriam Matthews, Exhibitions and Events Officer at the Scottish Maritime Museum, said: “Our lighthouses are such a familiar and, for many, very beloved sight on our coast and it is amazing to think that no two are alike.

“Each lighthouse has its own individual ‘character’. The color and direction of the beam, and even the speed and pattern of the strobe light, create a code used by seafarers to identify the lighthouse and navigate that particular area.

HeraldScotland: The'Following the Light' exhibition has opened its doors at the Scottish Maritime MuseumThe “Follow the Light” exhibition has opened its doors at the Scottish Maritime Museum (Image: Scottish Maritime Museum)

She added: “While our lighthouses still protect mariners from the dangers of rough seas, treacherous reefs and wrecks, advances in electronic navigation systems have rendered many of these prominent landmarks obsolete.

“Following the Lights is a celebration of our rich lighthouse heritage and the broader maritime history they illuminate.”

The exhibition is on view in the museum’s Victorian Linthouse on Irvine Harborside until June 18. The history of the lighthouses and their keepers is celebrated in a new exhibition

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