121 Bell Rock Lighthouse

Holy Crap Accomplishment: Bell Rock Lighthouse

Location: NE Scotland

The rock was the scene of many shipwrecks as it lies just below the surface of the sea for all but a few hours at low tide.

14th Century: Bell Rock: Warning bell placed by Abbot of Arbroath: Stolen by Dutch Pirates 1 year later

18th-cum-19th Century: Wrecked 6 ships each winter. One storm sunk 70 ships

1799: Scottish engineer Robert Stevenson (grandfather of the author) proposed the construction of a lighthouse on Bell Rock in 1799.

Rejected: too costly and Stevenson was too young. (his grandfather built lighthouses)

Stevenson sent his design to John Rennie, more experienced, good reputation.

1804: HMS York sunk

1804: Furor in Parliament: something has to be done

1806: Construction began: Rennie responsible but Stevenson chief assistant.

1807 Stevenson hired 60 men, used pick axes to cut foundation. Black powder might damage the rock.

1807, August 17 set sail. Gone 60 days. Stay on ship anchored 2 miles away.

For 20 hours each day, while the rock was covered by up to 12 feet (3.7 m) of water, the men lived on a ship moored 1 mile (2 km) off the rock.

Build beacon house to save commute time. Room for 15 men. The foundations and beacon legs were raised during the first season.

Winter: work on the lighthouse was paused as stonemasons cut rocks for the lighthouse out of Aberdeen granite.

1808 (early) work resumed. The beacon house barracks was completed and the first three courses of stone were laid. In the whole of the second season only 80 hours of building work took place on the rock.

Work stopped on 22 August 1809, by which time a large part of the tower had been completed.

In January 1810, Stevenson's twins died of whooping cough, and a fortnight later his youngest daughter Janet also died of this disease. Rennie wrote Stevenson a consoling letter. During this final period of construction the lighthouse became something of a tourist attraction. Many people were anxious to see the completion of the tallest off-shore lighthouse in the world. In this final season, while the men were staying in the beacon house, a 7-hour storm struck. Worker Charles Henderson was lost, and his body was never found. Work was finally completed after having consumed about 2500 granite stones, all carried by one horse, Bassey.

Ultimately, the project came in 50 per cent above the original estimate of £42,000 (2009: £2,490,000) budget.

Holy Crap Thinking:

Pain drives Desire

Strategy overcomes Obstacles

Impossible became possible

Holy Crap Quote:

“It is one thing to mortify (kill) curiosity, another to conquer (experience) it.” Robert Louis Stevenson

Holy Crap Challenge:

Think Bigger: Be curious.

Reach Higher: Reach for bigger challenges.

Do the Impossible: Create a lighthouse that saves lives

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