There have been three lighthouses on the Calf of Man. The Calf of Man High and Low Lighthouses worked together to mark the offshore Chicken Rock. The newer light was established in 1968 but has since been discontinued.
On 7th June 1818, the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses were granted permission through an Act of Parliament to build lighthouses on the Isle of Man.
The Duke of Atholl, owner of the Calf of Man, eventually agreed to allow ten acres of land for the erection of lighthouse buildings. In 1817 work began to build two lighthouses.
The Calf of Man High and Low Lighthouses were 560 feet apart and operated as leading lights to mark the Chicken rock, a mile offshore to the south of the Calf.
The High Lighthouse was 60 feet high with a two-storey keepers’ cottage connected by a single-storey service room.
The Calf of Man Low Light was similar in design, with the tower being 50 feet high.
In August 1818 one of the supply boats was wrecked on the rocks in the Calf of Man Sounds causing delays to the lighthouse’s construction.
The two lights were completed and exhibited for the first time on 1st February 1819. Both displayed rotating clockwork-driven lights which synchronised to flash at the same time every two minutes.
However, poor weather conditions often obscured the High Light. As a result, the Commissioners decided to build a lighthouse Chicken Rock itself.
Both lighthouses were discontinued in January 1875 when Chicken Rock Lighthouse was completed.
The lighthouse keepers moved to Chicken Rock. The keepers’ cottages on the Calf of Man were retained as a shore base until 1886 when the Shore Station at Port St Mary was used.
The new Calf of Man Lighthouse, established in 1968, was the last manned lighthouse built by the Northern Lighthouse Board. It was located between the old High and Low Lighthouses.
Accommodation for the four keepers was in a single-storey building alongside the lighthouse.
In 1972 a helicopter landing pad was added nearby, and in 1994 the automation process began. A fourth-order double catadioptric lens from Barra Head Lighthouse replaced the sealed beam units.
The keepers moved out on 22nd March 1995 when the lighthouse was automated. A keeper based in Port St Mary then carried out maintenance.
The shore station for the lighthouse keepers and their families was located at Port St Mary and was used until automation on 31st March 1995.
A Tyfon compressed air fog signal was initially installed. This was changed to electric emitters in 1994. The fog signal was discontinued on 12th august 2005.
Following the upgrading of Chicken Rock Lighthouse, the Calf of Man Lighthouse was discontinued on 21st June 2007. Its optic was later removed.
Separating the Calf of Man and the mainland is the Calf of Man Sound. In the middle of this channel can clearly be seen the Thousla Rock Beacon, an eight-sided pillar with an LED lantern on top.
From the Sound is a cross dedicated to the rescue of the crew of a French vessel en route to Londonderry.
The Thousla Cross, built in 1907 replaces the original wooden cross and plaque, erected in 1859, which was destroyed in 1905.
The inscription reads: The Thousla Cross to commemorate an act of heroism by men of this parish in their rescue of the crew of the French Schooner Jeane St Charles in 1858.