The two chequered cast-iron lighthouses at Port Glasgow mark a sharp bend in the channel of the Upper Clyde leading into Glasgow. They were established in 1861 for the Clyde Lighthouses Trust.
Irvine on the Ayrshire coast was regarded as the Port of Glasgow until 1662, when the city magistrates founded Port Glasgow.
Entering the upper part of the Firth was challenging to navigate, and it wasn’t easy to distinguish the narrow channel between Little Cumbrae and Bute. So a lighthouse at Little Cumbrae was established.
Port Glasgow was originally named Newark. Newark was a small fishing hamlet, and there was a good anchorage near the castle.
Greenock developed, and the fishing and shipping trade grew, although there was only a small jetty to unload ships. Seagoing ships were unable to travel further up the Clyde due to the silting river.
Merchants from Glasgow made an unsuccessful bid to build a harbour at Greenock. As a result, they then negotiated with Sir Patrick Maxwell of Newark Estate. Maxwell agreed to lease some of his land near the castle. Piers and breakwaters were built and a harbour formed. New Port Glasgow was formed in 1668 and was later changed to Port Glasgow in 1775.
From Port Glasgow, ships would arrive with sugar, tobacco, rum, cotton, timber, and iron cargoes. These goods were then transported by road to Glasgow.
By the 19th century, Port Glasgow had become a shipbuilding centre. As trade in Glasgow prospered, improvements were needed to the river and safe navigation. The two Port Glasgow lighthouses were built in 1861.
The Perch or Beacon Light was powered by a gas pipe connected after the Lighthouse trust built its works there.
Experiments with gas buoys were undertaken at Greenock and Port Glasgow around 1899, powered from gas produced in Port Glasgow.
Nearby Coronation Park was opened on the site of the west harbour in 1937, commemorating the coronation of King George VI. Traces of the old harbour and docks can be found within the park.
Perch lighthouse is visible just offshore from the park.