Cloch Point Lighthouse was built in 1797, and it is located around 3 miles southwest of Gourock. The white tower with its distinctive black band looks across the Clyde estuary to Dunoon on the opposite shore.
The largest ships at the time were under sail only. Having easily cleared the Cumbrae Light, the inward-bound navigator would naturally look for a mark ahead, and the Cloch Light would be obscured from his vision for various reasons. The light at Toward Point gave the navigator a bearing for around nine miles up the Firth until Cloch was in clear view. The vessel could then safely turn to starboard by the beacon towards the anchorage off Greenock.
Thomas Smith and Robert Stevenson designed Cloch Point Lighthouse, and the building was completed in 1797. The older cottages were used as storerooms, and more recent cottages were added later.
The lighthouse was first lit on 11th August 1797 using an oil lantern installed by Smith and Stevenson. An Argand lamp with reflector replaced this in 1829, and Acetylene gas replaced this around 1900.
Allan McLean, a pilot in Greenock, was employed as a lightkeeper at £30 per annum and was allowed to pilot ships in the Firth as long as he did not neglect his duty as the lighthouse keeper.
Foghorns were added between 1895 and 1897.
In 1931 a radio beacon was installed. The Clyde Lighthouses Trust were the first authority to establish ‘talking beacons’. Cloch Lighthouse formed one of these, along with Cumbrae, to the south. An automatic radio broadcast gave the name of the fog station. A signal, synchronised with the fog signal blasts, enabled the listener to estimate the distance between his position and the fog station. This invention was quickly adopted by the US Lighthouse Service and installed at over 100 stations.
Today, no main light is displayed from the lantern at Cloch, only a minor light is exhibited from a pole fixed to the lantern gallery.