Kirkwall West Pier Lighthouse

Kirkwall West Pier Lighthouse

Kirkwall West Pier has a lighthouse dating back to 1854. 

In 1811, a series of harbour improvements started at the northern end of the town.  The harbour was rebuilt in 1867 and between 1880-5.  Two piers form a basin, and the main pier has a cast iron lighthouse.  The East Pier was built by George Burn between 1809-11, and the West Pier by James Allan in 1813.  The West Pier was replaced with an iron pier designed by Robert Davison in 1865-7.  This pier was encased in stone and extended by John Miller in 1875.

The harbour continued to develop, and in the late 1990s, an extension was built to the main pier.

Kirkwall also provides ferry services linking to Aberdeen and Lerwick in Shetland.  The main ferry terminal is at Hatson Pier, a few miles from the town centre.

Kirkwall Harbour is the second commercial hub following Hatston. A marina is located within the harbour, a popular cruise destination with extended quays for larger cruise ships.

In 2003 a deeper water port was established at Hatston, allowing larger cruise ships to berth.

Kirkwall Harbour

The Shapinsay ferry departs from the west side of the Lifeboat Pier.  Ferries depart to Stronsay, Westray, Eday and Sanday from the main pier linkspan.

A shallow harbour was infilled and began as a west-facing shore fronting onto the sheltered inner bay known as the Peerie (Peedie) Sea.

Kirkwall is the largest in Orkney, on the northern coast of Mainland Orkney. It was a Royal Burgh since 1486, and its name comes from Kirkjuvagr, meaning Church on the Bay in Norse.

In 1973, a documentary, The Highlands and Islands, was made about Prince Charles’ visit to the area, and Kirkwall Harbour was featured.

Kirkwall Harbour
Kirkwall Harbour Light
Photo: Patrick Tubby

Kirkwall West Pier Lighthouse was discontinued in 1994 and was replaced by a modern light. It is located close to the Kirkwall Lifeboat.

The Orkney Museum on Broad Street, Kirkwall, has a collection of lighthouse artefacts.

Established: 1854
Discontinued: 1994