Northern Lighthouse Board

Northern Lighthouse Board

The Northern Lighthouse Board Headquarters are located at 84 George Street Edinburgh. It is responsible for the lighthouses and aids to navigation in Scotland and the Isle of Man.

The NLB is one of the three General Lighthouse Authorities that make up the United Kingdom. The other two lighthouse authorities are Trinity House and the Commissioners of Irish Lights.

An NLB Depot at Oban carries out operational work including buoy maintenance, and the tenders NLV Pole Star and NLV Pharos often work out of here.

Lighthouse at George Street

In 1786 an Act of Parliament established the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses.

Until that time the Isle of May was the only lighthouse in Scotland, using a coal brazier. There were also some smaller lighthouses located in the Clyde and Tay. However, much of the Scottish coast was unlit at that time.

Thomas Smith was establishing his business in Edinburgh making street lighting. He was asked to help with the construction of the first four lighthouses.

Four Scottish lighthouses were built under the supervision of the Board. These lighthouses were Kinnaird Head, North Ronaldsay, Eilean Glas and Mull of Kintyre.

Robert Stevenson later joined Thomas Smith, and several generations of lighthouse engineers followed.

84 George Street has been the headquarters since 1832. Built in 1786, the building was redeveloped in the 1960s into a workshop and engineering facility in the basement. These were later redeveloped again into meeting rooms.

Stevenson Room
The Stevenson Room and Exhibition

It is sometimes possible to visit the headquarters by prior appointment. The Stevenson Room is well worth a visit, with lighthouse artefacts and above the doorway is a working replica of Bell Rock Lighthouse.

Mike Bullock is the Chief Executive of the Northern Lighthouse Board, taking on the role in April 2014. The NLB’s Patron is Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal.

The NLB’s motto is In Salutem Omnium – For the Safety of All.