Round Island Lighthouse

Round Island

Round Island Lighthouse is located to the northeast of Tresco Island and marks the most northerly point of the Isles of Scilly.

Round Island is sizeable and housed the lighthouse tower, keepers’ cottages, a small garden and a helipad. The island has only ever been inhabited by lighthouse keepers.

Originally the approaches to the Isles of Scilly were marked from the south by St Agnes Lighthouse and to the west by Bishop Rock Lighthouse.  Round Island is around six miles northeast of Bishop Rock and two and a half miles north of the island of St Marys.

Landing stage
Landing stage and steps

The granite island rises 130 feet above sea level and its sides are vertiginous, so building the lighthouse was challenging.  The sheer rock face made unloading materials for its construction extremely difficult.

The 63 feet high lighthouse tower is painted white and its lantern is distinctively large. The lighthouse was designed and overseen by Sir William Tregarthen Douglass and was established in 1887.  It displayed a red flashing light every 30 seconds to make its location distinctive. Because the range of red light is smaller than white light, a huge hyper radial optic was installed to intensify the light.  This optic, the largest of the range, was manufactured by Chance Brothers of Smethwick. 

Lighthouse view

In 1967 the hyper radial optic was replaced and in 1987 a further optic was installed when the lighthouse was automated.  At the same time, the light character was changed to white flashing.

The keepers’ cottages were linked by a corridor to the tower and a fog signal room was located nearby.

On the neighbouring island of St Martin’s is the 40 feet high St Martin’s Daymark.

Round Island

The island is not accessible, but boat trips head out frequently from St Mary’s. passing the island.  It is, therefore, possible to get good views from seaward.  It is also visible from the island of Tresco.

Established: 1887
Engineer: William Douglass
Tower Height: 19 metres
Light Character: Fl W 10 s
Light Range: 18 miles
Elevation: 55 metres
Automated: 1987