Skervuile Lighthouse

Skervuile Lighthouse

Skervuile Lighthouse marks a group of isolated rocks on the east coast of Jura, in the Sound of Jura.  The wave-washed tower is located outside the sheltered Lowlandman’s Bay, north of Craighouse.

Before the lighthouse was built, the reef was lit with a small beacon from 1839.

Skervuile Lighthouse was established in 1860 and was designed by David and Thomas Stevenson. However, it was not lit for the first five years due to a disagreement between the Board of Trade and the Northern Lighthouse Board.  It was finally lit in 1865.

Skervuile Lighthouse

At the northern end of Lowlandman’s Bay at A’Mhalairt, the former keepers’ cottages were built in 1861.  This was the shore station for the lighthouse keepers and their families.  It was nestled behind a rocky outcrop.

The house consisted of four units in total.   Three of these had four rooms, and the remaining quarter had coal cellars and a workshop.  Two apartments were on the first floor, accessed by a shared stairway.   The third apartment was on the ground floor.

At the southern end of the enclosure were a couple of outhouses for the boatman.

Shore Station
The former shore station at Lowlandman’s Bay

The lighthouse keepers sent communications using a series of balls hoisted from the lantern.  Depending on the pattern of balls, they would indicate different messages.  At the shore station, a flag signalling platform was located on the rocks behind.

The boatmen and lighthouse keeper on duty ashore would watch out for signals daily at certain times.  If visibility was poor, the signs were kept up in the hope that the weather would clear. 

Access to the lighthouse was often tricky. In November 1881, the Skervuile relief boat sank in a storm at her moorings in Lowlandman’s Bay, near the shore station.

In 1945 Skervuile Lighthouse was downgraded to minor light status and automated.  It became the first major light to be automated in the twentieth century.

Lowlandmans Bay

The shore station cottages at Lowlandman’s Bay were subsequently sold to a private owner around 1957.  At the time, there was no electricity or running water.  Water came from a tap attached to a nearby well.

The accommodation has been sold and extended several times.   The property was extended into a significant single house with three floors.  A large loft space provides views across to the lighthouse over the rocky outcrop.

Jura is accessible via a short ferry crossing from Port Askaig on Islay to Feolin. 

Skervuile Lighthouse

Boat trips can be arranged out past Skervuile from Craighouse.

Further north along the coastline is Barnhill, the former house of George Orwell.  It was from here that he wrote 1984 between 1946 – 1948.  It certainly provided the solitude he needed.

Between Jura and Scarba is the Corryvreckan Whirlpool.

Established: 1865
Engineer: David and Thomas Stevenson
Tower Height: 25 metres
Light Character: Fl W 15 s
Light Range: 9 miles
Elevation: 22 metres