Located close to the Ninth hole of the Turnberry Golf Course, Turnberry Lighthouse enjoys views across to the islands of Arran and Ailsa Craig. Turnberry Lighthouse is situated in what was once the moat of Turnberry Castle, reputed to be Robert the Bruce’s birthplace in 1274.
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Just off the Ayrshire coast lies Bristo Rock, responsible for many shipwrecks over the years. A light was proposed on the rock in 1869, but instead, it was recommended that Turnberry Point, on the mainland, would be the best location.
The application was approved in October 1869. However, the building did not start until 1871 due to arguments over the lighting method and size of the lantern.
The lighthouse was built by John Barr and Co of Ardrossan, with the lantern made by Milne and Son, and the engineers were David and Thomas Stevenson. The light was first exhibited on 30th August 1873. It displayed a white flash every 12 seconds to distinguish it from the lights of Davaar off the Kintyre Peninsula and Corsewall to the south.
The lighthouse at Turnberry must have been a relatively comfortable existence. The keepers took early observations of bird migrations. They kept records before the Isle of May and Fair Isle observatories were established.
The lighthouse was automated in 1986. In the early 1990s, the cottages and surrounding grounds were sold by the Northern Lighthouse Board. The private owners subsequently sold the cottages to the golf hotel complex.
As part of a five-year aids to navigation review in 2010, the Northern Lighthouse Board considered the future use of the lighthouse. Local fishing and leisure communities still wanted an inshore lighthouse, so a minor LED light was positioned on the tower. This minor light came into service on 29th October 2013 to replace the existing light. The character remained the same, but the range was reduced to 12 nautical miles. The Northern Lighthouse Board still retained the use of the tower.
The lighthouse is located at the Trump Turnberry Resort. The Ailsa golf course, named after the third Marquess of Ailsa, who owned the land, is home to four open golf championships. In September 2015, the Ailsa Course underwent a £200 million makeover. Many of the greens were resurfaced and rebuilt. The most dramatic change was made to the ninth hole, located closer to the lighthouse, which was turned into a halfway house.
In 2016 the lighthouse was refurbished. It was transformed into the Turnberry Lighthouse Suite, featuring a bar open to golfers and members of the public. The lighthouse suite features two luxurious rooms – a far cry from the conditions in which the lighthouse keepers would have lived! The lighthouse tower was fitted with new glass, but there is no access to the tower, as the Northern Lighthouse Board still owns it.
The resort owner, Donald Trump, whose mother was born in Stornoway, purchased the Turnberry Resort in 2014. On 24th June 2016, US Presidential candidate Donald Trump flew in from the USA to officially re-open the hotel.