by Bathurst, Bella
A romantic historical story full of adventure and invention, The Lighthouse Stevensons is a unique account of how a single family virtually defined the Scottish coast by designing and building lighthouses in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
For centuries the seas around Scotland were notorious for shipwrecks. Mariners' only aids were skill, luck, and a single coal-fire light on the east coast, which was usually extinguished by rain. In 1786 the Northern Lighthouse Trust was established, with Robert Stevenson appointed as chief engineer a few years later--the beginning of a partnership spanning almost two centuries and four generations of the same family, which became known as the "Lighthouse Stevensons."
The Stevensons fought foul weather, jagged coastlines, and certain opposition to build these lighthouses in some of the most remote and inhospitable locations on the Scottish coast and reefs. They not only designed the lighthouses towers to resist the gales of the North Sea but supervised the actual construction under often desperate conditions and perfected a design of precisely chiseled interlocking granite blocks that would withstand the enormous waves that batter these stone pillars. The same Stevensons also developed the lamps and lenses of the lights themselves, which "sent a gleam across the wave" and saved the lives of thousands of sailors whose ships would otherwise have foundered on the headlands and hidden reefs of Scotland.
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