Tower Open for Tours!
The Signal Tower Museum in Arbroath opened the tower for tours to the public on Saturday 30 October 2021.
For the first time, Tower Tours will become a regular activity at the Signal Tower Museum with tour sessions being available every Saturday at 12 noon and 1pm. Booking is essential due to limited space to climb the dramatic spiral staircase and visit the tower room. Visitors also have the option to view a 360 tour without having to climb to the top.
John Boath, a retired lighthouse keeper who worked at the Bell Rock Lighthouse from 1974 to 1978 was one of the first to conquer the tower on Saturday. John decided on this unique way of life after watching an episode of Blue Peter which featured a delivery being made to Bishop Rock lighthouse on the Isle of Scilly. As if it was meant to be, just a couple of weeks later he noticed an advertisement in The Courier for Lighthouse Keepers which led to his 30 year career on various lighthouses around the British coast.
John has fond memories of his time at the world’s oldest surviving sea-washed lighthouse. He said ”It was a completely different lifestyle to which I was accustomed to, having grown up in Dundee, but the lighthouses provided snug accommodation with an inside toilet which is something we didn’t have in a tenement flat.”
He added: “Although it’s a blustery day here today, the conditions are perfect to experience what it was like to be living on the lighthouse.”
The tower room has been sympathetically restored which has been possible thanks to an award of £34,000 from the Arbroath Town Centre Fund, which allowed renovation of the tower and 360 tours to be produced which provide virtual access to previously inaccessible parts of the building. A traditional ‘feather and comb’ style of painting has been used in the process.
Also present for the first official tour was the 3rd Grandson of Captain David Taylor, also David Taylor. Captain David Taylor was closely involved with Stevenson in the build of the Bell Rock and was in command of the ‘Smeaton’ Bell Rock Tender. Captain Taylor had resided in part of the building that is now the Signal Tower Museum.
David Taylor said: “ Stevenson has always been primarily credited with the design of the Bell Rock Lighthouse, but I would like to clarify that John Rennie had a lot more to do with the design of the lighthouse as he had made alterations to Stevenson’s designs, that without which, the lighthouse probably wouldn’t be standing today.”
Cllr Lynne Devine, Board Member of ANGUSalive added: “With a few others including the last lighthouseman, I conquered the tower on Saturday. I’ve long wanted to get right up to the top to see the view, but, while we made it to the top and saw the beautifully restored circular room, we didn’t get much of a view! However, what we did get was a very clear idea of what the weather can be like. The weather was pretty bad at the Signal Tower, but what it must have been like for the men living in the Bell Rock defies imagination. I’ll definitely be back on a clear day to see the Abbey and hopefully the lighthouse, 12 miles out.”
John Boath and David Taylor were the first to officially take a virtual reality view which has been provided by The Airborne Lens Company. Translations of the tour are available in Gaelic, Polish and Romanian.
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