THE CONTRIBUTION to history made during different centuries by engineers and Arbroathians was marked at a special event held at Signal Tower Museum on Sunday.
The iconic building, shore station for the Bell Rock Lighthouse, hosted an ecumenical service at which those who built the lighthouse which has saved the lives of countless seamen over its 200-year history and the people of the burgh who dug deep to buy a Spitfire fighter for the Royal Air Force during the darkest days of the Second World War were remembered.
It was conducted by the Rev. John Cuthbert, St Mary’s Church; the Rev. Alasdair Graham, West Kirk; and the Rev. David Searle.
Plans for a fly-past by a Supermarine Spitfire and the Douglas Dakota of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight were thwarted by low cloud and engine problems, but those in attendance were treated to the sight of two Norwegian Vampire jets which made a low pass along the coast.
Arbroath’s lifeboat RNLB ‘Inchcape’ was also launched on exercise as part of the tribute. The crew comprised Neil Swankie, coxswain; Paul Castle, Michael Marr, Allan Russell, Ron Churchill, jnr., and Jamie Robertson.
At Signal Tower, Professor Roland Paxton, representing the Institute of Civil; Engineers, handed over a special plaque which had been commissioned to honour the men involved in the construction of Robert Stevenson’s design.
He commented: “The Bell Rock Lighthouse was built on a dangerous rock 11 miles out to sea and as such it is one of the most significant achievements in modern history.
“The masonry work on which the lighthouse stands hasn’t had to be replaced for 200 years, which shows the high standard of the construction.”
An RAF officer, Squadron Leader Jonathon Greenhowe, whose family is from Arbroath, revealed a refurbished ‘Wings for Victory’ plaque commemorating the efforts of the people of Arbroath in raising £5,000 to buy a Spitfire in 1942.
Spitfire Mk Vb EP121 was taken on charge on May 24, 1942, and had an eventful life for over a year until being damaged beyond repair on June 26, 1943, when the engine cut on approach at Digby and the aircraft stalled and spun into the ground.
Provost Helen Oswald said: “It was a unique opportunity to celebrate the historic civil engineering feat of the construction of the Bell Rock lighthouse with the 70th anniversary of the ‘Red Lichtie’ Spitfire.
“The Bell Rock Lighthouse has been a beacon in the lives of mariners in the North Sea for 200 years and a constant in the lives of generations of Arbroath and Angus residents.
“It is fitting then, that the plaque remembers the people who worked so hard, some even giving their lives, to build this historic lighthouse, still regarded as an engineering wonder.
“I am honoured, on behalf of Angus Council, to unveil and accept the gift of this plaque from the Institution of Civil Engineers.”
She continued: “Both events, although totally unconnected, showed how, in different ways, in different times, the people of the area rallied round to a common cause.
“I was particularly pleased to have the opportunity to speak with Bert Drummond, a former Spitfire pilot. Bert is very unassuming about his part in the Second World War and told me he was no hero, just one of over 300,000 pilots who did their duty.”
Proceedings were halted at one stage as a heavy shower saw everyone rush to take shelter.