Homecoming for Signal Tower sisters

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TWO SISTERS who spent part of their childhood growing up at the Signal Tower in Arbroath made an emotional return to the town on Wednesday.

Cecilia McDonald and Rhoda Thornecroft lived at the house at the Signal Tower while their father John Sanderson worked on the Bell Rock lighthouse until 1942.

Rhoda lived in the house for seven years along with the other brothers and sister, while Cecilia was born in the town in 1937.

Their grandfather, Matthew Sanderson, was also a ‘keeper at the Bell Rock lighthouse, as was Cecilia’s husband Jimmy McDonald.

They both attended Ladyloan Primary while in Arbroath and moved to the Isle of Man in 1943 when their father was promoted to principal lighthouse ‘keeper at Maughold Head Lighthouse.

Cecilia, who now lives in Clydebank, had visited the town recently, but Rhoda, who lives in Carlisle, had not returned for 60 years.

And while they were in Arbroath, the ladies took the opportunity to look around their former home and the newly refurbished Signal Tower Museum, which was formally re-opened by the Princess Royal last year during the ‘Year of the Light’.

Since the Signal Tower is a place that holds special memories for the sisters, they were both delighted with the refurbished museum.

Cecilia said: “The town has changed so much since those days and the refurbishment at the Signal Tower is just wonderful.

“They really have done a splendid job.

“One of the main differences is that now it is painted white, while before the exterior was just brickwork.”

Rhoda honeymooned in Arbroath after getting married and was fortunate to visit the Bell Rock, where her father worked.

She added: “When you go you realise what a hard life the men working out there had.”

And their connection to the town doesn’t stop there.

Their mother, Janet, organised a Spitfire concert in the courtyard of the Signal Tower to raise funds for what became the Red Lichtie Spitfire, one of the first events for the fund.