‘Proof’ that man can tame nature

AUTHOR of ‘The Lighthouse Stevensons’ Bella Bathurst has described the Bell Rock Lighthouse as “proof that man could tame nature”.

Ms Bathurst was speaking publicly at the Hub in Edinburgh as part of the bicentenary celebrations of the Bell Rock Lighthouse which was constructed by Robert Stevenson and his team - the subject of her book published in 1999.

Building the lighthouse on a reef that lies 11 miles out from the coast is one of the most heroic engineering feats of its time.

Construction of the Bell Rock Lighthouse was delayed several times because of bad weather and the fact it could only be worked on during a low tide.

Ms Bathurst said: “Stevenson really relished being out with the men, working and contributing to this enormous endeavour.

“He wasn’t ignoring his sense of responsibility but I think he felt a great sense of exhilaration.

“The fact that he had managed to fight an impossible rock and thereby to save countless lives was extraordinary.

“It was proof that man could tame nature which was a very fashionable idea at the time.

“It was proof that the Scots were better than the English. It was proof that Scotland led the world in marine engineering.

“If you said we want to build a lighthouse in the middle of the North Sea on an impossible reef, which is covered at high tide, it was possible to do it, which is an extraordinary achievement.

“I think he felt very strongly that this was going to be the thing that would absolutely put his stamp on engineering and in order for him to be able to put his stamp on the rock, he needed to make himself indispensable.”