Calf of Man Lighthouse

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Rushen, Isle of Man, | Directions

Situated on the Calf of Man, an island at the South of the Island.


Light Established


P H Hyslop, Engineer-in-Chief
R J Mackay, Civil Engineer


Latitude 54° 03.2'N
Longitude 04° 49.6'W
Off southern tip of the Isle of Man


Flashing White every 15 Secs


93 metres


Nominal Range
26 miles


White 8 sided tower 11 metres high on granite building. There are 36 steps to the top of the tower.




A proposal for the construction of a Lighthouse on the Calf of Man was first put forward by the Merchants of Liverpool during the last century. Both Trinity House and the Northern Lighthouse Board were asked to investigate the probable cost and the dues to be levied on the shipping passing the light and having studied the figures, the Association of Shipowners of Liverpool requested the Isle of Man as necessary. In 1818 Lighthouses came into operation on the Calf of Man and Point of Ayre.


There were in fact two lighthouses on the Calf so placed that the line of their lights pointed towards the submerged rock off the southern extremity of the island known as Chicken Rock. Thus these dangerous waters were marked for a period of nearly 60 years when the Northern Lighthouse Commissioners approved a recommendation to build a light tower on the Chicken Rock itself and authorised their Engineers, David and Thomas Stevenson, to proceed with the work in 1869.


The tower, built in the tradition of the Bell Rock and Skerryvore Lighthouse (granite quarried Dalbeattie, Kirkcudbrightshire) was completed and brought into operation in 1875 and the two lighthouses on the Calf then fell into disuse.


In December 1960 the Chicken Rock light tower was damaged by fire and after due consideration the Commissioners decided to convert its light to automatic operation and to construct a new and very much more powerful lighthouse and fog signal on the Calf close to the position of the old ruin towers.


The Calf of Man lighthouse was first exhibited in 1968 and his Excellency, Lieutenant Governor of the Isle of Man, Sir Peter Stallard KC MG CVO MBE, performed the official opening ceremony on 24 July 1968.


The light is a sealed beam unit mounted on a gearless pedestal, which is driven by a low voltage slow speed motor. The Calf of Man actually uses twelve headlamps which have an effective range of 28 miles.


The fog horn is an air operated signal of the "typhon" type where compressed air produces a sound by means of vibrating diaphgrams. The turning of the opening of the valves for this to give the correct characters and the opening of the valves themselves is done electrically. The air is also compressed using vane-type compressors. Like the lights, each fog horn has an individual characteristic for identification purposes.


The electric power for both domestic and services is supplied by three 18 kw generator sets any one of which is capable of supplying the full station load. One set runs continuously so there is always a supply of electricity at the standard 240 V.


Should there be a complete breakdown of the electrical supply, the light can be operated at a reduced power (of about 176,000 candles) from batteries for a period of up to 30 hours.


The name is from the Gaelic, Colbha, Calf Island. Quite common on the West Coast and usually applied to small offshore islands.


The Calf of Man was automated in 1995.


In January 2005, the three General Lighthouse Authorities (GLAs) of the UK and Ireland issued a consultation document following a joint review of Aids to Navigation of the coasts of the United Kingdom and Ireland.


The Review addressed the current and future requirements of national and international shipping and those of Mariners. Each Aid to Navigation - light, buoy or beacon - was studied in isolation, as well as in relation to the other Aids to Navigation in its vicinity. In the case of the Isle of Man full consultation took place with Isle of Man Department of Transport (Harbours) and Isle of Man Users.


As a result of this review it was agreed to extend the range of the lighthouse at Chicken Rock to 21 miles and to discontinue the Calf of Man lighthouse. Other decisions affecting Isle of Man aids to navigation were to discontinue the fog signals at Chicken Rock, Calf of Man and Point of Ayre; this took place in 2005.


Project work to upgrade the Chicken Rock light has been ongoing since September 2006, and during this time a temporary light has operated. Work at the Chickens was finally complete and the light showed its new range of 21 nautical miles with effect from 13 June 2007.


As a result of this upgrade, and to avoid any confusion between two long range lights in close proximity, the lighthouse at the Calf of Man was permanently discontinued with effect from 21 June 2007.


Acknowledgement:  Northern Lighthouse Board


Architecture Information
OS Grid Ref:  SC142639
Architect:  P H Hyslop - Engineer-in-Chief, R J Mackay - Civil Engineer
Building Completed:  1818


Photo: Lower Lighthouse By M J Richardson, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Photo: Upper Lighthouse By Andy Stephenson, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link