Bell Rock Lighthouse, Scotland
Robert Stevenson took a deep breath and straightened his vest before walking in. He knew what to expect from the Board – “no, too expensive, impossible.” But maybe this time would be different.
Maybe this time he’d convince them to authorize the building of his lighthouse on Bell Rock. Maybe, after the recent wreck of a warship with all those poor souls lost, the Board would listen to reason and prevent future tragedies.
The young Scottish engineer entered the room and presented his revised proposal to the somber-faced men. When he was finished, the chairman spoke. “Mr. Stevenson, we appreciate your plan, and we’ve decided to go forward to get the legislation through Parliament.
However, due to your relative inexperience, we’re going to offer the project to Mr. John Rennie, who is not only more experienced, but has a plan less costly than yours. But, we would like to hire you as Mr. Rennie’s assistant.”
Stevenson nodded, but his heart sank. He knew his plan would work. He was the one who’d been petitioning the Board since 1799, not Rennie. But he wouldn’t give up. He’d oversee the project and implement his own plans as he could.
And so the building of the Bell Rock Lighthouse finally began in 1807 with Stevenson’s public prayer over the project for those employed on the construction of the Bell Rock Lighthouse, asking God to prosper the work, and for the structure to last long after the builders did.
Rennie was preoccupied with other projects elsewhere, so seldom visited the site, leaving Stevenson in charge of the entire construction, laborers and supplies.
Part of Stevenson’s unique plan was to build a barracks on the reef where the laborers could live instead of being brought back and forth. Until the small barracks were finished a year later, the men stayed on a ship anchored a mile away. Work could only be done from May until October due to the harsh winters, resulting in long days of labor.