The Lighthouse Stevensons

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9780060932268: The Lighthouse Stevensons

For centuries the seas around Scotland were notorious for shipwrecks.  Mariners' only aids were skill, luck, and single coal-fire light on the east coast, which was usually extinguished  by rain.  In 1786 the Northern Lighthouse Trust was established, with Robert Stevenson appointed as chief engineer a few years later.  In this engrossing book, Bella Bathhurst reveals that the Stevensons not only supervised the construction of the lighthouses under often desperate conditions but also perfected a design of precisely chiseled interlocking granite blocks that would withstand the enormous waves that batter these stone pillars.  The same Stevensons also developed the lamps and lenses of the lights themselves, which "sent a gleam across the wave" and prevented countless ships from being lost at sea.


While it is the writing of Robert Louis Stevenson that brought fame to the family name, this mesmerizing account shows how his extraordinary  ancestors changed the shape of the Scotland coast-against incredible odds and with remarkable technical ingenuity.  

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Review:

"Whenever I smell salt water, I know that I am not far from one of the works of my ancestors." --Robert Louis Stevenson
The 14 lighthouses dotting the Scottish coast were all built by the same family that produced Robert Louis Stevenson, Scotland's most famous novelist. Surprised? Bella Bathurst throws a powerful, revolving light into the darkness of this historical tradition. Robert Louis was a sickly fellow, and--unlike the rest of his strong-willed, determined family--certainly not up to the astonishing rigors of lighthouse building, which is vividly described here. Constructing these towering structures in the most inhospitable places imaginable (such as the aptly named Cape Wrath), using only 19th-century technology, is an achievement that beggars belief. One thinks of the pyramid building of ancient Egypt. At the Skerryvore lighthouse, the ground rocks were prepared by hand (even though the "gneiss could blunt a pick in three blows") in waves and winds "strong enough to lift a man bodily off the rock" and that "it took 120 hours to dress a single stone for the outside of the tower, and 320 hours to dress one of the central stones. In total 5000 tons of stone were quarried and shipped"--and all by hand. It is mind-boggling stuff: you'll look at lighthouses with a new respect. --Adam Roberts, Amazon.co.uk

About the Author:

Bella Bathurst is a freelance journalist. She divides her time between London and Scotland.

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Book Description HARPER PERENNIAL, United States, 2000. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. For centuries the seas around Scotland were notorious for shipwrecks. Mariners#39; only aids were skill, luck, and single coal-fire light on the east coast, which was usually extinguished by rain. In 1786 the Northern Lighthouse Trust was established, with Robert Stevenson appointed as chief engineer a few years later. In this engrossing book, Bella Bathhurst reveals that the Stevensons not only supervised the construction of the lighthouses under often desperate conditions but also perfected a design of precisely chiseled interlocking granite blocks that would withstand the enormous waves that batter these stone pillars. The same Stevensons also developed the lamps and lenses of the lights themselves, which #34;sent a gleam across the wave#34; and prevented countless ships from being lost at sea. While it is the writing of Robert Louis Stevenson that brought fame to the family name, this mesmerizing account shows how his extraordinary ancestors changed the shape of the Scotland coast against incredible odds and with remarkable technical ingenuity. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780060932268

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Book Description HARPER PERENNIAL, United States, 2000. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. For centuries the seas around Scotland were notorious for shipwrecks. Mariners#39; only aids were skill, luck, and single coal-fire light on the east coast, which was usually extinguished by rain. In 1786 the Northern Lighthouse Trust was established, with Robert Stevenson appointed as chief engineer a few years later. In this engrossing book, Bella Bathhurst reveals that the Stevensons not only supervised the construction of the lighthouses under often desperate conditions but also perfected a design of precisely chiseled interlocking granite blocks that would withstand the enormous waves that batter these stone pillars. The same Stevensons also developed the lamps and lenses of the lights themselves, which #34;sent a gleam across the wave#34; and prevented countless ships from being lost at sea. While it is the writing of Robert Louis Stevenson that brought fame to the family name, this mesmerizing account shows how his extraordinary ancestors changed the shape of the Scotland coast against incredible odds and with remarkable technical ingenuity. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780060932268

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