ALAN PROVAN started at sea as an Indentured
Apprentice to the Elder Dempster Lines - one of the UK's
largest shipping companies of the 1960s.
In April 1978 he joined the NLB, serving on the nlv
Fingal (GMJA), nlv Pharos (MWBK), nlv Pole Star (GHSV),
nlv Pharos (GNLB), and nlv Pole Star (ZQQC5). In the days
of manned lighthouses he was 2nd Mate in charge of the "relief"
boats (keepers and supplies) for the Firth of Forth lights
- Inchkeith, Bass Rock, Isle of May and Bell Rock. He
is presently Chief Officer on the nlv Pole Star (Buoy Tender)
out of Oban.
Below are a selection his photographs taken in the
late 1988/early 1989 when the material was being transported
from ship to light in preparation for automation.
For a detailed view of the Rock its description, check
on the engraving in "The
An aerial view of the Bell Rock and
It is taken from the south-west showing the rock still not
fully clear of water
Taken a few years earlier during the
days of manned reliefs, it shows the stores being
landed for the keepers. The bearded lad on the right, up
to his ankles in swirling water,
is a younger Alan Provan.
The helicopter about to land another
load of materials at the pad.
A fine view looking out to Taylor's
Track (now The Fairway).
It runs out south-westwards beyond the end of the railway,
and was the main access when
"reliefs" were carried out before automation.
The Pole Star (GHSV) standing off.
Busy getting the material into the
Looking north-east - the reddish sandstone
is quite noticeable in this picture.
The main landing point for both helicopter
During the construction period the
railway extended a further 220 feet to deeper
known as Pitmilly's Wharf - long since dismantled. A good
view here of the helipad.
One of the many pools and inlets on
Seals enjoying a quiet moment. Rae's
Wharf can be seen in the foreground
The deep entrance on the east side
of the rock - via Johnny Gray's to Rae's Wharf.
The view is to the south-west.
The tide on it's way out.
Johnny Gray's Rock can be seen at the mouth of Port Stevenson.
Low tide at Rae's Wharf.
Busy hoisting the material into the
The Bell Rock Lighthouse in all its
Today the entire top of the house is now encased in wire
mesh to protect it
from the feathered variety!
In the early days there was no platform
at the door entrance.
All mod cons in the kitchen. Note
the two kettles on the hob.
See Charlie Riding's "A Quiet Night In"
Another view of the kitchen.
Taken from the lightroom - the Pole
Star (GHSV) in the distance.
The helipad and railways.
The eastern spur of the railway over
to Rae's Wharf.