The Stevensons
Who Built the Bell Rock Lighthouse?
Stevenson v. North Carr Rocks
Robert Louis Stevenson
RLS, Erraid and
Dubh Artach

Instrument Makers and the Northern Lights
Smith, Thomas

Stevenson, Robert

Stevenson, Alan

Stevenson, David

Stevenson, Thomas

Stevenson, David A.

Stevenson, Charles

Stevenson, D. Alan

Stevenson, Dorothy
Emily (1882-1973)


A Family of Engineers

In the afternoon of time
A strenuous family dusted from its hands
The sands of granite, and beholding far
Along the sounding coasts its pyramids
And tall memorials catch the dying sun
Smiled well content, and to this childish talk
Around the fire addressed its evening hours.

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)

Robert Stevenson FRSE

The Stevenson dynasty

There is no parallel in all Scotland to that pre-eminent of families, The Stevensons, who produced, in five generations, no less than eight engineers for the Northern Lighthouse Board to build their lighthouses. And nor was it just for Scottish lighthouses that they were renowned.

The family was responsible for supplying many of the world’s greatest lights; for building harbours, roads, bridges and railways, deepening rivers and constructing canals. They gave, when required, expert evidence at engineering enquiries, and in their heyday had an international reputation as consultants.

It is therefore somewhat incongruous that, of all the members of this family, the one who should be best remembered, is not one of its engineers, but a young man who exchanged a life of lighthouse building for that of literature. Born in 1850, the year of his grandfather’s death (the builder of the Bell Rock Lighthouse), Robert Louis Stevenson is undoubtedly one of the greatest literary figures Scotland has ever produced.


Recent publications

There are three publications, produced in recent years, which deal specifically with the Stevenson family. One is by Craig Mair "A Star for Seamen - The Stevenson Family of Engineers" (1978). The other two are "The Lighthouse Stevensons" by Bella Bathurst (1999) and "Bright Lights - The Stevenson Engineers - 1752-1971" by Jean Leslie and Roland Paxton (1999).

Of the three books referred to above, Craig Mair's book is no longer in print. However, a visit to any Scottish Antiquarian Book Fair could well produce a copy! The others are readily available from any good bookshop. These should be consulted for a complete insight into the lives and achievements of the Engineers. The individual biographical notes used in this site are, by necessity, limited in content, and I am particularly indebted to Craig Mair for use of his family notes in the above publication.

Like all good families, the Stevensons were not without their problems - internal differences, personality conflicts, disappointments, illnesses, and the like! Few families are without! All biographies allude to these . . . but nicely so! As we would say in the old Scots: "There's aye a muckle stane at abodies door" (There's always a large stone at everyone door waiting to trip you up and foil your plans). Or as Rabbie Burns said in one of his most famous poems: "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft a-gley".


Home Lighthouse The Stevenson Family Captain Taylor People Arbroath Miscellaneous Please Sign the Guestbook Site Map
Lighthouse Home The Stevenson Family Captain Taylor People Associated with the Lighthouse Arbroath Miscellaneous Please Sign the Guestbook Site Map