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)

Thomas Stevenson (1818 - 1887)

Dubh Artach - a remote rock station
south of Mull

Even if Thomas (youngest of the three brothers to be lighthouse builders) is remembered for little else, he will best be known as the father of his famous and only son, Robert Louis. Thomas, unlike his older brother David, appeared to have little ambition for any serious profession. However, in 1838, having dallied for many years in a variety of pursuits, he eventually settled into that already well-worn path of his brothers, Alan and David. By 1839 he had matured considerably; he already knew about Fresnel lamps and was already taking an interest in all aspects of lighthouse building, so much so that in 1843 Alan put him in charge of the works at Skerryvore. It was also Thomas who first visited Dubh Artach (a lonely rock situated to the south-west of Mull) in 1864 and decided that a lighthouse should be built there. Although not completed until 1872, the conditions of its construction were very similar to those of the Bell Rock, built some 65 years earlier.

Tom married Margaret Isabella Balfour, the daughter of the Rev. Dr Lewis Balfour, in 1848, and Robert Lewis Balfour (later to be known as Louis, but pronounced with the final "s" sounded) was born in 1850, a few months after the death of his Stevenson grandfather. There can be little doubt that Tom's greatest disappointment was his son's total disinterest in the family business. Although Robert Louis had been forced to attend university, and also indentured at the family office with a view of following in his father's footsteps, it was of no avail. On 8th April 1871, RLS announced to his father that he was turning his back on an engineering career. Tom, bitterly disappointed, continued with his brother David with their business of engineering, both civil and maritime, not just at home, but all over the world.

After his brother David took ill in 1881, Tom found himself totally in charge of the business, but ultimately the workload proved too much for him, and by 1886 his health was in serious decline. When he died in 1887, his funeral was said to be one of the largest ever seen in Edinburgh. RLS, on hearing this (he could not attend because he was ill) had remarked "He would have liked that."

Lighthouses (with David) -

Whalsay Skerries (1854)
Out Skerries (1854)
North Unst (Muckle Flugga) (1854)
Davaar (1854)
Ushenish (1857)
South Rona (1857)
Kyleakin (1857)
Isle Ornsay (1857)
Sound of Mull (Rubha nan Gall) (1857)
Cantrick Head (1858)
Bressay (1858)
Ruvaal (1859)
Corran (1860)
Fladda (1860)
McArthur's Head (1861)
St Abb's Head (1862)
Butt of Lewis (1862)
Holborn Head (1862)
Monach (1864)
Skervuile (1865)
Auskerry (1866)
Lochindaal (1869)
Scurdyness (Montrose) (1870)
Ru Stoer (Stour Head) (1870)
Dubh Artach (1872)
Turnberry (1873)
Chicken Rock (1875)
Holy Island (1877 and 1880)

(with David A.)

Fidra (1885)
Oxcar (1886)
Ailsa Craig (1886)


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