Marine / Remote lighthouse could become listed building

THE REMOTE lighthouse on the Ve Skerries to the west of the Shetland mainland could become a listed building.

Historic Environment Scotland says the automated lighthouse, which was built in 1979, “meets the criteria of special architectural or historic interest”.

It is currently consulting on the proposal to make the 16-metre high lighthouse B-listed.

Photo: Northern Lighthouse Board

It is located on a group of rocks called the Ve Skerries to the west of Papa Stour, while there was also a concrete helipad built nearby to provide access for lighthouse staff.

Many boats and ships have fallen foul of the Ve Skerries – most recently the Coelleira, which grounded there last year. In March 1930 the steam trawler Ben Doran was wrecked on Ve Skerries, with the loss of her entire crew.

A lighthouse was considered as early as 1863, but the remote location of the skerries and the weather it encountered meant construction of a lighthouse would be too difficult.

The construction of a lighthouse was prompted after the diesel trawler Elinor Viking was wrecked there in early December 1977, while another “major factor” in its construction was the increase in tanker traffic related to Sullom Voe Terminal.

It took 11 weeks to build, and due to the remoteness of the site and the sea conditions, all workers, materials and equipment were taken by helicopter from a construction base at Eshaness daily.

There are also some solar panels attached to the gallery railings.

Coelleira on the Ve Skerries last year. Photo: Gary Sandison.

The design of the lighthouse is said to be innovative due to its reinforced-concrete structure, while it is the last significant rock station built by the Northern Lighthouse Board.

Historic Environment Scotland said it “forms an important chapter in the story, of Scotland’s lighthouses over the past 40 years, particularly relating to advances in technology, solarisation and automation”.

The Eshaness lighthouse, meanwhile, is also part of a separate consultation on its listed status.

It is already B-listed but there are plans to update its administrative record. No change is proposed on its B listing.

Buildings listed at category B are defined as “buildings of special architectural or historic interest which are major examples of a particular period, style or type”.

A Historic Environment Scotland spokesperson said: “This is part of our lighthouses designation project in partnership with Northern Lighthouse Board.

“The cases concerned are currently open for public comment on our online designations portal, which includes information on each of the lighthouses, and our proposed actions.

“The consultation closes on 17 November, following which a decision will be made.”

Both consultations can be found online at http://portal.historicenvironment.scot/decision/500003021 and at http://portal.historicenvironment.scot/decision/500002713