For the first time, tours of the museum’s tower will become a regular activity, with sessions available every Saturday. And those taking the tour will have the rare opportunity – weather permitting – to enjoy the unrivalled views across the town and coast.
John Boath, a retired lighthouse keeper who worked at the Bell Rock Lighthouse from 1974 to 1978, was one of the first to conquer the tower.
And it was after watching an episode of Blue Peter, which featured a deliver being made to the Bishop Rock Lighthouse at the Isles of Scilly, that John decided to pursue this unique way of life. Just a couple of weeks later he noticed an advertisement for lighthouse keepers which led to his 30-year career on various lighthouses around the British coast.
John has fond memories of his time at the world's oldest surviving sea-washed lighthouse.
He said: ”It was a completely different lifestyle to which I was accustomed to, having grown up in Dundee, but the lighthouses provided snug accommodation with an inside toilet which is something we didn’t have in a tenement flat.”
The tower room has been sympathetically restored thanks to an award of £34,000 from the Arbroath Town Centre Fund, which allowed the renovation of the tower and the production of 360 tours which provide virtual access to previously inaccessible parts of the building.
Also present for the first official tour was David Taylor, the third grandson of Captain David Taylor who was closely involved with Stevenson in the building of the Bell Rock and was in command of the ‘Smeaton’ Bell Rock Tender.
Captain Taylor had lived in part of the building that is now the museum.
Councillor Lynne Devine, board member of ANGUSalive, which operates the museum, said: “I’ve long wanted to get right up to the top to see the view, but, while we made it to the top and saw the beautifully restored circular room, we didn’t get much of a view! However, what we did get was a very clear idea of what the weather can be like.”
Tours are available every Saturday at 12 noon and 1pm. Booking is essential.