Shining a light

Forfar Arts Guild presents an evening of ‘enlightenment’ on Thursday, November 24.

Roland Paxton, engineering Professor of the School of the Built Environment at Edinburgh’s Herriot Watt University, will give an illustrated lecture on the world’s oldest surviving sea-washed lighthouse, the Bell Rock, the history, the design and the building of this most famous structure.

Professor Paxton has recently published a book entitled ‘A Dynasty of Engineers, providing biographies of the eight members of the Stevenson family, who, over five generations, contributed significantly to lighthouse engineering and building. By researching little-known contemporary sources, Roland has shed new light on the design and erection of the Bell Rock, and where Robert Stevenson has, up till now, basked in the reflected light as it were, the Professor shows the key role played by the eminent engineer John Rennie alongside the relatively inexperienced Stevenson, showing it to be a masterpiece of joint achievement, unacknowledged in its day, and laying to rest the ghosts of dispute between the two families. Author of many engineering books, Roland’s ‘A Dynasty of Engineers’ is more than an educational tome for those with a narrow interest, but instead is a beautifully designed and produced volume, full of stories to enthral mariners and landlubbers alike, with essays on each of the clan as well as the chronology of over 200 lighthouses, complemented by numerous colour photographs.

For any one who felt that last month’s Arts Guild evening didn’t do justice to the title ‘To the Lighthouses’, definitely the star of this month’s show will be the spotlight on The Bell Rock at 7.30 pm in the East and Old church hall in Chapel Street, Forfar, on Thursday, November 24.