Within the Wick Heritage Museum you can examine the complete optical and mechanical working of Noss Head Lighthouse. (lat 58 28 lon 3 3).
This lighthouse is one of the very few dating from the middle of the 19th
century and which is still in complete working order. It is on loan to
the Wick Society from the Lighthouse Commission and was designed and
built by Alan Stevenson, uncle of the writer Robert Louis Stevenson,
author of Treasure Island
The lighthouse is in three main parts. Beginning at the top you can see
16 triangular mirrors with 16 lenses and prisms in the shape of an
umbrella and underneath 16 vertical lenses and prisms. One of these has
been left out to give a good view of the lamp, which was made in France
in 1848. This originally burnt oil but the Society has fitted
electricity for ease of maintenance. Any lighthouses can be identified
by its unique series of flashes. In this way seafarers can tell the
light they see and then locate it on their charts. This pattern of
light is created by making all the lenses and mirrors turn around a
fixed lamp and at a fixed speed.
The lenses are turned by a clockwork mechanism, which can be viewed
from the floor below. The lenses magnify the lamp as they pass and this
gives the appearance of a flash. When you stand as far away from the
lamp as possible, and look at it through one of the lenses, the
powerful magnification of the lens can be seen. The mirrors reflect all
the light, shining upwards into the main lenses, so that no light is
wasted. This lighthouse flashed every 30 seconds and came from Noss
Head, 3 miles north of Wick.
The lighthouse workings were dismantled and rebuilt by members of the Wick Society.