The first beacon to mark the Start Point on the Orkney island of Sanday was an unlit masonry tower, but this beacon proved inadequate as ships continued to be wrecked on the island.
It was decided that the light from the neighbouring island of North Ronaldsayshould be transferred to Start Point and building work began and the new lighthouse, resulting in the light being first exhibited on 2 October 1806. The original great ball from the top of the first beacon was removed and placed on the old beacon at North Ronaldsay – this can still be seen today.
This lighthouse stands above Tobacco Rock on the tidal island of Start Point at the eastern extremity of Sanday. Sanday is accessible by ferry, and the lighthouse can be reached on foot at low tide, as the causeway is now washed away due to rising sea levels. This first revolving light in the Scottish system was installed in a tower 23m high tower with a nominal range of 35km. The tower is, unusually, painted with black and white vertical stripes, the colour scheme first being introduced in 1915.
It was automated in 1962 and is now powered by solar energy.
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