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Stevenson, Robert

1772-1850

Robert Stevenson, lighthouse engineer
Much of the early building work of Scotland's lighthouses was undertaken by two innovative engineers: Thomas Smith, an Edinburgh ironsmith and streetlight designer, and his stepson, Robert Stevenson. They built nine lights between 1786 and 1806. Under Smith and Stevenson many improvements were made to light design, including oil lamps, reflectors and clockwork mechanisms to rotate the beams. They also developed techniques for increasing the height of the lighthouse buildings.
Robert's most famous project was the Bell Rock lighthouse, off the Angus coast, built between 1807 and 1810.
His sons, David, Alan and Thomas, followed their father into engineering. His grandson, Robert Louis Stevenson, son of Thomas, served three years as an engineering apprentice, but turned to legal studies and then writing. One of Scotland's foremost writers, his best known novel is `Treasure Island'.
The codicils to Robert Stevenson's will bequeath in detail his possessions to his daughter, sons and grandchildren. These possessions include paintings and plans of the lighthouses he had designed.

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