Work has begun to complete a major renovation of Eilean Glas lighthouse on Scalpay, and mariners are being advised of changes to the appearance of the iconic red and white tower while the work is going on.

Northern Lighthouse Board (NLB) has issued a notice to mariners warning that the appearance of the light will change on or about Friday this week (May 3rd) as the existing light is extinguished and replaced by a temporary light with the same flash pattern.

The light will show a group of three flashes every 20 seconds, as before, at an elevation of 41 metres and with a nominal range of 12 miles.

From Monday (May 6th) the red and white tower will be partially obscured by scaffolding while essential engineering works are underway. NLB warns that AIS broadcasts from the station could also be subject to minor disruption during the works.

The current works, which are due to be completed by the end of November, include decommissioning the obsolete sealed beam optic lamp and replacing it with LED optic technology. There’s also to be refurbishment and decoration of the lighthouse tower and the adjoining building which houses the battery room, control room and mess building.

The work is being carried out by Orkney-based contractors R S Merriman.

Local residents will notice increased sea and air traffic around the site, as poor access by road means that all renovation materials need to be taken by ship and helicopter. Debris and redundant equipment will also be removed by air and sea on completion of the works,

A further notice to mariners will be issued by NLB before the permanent light is reestablished, once work is completed.

Alastair Rae, project leader for the Northern Lighthouse Board said: “Eilean Glas lighthouse is an iconic and valuable part of the community and has been guiding mariners safely through Scottish waters since 1789. It’s vital, therefore, that we carry out this major upgrade to ensure the lighthouse continues to serve the mariner for many more years to come.”

The picture shows Eilean Glas Lighthouse ahead of work commencing (NLB/Niki Wilson).