Barra Head Lighthouse Keeper's Cottages, Barra Head

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Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved. © Copyright and database right 2019.

General Details and Location

Name of Building
Barra Head Lighthouse Keeper's Cottages
Other Name(s)
Barra Head
Planning Authority
Divisional Area
Reference No
Listing Category
OS Grid Ref
NL 54916 80252
Location Type
HS Reference No


Former Keeper's House to Barra Head Lighthouse. Stepped principal elevation with single window to each bay, set-back centre bay with stone cross finial at wallhead, slightly advanced flanking and outer bays and projecting penultimate bays with stepped parapets and string courses. 8-bay courtyard (lighthouse) elevation with centre corniced doorpiece and flanking windows to outer bays, door and adjacent window to right at centre bays. Largely 12-pane glazing pattern in timber sash and case windows. Paired circular ashlar stacks and single square stack all with cans. Cobbled setts to courtyard. (Historic Scotland)
Building Dates
Early-Mid 19th century

Category of Risk and Development History

Category of Risk
Exemptions to State of Risk
Field Visits
June 1996, June 1996
Development History
December 1978: Listed Building Consent is sought for the demolition of the cotttages, prior to the automation of the lighthouse in 1979. 2 of the cottages remain inhabited. January 1979: SCT objects to the application and advances reuse by a nature conservation or field studies body. The Brathay Exploration Group expresses interest in taking on the cottages. 1980: The lighthouse is automated and the cottages fall vacant. SCT understands that the Northern Lighthouse Board subsequently sold the cottages, which nevertheless reverted back to their ownership some time later. June 1991: An application is submitted for part-demolition and the removal of roofs, leaving the cottages as consolidated shells. SCT reiterates its response to a similar proposal in 1979: that it would support the plans were it to be shown after marketing that there was no interest from the public in taking on the cottages in their present state. Local planners are in agreement that some time should elapse to allow the cottages to be properly marketed. October 1991: The Mountain Bothies Association formally requests permission from the owners to repair and maintain the central 2 rooms of the terrace as a simple unlocked shelter to benefit walkers and visitors to the island. The Northern Lighthouse Board would retain all property rights. March 1992: SCT receives information that a purchasing restorer is keen to convert the cottages into a recording studio. April 1992: The potential purchaser undertakes a recce of the site, and concludes that it would indeed be suitable. May 1992: A report is received from the purchaser's construction manager, confirming that works would be feasible. New damp coursing and roofs would be required. August 1993: A study into the present condition of the cottages is compiled by the purchaser and submitted to the Northern Lighthouse Board. June 1996: External inspection reveals that works have not yet commenced. There is some evidence of architectural theft, with original doors wrenched off their hinges and shutters and bookshelves removed. The potential purchaser states that his interest in the properties continues. July 1996: The potential restorer submits a progress report on his plans to SCT. Negotiations with the Northern Lighthouse Board continue. The Barra Head landing, regarded as one of the most difficult in the country, is causing some complications to the project, and Health and Safety Regulations make it necessary to establish augmented landing facilities. The slipway also requries restoration, and power generators must be installed to operate landing gear. The purchaser indicates that he is currently exploring ways to ensure the cottages remain wind and watertight, although unauthorised persons have gained access in the past and dislodged shuttering. 3 July 1997: The Herald carries an interview with the potential purchaser.
March 2008: Listing entry for the Lighthouse which includes Keepers House, upgraded from B to A in 2001.
January 2009: Local planners report that they are not aware of any change to the buildings.
23 December 2015: Local planners advise consent was granted for a number of alterations at the lighthouse - Install solar panel array in west garden and new LED optic in lightroom. Fit security gates to station entrance doors. Fit storm windows to existing tower windows. Demolish and remove radio building and 4 no. fuel tanks and remove fuel lines - Jan 2012. No changes are understood to have been sought for the keepers cottages.
10 June 2016: A member of the public notes the Northern Lighthouse Board has advised them that they are already in negociations with a third party for the re-use of the former keepers cottages.

Guides to Development

Conservation Area
Planning Authority Contact
PAC Telephone Number
01870 602425


Current Availability
Not Available
Appointed Agents
Occupancy Type
Present/Former Uses
Building Uses Information:
Present Use 1: N/A Former Use 1: Lighthouse
Present Use 2: N/A Former Use 2: N/A
Name of Owners
Northern Lighthouse Board
Type of Ownership
Statutory Body

Information Services

Additional Contacts/Information Source
Allardyce and Hood (1986), p155; Munro (1979).
Cottages and Lodges
Original Entry Date
Date of Last Edit