The Isle of Man Post Office is pleased to present Harbour Lights, a set of six stamps depicting minor lighthouses around the Isle of Man. We commissioned local artist Tracey Dean to prepare new paintings which truly capture the elegance of the familiar landmarks.
Local historian Stan Basnett writes:
The principal Lighthouses around the Isle of Man are maintained by the Commissioners of Northern Lights and are not the only lighthouses around the Island. Each harbour being protected by minor lights erected on the extremities of piers and breakwaters many of which are also being fitted with an audible device such as a horn or bell for use in fog.
When built their purpose was vital to vessels entering harbour at night or in restricted visibility.
Their importance has since diminished through the use of modern equipment such as radar and GPS. They still however have a useful part to play as an aid to navigation. Prior to the Revestment Act of 1765 the responsibility for the Island’s harbours lay with the Duke of Atholland the Island’s Government. After that date the harbours came under the control of the Admiralty and the Crown. Ultimately they reverted to the Isle of Man Harbour Commissioners and still remain the responsibility of the Manx Government through the Department of Infrastructure
The outer harbour at Castletown is protected by a small breakwater on the end of which is a superb limestone built lighthouse. It carries an inscription that clearly states that it was built in AD 1849 at which time Castletown was the capital of the Island and the harbour was more important than now. The lighthouse displays an occulting red light every 15 seconds and is visible for 8 miles. The approach to the inner harbour carries a smaller “pepper pot” lighthouse displaying an occulting red light every 4 seconds visible for 4 miles.
This stamp depicts the lighthouse on the end of the Battery Pier at Douglas, which was completed in 1876 and formed the outer breakwater for the harbour. The light exhibited alternate white and red lights every 15 seconds and had a bell fog signal of one ring every 2 seconds. When a new breakwater was completed in 1983 a new light was erected on an unpretentious metal mast and as a result the original light now displays a considerably reduced quick flashing red light.
The harbour at Laxey owes its origin to the lead mining industry. Responsibility for it passed to the IOM Harbour Commissioners in 1890 who then commenced work on the construction of a breakwater which was completed in 1893. The stone built lighthouse on the seaward end exhibits an occulting green light every 3 seconds visible for 7 miles. The smaller inner light on the end of Rowe’s Pier displays an occulting red light every 3 seconds also visible for 7 miles.
Peel harbour is protected by five lights and the one depicted on this stamp is the oldest and located on the outer breakwater which was completed in 1896. It is an elegant octagonal cast iron structure erected on the raised head at the extremity of the breakwater. It displays a white occulting light every 7 seconds and is visible for 11 miles. It did have a fog signal in the form of a bell giving 4 rings every 12 seconds.
The harbour entrance at Ramsey has a channel trained between two piers. The South Pier was extended in 1876 and the stamp depicts the hexagonal cast iron lighthouse erected at its seaward end. It displays an occulting red light every 5 seconds and is visible for 8 miles. As the channel is effectively a navigable channel the North Pier exhibits a green light as an aid to ships entering the port. In the background is the Ramsey Queen’s Pier, now disused, which was built as a low water landing pier.
The harbour at Port St Mary has two piers. The Alfred Pier completed in 1886 protects the outer harbour and until recently carried one of the elegant hexagonal cast iron lighthouses but a severe storm washed it off the pier and it has been replaced with a light on a steel post. The drying inner harbour is protected by the Quay which is a much earlier structure and carries its original lighthouse, depicted on the stamp, which exhibits an occulting red light every 3 seconds visible for 8 miles.
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