Southern Lights

The Scottish Contribution to New Zealand's Lighthouses

By Guinevere Nalder

Format: Paperback

Reveals the contribution made by Scottish lighthouse technology when New Zealand governments built 38 major lighthouses during the period 1859-1941. Also provides a comprehensive account of all New Zealand lighthouses including details of the Scottish innovations.

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Whittles Publishing

Whittles Publishing has been established for some years but recently has expanded significantly, becoming a well-known technical publisher on a global stage. They publish quality, well-produced and attractive books and specialise in the following subjects: geomatics, civil and structural engineering and applied science. They are also developing new lists in specific disciplines including architecture and landscape, manufacturing and materials technology, fuel and energy science and geotechnics. They also publish non-technical books within the following areas: maritime, pharology, military history, nature and exploration.

Product Description


Southern Lights recounts the story of how New Zealand's lighthouses were established through the transfer of technology from Scotland to New Zealand over a period of almost 90 years. This resulted in most of New Zealand's lighthouses being fully or partially built using Scottish materials and expertise. The major Scottish contribution was the professional services provided by the firm founded by Robert Stevenson although by the time the first lighthouses were built in New Zealand, Robert had died and his eldest son Alan had retired.The firm of David and Thomas Stevenson thus took on the first commissions and its successor companies over a period of 80 years were Consulting Lighthouse Engineers to the New Zealand Government. They arranged tenders, advised on technology, supervised manufacture and despatch of lighthouse components and stores, and much more, proving invaluable to the New Zealand Agent-General in London.It was on this basis that in the period 1859 to 1941 38 major lighthouses were built; 30 of which were constructed between 1865 and 1897.Despite New Zealand's limited industrial base, this arrangement ensured they had access to Scottish lighthouse technology and expertise.

Thirty-three were built using Scottish designed and built lanterns and apparatus and Scottish-designed lenses, although these were of French or English manufacture. Of the other five, two were eventually replaced by Scottish lighthouses, two were upgraded with Scottish technology, and the fifth remains the sole example of English lighthouse design, although in its time was supplied with Scottish equipment. Scotland also supplied trained professionals who manned the lights, designed and administered them.

Additional Information

Additional Information

Format Paperback
Imprint Whittles Publishing
Publication Date 10 Apr 2017
ISBN 9781849951562
Number of Pages 200

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Press Reviews

‘This book gives an excellent account of the political background... also paints a vivid picture of the logistical problems of shipping delicate and expensive equipment across the globe as well as demonstrating the efficiency of the Stevenson firm. The complete history of each lighthouse, including those built after 1913, is described in exhaustive detail down to the twentieth century. ... The book is crammed with facts and with transcriptions of letters and specifications...  This book has copious references, and the numerous transcriptions of archival material are useful for a lighthouse historian. has some excellent illustrations'.

‘...well-written enlightening account that will appeal to all lighthouse enthusiasts and anyone interested in the maritime history of New Zealand'.

‘...highly recommended to anyone with an interest in lighthouses, whether in New Zealand or Scotland, or more widely... ...a book which is going to have enduring value as a work of reference long into the future. ... The depth of research that underpins it is reflected in the long lists of references that conclude each chapter. Despite this the book remains approachable and readable, and fascinating. ...superbly illustrated... ...the best book anyone is ever going to be able to write about its subject and is a real pleasure to read'. Undiscovered Scotland Read the full review here

Southern Lights has been meticulously researched. ...contains some wonderful images of the lighthouses - some no longer standing - and a number of archival plans and charts. An interesting title...'

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