Sumburgh Foghorn to Receive Award

14th September 2016

Sumburgh Head Foghorn Sumburgh Head Foghorn Sumburgh Head Lighthouse Visitor Centre and Nature Reserve is set to receive an award for the restored Foghorn – the last working example of its kind in the country, and perhaps the world.

 The Engineering Heritage Awards, managed by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, celebrate the contribution of mechanical engineering, to our past and present. Recognising irreplaceable artefacts from hovercraft to sewage works, railway lines to bombers, the awards raise public awareness of the vital role mechanical engineering plays in modern life.

 Although foghorns are now obsolete in modern shipping, they did play a very important part in the history of maritime safety and truly are a remarkable feat of engineering from the early 1900s.  The process was not changed in any way prior to foghorns falling out of general use in the 1980s.

 The foghorn at Sumburgh Head last sounded in 1987, just before the automation of the Lighthouse Tower and the last Keeper left his post in 1991.  The light is now operated remotely from the Northern Lighthouse Board offices in Edinburgh.

 Following extensive repair and restoration, on Thursday 15th January 2015, the final stage of testing was carried out on the Sumburgh foghorn.  After previous 'silent' tests where air was passed through the horn with no sound, the motor was engaged and the horn sounded out over the sea for the first time in 28 years.

 Bill Edgar, past president of the Institution, will visit Sumburgh Head on Friday 30th September to present the award plaque to John Mackenzie of Shetland Amenity Trust who managed the restoration of the Foghorn and other Lighthouse Buildings between 2012 and 2014.  The restored foghorn will then be sounded at 12.00noon.