Graffiti-covered lighthouse ‘puts city to shame’

John Kimber at the vandal-hit lighthouse
John Kimber at the vandal-hit lighthouse
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It was once a treasured beacon on the Capital’s ­shoreline.

But things have been far from plain sailing for the now-derelict Western Harbour Lighthouse, which stands accused of putting the Capital to shame.

The lighthouse in better days in 1964

The lighthouse in better days in 1964

Daubed with offensive graffiti, the nautical eyesore is the first thing cruise boat tourists see as they make their way in to shore.

And now calls have been made to get the building cleaned up and looking ship-shape to improve on the first impression for visitors.

The lighthouse was built in 1950s but has been out of use for several decades, as modern navigation technology made it redundant. The building has fallen into disrepair and has become a haven for antisocial behaviour and a popular site for graffiti.

Leith councillor Gordon Munro said: “It’s pretty symbolic in a way if one of the first things you see when you are coming in is a scruffy lighthouse – and only after that do you see the Britannia.

“The lighthouse could be turned in to an asset. It would certainly make a good cafe venture.

“If you look at the Seabird Centre down at North Berwick, this is in a far more prominent position and would allow people to view the traffic coming down the Forth.”

John Kimber, chairman of the Element Newhaven Owners’ Association, said: “There’s been trouble at the lighthouse ever since we moved to the area.

“The graffiti on it is horrid and it must look terrible when visitors come in on the cruise ships. Kids play in it, people vandalise it and I have heard that drugs are abused there also. The other day there were kids clinging all over the structure – including on a domed roof which is probably about 30 feet off the ground.

“I was so scared one of them was going to fall off and kill themselves that I phoned the police.”

The lighthouse, which belongs to Forth Ports, is understood to be one of a number of properties the firm is looking to sell.

Manuela Calchina, 
VisitScotland’s regional director for the area, said: “Every year Edinburgh welcomes tens of thousands of international visitors, many of whom see the city as a hugely vibrant first ‘port of call’. First impressions are hugely important and so we’re sorry to hear that there has been concern raised at the state of the lighthouse at Western Harbour.”

A Forth Ports spokesman said because of its location, the lighthouse is only accessible to a small minority of people intent on gaining access despite the security measures.

He added: “We monitor the situation to ensure that the building does not present a safety risk to shipping or to the public, and we will continue to do so.

“Forth Ports is committed to engaging with the residents of Leith and we would be happy to meet with local people and listen to any concerns they have.”