Ex-Lighthouse Keeper returns to the Broch

Former Fraserburgh Lighthouse Keeper James Shanks with his wife, Lilly, and family.
Former Fraserburgh Lighthouse Keeper James Shanks with his wife, Lilly, and family.

A former Principal Lighthouse Keeper of Fraserburgh Lighthouse has returned to the Broch with his family as part of a ‘Down Memory Lane’ tour.

James Shanks, who was Lighthouse Keeper in Fraserburgh from 1980 to 1986, made the visit with his wife, Lilly, their daughters, Elayne and Eileen, and their sons-in-law.

The family travelled up from Oban, where James and Lilly now live, to visit Kinnaird Head and take a tour of the lighthouse. The trip was organised by their daughter, Elayne.

During his time in the post, James was heavily involved in changing the decor of the Broch Lighthouse from white and grey to white and mustard.

Speaking to the Fraserburgh Herald, James said he thought he was going to get into trouble for changing the colours of the lighthouse when the commissioners came to visit.

However, the commissioners liked the colour scheme so much they ended up changing the decor of the majority of lighthouses in Scotland to white and mustard when they saw it.

During a career spanning 35 years from 1958 to 1993, James served in now fewer than nine Lighthouses across Scotland.

Early in James’s career, while at Holy Isle Lighthouse, the family had no electricity and had to travel by boat from Holy Isle to Lamlash.

James even took part an educational TV documentary for schools on his role as a Lighthouse Keeper.

James’ three-day tour started in St Cyrus, where he was brought up, and included stops in Fraserburgh and Aberdeen, before returning to Oban.

Commenting, James said: “It’s quite emotional being back. The staff are doing a first class job here maintaining the Lighthouse.

“I forgot how cold the North-east is, even on a sunny day.”