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Last lighthouse keeper dies

The last principal lighthouse keeper in Scotland has died aged 75.

FAREWELL: Angus Hutchison prepares to leave the Fair Isle South lighthouse in 1998. Picture: PA
FAREWELL: Angus Hutchison prepares to leave the Fair Isle South lighthouse in 1998. Picture: PA

Angus Hutchison was in charge of the final lighthouse around the Scottish coast to be automated 15 years ago.

When he and his two colleagues left the remote Fair Isle South in 1998, for the short helicopter flight home to Orkney, it brought to an end two centuries of manned lighthouses, leaving them to be controlled remotely from Edinburgh.

The first to lose its keepers was Fladda, in the Firth of Lorn, in 1956.

Today, the Northern Lighthouse Board is responsible for 206 lighthouses, six in the Isle of Man, and all are automated.

Mr Hutchison joined the board in 1962 – following his great-grandfather, grandfather, father and uncle who between them had around 160 years of lighthouse service.

Mr Hutchison, from Stromness, worked more than 14 years in two different stints on Fair Isle and also served at Skule Skerry, off Orkney, which was the most isolated manned lighthouse in Europe.

Two years ago, Mr Hutchison reflected on his last day on Fair Isle and the ending of a chapter in the history of light keeping.

He said "I just happened to be the last principal light keeper with it happening on my watch. It was a sad day. It was something we didn't want to accept but it was something that everyone knew was coming.

"When the Americans and the Russians put their satellites up in space that was the beginning of the end. We had GPS and vessels could plot their position. They don't need to look out of the wheelhouse to see if they are at Fair Isle light, they know they are. That was the position we found ourselves in. It was inevitable."

He accepted that technology had overtaken the human role, but thought human eyes watching Scotland's coasts would be missed.

Mr Hutchison, who received an MBE in 1999 for his work, admitted he would miss the sea.

His daughter, Gail Hutchison, said on Facebook: "My dad was a very special man."

Orkney Islands Councillor James Stockan said Mr Hutchison, a former councillor, would be sadly missed.

Mr Stockan added: "He was an active man who made a positive contribution to his community. Angus always wanted the best results for the people he served. He was a grounded, well-thought -of man and a man of great humour and fun. His laughter often filled the council."

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