» Skip to content

Home » News and Blogs » Film premiere celebrates lightkeepers lives

Film premiere celebrates lightkeepers lives

Published: 13 June 2023

A special film which captures the experiences of the keepers and their families who manned lighthouses over the years will be touring Shetland in June and will be premiering at Shetland Museum and Archives next week.

‘Lighthouse Lives’ is a short film commissioned by the Northern Lighthouse Heritage Trust to capture the lived experiences of the people who worked through times of transition, from manned to automated lighthouses. Resonant voices and visual imagery give an authentic glimpse of lives lived against a backdrop of unusual circumstance, working in the service of the Northern Lighthouse Board. 

The first viewing is being hosted by Shetland Amenity Trust and will take place on Thursday 22 June from 7.00 – 9.00pm at the Shetland Museum. The evening will also include a short film about the Northern Lighthouse Board (NLB) today and the Trust will be premiering its own short award-winning film about former Sumburgh Head Lightkeeper Ian Smith. Donald Murray, author of ‘For the Safety of All: A Story of Scotland’s Lighthouses’ will deliver a reading, and there will be a question-and-answer session with the current retained Lightkeeper in Shetland, Brian Johnson.

Martine Robertson, one of the film makers behind ‘Lighthouse Lives’ said: “This has been an incredible project to work on and a real privilege to capture and share the stories of the keepers and their families. I am absolutely delighted to be bringing this film to Shetland, a place I used to live and which is so close to my heart. We are delighted to be showing the film in collaboration with the Shetland Amenity Trust and also at two other locations in Shetland, both of which have strong lighthouse connections: Unst Heritage Centre will be showcasing their Muckle Flugga exhibition on 26 June, followed by the film showing at the North Unst Public Hall; and later on 28 June Bressay Development will be hosting a film event where they will also be sharing historic photos of Bressay Lighthouse."

Sandy Middleton of Shetland Amenity Trust said: “Lighthouses evoke strong emotions and in particular the human stories behind them. We often have people visiting us at Sumburgh Head Lighthouse who are descendants of the keepers and their families who lived there.  We have gathered incredible stories of their lives and experiences there and so many of these are reflected in this film. We are also excited to have our own short film showing, sharing the stories of Ian Smith and his experience of becoming a lightkeeper at Sumburgh Head, and to be welcoming current retained Lightkeeper Brian Johnson, to share his experiences in person.”

Tickets for the event at Shetland Museum and Archives can be reserved via the Shetland Museum Box Office for £5.