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Lighthouse Lives

Published: 27 June 2023

Our Sumburgh Head team were delighted to take part in the Lighthouse Lives event at the Shetland Museum and Archives on Thursday evening (22 June 2023) - an evening of films, readings, talks and an interview with retained Lightkeeper Brian Johnson.

(L-R) Ian Smith, former lightkeeper at Sumburgh Head; Jane Outram, Site Manager at Sumburgh Head; Brian Johnson, Retained Lightkeeper at Sumburgh Head


The evening began with the first Shetland screening of ‘Lighthouse Lives’, a wonderful short film by Martine Robertson, commissioned by the Northern Lighthouse Heritage Trust to capture the lived experiences of people who worked through times of transition, from manned to automated lighthouses.

Brian Johnson very kindly shared his experiences as a Lightkeeper and NLB Technician in a Q&A.

FILM - Reflections of a Lightkeeper

We were given the opportunity to screen our short film, ‘Reflections of a Lightkeeper’ featuring Ian Smith. 

For 200 years over 120 men lived and worked at Sumburgh Head Lighthouse. Initially there were two light keepers and their families, this then increased to three keepers with the later addition of the foghorn. Occasional keepers were employed to cover sickness and holidays - in this short film Ian Smith shares his memories of working as an occasional keeper at Sumburgh Head Lighthouse.

Keeping the Light

Thank you to everyone who came along, all the contributors, and to the Shetland Museum for hosting such an enjoyable event.

The Lighthouse Lives film will be shown at events in Unst on the 26th June and in Bressay on the 28th June.