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Isle of Man Lighthouses 200

Collection Issue Date: 18th October 2018

The Bicentenary of the Point of Ayre and Calf of Man Lighthouses

Isle of Man Post Office is pleased to celebrate this significant anniversary by offering a bird's eye view of these most familiar Island landmarks in a set of four panoramic stamps utilising drone aerial photography in partnership with Duke Marketing.

Issue Information

Manx historian Charles Guard writes...

This year, 2018 sees the 200th anniversary of the first permanent lighthouses on the Isle of Man and they are marvels of Georgian technology.

Situated in the middle of the Irish Sea, the Isle of Man presented a serious hazard to 18th century ships trading between Ireland, Scotland and England; with no lights to mark its treacherous coast at night it was the scene of countless shipwrecks. Merchants from the surrounding ports petitioned the authorities on numerous occasions and eventually, in 1815, an Act of Parliament opened the way for the construction of three lights on the Island: one at its northern tip, the Point of Ayre, and two on the Calf of Man, a small island off its south-western tip.

The lights were constructed and operated by the Northern Lighthouse Board, based in Edinburgh, under one of the greatest civil engineers of the age, Robert Stevenson, their Chief Engineer.
The task was fraught with difficulties. The Point of Ayre was remote; there were no roads to it in 1816 and the site of the light tower was bordered by a huge shingle bank that was slowly shifting to the south east.  The Calf of Man was also remote, and its situation wasn't helped by the activities of its tenant who didn't want the lighthouses built. He sabotaged construction, stole supplies, and generally made the job more difficult than it already was.

Nevertheless, Stevenson managed to construct two magnificent lights on the Calf, each with their keepers' houses and enclosures. The reason for two lights was most ingenious. Just off the towering cliffs of the Calf is a reef called the Chickens' Rock, which lurks below the surface at high tide. It was impossible to see and many ships were wrecked on it. However, the two lights were built directly in line with the reef, and as ships passed, and the lights appeared directly above each other, mariners knew the reef's location and could safely avoid it.

The large houses for the keepers and their families were superbly built with cellars to store the lamp oil, coal bunkers, water butts, kitchen ranges and everything the occupants would need in such remote locations. Stevenson decorated the light towers with dolphins, the Three Legs of Man and other motifs, discreetly incorporated into the ironwork around the light chamber windows. Each tower was crowned with a magnificent copper cupola, the top of which formed a ball with sculpted copper flames. In fact, these were hidden chimneys through which the hot air from the burning lamps below could escape. Today, the lights on the Calf lie in ruins. In the 1870s a rock light tower was built on the Chickens to mark it, and the Calf lights were switched off.

The light at the Point of Ayre, though, is still in operation, though it was automated in 1993. It has its original Fresnel lens from 1890 and it exhibits four flashes of white every twenty seconds. The tower now has a distinctive daymark of two red bands and is one of the iconic buildings of the Isle of Man.

Technical Information

Images Duke Aerial Productions
Text Charles Guard
Design Isle of Man Advertising
Printer Cartor
Stamp Size 60 x 30mm
Colours 4
Process Offset Lithography
Perforations 14 per 2cms
Paper 110 gms PVA Gummed
No of Stamps 4
Format Sheets of 20
Issue date 18th October 2018

Collection Products

Calf of Man Limited Edition Signed Cover
Calf of Man Limited Edition Signed Cover

Product Code: WO94
Product Issue Date: 1st December 2018

This very special limited edition cover was carried to and from the Calf of man from Port St Mary on 30th October 2018.

This item is available for pre-order.

Price: £22.50

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Isle of Man Lighthouses 200 Set and Sheet Set
Isle of Man Lighthouses 200 Set and Sheet Set

Product Code: WO31
Product Issue Date: 18th October 2018

This wonderful set of four stamps is issued to mark the bicentenary of the Point of Ayre and Calf of Man Lighthouses.

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Isle of Man Lighthouses 200 Presentation Pack
Isle of Man Lighthouses 200 Presentation Pack

Product Code: WO41
Product Issue Date: 18th October 2018

Panoramic views of these two extraordinary lighthouses grace the cover of this delightful, four page glossy presentation pack.

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Price: £8.50

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Lighthouses 200 First Day Cover
Lighthouses 200 First Day Cover

Product Code: WO91
Product Issue Date: 18th October 2018

The full set of Lighthouses 200 stamps are displayed on this scenic cover and cancelled with a special postmark for the first day of issue.

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Price: £8.45

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