Thomas Stevenson


Thomas Stevenson PRSE
MInstCE The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) is an independent professional association for civil engineers and a Charitable organization, charitable body in the United Kingdom. Based in London, ICE has over 95,000 members, of whom three-quarters are ...
FSAScot The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland is the senior antiquarian body of Scotland, with its headquarters in the National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh. The Society's aim is to promote the cultural heritage of Scotland. The usual ...
(22 July 1818 – 8 May 1887) was a pioneering Scottish civil engineer, lighthouse designer and meteorologist, who designed over thirty lighthouses in and around Scotland, as well as the Stevenson screen used in meteorology. His designs, celebrated as ground breaking, ushered in a new era of lighthouse creation. He served as president of the Royal Scottish Society of Arts (1859–60), as president of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1884–86), and was a co-founder of the Scottish Meteorological Society.


He was born at 2 Baxters Place in Edinburgh, on 22 July 1818, the youngest son of engineer Robert Stevenson (civil engineer), Robert Stevenson, and his wife (and step-sister) Jean Smith. He was educated at the Royal High School in Edinburgh. Thomas Stevenson was a devout and regular attendee at St. Stephen's Church in Stockbridge, Edinburgh, Stockbridge, at the north end of St Vincent Street, Edinburgh. He lived with his family at Baxters Place until he got married in 1848. He then got a house at 8 Howard Place. By 1855 he moved to 1 Inverleith Terrace. From at least 1860 he lived at 17 Heriot Row, a large Georgian terraced townhouse in New Town, Edinburgh, Edinburgh's New Town. In 1869, as a successful experiment into using the newly invented electric light for Lighthouse#Lighting improvements, lighthouses, Stevenson had an underwater cable installed from the eastern part of Granton, Edinburgh, Granton Harbour, and a light on the end of the Trinity Chain Pier was controlled from half a mile away by an operator on the harbour. He examined wind and wave effects, and his analysis is the first quantitative discussion of wave height as a (square root) function of fetch. His paper is one of the first quantitative studies of wind speeds in the planetary boundary layer. Motivated by practical applications, these are fundamental contributions. He designed the Stevenson screen as a shelter to shield Meteorology, meteorological instruments, and this has been widely adopted. He died at 17 Heriot Row in Edinburgh on 8 May 1887 and is buried in the Stevenson family vault in New Calton Cemetery. The vault lies midway along the eastern wall.


He was brother of the lighthouse engineers Alan Stevenson, Alan and David Stevenson (engineer), David Stevenson, between 1854 and 1886 he designed many lighthouses, with his brother David, and then with David's son David Alan Stevenson. He married Margaret Isabella "Maggie" Balfour in 1848, daughter of Rev Lewis Balfour. Their son was the writer Robert Louis Stevenson, who caused him much disappointment by failing to follow the engineering interests of his family. His wife's younger brother, James Balfour (engineer), James Melville Balfour (i.e. his brother-in-law), trained under D. & T. Stevenson and then emigrated to New Zealand, where he was first the marine engineer for Otago Province before he appointed Colonial Marine Engineer.

Lighthouses designed by Thomas Stevenson


File:Townhouse at 17 Heriot Row, Edinburgh.jpg, upTownhouse at 17 Heriot Row, Edinburgh File:Condensing light. Lighthouse optic, designed by Thomas Stevenson. Chance Brothers and Company, Birmingham, 1866. National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh.jpg, Condensing light. Lighthouse optic, designed by Thomas Stevenson. Chance Brothers and Company, Birmingham, 1866. National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh File:Thomas Srevenson by Sir George Reid 1878 SNPG.jpg, upThomas Stevenson by Sir George Reid, 1878

See also

*Richard Henry Brunton, "father of Japanese lighthouses" *John Richardson Wigham, Irish inventor and lighthouse engineer


External links

Eilean Bàn – Kyleakin Lighthouse'Lighthouse Library' of the Northern Lighthouse Board
{{DEFAULTSORT:Stevenson, Thomas 1818 births 1887 deaths 19th-century Scottish people Lighthouse builders Presidents of the Royal Society of Edinburgh People educated at the Royal High School, Edinburgh Alumni of the University of Edinburgh Scottish civil engineers Scottish inventors Burials at the New Calton Burial Ground Scottish meteorologists Scottish antiquarians Engineers from Edinburgh