The once vital Edinburgh lighthouse which now lies abandoned and falling to pieces

Western Harbour lighthouse
The lighthouse has fallen to pieces -Credit:M J Richardson/Geograph

You don't have to look particularly hard to find an abandoned building in Edinburgh. The city is home to several homes, offices and warehouses which have fallen into a state of disrepair.

However, not all of them have an important history and are instead waiting to be included in a developer's plans to demolish or restore. The lighthouse at Western Harbour definitely ticks all the boxes of a classic abandoned site.

Once vital to Leith before the introduction of new technology and shipping patterns, the lighthouse remains on its own surrounded by a metal fence at one of the city's most north easterly points.

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Even an attempt to smarten it up in 2020 failed, after the fresh coat of white paint was immediately tagged with graffiti. And at the start of 2021, a fire was deliberately set in the lighthouse, with a spokesperson from Police Scotland saying “There were no injuries and the fire is being treated as wilful at this time.”

Although the three-storey building is no longer in use from anyone other than vandals, it is a popular choice for Edinburgh’s urban explorers.

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One recently found that “it is very fenced up with one of these fences that has rather sharp endings at the top, so seeing that I could see it well enough from the outside and was alone and not equipped to go over, I settled for spending more time in the foundations under it.”

The ground floor has several rooms which are now mostly empty, although one enterprising UrbExer filmed his discovery of an engineering room . The stairs leading to the next level are now just scraps of iron railing and it’s impossible to get to the first floor which takes you up to the lighthouse’s viewing deck, which is probably a good thing considering the state the rest of the building is in.

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Looking at it today, you couldn’t tell that it used to be a crucial navigational tool preventing boats from hitting the rocks at Newhaven. It’s unclear what the council intends to do with it, so for now it remains a legacy of a different time and an intriguing - if dangerous - place to trespass.

This article was originally published on 12/07/2021.