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Robert Stevenson

The Stevenson Family
(18th-2Oth centuries)


The most famous family of all Scots engineers. Patriarch Robert Stevenson (1772-1 850) followed in the footsteps of his step-father Thomas Smith, an Edinburgh lampmaker and first engineer of the Northern Lighthouse Board, set up to build new lighthouses and make Scottish coastal waters safer for shipping. He built over 20 lighthouses, most famously the ingeniously designed lighthouse on the treacherous Bell Rock off the east coast. Three of his sons - Alan (1807-65), David (1815-86) and Thomas (1 818-87), father of author Robert Louis - also became engineers, working both in the Northern Lighthouse Board and in their own firm where they diversified into other areas of civil engineering. The brothers also designed lighthouses for waters from Newfoundland to Japan. Their sons and grandson entered the professian; the final Stevenson engineer, D. Alan, was responsible for deepening the Clyde to accommodate the newly built Queen Mary after her launch in 1934.