They had preferred wages for seven days statedly to the former mode of allowing a day for each tide's work on Sunday, as they did not like the appearance of working for double or even treble wages on Sunday, and would rather have it understood that their work on that day arose more from the urgency of the case than with a view to emolument. This having been judged creditable to their religious feelings, and readily adjusted to their wish, the boats proceeded to the rock, and the work commenced at nine a.m.

[Monday, 30th May]

Mr. Francis Watt commenced, with five joiners, to fit up a temporary platform upon the beacon, about twenty-five feet above the highest part of the rock. This platform was to be used as the site of the smith's forge, after the beacon should be fitted up as a barrack; and here also the mortar was to be mixed and prepared for the building, and it was accordingly termed the Mortar Gallery.

The landing-master's crew completed the discharging from the Smeaton of her cargo of the cast-iron rails and timber. It must not here be omitted to notice that the Smeaton took in ballast from the Bell Rock, consisting of the shivers or chips of stone produced by the workmen in preparing the site of the building, which were now accumulating in great quantities on the rock. These the boats loaded, after discharging the iron. The object in carrying off these chips, besides ballasting the vessel, was to get them permanently out of the way, as they were apt to shift about from place to place with every gale of wind; and it often required a considerable time to clear the foundation a second time of this rubbish. The circumstance of ballasting a ship at the Bell Rock afforded great entertainment, especially to the sailors; and it was perhaps with truth remarked that the Smeaton was the first vessel that had ever taken on board ballast at the Bell Rock. Mr. Pool, the commander of this vessel, afterwards acquainted the writer that, when the ballast was landed upon the quay at Leith, many persons carried away specimens of it, as part of a cargo from the Bell Rock; when he added, that such was the interest excited, from the number of specimens carried away, that some of his friends suggested that he should have sent the whole to the Cross of Edinburgh, where each piece might have sold for a penny.

[Tuesday, 31st May]

In the evening the boats went to the rock, and brought the joiners and smiths, and their sickly companions, on board of the tender. These also brought with them two baskets full of fish, which they had caught at high-water from the beacon, reporting, at the same time, to their comrades, that the fish were swimming in such numbers over the rock at high-water that it was completely hid from their sight, and nothing seen but the movement of thousands of fish. They were almost exclusively of the species called the podlie, or young coal-fish. This discovery, made for the first time to-day by the workmen, was considered fortunate, as an additional circumstance likely to produce an inclination among the artificers to take up their residence in the beacon, when it came to be fitted up as a barrack.

[Tuesday, 7th June]

At three o'clock in the morning the ship's bell was rung as the signal for landing at the rock. When the landing was to be made before breakfast, it was customary to give each of the artificers and seamen a dram and a biscuit, and coffee was prepared by the steward for the cabins. Exactly at four o'clock the whole party landed from three boats, including one of those belonging to the floating light, with a part of that ship's crew, which always attended the works in moderate weather. The landing-master's boat, called the Seaman, but more commonly called the Lifeboat, took the lead. The next boat, called the Mason, was generally steered by the writer; while the floating light's boat, Pharos, was under the management of the boatswain of that ship.

Having now so considerable a party of workmen and sailors on the rock, it may be proper here to notice how their labours were directed.

Records of a Family of Engineers Page 56

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Robert Louis Stevenson
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