Paperwright 1/250 Harbour Light

KIT #: 02309
PRICE: $AUD 0.00
DECALS: None for me to stuff up.
NOTES: Freebui with other purchases


The Firth of Forth is an estuary in Scotland where the Forth River empties into the North Sea via a firth (or fiord). A ferry used to ply the last narrow point before the wide mouth of the estuary, from North Queensferry (on the North bank), to Queensferry/Dalmeny in the South - so named because Saint Margaret of Scotland, wife of King Malcolm III of Scotland is said to have crossed there in 1068. In 1817, a small lighthouse was built in North Queensferry to guide the ferrys, and it was named the North Queensferry lighthouse. In 1882/90, the 2.5 mile-long Forth Railway bridge was built above the ferry route. From 1964 to 82, a road tunnel existed under the Forth. In Sep, 1964, the Forth Road bridge was opened, then in Aug, 2017, the Queensferry Crossing road bridge was opened. Both are a little way to the west of the rail bridge, and the small lighthouse (now known as the light tower of Inverkeithing) still sits on the small peninsula between them (at 60 Main Street).

After the Forth Road bridge was opened, the small lighthouse was decommissioned as it no-longer needed. Gradually, it fell into disrepair till, in February 2009 the North Queensferry Heritage Trust took on the restoration of the tower.  Trust members repaired the stonework and some of the missing steps.  The lantern was removed and repaired.  It was replaced on 19th August 2009 and houses a 21-inch diameter parabolic reflector. Then, on 22nd June 2010, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, relit the light. It is said to be the world's smallest operational lighthouse.


Occupying only half of a sheet of A4 paper, this is a small card-model that makes into a kit only 23mm/1" tall. It is marketed as a harbour light, and it differs from the North Queensferry lighthouse in three ways. The entrance door of the North Queensferry lighthouse is at ground level, whereas the kit has 7 ascending stairs. The North Queensferry lighthouse is made of (sand?)stone whereas the model's exterior is smooth and white. The North Queensferry lighthouse is topped by an iron(?) t-shaped pipe(?) structure whereas the modeller is supposed to place a sphere there. Being a card model, the windows of the light room are solid.

I photo-enlarged this model to 1/125-scale, in a photocopier so that it would be easier to build. There were four things I wanted to do to this model. I wanted to put a light inside the light room (a first for me) because, without one, it is just a weird house. To make the light visible, the light room windows would have to be replaced by something transparent. The model had a paper dome atop the light room, but the 'petals' that formed it were to be butt-joined to each-other - I wanted to replace it with something else. And I wanted to put a wind-vane on top of the dome.


Construction is abnormally logical. All parts are assembled in strict numerical order, and they MUST be cut-out of the surrounding card ACCURATELY with a very-sharp knife and a steel ruler. Then the parts MUST be attached precisely by the join surfaces. Some parts are required to be pasted onto thicker-card. The hardest part demanded of the modeller, is to read the instructions correctly, and to fold (or roll) the part towards, or away from, the printed surface. At all times, I used industrial-quality, water-based wood-glue.

The base-plate was glued onto a square of wood, and placed under weight for 24-hours, to ensure it dried flat. At the same time, the base plinth and the steps were similarly glued onto 1mm-thick card, and other parts were folded-over and glued. A were given the same weight treatment. The core of the lighthouse was glued to the plinth, then the wrap-around parts were stitched-glued around it. All were held in-place by reversed wooden cloths pegs as they dried.

All the while, I was building-in the ability to insert a light into the light room from underneath the wooden base, by drilling each part before they were glued-on. As well, a plastic tube was inserted into the core to provide added rigidity to the core, and a smooth guiding path for the light bulb and its wires. The base of the tube was chamfered so that it would fit tightly into the wood hole I drilled through the wooden base.

Plan A was to use an LED (Light-Emitting Diode) but its light would have been projected vertically, and it required a 9-volt battery plus two diodes in the circuit. I adopted the simpler Plan B - to use a tiny grain-of-rice light bulb (rather than a larger grain-of-wheat bulb), mainly because its light radiates out in all directions, and it required only a 1.5-volt battery. I used a AAA for its ready availability, and its small size. My friend (Mr Ed) guided my purchasing, and he did all of the soldering. I chose a toggle switch (over a sliding switch) because it would be easier to conceal in the extended basal box.

The clear glazing of the light room was easy - once I'd come-up with a workable plan. I cut a strip of thin clear plastic from a store-bought disposable water bottle. This I taped over the kit part and used it as a guide to scribe-on all of the frame-work (with that steel ruler). After cutting it out then folding it into shape, the two ends were superglued to each other. At this time, I should have put a black wash into the scribing. It was stitch-glued onto the floor of the light room to ensure its shape was accurate, and then the roof was likewise stitch-glued (to a lesser extent) onto it.

Instead of the paper dome, I elected to use a plastic one cut from a vacformed packaging sheet. It 'aint a hemisphere, but I'll live with it. I'm still on the hunt for a suitable wind vane to crown the dome - or to come-up with a plan how to scratch-build one.

Neither painting nor decaling was required, so I couldn't stuff-up those jobs. Yay!!

With the circuit complete, and the light bulb shoved-up into the light room, I secured the wires simply by bending them where they emerged from under the wood. Next, the plastic battery carrier was nailed to the backside of the wood. Three thin lengths of wood were wrapped around the front and sides of the wooden base to form a basic box. Lastly, holes of increasing diameter were drilled into the front plate (wider ones were drilled part-way into its back) to anchor the barrel of the switch. My light has two modes - on or off, whereas the light of the North Queensferry lighthouse flashes once every 15 seconds.


I suspect that David Hathaway of Papershipwright, might have altered this model in height and name (from the North Queensferry lighthouse) to bypass copyright laws (or something).

A Lady-friend of mine applied for a job with the Heritage Trust, because it involved a little light house keeping.

I don't believe that I could have lit this model in its original 1/250-scale, yet I found it easily manageable in this enlarged 1/125-scale. The only down-side to this model, is that my Lady reckons that it looks better on her dressing table when the light is on, than it does in my display case, with the light off. Both the model and the electrical circuit are simple, so both are ideal for a beginner in card models and lighting a model. I've more lighthouses to build (Thanks, David), and I'll probably light them, too, because both aspects are fun.

George Oh

11 May 2023

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