Richard Henry Brunton
|Richard Henry Brunton|
December 26, 1841|
Muchalls, Kincardineshire, Scotland
|Died||April 23, 1901
|Occupation||Civil engineer, railway engineer, foreign advisor to Japan|
Richard Henry Brunton FRGS MICE (26 December 1841 – 24 April 1901) was the so-called "Father of Japanese lighthouses". Brunton was born in Muchalls, Kincardineshire, Scotland. He was employed by the Japanese Government as a foreign advisor (o-yatoi gaikokujin) to build lighthouses in Japan.
Brunton was born in the Coastguard House (now 11 Marine Terrace) at Muchalls, Fetteresso in The Mearns. After training as a railway engineer he joined the Stevenson brothers (David and Thomas Stevenson) who were engaged by the British government to build lighthouses.
Life in Japan
Under pressure from British minister Sir Harry Parkes to fulfil its obligations to make the waters and harbors of Japan safe for shipping, the Japanese government hired the Edinburgh-based firm of D. and T. Stevenson to chart coastal waters and to build lighthouses where appropriate. The project had already begun under French foreign advisor Léonce Verny, but was not proceeding fast enough for the British.
Brunton was sent from Edinburgh in August 1868 to head the project after being recommended to the Japanese government by the Stevensons, and over seven and a half years designed and supervised the building of 26 Japanese lighthouses in the Western style, along with two lightvessels. (There had been Japanese lighthouses before then, but they were short and squat buildings, such as the old Shirasu lighthouse now in the grounds of Kokura castle in Kitakyushu.) Brunton was accompanied by his wife and two assistants.
He was consulted on other engineering projects, and significantly contributed to the waterworks and harbour design in Yokohama, where he is remembered by a commemorative statue. He also helped found Japan's first school of civil engineering.
Return to Britain
After disgreeing with Japanese officials he left Japan in March, 1876, later receiving a prize for his paper "Japan Lights".
On his return he first set up in Glasgow for Young's Paraffin Oil, before moving to South London in 1881 making architectural plasterwork, where he remained until his death. He is buried in West Norwood Cemetery, where his marble memorial there was restored by Yokohama Chamber of Commerce in 1991.
List of Brunton's Japanese Lighthouses
The names of the 26 lighthouses (Brunton's "children") constructed by Brunton, in order of north to south, and the names of their present locations after mergers of towns etc.
Brunton wrote a memoir of his time in Japan, titled Pioneer Engineering in Japan: A Record of Work in helping to Re-Lay the Foundations of Japanese Empire (1868-1876). However, it was not published until the 1990s, when it was printed by separate publishers under two different names: Building Japan 1868-1876 and Schoolmaster to an Empire: Richard Henry Brunton in Meiji Japan, 1868-1876. (See below.)
The former, containing the text (with some modified spellings) as edited by William Elliot Griffis at the turn of the twentieth century, contains plates with photos and illustrations. The latter however, purports to be based on a manuscript predating the heavy editing of Griffis, while retaining updated versions of Griffis's footnotes.
- Building Japan 1868-1876 by Richard Henry Brunton with an introduction by Hugh Cortazzi, Japan Library Limited, 1991, ISBN 1-873410-05-0
- Schoolmaster to an Empire by R. Henry Brunton, edited by Edward R. Beauchamp, Greenwood Press, 1991, ISBN 0-313-27795-8
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Richard Henry Brunton.|
- Richard Henry Brunton from a blog by a namesake
- Site for Sugashima Light (Japanese) with photos
- Site for Mikomotoshima Light (Japanese) with photos
- Site for Mutsurejima Light (Japanese), with photos
- Site for Hesaki light (Japanese) with photos
- Site for Eboshijima Light (Japanese), with photos