DOUGLASS, Sir James 1826-1898. Engineer. Occupier of Stella House, College Road, and designer of the replacement Eddystone Lighthouse. James Nicholas Douglass was born at Stella House, Penzance, in 1826, and died at Stella House, Bonchurch, Isle of Wight, on 19 July 1898. It therefore seems likely that he also gave the name of Stella House to 11 College Road. In 1877 (when it was one of the very few freehold properties on the estate) it was purchased by WT Douglass ‘for the use of JN Douglass’. The association of the word ‘stella’ (Latin for ‘star’) with Douglass is entirely appropriate, as he devoted his working life to creating artificial suns as navigational and safety aids for sailors - in other words, lighthouses. The inventor of the ‘Douglass Burner’, he oversaw construction for the replacement for the Eddystone Lighthouse, for which he was knighted in 1882. At various times he had been resident engineer on the Bishop Rock, Smalls, and Wolf Rock Lighthouses off the south-west coast of England, and then held the post of Engineer-in-Chief to Trinity House until his retirement in 1892.
As well as being a Fellow of the Royal Society, Douglass became an Estates Governor and a Governor of Dulwich College, to which he sent two of his five sons. One of these was William Tregarthen Douglass (the purchaser of Stella House in 1877), who was himself a distinguished engineer, the author of several books on the subject, and consulting engineer to various public boards.