Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Umhlanga Lighthouse, Natal


Umhlanga Rocks Lighthouse Panorama
Photograph by Caroline Plane
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The original site selected for the Umhlanga light was in the vicinity of the swimming pool at the Oyster Box Hotel, but in January 1953 there was a torrential downpour, sixteen inches of rain falling in less than 24 hours, leaving behind heavy erosion at the proposed site. It was decided to build the tower lower down nearer the sea on a solid rock foundation.

The lighthouse was commissioned a year later on 25 October 1954, a delay caused by the necessity of importing certain equipment from England. There were no festivities for the opening of the Umhlanga Rocks Lighthouse: it came into operation without the customary three months' notice to mariners being issued internationally. Warnings were broadcast from the local maritime radio stations informing shipmasters of the introduction of this new aid.

This lighthouse is fully automatic and unattended. The cost of the installation at Umhlanga Rocks was R23 838. It is now a widely-known and recognised beacon on the north coast of Natal, both to mariners and to landlubbers.

I make no apology for including lighthouses and their history in my genealogy blog: my great grandfather was a lightkeeper.

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