|Cape Columbine Lighthouse by Helen Pfeil|
The last manned lighthouse to be constructed, this lighthouse was built in 1936.
Cape Columbine is a headland five kilometres from the village of Paternoster in the Western Cape. The sea in the area is dotted with white caps, tell-tale signs of submerged rocks and reefs. Britannia Reef to the north is probably the most dangerous.
As usual in the 19th c, though the need for a lighthouse was recognised, there were other pressing demands on the colonial purse, and ships continued to founder off Cape Columbine, including the Lisboa which struck Soldiers Reef in October 1910, the Heleric which foundered off Great Paternoster Point in 1932 and other vessels. Nevertheless the provision of a light remained in abeyance for thirty years.
Cape Columbine light first illuminated the environs on 1 October, 1936 on a site selected by H Cooper, a huge outcrop of rock locally called Castle Rock. The beacon is not the usual sort of tower but a slightly squared tower with the outer faces of the walls recessed, forming heavy buttresses on the four corners. Cooper not only designed the lighthouse tower he also acquired the optic, the fog signal and the radio beacon. This was the only occasion in the history of South African lighthouses that a navigation aid made up of all three safety features - light, fog signal and radio beacon - was installed as a complete unit.
The optical apparatus, designed by Chance Brothers, was the first lens system in SA which had been designed for use with the 4 k w incandescent electric lamp. All prior installations had been designed for wick or petroleum vapour burners.