Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Port Nolloth Lighthouse 2

Port Nolloth jetty showing method of loading copper ore

With the development of Port Nolloth as the main port for Namaqualand fishing interests were attracted to it. Two factories were established and trawlers and fishing  boats visited regularly. The navigational aids were upgraded as the port increased in importance.

By the mid 1970s the fishing industry was in recession. Factories suspended operations and boats were withdrawn. The decline in harbour usage led to the withdrawal of the foghorn, probably to the relief of residents. But mariners were still aided by an X band radar responder beacon placed on the platform of the lighthouse tower.

The bottom had fallen out of the copper market just after WWII and the Cape Copper Company withdrew from its mines. It was a blow to a town which depended on these for employment.  Then diamonds came to the rescue, being discovered along the west coast at Alexander Bay and Oranjemund. The copper mines reopened with American backing in 1937.

 Once again Port Nolloth became a thriving little port.

The lighthouse was later automated, the original tower being replaced by an eleven metre high aluminium tower located about fifty metres inland..

Port Nolloth was never a popular station with lighthouse staff even during boom years. Over 700 miles from Cape Town the journey by road was tedious, taking two days with a night stop at Garies or Springbok. Besides the heat and dust the keeper and his family had to face a treacherously narrow winding strip of road between Citrusdal and Klawer. This infamous stretch ran along the eastern bank of the Olifants River. Further disadvantages were a lack of health care in the area as well as schools for keepers' children. Administrative employes echoed the sentiments of a senior officer who once remarked, 'Port Nolloth earns the reputation of being surrounded by indescribable desolation.'

From about 1928 to 1930 the senior lightkeeper was A E (Albert Edward) Hannabus. followed by Orchard and Gardiner, then another spell for A E Hannabus in 1942.* The last lightkeeper, H H van  Pappendorp, left Port Nolloth in 1981 and since then the lighthouse has operated as an unmanned station.


*P J Hannabus writes: He was my grandfather, Albert Edward, and is buried in Port Nolloth cemetery. About 1955/6.


Port Nolloth from the lighthouse in earlier days

4 comments:

Mieke Britz said...

Not totally unmanned; I lived next to the lighthouse 1995 to 2005 before moving to McDougall. As far as I know old Gawie is still keeping an eye on things-

Mole said...

'Old Gawie'? If he is still keeping a watching brief would like to know his name, for our research into lightkeepers.Thanks for your interest.

Mieke Britz said...

Gawie Brand

Mole said...

Thank you for this addition info Mieke, much appreciated.