Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Bluff Lighthouse 1867

                                       Opening of the Bluff Lighthouse 22 January 1867    

Details of the new structure were circulated via the press. The lighthouse 'is to consist of a cast iron conoidal tower loaded at the base with concrete, surmounted by a cast iron lighthouse on plinth, and a gunmetal lantern, glazed with plate glass, with a domed roof covered with copper. The lighting apparatus is to be a second class holophotal lenticular apparatus on Fresnel's system with a first class lamp. The light will be revolving with brightest flashes at intervals of sixty seconds. The apparatus is composed of Concentric glass lenses in gunmetal frames forming an eight-sided figure. The light which would otherwise radiate through the portion of the azimuth which is landwards, and therefore does not require illumination, is intercepted by an arrangement of totally refracting lenses, and returned to the focus to strengthen the seaward portion of the light. The revolution of the apparatus is effected by means of clockwork fixed inside the iron pedestal upon which the apparatus is supported.' 

Durban's leading business and professional men were relieved to see the lighthouse finally completed after long years of delay. The imperial authorities had been inundated with requests for a lighthouse worthy of Port Natal's  position as a shipping port and even perhaps as a naval base.

George Cato, Durban's first Mayor and close friend of Captain William Bell, fought persistently for some twenty years for a lighthouse to be  placed on the Bluff. So it must have been a happy day for him to see the beacon opened at last.

At the time it was built, the Bluff lighthouse was the only one on the east coast of Africa, the nearest to the north being Alexandria.


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