Saturday, February 20, 2016

Bluff Lighthouse pre-1930s

Durbanites were proud of their lighthouse and it featured on many a postcard similar to the one above. Unfortunately the postmark is illegible. The photo can be dated to pre-1930s when the tower was encased unattractively in concrete, due to fears of the structure's deterioration.

The Bluff Light flashed in unbroken service from its opening in January 1867 to July 1922 when the optic equipment was replaced. A third order triple flashing optic mounted on a mercury bath pedestal with clockwork drive was installed. This optic, equipped with a petroleum vapour burner, exhibited a group of three white flashes every twenty seconds, the candlepower being approximately 150 000 cd. On 15 September 1932 electricity was installed. A 4 kw incandescent lamp replaced the petroleum vapour burner and the candlepower increased to
3 000 000cd.

This increase in the candlepower brought favourable as well as unfavourable reaction. In the local press appeared: 'Coming up the coast last night, with exceptional visibility, the loom of the Bluff light was picked up over 60 miles from Durban by officers of the steamer Contractor. The cycle of the flash and the intervals rendered it impossible to mistake it for any other lighthouse on the coast. This is the furthest the loom has been seen since the light has been increased'.

Further comment followed: 'When the power of the light was increased there was a considerable outcry from the residents of Durban who complained that the bright beam shining on to the white walls and through windows disturbed their slumbers'.

Screens were erected to prevent the light travelling inland between certain areas.

The writer of the above postcard states that 'a most lovely view is displayed before one's eyes from this lofty place - a breeze is delightful'.

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