Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Buff Lighthouse: Keeper's Quarters 6

If, as seems likely, Douglas Bell is one of the group depicted in this photograph, he may be the figure on the extreme left, apparently holding a telescope. I like to think it would have been his father's Dollond instrument, seen held by Captain Bell in other pictures.

When this photo was taken, Douglas was one of two keepers at the Bluff light. 

The other man could be either Stephenson or Shortt who kept the light circa 1898.

Exterior photographs were not usual, even by the 1890s, but it makes sense that W E James found it preferable to take the group outside rather than in the small, probably somewhat dark, interior of the keeper's cottage. 

The structure behind, which doesn't have visible windows, may have been for storage of items necessary for lighthousekeeping.

Why Aunt Ellen should be accompanying her nieces Violet and Natalia on a visit to Douglas is not clear, but it seems a friendly gesture especially considering the isolation of the keepers in their Bluff eyrie. 

Ellen's husband, with the grandiose name of Edward Abbott Forbes Baxter, was a clerk in the magisterial service from 1867-1874, second extra clerk in the G.P.O., 1875, and second clerk assistant in the Legislative Council, 1876. Whether he went on to higher rungs of the colonial ladder is not known, but he survived his wife, who died in Pietermaritzburg in 1906.
They had an only son, Alexander Baxter, who became manager of a bank and at one time coincidentally owned the house at Durban North where I grew up from the age of three: 19 Kelvin Place.

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