Coast KZN

07 Aug 2017

Shedding some light on Bluff’s Cooper Lighthouse

Erin Hanekom (Southlands Sun)

Learn about lighthouses.

CELEBRATE Lighthouse Day with some interesting facts about lighthouses.

Monday, 7 August is National Lighthouse Day in the US, however as a coastal area, Durban South has reason to be thankful for the houses that protect vessels off our shores.

Did you know the Bluff was the first place to erect a lighthouse on the Natal coastline? Unlike most other lighthouses, which are named after a geographical point, the Bluff’s Cooper Lighthouse on Marine Drive was named after a person – lighthouse engineer, HC Cooper.

The lighthouse was built in the 50s and was first lit in 1953. Seafarers are able to distinguish it by a white flash every 10 seconds to mark its position. It is 26 metres tall and has a range of just over 41km.

Following the demolition of the Bluff Lighthouse, which was the only one on the east coast of Africa at the time (1864), the Cooper Lighthouse and the Umhlanga Rocks Lighthouse were built.

Interested? Here are some more facts about lighthouses:

1. Not only do lighthouses flash in different arrangements, they are also painted with different colours and markings. This means anyone travelling at sea will be able to determine where they are by the light flashes at night or the markings during the day.

2. The earliest known lighthouse was the Pharos of Alexandria in Egypt built between 300 and 280BC. It was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World but was gone by the 1300s.

3. The oldest lighthouse still standing is La Coruna in Spain, which was built by the Romans in 2AD.

4. The tallest lighthouse is the Jeddah Light in Saudi Arabia at just under 133m.

5. The height of lighthouses is determined by the curvature of the Earth. This explains why taller lighthouses are generally found on lower lying land, while shorter ones sit atop cliffs.

6. Most modern lighthouses are unmanned and run by machine, with offsite remote monitoring.

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