History of Lighthouse in Swakopmund

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11 m Swakopmund Lighthouse, located opposite of Municipal gardens, was opened in July 1902. It is 21 years older than Walvis Bay Lighthouse at Pelican Point. A further 10 m was added in 1910. The original beacon erected at The Mole was washed away by strong current. The Lighthouse is still in operation, guiding ships with its light seen as far as from 35 nautical miles. One of the most prominent Swakopmund's landmarks, now also houses a restaurant.

Lighthouse specifications: focal plane 35 m (115 ft); two white flashes, separated by 2.3 s, every 10 s. 28 m (92 ft) round tower with lantern and double gallery. The upper portion painted with red and white horizontal bands; the lower portion is unpainted brick. The lower 11 m (36 ft) is the original 1902 lighthouse; the upper section was added in 1910. The lighthouse replaced a short-lived lighthouse on the town's mole; built in 1902, it was washed away by a storm only months later. The lantern of the present light was installed in 1982 along with a more powerful light having a range of 33 km (20 mi).

Swakopmund Lighthouse and the district office (Bezirksamt) in 1905 overlooking the pier (Mole). Photo: Scientific Society Swakopmund Swakopmund’s first lighthouse: around 1900. Photo: Scientific Society Swakopmund Wooden jetty was built south of Swakopmund in 1905. In 1912 construction of an iron jetty started next to the wooden one. Photo: Scientific Society Swakopmund Swakopmund harbour area in 1914-1915, with the Damara Tower in the background, pictured from the jetty. Photo: Scientific Society Swakopmund

The Lighthouse is integral part of Swakopmund's skyline and it features in the municipal coat of arms of the town. It is often mentioned that the first lighthouse had been built onto the tip of the pier ("Mole"). The 'tower' on the pier was simply a beacon, 6.5 m high with a light on top, which marked the entrance to the harbour. It was washed away by the sea less than five months after the inauguration of the Mole. On 12 June 1903 the colonial newspaper, Deutsch-Südwestafrikanische Zeitung, reported: "As a result of the continuously inauspicious seas, which on the morning of Sunday, the 7th of this month, were once again particularly rough, the tip of the Mole and the lantern post also collapsed during that night. Considering how other facilities, for example those in Cape Town, are ravaged by the ocean, it can not come as a surprise that this harbour experiences similar rigours. The battle against the sea will be a continuous one."

1901: Swakopmund state railway station. Photo: Scientific Society Swakopmund) Swakopmund before the First World War. On photo: Marines Memorial, the district office, the Lutheran Church and the post office. Photo: Scientific Society Swakopmund First Lighthouse in Swakopmund, Namibia. Built in 1902. Library of Uninversity of Frankfurt am Main

The lighthouse acquired its height of 28 m in 1911. The cupola was removed and put back into place again after raising the original tower by 16 m. The light signals were now visible over a distance of more than 33 km. Both construction phases of the lighthouse are still easy to distinguish. Other changes or alterations hardly showed on the exterior. In 1940 a radio beacon was added which beamed additional positioning signals to the ships out at sea. In 1956 the lighthouse's intermittent light was automated; other technical improvements were made during the decades that followed.

The buildings at the foot of the lighthouse – a storeroom and two dwellings – were expanded over the years. Originally they were the lighthouse keepers' accommodation, now they serve as the cosy setting of a restaurant.

GPS coordinates: 22°40'32"S 14°31'29"E.

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