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History

The treacherous seas and gnarly coastline of Algoa Bay claimed many sailing vessels and a solution was needed to protect the interests of the European companies using the popular southern African trade route.

the excursion

On 21 November 1871, a company of men, including Captain Perry RN and Lieutenant Taylor RN, headed by Captain Skead, travelled from Port Port Elizabeth to inspect the Cape St Francis point for a suitable location for a lighthouse.

the location

After surveying the area for seven days, they chose a spot a few feet above sea level where the iconic lighthouse would see the light of day and guide many vessels safely away from the dangers of local reefs.

Construction of the lighthouse commenced five years later, on March 17, 1876. Building was led by Joseph Flack, a clerk employed by the Cape Colonial Government’s Public Works Department and a man who’d spent time building on Robben Island. The lighthouse was built using rocks and materials blasted from local reefs and cut and dressed on location.

The lighthouse was completed in two and a half years and rose to a height of 27.75 metres, making it one of the tallest lighthouses in South Africa. To this day it is still the tallest masonry building on the South African coast.

Flack did not have the pleasure of seeing the work completed, since he died on 14 November 1876.

construction

the light

The lighthouse was lit for the first time on July 4, 1878 - 839 days after they started building it.

Light was produced by a three-wick burner, burning at 15,000 candles, flashing every 20 seconds, with a focal plane of 36 metres above sea level and a range of 28 nautical miles.

In 1906 a petroleum vapour burner was installed and the lighthouse's intensity was increased to 120,000 candles, while the flash rate was accelerated to one flash every five seconds

In 1931 the petroleum vapour burner made way for a 4kW incandescent electric lamp, powered by diesel electric generators, which produced 2,750,000 candles.

Today light is produced by a 1.5kW lamp with a range of 28 nautical miles.

Enjoy a unique experience by booking accommodation in the iconic Seal Point lighthouse

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