First lit 175 years ago

Happy 175th Birthday to this old place:

A sandstone tower 27 metres high, it was first lit on the 1st of March 1849, it’s been lighting the way around the dangerous Cape Agulhas rocks ever since (well, it took a bit of time out between 1968 and 1988, but we don’t mention that). From burning sheep tail fat (1849 -1905) to an oil lantern (1905 – 1929) to a petroleum vapour burner (1929 – 1936) to an electric light bulb (1936 – [1968 & 1988 – shhhh!] to the present day), it’s a National Monument, a Western Cape Heritage Site and an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.


And as the sun sets in Agulhas this evening, it’ll be on duty again: its lamp and first order Fresnel lens generating 7,500,000 candela, flashing white every five seconds, piercing the darkness for 30 nautical miles (56 km, 35 miles).

Happy Birthday, old chap.