The Green Point Lighthouse

The Green Point Lighthouse is an eye-catching landmark in Mouille Point with its bold red and white candy stripes.

It is the oldest operational lighthouse in South Africa !

In 1820 the construction of a lighthouse at Green Point, the first of its kind in Southern Africa, was put forward by Sir Rufane Donkin the Acting Governor of the Cape between 1820 and 1821.

The project was designed by Hermann Schutte, a German stone mason who had previously been employed by the VOC (the Dutch East India Company), and was now working for the new administration as Inspector of Government Buildings.

Building commenced in 1821 and was completed in 1823. First lit on 12 April 1824, the original lanterns were equipped with single wick Argand lamps fuelled by sperm whale oil. The weak rays could not be seen further than 6 sea miles.

The lighthouse cost approximately £6,420 pounds sterling to build. Unfortunately its structure did not stand up well to the hardships of Cape weather, and by 1840 Governor Sir George Napier was describing it as "an old ruinous building, falling fast into decay".

The building was renovated in 1842, and in 1865 its height was increased to 16 metres by the addition of a new tower, it was electrified in 1929.

In 1922 the lantern was replaced with a 3rd order dioptric lens flashing light that can be seen for 25 nautical miles Its present characteristic is a white light flashing every 10 seconds.

Many locals mistakenly refer to the Green Point lighthouse as the Mouille Point lighthouse because of where it stands on the edge of Mouille Point.

There was indeed a Mouille Point lighthouse, built in 1842, but it was dismantled sometime in the 1920's.

The Green Point lighthouse, which today is used as the Head Office of the Lighthouse Services (they own and maintain 45 lighthouses on the South African coastline), also used to sound a foghorn, installed in 1926 that sounded a 3 second blast every 30 seconds that one could apparently hear up to a kilometre away from the lighthouse. It was nicknamed "Moaning Minnie" by residents in the area !

This was replaced by an electrical version on the sea wall in 1986, a few metres north of the lighthouse that apparently still sounds, but because of considerable residential development produces only a marginal noise.

The Green Point lighthouse is a national heritage site and is open to the public Monday to Friday from 10am to 3pm. 100 Beach Rd, Mouille Point, Cape Town - contact 021-4495171 for more information regarding entry fees.

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