4 x Lighthouses in South Africa on the Commemorative envelope

Lighthouses in South Africa

In ancient times beacon fires on elevated platforms warned seafarers of unseen dangers at night.  The most famous lighthouse was Pharos at Alexandria, built in 286 BC and known today as one of the seven wonders of  the ancient world.

The first sea warning system in South Africa was the beacon fire established at Robben island in1657 and referred to in Van Riebeeck’s journal under the date 4 February 1658.

pelican point lighthouse16c Stamp:  Pelican Point is the northern end of a long, low-lying peninsula of barren dune sand that forms the western side of Walvis Bay, protecting the bay from the Atlantic Ocean.  In 1915 a small lantern was mounted on a wooden pole to mark the extremity of the peninsula.  The present cast-iron tower was erected during 1931/32 and the dioptric revolving lens pedestal was commissioned in 1961.  The lighy has a luminous intensity of 1300 000 cd and is characterised by a group of  three white flashes every 20 seconds.  The lighthouse is situated at longitude 14° 26’ 09.0” East and latitude 22° 53’ 29.6” South.


greenpoint lighthouse30c Stamp:  The lighthouse at Green Point, Cape Town was the first solidly constructed lighthouse on the South African coast, it was lit for the first time on the night of 12 April 1824.  Its two lanterns were both equipped with a single-wick Argand lamp burning sperm oil.  The light was visible for a distance of six nautical miles.  The present third-order optic was installed in 1922 and electrified in 1929.  It produces a white flash of approximately 850 000 cd, the code being on flash every 10 seconds.  Green Point Lighthouse is situated at longitude 18° 24’ 02.3” East and latitude 33° 54’ 04.4” South.


aghullas lighthouse40c Stamp:  Cape Agulhas Lighthouse is situated on the southernmost cape on the continent of Africa.  Within therange of the present light, which can be seen for a distance of 26 nautical miles in clear weather, the coast is fringed with dangerous reefs on which more ships have been wrecked than on any other part of the South African coast.  The first lighthouse was commissioned in 1849.  The tower became unsafe because the limestone blocks had seriously decomposed and a new aluminium tower was put into operation in 1968.  This light provides a 1069 000 cd white flash every five seconds.  The position of the lighthouse is longitude 20° 00’ 33” South.  The stamp shows the original lighthouse, which has been restored and declared a national monument.


umshlanga lighthouse50c Stamp:  In January 1867 a lighthouse was put into operation at Point in Durban, it was closed down in 1940 as it interfered with coastal defence and was replaced bytwo small automatic lighthouses, viz. Cooper Light south of Durban and Umhlanga Rocks north of Durban.  Umlanga Rocks was commissioned in 1954.  It provides a 600 000 cd Light characterised by a group of three white flashes every 20 seconds.  It is situated at longitude 31° 05’ 18,20” East and latitude 29° 43’ 41,57 South.


Commemorative envelope: Cape Point Lighthouse is situated in the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve.  Its code is a group of three flashes every 30 seconds.
Commemorative envelope with miniature sheet: The for lighthouses depicted are those at Cape Columbine on the Cape West Coast, at Slangkop south of Hout Bay in the Cape Peninsula, at Robben Island and at Danger Point near Gans Bay.


Text Mr H. A. Williams

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