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Lighthouse, Cape Recife
Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth), Eastern Cape

George (Captain) PILKINGTON: Engineer
Charles Cornwallis (alias Collier) MICHELL: Design Architect



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34°01'44" S 25°42'04" E

Cape Recife Lighthouse, the fourth to be erected by the Cape colonial government, was the first lighthouse constructed in the Port Elizabeth area and is situated on the southern point of Algoa Bay. Cape Recife is the turning point into Algoa Bay and several dangers such as Thunderbolt Reef and Roman Rock, not far offshore, have claimed many a fine ship.

The lighthouse is a twenty-four-metre high masonry tower, octagonal in cross-section. Two quarters were originally built adjoining the base of the tower. These dwellings were demolished in the early 1960s and replaced by two double-storey blocks of flats which were built on concrete stilts to permit windblown sand to pass underneath the structures. One block of flats was demolished when the staff establishment was reduced to one person, who resided in Humerail and commuted by car to the lighthouse but he is now resident there. A relief lightkeeper is stationed at Cape Recife where he resides at the lighthouse when not engaged on relief duties.

When the light was lit for the first time on 1 April 1851 the tower was painted four alternate bands of white and red. This was changed in 1929 to black and white bands which is the present colour scheme. Sailing instructions for vessels approaching Cape Recife and Algoa Bay were drawn up by Commander Fishbourne RN of HMS Hermes and appeared in the Cape of Good Hope Government Gazette on 1 March 1851, one month prior to the exhibition of the light.

(Williams, 1993:21-23)

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.

Writings about this entry

Williams, Harold. 1993. Southern Lights : Lighthouses of Southern Africa. Cape Town: William Waterman Publications. pg 21-23