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Lighthouse, Bluff - Cooper Lighthouse
Durban, KwaZulu-Natal

Peter PATERSON: Architect



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29°56'08.60" S 31°00'18.08" E Alt: 111m

The original tower was of prefabricated cast iron. Foundation stone was laid on 1864 11 22 by His Excellency, Governor John Scott, but it took a further three years to complete the tower on October 1866 and officially opened by The Administrator, Colonel V Bisset on 1867 01 22 (Cyril J Eyre in Williams, 1993: 61-63). The light saw unbroken service until July 1922. It was replaced by a petroleum vapour burner mounted on a mercury bath pedestal with clockwork drive. In 1932 09 15 this was again replaced by an electrically powered light. An earth tremor upset the mercury bath in 1932 and the old vapour lamp temporarily recommissioned. The foundations were exposed to check for damage and the base found to be corroded. It was decided by the Lighthouse Engineer, Cooper, to encase the tower in an octagonal re-inforced concrete structure, the lighthouse there after having the unique distinction of taking his name. Artillery practice guns were fired at its base on 1938 05 05 and the tower suitably secured and optics wedged to prevent spillage or damage. However, with the advent of the Second World War the strategic position could not accommodate both lighthouse and gun emplacements so the decision was taken to demolish it, the last light being on 1940 10 15 and in June of 1941 its superstructure was demolished and the base retained for artillery installation (Williams, 1993: 61-67). Its ruins remain within sight of the Millennium Tower to this day (Hoberman, 2011: 126 (ill.), 127).

Writings about this entry

Hoberman, Gerald. 2011. Lighthouses of South Africa : pocket edition. Cape Town - London - New York: The Gerald & Marc Hoberman Collection. pg 126 (ill), 127
Kearney, Brian. 1973. Architecture in Natal from 1824-1893. Cape Town: Balkema. pg 139 (ill.)
Williams, Harold. 1993. Southern Lights : Lighthouses of Southern Africa. Cape Town: William Waterman Publications. pg 91-97