Mozambique Happenings for accommodation, things to do and places to see in Mozambique

MOZAMBIQUE LIGHTHOUSES

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This page is compiled by Louis-John Havemann by kind permission of Michel Forand and the following people, see credit text below.

 

Lighthouses of Mozambique

 

The text is based in part on a monograph prepared for the 1931 Paris International Colonial Exhibition, entitled Colonie de Moçambique: Ports, Phares et Navigation Commerciale, and written by Captain António da Silva Pais, head of the Maritime Department in Mozambique at the time, and in part on the Mozambique page http://www.unc.edu/~rowlett/lighthouse/moz.htm of The Lighthouse Directory, created by Dr Russ Rowlett, of the University of North Carolina.

 

The English translation of the da Silva booklet is by Michel Forand, of Ottawa, Canada, who also contributed scans of a few old postcards, although most of the photos are from the 1931 publication.

 

The full English text and illustrations can be found in The Lighthouse Directory ("Lighthouse Development in Mozambique, 1908-1931").

 

 

 

 

 

The current 13 m (43 ft) stone tower was apparently built in 1904.

In recent years the area around the light station has been developed as an adventure camp.

 

Bazaruto Island lies parallel to the coast of southeastern Mozambique. Silva Pais writes that the northern tip of the island is "a dominant landmark that needed to be illuminated for the safety of shipping between the port of Beira and the southern ports." Accordingly it was made the site of a major lighthouse, a 26 m (85 ft) stone tower with a focal plane of 116 m (381 ft), completed in 1913.

 

The large lantern held -- and apparently still holds -- a hyperradiant Fresnel lens, one of only a dozen or so of these great lenses ever built.

 

Silva Pais doesn't mention an earlier light that as maintained at this location between 1894 and 1900, according to older light lists.

 

Today Bazaruto is a popular destination for ecotourism, and the light station is accessible by a hiking trail from nearby resorts.

 

 
 

Despite its short stature, this light had a focal plane of 42 meters (138 ft). Sometime after 1904 the height of the tower was more than doubled, as seen in the postcard image on the right. However, the light is not included on the 1920 light list.

 

Today Ponta Vermelha is the location of Mozambique's Presidential Palace. As far as we know, there is no trace of the lighthouse.

 

Unfortunately, the Silva Pais pamphlet leaves the history of the station somewhat uncertain. The original lighthouse was a 27.5 meter (90 ft) cast iron tower, and light lists continued to describe that light as late as 1920. But that's not what we see below, so at some time in the 1920s, probably in 1926, the present hexagonal concrete block tower was built. We do not know why Silva Pais did not mention such a major lighthouse improvement project.

 

 

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