The ex-Cape Willoughby Lens

HOpe cottage makeover

Garry Searle
Source: The Islander - December 22, 2009  web  pdf

When the lantern room and lens was removed from Cape Willoughby lighthouse, it was saved from the scrapheap and placed on a replica stub-tower at Hope Cottage, Kingscote Kangaroo Island.

The lens and mechanism is one of the few fully working mechanisms remaining. It runs 24hrs a day. The weights fall as they always did, and when they hit bottom a micro-switch turns on a small motor raising the weights. What the keepers would have done for such a system in the days of old.


The following story is from "The Islander" newspaper

The handsome 157-year old Chance Brothers lighthouse, at Hope Cottage Museum in Kingscote, will be repainted over the summer using a $2945 grant from the Australian National Maritime Museum.

Manufactured in 1872 by the Chance Brothers of Birmingham, the light and lantern tower started out serving the Tiparra Reef Lighthouse before being moved to Cape Willoughby in 1923. Its dioptric lens, which uses multiple refracting lenses to enhance the power of the light, was considered to be cutting edge technology at the time.

The Cape Willoughby Lighthouse was the first lighthouse to serve on the treacherous Backstairs Passage between Kangaroo Island and the mainland and the lighthouse is one of Australia’s oldest.

“Backstairs Passage is only eleven kilometres across, but very deep and rough,” explained Robert Farnden, chairman of the Kangaroo Island Branch of the National Trust of South Australia.

Narrowly avoiding demolition in 1974 when the state began to automate lighthouses, the lantern tower was salvaged by the branch, which rebuilt it at Hope Cottage.

The tower will be painted using a harness suspended from the weather vane. The trust looked at the option of a cherry picker, but realised that the 10m tower could only be accessed by ropes.

“Lucky the weather vane is quite sturdy… and the painter does a lot of tree climbing,” Mr Farnden said. The trust has employed a professional painter to paint the lacework.

“The Chance Brothers Lighthouse is an important story in Australia’s maritime history,” said Peter Rout, assistant director of the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney. “We are pleased to be able to continue to support the preservation of its history through the Maritime Museums of Australia Project Support Scheme.”

The scheme, which the museum funds with the Australian Government’s Distributed National Collection Program, helps regional museums, community groups and volunteers to promote and protect Australian maritime heritage.

Pedestal, Lens and Mechanism Inside the Tower  The Ex-Cape Willoughby Lantern
Above and Left
Hope Cottage lantern room and lens - Nov 2009.

Images: Garry Searle

See Also:           Cape Willoughby Lighthouse - LoA


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