The Cape St Francis Lighthouse

There are 49 lighthouses (according to Wikipedia) along South Africa’s 2800 km long coastline. The oldest is the Green Point Lighthouse built in 1824 while the newest one was built at Groenrivier Mouth in the Northern Cape in 1988. I have a thing for lighthouses and wouldn’t mind traveling from lighthouse to lighthouse one day when I’m big to be able to tick them all off as visited.

The lighthouse at Seal Point in Cape St Francis was complete in 1878 and although often referred to as the Cape St Francis Lighthouse, it’s actually called the Seal Point Lighthouse. Standing at 28 meters tall from the ground to the balcony, the lighthouse is the tallest masonry tower in South Africa. Seal Point is also the most Southeastern tip of Africa, so I was really excited to see that after renovations the lighthouse is finally open to the public again and it’s possible to climb to the top to enjoy the magnificent view of the surrounding coastline.

The light at the top of the tower is situated 36 meters above sea level. The 1.5 kw lamp puts out 2 750 000 candles and can be seen 28 Sea Miles out to sea. Until 1959 the revolving light was driven by clockwork, actuated by a set of weights suspended from a chain. The motion was regulated by a governor fitted with a brake and weighted lever attachment to keep the apparatus in revolution whilst the weights were heaved up manually. This had to be done every 4 hours by the duty light keeper. These days everything is automated.

Cape St Francis and St Francis Bay is a prime holiday destination and although it’s a beautiful area with lots to see, there isn’t a lot of historic attractions around. This one is worth visiting and with the recent addition of a restaurant/coffee shop in what used to be the penguin rehabilitation center next to it, even more so. And it makes for stunning pictures, no matter how you look at it.

You can read more about the history of the Seal Point Lighthouse on the Heritage Portal and South African History Online.

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