Umhlanga Lighthouse Turns 60 Today!!

Today Is The 60th Birthday Of The Umhlanga Lighthouse and there is an amazing fact that you probably never knew!! Today marks the 60th birthday of the beautiful Lighthouse in Umhlanga. The Lighthouse is an integral part of uMhlanga and Durban’s history. uMhlanga, which was founded in 1895, saw the lighthouse completed in 1954 and now […]

Today Is The 60th Birthday Of The Umhlanga Lighthouse and there is an amazing fact that you probably never knew!!

Today marks the 60th birthday of the beautiful Lighthouse in Umhlanga. The Lighthouse is an integral part of uMhlanga and Durban’s history. uMhlanga, which was founded in 1895, saw the lighthouse completed in 1954 and now makes up a part of the well used promenade, one of Durban’s most frequented spots by locals and travelers.

Umhlanga Lighthouse
The Umhlanga Lighthouse. Photo Credit: Grant Pitcher

The Umhlanga lighthouse was built in 1952 because of the number of times that ships mistook the Umgeni River mouth for the Durban harbour, often to their cost. The South African Railways and Harbours had sold a large area to the owners of the Oyster Box Hotel and now wanted permission to build the lighthouse on this area. The permission was refused and negotiations led to a settlement to erect the lighthouse on the beach. The erection of the lighthouse, believe it nor not, was completed in 24 hours, apparently to prevent the structure from cracking. Yes, this iconic building in our Durban Skyline was build in 24 hours!!!

Lighthouse in Umhlanga
Lighthouse in Umhlanga

The Umhlanga lighthouse was built to replace the old Bluff lighthouse which was commissioned in 1869, but had to be abandoned due to its rapid rate of deterioration. The Lighthouse stands guard to some of the most treacherous waters of Southern Africa and not only warns ships of the hidden dangers, but the flashing light is also a welcome to the ships sailing into the safety of the Durban harbour.

This makes it more than just something pretty to look as it’s functionality is vital to the economy in Durban. Durban Harbour is the busiest harbour in Africa. It is responsible for more than 80% of export and import business in the country. Without the Lighthouse to ensure the safety of ships coming into our waters, we would stand to lose a substantial part of our economy. The Oyster Box is the official custodian of this iconic building since 1956.

lighthouse

This is not to say that the Lighthouse is not beautiful to look at though. It forms a part of many paintings and images captured to showcase the beauty of the city to out of town and international travelers. It is ofter seen on many international travel sights as one of the “must see” parts of Durban.

The Umhlanga Lighthouse is also one of the most photographed buildings in our city and is often the favourite choice for Bridal couples who want to capture the beauty of the coast in their wedding pics.

 

Other Facts About The Light House

The circular concrete tower, painted white with a red band at the top, stands 21m above the beach and has a focal plane height of 25m. The fixed red light enables ships waiting to anchor in the outer anchorage, to monitor its position. If the red light can be seen, it suggests the ships anchors have probably dragged and is too close to shore.

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The uMhlanga lighthouse’s beam is emits a light equivalent to six hundred thousand candles flashing three every twenty seconds, and can be seen from as far as twenty four miles away at sea during visible conditions.

We look forward to many more years in beautiful memories and pictures of this amazing icon!