Slangkoppunt lighthouse

Slangkoppunt lighthouse

Slangkoppunt lighthouse
Slangkoppunt lighthouse

During the last week of January I took an under-the-radar week off work, feeling that the brief Christmas break I’d had was insufficient. Indeed, I cannot remember much of the festive season, having slept through it. I used my week off to visit some of Cape Town’s lighthouses, and to do a variety of other touristic exploration in my hometown.

Entrance to the Slangkop lighthouse
Entrance to the Slangkop lighthouse

The first lighthouse I visited was the Slangkoppunt lighthouse in Kommetjie. It is open to visitors on weekdays between 10am and 3pm, for a nominal fee of R14. The 33 metre high tower is made of cast iron, seventeen tiers stacked and bolted one on top of the other, and was opened on my birthday, almost 100 years ago – in 1919. The range of its light, which is half as powerful as the Cape Point light at 5,000,000 candelas, is 30 nautical miles. It flashes four times every 30 seconds.

Interior of Slangkop lighthouse
Interior of Slangkop lighthouse

One of the lighthouse keepers let me into the tower and allowed me to climb to the top alone. The winding staircase follows the wall of the tower, and there isn’t much else inside until you get to the top. It’s spare, clean, and industrial. Just below the light itself is an original weight-driven mechanical clockwork mechanism that once turned the lens. This hasn’t been used since 1936, but is still kept in immaculate condition.

View of the Atlantic from the top of the tower
View of the Atlantic from the top of the tower

The lens system was manufactured by Chance Brothers, and is supplemented by two mirrors. It was hot and bright in the top of the tower, with views for miles.

Labyrinth at Slangkop lighthouse
Labyrinth at Slangkop lighthouse

On the day I visited, a four to five metre south westerly swell was battering the Atlantic coast of the peninsula, and I was able to see just how needful the area is of this light. In the grounds below the lighthouse is a labyrinth laid in stones, for visitors who are overcome by contemplation after their tour of the structure.

Slangkoppunt lighthouse before its recent paint job
Slangkoppunt lighthouse before its recent paint job

Last time we passed by the lighthouse by boat, it was being painted, and had scaffolding all around its exterior. The picture above is from a couple of years ago, showing why that paint job was needed!

Everything I know about this lighthouse is from Gerald Hoberman’s magnificent book, Lighthouses of South Africa.

Published by

Clare

Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

Leave a Reply