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Safe passage: The story of East London's two lighthouses

East London's picturesque Hood Point lighthouse is an iconic city landmark which has been signalling safe passage to seafarers for more than 120 years.

However, this was not the first lighthouse in East London.

The first structural lighthouse was the Castle Point lighthouse, which was lit for the very first time on 1 August 1860.

Castle Pointwas a tapered square tower made of timber and rubble and was originally painted in red and white.

Erected on the reef near the end of the breakwater at Castle Point, at about 13.7m above sea level, it cast a fixed light which was visible from a distance of about 20km in clear weather.

And though always intended as a temporary structure, the Castle Point Lighthouse stood guard on the East London shoreline for 35 years.

It was eventually replaced by the new, taller Hood Point Lighthouse on 4 June, 1895.

Interestingly, while Castle Point ceased to function as a lighthouse in 1895, the original timber structure survived long after it was decommissioned. It was eventually demolished in 1929.

Hood Point

Despite being one of East London's most iconic and recognisable structures, Castle Point's successor, the Hood Point Lighthouse, didn't always look like it does today.

In fact, Hood Point spent the first 30 years of her existence looking a bit like a giant red chess board, comprising an arresting patchwork of white and vermilion squares.

The gorgeous, 19-metre tall masonry tower only acquired its familiar, all-white appearance in March 1929.

Hood Point's original light source was a five-wick Trinity House, Douglass burner which provided a final light beam intensity of 7 500 cd.

This wick burner was replaced by a petroleum vapour burner in 1910, which resulted in the candlepower being increased to 375 000 cd.

Today, visible at a focal plane of 55m above high water, and with 4 flashes every 40 seconds, the lighthouse covers a 31 nautical mile stretch of coastline.

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