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Cape D'Aguilar Lighthouse gazetted as historical building

A notice was gazetted today (December 30) declaring Cape D'Aguilar Lighthouse an historical building under the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance (Chapter 53). The notice comes into effect on March 3, next year.

Situated at the southeast of Hong Kong Island, Cape D'Aguilar Lighthouse, the first of its kind built in Hong Kong, was put into service on April 16, 1875.

For centuries Hong Kong has owed its prosperity to trade. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 gave a further impetus to the growth of trade in Hong Kong. During the pre-war years, at least seven lighthouses were constructed in Hong Kong waters.

In 1867, Commander Reed, a naval surveyor, was instructed to investigate suitable locations for lighthouses to cover the port approaches. He proposed Waglan Island and Gap Rock, which was a small island to the south of Hong Kong Island on route to Singapore. However, as neither site was within the then Hong Kong waters, the proposal was dropped.

As reported by the Harbour Master, HG Thomsett, in March 1873, the second-best sites, all within the jurisdiction of Hong Kong, were considered to be Cape D'Aguilar, Green Island and Cape Collinson, as lighthouses in these places would cover the eastern and western entrances to Hong Kong. Construction work started immediately on Cape D'Aguilar Lighthouse.

Cape D'Aguilar Lighthouse has a first-order fixed dioptric showing a white light. The focal plane of the light is 200 feet above mean sea level, and in clear weather it should be seen at a distance of 23 nautical miles. The existing structure is a round stone tower, 9.7 metres high and white in colour. The tower base, the arched doorway and the spiral staircase are of fine masonry. The door is made of iron with geometric decoration on top.

When Waglan Island Lighthouse came into operation in 1893, Cape D'Aguilar Lighthouse became superfluous, and was discontinued in 1896. According to the Sessional Papers of 1901, 1905 and 1906, Green Island had only a fourth-order light. It was then decided to replace it with the disused first-order light from Cape D'Aguilar. The lantern at the top was removed and, together with the light apparatus, was transferred to Green Island in 1905. It was not until 1975 that the lantern of Cape D'Aguilar Lighthouse was re-lit and automated.

Cape D'Aguilar Lighthouse once played an important role in the maritime history of Hong Kong. At present, there are only five pre-war lighthouses still surviving. Two are on Green Island while the other three are at Cape D'Aguilar, Waglan Island and Tang Lung Chau. Waglan Lighthouse and Tang Lung Chau Lighthouse were declared historical buildings in 2000.

Ends/Friday, December 30, 2005
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