Waglan Lighthouse is one of the few surviving pre-war lighthouses in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong was a regular port of call for ships even before 1841, and when the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 provided a further impetus to the growth of trade, the government and the business community recognised the need for lighting to be provided along the coasts to warn and guide shipping. A naval surveyor, Commander Reed, was instructed in 1867 to investigate suitable locations for lighthouses to cover the approaches to Hong Kong’s port, and he proposed Waglan Island and Gap Rock, a small island to the south of Hong Kong Island on the route to Singapore. However, as neither of the proposed locations lay within Hong Kong waters, the recommendation was not pursued any further. Towards the end of the 19th century, however, the proposal to build lighthouses at the same locations on the two main approaches to Hong Kong was revived and, with the endorsement of
the Chinese authorities, Waglan Lighthouse was built by the Chinese Customs Light Department of the Imperial Maritime Customs in 1893; it commenced operations on 9 May of the same year.
Featuring a state-of-the-art light that burned mineral oil in a rotating apparatus floating on mercury, a method that was invented in 1890, Waglan Lighthouse was one of only two lighthouses to be installed with this modern equipment in Asia at that time. Initially run by the Chinese Maritime Customs from Shanghai, the lighthouse was transferred to the Hong Kong Government on 1 January 1901 after the New Territories were leased to Great Britain in 1898.
Waglan Lighthouse is used not only as a navigational aid, but also as an outpost where weather information on the eastern corner of the territory is collected and passed on to the Hong Kong Observatory. It has not been manned since August 1989, but it is still in operation and is now managed by the Marine Department.