Lighting up the Coast: Danger, Death and Destruction (Part 4)


FROM 19 August 1878, a temporary light had been erected on a flagstaff on the Island to aid general ship navigation, however vessels contracted directly to the site and the workers needed to overcome additional issues.

To unload the initial construction plant, a suitable landing site was found on the western side of the island and a
wooden crane with a 40-feet jib erected.

Halfway through unloading, the ship had to seek shelter at Trial Bay for three days until conditions settled enough to finish, an issue which arose many times for the island’s residents.

Vessels had difficulty anchoring on the rock sea floor and several anchors were lost, so a mooring buoy was

A steam winch was also needed to haul supplies up the side of the island, where a horse towed the tram-laden goods along a rail to the building site.

A condensing machine provided water until four tanks were sunk and rain caught, while sheep and goats were
kept for fresh meat.

Workers found entertainment in night-time concerts and fishing, however in December 1879, a carpenter named McCarthy was swept out to sea and drowned while rock fishing with his 12-year-old son.

In June the following year, a gale created waves up to 100 feet above the high-water mark which washed over
the island, sweeping away a large landing crane, along with a large storehouse, the blacksmiths shop and

The banks around a 70,000-gallon dam were demolished and three boats stove in.

All the workers sheltered except one, who narrowly escaped being washed away while trying to secure a boat.

Over time the contractors also lost two landing cranes and a mooring buoy which was later found 35 miles away.

To be continued …



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