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Cape Brett Lighthouse (1910)

 

        

Photo courtesy of MSA.                                                                                                                                                                                 Views from Fullers Cruise (2000)

   

 

 Photos from Eric Tarlton, used by permission of Once Again Images

   

 Photos from Eric Tarlton, used by permission of Once Again Images

 

 Photos from Eric Tarlton, used by permission of Once Again Images

 Photos from Eric Tarlton, used by permission of Once Again Images

               

 Photos from Eric Tarlton, used by permission of Once Again Images

 

Google has a satellite view

 

Cape Brett Lighthouse is situated at the entrance to the Bay of Islands and overlooks Piercy Island (Motukokako) better known as the "Hole in the Rock". Cape Brett was named by Captain Cook in 1769 in honour of a Lord of the Admiralty, Rear-Admiral Sir Piercy Brett.

The site of New Zealand's first shipwreck, in 1808 the crew of the Paramatta had contracted with the local Maoris to load the schooner with cargo, but the crew didn't keep their word and threw the Maoris from the ship without payment and even shot at them wounding three. As the ship left the area for Sydney, Australia they encountered heavy weather and were blown ashore. Those of the crew who did not drown were massacred by the Maoris.

A lighthouse at Cape Brett was proposed in 1896 by the Nautical Advisor, but it still hadn't been erected by 1907 when the Secretary for the Marine pointed out that there was no light between Cape Maria van Diemen and Mokohinau Island and he described Cape Brett as "the most wanted light in the Colony". The Shipmasters' Association, however didn't agree and thought the light should be placed either on the Poor Knights Islands or Cavalli Island. The Marine Department dispatched Captain Bollons aboard the "Hinermoa" and he settled on the Cape Brett site.

Construction began in 1908 and the work was supervised by the Lighthouse Artificer, David Scott. The lighthouse site was situation in a remote area, far from any roads and 400 feet (149m) up a steep hill. First they constructed a landing pad of concrete at the base of the hill and mounted a crane to it. Next a tramway was built to winch the landed materials up to the building site. All the materials were landed by sea and winched up the hill.

The cast iron tower was constructed locally by Thames Iron Works (Judd Engineering) and Cape Brett was also the first of three lighthouses in New Zealand to float the rotating light on a bed of mercury. 13   Previously lights had been supported by wheels. This enabled a heavier and brighter light could turn faster which meant more variation between the flashes at different stations. This new light was visible 20 miles and flashed twice every thirty seconds. Total approx cost of the lighthouse was £11.237 3s 5d. 

The first Head Keeper, Robert McIver and his assistant, Francis Ernest Lee lit the light on February 21, 1910.  

Three identical houses were built for the three keepers and their families and the light was connected to the outside world by telegraph. Supplies for the keepers were delivered by launch every two weeks and hauled up the tramway to the houses. The keepers were also responsible for sending daily weather reports to the New Zealand Meteorological Service.

In 1940 a signal station was established and manned by 2 navel reserves. By March of 1942 the navy had also established a radar station.

Originally a three keeper station, this was reduced to two in 1958 18 / May 1955 4, when the kerosene lamp was converted to diesel powered generators. 

In 1968 1 ,1967 13 , thirty one power poles were erected along the cape to Rawhiti and lighthouse was connected to the national grid. Automation followed in 1978.

The light now shines from a 4 metre high fiberglass tower built in 1978 and is solar powered. 

In 2005, DOC took over the administration of the old lighthouse tower and buildings. 13

During April and May of 2007, the tower's old paint was stripped and new paint applied. Over 60 layers of paint were discovered on the tower. 13

 

POSTAGE STAMPS:

The Cape Brett lighthouse has along with others been featured on New Zealand postal stamps issued by the Government Life Insurance Office. 

The lighthouse featured on the 1947 issue with a value of 1/-. 

The stamps in the series were, Castlepoint  1/2d, Taiaroa Head  1d , Cape Palliser  2d, Cape Campbell  2 1/2d, Eddystone 3d, Stephens Island  4d, The Brothers  6d and Cape Brett  1/-.

On July 10, 1967, the stamps were over printed as New Zealand changed to decimal currency.

The overprinted stamps in the series were,  Taiaroa Head  1 cent , Cape Campbell  2 cents, Eddystone  2 1/2 cents, Stephens Island  3 cents, The Brothers  5 cents and Cape Brett  10 cents.

 

                 

 

   

 

In 2009 the New Zealand Post announced a lighthouse commemorative stamp issue celebrating the 150th anniversary of New Zealand’s lighthouses. A technological first, the stamps have special glue whereas the beams from the lighthouse actually glow in the dark,. This is activated by sunlight or holding the stamp under a light for a short time. The five stamps are in different denominations, ranging from fifty cents to $2.50 and feature Pencarrow Head  50 cents, Dog Island  $1.00, Cape Brett  $1.50, Cape Egmont  $2.00 and Cape Reinga  $2.50.

Stamp Web Sites

http://100megsfree3.com/glaw/lighthouse/

http://stamps.nzpost.co.nz/Cultures/en-NZ/Stamps/StampsHistoricalIssues/1969+-+1965/Government+Life.htm

http://www.newzeal.com/theme/LH/lighthouses.htm

 

Registered with the New Zealand Historical Trust

Register Number: 7799
Date Registered: June 26, 2009

Historic Place  - Category 1 

 

 

DIRECTIONS:

A DOC tramping track begins at Oke Bay (Rawhiti), 26 km from Russell. The track is 20 km and takes about 8 hours. Accommodation is available in one of the original keepers houses and sleeps 12 people. DOC fees apply.

For information pick up Department Of Conservation's leaflet "Bay Of Island Walks". 

Alternately take the Fullers Hole in the Rock cruise. This is what I did and was able to get good views of the light.

 

Island North
Province Northland
Location Bay of Islands
Number K3709
Date Commissioned February 21, 1910  2
Date Decommissioned Original tower replaced in 1978  19
Automated October 6, 1978
Latitude 35° 10' South  19
Longitude 174° 20' East  19
Elevation Above Sea Level 149m       
Height 14m      
Character White light flashes every 30 seconds
Range 29 N. miles (31 km)
Made Thames Iron Works (Judd Engineering)
Construction Cast Iron, contains 3000 1 inch bolts
Converted Kerosene To Diesel 1958
Converted Diesel To Mains Electricity 1968
Wattage
Present Tower Not in use
Authority Owned and operated by Maritime New Zealand  1
Date Visited 8 February, 2000
 

New Tower

Island North
Province Northland
Location Bay of Islands
Number K3709
Date Commissioned Original tower replaced in 1978
Date Decommissioned
Automated October 6, 1978
Latitude 35° 10' South  19
Longitude 174° 20' East  19
Elevation Above Sea Level 142m  19
Height 4m  19
Character 0.3 second white light flashes every 2.5 seconds  19
Range 27 N. miles
Made
Construction Fiberglass tower  19
Wattage
Present Tower Not in use
Authority Owned and operated by Maritime New Zealand  1
Date Visited 8 February, 2000

 

 

Principal Keeper From To
  1st lit, February 21, 1910  13a  
Robert Leatham McIver  13a February 7, 1910  13a November 11, 1912  13a
George William Thwaites  13a November 27, 1912   13a April 15, 1913  13a
Henry Harvey  13a July 14, 1913  13a February 1, 1916  13a
Charles Riesop  13a February 1, 1916  13a December 5, 1916  13a
William Knight Cleverley  13a  284   December 5, 1916  13a February, 1919  13a
Alfred Herbert Sanders  13a February 5, 1919  13a January 18, 1922  13a
Charles Arthur Moeller  13a January, 1922  13a September 18, 1922  13a
Robert Henry Leighton  13a September 18, 1922  13a January 24, 1923  13a
Albert Victor Pearce  13a  January, 1923  13a January, 1925  13a
Robert Stephen Wilson  13a January, 1925  13a February, 1930 13a
George Sinclair  13a February, 1930  13a December, 1933  13a
Percy Edwin White  166  13a November 24, 1933  13a February 2, 1936  13a
Joshua Stuart Roberts  13a February 13, 1936  13a June 17, 1937  13a
Hugh Barbour Jamieson  13a June 17, 1937  13a January 30, 1947  13a
Eric I. Bowley  13a January 30, 1947  13a  May 28, 1947  13a
Jack Shepherd 13a 1947  13a  (promoted from 1st AK)  13a October, 1951  13a
Cecil Olsen February 1, 1952  13a  December 2, 1952  13a 
Thomas Robert (Bob) Welch December 2, 1952  13a  October, 1954  13a 
Ronald Downie November, 1954  13a  March 13, 1957  13a 
James Sutherland (Acting PK)  13a March 13, 1957  13a  December 4, 1957  13a 
James R Smith (Acting PK)  13a July, 1957  13a  July, 1957  13a 
Kenneth Frank Valentine (Acting PK)  13a December 4, 1957  13a  November 18, 1958  13a 
Raymond James Johnson  13a November 18, 1958  13a  July, 1960  13a 
Brian Frederick Mason  13a July, 1960  13a  September 16, 1962  13a 
Ronald Sears  13a September 16, 1962  13a   November 5, 1965  13a 
Peter John Rodda  13a November 19, 1965  13a  April 22, 1969  13a 
Noel Probestal  13a June 13, 1969  13a  September 25, 1978  13a 
F. I. Williams (Acting PK)  13a September 25, 1978  13a  Oct 6 1978  13a 
  Automated and Keeper Withdrawn 1978  13a 

 

Assistant Keeper (1st) From To
1st lit, February 21, 1910
Francis (Frank) Ernest Lee  13a  September 30, 1909  13a July 26, 1912 (resigned)  13a
William Samuel Hill Creamer and Eliza Louisa Creamer 13a   191 July 26, 1912  13a  191 December 31, 1914  13a   
Donald Cameron  13a December 31, 1914  13a  May 29, 1918  13a 
Thomas Cairns 13a May 29, 1918  13a  January 30, 1920  13a 
Douglas James Grindlay 13a January 30, 1920  13a  September 24, 1921
Alfred Walter Young 13a September 24, 1921 January 28, 1924
Oscar D. McFarlane 13a January 29, 1924  13a  (promoted from 2nd AK)  13a 1926  13a
Reginald Shearwood 13a Date unknown  13a        (promoted from 2nd AK)  13a May, 1927  13a
Alfred E. Carter 13a August, 1927  13a  March, 1929  13a
Ernest (EH) Sandley Graham 13a December, 1929  13a ??  13a
H. W. Gausel 13a June 21, 1932  13a     March 22, 1933  13a
Charles E. Grey 13a March 22, 1933  13a November 3, 1937  13a
Fleetwood R. Tennent 13a November 3, 1937  13a November 9, 1940  13a
William Tait 13a November 9, 1940  13a c  March, 1941  13a
Mawhataio Todd 13a March, 1941  13a January, 1944  13a
Ray H. Batemen 13a January, 1944  13a May 1946  13a
Jack Shepherd 13a 1946  13a 1947  13a          (promoted to PK)  13a
N. F. Jennings  13a     May 28, 1947  13a September, 1947  13a
William Joseph Johnson  13a    March, 1947  13a  November 17, 1949  13a
Colin P. Gallop  13a    November 17, 1949  13a January, 1952  13a
A. J. Wareing  13a    September, 1952  13a  May, 1953  13a
James R. J. Smith  13a    June, 1953  13a January, 1954  13a
James Hector Sutherland 13a    (Acting PK)  13a March 13, 1957  13a  December 4, 1957  13a 
Kenneth Frank Valentine 13a      (Acting PK)  13a December 4, 1957  13a  November 18, 1958  13a 
Shepherd 13a c 1959  13a
F. W. Roe 13a June 17, 1961  ??  13a
J. H. Akula 13a April 5, 1962  October 15, 1962  13a
Michael W. Lloyd 13a October 15, 1962  13a February 6, 1964  13a
F. W. Roe 13a February 7, 1964  13a November 19, 1964  13a
I. A. Harris 13a November 19, 1964  13a June, 1965  13a
Bryan M. Richards 13a June, 1964 June 22, 1967  13a
John R. Murray 13a August 07, 1967 November 7, 1969  13a  
Bill Chee 13a November 7, 1969  13a November 6, 1970  13a
Barry Skinner 13a November 6, 1970  13a March 15, 1972  13a
Steve O'Neill 13a March 29, 1972  13a October 16, 1975  13a
Ron Allen 13a October 16, 1975  13a March 14, 78  13a
J. Scapens 13a May 15, 1978  13a August 23, 1978  13a   (Died)
Hill     (Acting AK) August 23, 1978  13a  Oct 6 1978  13a 
Automated and Keeper Withdrawn 1978  13a 

 

Assistant Keeper (2nd) From To
  1st lit, February 21, 1910  
Arthur Weldon Page  13a  22   September 30, 1909  13a October 17, 1913  13a
Albert Victor Pierce  13a    October 19, 1913  13a March, 1916  13a 
Harold McKinna  13a   2  April 01, 1916  13a  September 23, 1919 (resigned)  13a
Charles William Davis  13a September 23, 1919  13a May 24, 1921
Erick Harold Tarlton  13a May 24, 1921  13a February 22, 1923  13a
Oscar D. McFarlane  13a February 20, 1923  13a   January 29, 1924  13a       (promoted to 1st AK)  13a
Reginald Shearwood  13a May 22, 1924  13a Date unknown  13a             (promoted to 1st AK)  13a
Unknown  13a    
Alfred G. Hodge  13a September, 1927  13a December, 1930  13a
W. J. Leighton  13a September, 1930  13a March 6, 1931  13a
Samuel Budd  13a March 6, 1931  13a October, 1932  13a
A. Pullen  13a June 5, 1934  13a February 13, 1936  13a
Charles C. Emmens  13a February 13, 1936  13a April, 1939  13a
Bert Lake February 24, 1939  13a  August 1, 1939  13a
Kenneth Webley  13a August 1, 1939  13a c.  February , 1942  13a
Robert J. Naulls  13a February , 1942  13a December, 1944  13a
     
     
     
     
N. F. Jennings  13a 1946-47  13a  May 28, 1947  13a             (promoted to 1st AK)  13a 
Gillipond  13a June, 1947  13a  1947  13a
L. Carlise  13a March, 1948  13a  ??  13a
     
Rod Daniel McIntosh  13a January, 1952  13a September, 1954.
     
  Reduced to a two keeper station 1958 18 / May 1955 4

 

Sources

Additional Sources:

 

13a. DOC, Cape Brett, Keepers Stories. http://www.doc.govt.nz/publications/conservation/historic/by-region/northland/beacon-of-the-bay-the-cape-brett-lighthouse-settlement-and-its-families/

 

191. William Creamer (Noeline Fairchild (daughter of Charlotte May Creamer, eldest daughter of W & E Creamer), April 7, 2013)

284. Dominion, Volume 10, Issue 3093, 25 May 1917, Page 4

 

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Text and photographs. Copyright © 1999-2013  Mark Phillips. All rights reserved.

If anyone has any information on this light please contact me. thekiwimark@msn.com

Last Updated: December 29, 2008.