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Pencarrow, Old (1859) New (1906)

  

 

 

  

Lighthouse at Pencarrow Head, Wellington.

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mätauraga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

 

Lighthouse at Pencarrow Head, Wellington.

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mätauraga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

 

Petre, F fl 1940s? View of Pencarrow Head, Wellington.

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mätauraga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

 

 

 

The site of New Zealand's first lighthouse Pencarrow Head marks the eastern entrance to Wellington Harbour. Initially in 1841, two wooden markers were built in but these blew away. A make shift beacon was then built and was tended by George Bennett and his wife Mary.

In June 1858 the iron tower arrived from England and was landed on Pencarrow beach then assembled on the cliffs above. Unfortunately by the time it was built George Bennett had drowned in a boating accident (1855) so his wife Mary became New Zealand's first official lighthouse keeper. George White Bennett died June 9, 1855. Buried St Paul's Church, Molesworth Street, Thornton, Wellington.

The light was first lit 1 January 1859.

The first assistant keeper was William Lyall, with his wife Lucy. The Lyalls' came to New Zealand aboard the Mariner in 1849.  Lyall moved in the 1860's to Matiu-Some Island lighthouse. He died on October 11, 1871.  Stepson Robert Buckeridge took over as keeper until his death, September 10, 1874.  nn

William Hendle was transferred to Pencarrow in 1872 from Cape Campbell. He was to tragically lose his wife in April, 1875 when she slipped on the tower stairs and fell to her death. Hendle returned to Cape Campbell in 1878. He died of a heart attack in the lamp house on 30 March, 1881 at the age of 50. His body was transported back to Wellington for burial aboard the lighthouse tender Stella. 100

The light was often shrouded by low fog so a new tower was constructed on the beach in 1906. Originally the tower was a open steel frame but it was incased in concrete and increased in height in the 1930's.

During 1909, the Marine Department who had earlier experimented with incandescent burner systems (Chance Patent) at Pencarrow, Stephens Island and Jack's Point (Timaru) made a decision to install them in other lighthouses.  90

 

Both lights burned together for 30 years until Bearing Head lighthouse was built and lit on June 18, 1935.  Baring Head was the second to last manned lighthouse to be built in New Zealand. It replaced the original Pencarrow lighthouse which was extinguished the same day. 1

In 1959 designated as a historical place. 4

 

Wreak of Devon

The wire hawser along which the crew had made a precarious departure from the vessel the day after she struck underneath the Pencarrow lighthouse, was still in position stretched from the mast to the pinnacle of a rock on shore. The trouble was that none of the salvage men aboard knew properly how to handle the tackle. The cabins having become untenable on account of the deluge of the salt sea waves the men transferred their quarters to the fo'castle. Once more they were driven from home and moved into the paint house, where they fared a little better. To get ashore was the thing, however, and after further deliberations Hughes decided to entrust his life to the contrivance known as the "bosun's chair," which offered the only means of reaching the land. Meanwhile a signal of distress had been hoisted and fluttered an appeal for aid to the keepers of the light on the headland, and it was not long before Mr. J. F. Raynor, the principal keeper, and Mr. F. Sandager, made their way down from the lighthouse to the beach to lend a helping hand. WASHED BY THE WAVES. The line sagged uninvitingly in the middle, and gave promise of a very unenviable journey. Hughes climbed into the chair, and those on shore commenced to pull him in. After several yards had been traversed the line attached to the chair fouled something and there was a hold-up. Hughes -was still well above the water, and, so far, had not been enveloped by the waves. A long pull and a strong pull and the chair resumed its journey. Then came another hitch 'ivhere the line sagged most. Seas broke over the chair and drenched its occupant to the akin. For a quarter of an hour be was forced to remain, clasping the chair tightly for dear life, and then ha was hauled safely to his destination. He v*au followed by A. Lockhart and J. Affleck, who were landed numb with ths cold and oozing moisture. By this time Mr. W. N. Edmonds, the assistant lighthouse keeper, and Mr. R. H. Abraham, school teacher* had joined the shorn party, and gave assistance.

Evening Post, Volume LXXXVI, Issue 89, 11 October 1913, Page 6

 

 

POSTAGE STAMPS:

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.

DIRECTIONS:

The light is viewable from the Cook Strait ferry.

From Wellington drive east to Petone, then drive south around the bay to the end of the road at Burdens Gate. There is a walking track to the light (3 hours 30 minutes return). The drive from Petone is about 14 km.

Details.

Original Tower:

Island North
Province Wellington
Location Wellington Heads
Number
Date Commissioned January 1, 1859
Date Decommissioned 1935
Automated
Latitude
Longitude
Elevation Above Sea Level 98m
Height 10m
Character
Range
Made England
Construction Cast iron
Converted Kerosene To Diesel
Converted Diesel To Mains Electricity
Wattage
Present Tower Not in use
Date Visited 21 January, 2000
 

New Tower:

Island North
Province Wellington
Location Wellington Heads
Number K4006
Date Commissioned 1906
Date Decommissioned
Automated 1960
Latitude 41° 22' South
Longitude 174° 51' East
Elevation Above Sea Level 18m
Height 17m
Character Flashes 3 times, white and red sectors every 12 seconds
Range (White) 12-16 N. miles. (Red) 10-13 N. miles
Made
Construction Steel frame later incased in concrete, white
Converted Kerosene To Diesel
Converted Diesel To Mains Electricity
Wattage
Present Tower Original
Authority
Date Visited 21 January, 2000

 

Principal Keeper From To
  1st lit, January 1, 1859  
George White Bennett   June 9, 1855
Mary Bennett June, 1855
 
James William Johnson  22 1875  22  
 
Martin Nelson  22 July 27, 1882  22 September 13, 1882  22
 
Alexander Connell  211               (c 1886)  211
 
Richard Tregurtha  190 c. January, 1896  178 August, 1897  109
 
Edward Morris Parks  22 November 26, 1909  22
 
John Frederick Rayner  80  81 December, 1912  80  81 August, 1915  80  81
     
Robert Stephen Wilson  13a c 1932  13a  
     
     

 

 

Assistant Keeper (1st) From To
  1st lit, January 1, 1859  
William Lyall  203 1859  203 1866  13
R. B. Haylittle  22 March 8, 1866  22 April 30, 1867     (Resigned)  22
Norman Simpson    (Probationary Keeper)  197 July 1, 1867  197 April, 1870  197
     
William Hendle  100  22 March 24, 1872  22 1878  22  100
     
William Hebden Bennett  80 November, 1880  80 January, 1885  80
 
David Partington  22   (Probationary Keeper)  22 September 21, 1882  22  October 26, 1882  22 
 
George William Thwaites  22 October 31, 1902   22
 
 

 

 

Sources

Additional Sources:

100Friends of Mana Island  http://www.manaisland.org.nz/index.htm David Cormick Lighthouse Keepers on Mana Island  

90Otago Witness, February 17th, 1909.

109.

80http://www.angelfire.com/ga3/gretasplace/Resources/Lighthouse/Stopforth.html

81http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nzbound/rayner.htm

Evening Post, Volume CXIII, Issue 49, 27 February 1932, Page 10

13aDOC. Cape Brett, Keepers Stories

178.  Evening Post, Volume LI, Issue 12, 15 January 1896, Page 2

197. Norman Simpson (Gayle Dickison, Nov 4 2011)

203. William Lyall (Linnette Horne, December 31, 2009)

190.  Richard Tregurtha ( Annette MacDonald, April 9, 2009)

211. Daily Telegraph , Issue 4760, 8 November 1886, Page 2

 

Evening Post, Volume CXIX, Issue 131, 5 June 1935, Page 10

 

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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 27, 2009