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1. From Ancient Times To Electrification

As an island nation, we within the UK are used to seeing lighthouses round our coasts, but have you ever ever stopped to contemplate after they were first built and the way they worked in these early days.

The purpose of lighthouses is obviously to mark harmful coastlines, rocks and reefs and to aid navigation, especially at night time or in misty situations.

Historic instances
The primary recognized warnings made to boats of hazardous rocks and shores, have been fires, set at the sting of the water, however it was in Egypt that we first heard of precise constructions being built, which used mild to guide ships.

The Lighthouse of Alexandria
Constructed on the island of Pharos, the lighthouse was commissioned by Ptolemy in 290 B.C. It took 20 years to construct, and turned homes for sale stone island fl the tallest building in existence, except for the great Pyramid, standing at between 450 and 600 ft in top, and was recognised as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

It is thought to have cost around the equivalent of three million dollars or £2.Eight million. Its design was nothing like the slim structures we’re familiar with immediately. It consisted of three stages, the primary being in the form of a massive field built on a 20 foot excessive stone platform. On prime of this was an eight sided tower, followed by a cylinder that prolonged to an open cupola where the fire burned to provide the sunshine. On its roof was a big statue, thought to be of the sea god Poseidon. The fire’s mild was believed to have been projected into a beam by the use of a big curved mirror, most likely product of polished bronze. It was said that ships could detect its alerts as much as a hundred miles away, the sunshine from the tower by night time, and the smoke from the hearth by day. This declare however seems a little bit extreme.

The lighthouse turned so well-known that the name “pharos” became the basis of the phrase “lighthouse” in lots of languages. It stood for over 1,500 years, surviving a tsunami in 365 Ad, but earth tremors resulted in cracks forming within the structure which needed restoration. Then, a significant earthquake in the region, in the 14th century, induced such severe injury that the structure ultimately collapsed.

Other early lighthouses
In medieval instances the Iranians apparently erected massive minaret towers within the mouth of the Persian Gulf to help navigation. In China, the medieval mosque at Canton also had a minaret serving as a lighthouse, and in 1165 a pagoda recognized as the Liuhe Pagoda, was built in Hangzhou and acted as a lighthouse for sailors in the Qiantang River.

One of the oldest working lighthouses in Europe is Hook Lighthouse, constructed at Hook Head in County Wexford, Eire in 13th century and inbuilt circular design. Two lighthouses, known as the Pharos, had been constructed at Dover (UK) quickly after the Roman conquest of Britain. They were constructed on two heights (the Japanese and the Western). The one on the Eastern Peak nonetheless stands within the grounds of Dover Castle.

One other famous early Roman lighthouse is the Tower of Hercules, most likely built in the first century, on a peninsula at A Coruna in north-west Spain. It was originally recognized as the “Farum Brigantium”, the Latin phrase farum being derived from the Greek pharos.

The light was initially produced utilizing a wooden fired system situated on the summit platform, however the lighthouse was abandoned after the Viking Invasions of 854-56. It was restored in the 14th century when the city turned one of many kingdom’s largest ports, and by the 17th century it had been fitted with a dome shaped lantern. More restoration was accomplished in the early 18th century, and in 1847, a system utilizing Fresnel lenses (see later) was put in. It was electrified in 1926, with a beam visible for up to 32 nautical miles and is the oldest Roman lighthouse in use right now.

Mild sources
Some early lighthouses used wick lamps as a gentle supply and infrequently the beam could solely travel a couple of miles. The Argand hollow wick lamp and parabolic reflector had been developed in Europe round 1781, whereas within the USA, whale oil was used with wicks until the Argand system was launched round 1810,which was then later replaced with Colza oil (just like rapeseed oil), lard oil after which Kerosene.

The Fresnel lens
In 1822 a Frenchman, named Augustin Fresnel, came upon how to increase the light intensity using prisms, and the first Fresnel lens was installed in 1822 within the Cordouan lighthouse within the mouth of the Gironde estuary. This light could be seen from 20 miles or 32 km away. By the 1860s, low-mild-loss Fresnel lenses, much larger than the unique ones, have been in use in lighthouses around Britain and France, their homes for sale stone island fl use shortly extending to Italy and additional afield to Australia and America.

To create the flashing impact, designers needed to come up with a way of creating the lens revolve. This was achieved using a rotating stand with a clockwork mechanism with descending weights on cables. The keeper periodically cranked up the burden to the highest of the lighthouse and as it descended, the lens revolved. The flashing impact was achieved each time a segment of the rotating lens handed between the lamp and the observer. The speed of rotation decided the frequency of the flash and made it attainable for each lighthouse to have its own recognisable pattern.

The appearance of electricity
Across the turn of the 20th century, acetylene gasoline (electricity and carbide) began replacing kerosene, and round 1910 many lighthouses started utilizing the clever gadget referred to as the Dalen Solar Valve, invented by the Swede, Gustav Dalen. The valve opened and closed the gasoline supply to the lamp in response to how much sunlight it obtained, so the lights could be turned on mechanically at dusk and off at daybreak. Dalen also discovered the best way to retailer the gasoline in tanks and to interrupt its movement, causing the light to flash. Dalen’s inventions resulted in savings in gasoline and upkeep, as the lamps solely needed servicing twice a year.

As electricity became accessible, the clockwork mechanisms in the lighthouses were replaced by electric motors, with 100W bulbs providing the light source, and electronically operated fog alerts have been added. With all this electrification and automation, lighthouse keepers have been sadly out of date and from the 1980 they became superfluous to necessities. The final lighthouse in the UK to be automated was North Foreland in Kent, in 1998.

At the moment
Many Fresnel lenses have been changed by rotating aerodrome beacons which require less maintenance. The system of rotating lenses has in some cases been replaced by a high depth gentle that emits quick flashes, much like the obstruction lights used to warn aircraft of tall buildings.

Recent innovations embrace Vega Lights, (lighthouse beacons providing a spread of as much as 22 nautical miles with a one hundred Watt lamp). They can operate in distant, photo voltaic-powered places, on unattended websites, and require maintenance solely as soon as a 12 months. There are in the area of 600 of these in operation world wide.

Technology strikes on, and as new improvements comparable to GPS make navigation easier and safer, it may be tempting to assume that lighthouses have had their day.

Personally I’d favor to have a dependable backup to my GPS, and there’s nothing so comforting in your first ever evening watch underneath sail, than to see the beam of a lighthouse shining by way of the darkness, to rely the flashes and know that you’re where you have to be.

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