The cheerful red and white candy-striped, 16m high, Green Point Lighthouse in Cape Town, affectionately known as Moaning Minnie because of its low-pitched fog horn (set to emit a bass note for 3 seconds on the half-minute during heavy mists), was the first solid lighthouse structure on South Africa’s coast and first beamed its light across the Cape of Storms on 12 April 1824.

Candlepower 850 000 C.D.
Character of Light One flash every 10 seconds
Installation Date 12 April 1824
Range 25 sea miles
Structure 16 metre square masonry tower, white with diagonal red bands & a yellow dome
Type of Light Revolving electric
Other features Nautophone fog signal. Mains supply within a standby diesel/alternator set

As recently as somewhere in the 1970s, a Green Point light-keeper received a telephonic death threat from a furious resident because of the noise.

The job of the Green Point Lighthouse was to act as a night beacon for vessels sailing into Table Bay but nevertheless the area still had its share of shipwrecks.

Designed and built by a German stone-dresser and architect, Herman Schutte, it was commissioned by the acting governor of the Cape, Sir Rufane Donkin, and building started in 1821.

Green Point Lighthouse is the oldest working lighthouse in South Africa and started using single wick Argand lamps, fuelled by sperm whale oil. The weak rays could only be seen from 6 nautical miles out to sea and so in 1922 the lantern was upgraded with a flashing 3rd order dioptic lens that could be spotted at 25 nautical miles out to sea.

Today, the sound of the foghorn, modified in volume, blends in well with the dense and reasonably noisy Cape Town urban setting and would be sorely missed if it had to be discontinued one day.

Take a self-guided tour of the lighthouse, including an ascent to the tower.

Open

Mondays to Fridays 10h00 to 15h00. There is an entrance fee.

Many locals mistakenly refer to the Green Point lighthouse as the Mouille Point lighthouse. There was indeed a Mouille Point lighthouse – built in 1842 – but it was dismantled sometime in the 1920s.

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