Lighthouses of The Gambia

The Gambia, or more precisely the Republic of The Gambia, is a small nation of West Africa straddling the River Gambia. Banjul, at the mouth of the river, is the capital and the only major port. A former British colony independent since 1965, The Gambia is surrounded by the larger nation of Senegal.

British slave merchants had outposts on the Gambia River as early as 1588, and the country was the point of departure for perhaps a million slaves before the trade was ended.

The British did not build any traditional lighthouses in the colony, but there are several modern lights.

Navigational lights in The Gambia are maintained by the Gambia Ports Authority.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. Admiralty numbers are from volume D of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA List numbers are from Publication 113.

General Sources
World of Lighthouses - Gambia
Photos by various photographers available from Lightphotos.net.
Online List of Lights - The Gambia
Photos by various photographers posted by Alexander Trabas.

 

Barra Point Light
Barra Point Light, Fort Bullen
The Gambia National Centre for Arts and Culture photo

Lighthouses
* Cape St. Mary (2)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 43 m (141 ft); two white flashes every 10 s. Approx. 13 m (43 ft) square skeletal mast centered on a concrete platform supported by four robust concrete piles. Reto Müller's photo is at right, and Google has a satellite view. The Admiralty and NGA say the light is on a water tower, but the photo proves that it was moved to this platform in front of the water tower. As a result, the focal plane may be less than the listed value. Cape St. Mary is a bluff about 3 km (2 mi) southwest of the entrance to the River Gambia. Located facing the Atlantic Ocean in the Fajara neighborhood, about 4 km (2.5 mi) southwest of the cape. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty D3021; NGA 24452.
* Banjul Point
Date unknown (probably recent). Active; focal plane 27 m (89 ft); white light, 4 s on, 4 s off. NGA describes the lighthouse as a "metal framework tower." No photo available, and the location of the light is uncertain. The listed location is in or near the Banjul's famous Albert Market, but Bing's satellite view does not show a tower there. Google's satellite view places the light about 200 m (1/8 mi) to the northwest. A chart seems to support the Albert Market location. Banjul is built on a peninsula forming the south side of the River Gambia entrance, with the harbor sheltered on the south side. Located at the east end of the peninsula. Site probably open, tower closed. Admiralty D3027.5; NGA 24465.
* [Fort James Island, Kunta Kinteh Island]
Date unknown. Reactivated; 8 m (26 ft); white flash every 14.5 s. Approx. 5 m (17 ft) square skeletal tower, painted white. This light is back on the Admiralty list, although a closeup photo (a little over halfway down the page) and a second photo show that the lamp had been removed from the tower. Bing has a satellite view of the island and fort. Fort James is a slave traders' fort, first built by German merchants in 1651 and captured by the British in 1661. Abandoned with the end of the slave trade in 1779, the ruined fort is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 2011 the island was renamed for Kunta Kinteh, a Gambian portrayed in the popular U.S. television series Roots as an ancestor of the author Alex Haley. Erosion is eating away at the island and the ruins. Located on a small island in the River Gambia about 30 km (19 mi) from the sea and 3 km (2 mi) southeast of Albreda. Accessible only by boat; tours are available from Banjul. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS GAM-002; Admiralty D3030; NGA 24468.
* Barra Point (Fort Bullen) (2)
Date unknown (station established 1863). Active; focal plane 18 m (59 ft); three quick red flashes every 15 s. Approx. 14 m (46 ft) square skeletal tower mounted on the northwestern rampart of Fort Bullen. A photo appears at the top of this page, another photo is available, Liz MacKenzie-Barrett has a view from the river, and Google has a satellite view. Built by Britain in 1826, Fort Bullen is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A light was displayed from a flagpole of the port beginning in 1863, but it is not known how long this light was maintained. The present light appears to be of modern origin. Located on Barra Point, the north side of the entrance to the River Gambia, opposite Banjul. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS GAM-001; Admiralty D3027; NGA 24464.
Cape St. Mary Light
Cape St. Mary Light, Fajara, February 2013
contributed photo copyright Reto Müller; used by permission

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining page: Senegal

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Posted October 10, 2008. Checked and revised February 14, 2018. Lighthouses: 3. Site copyright 2018 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.