Lighthouses of Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone, a former British colony, is located between Guinea and Liberia on Africa's west coast. Freetown is the capital and the only commercial port. Independent since 1961, the country was torn by a decade-long civil war in the 1990s. Following an end to the fighting in 2002, a UN peacekeeping force helped bring some stability to the country. Port facilities were mostly destroyed during the war, but they are being restored with help from the World Bank and other international agencies.

Navigational lights in Sierra Leone are the responsibility of the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration. We need current information on the status of the country's signature lighthouse.

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 Lighhouses - Sierra Leone
Photos available from Lightphotos.net.
Afrikanische Leuchttürme auf historischen Postkarten
Historic postcard images posted by Klaus Huelse.
Lighthouses
* Cape Sierra Leone (1)
1849. Partly reactivated in 2010 (inactive since about 1980); focal plane 19 m (62 ft); one long (2 s) white flash every 15 s (not in service in 2011); also a continuous red light, visible over shoals to the southwest. 21 m (69 ft) round masonry tower with lantern and gallery, painted white. It is not known when the lighthouse ceased operation, but a 1983 chart shows a 24 m focal plane. The lighthouse has been abandoned and deteriorating for many years. Its light was replaced by a "temporary" light on a nearby water tower. David Vaucher's 2004 photo showed scaffolding around the tower and solar panels on the gallery, but Vaucher reported the light was not on in 2005. When Reto Müller visited in February 2011, there was no lens in the lantern and the main light was not working, but the red light was in service and two keepers were on duty. Müller's photo is at right, Frank-Andreas Lönnig has a November 2010 photo, Anders Raaf has a 2008 photo, T.K. Biggs has a distant 2001 photo, Lightphotos.net has two photos, Miles Snowdon has a photo taken in 1973-74, and Bing has a satellite view. Also, Huelse has a postcard view, and the lighthouse was featured on a 1950s postage stamp (also posted by Huelse). Built by Chance Brothers, this historic lighthouse is one of West Africa's oldest lights. Reactivation of the tower was announced in the Admiralty Notices to Mariners in April 2010. Located at the point of the cape, on the south side of the entrance to the harbor of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. Accessible by road from Freetown or on foot from nearby resort hotels. Site apparently open, tower presumably closed. Operator: Sierra Leone Maritime Administration. ARLHS SIE-001; Admiralty D3098; NGA 113-24656.
* Cape Sierra Leone (2)
Around 1980. Inactive (?); focal plane 24 m; continuous white light. Approx. 22 m (72 ft) cylindrical water tower with a large square tank at the top. David Vaucher's photo is at right, and Bing has a satellite view. In the absence of the main light, the water tower served and may still serve as a temporary beacon for ships entering the Sierra Leone River, displaying a continuous red light. Located 460 m (0.3 mi) south of the original lighthouse. Site apparently open, tower closed.

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Cape Sierra Leone Light
Cape Sierra Leone Light, Freetown, February 2011
photo copyright Reto Müller; used by permission


"Temporary" Cape Sierra Leone Light, Freetown, 2004
photo copyright David Vaucher; used by permission

Adjoining pages: North: Guinea | South: Liberia

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Posted September 5, 2005. Checked and revised December 6, 2014. Lighthouses: 2. Site copyright 2014 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.