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
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.
Leuchttürme auf historischen Postkarten
- Historic postcard images posted by Klaus Huelse.
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 Google 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;
- * 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. 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, Freetown, February 2011
photo copyright Reto Müller; used by permission
"Temporary" Cape Sierra Leone Light, Freetown, 2004
photo copyright David Vaucher; used by permission