Thursday, May 30, 2024

Former lighthouse engineer reignites ‘heart’ of Coffs Harbour

City of Coffs Harbour Council has welcomed the return of the historic South Solitary Island Lighthouse Optic at the Coffs Harbour Jetty Foreshores, which was lit up overnight.

Mayor, Paul Amos said the light’s new home inside a special enclosure at the entrance to the jetty pier was the perfect location for the heritage optic.

“This is the perfect place for this light as it continues to be a meeting place,” he said.

“To many people it’s the heart of our community.” 

The Mayor said it had been a painstaking and extraordinary conservation effort to make the light operational again after it was decommissioned in 1975 and transported from the island to the mainland. 

The light was made by Chance Brothers in Smethwick, England and is the only complete First Order eight panel lens in Australia, and one of four supplied to Australia.

The glass used – Crown glass – was a combination of French sand, lime, carbonate of soda, nitrate of soda and arsenic. When first produced the glass would have been clear, but exposure to ultraviolet light in combination with the trace elements have caused it to yellow over the years. 

Former regional lighthouse engineer, Jack Duvoisin, gave the order to relight the optic – 144 years to the day when he turned it off on the island as the lighthouse station became fully automated. 

“This is one of the finest displays of light piece equipment anywhere in Australia,” the former lighthouse regional engineer told the crowd. 

The project to return the light to working order and have it on public display was made possible with funding from Council and the NSW Government.

“It’s (the light) been largely asleep for the past 49 years,” Mr Duvoisin said. 

Council Events, Sport and Cultural Services Group Leader, Karlene McKeown said the optic held pride of place for the community. 

“It’s an incredibly significant part of the Yarrila Arts and Museum Collection,” Ms McKeown said. 

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