The original Bluff Lighthouse, constructed in 1867, was the first lighthouse built on the East Coast of Africa. It was demolished in 1941 making way for the erection of two lighthouses to serve the area. Cooper Lighthouse was erected at Brighton Beach and Umhlanga Rocks Lighthouse at Umhlanga. Cooper Lighthouse was ready for use in 1953.
Cooper Lighthouse flashes its light every 10 seconds and has a range of over 40 kms. Fortunately there is shielding on the inland side of the light, so the neighbours are able to get a good night’s sleep.
Cooper Lighthouse and Umhlanga Rocks Lighthouse are almost identical except for the colour of the towers and their distinctive lights.
The height of a lighthouse is determined by the curvature of the earth – taller lighthouses are built on low lying land and shorter lighthouses on cliffs. Cooper Lighthouse is 26 metres tall.
The lighthouse was named after Harry Claude Cooper, lighthouse engineer, who designed and built most of the KZN lighthouses. It is unusual to name a lighthouse after a person as they are generally named after geographical points.
“Inside my empty bottle I was constructing a lighthouse
while all the others were making ships.”