Situated at the southeast of Hong Kong Island, Cape D'Aguilar Lighthouse, being the first of its kind built in Hong Kong, was put into service on 16 April 1875.
For centuries Hong Kong owed its prosperity to trade. Its harbour was a regular port of call even before 1841. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 gave a further impetus to the growth of trade in Hong Kong. During the pre-war years, it was known that seven lighthouses, not including the Gap Rock Lighthouse, were constructed within Hong Kong waters.
In 1867, Commander Reed, a naval surveyor was instructed to investigate suitable locations for lighthouses to cover the port approaches. He proposed Waglan Island and Gap Rock which was a small island to the south of Hong Kong Island on the route to Singapore. However, as neither of them were within the then Hong Kong waters, the proposal was not further pursued.
As reported by the Harbour Master, H.G. Thomsett in March 1873, the second-best sites, all within the jurisdiction of Hong Kong, were considered to be Cape D'Aguilar, Green Island and Cape Collinson, as lighthouses in these places would cover the eastern entrance and the western entrance to Hong Kong. Construction work of Cape D'Aguilar Lighthouse was then commenced immediately.
The illuminating apparatus of Cape D'Aguilar Lighthouse is fixed dioptric of the First Order showing a white light. The focal plane of the light is 200 feet above mean sea level, and in clear weather it should be seen at a distance of 23 nautical miles. The existing structure is a round stone tower, 9.7 metres high and white in colour. The tower base, the arched doorway and the circular staircase are of fine masonry. The door is made of iron with geometric decoration on top.
When Waglan Island Lighthouse came into operation in 1893, Cape D'Aguilar Lighthouse became superfluous, and was discontinued in 1896. According to the Sessional Papers of 1901, 1905 and 1906, the light on Green Island was only a Fourth Order one. It was then decided to replace it by the disused First Order light of Cape D'Aguilar. The lantern at the top was removed and together with the light apparatus were transferred to Green Island in 1905. It was not until 1975 that the lantern of Cape D'Aguilar Lighthouse was re-lit and automated.
Cape D'Aguilar Lighthouse had once played an important role in the maritime history of Hong Kong. At present, there are only five pre-war lighthouses still survived. Two of the five lighthouses are on Green Island while the other three are at Cape D'Aguilar, Waglan Island and Tang Lung Chau respectively. Waglan Lighthouse and Tang Lung Chau Lighthouse were declared as historical buildings in 2000.
Cape D’Aguilar Lighthouse was declared a monument in 2006.
Images: Left and Right both by Starcopter, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Article: News Archives of the Antiquities and Monuments Office, LCSD