Hurricane fabian Lens Repair
Lens at Gibbs Hill Lighthouse after Hurricane Fabian 2004

A beacon of light after Hurricane Fabian’s darkness

A beacon of light after hurricane Fabian’s darkness

By Karen Smith – The Royal Gazette

The historic Gibbs Hill Lighthouse is back up and running – albeit temporarily – after suffering severe damage in Hurricane Fabian.

The familiar glare of the Southampton lighthouse could be seen across the West End of the Island from 8.30 p.m. on Sunday after more than three weeks of darkness when Hurricane Fabian hit.
However, instead of the rotating halogen light formerly used to navigate ships away from the Bermuda shoreline, four bulbs have been fitted to each side of the tower, which light up simultaneously to give off the same effect.

A spokesman for Harbour Radio said the makeshift warning lights were only a temporary measure while a full assessment of the lighthouse was carried out and new parts ordered, but he said they still had a 25-mile range, as did the previous system.

However, the spokesman said it was likely that Bermuda would use this opportunity to totally overhaul the lighthouse and install more modern technology, getting away from the old mercury system of the past. Until now, the light has sat in mercury, which enabled it to rotate in the tower.

But, in severe weather storms, the mercury had a tendency to spill, causing a health risk and a problem, as it did in the recent category three hurricane to hit the Island.
“The lighthouse is working again, but the long-term repair is going to take some considerable time,” said the Harbour Radio officer.
“A lot of parts are needed, but they won’t use mercury in the new equipment.

“If they have to have it replaced, they will go with a modern type of technology. “But it’s a big job and it does need a considerable amount of parts, so as a temporary measure they have arranged to have these four bulbs working, instead.”

Community activist W.A. (Toppy) Cowen

Community activist W.A. (Toppy) Cowen, who comes from eight generations of lighthouse keepers in Southampton, said he was concerned that the lighthouse would be left to rot further. He urged Government to restore the beacon to its former glory.
“The lighthouse is in a deplorable state and I would like to see it restored and cleaned up to how it used to be,” said Mr. Cowen.

“There are so many places in North America where they are restoring lighthouses, but we don’t seem to have done anything for ours over the years.
“More should have been done in the past to take care of it. It dates back to 1846 and it is an important part of the Island’s history – it attracts a lot of visitors. I want to see it back to the way it used to be.”

“There are so many places in North America where they are restoring lighthouses, but we don’t seem to have done anything for ours over the years.
“More should have been done in the past to take care of it. It dates back to 1846 and it is an important part of the Island’s history – it attracts a lot of visitors. I want to see it back to the way it used to be.”

Director designate of Marine and Ports Francis Richardson

But director designate of Marine and Ports Francis Richardson said a full restoration was planned.
He said the temporary measure had involved mounting electrically-fed lights onto the external railings to replace the halogen lamps until the whole restoration process was complete.
He said each of the four new lights would give a signal every ten seconds, each time glaring for three seconds and then remaining off for seven seconds. Giving the same character as the original rotating light.

However, he said no exact date for the completion of the repairs could be determined at this point.
Mr. Richardson said: “I want to take this opportunity to assure the Bermudian public that we are assessing all aspects of the restoration process and ensure that the repairs are completed in a timely fashion.

“We are very keen to see that this historical Bermudian attraction is restored in such a way that it is structurally and mechanically sound for many more years to come.”