Bermuda truly has so many beautiful sites to see, one the most popular being Gibb’s Hill Lighthouse. This is the taller of the two lighthouses located in Bermuda, the other being the St. David’s Lighthouse. Gibb’s Hill Lighthouse is located in Southampton Parish on Gibb’s Hill which is 245 feet high. The lighthouse itself is 117 feet from base to light with a 185-step spiral staircase to the top and 8 platforms along the way where you can rest if need be. Within the lighthouse there are various mini exhibits along the platforms that describe the construction of the tower and Bermuda’s history. At its height it is the best place to go for a 360 panoramic view of the island.
As Bermuda is surrounded by treacherous coral reefs, shipwrecks were a very common thing and in the decade before the creation of the lighthouse there had been 39 wrecks in the west end. This specific area of the island has coral reefs unbeknownst to sailors that extend at least 16 miles out to sea. The numerous shipwrecks led to the decision of implementing a lighthouse as a way to warn seafarers. The construction of the lighthouse began in 1844 in England and continued in Bermuda. As steel was not available in Bermuda it was made of cast iron and is now one of the few remaining cast iron lighthouses in the world. It was completed and lit for the first time on May 1, 1846. After its creation, the lighthouse was not only used as a safety precaution for sailors but also as a tourist attraction. In 1985, 60,000 people climbed to the top and it continues to be a popular attraction. The most notable visitor is Queen Elizabeth II herself in 1953 shortly after her coronation. A bronze plate was added on the roadside where she stopped to gaze at the scenery of the Great Sound. The location is now called the ‘Queen’s View.’
The original light was a concentrated burner of four circular wicks. Over the years it has since been replaced numerous times as technology advanced. In 1904 it was replaced with a five-wick burner using a gals chimney, in 1923 it was replaced with a kerosene burner and finally in 1952 it was replaced by the invention of electricity. It is now powered by a 1000-watt light bulb and is surrounded by a series of concentric prisms with a lens revolving around the bulb. The lens originally contained 1,200 pounds of mercury and weighed 2 and ¾ tons. It was replaced in 2004 with a mercury free system after Hurricane Fabian which caused an extensive mercury spill. The current lens being used completes a revolution around the light once every 50 seconds with a flash every 2 seconds every 10 second interval. The lens itself is capable of building a light up to half a million candle power. The light runs 362 feet above sea level and can be seen by ships 40 miles away. The flash can be seen by planes at 10,000 feet up to 120 miles away.
The lighthouse was originally run by the British Army. After there were various lighthouse keepers for generations that ran the property until it began beginning operated electronically. It is now maintained by the Government’s Marine and Ports Department. The former lighthouse keepers’ cottage has since been turned into a small restaurant called the Dining Room and there is a gift shop as well for tourist to pick up landmark mementos.
For those who want to truly see Bermuda, this would be the best place to start. With its jaw-dropping 360 panoramic views of the island this is definitely not a site to be missed.
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