The first light we saw at Skagen in Denmark was actually a replica. But none the less it is a fascinating thing to see this traditional type of light known as a vippefyr or swathe light.
The Danish Postal Authority issued a stamp with this Vipefyr for the 400th anniversary of the lighthouse service in 1960.
reconstruction stands on a little hill, just like the original and the locals
think it looks just like the one from 1627. Originally the basket was filled
with wood, which was lit and burned the whole night
Often the wooden construction of the swape was cause
for concern, as the wood fire shot up flames high in the air. Later coal was
used, because the flames were not so high.
course these lights were a great help for shipping in
those days, but the range of lights required improvement, and many locations were tried
out, until the White Lighthouse was built.
is not a coincidence that this lighthouse looks so pretty. We have to thank a
great Danish architect. Philip de Lange drew the design – he is, amongst
others, responsible for the Castle Amalienburg. Today the tower is amongst the
10 Danish towers, which are historically listed buildings
1746 de Lange signed a contract with the then King Christian VI, for the
building of a round tower with 6 levels. Originally the tower was red and only
at the beginning of the 18th Century was, is whitewashed. The light
was first lit on 14th October 1747. The original drawing of the tower
is displayed in the Fire-Hall of the Orlog Museum in Copenhagen.
new tower was not well liked by the local population, since they made a living
from plundering stranded ships. In 1816 the upper level of the lighthouse was
changed and raised. It became the first light station to have the coal fire
under cover and so protected from the strong winds.
tower, with its height of 19 meters, was the first lighthouse in Denmark. It was
built for the sum of 5,000 Reichstaler, which was a princely sum in those days.
The light was visible for 40 kilometres, but sadly it used about three times the
amount of coal the old vipefyr, with its range of 10 km, consumed.
until 1935 was the tower equipped with parabolic mirrors and now could compete
with the big fires abroad. The fuel was changed from coal to rape oil, which was
much more economical and saved a lot of time. Trouble was, the range was reduced to 25 kilometres.
November 1858 the light was replaced. But the tower was still used as a day mark
by fixing round seamarks to it, for the ships to use as an orientation marker.
In 1860 the original tower was raised to the ground and only 100 years later
rebuilt in its current shape. The “headless” tower is used for local
exhibitions and with its pleasing looks is an asset for the surrounding area.
Latitude: 57 Deg 43.3 Min N
Longitude: 10 Deg 36.5 Min E
Height of tower: 46 meters
Character: F W
Range: 23 M
successor of the “White Lighthouse”, with a better location, is the “Grey
Lighthouse” who’s official name was just Skagen Light. The architect
Professor Niels Sigfred Nelbong (1806 – 1871) was responsible for the way this
tower looks. He was a well-known builder of lighthouses, and we can thank him
for some of the prettiest Danish lighthouses like Sejeroe, Vesborg, Roesnaes,
Hjelm, Hirtshals und Hesseloe and also one of the most ugly, like Romsoe.
started to design the tower in 1851. The building work itself started in 1854
and took 4 years, which was because the building materials had to be transported
by land to Skagen, because there was no harbour yet. On the 1st of
November 1858 the tower was first lit. It has the name of King Fredrik VII in
the wall. The first years the tower had a fixed light, until a rotating lighting
apparatus replaced it in 1905. With a height of 46 meters it was Denmark’s
highest tower until 1962. On the bottom the diameter of the tower is 9 m and at
the top 6 meters. There are 210 steps to the gallery. The tower is open to the
public and you have a great view over the towns of Grenen and Skagen. Together
with its predecessor, the white tower, the grey tower forms a nice scene.
The information for all three of these great lights largely comes from a book called “Danmarks Fyrtårne og fyrskibe” by Ove Hermansen and we are grateful to Iris for the help in translating the Danish text.
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