Europa Point

36 06'.67 N 05 20'.62 W

Image of Europa Point

Europa Point Lighthouse


Europa Point Lighthouse stands at the southern most point of Gibraltar. Situated at the gateway between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean it serves as a landfall and waypoint for vessels passing through the Strait. Responsibility for the lighthouse was vested in Trinity House by an Act of Parliament of 1838 and under the Merchant Shipping Act 1894 the Corporation became the General Lighthouse Authority for Gibraltar.

Europa Point was first lit in 1841 and initially a fixed light was exhibited by a single wick oil lamp augmented by a dioptric fixed lens and catoptric mirrors. In 1864 an improved light was exhibited, a Chance Brothers four wick burner with new lens and a red arc incorporated to cover the Pearl Rock, a dangerous group of pinnacle rocks on the western side of the entrance to Gibraltar Bay. In 1875 the light was improved again with a four wick mineral oil burner installed.

In 1894 the power of the light was increased with a Douglas eight wick burner and the character changed from fixed to occulting. A new lantern was fitted with the power of the new light being 35,000 candela. An explosive fog signal was also installed at this time with a character of two reports in quick succession every 5 minutes. In 1905 a new light source was installed, a three incandescent mantle burner. This was replaced by the Hood petroleum vapour burner with single mantle in 1923.

Extensive structural alterations were carried out from 1954 to 1956 and the optical apparatus modernised by the introduction of an electrically operated lighting system. A revolving lens system of much greater power was installed for the main light and a subsidiary light was installed below the main optic to give a fixed red light over the Pearl Rock in addition to the red sector of the main light that already marked this hazard. The height of the tower was raised by six feet in order to accommodate the subsidiary light apparatus over the service room.

Automation of Europa Point Lighthouse was completed in February 1994. The existing optic has been retained and fitted with a three position lampchanger. The air fog signal has been replaced by an electric system, a single directional 500 Hz emitter stack mounted on the lantern gallery. The station is be fully automatic with no external control facilities; the monitoring of aids to navigation, power supplies, fires systems and intruder alarm being through a simple reporting station linked by telephone to the Gibraltar Port Office which is manned 24 hours a day.

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