Cape Recife Lighthouse

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Cape Recife Lighthouse, Cape Recife, Port Elizabeth.



Early days

In 1488, Bartholomew Diaz rounded a rocky point into Algoa Bay. He named it Cape of the Rocks “Cabo da Roca.” In 1498, Diaz was followed by Da Gama, who had on board ship a cartographer. On the map he drew of the coast, he corrupted the name Cabo da Roca to “Cabo de Arreciffe” or cape of the reef. Over the years, this became Cape Recife.1


As early as 1835, the need was discussed for some sort of warning to protect ships from the shallow reefs at Cape Recife, which marks the end point of Algoa Bay. A beacon was erected there until a lighthouse could be built.In 1851 a 24 m high octagonal masonry tower was built under supervision of GW Pilkington. This lighthouse predates that on the Donkin, which was built in 1861.2

Historical maps of Richmond Park since 1849


Due to their historic nature, intertwined with stories of lives saved, shipwrecks and our notorious coastline, as well as due to their structure and vital function, all the masonry lighthouses along our coast hold particular heritage value, and should be declared National Monuments. This will protect them, even if they are decommissioned and replaced at some point (as has happened with the Hill Lighthouse on Donkin Reserve), from demolition and retain them as part of our collective history.


  1. - “Algoa bay in the age of sail” by Colin Urquhart, published in 2007, ISBN 978-0-620-28670-1,
  2. - “Port Elizabeth” by Margaret Harradine, published 1996, ISBN 0-620-19004-3
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