AGA lampen in Hong Kong


Hong Kong Maritime Museum 香港海事博物館



Maritime Museum Hong Kong


Gustaf  Dalén, who became managing director of AGA when it was founded in 1909, produced the world’s first automatic sun valve for switching on and shutting off lights (an old HK one still exists at the foot of the stairs to the HK Hydrographic Office at Stonecutters Island).

Gustaf Dalén 1926

The new light finally got going in 1951. That’s why from late 1945 until 1951 Waglan’s characteristic (unique light signature) was flashing once every 6 seconds, only reverting to the pre-war (and original) 2 flashes every 30 seconds with the new apparatus in 1951 (it now 2 flashes every 20 secs).

The original AGA drawing for the 2nd lens (installed version slightly different)

The light was refurbished in 1972 by AGA UK (which became Pharos Marine in 1985),  given a new, multi-sealed beam array light in 1989 when the light was automated.

Waglan was always not just a lighthouse but a signal and reporting station (linked by telegraph to HK), a radio direction beacon (radio lighthouse, as it were – equipment installed post-war), later an RN radar station and used for RAF air traffic control, and of course a fog signal as well, in later years, as a weather observatory. The signal/reporting station role was an essential part of maritime safety for the light’s first couple of decades before radio became compulsory on ships post-1912 (and the Titanic disaster) and it remained a key role until after WW2.

The fog signal was originally a gun – the signal was two guns fired in quick succession on hearing a ship’s fog signal, but in c.1922 these were replaced by a diaphone (a two tone beast that sounds like a dying cow), although a gun still served as a back-up. Interestingly the diaphone fog signal was got back into working order much quicker post-war than the light and was listed as with the same characteristics as pre-war as early as 1949. Exactly when the diaphone was replaced I don’t know. It was still working in the late ‘90s, but when last I heard Waglan’s fog signal a few months back, it has now been replaced by a rather pathetic horn.

This article was first posted on 19th February 2015.

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