We are traveling along the coast of Norway and visit the Vesterålen archipelago north of Lofoten. At its northern tip is one of Norway’s tallest cast iron lighthouses.

Lighthouses in Norway Andenes Fyr Lighthouse

At 40 meters high, the Andenes Fyr lighthouse is one of the tallest cast iron lighthouses in Norway. At the northern tip of the Vesterålen archipelago, it gives navigation a good orientation in the fairly difficult fairways around the island of Andøya. Because the coast of Norway is generally very rugged and even today it is a real challenge for experienced captains despite modern navigation. We visited the Andenes Fyr lighthouse from the land side.

Andenes Fyr lighthouse – one of many of the lighthouses in Norway and yet quite one

There are about 200 lighthouses in Norway that were once manned. But as they progressed, they became automated over time. Even if you trust modern satellite navigation today. you may not think these landmarks away anywhere in the world. Apart from the sense of orientation, such buildings as that of the Andenes Fyr lighthouse do not leave anyone untouched.

The task of the Andesnes Fyr lighthouse has as little romantic background as the other lighthouses in Norway, and yet year after year it attracts many people to the northern tip of Vesterålen, to Andenes.

For stormy times without a safe harbor – the Andenes Fyr lighthouse on Vesterålen

Vesterålen, Andenes Fyr, Kodak Ektar, Leica Elmarit M 2.8 28 asph.

Vesterålen, Andenes Fyr, Kodak Ektar, Leica Elmarit M 2.8 28 asph.| © mare.photo

You have to go back in time to the story of the Andenes Fyr lighthouse. In 1859, this lighthouse started operating on Vesterålen. At that time there was no satellite-based navigation, no night vision devices, no radio. Most of the sailors and fishing boats were sailing boats or sailing ships. And therefore also more difficult to control. Even with the arrival of steam shipping, coastlines always had to be compared with the nautical charts in order not to get lost.

The time before the Andenes Fyr lighthouse

As early as 1828, a commission was set up to suggest possible places for lighthouses on the north Norwegian coast. The commission ended its work in 1829 and submitted its report to the Maritime Authority. The agency became interested in a location in Andenes at an early age and began buying land from its owner Jonas Falck around 1940. Because first you wanted to build the lighthouse in Kleiva.

So the contracts for the purchase of the further necessary land were signed on January 24, 1845. The construction plans for the construction of the new lighthouse Andenes as one of the numerous planned lighthouses in Norway took a lot of time. It was only on March 1st, 1854 that the parliament, the folketing, dealt. On May 8th, 1854, the folketing voted unanimously for a grant to build a lighthouse on Andøya. Only one was against it and that was the chairman of the Committee on Budgets.

Suddenly there was discussion about a new location for a lighthouse on Andøya, some preferred to build the lighthouse at the entrance to the Vestfjord. For example, a commission was set up to deal with this very issue. On October 6, the Commission proposed the current location of the Andenes Fyr lighthouse. And so the land around the Flamberg in the north of Andenes was acquired quickly.

The technical equipment was ordered quickly in France, while the Danish-born Le Maire and his two assistants, Christoffersen and Pettersen, set out in spring 1857 to take over the construction management for the new Andenes Fyr lighthouse. The master mason already had experience in lighthouse construction, for example in the construction of the Kvitholmen Fyr lighthouse.

The freight from France and the cast iron parts from a Norwegian railway factory were now stored by ship to Henningsvær in the south of Lofoten, but no ship could land before Andøya in Andenes. First the mountain had to be removed and a quay wall with a harbor crane had to be built.

There were many fishermen on Vesterålen and they could build huts and houses out of wood, but never the 40 meter high lighthouse Andenes Fyr. So they were migrant workers, most of them came from the Moorish coast. They were now very experienced in building lighthouses. But you also had to take care of them and offer them living space. To this end, an agreement was reached with the then merchant Lind in Andenes, who provided suitable accommodation for 60 Riksdalers.

Work could finally begin in the spring of 1857, but the workers, not particularly well paid, saw the fishermen with their profitable catches and their higher incomes. So they preferred to fish instead of building. So they got more wages and work could finally start in the summer of 1857.

Since then, the rugged and small and larger rocks off Vesterålen have been a great risk for offshore shipping. Several wrecks lie off the coast of Vesterålen. It was only logical to put the Andenes Fyr lighthouse, which can now be seen from afar, into operation on September 24, 1859, thus replacing the small and weak beacons from today’s perspective.

Already in 1897, from the Andenes Fyr lighthouse, meteorological observations began to be made of polar weather changes, which are strongly influenced by the Gulf Stream. These observations continued until 1958.

A lighthouse keeper served here until 1978, and since then the Andenes Fyr lighthouse has been automated like the other lighthouses in Norway.

The outbuildings belonging to the Andenes lighthouse were sold to private individuals who now live in the immediate vicinity of this landmark. The local polar museum offers daily guided tours to one of the highest lighthouses in Norway, the Andenes Fyr lighthouse, in the summer months.

There is a path the width of an embankment around the lighthouse, but that’s another story. Soon more of it.

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