Lighthouses in Norway – Tranøy Fyr lighthouse
Those who drive via the E6 to the North Cape will hardly deviate from the main route. It is always worth making a detour to get to know the beauties of the country. One such recommendation is the detour towards Hamarøy on the Tranøy headland, at the top of which we discover one of the most beautiful lighthouses in Norway, the Tranøy Fyr lighthouse.
The fact that you are already north of the Arctic Circle cannot be concealed. The wind sometimes whistles coldly around the ears, in early summer a windproof and warm sweater is part of the basic equipment. In such a coastal landscape with its quite troubled waters, the Tranøy Fyr lighthouse has been guiding ship traffic through the Ofoten, Tysfjord and Tjeldesund areas since 1864.
The operation of the Tranøy Fyr lighthouse started on September 19, 1864, i.e. immediately after the summer break of the northern lighthouses in Norway, which were switched off during the summer months by the midnight sun north of the Arctic Circle.
However, you first had to find a suitable spot for the Tranøy Fyr lighthouse to guide the ships through this rugged coastal landscape. After an intensive search, the director of the lighthouse authorities found the place on the small rocky island of Stangholm to be ideal.
The history of the Tranøya Fyr lighthouse
The Tranøya Fyr lighthouse was initially designed as a beacon with fixed signal light, which was due to the state of development at that time. The cost was said to be 6274 Specialdaler, this old currency was equivalent to approximately 1565 Norwegian Krone.
But the land on Stangholm, the preferred lighthouse island, was privately owned. The owner wanted to sell in favor of the planned Tranøya Fyr lighthouse. Alone, he couldn’t prove that Stangholm really belonged to him. It was agreed that he would receive an annual lease of three Specialdaler, and the future employees of the Tranøy Fyr lighthouse were given the right to fetch drinking water on the island of Tranøya. Because the lighthouse would be built on a rock surrounded by water and would only be accessible by a rowboat.
The planned construction period should be between 1863 and 1866, because the coast of the island of Tranøya was and is repeatedly exposed to violent storms and floods.
First a protective wall was built, then the lighthouse Tranøy Fyr with a barn, with oil storage for the operation of the beacon, another outbuilding and a boathouse, equipped with a winch with which the rowing boat could be pulled up on the rocks.
It was inaugurated on September 19, 1964, and the beacon of another of the lighthouses in Norway, the completed Tranøy Fyr lighthouse, was celebrated and operations started. The lighthouse Tranøy Fyr in its first epoch belonged to the category 4 of the lighthouses in Norway.
Stormy times on Stangholm
But in the winter of 1867, the layout of the Tranøy Fyr lighthouse had to pass its first test. A heavy storm surge broke out over Stangholm, part of the protective wall was destroyed.
Things got even worse 10 years later, the storm surge was much heavier and flooded the entire area of the Tranøy Fyr lighthouse. The outbuildings were badly damaged. This damage was remedied as soon as possible after the storm season.
If the drinking and service water always had to be laboriously brought from Tranøya on the Stangholm lighthouse rock to the Tranøy Fyr lighthouse by rowing boat, a large water tank was built in 1906 for storage in the basement of the Tranøya Fyr lighthouse.
To ease the tedious work of rowing a boat to the Tranøy Fyr lighthouse, the Tranøy Fyr lighthouse was given a jetty with a small, hand-operated cargo crane in 1908.
New lighting technology for the Tranøy Fyr lighthouse
Like the other lighthouses in Norway, the signal in the Tranøy Fyr lighthouse was generated with an oil lamp. This technique developed further and so it was somehow possible to focus the light better and make it more visible. Bundled light is detected much better, especially in poor weather. The people in charge of the Tranøy Fyr lighthouse tried to modernize it with a lamp with a lens from 1903, but it did not take until 1909 until approval was granted.A year later, the Tranøya Fyr lighthouse received the new lighting technology and was able to do everything emit two flashes for six seconds.
Fog over Stangholm
The weather can change quickly north of the Arctic Circle. Storms coming up, but also fog banks coming from the sea quickly cause disorientation. Even the best lighthouse doesn’t use anything. Because no light in the world penetrates the thick fog over a long distance, not even the lighting technology of the Tranøya Fyr lighthouse, which was modern at the time.
In 1933, the shipping authorities created a list of possible lighthouses in Norway that were to be supplemented with a fog horn, a so-called diaphone. Tranøy Fyr was on the list. The effort was immense and almost equal to a new building.
The Tranøy Fyr lighthouse was equipped with a budget of 120,000 crowns for this conversion. But the previous tower was far from sufficient. So they dismantled the cast iron lighthouse at Moholmen near Kabelvåg and rebuilt it in its current place. The lantern of the Tranøy Fyr lighthouse was placed on the cast iron tower and the diaphone installed. The total height of the Tranøy Fyr lighthouse grew to 28 meters.
The engine room of the Tranøy Fyr lighthouse was on the ground and first floors. The necessary air filters for the fog horn were installed on the second and third floors and the diaphone was placed on the fourth floor.
The new facility of the Tranøy Fyr lighthouse went into operation on November 1, 1936. However, the Tranøy Fyr lighthouse could not be maintained by a lighthouse keeper alone. Now four workers were on duty at this facility. Two of them were alternately responsible for the company, two additional seasonal workers then worked during the actual operating time between August 7th and April 30th. But now three new buildings had to be built. So a semi-detached house, a barn and a new boat house were built.
New times on Stangholm
The Tranøy Fyr lighthouse has been electrically operated since 1959 and an emergency diesel generator is available in the event of a power failure. With the electrification came a new lighting technology, a 1000 watt incandescent lamp was installed in conjunction with a fixed lens. The fog horn got an electric compressor.
If you could only reach the lighthouse island by rowing boat, in 1969 you built today’s bridge to the island of Stangholm and thus to the Tranøy Fyr lighthouse.
So far, the lighthouse staff has lived on the lighthouses in Norway. However, shift work with changing personnel became increasingly popular. In 1983, the foghorn, the diaphone, and the Tranøy Fyr lighthouse were switched off and the necessary personnel were reduced from four to two workers. This system has been automated since 1986. On June 5, 1991, the last lighthouse keeper had his last day at Stangholm. Already on the first of July the tourist use of this unique beacon began, where you can eat, drink and even sleep.