Point King lighthouse, accessible from the Boardwalk, below Marine Drive.

 PAM2623 copyPoint King lighthouse, located on the north shore entrance to Princess Royal Harbour, was the first navigational light for the port of Albany and the second lighthouse built on Western Australia’s coastline. 

The lighthouse originally comprised of a keeper’s house which sat 47ft above the high water mark and an integral 17ft square wooden tower with a with an oil-fired light which required trimming daily and was visible from 12 miles. It was first used at sunset on January 1, 1858 and was made redundant in June 1911 following completion of a separate steel tower. Its history can be traced back to October 1856.

The Crimean War had just ended and British authorities had entered into a contract with the P & O Steam Navigation Company for a direct Royal Mail packet service from England to Australia, with Albany being the first port of call. For this service to be successful, lighthouses needed to be constructed so the lucrative mail-boats could arrive and depart from Princess Royal Harbour safely. 

In May 1857, WA Governor Kennedy directed Captain Wray of the Royal Engineers in Fremantle, to travel to Albany and commence work on the construction of two lighthouses – one on nearby Breaksea Island the other at Point King.

The Point King location was chosen because the building’s light would be visible from nearly the whole anchorage and the whole of the narrow passage into the harbour.Wray noted the building would have to stand on a mass of granite and that the lowest point of its foundations needed to be 17ft above high water.

As there was a heavy wash in easterly winds on this point, it was not safe to build at a lower level. As Wray was unable to obtain tools to cut through the rock, he decided to prepare a level foundation by building iron frames let into jumper holes 3ft deep and run them with lead. Because these frames were not exposed to the weather there was little chance of them rusting.Wray thought it impossible for the lighthouse to work without a resident keeper, so he designed and built a dwelling for him into which the lighthouse tower was incorporated.

The original dwelling comprised of four rooms divided as two on either side of a central passage. The south-eastern room included a fireplace and a window looking south across the entry to the harbour. The largest room, also with a fireplace and two windows in the external walls, faced SW and was probably the living room. The north-eastern room was a kitchen with a fireplace and oven in the southern wall and a window in the northern wall. The fourth room in the northwestern corner was smaller and most likely a store. 

Nothing survives of the original wooden light tower which stood in the centre of the southern wall overlooking entry to Princess Royal harbour. Despite its remote location the lighthouse had three resident keepers, some of whom brought up large families in the tiny dwelling. 

The keepers were: Joseph Nelson 1857 - 1867; Samuel Mitchell 1867 - 1903 and John Reddin 1903 – 1911. After John Reddin’s term a new light was manually controlled by the pilot crew who trimmed and lit it each evening until late 1913 when it was converted to electric and lit automatically.

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