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MOTC to Restore Original Look of Wuciou Lighthouse

MOTC to Restore Original Look of Wuciou Lighthouse
Reporter: Li Zeng-Wang / Summary Report

The Wuciou Island Lighthouse has gone through numerous battles, from the bombing by the allied force in 1945 and the damage in the Chinese Civil War in 1948, to the removal of lighting and conversion to a closed vault in 1975 for military need. The original 19.2-meter high tower was thus reduced to its current height of 17.6 meter. The Maritime Port Bureau (MPB) of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) will launch the second-phase restoration works to restore its original appearance and elegance.
According to the MPB of the MOTC, following the first phase of relighting the Wuciou Island Lighthouse with auxiliary lights on July 23rd this year, the Bureau held a sharing session called "Relighting Wuciou Island Lighthouse" at the ground-floor exhibition hall of the Bureau’s building in the afternoon of September 22nd to recollect more stories and historical facts about the Wuciou Island Lighthouse. This activity served as a warm-up for the second-phase restoration of the lighthouse to the appearance “as it was” and for seeking recognition as a National Historic Monument.
Cultural historians Gao Dan-Hua who is nicknamed “Auntie Wuciou”, Nian Ji-Cheng, and Li Guo-Shou were specially invited to the event to share the relighting journey of the Wuciou Island Lighthouse, and memorable stories and local customs relating to the lighthouse. A documentary about the remembrance of military services at Wuciou, filmed by Jhou Pei-Ning and Wu Jhih-Hong for the Public TV Station, was played at the gathering to tell about the past and present of Wuciou Island Lighthouse, giving participants a glimpse of the little-known facts about Wuciou Island Lighthouse.
Wuciou Island, located in a military-controlled zone, is the most outlying among offshore islands and extremely inconvenient in transport. It is hardly accessible to the general public. Moreover, the black-colored tower adds a veil of mystery to the Wuciou Island Lighthouse. After over sixty years in darkness, the “relighting” of the lighthouse has tentatively lifted a corner of its mysterious veil and attracted much attention and discussion among the public.
The MPB believed that the sharing session has successfully compiled more stories and built up enthusiasm about the lighthouse. The MPB has also commissioned a professional team to plan for the authentic restoration of the Wuciou Island Lighthouse to its original appearance and height 70 years ago. A cultural heritage survey and research is being undertaken in the meantime. It is expected that Wuciou Island Lighthouse will be designated a National Historic Monument, following the Dongju and Dongyin Lighthouses in Matsu.
Fully covered in camo-green with the top darkened, the Wuciou Island Lighthouse is a county-designated monument of Kinmen with a 142-year history. Its light was turned off in 1954 as required by the military. After 62 years’ waiting, the lighthouse illuminates again on July 23rd, 2017 with the permission from the Ministry of National Defense (MND) in July 2016 after the MOTC’s persistent endeavor.
Built in 1874, the Wuciou Island Lighthouse was designed by a British engineer David Marr Henderson and constructed under the supervision of John Ropinald, to navigate ships between Fuzhou and Xiamen. The lighthouse is a cylindrical tower structure built with stone tenon and mortise joints. It rose to a height of 19.2 meters, began lighting in December 1875 and was turned off in 1954 due to a battlefield mission.
In 1992, with the lifting of the Wuciou Island’s battlefield mission, there was a new dawn for the re-illumination of the lighthouse, despite the area still remained under military control. In 2013, the lighthouse operation was transferred from the Customs to the MPB of the MOTC, and a tentative negotiation was initiated with the Marine Corps on the feasibility of turning the lights on again. With great anticipation from fellow citizens, the MND finally gave its approval in July 2016.
The relighting proposal initiated by the MPB was kicked off with a discussion of the Kinmen County Government, the MND, and the Marine Corps, and then submitted to the Kinmen County Government which was the competent authority in charge of cultural heritage in November 2016 and gained approval. Subsequent project works and lighting installation need to coordinate with the schedules of the military, and the relighting works were all completed on July 23rd, 2017.
The MPB stated that the relighting of the Wuciou Island Lighthouse was the second case planned and designed solely by the Bureau following the relighting of the Dongyin Island Lighthouse last year (2016). It adopted a light and simple installation method to preserve the historical and original traces, using clamps on the existing structures. In the future, the MPB will install the Automatic Identification System (AIS) on lighthouses throughout the country, to fulfill the obligations of a maritime state and make maximum effort to maintain navigation safety.
The relighting of the Wuciou Island Lighthouse is only the first step. The MPB of the MOTC has laid down the "National Lighthouse Construction and Development Plan (2017-2020)" and obtained approval of the Executive Yuan. An overall inspection of the Wuciou Island Lighthouse will be carried out later; its restoration and reutilization, research and study, and renovation and repair will be implemented in accordance with the cultural heritage procedures, to ensure proper preservation of the maritime culture. Wuciou Island Lighthouse is expected to follow the steps of the Dongju and Dongyin Lighthouses in Matsu to become a National Historic Monument.

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  • Date:2017-12-19