Westkapelle, Netherlands | C.1875

Photo Credit: Kate Davison

The lighthouse known as “”Noorderhoofd”” was built to protect mariners from the shallow shores off the town of Westkapelle on the island of Walcheren in the Netherlands. Locals have also referred to the structure as the low lighthouse of Westkapelle or “”Westkapelle Laag” and it is the first round cast iron light tower in the Netherlands.

The island is home to a population of less than 3,000 year-round residents, but it was essential to build the lighthouse to help guide sailors on a safe passage past the island. It was designed in 1875 by Quirinus Harder, a Dutch architect best known for having designed a large number of lighthouses in the late 1800s. Lighthouse Noorderhoofd was unique as it was constructed using an immensely powerful light that flashes every 10 seconds with an incredible visibility range of up to 13 nautical miles

Segments for this round tower was difficult to create during the time. The iron foundry Nering Bogel in Deventer took on the challenge of hand crafting wooden molds from which the curved iron was cast to cover the façade of the lighthouse.

At the foot of the tower once sat a stone building that was use by the Coast Guard until 1995. The building was erected in the 1960s, but it fell into disrepair and was the target of vandalism. Eventually, the structure sustained too much damage to remedy, and was demolished.

The Noorderhoofd was officially the second active lighthouse in Westkapelle. The other is known as the “”Tall Lighthouse” and was built between at the entrance to the village. It marks the location of the remainder of a church that burned down in the 18th century, and in 1818 a light was added to the top of the structure and the town declared it the first lighthouse.

Together the two lights lead vessels coming from the North Sea into the narrow and busy shipping lane directly under the south west coast of Walcheren. The Noorderhoofd lighthouse is open to the public to explore and tour, and visitors are welcome to venture to the top of the lighthouse to catch a glimpse of the surrounding area.

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