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Lighthouses of Western Australia


State Indexes > WA > Jarman Island Lighthouse

Jarman Island Lighthouse an partially restored cottages form the air. [Photograph: Winsome Bonham]
Jarman Island Lighthouse and the partially restored cottages from the air
Photograph: Winsome Bonham
The Jarman Island Lighthouse

Up until now this was one of the most endangered lighthouses in Australia.

In regards to the question being posed 'what does the community want', the local mining industry and Council have responded with moves that will hopefully lead to the long term preservation of this light.


Last Operation (1987)

LOCATION: Latitude 20º 39' S; Longitude 117º 12' E (map)
OPERATOR: <<>>
EXHIBITED: 1888
CONSTRUCTION: Cast Iron Segments
CHARACTER: <<>>
LIGHT SOURCE: <<>>
POWER SOURCE: <<>>
INTENSITY: <<>>
ELEVATION: 99 metres
RANGE: <<>>
HEIGHT: 15.5 metres
AUTOMATED: <<>>
DEMANNED: <<>>
DEACTIVATED: 1985
CUSTODIAN: <<>>
HERITAGE: Register of the National Estate

The Jarman Island Lens at Cape Naturaliste Museum [Photograph: Denise Shultz]
The Jarman Island Lens at Cape Naturaliste Museum
Photograph: Denise Shultz

The interior of the Jarman Island Lighthouse [Photograph: John Ibbotson]
The interior of the Jarman Island Lighthouse
Photograph: John Ibbotson

History

The Jarman Island Lighthouse is one of two segmented cast iron sea lights in Western Australia using the newly developed pre-fabricated cast iron towers imported from England.

The other cast iron lighthouse, manufactured by Chance Brothers, is located at Point Moore near Geraldton.

As stated in the entry for the Register of the National Estate:

Cast iron towers were established as a viable way of getting lights to remote areas. The new design technique was innovative and represented a new era in lighthouse construction.

As they were pre-fabricated, they could be constructed in remote areas with much more ease than one of stone.

The lighthouse industry had reached the point in 1887 where a complete lighthouse could be packed and shipped from England for erection in Australia.

The lighthouse at Jarman was complete except for the lens which seems to have been sent separately.

The tower body of the Jarman Island lighthouse is composed of cast iron plated a little more than 1in (28mm) thick, flanged and bolted on the inside presenting a smooth face to the exterior.

This type of construction was developed so that salt laden aerosols or spray would not get a foothold and cause corrosion at the joints. The lighthouse came complete from England with the tools for its construction and the paint to protect it.

The Resident Engineer for the North West, W L Owen and Chief Government Architect George Temple Poole were responsible for the design and construction of the new lightstation.

The labour for the construction were prisoners from Malaysia, the Philippines, China and Arabian countries, the majority of which were from the pearling fleet which was at that time laid up in Cossack during the cyclone season.

The rubble and concrete duplex keepers quarters were also erected in 1888 and is typical of other buildings around Roebourne of that era. Pre-cast concrete blocks were used for corners, doors and windows.

The unique feature of the 1888 dwelling is the curved concrete shell roof. Unfortunately this did not suit the climate and in along with additions in 1895 the whole structure was given a new roof and a verandah all around.

The original light was a flashing second order lantern with a four wick Douglas burner. The fuel was kerosene or paraffin oil. The lamp was replaced in 1910 by a 55mm incandescent lamp using a vaporised kerosene mantle. The character then became occulting.

In 1917, the lamp was to an AGA acetylene gas lamp activated by a sunvalve.

The lighthouse, a prominent landmark feature, is synonymous with Jarman Island, Point Samson and Cossack. The area was first visited by Captain Jarman of the barque 'Tien Tsin'. The Island took Jarman's name and the township originally his ship's name.

Jarman Island marks the entry to the old abandoned Port of Cossack and the wharves at Point Samson. The port was established to service the pastoral leases that were opening up in the north west and the pearling luggers.

The life of the port was short due to the silting up of the tidal estuary and by 1902 it was apparent that Cossack could no longer function as a viable port. By 1904 a new jetty had been built at Point Samson which then gradually replaced Cossack as a port. Later the facilities at Cape Lambert (Port Walcott) took over in the 1960s for overseas iron ore carriers.

Between 1922 and 1941, the island was leased to J&T Muramats who are said to have used the place for holidays. In the 1950s the quarters and adjacent buildings were stripped of useful material and abandoned. The lighthouse was turned of for the last time in 1985 when the Cape Lambert lighthouse became operational.

The size of the island is approximately 16ha. The lighthouse is painted red and white. Steel ladders and landings provide internal access to the lantern room.


Keepers

Keepers who served at Jarman Island
Surname: First name: Keeper: Period:
EFFORD Samuel LK 1888
DALTON W. LK 1888-1889
WHITE W. AK 1888-1889
PAXTON Thomas Mc Nee RK 1888-1891
JAMIESON R. AK 1889-1890
WHITE W. LK 1889-1893
DAVIDSON F. AK 1890
CROWE ? AK 1892
DANN T. RK 1891-1892
PATERSON William RK 1892-1892
HANSEN L. AK 1892-1893
MIDDLETON E. RK 1892-1894
MC ALINDEN AK 1893-1894
GEORGE D. LK 1893-1895
HEEDES G. AK 1894-1895
SINCLAIR John RK 1894-1895
SYLVER C. LK 1895-1895
COOPER H. A. LK 1895-1897
LEIGHTON E. AK 1895-1897
RITCHIE Osborne RK 1895-1898
FOWLER A. W. AK 1897-1898
LYONS John Joseph LK 1897-1902
HEPBURN A. AK 1898-1901
WILSON Robert AK 1901-1902
DWELLY Charles H. AK 1902-1904
WILSON Robert LK 1902-1905
PINN Herman AK 1904-1905
BROWN Alfred Earnest LK 1905-1908
MC CALDIN Samuel AK 1905-1908
CHESSHER William E. LK 1908-1910
HOWE Thomas John AK 1908-1912
PEARSE Henry Taunton LK 1910-1916
JEAPES Arthur AK 1912-1915
TURNER John AK 1915
LANGER Francis AK 1915-1917
MC EACHERN Alexander LK 1917
LK=Lightkeeeper, AK=Assistant Keeper, RK=Reserve Keeper
Source: John Kelly - Lighthouse Historian

The Jarman Island Lighthouse is in a precarious state. [Photograph: John Ibbotson]
The Jarman Island Lighthouse is in a precarious state
Photograph: John Ibbotson


The first lightkeeper S Efford was appointed on 16 May 1888 with assistant lightkeeper W White not being appointed until 24 July 1888. Francis T Langer must have been an alien as apparently he was arrested and interned for the remainder of the First World War. Having a position of a keeper would have seemed to be an obvious threat by Authorities.

Please note, this list is far from complete - we are aware that there may be omissions. If you have a reasonable belief that a keeper should be added to the list please forward it with all you know so we can validate the information and add them to the list.

Please include this lighthouse's name, the keepers full name, what years they were keepers and their position. Also include the same information for any other lights they were on then send it to Web Keeper.


Preservation

The tower was guyed with wire ropes at some point in the past but these are not now considered structurally necessary.

To quote the Register of the National Estate:

The lighthouse is basically sound except for broken window glass and damaged panes to the lantern which allow the entry of water. There are areas of particular concern including the rusting of the interface between the lantern head and the roof and the corrosion of some of the holding down bolts.

It was also noted at the time of inspection that the plywood blinds to the lantern are in need of painting. The condition of the remaining concrete roof of the duplex Keepers' Quarters indicates that serious repair will be needed shortly if it is to be retained.

The walls remain generally in good repair despite their exposure. The condition of the plaster to the 1888 building is very bad, the result of a poor mortar mix or cement. This render will continue to disintegrate rapidly and it may not be physically possible to save the remainder without considerable cost and effort.

Despite the apparent ruined condition of the quarters, there is cause for optimism in that the basic structure is intact and salvageable if this is what is wanted.

The partially restored keepers' cottages on Jarman Island. [Photograph: John Ibborson]
The partially restored keepers' cottages on Jarman Island
Photograph: John Ibbotson

Robe River Iron Associated has recently funded and carried out an engineering study to determine the stability of Jarman Island lighthouse and keepers quarters. This restoration is overseen by the Heritage Council of WA, which has recently handed the responsibility for Cossack over to the Roebourne Shire. The Shire of Roebourne now has a 21 year lease of the island. See Conservation Plans for Jarman Island (Bulletin June 03) for more details.


Access

NEAREST TOWN: Roebourne
DISTANCE: 15km (Roebourne); 1,600km (Perth)
ACCESS: By boat (beach landing)
TOURS: No
ACCOMMODATION: No

Jarman Island off Point Samson [Photograph: Shire of Roebourne]
Jarman Island off Point Samson
Photograph: Shire of Roebourne


The Surrounding Area


Features

Conservation Plans for Jarman Island Bulletin Jun 03
Lighthouses From the Air: Part 5 Bulletin Jan 02
Around Australia Chasing Lighthouses (Part 3 of 3) Bulletin Jan 01

News

Jarman Island Lighthouse - great news! Bulletin Sep 03
Jarman Island Badly Vandalised Bulletin Jan 02
Historic Jarman Island Lighthouse back in spotlight Bulletin Jul 00

Letters

Looking for Captain Jarman and Jarman Island Bulletin Oct 01

Special Thanks to:

  • Denise Shultz for Photograph

  • John Ibbotson for Photographs

  • Shire of Roebourne for Photograph

  • Winsome Bonham for Photograph

Sources:

  • Llyrus Weightman, Karratha Community Library

  • Register of the National Estate

  • Shire of Roebourne

  • The West Australian


Page last updated:
Page created:
14/7/03
14/7/03

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