Lighthouses in Öresund
Beacon lightning in Öresund has a long history. From the medieval time when the trading in the Baltic Sea was a flourishing. The German businessmen got organized in "The Hanseatic League". Safety of the ships and the lights was the responsibility given to the Dominican monks in Lübeck. Documents from the 11th century shows that the King Valdemar Sejr gave the monks permission to cut down the trees needed to build warning signs and lights to help the seafarer around Falsterbo.
Coming from north the first light we see is from Kullen lighthouse. Kullen Light house is one of the most prominent landmarks along the Swedish coastline.
The danish king built a light house on Kullaberg 1560. It was a iron basket with wooden fire with a height over ground 12m. 3 years later they built a stone tower. Master builder was Pieter de Doncker.
The custom officer Jörgen Berger in Helsingør had the responsebility fot the light house. He got instructions from 1564 how to manage the light: There should be a fire all night. The wood should be stored so it was keept dry. The light on Kullen should shine from 1 hour after sunset until dawn from the first night in March until 1st of November.
Tycho Brahe also got the assignment to come up with ideas on improvement for Kullen light. Together with people with knowledge about shipping he should investigate if the light was placed on the best spot. They wanted to build a new tower for the light.
There had been complains to the king about the light for a long time and the king continued to receive complains. 1585 the king sent a letter to Tycho Brahe and ordered him to keep better order on the employed people at the light.
Well, Tycho Brahe did not care very much about the light on Kullen when he built Europe's foremost observatory. The king refused to believe that Tycho Brahe did not take is assignment serious. (He was still the kings favorite Every time the ships complained in Helsingør when paying the transit fee, he just send a warning to Tycho Brahe.
King Frederik II died 1588 and the relations between Tycho Brahe and the royal family turned sour. Emperor Rudolf II gave Tycho Brahe a job as an astronomer in Prague 1597 and he left Denmark. Even though Tycho Brahe mismanaged the light he kept the job until he died 1601, even during his exile.
One of the castle Kronborg architects, Antonis van Opbergen built a new light tower 1585 and replaced the old tower from 1563. When Tycho Brahe died 1601 Claus Podebusk got the job as light-keeper on Kullen.
The businessman Erasmus Clefwe got the right to keep the fire on Kullaberg for a good compensation. He managed the light very poor and Kullen was extinguished many nights. Erasmus Clefwe defended himself with the difficulties to import coal. The scandal was a fact when it was revealed that Erasmus Clefwe had a salvage company salvaging ship wreck around the coast in Skåne.
In the middle of the 18th century the light on Kullaberg needed 800 barrels of coal yearly. The coal was imported from England and the ship had to pay the light fees when passing Helsingør and paying the transit duty "Öresundstullen". The light fee was delivered to a Swedish Officer.
In the summer 1749 the old tower from 1585 was demolished and a new tower was built by Henrich Mosenkegel in Landskrona. The new light became one of the best lights in Scandinavia. Even after that the complains continued about the light on Kullaberg.
The irregularity of the light and the big consumption of coal made the authorities in Sweden to look for a new design for the lights. Anders Polheimer got the task in 1783. 1791-92 he studied the light on Kullen. He invented a new light that reduced the consumption of coal. He constructed wind tunnels ending in the fire. The wind lifted the flares. 1792 the rebuilt the light on Kullen after his design.
1793, when Anders Polheimer published his investigations and proposals at the royal academy of sciences he made a remark the coal fire could be protected against storms if the fire was covered by a lantern (glass house). Denmark started to use covered coal fires first. The Danish Captain Poul de Löwenörn developed the idea and it later became the prototype for the lights in Sweden.
In a sailing direction from 1800 by Captain Poul de Löwenörn he describes the light house on Kullaberg; Kullen is unmistakable when you see the tower. The tower is not very high. but white in color and an annex on the east side make it look like a church. It's not always easy to see the light because of the haze on the mountain and that the wind presses down the flare. He also reminds that the light is extinguished in the summer, between 1st of May and 1st of August. The light's in Denmark was burning 12 month's per year.
1899 they started to build the new light tower just north of the old one.
The rotating lens weighs about 6000 kilos with a diameter of 2.58 meters. With a 1000 w electric bulb and an elevation of 78.5 meters above sea level Kullen has a light-range of 24.5 nautical miles.That makes Kullen the most powerful navigation light in Scandinavia.
When they built the 2 towers 1772 it was not possible to built the lighthouses with light characters. They built the 2 towers almost identical to distinguish them from Kullen L/H. Thus coming from north you should see 2 lights on your right side (starboard) and 1 light on your left (port) side. I don't have to explain the importance of knowing if you are east or west of Kullaberg when approaching Öresund 230 years ago (it's even important today but easier with the radar to se Kullaberg)
The east tower was built 1772 and it's a square tower and is built on the gable of the dweling. It was built as a open light but around 1800 they covered the light and 1898 they extinguished the light.