Sun, Feb 14, 2016 - Page 2 News List

Matsu’s Tungchu Tao Lighthouse stands tests of time

Staff writer, with CNA

A 30-meter-long windbreak wall connecting the lighthouse and an office annex at the Tungchu Tao Lighthouse on Matsu is pictured on Friday.

Photo: CNA

The Tungchu Tao Lighthouse in Matsu is a national historic building, the first granite lighthouse built in Taiwan, which has survived the shifts of contemporary history.

The tower is located on Dongju, one of the islets of the Matsu archipelago about 25km off the coast of China.

It was constructed in 1872 during the Qing Dynasty, based on a commerce and navigation agreement signed by the Qing administration and Great Britain following China’s defeat in the Opium Wars.

The lighthouse was designated a grade two historic building by the Ministry of the Interior in 1988.

The Tungchu Tao Lighthouse is the only one built of stone that is open to visitors.

Lighthouse director Chang Wei-lun (張維倫) said that during the late Qing Dynasty, customs offices were largely staffed at senior levels by foreigners, mainly Britons.

As a result, a British company was responsible for the construction and design of the lighthouse, and a foreigner continued to serve as the director of the lighthouse until 1949, Chang said.

The most distinctive feature of the lighthouse grounds is a 30m-long windbreak wall connecting the lighthouse and an office annex.

Chang said that when oil lamps were used for illumination, lighthouse keepers would walk along the wall between the lighthouse and the office to prevent lamps from being blown out during strong winds.

Also preserved is a rainwater collection system on an upper tier of the lighthouse, which was an important source of fresh water in the remote area.

The Tungchu Tao Lighthouse, like other lighthouses around the nation, was managed by the Customs Administration under the Ministry of Finance until 2013, when it was transferred to the Maritime and Port Bureau under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.

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