In 1905, a plan to ensure the safety of coastal shipping on the west coast of Schleswig-Holstein was approved by the regional parliament at a cost of 1.3 million marks. Putting the scheme into practice in a difficult natural environment required an innovative solution. Walter Körte, a Prussian mastermind in navigational aids, settled on a series of towers approx. 40 metres in height, constructed from individual cast iron elements. The result was the lighthouses of Westerhever, Pellworm and Hörnum.
In 1906, Isselburg Ironworks won the manufacturing contract and set about casting individual plates measuring 80 cm x 90 cm and weighing 80 to 100 kg. From these overlapping plates, called “Tübbings”, towers were constructed that taper towards the top. The floors and stairways were also made of cast iron sections, so the construction of each tower required more than 600 individual plates, and each “Tübbing” was covered with graphite as the optimum protection against rust. The towers were assembled for inspection at the Isselburg Ironworks before being dismantled for transportation.
The Hörnum Lighthouse was designed to occupy the southern tip of the island of Sylt, the so-called “white dune”, just south of the road “Blankes Tälchen”. Foundations were laid on the 17 metre high dune with a round concrete slab 70 cm in diameter. The tower shaft weighs approx. 92 tons. The lantern house itself is of sheet steel with steel cladding and a copper roof 1.5 mm in width.
Hörnum Lighthouse was equipped from the outset with – for that time - modern technology, an electrically powered beacon. The electrical supply came from two single cylinder thermal engines of 12 HP with downstream generators. The current was buffered by two accumulator batteries. The capacity of the accumulators was calculated to provide adequate power for the longest winter night of 17 hours. Hörnum was not connected to the grid until 1948.
THE PRESENT DAY
The last lighthouse keeper in Hörnum (from 1960-1974) was Manfred Karwin. He retired from the post when automation was introduced. Today the beacon is controlled and monitored by the Water and Shipping Authority in Tönning. Hörnum Lighthouse has been under heritage protection since 1994.