And now: start climbing!

Find out all about Hörnum’s famous landmark – its use, its technology and its history. Imagine being taught in the schoolroom, and check out the lantern room!

The Hörnum Lighthouse
The Hörnum Lighthouse

THE PLAN

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.


 PREPARATION

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.


 Construction

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.

For several years this floor housed the Hörnum School, and some of the school’s fixtures and fittings remain to evoke that period.
For several years this floor housed the Hörnum School, and some of the school’s fixtures and fittings remain to evoke that period.

THE BEACON

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.

Here on the top floor is the beacon. Nowadays it is controlled from Tönning, about 100 km away, so a lighthouse keeper is no longer needed.
Here on the top floor is the beacon. Nowadays it is controlled from Tönning, about 100 km away, so a lighthouse keeper is no longer needed.
Each cast iron segment is marked with a letter of the alphabet, to ensure they could not be mixed up during construction. The circular tower was assembled from bottom to top, piece by piece in alphabetical order.
Each cast iron segment is marked with a letter of the alphabet, to ensure they could not be mixed up during construction. The circular tower was assembled from bottom to top, piece by piece in alphabetical order.
The lighthouse is made of cast iron elements screwed together. These were supplied by the Isselburg Ironworks, which not only manufactured similar towers at Westerhever and Pellworm, but also had a monopoly on the construction of Prussian letter boxes.
The lighthouse is made of cast iron elements screwed together. These were supplied by the Isselburg Ironworks, which not only manufactured similar towers at Westerhever and Pellworm, but also had a monopoly on the construction of Prussian letter boxes.
The Wedding Registry Office in Hörnum Lighthouse. On Mondays and Fridays from April to October, couples can tie the knot in a lofty setting overlooking the island. Find out more here.
The Wedding Registry Office in Hörnum Lighthouse. On Mondays and Fridays from April to October, couples can tie the knot in a lofty setting overlooking the island. Find out more here.
The power unit for the lighthouse electricity supply.
The power unit for the lighthouse electricity supply.
This old photograph is of the Duve family, the first lighthouse keepers on Hörnum from 1907.
This old photograph is of the Duve family, the first lighthouse keepers on Hörnum from 1907.