Cap Fréhel lighthouse

Cap Fréhel lighthouse

  • Old lighthouse and primitive lighthouse of Fréhel.

  • Map of the coast from Saint-Malo to Cap Fréhel, via Lespinasse de Villiers.

  • Old lighthouse and primitive lighthouse of Fréhel (Detail: from September 1, 1821 to May 1, 1847).

  • Old lighthouse and primitive lighthouse of Fréhel (Detail: lighthouse seen from the coast).

To close

Title: Old lighthouse and primitive lighthouse of Fréhel.

Author :

Creation date : 1887

Date shown: 1887

Dimensions: Height 62 - Width 83.5

Technique and other indications: Watercolored plate, buildings, development projects, general views of the cape Plate extracted from an atlas of 22 plates made up by the Subdivision of Lighthouses and Beacons of Lézardrieux, at the end of the 19th centurye century.

Storage location: Departmental Archives of Côtes-d'Armor website

Contact copyright: © Departmental Archives of Côtes-d'Armor

Picture reference: AD Côtes-d'Armor, S supplement 561

Old lighthouse and primitive lighthouse of Fréhel.

© Departmental Archives of Côtes-d'Armor

To close

Title: Map of the coast from Saint-Malo to Cap Fréhel, via Lespinasse de Villiers.

Author :

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 16 - Width 25

Technique and other indications: Raised, drawn and engraved by de Lespinasse de Villiers. Map drawn up by Lespinasse de Villiers, engineer of César-François Cassini de Thury, on which is represented the English incursion and the fight of Saint-Cast (1758).

Storage location: Historic Center of the National Archives website

Contact copyright: © Historic Center of the National Archives - Photography workshop

Picture reference: CHAN NN / 182/77

Map of the coast from Saint-Malo to Cap Fréhel, via Lespinasse de Villiers.

© Historic Center of the National Archives - Photography workshop

To close

Title: Old lighthouse and primitive lighthouse of Fréhel (Detail: from September 1, 1821 to May 1, 1847).

Author :

Creation date : 1887

Date shown: 1887

Dimensions: Height 62 - Width 83.5

Technique and other indications: Watercolored plate, buildings, development projects, general views of the cape Plate extracted from an atlas of 22 plates made up by the Subdivision of Lighthouses and Beacons of Lézardrieux, at the end of the 19th centurye century.

Storage location: Departmental Archives of Côtes-d'Armor website

Contact copyright: © Departmental Archives of Côtes-d'Armor

Picture reference: AD Côtes-d'Armor, S supplement 561

Old lighthouse and primitive lighthouse of Fréhel (Detail: from September 1, 1821 to May 1, 1847).

© Departmental Archives of Côtes-d'Armor

To close

Title: Old lighthouse and primitive lighthouse of Fréhel (Detail: lighthouse seen from the coast).

Author :

Creation date : 1887

Date shown: 1887

Dimensions: Height 62 - Width 83.5

Technique and other indications: Watercolored plate, buildings, development projects, general views of the cape Plate extracted from an atlas of 22 plates made up by the Subdivision of Lighthouses and Beacons of Lézardrieux, at the end of the 19th centurye century.

Storage location: Departmental Archives of Côtes-d'Armor website

Contact copyright: © Departmental Archives of Côtes-d'Armor

Picture reference: AD Côtes-d'Armor, S supplement 561

Old lighthouse and primitive lighthouse of Fréhel (Detail: lighthouse seen from the coast).

© Departmental Archives of Côtes-d'Armor

Publication date: November 2008

Video

Cap Fréhel lighthouse

Video

Historical context

From isolated lighting to general marking of coasts

The first lighthouses appeared in isolation, often at the initiative of large merchant ports,

but the establishment of fires on the coasts of France is felt as more and more necessary during the XVIIIe century.

A centralized conception of maritime signaling began to take shape under the Revolution and the Empire. The law of September 15, 1792 entrusted the "surveillance of lighthouses, landmarks, buoys and beacons" to the Ministry of the Navy. The decree of March 7, 1806 truly marks the birth of the public service of Lighthouses and Beacons, now attached to the Ministry of the Interior (Ponts et Chaussées). The first responsible will be Augustin Fresnel (1788-1827), secretary of the Commission des Phares and inventor of the lenticular system which made it famous.

In the 19th century, the golden age of coastal lighting, major works were based on a generalized, rational and permanent organization of maritime signage: transformation of the old lights but above all, from 1840 until the end. of the century, construction of the main lighthouses on the French coast.

Image Analysis

The gradual development of maritime signage

This large watercolor plate, drawn up in the 19th century by the Lighthouse and Beacon Service, recapitulates the technical, architectural and financial elements of the development, in two centuries, of the Fréhel signage.

The first beacon

The original lighthouse, wanted and financed by the shipowners of Saint-Malo, appeared in the middle of the 17th century. Cod fishers from Newfoundland, ships from the West Indies, South America or the Indies, privateer ships, all strive to catch sight of his lantern at night. Above the fifteen-meter-high circular tower, three large torches of tallow and turpentine burn as best they can. Experience shows that continuously maintaining a fire of large flames outdoors in order to be visible from afar, despite wind and rain, requires constant supervision and an enormous amount of fuel; only the coal produces sufficient light, but it has to be brought at great expense from England or from the Nivernais basins.

Vauban lighthouse

To complete the defense of the coast and warn of attacks from the English fleet, Louis XIV and Vauban decided to build a new lighthouse at Fréhel which was carried out by Siméon Garengeau (1647 -1741), between 1701 and 1702. King's engineer in Saint-Malo, he has just built the ramparts of the city as well as half a dozen forts on the coast and offshore to strengthen its defense.

Military architect, he applies the methods of the Department of Land and Sea Fortifications. In Fréhel, he takes exactly the model of the “fire tower”, both lighthouse and watchtower, established by Vauban at the most dangerous points. from the Breton coast. This second lighthouse, consisting of a round tower and a spiral staircase, contains the stores and accommodation on three levels: on the ground floor the coal, above, the wartime guards and at the top the guard responsible for keeping the fire. The brazier, lit in an iron stove at the top of the masonry tower, burns wood and charcoal in the open air. [1]

In the 18th and early 19th centuries, the lantern played an essential strategic role; he appears on this map of an attempt at an English landing in the bay of Saint-Malo. The advanced position of Cap Fréhel in the English Channel, between the bay of Saint-Brieuc and the wind-battered bay of Saint-Malo, offers a landmark for all sailors wishing to dock at the large commercial port, which is accessible from west to east, between the reefs.

Difficulties in the supply of coal determined the first major technical revolution in headlight lighting. In 1774, a new system was installed, based on the model of streetlights adopted for street lighting: a glass lantern contained sixty streetlamp lamps on which fish or other oil burned. The invention, spectacular and easy to use, is drawn next to the lantern: a simple metallic reflector is added to each lamp fitted with an oil spout. These reflective beaks, arranged in three superimposed rows, illuminate three-quarters of the circumference facing the sea. The lights are always fixed and illuminate the horizon in an even manner but often weakened by the smoke on the walls. Everything is tried to "mix" various oils with each other, but improvised mixtures give disappointing results!

From 1793, the State took over all operating costs: maintenance was carried out by a private contractor who supplied rapeseed oil, of better quality, two guards and ensured the repair of buildings and equipment. lighting fixture.

In 1821, the system became rotating thanks to a clockwork mechanism which produced a long flash on the horizon every 135 seconds. The light intensity, which was 15 miles offshore, changes to 21. The new street lamp has eight large parabolic reflectors 60 cm in diameter.

A new lighthouse in the middle of the 19th century

As with all long range headlights, the reflectors are replaced by a Fresnel lens device. The new octagonal tower, 22 meters high and 3.40 m wide, intended to support this new heavier lens, protrudes from the facade of a rectangular building where the guards are housed. Next to it, we keep the old round tower.

The premier lenticular apparatus, eclipsing 30 in 30 seconds, reaches a range of 25.9 miles. The focus is 79 meters above the zero point of the lowest seas. In 1874, a new, more efficient lamp with five concentric wicks was adopted in which petroleum replaced rapeseed oil.

Interpretation

Efficient signage and electrification

Two centuries of effort have made it possible to go beyond the technical limits of each era. Signaling has become effective through the constant improvement of the various phases of construction - or reconstruction - of the Fréhel lighthouse and the progress of lighting techniques, in particular thanks to the change from fixed light to rotating light.

From 1882, the French coast was equipped with large landfall fires, with provision for lighting them with electricity; Fréhel's work was carried out from 1884 to 1886, but at the end of the work, the lighthouse was not electrified for reasons of cost and risk of service instability.

Following the dynamiting of the 19th century lighthouse by the Germans at the end of the Second World War, the Lighthouse Service installed a fire while the work was being carried out on the old Vauban-style tower, which survived. The current lighthouse, the fourth at Fréhel, was started in December 1946 and commissioned on July 1, 1950. The grid electrification is carried out simultaneously.

  • architecture
  • monuments
  • sea
  • Vauban (Sébastien Le Pestre)
  • engineer

Bibliography

Anne BLANCHARDThe engineers of the king from Louis XIV to Louis XVI. Study of the fortificationsMontpellier, 28 rue B. Berthelot, 1979.Francis DREYER and Jean-Christophe FICHOUThe history of all the lighthouses in FranceRennes, Éditions Ouest-France, 2005. Jean-Christophe FICHOU, Noël Le HÉNAFF and Xavier MEVELLighthouses, history of marking and lighting of the coasts of FranceDouarnenez, Editions Le Chasse-Marée / Armen, 1999.

To cite this article

Luce-Marie ALBIGÈS and Xavier LAUBIE, "The lighthouse of cap Fréhel"


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