20th January 1961
Hanois Lighthouse is cut off by the weather
Hanois Lighthouse sits on a treacherous reef that has caused many wrecks and the loss of several lives over the years. Officials, sailors and even exiled author Victor Hugo had campaigned for Trinity House, the UK lighthouse authority, to build a lighthouse on it for years. The foundation stone was finally laid in 1860, and the building completed a couple of years later.
Almost a century on, the seas were proving definitively why its construction had been so important. The winter weather of January 1961 had whipped them into a frenzy and prevented the regular supply boat from visiting the lighthouse keepers.
This wasn’t a problem to begin with. Being cut off now and then was part and parcel of being a lighthouse keeper, since they live and work in some of the most inhospitable locations imaginable. Yet, as the days wore on, things started to get more serious.
Emergency supplies flown in
By early February the lighthouse had been without fresh supplies for two weeks and the Royal Navy was drafted in to help.
A pair of Whirlwind helicopters from HMS Osprey, the air station established at Portland in 1917, flew on a mercy mission to replenish the outpost. Over the course of six flights – three each – they delivered coke for heating, mail and, perhaps most important of all, forty barrels of fresh water.
Hanois Lighthouse was automated in 1996, allowing Trinity House to retire its keepers. However, the authority still oversees its operations, and both owns and maintains the lighthouse itself. Further evidence of its activity on Guernsey persists in the shape of the Trinity House Cottages at Portelet.
What else happened in Guernsey in January?
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