Lighthouse Roter Sand

Der Leuchtturm Roter Sand (1885). Dieses prächtige Modell des Bauwerks im Maßstab 1:30 auf Deck 1 des Museums.

The Lighthouse Roter Sand (1885). This magnificent model of the structure in a scale of 1:30 is on deck 1 of the museum.

The lighthouse “Roter Sand” is arguably the first permanent offshore construction in history. It stands in the North Sea, off the estuary of the river Weser (53° 51′ 11,4″ N, 8° 4′ 55,8″ O). It raises 52,5 meters over the seabed with an iconic design that influenced the construction of all other lighthouses in the region. In 1878, the cities of Oldenburg and Bremen, and the state of Prussia decided to join forces to erect a lighthouse in an area that was complicated for the service of lightships. After planning, the company that received the order for the construction started working on the caisson in late 1880. A caisson is a watertight structure that can be transported to a place at sea and lowered to the seabed to allow construction work under water. In this case, the caisson was to be filled with concrete to build the foundation of the lighthouse. In May 1881 two steam tugboats started towing the structure to the construction site. The complicated action took 4 days. The construction took longer than expected due to bad weather and was not stable enough when the autumn storms came. On October the 13th one of these storms destroyed and sunk the caisson. This failure caused the bankruptcy of the construction company. A new company was found, and a more expensive project was launched in late 1882. The process started again in May 1883 when 316 cubic meters of concrete were poured into the North Sea. The plan worked this time, and the foundation was completed in May 1884. Further bad weather caused delays in the construction of the tower, but on midnight of November the 1st 1885 the fire of the “Roter Sand” was lit in a ceremony. It stayed a main sea sign until 1964. By that time the lighthouse had shown signs of decay and the structure was outdated for the installation of a radar, so a new lighthouse called “Alte Weser” was erected three kilometers to the north of the “Roter Sand”. The old tower kept some importance as a daytime sigh and her fire was kept active on low intensity for emergencies. In 1975 there were discussions about either destroying the old lighthouse or taking it to land as a monument. The population of the area protested this energetically. The decision of maintaining “Roter Sand” in place became firm in 1978, and the building became protected by the German cultural heritage laws in 1982. Her fire was finally turned off before restauration works started on November the 11th 1986. It had burned for 101 years and 11 days. “Roter Sand” is still standing today.

And so does this magnificent model of the structure in a scale of 1:30 on deck 1 of the museum. It was built by Günter Strepp until his death in 2008 and completed by Helge Staack. We are thankful to both artists and to the organisation “Interessengemeinschaft Seezeichen” e. V. for giving us the possibility to show it.