Wuqiu Lighthouse resumes service after 6 decades in Kinmen

Qing dynasty era lighthouse in Wuqiu Township returned to service July 23 in outlying Kinmen

Wuqiu Lighthouse. (Image from MPB)

Wuqiu Lighthouse. (Image from MPB)

The historic lighthouse in Wuqiu Township returned to service July 23 in outlying Kinmen County after standing idle for more than 60 years, according to the Maritime Port Bureau under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.

During a ceremony marking the event, bureau Director-General Hsieh Wei-chun said the lighthouse will once again guide ships to safety through the waters of Kinmen. It will also illuminate public awareness of the role played by such structures in national defense and building the proud maritime heritage of the Republic of China (Taiwan).

Constructed in 1874 during the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), the 17.3-meter-tall lighthouse was designed by British engineer David Marr Henderson. The dark stone structure commenced operations in December the following year, and its powerful lamp was soon a welcome sight for vessels shuttling between the ports of Fuzhou and Xiamen in Fujian province of present-day mainland China.

In 1954, the decision was taken to switch the lighthouse off due to repeated attacks against the island’s ROC military garrison by mainland Chinese communist forces. The structure was maintained by the Customs Administration under the Ministry of Finance until 2001 when it was turned over to the Ministry of National Defense and declared a historic relic in 2006 by Kinmen County Government.

According to Hsieh, reactivating the lighthouse is the first step in bureau efforts to revive its storied past. The next involves conducting a comprehensive survey of the structure to identify areas in need of repair and restoration, he said, adding that the bureau will also cooperate with all related agencies to ensure it is eventually designated a national historic relic.

The Wuqiu initiative is part of ongoing government efforts to transform 28 of Taiwan’s 36 lighthouses into tourism assets under the four-year, NT$245 million (US$8.1 million) National Lighthouse Restoration and Development Plan approved by the Cabinet in 2016. It also follows a similar arrangement last year for Dongyin Lighthouse on Matsu Islands in outlying Lienchiang County.

The latest statistics by Tourism Bureau under the MOTC reveal that the nation’s lighthouses welcomed 1.2 million visitors in 2016.