In order to give the public an insight into the history of lighthouse development in Taiwan, the Maritime and Port Bureau, MOTC built Taiwan’s first Lighthouse Museum on the west bank of the Keelung Harbor. The museum hosts a collection of lighting devices from various eras. Because of the remarkable chemistry behind its illumination and the inventive science that goes into its internal structure, the mantle lamp is regarded as the greatest treasure of the Lighthouse Museum. In order to pass down this symbol of century-old history and culture, the Bureau went through a year of hard work before finally being able to rekindle this lamp’s former radiance.
Mantle lamps were invented in the 1880s. Barbier, Bernard et Turenne from France and Chang from the UK were the two world factories that originally manufactured mantle lamps. There are three standard diameters for the lamp burners, 3.5cm, 5.5cm, and 8.5 cm. Compared with the traditional kerosene lamp, the mantle lamp is a stronger light source that emits unusually bright light once the lamp burner is covered with a gas mantle. It would help voyagers travel for longer distances. Taiwan’s earliest introduction of the mantle lamp was at the Dongyin Lighthouse of the Matsu Islands in 1904. Due to its great luminous effect, it continued to be introduced at the lighthouses of outlying islands including the Wuqiu Lighthouse, Dongding Island Lighthouse, Dongju Island Lighthouse, Dongji Island Lighthouse, and the Pengjia Lighthouse.
However, as technology advanced and the use of electricity became widespread, mantle lamps were gradually replaced with carbide lamps and incandescent lamps. Finally, in 1993, the last mantle lamp was replaced by an incandescent lamp on Pengjia Islet. Since then, mantle lamps became history, and this lighting technology was lost, leading to the unfortunate demise of traditional culture.
In order to revive the century-old lighting technique, the Maritime and Port Bureau reignited a mantle lamp for the world to behold. After visiting senior lighthouse managers to piece historical memories back together, seeking information from historical books, and repeated testing and process adjustments, the mantle light finally lit up after countless failures. This success carries a significant and profound meaning as it brought back a part of old maritime culture.
The Maritime and Port Bureau stated: Despite having withstood storms for more than a century, with the attentive care of our lighthouse staff, the mantle lamp lights up once again today, and is as splendent as ever. Since the success did not come easy, the Bureau will record the complete process of reviving the mantle light and present it in the Keelung Lighthouse Museum. People are welcome to visit the Lighthouse Museum, learn about century-old nautical stories through old lighting devices, and experience lighthouse culture in its quintessential form.
The Lighthouse Museum is located at No.11, Guanghua Road, Keelung City. The Baimiweng Fortification and Xian Dong Yan are just nearby. Both of these places have a hundred years of history as well, making the area a great place for a one-day tour. Reservations are required for visiting the Lighthouse Museum, for which you may call 02-89786814. The museum is open during business hours from Tuesday to Friday. Tour groups with buses may park the vehicles at appropriate parking spaces around the facility. You may also take the 301 and 302 Keelung City bus routes from the Keelung Railway Station to Taibaizhuang. The buses come approximately every 12-20 minutes on weekdays.
Contact Person: Maritime Safety Section - Chief Liu Zheng-shan
Contact Number: 02-89788098 0972820100