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COOPER, Harry Claude Lee

Born: 18??
Died: 1959 09 22


Lighthouse Engineer to the SAR & H from 1902 until 1941.

Cooper, an Englishman, decided to study civil engineering under the eminent London engineer William Tregarthen Douglass (1857–1913), renowned lighthouse designer [he had contributed entries to the 11th Edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica on the subject].

Cooper went to Paris in 1900 to study the manufacture of lighthouse apparatus and lenses at the celebrated firm of Henry Lepaute, where he was engaged on the construction of lighthouse equipment for the Paris Exhibition of 1900.

Douglass sent him to New South Wales in Australia in 1901 where he supervised the building of the lighthouse at Cape Byron. On its completion he was offered the position of lighthouse engineer to the Cape Colony, one he accepted. He arrived at Cape Town in September of 1902 and worked under the Chief Engineer, W CRAIG. After Union in 1910 under the Act No 22 of 1916 the Lighthouse Department was incorporated into the South African Railways & Harbours. Subsequent to his reporting to a commission on the matter, he was responsible for its recommendations including improvements to the lighthouses at:
Cape Agulhas
Cape St Blaize
Robben Island.

He was also responsible for the improvements to the Bluff Lighthouse as well as the heightening of the tower of the Donkin Reserve Hill lighthouse. He was responsible for improvement of the optics and lanterns through the introduction of vapour petroleum mantle burners, thereafter having the same electrified. Besides these improvements he also had many new lighthouses constructed.

In his forty years of service he had little by way of assistance. He briefly had JD STEWART (to later become the original partner of MURRAY & STEWART). In his latter years from 1937 he was joined by HG JONES, an electrical engineer who became his successor.

After Cooper’s retirement in 1941 he went to live with his daughter, Lady Riva Marwick in Mbabane, Swaziland, where he died.

(After Williams, 1993: xii-xiv).

Books citing COOPER

Murray, Tony. 2015. Megastructures and masterminds : great feats of civil engineering in southern Africa. Cape Town: Tafelberg. pp 51, 156, 159, 160, 161, 162, 163, 164

Williams, Harold. 1993. Southern Lights : Lighthouses of Southern Africa. Cape Town: William Waterman Publications. pp xii-xv, 5, 14-17, 27, 37, 39-40, 55, 59, 64-67, 77, 91, 112, 114-119, 122, 154