The beginning The building up Further development The second World War on Mykines Holm The air raids After war time on Mykines Holm Automation Article from "Vore Fyr" about "Myggenæs fyr" (1947) Artikel fra "Fyrbladet", "Storm over Myggenæs" (1966) Article from "Fyrbladet", "Inspektionsskibet "Faros" til Færøerne" (1966) Article from "Fyrbladet" about "Myggenæs fyr" (1970)
The beginningAlready in 1782 the first lighthouse on the Faroes was lit for the first time. It was on the northern part of Nolsoy. The 1.st of October 1893 the great lighthouse on Nolsoy was lit for the first time, as the first part of the intention to secure the navigation on the Faroes with modern lighthouses.
The building upThe lighthouse on Mykines Holm was built in 1909.
Besides the building of the lighthouse, a house for the principal lighthouse keeper was erected in that year. The first house was almost a shack and the next year the house, which still can be seen as the only "real" house on the Holm, was erected.
At the south shore of the Holm, a ramp and a crane was built by which materials and daily deliveries, was brought ashore from small boats, which sailed back and forth from greater vessels lying a distance from the shore. At the upper part of the ramp, a storehouse was built. From the storehouse a sledge was used, drawn by a winch at the north edge of the Holm. From the winch, a road was made down to to the principal lighthouse keeper house, in order to lighten the otherwise heavy work of bringing materials up to the lighthouse. Where the winch stood, one now can see the rest of the shelter built during the second word war, for the protection of the people working on the lighthouse at that time.
There was established a quarry for getting stones for the foundation of the different houses. The rest of this still can be seen, where one otherwise nowadays only sees the rest of the foundation of the later built generator house.
Also in 1909 the first bridge over Holm Gjogv was built. It was a kind of suspension bridge with the bridge deck lying 27 meter above sea level. The path from the Bygd to the lighthouse was also built. Some places steps had to be cut into the rock and some places a wire fence had to be erected. Before the building of the bridge, there had been a chair lift over Holmgjogv.
The lighthouse lens was rotated by a clockwork, which in its own right was driven by a big weight hanging in a big pipe in the middle of the lighthouse. This weight had to be raised every three hour, when the clockwork was rotating the lens. The light was lit and the source of light was a paraffin burner.
When there was bad weather with gale force winds in the first winter, there were great problems in having the lens to rotate regularly, because the tower vibrated so much. Some time the man on watch had to stop the rotation, as the character of the light was too irregular. Because of these problems, a big ring of concrete was concreted around the lower part of the lighthouse and likewise strong wires was attached to the top of the lighthouse the following summer.
On the lighthouse there was what was called "steady watch", which means men on watch day and night all the year around.
In the summertime, ships came up from Denmark with materials and supplies and they was brought to shore with the aid of people from Mykines. When greater tasks had to be done, either maintenance and new building, men were brought from Denmark, so often the summer could be a busy time on the Holm.
Further developmentin 1928 a radio beacon, a radio station and telephone to the village was established and a little power station was built north of the principal lighthouse keeper house. The power station was functioning until Mykines Bygd had its own power station in 1968 and a power cable was laid from the Bygd to the Lighthouse on the Holm. The radio beacon has been very important for the navigation in the North Atlantic and is nowadays even more important for the transatlantic air traffic. The radio beacon was in1981 moved to Knukur, the highest point of Mykines.
In1937- 38 2 houses were built for the assistant lighthouse keepers. These houses has later been moved to Tórshavn and until 2005 the bases could be seen. In the winter 2005 to 2006 the bases were covered with earth and grass. The area around the lighthouse and the houses was fenced in and cultivated so the personnel had grass to cows which in the winter had their box in the cellar. They also had hen houses, so one could have fresh eggs.
After the building of these two houses, a little settlement developed on the Holm, with up to around 25 inhabitants. And there even were given birth to children out there. The up to 7 children went to school on the Holm in winter, while in the summer they walked back and fourth to Mykines Bygd to go to school there.
The crew on the Holm had, besides their daily duties on watch, in periods tasks for Københavns Universitet with observations of Aurea Borealis.
The second World War on Mykines Holm.After the British occupation of the Faroes on the 11.th of April 1940, all the lighthouses on the Faroes was switched off the 22.th of April and they were only lit thereafter on special order, for shorter or longer periods, to support the allied forces in different acts of war in the North Atlantic.
That the lighthouses on the Faroes had strategic importance, can be seen by the fact, that all the 3 manned lighthouses on the Faroes during the war was bombed by the Germans. The lighthouse on Akraberg was only attacked once. The lighthouse on Nolsoy twice, the second time with considerable damage as a result.
The lighthouse an Mykines Holm was attacked 3 times.
The first air raidThe first time was the 8.th of August 1941. There was one fly by early in the day and later, in the afternoon, a plane came by shooting with machine guns towards the lighthouse and an assistant lighthouse keeper was wounded and had to be treated on the hospital in Tórshavn. Besides that some material damage.
The second air raidAlready on the 24.th of August a new attack came. This time bombs were dropped, but only material damage became the result, though considerable.
The third air raidThe 30.th of October 1941 the third and last attack on the lighthouse on Mykines Holm took place. This time 5 bombs were dropped, of which 4 hit the ground around the lighthouse, but fortunately none of these exploded. Two of these slid out over the edge into the sea. The fifth hit the sea directly and exploded there. Though none of the bombs exploded in vicinity of the lighthouse, considerable damage was the result of the attack and the radio station came out of order, though only for a short time.
The Second World War ended for the lighthouses on the Faroes on the 13.th of May 1945 and from then on, the lighthouses have thrown their light over the ocean. But it was not before 1948, everything was in order again and everything had been cleaned up after these attacks. But the after war period also meant a modernization, both of the personnel houses, of the lighthouses, the technical equipment and among other things, a new power station and a new radio beacon.
After war-time on Mykines HolmThere have been plans for building a totally new lighthouse on Mykines Holm, because worries of that the now being, was placed so utterly, that it eventually would fall into the ocean. These plans haven't been fulfilled, the lighthouse is still standing on the place where it was erected in 1909. But it is without doubt, that it sooner or later will fall into the ocean, although when is more difficult to say.
Already in 1920 there was established sea watch registering all passing ships and after the war it was even intensified with the engagement of one more assistant lighthouse keeper.
AutomationIn 1969 Mykines lighthouse stopped being with day and night watch and this was the first step in automatization and depopulation of the Holm.
From 1970 only one person was employed with the lighthouse on Mykines Holm, an assistant lighthouse keeper, who was living in Mykines Bygd and had an alarm installed in his house. In 1975 he moved from Mykines and the surveillance has ever since been via telephone, in first hand from Akraberg, since from Fornæs Fyr on Djursland in Danmark!
After the automatization, the maintenance of the lighthouse has been done by regularly inspections and on automatic alarm calls.
Also the weather observations have been automated by the establishment of a totally automatic station, capable of measuring wind direction, -force and gust of wind, atmospheric pressure, temperature and humidity. All these observations can be read on the following link, DMI's (Danmarks Meteologiske Instituts) homepage .
The lighthouse in this way still shows 3 flashes every 20.th second on Mykines Holm in the time from the 20.th of July to the 20.th of May next year, as it is switched off in the summer, because of the light nights on the Faroes.
Based upon: Niels Jensen: Farvandsvæsenet på Færøerne i Hundrede År, Farvandsvæsenet 1993, other written sources and personal information.
The Lighthouse is of the second degree
Position: On the north westernly point of Mykines Holm, Færøerne. The hight of the terrain at the lighthouse is approximately 113 meters above sea level.
Distance, Transport e.c.:
From the Lighthouse to the sound, which separate the Holm from the main island, there is about 1 kilometer; here a suspension bridge is built, approximately 32 meters long, about 24 meter above sea level. From the bridge to the village, there is about half an hours walking and in the village there is Church, school, Post Office and general store. As it only is possible to land on the southern side of the island and the circumstances for landing are difficult, especially in the winter, many days can pass without any connection to the surrounding world. There is a crane to hoist goods. The Holm is well suited for grazing for bullocks and sheep. In the surrounding waters there is fine fishing grounds.
The Lighthouse keeper have a yearly subsidy for a teacher. The staff have an amount of fuel as payment for unloading and transport of goods to the lighthouse. There is not any peat on the Holm. The surroundings of the lighthouse are partly cultivated and delivers winter fodder for three cows, which in the summer graze among the bullocks on the Holm and for which there is paid for. Potatoes and a limited amount vegetables can be grown.
The beacon is in a 14 meter high tower of iron. The beacon is of the third order with a paraffin burner. The staff consist of one principal lighthouse keeper, one assisting lighthouse keeper, one lighthouse keeper and one assistant.
There is a radio beacon at the lighthouse and the electricity is generated by two four stroke 2 HP petrol engines coupled to 1.5 kilowatt generators. Moreover there is radio telegraph and telephone for communication with Thorshavn. The radio installation is delivered by the engineering company M. P. Pedersen. København. The lighthouse staff serve the radio beacon, telegraph and telephone and receive a fee for this work.
Housing: The principal lighthouse keeper house has 3 rooms and a kitchen-dining room on the ground floor, two rooms and a smaller room on the first floor. In the cellar there are 2 rooms. The outhouse is built together with the house and contains more rooms, a washing room and a room for drying sheep meat and a little room. Moreover there is a stable and a barn,
The assisting lighthouse keeper house contains 2 rooms and a kitchen on the ground floor and two rooms and a little room on the first floor. In the cellar there is a stable room, a washing room and a room. The outhouse is built together with the house and contains one room for fuel and one drying house.
The lighthouse keeper house is as the assisting lighthouse keeper house, with the difference, that the room in the cellar is arranged as home for the assistant.
Moreover there is house for storing paraffin, a radio station and a store house with the crane.
Mail address: Thorshavn.
Telegraph address: (Tlf.) Thorshavn.
Jobs besides the lighthouse related: Look-out for the Fisheries Inspection. Meteorological observations.
Tax: 8 % (40 p, c. increase).
So was the message an early morning in early spring 1965 and when the wind is blowing on Mykines, it is often with a strength, which we do not know in Danmark, not even at the West Coast of Jutland, which is else is famous for strong winds.
Soon after this message, the first report of damage arrived, »the radio beacon out of order, the mast broken«.
Behind this short message, was the fact, which let it running cold down the back of the project team and responsible technicians.
Was the mast, which was a tube of steel with a diameter of 5 inches and a hight of 25 meter above the terrain, too weak, was it the ropes, which also function as an »umbrella« antenna, that were too weak or was it the fundament which broke? What was the reason for, that the mast, which was erected half a year ago, now was bent as a bow and unable to fulfil its purpose.
Soon more information arrived. The roof of the principal lighthouse keeper house was damaged, the gable of one of the assistant lighthouse keeper houses was pushed 2 inches inward, the staircase likewise, some heavy beams were broken as well as other damage was reported.
In short terms, the wind had blown with a force of 15-16, (Admiral Beaufort thought that force 12 was enough to describe the force of wind), and that was what the mast was designed to withstand, but no hight could be taken for flying stones, roof steel plates and other things and probably it was things like this, which had made an end to the radio beacon mast.
Close to the west of the principal lighthouse keeper house, there is a slope, which is about 100 metre high and consist of soil, gravel and weather-worn rock and from here many stones have flown towards the houses and the outermost house has been the most exposed.
But also parts of the buildings can have hit the ropes. It showed up, that one fo the »eggs« (insulators) was broken and probably this minor damage was enough to cause the fall of the mast.
As told, the radio beacon was not functioning, but as it is of great importance for the navigation, both for the ships, as well for the air traffic to the near by lying only airport of the Faroes at Sørvagur east of Myggenæs, it was of great importance, to fix it as quickly as possible.
The staff succeeded shortly after the end of the hurricane, under the leader ship of assistant S. Jespersen from the Ejde Loranstation, to raise two sections of the broken mast and to establish a »hammock« antenna in stead of the fallen one and it turned out to functioned so well, that there was no need to force the building of an new antenna.
It has to be mentioned, that a new mast was erected this summer and now the radio beacon is functioning with its intended strength and reach. This work was done under the supervision of the lighthouse controller C. Albertsen, who also inspected all the Faroese lighthouses this summer.
The Inspection ship "Faros" to the Faroes
Tuesday the 9.th of August the inspection ship »Faros« left for the Faroes. On board were among others lighthouse director A. Legind, head of department P. Fink-Jensen and graduate engineer K. O. Gredal.
The reason for this journey was in first hand the coming principal lighthouse keeper shift at the lighthouses at Myggenæs and Akraberg, but along with this, inspection was planned of Nolsø Fyr, Ejde and Skuvanes Loran stations and, the weather permitting, inspection of the smaller lighthouses, which the vessel came close to.
Principal lighthouse keeper A. Lid, who had been on duty at Myggenæs Fyr since 1939, of these the last 12 years as principal lighthouse keeper, was going to be transfered, after application, to Akraberg Fyr, which at the same time - so far - change status with Myggenæs.
Principal lighthouse keeper A. Lid succeed at Akraberg, the principal lighthouse keeper N. Poulsen, who left because of age the 1.th of July after 44 years of service at the station.
At Myggenæs Fyr, assistant lighthouse keeper L. Heinesen has been promoted to principal lighthouse keeper the same place.
The weather conditions were very varied the first part fo the journey, but according to the messages the directorate have received, »Faros« anchored at Myggenæs the 12.th of August in fine weather with light northernly wind, which normally give the best possible landing conditions at that place.
There has not been a principal lighthouse keeper shift at Myggenæs since 1954, when »Argus« was at the Faroes in November-December and performed the of all times most difficult double removal from Myggenæs to Nolsø and of bad experience, one knows, that a removal on Myggenæs can be one of the most difficult, where the weather conditions have a definitive importance.
But it is not only the weather and wave conditions, which must be calm, also on land the transport is very difficult, though last year a winch was at disposal for the transport at the lighthouse.
From the houses the properties have to be moved 300 meter along a grass grown slope to the warehouse and the inclination of this slope is between 15 to 20°.
At the warehouse the properties have to be reloaded to a little rail waggon, which run on a steep slope to a crane, where a new reload had to be done and the goods was then lowered 40 meter down on to a barge, which lies moored in the »gjov« - a little bay surrounded by steep rocks, where there almost always are waves and breakers and from there the barge had to be towed by the motorboat to the the inspection ship and there loaded.
The landing of the properties at Akraberg is in now adays much easier, as it no longer is necessary to load the properties at the coast with the lighthouse, as was the case with the building of the lighthouse in 1909.
The landing now takes place at »Våg«, the most southernly greater port on Suderø and from here can be moved directly to Akraberg on a truck along a - considering the conditions - good road, which runs as a hairpin road the approximately 20 kilometers over the mountains from Våg to Akraberg.
As the journey not yet it is finished, it is too early to tell the coming course of the journey but it is calculated to have a duration of 2-3 weeks.
The lighthouse on Myggenæs was build in 1909 and lit the same year the 1.th of November.
Along with the building of the lighthouse, the principal lighthouse keeper house, a house for storing paraffin and a warehouse were erected. Moreover a bridge was built over the narrow sound, which divide Mykines Holm from Mykines.
In this way connection between the lighthouse and the little village, which is lying at the the south westernly corner of Mykines, was established. Though the path is not the easiest accessible - one have to pass a hight of about 130 meters - it has shown to be indispensable, as it only is possible to land on Mykines Holm in fine weather.
In 1928 a radio station with a radio beacon was installed in a new house which was built north of the principal lighthouse keeper house. This house was in 1934 enlarged with a generator house.
As the amount of work at the lighthouse increased, more staff living on the Holm was necessary and in 1927, 2 houses were built, one for an assistant lighthouse keeper and one for an assistant. This was the configuration until the war began in 1939 - 40, where the island was occupied by the British Army, who established a guard in the village, while the lighthouse was taken care of by the usual staff.
During the war, Myggenæs Fyr was more times attacked by German aeroplanes and the generator house was damaged by bombs. The houses, especially the principal lighthouse keeper house, was hit by machine gun bullets and one member of the staff was lightly injured by a bullet.
After the war, a new generator house was built in 1948 - 49 and the radio beacon was renewed.
In 1955 the old bridge was substituted by a new grilled beam bridge, as the rock around the gjogv didn't allowed the building of a new suspension bridge.
After 1960 the houses were renewed in several ways, among others with central heating and the fresh water supply was expanded and there is now pressure on the taps and a bathing room has been arranged in the principal lighthouse keeper house.
In 1968 - 69 it was decided to automate the lighthouse, as the conditions for the school children were unsatisfactory and it was increasing difficult to get the necessary manpower to maintenance work and transports, as the number of inhabitants in Myggenæs village, have been steady declining during these later years.
Along with this, it was decided by the Faroese parliament, Lagtinget, in an attempt to stop the depopulation of the island, to build a power station and supply the village with electrical light. Because of that, the road was ready for automation of the lighthouse and this process was finished this autumn.
The power station built in the village not only supply the village with electricity but also supply the lighthouse through a 2 kilometer long cable. At the same time, a room for a reserve generator with a diesel engine and a new radio beacon was arranged in the outhouse of the principal lighthouse keeper house. The generator starts automatically, if the main power from the village fails.
At the same time, a new mast of glass fiber without ropes, has been erected and a whiplash and umbrella antenna installed. And this arrangement has shown to be very fit for the conditions at Mykines Holm with its salt saturated atmosphere, which is corrosive and has shown to disturb the function of the antennas.
The beacon also got alternation current and connected to the reserve power station.
Because of the automation, the staff could be transferred and the lighthouse is now taken of by an assistant lighthouse keeper, who is living in the village and inspects the lighthouse once a week.
The principal lighthouse keeper house has been put in order and is intended to be standing and used during inspection and maintenance work. The two smaller houses have been demolished as well as the generator hose and the paraffin house. So in this way, the establishment is now almost as it was, when built in 1909.
An automation almost always has its victims and seen from the island and in further meaning the Faroes and the staffs point of view, it has to be regretted, that the development has been followed by this simplification.
During the years, the lighthouse and its staff have had great importance for the village and it has to be mentioned, that tax for 3 to 4 families no more is a part of Myggenæs kommune's income and besides this, the extensive building and repair works, have implied great turnover and income for the inhabitants of the village, who always with interest and craftsmanship, have participated in all kinds of work.
The daily and detailed weather observations also have disappeared to regret for many. Left back is maybe a little local forecast in the Faroese wireless, but without doubt, many on the Faroes are missing the daily contact with the lighthouse and the staff out there.
One can now stand in Myggenæs village and look out at the empty and deserted "Holmen". In the night, one sees the light of the beacon, but apart from this, only darkness. The establishment looks as it did in 1909, but there is no more life around the house, everything is empty and deserted. What one in former time looked out at and longed for, is now only empty and deserted, bygone now and it lasted for only 61 years.