Book – Last Lights: The Hand-Wound Lighthouses of the Bahamian Islands

Book – Last Lights: The Hand-Wound Lighthouses of the Bahamian Islands

The author of this book, Annie Potts, wrote me when I first started this new format of my website. She was enquiring if I had any source for large kerosene mantles for the three remaining Bahamas lighthouses. Unfortunately I did not know of any sources.

Just today i discovered that she had written a book on her favourite topic – the remaining Bahamian lighthouses. These lighthouses still are lit with kerosene vapour burners, travel on mercury baths and are still hand-wound – no electric motors to turn them around.

Last Lights is the first book to be published in 50 years documenting Bahamian lightstations commissioned between 1836 and 1887 by the British Imperial Lighthouse Service. Of those eleven manned lightstations built as remote outposts in the Bahama Islands, all but three have been automated and had their large Fresnel glass lenses and turning mechanisms removed.  

The author decided to photograph and write about these hand-cranked, kerosene-burning lighthouses when she learned they were threatened with automation. She hopes her book, with its stunning photographs and compelling text, will encourage their conservation, helping to maintain the living history of the Bahamian people as well as continue to provide additional navigational safety. – Martin County Library 

The book is available from Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and many other sellers. make sure you get a copy for your collection!


Dear John,
I am with the Bahamas Lighthouse Preservation Society and I am wondering if you might help me. The Bahamas has eleven lighthouses built by the British between 1836-1887. Eight lighthouses have been automated and one was decommissioned in 1934. There are three lightstations that still have Chance Brothers Fresnel lenses and lens clocks. These lights are still illuminated by Hood petroleum vapour burners with mantles. To the best of our research, these are the only lights left in the world that are day in and day out cranked by hand and fueled by pressure kerosene.
Among our problems is finding a source of good strong mantles for these lights. They use 50mm double-walled autoform mantles that are for high-pressure kerosene. (I can furnish photos). In the past we have used a company in China to fabricate them, but have not liked the quality of the mantles produced. Do you know of any other lighthouses using kerosene burning mantles? Would you have any ideas of where we might be able to find more mantles?
This may be out of the scope of your work but from your website I could tell that you understand the fraternity that exists between keepers. The keepers who are operating these lighthouses in The Bahamas are struggling to keep their lights from being automated. Some of them are sons of keepers and they are proud of the tradition. We at the BLPS advise the Bahamian government which administers these structures. In writing the newly published book “Last Lights- The Hand-Wound Lighthouses of The Bahama Islands” I have tried to help the government understand the importance of keeping these lights actively manned.
Thank you for your time and I hope to hear from you. I liked reading about your experiences as a keeper and thank you for sharing them on your website. I hope you will be able to help us.

My Best,

Annie Potts

email= ephemeral@bellsouth.net


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Retired (2001) British Columbia lighthouse keeper after 32 years on the lights.

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