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Research Guides


Collections in Perth: A Guide to Commonwealth Government Records


19. Lighthouses and Sea Navigation

Until 1 July 1915, the administration and maintenance of lighthouses was a State responsibility. In 1913, however, the Lighthouse Branch was established within the Department of Trade and Customs to oversee this function, and two years later the transfer of responsibility to the Commonwealth became a reality.

The Agencies

Four lighthouse districts were established around the Australian coast to administer lighthouses at a regional level. The Western Australian and Northern Australia (later the Northern Territory) coast was designated the No. 1 District.

The Lighthouse Branch, No. 1 District Office (WA and NT) was apparently established in Fremantle, WA in February 1915 when J J H Airey was appointed District Officer.

By 1921 it was found to be more practical and economical to appoint district lighthouse officers as deputy directors of navigation, an office established under the Navigation Act 1912. As a result, the District Officer, No. 1 Lighthouse District became the District Lighthouse Officer and Deputy Director of Navigation, WA. The position was consequently known as the Deputy Director of Lighthouses and Navigation, WA.

The Deputy Director of Lighthouses and Navigation was responsible for the day-to-day operations of marine services in WA. The position was also known as the Superintendent of the Mercantile Marine Office in Fremantle. The agency described by these titles was also known by a variety of other names. From 1927 to 1961, it was apparently known as the Marine Branch, and between 1961 and 1963 it was called the Marine Services Division of the Department of Shipping and Transport. (See also Shipping in the Transport section.)

  • 1915–21: Lighthouse Branch, No. 1 District Office (WA and NT), Fremantle (CA 7257)
  • c1921–27: District Lighthouse Officer and Deputy Director of Navigation, WA (CA 7255)
  • c1927–63: Deputy Director of Lighthouses and Navigation, WA and Superintendent Mercantile Marine Office, Fremantle (CA 5268); from 1927–61 known as the Marine Branch and, from 1961–63, the Marine Services Division (CA 5268)
  • c1963–72: Department of Shipping and Transport, Regional Controller, WA (CA 1017)

The Records

The following list details some series containing records about lighthouses and navigation matters.

CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1901–97
Perth
Series: PP844/1
Quantity: 4.86 metres
Recorded by: 1975–84: Department of Administrative Services, Regional Office, WA (CA 3671)
Eclipse Island – transport – lighthouse, 1955–72 PP844/1, 76/191
Steep Point – transport – lighthouse, 1961–72 PP844/1, 76/185
Breaksea Island – transport – lighthouse site, 1960–64 PP844/1, 76/252
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1901–97
Series: K273
Quantity: 161.49 metres
Recorded by: 1922–32: Lands and Survey Branch (CA 737); 1932–39: Property and Survey Branch (CA 738); 1939–46: Works and Services Branch, WA (CA 971); 1946–52: Property and Survey Branch, WA (CA 4816); 1952–75: Chief Property Officer, Perth (CA 1065)
Eclipse Island – acquisition of land – Marine Branch, 1922–27 K273, 1922/7
Jarman Lighthouse – shipping and transport, 1922–55 K273, 1922/2
Rottnest Island – Bathurst Point Lighthouse, 1931–87 K273, 1931/8
Cape Naturaliste – transport – lighthouse, 1952–86 K273, 1979/1075
Bedout Island – lighthouse site, 1959–78 K273, 1978/362
Browse Island – transport (surface) – radio beacon and lighthouse, 1963–82 K273, 1977/102
East Island – transport – lighthouse site, 1964–82 K273, 1977/136
Figure of Eight Island – lighthouse site, 1964–83 K273, 1977/135
North Island – transport – lighthouse, 1967–72 K273, 1977/192
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1906–81
Perth
Series: PP828/1
Quantity: 6.3 metres
Recorded by: 1975: Department of Administrative Services, Regional Office, WA (CA 3670)
Degerando Island – transport – lighthouse site, 1959–61 PP828/1, 1975/796
La Crosse Island – transport – lighthouse site, 1959–65 PP828/1, 1975/797
ROTTNEST ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE LOG BOOKS, 1909–57
Perth
Series: PP267/1
Quantity: 0.18 metres
Recorded by: 1915–21: Lighthouse Branch, No. 1 District Office (WA and NT), Fremantle (CA 7257); 1921–27: District Lighthouse Officer and Deputy Director of Navigation, WA (CA 7255); 1927–50: Deputy Director of Lighthouses and Navigation, WA (CA 5268)
REGISTER OF EQUIPMENT, CAPE LEEUWIN LIGHTHOUSE, 1915–50
Perth
Series: PP295/1
Quantity: 0.18 metres
Recorded by: 1915–21: Lighthouse Branch, No. 1 District Office (WA and NT), Fremantle (CA 7257); 1921–27: District Lighthouse Officer and Deputy Director of Navigation, WA (CA 7255); 1927–50: Deputy Director of Lighthouses and Navigation, WA (CA 5268)
CORRESPONDENCE REGISTERS, DEATHS AT SEA, ALPHABETICAL SERIES, 1922–46
Perth
This series contains inquiry files on people who died at sea.
Series: PP1804/1
Quantity: 0.36 metres
Recorded by: 1922–46: Mercantile Marine Office, Fremantle (from 1927–61, known as the Marine Branch, and from 1961–63, the Marine Services Division) (CA 5268)
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1922–97
Perth
Series: K279
Quantity: 175 metres
Recorded by: 1946–74: Director of Works, WA (CA 2916)
Standard lighthouse designs, 1964–65 K279, 1964/141
NAVIGATIONAL AIDS STATIONS' LOG BOOKS, CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER BY STATION, 1927–
Perth
This series contains navigational aids stations' log books for various lighthouses along the Western Australian coast.
Series: K708
Quantity: 1.44 metres
Recorded by: 1927–63: Deputy Director of Lighthouses and Navigation, WA (CA 5268); 1963–72: Department of Shipping and Transport, Regional Controller, WA (CA 1017)
NAVIGATIONAL AIDS STATIONS' OPERATIONAL RECORDS, 1927–
Perth
Records in this series deal with works authorities, new works programs, repairs and maintenance requisitions, instructions to lighthouse keepers, miscellaneous correspondence and mechanics' reports for navigational aids stations located at Eclipse Island, Moore Point, Cape Leeuwin, Rottnest Island, Cape Leveque and Cape Naturaliste.
Series: K863
Quantity: 4.86 metres
Recorded by: 1927–63: Deputy Director of Lighthouses and Navigation, WA (CA 5268); 1963–72: Department of Shipping and Transport, Regional Controller, WA (CA 1017)
ORIGINAL DRAWINGS, SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, ALPHABETICAL PREFIXES AND SUFFIXES, 1930–58
Perth
Series: PP712/1
Quantity: 0.42 metres
Recorded by: 1930–32: Public Works Branch, WA (CA 760); 1932–46: Works and Services Branch, WA (CA 971); 1946–58: Director of Works, WA (CA 2916)
Breaksea Island – new lighthouse and quarters, 1901 PP712/1, WA7712
LIGHTHOUSE LOG BOOKS: CAPE LEEUWIN LIGHTHOUSE, 1936–42
Perth
Series: PP365/1
Quantity: 0.18 metres
Recorded by: 1936–42: Deputy Director of Lighthouses and Navigation, WA (CA 5268)
JOB FILES, FINANCIAL YEAR SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, ALPHABETICAL PREFIXES, 1942–62
Perth
Series: PP280/1
Quantity: 54 metres
Recorded by: 1946–62: Director of Works, WA (CA 2916)
Point Quobba – lighthouse erection, lantern assembly and road provision, 1938–51 PP280/1, SD1947/48/44
APERTURE CARDS, 35MM MICROFILM MASTER NEGATIVES OF PLANS AND DRAWINGS, SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, ALPHABETICAL PREFIXES, 1945–58
Perth
Series: K1201
Quantity: 1.62 metres
Recorded by: 1945–46: Works and Services Branch, WA (CA 971); 1946–58: Director of Works, WA (CA 2916)
Eclipse Island, 1925 K1201, WA5461
Breaksea Island signal mast, 1928 K1201, WA158
Point Moore Light Station, 1938 K1201, WA436
Rottnest Island Lighthouse, 1944 K1201, WA6829
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1953–71
Perth
Correspondence files about ships, shipping and crews, beacons, lights, lighthouses and other navigational aids, and marine accidents and subsequent inquiries.
Series: PP486/1
Quantity: 10.26 metres
Recorded by: 1953–63: Deputy Director of Lighthouses and Navigation, WA (CA 5268); 1963–71: Department of Shipping and Transport, Regional Controller, WA (CA 1017)
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 'A' PREFIX, 1954 (CONTENTS RANGE: 1908–56)
Perth
Correspondence files on policy and procedures, navigational aids, courts of marine inquiry, shipping and crews, salvage and search-and-rescue operations.
Series: K1150
Quantity: 2.6 metres
Recorded by: 1954: Deputy Director of Lighthouses and Navigation, WA (CA 5268)
MICROFILM APERTURE CARDS (MASTER TYPE 1 CLASS 1, PLANS AND DRAWINGS), PLAN/DRAWING NUMBER ORDER, 1959–62
Perth
Series: PP715/1
Quantity: 0.18 metres
Recorded by: 1959–62: Director of Works, WA (CA 2916)
Point D'entre Casteaux Lighthouse – working drawing, 1960 PP715/1, WC60/101
MV CAPE DON, SPECIFICATIONS AND TECHNICAL DATA, SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1963–90 (CONTENTS RANGE: 1959–83)
Perth
This series contains plans, specifications and photos of, and manuals and technical information about, the marine vessel Cape Don. The Cape Don was one of several lighthouse tenders run by the Department of Transport which travelled the WA/NT coastline calling at lighthouses to conduct maintenance, drop off and pick up passengers, and drop supplies. The Cape Don was built in 1963 and sold in 1990.
Series: K1255
Quantity: 1.44 metres
Recorded by: 1963: Deputy Director of Lighthouses and Navigation, WA (CA 5268); 1963–72: Department of Shipping and Transport, Regional Controller, WA (CA 1017)

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