Historical information

A small number of heavy cast iron weights and two rods remain at the Point Hicks. The weights and rods were part of the original clockwork mechanism that was fitted beneath the lens to keep the kerosene-fuelled light turning. They were attached to a cable or chains and moved vertically in similar fashion to the way weights move on grandfather clocks. As the weight fell, the optic clock was driven and the lens was turned. To keep the clock turning, the weight needed to be wound back up to the top of its travel. The cables and weights in this lighthouse were visible as they moved through the length of the tower up to the lantern room. It was usual for systems to move inside a tube extending up to the top, but in this case the tower’s cast iron spiral staircase, which is supported on cantilever cast iron brackets set into the concrete wall, spiralled around the space in which they moved. Lighthouse keepers had the arduous job of having to constantly wind the clock to keep the light active, and at least two keepers needed to observe a strict roster of hours. When electric motors were invented, all of this became redundant and the motors were able to turn the optic for as long as there was power to drive them. In December 1964, the original 1890 Chance Bros kerosene-fuelled light and clockwork mechanism were replaced by small electric motor, and the number of keepers reduced to two. The six circular weights and rods originate from the obsolete system and may have been part of a larger set. Wilsons Promontory retains seven of its original set of ten weights, all of which are detached from the tower’s weight tube. Cape Schanck has a set of fourteen weights remaining in situ as well as another four detached weights, which have inscriptions . One weight is displayed in the lantern room at Cape Otway.


The Point Hicks weights have first level contributory significance for the insights they provide into the superseded technology and operations of a late nineteenth century lighthouse. They are well provenanced and are significant for their historic value as part of the lightstation’s Chance Brothers optical system installed in 1890.

Physical description

PHLS0005.1 Round cast iron weight with flat base used for lens clock-work mechanism attached to a bent metal rod.
PHLS0005.2 Removable round cast iron weight with flat base used for lens clock-work mechanism stored above the other weight.