Qingyu Lighthouse

IALA Heritage Lighthouse of the Year 2023 Nominee

Location: CHINA - Fujian Province. Xiamem City. Siming District.

Lighthouse Operator: Xiamen AtoN Division of Eastern Navigation Service Centre

Source: (photos as submitted to accompany nomination form by Xiamen AtoN Division of Eastern Navigation Service Centre 2023)

Lighthouse Description and History

(Text extracted from nomination form submitted by Xiamen AtoN  Division of Eastern Navigation Service Centre 2023)

Qingyu Lighthouse and its management facilities Former Amoy Harbour Master Office are located in Siming District of Xiamen and have been interdependent and developed together for over 140 years. Both of them have an important influence on the development of China’s modern shipping industry.

In 1862, the General Administration of Customs and Taxation of the Qing Dynasty set up the Amoy Harbour Master Office in Xiamen, responsible for shipping, port, navigation administration, maritime affairs and other management affairs from Wenzhou in the north to Hong Kong in the Chinese waters. The Former Amoy Harbour Master Office maintained the operation of Qingyu Lighthouse.

David Marr Henderson, born in England, came to China in 1869 as the chief builder of the South China Sea and worked in the Amoy Harbour Master Office to build Qingyu Lighthouse. During his 29 years of service, he devoted himself to the construction of lighthouses in China, supervised the construction of 34 lighthouses and improved 10 lighthouses, of which Qingyu Lighthouse was a very important one.

Qingyu Lighthouse has been built for over 140 years. In 1875, the lighthouse was built and lit, and the inscription “1875 D.M. Henderson ENGINEER” above the lighthouse door indicates the time and builder of the construction.

In China, people always think lighthouse means “HOPE”, and the lighthouse spirit is “Burning yourself and Illuminating others”. The Chinese Confucian classic “The Great Learning” says: the way of the great learning…… arrive at supreme goodness. Chinese people regard “goodness” as the highest realm of morality. The Chinese name Han Deshan given by Henderson reflects the Chinese people’s high respect for him. In 1958, Qingyu experienced the artillery fire of the war, and all the houses on the island were destroyed, except the lighthouse, which only left eight bullet marks on the main body. The survival of the lighthouse seems to confirm that the Chinese people follow the code of conduct of “To do good to gain good results”, reflecting people’s yearning for a peaceful and beautiful life.

The appearance of Qingyu Lighthouse was repaired In 1974. In 1998, the Former Amoy Harbour Master Office was rebuilt according to the old appearance. In 2013, it was listed as one of Major Historical and Cultural Sites Protected at the National Level and Qingyu Lighthouse was listed as one of Major Historical and Cultural Sites P.3 of 21 Protected at the Provincial Level. In 2015, the Former Amoy Harbour Master Office was renovated again with 5.562.979 million yuan, which preserved the historical style of the original building to the greatest extent. In 2017, with the Former Amoy Harbour Master Office as an important part of the modern building group of Gulangyu International Historical Community, Gulangyu was listed in the World Heritage list.

Qingyu Lighthouse has a range of 18 nautical miles and it has been an important AToN for the main channel of Xiamen Port for more than 140 years and plays a positive role for economic development. Former Amoy Harbour Master Office is located in Gulangyu, which is listed in World Heritage List. Nearly 10 million tourists come to visit every year, so it can play an important role of publicity and education. The Ministry of Transport of China set up AToNs training center at Former Amoy Harbour Master Office in 1998, and has held training courses for many times,making the Former Amoy Harbour Master Office become the cradle of AToN training modern talents.

Reason For Nomination

(Text extracted from nomination form submitted by Xiamen AtoN  Division of Eastern Navigation Service Centre 2023)

Intrinsic Heritage Interest of the Lighthouse


The light of the lighthouse is 41.4 meters high, the lighthouse is 10.1 meters high, and the lantern is 2 meters in diameter. The lighthouse body is made of octagonal granite stone with unique Chinese traditional architectural characteristics. The inner stone ladder is rotated, the external wall is pasted with red and white vertical tiles, and the top is a lantern. The Former Amoy Harbour Master Office building is composed of main building and auxiliary building. The main building has a construction area of 660 square meters, and the auxiliary building has a construction area of 257 square meters. The building as a whole is eclectic architecture, its artistic value is reflected in the main building is a veranda-type building, from the bottom to the top, the ancient round arch of the ground floor, around the flat beam brick column shape of the first floor of the corridor, continuous semicircular arch circle with the core stone of the second floor, the cornice is a classical dentoid decoration style. The outer corridor railings are decorated with green Chinese glass pieces, showing a strong sense of compromise. The building is mainly in white and red colors, forming a light and beautiful overall style. The mixture of plain brick and reinforced concrete structure is a case of the transition period from the corridor style to modernism architecture, which has very important scientific research value for the study of modern architectural structure and the change of architectural structure. In the courtyard of the Former Amoy Harbour Master Office, there are two communication towers built in 1933, using the world’s advanced electron tube radio wave technology at that time, can communicate directly with Jiangsu, Shanghai and other places. The two towers are 46 meters high, simple in structure, and have been well preserved, with production marks of Dorman Long, a British engineering company, on the components.

Historic importance

Qingyu Lighthouse was built in 1875 and witnessed more than 140 years of history. It functioned as an AToN all the time but with the development of the Times, the historical, cultural and artistic values carried by the Qingyu Lighthouse have become more and more abundant. It is a historical relic, which can reflect the construction process of the lighthouse more than 140 years ago; It is a historical symbol, in modern times, Xiamen Customs took Gulangyu as its center to carry out modernization construction. The Former Amoy Harbour Master Office buildings retained on the island are historical symbols and cultural labels to promote the success of Gulangyu’s application for World heritage; It is a witness to history. In the 1958 Kinmen artillery battle, all the houses on the Qingyu island were destroyed, except the Qingyu Lighthouse, which only left eight bullet marks in the lighthouse body. More than 140 years after its construction, the lighthouse has withstood the war and natural disasters, and is still well preserved today, which can be described as a witness of history. There are many different lights are used in Qingyu Lighthouse for generations, it’s a museum to know the history of lights. By displaying the photos of the lights used in Qingyu Lighthouse over the years, the development history of modern Chinese AToN light is fully presented, which has an irreplaceable role for contemporary navigation beacon practitioners and scholars to study related topics. The Former Communication Towers witness the modernization of the modern communication infrastructure of the Gulangyu community: From 1871, the Danish Great North Telegraph Company took the lead in realizing telegraph communication in Gulangyu; To the Gulangyu telephone Company where Huang Yi lived in 1924, the telephone communication between Gulangyu and Xiamen and other southern Fujian areas was connected to the institutions and residential buildings in Gulangyu; Until 1935, the radio communication towers of the Former Amoy Harbour Master Office were completed and radio communication was realized.

Impact on economy

As a Class A port open to the outside world, Xiamen Port is one of China’s major ports and the starting point of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. In 2022, the cargo throughput of Xiamen Port reached 219 million tons, ranking among the top 30 in the world. The volume of containers reached 12.43 million TEU, ranking 14th in the world. As an important AToN in the approach channel of Xiamen port, Qingyu Lighthouse not only contributes to the development of regional port economy, but also plays an important role in the development of Xiamen’s economy, China’s economy and even the world economy.

Nowadays, “lighthouse” has increasingly become a widely used element in movies and TV dramas and literary works. As a historical style building of Gulangyu Island, the Former Amoy Harbour Master Office can become a shooting place for many film and television works and documentaries. This will enable more people to pay attention to Qingyu Lighthouse and the Former Amoy Harbour Master Office through film and television works or documentaries, which will attract more tourists to visit and promote the prosperity of the tourism industry.

Impact on culture

Collecting the story of the Qingyu Lighthouse and narrating the historical background can fully and vividly display the whole picture of the lighthouse and compile it into a book for distribution, which has educational significance for the young generation of navigation beacon people and the public, and helps the spread of lighthouse culture. The course of construction, alteration and maintenance of the Former Amoy Harbour Master Office is a vivid case of the development of modern China. With the unique brand of modern China, the Former Amoy Harbour Master Office shows the different architectural styles of China under the influence of different cultures. It is also a precious material in the history of architecture and can be used as a realistic teaching material for learning modern Chinese history.

As a port city, Xiamen has learned from the advanced experience of developed countries, and with its own continuous development, it has continuously grown into a Xiamen port facing the world. As time goes by, this area will continue to develop, but its core values will always remain unchanged. As a witness and inheritor of Xiamen’s history and culture, Qingyu Lighthouse will retain its historical and cultural heritage, which is worth exploring and excavating. As a node on the Maritime Silk Road, Xiamen uses AToNs to give directions to all ships, whether they come from Asia, America or Oceania. We share the earth and the ocean. The direction of the AToNs has helped countries forge a closer “Community of Common Destiny” and precisely spread the Silk Road spirit of “Peace and Cooperation, Openness and Inclusiveness, Mutual learning and Mutual benefit”. The Qingyu Lighthouse can be used as an education case of a community of common destiny, which embodies the Chinese people’s hope for the common destiny of mankind and the peaceful development of the world.


The measures taken by China MSA to protect the Qingyu Lighthouse and the Former Amoy Harbour Master Office include not only the preservation of historical buildings and documents, but also the repair, maintenance and promotion of the lighthouse and all facilities and equipment associated with the Former Amoy Harbour Master Office.

Actively apply to become cultural relic protection buildings

According to the Interim Measures for the Protection and Management of Cultural Relics Protection Units issued by The State Council, Qingyu Lighthouse has been successfully declared as a municipal cultural relics protection unit and a provincial cultural relics protection unit. The Former Amoy Harbour Master Office and the Former Communication Towers are Major Historical and Cultural Sites Protected at the National Level, it is an important part of Gulangyu International historical community which is listed in the World Heritage list and it’s China’s 52nd World Heritage project.

The Interim Measures for the Protection and Management of Cultural Relics Protection Units provide an action plan for China MSA to maintain the Qingyu Lighthouse and the Former Amoy Harbour Master Office, and in addition to the original duty of maintaining AToNs, assume more social responsibilities and preserve two cultural relics buildings for China and the world.

Many times repairs and maintenance

The lighthouse has been built for more than 140 years, and it has been affected and damaged by typhoons, earthquakes and wars, so the lighthouse base and main body have been damaged by aging. Replace the lanterns and stick red and white vertical tiles on the external wall of the lighthouse for maintenance and repair; The reconstruction of battery houses, the renovation of lighthouse environment and the construction of roads provide a better environment and convenience for the development of modern lighthouses. The present Qingyu Lighthouse has both historical connotation and modern science and technology.

In 1998, the Ministry of Transport of China AToNs Technical Training Center was established in the Former Amoy Harbour Master Office, and rebuilt according to the old appearance. A historic building has been revitalized to become a cradle for training aviation personnel. In 2015, it once again spent 5.562979 million yuan to repair the Former Amoy Harbour Master Office, preserving the historical features of the original building to the greatest extent.

Constantly updating and iterating the latest lights and energy sources

With the rapid development of science and technology, the research of the development history of lights and energy can rely on historical lighthouses. The Qingyu Lighthouse has used oil lamps, Fuel steam lamp, automatic electric flash lamp, AGA 375MM lamp, FA-251 lamp, PRB46 Type I lamp and light, FA-251 lamp, ML-300 lamp, FA-251 lamp, APRB-252 lamp, TRB-400 lamp. At present, the Qingyu Lighthouse uses TRB-400 lamp as the main light, ML-300 lamp as the affiliated light, the range of 18 nautical miles, equipped with solar equipment and radar transponder, to achieve intelligent management. The history of its light change is a vivid case of the development of modern AToNs light.

As an iteration of the application of the light and the development of energy, the Qingyu Lighthouse is exhibited by collecting the corresponding light itself and photos, etc., as a window to study the development history of the light and energy, and can inspire the younger generation to devote themselves to this career and make their own contributions to the development of lighthouses and AToNs.

Scientific and technological innovation, improve protection technology

The telemetry and remote control system is used to monitor the status of Qingyu Lighthouse in real time, and the application of AToNs information service platform can obtain comprehensive information about Qingyu Lighthouse and even relevant navigation and berthing methods of Xiamen port, so as to protect the lighthouse more efficiently.

Collect lighthouse stories to promote conservation

The cultural connotation of the historical lighthouse is extensive and profound. In order to protect lighthouses, we continue to increase the protection, excavation and promotion of the intangible culture of lighthouses from the spiritual and cultural levels. The Qingyu Lighthouse stands quietly on an uninhabited island, but the lighthouse stories it has carried are rich and colorful; The Former Amoy Harbour Master Office has witnessed tens of millions of tourists passing through Gulangyu, and its story needs to be understood by others. We collect related lighthouse stories and compile them into a fascinating book, which makes more people interested in Qingyu Lighthouse, Former Amoy Harbour Master Office and world lighthouses so as to further understand the cultural connotation of lighthouses. With the promotion of protection, everyone can know the lighthouse and care for the lighthouse.

Public Access and Education

Open to the society

The Former Amoy Harbour Master Office is located in the World Heritage-listed Gulangyu International Historical Community, which is a mature historical community with convenient transportation; The nearest distance from the Qingyu Lighthouse is only 1.05 nautical miles, so it is very convenient to visit. We can also provide visitors with information about the lighthouse and the Former Amoy Harbour Master Office in Chinese and English on request to help visitors understand the history and future development of the lighthouse. The average annual tourist flow of Gulangyu is nearly 10 million. Through opening to the public, the lighthouse history and culture can be better publicized and social influence can be expanded. In addition, the volunteer spirit of “Dedication, Friendship, Mutual assistance and Progress” promoted by volunteer service has similarities with the lighthouse spirit of “Burning yourself and Illuminating others”. Through carrying out volunteer service activities, such as organizing lighthouse visits and cleaning lighthouses, we can enrich the connotation of lighthouse volunteer service culture, promote the spread of lighthouse spirit and expand the influence of lighthouses. Let the public pay attention to lighthouses, understand lighthouses, protect lighthouses. All these are of great significance to enhance the visibility of Qingyu Lighthouse and Former Amoy Harbour Master Office at home and abroad.

Function of publicity and education

Qingyu Lighthouse has appeared in many scenes of cultural activities, and has also been included in the book of , which helped more people to know the lighthouse. When opening to the society, Qingyu Lighthouse — Former Amoy Harbour Master Office is designed as a specific tour route to carry out summer camp and other activities, inviting the public and students to visit Qingyu Lighthouse to learn about the construction technology and the development and evolution history of the light by viewing the lighthouse on site and visiting the historical photos inside. Then go to the Former Amoy Harbour Master Office to know its architectural style, AToNs management. By visiting the Lighthouse and the Former Amoy Harbour Master Office, the public can have a comprehensive understanding of the history, culture and function of the AToNs, and give full play to its publicity and education role.

Photos and Diagrams