Building the Sletringen Lighthouse

Norway’s tallest lighthouse towers 46 meters above sea level, built in cast iron and situated on a skerry outside the Titran fishing village. The lamp was lit in the autumn of 1923, and Sletringen Lighthouse became a guiding star for captains and fishermen. Building the lighthouse was quite a feat.

The lighthouse commission approached Foreman Ole Martin Mork in the small village of Dalsfjord in Volda, south of Ålesund. Fishermen and construction workers from the village had for generations specialised in building lighthouses, beacons and markers along the Norwegian coast. Ole Martin gathered a crew of 16-17 men, and together with his son and a cook, they travelled to Titran during Easter in 1922. They had to take advantage of the summer months, making sure they could keep working as long as possible into autumn, in terms of wind and weather conditions. Building the new lighthouse would take two working seasons. Meanwhile, the crew lived in the old one, sleeping on bolsters stuffed with wood wool. They brought their own equipment, cutlery and bedding. Conditions were sparse. The hourly wage at Sletringen was 1.60 NOK.

The tallest point of Sletringen is just over 3 meters above sea level. During severe storms, waves would flood the skerry completely. The cast iron tower could not be built on bare rock, so the first season at Sletringen involved casting an 8.5 meter tall and 10 meter wide foundation on which the tower could be placed. A circular concrete wall for protection against the waves was also built in connection to the main foundation. Two boathouses, two utility buildings and a shed for fuel storage were incorporated into the concrete walls. Rails for dragging boats were also established from the landing up to the lighthouse. In terms of equipment, they had an engine-powered concrete mixer and two motorised winches. Everything else was done manually.

The tall cast iron tower was erected during the second season. The tower was prefabricated and assembled on site. Winches were used to lift the cast iron plates. Once raised, two workers, one on each side, would align the plates’ fastening holes using skewers. Sealing material was placed between the plates, just like on boats, and finally sledgehammers were used for fastening the screws. Movements in the tower meant that they had to tighten the screws again the very next day, as the lighthouse settled. The work was demanding and high-paced.

Even on calm days, you can hear the violent roars of ocean waves, crushing through everything in their path. Every time a wave hits one of the many fickle skerries and islets off Titran, the ocean froths. The grand Sletringen Lighthouse was completed and ready for use in early October 1923.