Armen: the construction
Rescue operations by the guards The guards of Armen also often took part in rescue operations as shows it this extract going back to August 1889 written by the guard Alain Menou has just saved shipwrecked men deriving on board a boat: “we lost two life belts, an haul-with-edge, an end of the cartahu of the headlight, a piece of rope which was used to us as to and from for the supply and which was used to us to wet the pig mould without which us could not have conducted to good the operation, considering the sea was agitated”. Under its laconic and administrative terms, it is not difficult to imagine the amazing exploit, thanks to its maritime competences, of this guard more than modest in his writings.

Reinforcement of the base of the headlight and its legend

Armen: the constructionArmen: the construction Difficult beginnings

Very quickly the engineers realized that the narrowness of the foundations was a weakness in front of the attacks of the ocean. This concern was reinforced by the announcement of the destruction of 2 headlights by the sea (English and American)! It will take 20 more years of work, until 1902, to reinforce the base of the headlight (platform and parapet). The headlight of Armen will be finally completed only at the end of 35 years of work. Its “legendary” history does not stop there…

A little legendary history of Armen SOMETIMES IMPOSSIBLE CHANGINGS First of all in spite of its exposed position it was necessary by all times to ensure the changing of the guards of the headlight and the prowesses carried out by the owners of the stars would be to put at the book records. Sometimes in winter, after a succession of heavy weather, it was impossible to ensure the changing of the guards. The record length of stay was thus established, in spite of him, on the headlight of Armen by the guard Noël Fouquet. Indeed in 1923, a succession of as terrible storms the ones as the others ruined several times the approach of the star charged to raise it and it had to wait 101 days before joining the ground.

Armen: the constructionThe month of December 1923: the most tragic date
They were three guards on Armen in this December. François the Pope, Henri Loussouarn and Herve Menou.
The Pope, wounded with Dixmude and amputee of a leg profited from a designated employment as guard of headlight. This last was sick (poisoned by mercury vapors the doctor will say thereafter). Whereas the headlight could not have been supplied for 26 days, the state of the Pope worsened and led his companions to hoist the black house, signs of distress.
From Sein the message was seen but, in spite of his efforts, the Rohou owner does not succeed in ensuring the connection with the headlight taking into account the bad condition of the sea. This day, the Pope, in spite of his state, joined Menou in the lantern and both lit the headlight. Loussouarn which worked in the kitchen joined them around 5 hours of the afternoon. Little time later a thick smoke went up in the staircase. The three men tried to go down from the room of day before but, threatened of asphyxiation, they had to give up it. It was absolutely necessary to go down to make safe the petroleum tank which, if it ignited, could pulverize the headlight and its occupants. Already the panes of the kitchen and the close room exploded under the action of heat. All three decided to intervene while going down by outside. The Pope in spite of his handicap, but it had the solid arms, was let slip along the cable of the lightning conductor. Loussouarn and Menou, starting from the narrow metal bracket which overhung the furious sea, used for their descent the supply cable.
In spite of the undergone burns, on the level of the windows of the room and kitchen, they succeeded in all three reaching the main door closed by an enormous iron bolt. In spite of the monstrous blades, the extreme remains of the fire and the pieces of glass, they managed to smash the door. Bucket after bucket, in spite of heat, they managed to circumscribe the fire. 17 work hours without slackening were necessary to reach the lantern of which they will note the destruction. But the headlight was saved.

There were many other exploits and for better knowing this legend we advise you the reading of the novel of Henri Queffélec “a fire ignites on the sea” -Presse de la Cité

Previous page: Armen: the choice of the site  Next page: La Vieille 
Copyright Musée Maritime du Cap-Sizun-EN 2012-Création :