Lights in Time: The S.S. Bokhara & The Fisher Island Lighthouse (Lighthouse heritage Research Connections)

Lighthouse heritage Research Connections is an ongoing student engagement program focusing on lighthouse and maritime history. 

This year’s research on the SS Bokhara will illustrate the events that took place before and after its ill–fated wreck in October of 1892. Over one hundred and twenty people drowned with only twenty–three survivors from different backgrounds washing ashore on the Pescadores Islands. After being met by Penghu natives, would destiny prove impossible for the newcomers’ survival?

The Fisher Island Lighthouse, which lights the main approach to the Penghu Island capital, Makung, played a key role in the rescue of the survivors answering the flag signals flown by the Hong Kong Douglas Steam Ship company’s ship Thales. Among the survivors, Dr. James Lowson of Hong Kong’s Civil Hospital and Frederick Ward, one of the Bokhara’s crew, both gave accounts of the events in The Hong Kong Telegraph. Their testimonies along with the other survivors’ reports help us see the traumas they lived through on 10th–15thOctober 1892.


The Lights in Time exhibition looks at answers left behind by the disaster. It displays moments of heroism, sacrifice and kindness. It takes you back to a world of messages by foot, boat, flags and – at HK$220 a word – by undersea cable in Morse code. It identifies mysteries still unsolved today. A story of distant worlds. Modernity and tradition. Rich and poor. Passengers and Crew. West and East. They were brought together by the horrors of the wreck. Together they showed how help in time of trouble transcends differences.

Joint City University of Hong Kong’s LHRC team in the epic story of the search for the missing steamship and its aftermath. 




Exhibition author | Steve CHING

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