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Bastøy – lighthouse and prison

Bastøy – lighthouse and prison
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Bastøy Lighthouse

Bastøy Lighthouse was established in 1840 and automated in 1986.

Located on an island on the west side of Oslofjordens about 4 km (2.5 mi) southeast of Horten. It is accessible only by boat. Site manager: Kriminalomsorgen (Correctional Service)

Bastøy stands 45.9 feet ( 14 meters) tall and 52.5 feet (16 meters) above the high tide level.

The current structure dates from 1918 and its light has been inactive since 1986. The original lighthouse was demolished in 1896, and a small light served until 1918. The house was transferred to the prison system and is used for meetings of prison personnel.

There is a square cylindrical stone tower with lantern and gallery, attached to a 1-1/2 story wood keeper’s house. Building painted white, lantern and gallery red. The currently active light is on a post in front of the lighthouse (focal plane 13 m (43 ft); red light occulting three times every 10 s).

Bastøy Prison

Bastøy Prison (Norwegian: Bastøy landsfengsel) is a minimum-security prison located on Bastøy Island, about 75 kilometers (46 mi) south of Oslo. The facility is located on a 2.6 square kilometer (1 sq mi) island and hosts 115 inmates.

Once a prison colony for young boys, the facility now is trying to become “the first ecological prison in the world.” Inmates are housed in wooden cottages and work the prison farm. During their free time, inmates have access to horseback riding, fishing, tennis, and cross-country skiing. The only access to the prison is from a ferry that departs from Horten.

Norway’s Bastøy Prison has made the news in recent years for its progressive rules and liberal treatment of prisoners, who have free run of the minimum-security island facility, located in the middle of a fjord one hour south of Oslo. But Bastøy’s inmates didn’t always have it so good, as the bleak film King of Devil’s Island makes harrowingly, grippingly clear.

Set in 1915, the fact-based Norwegian drama concerns the island’s previous claim to fame: the Bastøy Boys Home. Part boarding school, part correctional institution, the home for maladjusted adolescents and pre-adolescents was known, for much of its existence – 1900 to 1953 – for its harsh conditions. In 1915, there was an uprising by some of the boys against the home’s administrators. It was suppressed by the Norwegian military. King of Devil’s Island concerns the events leading up to that riot.

Video: Inside Norway’s progressive prison system

Vintage photos

  • Tailoring workshop on Bastøy reform school about 1903. Photographers Berg & Høeg, Horten
  •  The dormitory was room for up to 30 boys. The photo is probably from 1903. The photographers are Berg & Høeg, Horten.


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