On This Day in Trinity House History – 5 February


The Destruction of the First Bishop Rock Lighthouse

Owing to the large number of wrecks repeatedly occurring on the rocks around the Scilly Isles, probably the worst of which was the loss of Sir Clodesley Shovel’s squadron of the British Fleet in 1703 with the loss of about 2,000 men the Elder Brethren of Trinity House decided that the lighting of the Scilly Isles, which at that time consisted of only the old lighthouse at St. Agnes, was inadequate, and it was resolved to build a lighthouse on the most westerly danger, the Bishop Rock.

It was first thought that an iron pile lighthouse would be the most suitable for this exposed position and one was designed. by Mr. James Walker FRS and work was commenced on building this in 1847, the Engineer in charge being Mr. Nicholas Douglas. There is only a small piece of the actual rock exposed at high water and even at low water the rock which is exposed is only 153 feet in length and 52 feet broad. Iron piles were erected on this with small living quarters and a lantern at the top end. The structure was practically completed by the early part of 1850, and just waiting the fitting of the illumination gear. During a bad storm on the night of 5 February 1850 however, the entire structure was swept away, leaving only a few stumps protruding from the rock.

The whole scheme was therefore re-considered and it was decided to attempt a granite tower. This was again designed by Mr. James Walker and work was commenced on this erection in 1851.


Uniform Change for the Elder Brethren

“Her Majesty Queen Victoria has been pleased to command that, after the present date, the uniform of the Elder Brethren of the Trinity House, London, shall be of the Royal Navy pattern for the time being, save as respects the colour of the collar and cuffs of the full dress coat, and the description of lace, buttons, badges, and other distinguishing marks specified in the Order dated 22 March, 1866, which shall remain as at present.”


THV Patricia (2) is Commissioned

THV Patricia is commissioned, built by Smiths Dock, Middlesborough, as the Harwich district tender. She was the second Trinity House Vessel of that name; the first was at this time renamed Vestal and sent to the East Cowes district.

Keel laid: 12 February 1937
Built: 1938 by Smiths Dock Company Limited, South Bank, Middlesbrough
Length: 231′ 10″
Beam: 35′ 6″
Gross tonnage: 1073.22

THV Patricia’s highlights in her years of service until 1982 include the opening of the Naval Base at Iceland in 1940; Dunkirk, (shortly after which she was bombed and damaged before serving in Western Approaches 1941-44), the Invasion of Europe, opening channels on the German coast, opening freed ports on the Channel seaboard, and re-establishment of the Channel Islands’ lights after the German evacuation.

She stood in for the Royal Yacht on the Royal Visit by HRH Prince Philip to Norway, Sweden and the Olympic Games Helsinki in 1952. She was in attendance at the Royal Fleet Review at Spithead, the Coronation Pageant on the River Thames in 1953, the 20th anniversary review of the NATO Fleets at Spithead in 1969, and the Jubilee Review of the Fleet at Spithead in 1977.

In addition she on numerous occasions acted as Royal escort, following the longstanding tradition by which Patricia precedes the Royal Yacht Britannia on ceremonial duties in home waters.

THV Patricia (2) c1950

THV Patricia (2) c1950

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