On This Day in Trinity House History – 24 April


Trinity House deal with a fouled buoy

Trinity House Board Minute:

“Letter from the Buoy Keeper at Yarmouth that the Master of a vessel of that town had lately dragged one of our buoys at the Cockle out of its place by fastening his ship thereto, in order to sheer her off from the land. Ordered that he be directed to send up the master’s name in order to his being prosecuted for the same (which Mr. Mowbray is to be consulted about in the meantime) and that notice be given in the public prints that all such Master of ships as shall drag any of our buoys in like manner will be prosecuted, and all such persons as shall give information thereof to this House will be rewarded.”



HRH The Duke of Edinburgh is elected Master

Trinity Monday: HRH The Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh KG KT OM GBE is elected Master of Trinity House, on the death of the Duke of Gloucester.

He was elected as Master for every following consecutive year until 2011, when he retired, making him the longest-sitting Master in the Corporation’s history. He remains today an Elder Brother of the Court, having been sworn-in in 1952.

Prince Philip was born 10 June 1921. As the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, he is the longest-serving and oldest-ever spouse of a reigning British monarch, and the oldest-ever male member of the British royal family.

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and portraitist Chen Yan Ning at Trinity House

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and portraitist Chen Yan Ning at Trinity House

On This Day in Trinity House History – 23 April


Trinity House appoints foreign consul

Trinity House Court Minute:

“Trinity House appoints Sir Philip Barnady to be Consul at Genoa.”

One of the more obscure duties of the Elder Brethren was the appointment of consuls at foreign ports. Although it is a little-documented duty, there is evidence of Trinity House appointing consuls to such far-flung locations as Leghorn, Genoa, Trapani and Livorno.



Church of All Hallows-by-the Tower and view along Great Tower Street, 1955

Church of All Hallows-by-the Tower and view along Great Tower Street, 1955

Trinity House gives aid victims of fire in Tower Street, London

Trinity House Board Minute:

“Most of the Considerable Inhabitants of this parish having contributed largely to the sufferers by the fire in Tower St on Wednesday morning (where four persons perished in the flames) and the Church Wardens applying for this Corporations Charity on the unhappy occasion five guineas ordered to be given to them.”


On This Day in Trinity House History – 22 April


THV Mermaid to the rescue

The Harwich-based tender THV Mermaid (Commander J Hearn) attends the yacht Strumpet , which had caught fire off Skegness.

The fire fighting crew consisted of First Officer S Turrell, 4th Engineer L J Weller, Coxswain M Parker and two auxiliary seamen. The Skegness Lifeboat, the 37 ft. Oakley Class Charles Fred Grantham, stood by. The hull eventually sank and was plotted on sonar by THV Mermaid; survivors were picked up by another yacht which was sailing with Strumpet.

THV Mermaid 1959-1986

THV Mermaid 1959-1986

On This Day in Trinity House History – 20 April


East coast lighthouses prepared for King George II’s passing-by

Trinity House Board Minute:

“His Majesty about to go to Holland, the Keepers at Harwich, Orford, Lowestoft, and the Foreland [lighthouses] ordered to take special care of their respective lights as soon as the time of his Majesty’s time of departure shall be fixed. A like notice to the Trinity Sloop concerning the buoys in the Nth. & Sth. Channels.”



THV Alert enters service

THV Alert was commissioned into service, having been converted from an Admiralty cable ship (HMS Bullseye).

This Alert, the fourth Trinity House Vessel to bear the name, was built to replace the Alert sunk by a mine during the Second World War. She served well as was sold out of service in 1970.

THV Alert 1946 - 1970

THV Alert 1946 – 1970

On This Day in Trinity House History – 18 April


Trinity House Keep a Thames Waterman from the Press Gangs

Trinity House Board Minute:

“A certificate to the officers employed in empressing seamen, not to Impress John Goodcheape, employed as a waterman to row the Deputy Master and Wardens, was issued under the seal of the Corporation.”

Trinity House had the right to license mariners to row on the Thames as watermen. These watermen were both older and fewer in number than the apprentices and freemen of the Company of Watermen and Lightermen.

Trinity House by the Thames 1746

Trinity House by the Thames 1746

500 Years of Trinity House exhibition opens at the National Maritime Museum

Guiding Lights: 500 years of Trinity House and safety at sea

Trinity House exhibition banner

On 15 April the Master of Trinity House, HRH The Princess Royal, formally opened the new exhibition at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London, titled ‘Guiding Lights: 500 years of Trinity House and safety at sea’. The exhibition is a fantastic showcase highlighting the history and modern relevance of Trinity House as a charity, a general lighthouse authority and a deep sea pilotage authority today, and its many historical functions.

“Guiding Lights showcases centuries of invaluable work by the Corporation of Trinity House to help sailors navigate safely at sea, preventing countless shipwrecks and immense loss of life.

Marking the 500th anniversary of Trinity House, the gallery displays 70 rarely seen objects from Trinity House and the Museum’s own collection, telling stories of the heroic and the extraordinary from throughout the organisation’s history, and of human fortitude in the face of the immense power of the sea.

The history of Britain’s lighthouses is told through intricate models, dramatic film and the personal effects of lighthouse keepers. Lightvessels, buoys and yachts are illustrated through rarely-seen, beautiful watercolour sketches by accomplished marine artist William Lionel Wyllie. Tales of personal bravery include that of lighthouse keeper’s daughter and plucky heroine Grace Darling.”

This wonderful exhibition is open from 16 April 2014 until 4 January 2016, open daily 10.00-17.00, and is suitable for all ages and backgrounds.

Entry is free to all!

More information for visitors can be found at the Royal Museums Greenwich website or by telephoning 020 8312 6565.

On This Day in Trinity House History – 15 April


THV Alert is Lost During the First World War

The Corporation’s steam vessel THV Alert was sunk near Dover, with the loss of eleven lives, after contact with a mine when on special service.

THV Alert was the second of her name to serve Trinity House as a tender, built in 1911.

She was replaced by the Argus from Yarmouth; in order to carry on the work in that district a new trawler, on the stocks at Selby, was requisitioned and fitted for handling buoys. Her original name Jeria was retained.

She carried out her work satisfactorily until the end of the war; the crew spoke highly of her seagoing qualities. The Admiralty replaced Alert with a duplicate vessel in 1920 from the same builders, Messrs Ramage and Ferguson of Leith; she would also be sunk by a mine in the Second World War.



Trinity House Lays the First of the Modern IALA Buoys

THV Ready had the honour of laying the first IALA buoy in a ceremony off Dover, watched over by representatives of 16 nations.

The IALA (International Association of Lighthouse Authorities) Maritime Buoyage System was implemented in 1977 to address the unsatisfactory and sometimes disastrous mix of over 30 buoyage systems being used worldwide. IALA first set up an international technical committee in 1965 to examine the problem and design a system that would be globally recognised. Trinity House played a leading part in the system’s successful deployment, with an Elder Brother chairing the committee.

IALA maritime buoyage system

IALA maritime buoyage system

THV Ready (1947-77)

THV Ready (1947-77)

On This Day in Trinity House History – 14 April


Trinity House certify ill treatment of British mariners by Barbary pirates

Trinity House Court Minute:

“Certificate of Trinity House to the Keeper of the Great Seal, that Robert Ensome, of Ratcliffe, Master of the Unicorn, of London, was on his return from the Canary Islands, taken by a Sally man-of-war twelve leagues from Scilly, taken to Sally, and sold as a slave and ill-treated; his loss was £250; ransom required £250; he has a wife and three children.”

See our post from 20 March describing Trinity House’s long-running struggle against piracy overseas.

Postcard from Hunstanton Lighthouse

Postcard from Hunstanton Lighthouse

Postcard from Hunstanton Lighthouse

The now-defunct Hunstanton Lighthouse is located in Norfolk. The present lighthouse was built in 1840 although there has been a lighthouse on the site since 1665. The present lighthouse ceased operations in 1922, since when it has been a private residence and a holiday let.

On This Day in Trinity House History – 4 April


Trinity House hosts first meeting of King George’s Fund for Sailors

Trinity House Court Room

Trinity House Court Room

The first meeting of the newly-formed King George’s Fund for Sailors was held in the Court Room at Trinity House.

The King George’s Fund for Sailors (today known as Seafarers UK) was formed by a meeting of representatives of the Marine Charities, Shipowners, Merchants, etc., held at Dixon House, Lloyd’s Avenue, with Captain A W Clarke (afterwards Sir Arthur Clarke) an Elder Brother of Trinity House, in the Chair.