On This Day in Trinity House History – 31 May

1686

Trinity Monday; the Younger Brethren are given ‘dinner money’

Trinity House Court Minute:

“After the court rose and having heard a sermon at ye parish Church of Deptford they returned to London and dined together at the rummer in Queen Street, the Younger Brothers having had 2s. 6d. apiece given them to dine where they please.”


1721

The Trinity House poor box helps a victim of slavery

Trinity House Board Minute:

“Nothing of moment happened this day by reason of the Whitson Holy days (Deputy Master & two others present). Given out of the poors box 5 shillings to a poor woman whose husband is in slavery (North Africa).”

 


1790

William Pitt the Younger is elected Master of Trinity House

On Trinity Monday, William Pitt the Younger is elected Master of Trinity House.

He sat as Master for the consecutive years until 1805.

Statue of William Pitt in Edinburgh

Statue of William Pitt in Edinburgh

 


1991

Anvil Point Lighthouse is automated

Anvil Point Lighthouse is converted to automatic operation and the lighthouse keepers depart.

The lighthouse, which is built of local stone, was first lit in 1881. The light is positioned to give a waypoint for vessels on passage along the English Channel coast. To the west it gives a clear line from Portland Bill and to the east guides vessels away from the Christchurch Ledge and leads them into the Solent. The light was originally illuminated by a paraffin vapour burner (PVB). In 1960 the station was modernised and converted from oil to mains electricity. The old fog signal, a 5 minute cannon, was replaced in 1981 by new automatic equipment. The fog signal has now been discontinued.

Anvil Point Lighthouse by Andrew Johnson

Anvil Point Lighthouse by Andrew Johnson

On This Day in Trinity House History – 30 May

1681

Warm words from a retiring Master

On Trinity Monday, the day of the annual election of the Master and Deputy Master, outgoing Master George Berkeley, 1st Earl of Berkeley addresses the Court:

“I returne you my hearty Thanks for your extraordinary kindness to me in choosing me your Master for the year past. I now recommend to you my worthy Deputy Captain Nicholls to succeed me. I have served you with all faithfulness, and if my knowledge in your Affairs had been as great as my affection for you, I might justly have said, without bragging, That no Master has served you better, because I am very glad it was my happiness to attend you in the late Address made to his Gracious Majestie, which being Soe well accepted I hope you will receive the fruits and benefits of such an Addresse. I have had the Title of your Master for a year, but I shall continue an Elder Brother and your true friend and servant all my Life. I pray God to Blesse and Prosper you all.”

 

On This Day in Trinity House History – 29 May

1899

London District pilots to wear a uniform

A regulation prescribing a standard uniform for Pilots In the London District came into force.

Trinity House Pilot c1900

Trinity House Pilot c1900


1977

The Falls Lightvessel Incident

The following description of a lightvessel crew offering a helping hand to passing leisure craft users in distress appeared in a 1977 edition of Flash magazine:

“What shouId have been a quiet Sunday evening for the crew of the Falls Light Vessel turned into a scene from a disaster film on the 29th May. At about 1800 hours a small armada of rubber dinghies were spotted approaching the Light Vessel and they appeared to be making heavy going in rapidly deteriorating conditions. Permission was requested by the leader of the party of 60 Belgian men, women and children, to board the Light Vessel and Mr. W. Semple, the Master of the Falls had no hesitation in allowing the rubber dinghies to tie up astern. The cold, wet and seasick shoppers were taken on board the Light Vessel and assistance was requested from the Ramsgate Lifeboat. The Life-boat arrived at 2100 hours and took nearly 20 people off but the majority wanted to remain aboard for the night mostly because their dinghies were still tied up astern. In the morning only four dinghies were still serviceable and with the arrival of the Ready the remainder of the party was embarked for the passage to Dover. Much of the credit for the smooth running of this rescue is due to Mr. Semple and his crew and especially in view of the language problem. Well done all concerned.”

On This Day in Trinity House History – 28 May

1652

The Navy asks Trinity House to provide fire ships

Trinity House Court Minute:

“Navy Office ask Trinity House to provide two (2) Fire Ships.”

This instruction was possibly in anticipation of the First Anglo-Dutch War (see 22 January post).

From Wikipedia:

“A fire ship, used in the days of wooden rowed or sailing ships, was a ship filled with combustibles, deliberately set on fire and steered (or, where possible, allowed to drift) into an enemy fleet, in order to destroy ships, or to create panic and make the enemy break formation. Ships used as fire ships were usually old and worn out or purpose-built inexpensive vessels. An explosion ship or hellburner was a variation on the fire ship, intended to cause damage by blowing up in proximity to enemy ships. Fireships were famously used to great effect by the English against the Spanish Armada during the Battle of Gravelines.”

Fire ships at Battle of Solebay

Fire ships at Battle of Solebay

On This Day in Trinity House History – 26 May

1621

The Admiralty Court rules on behalf of Trinity House and compulsory pilotage on the Thames

Trinity House Court Minute:

“None take on himself to be Master or Pilot of any ship or vessel to go forth or return to the Thames without certificate by the Trinity House. From my Chamber in the Doctors Commons– Sir Henry Marten to the Master, etc.”

Sir Henry Marten was a judge of the Admiralty Court and a member of the Court of High Commission.

Greenwich Hospital from the north bank of the Thames, Canaletto, 1750-52; National Maritime Museum, London

Greenwich Hospital from the north bank of the Thames, Canaletto, 1750-52; National Maritime Museum, London

 



1662

Samuel Pepys records the election of the new Master

Samuel Pepys’ diary:

“To the Trinity House; where the Brethren have been at Deptford choosing a new Master; which is Sir J Minnes*; notwithstanding Sir W Batten did contend highly for it; at which I am not a little pleased, because of his proud lady.”

*Admiral Sir John Mennes Kt was elected Master; I hope Pepys was not too dismayed that a year later Admiral Sir William Batten Kt was elected Master!

On This Day in Trinity House History – 24 May

1665

The Elder Brethren decide on a better class of tipple 

Trinity House Court Minute:

“The Court finding that sometimes the Claret provided for the meeting did not prove so good as was expected, the Wardens were desired to provide a tierce or two of such Claret as might be approved of.”

It is worth noting that on no account is red wine allowed in the Court Room today, for fear of soling the second largest single-loom rug in the nation! (The largest being in Windsor Castle)

No.54 The Dudgeon

“In their Quincentenary week we take another look at the work of Trinity House, this time examining lightvessels as warning lights, wreck markers, and wrecks in themselves.

This week in 1736 the Dudgeon lightvessel first went on station, the second lightship after the Nore in the Thames Estuary in 1732. Demand from the east coast coal trade between Newcastle-upon-Tyne and London led to the marking of the Dudgeon, a dangerous shoal off the Norfolk coast.”

Wreck of the Week

In their Quincentenary week we take another look at the work of Trinity House, this time examining lightvessels as warning lights, wreck markers, and wrecks in themselves.

This week in 1736 the Dudgeon lightvessel first went on station, the second lightship after the Nore in the Thames Estuary in 1732. Demand from the east coast coal trade between Newcastle-upon-Tyne and London led to the marking of the Dudgeon, a dangerous shoal off the Norfolk coast.

Such early lightvessels proved their worth both as hazard markers and as reference points for locating wrecks. In 1785 the Mayflower of Scarborough ‘foundered nigh the Dodgen light’ and in 1824 the captain of a passing ship reported that he: ‘in passing the Dudgeon Float . . . bearing about NNW 8 miles, saw a sunken brig, with her royal masts shewing, painted white, and two vanes flying.’ He ‘supposed her to be from the northward, but not a collier.’

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