On This Day in Trinity House History – 1 June


An early buoy yard for Harwich

Trinity House Board Minute:

“Mr. Baker [the Buoy Keeper at Harwich] attended with his proposals and it was agreed that he be allowed seventy pound per annum for laying buoys in place of such which may from time to time break away. To clean, Pitch and paint and shift them every six months at his own charge. To pay the freight on the buoys stones and chains from London to harwich and in case any of the beacons do break way to place buoys in their room, as also all manner of contingencies except smiths and coopers work, which is said to be allowed him on producing sufficient vouchers for the same, all of which he agreed to perform under ye penalty of forfeiture of one years salary, to commence at midsummer.”



A tragedy at St. Catherine’s Lighthouse

A bombing raid destroyed the engine house at St. Catherine’s Lighthouse, killing the three keepers on duty who had taken shelter in the building.

R T Grenfell, C Tomkins and W E Jones were buried in the local cemetery at Niton village and a plaque in remembrance of them is displayed on the ground floor of the main tower.


HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh pay a royal visit to Trinity House staff at Gravesend and Harwich

The following is the official report of the visit by the then Master HRH Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh to the Trinity House Gravesend Pilot Station and the Trinity House Harwich Depot by Captain David T Smith, Elder Brother, which appeared in Flash magazine:

“H.M. The Queen, accompanied by H.R.H. The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, K.G., K.T., G.B.E., The Master of Trinity House, arrived at Tilbury during the early forenoon of 1st June, 1976, in the Royal Yacht Britannia following her state visit to Finland. Her Majesty had been escorted up River from the vicinity of the Sunk Light Vessel by the Elder Brethren embarked in Trinity House Vessel Patricia.

The Master disembarked from the Royal Yacht in Gravesend Reach at 6930; he was escorted to the Royal Terrace Pier by the Deputy Master, Captain M.B. Wingate, who had transferred from THV Patricia to the fast launch THPV St. Clement for the passage inshore.

After meeting civic dignitaries at the Pier, The Master proceeded to Alexandra House, the new combined Pilot Station and Tug Company Office building close to the root of the Royal Terrace Pier. A large number of Pilots and their families together with employees and their families from the Thames Navigation Service and the Alexandra Towing Company Ltd., were there to greet His Royal Highness.

The Master met senior officers of the Pilotage Service and a representative of the President GCBS outside the main entrance to the building before proceeding inside to the Main entrance of the Pilot Station, on the second floor, where he unveiled a plaque to signify the opening of the station; at this time the Master’s flag and Trinity House ensign were broken at the masthead and gaff respectively and the new Pilot Station was formally commissioned.

After a short tour to inspect the layout and facilities being provided for Pilots in the new building The Master joined a large representative body of Pilots drawn from the River Thames, Channel and Medway Districts in their lounge for informal discussions.

At 1030 The Master was received at the Tug Offices and later at the Thames Navigation Service following which he departed from the Royal Terrace Pier for Tilbury escorted by craft of the P.L.A., Kent and Essex Constabularies and the Trinity House.

After a tour of the Tilbury Container complex The Master entertained a representative party of guests to luncheon in the Royal Yacht.

After luncheon H.R.H. accompanied by the Deputy Master and other representatives departed in a helicopter of the Queen’s Flight for Harwich. The party landed at Harwich Green at 1440 his flag being broken at the Trinity House Depot. The Master was welcomed on the green by Civic dignitaries before leading his party on foot along the esplaoade to the Port Navigation Service Building, passing several hundred townsfolk, many of them children who had turned out to greet him on this enjoyable occasion.

He was received at the Port Navigation Service by the Vice Chairman of the Harwich Conservancy Board and, after meeting officers of the Board, he inspected the operations centre and was briefed on the arrangements exercised jointly by the Port Authority and Trinity House Pilotage Service for control of shipping using the port.

The Master and his party then proceeded by car to the newly completed Trinity House Pilot Station at Town Quay which had then been functioning for some 14 days. At 1523 he unveiled a commemorative plaque in the lobby and formally commissioned the Station. He then proceeded on a walk round inspection of the various facilities and to meet Pilotage Service Personnel in their duty locations. Following this he visited the Pilots’ lounge on the observation deck of the Station where a large body of Pilots representing the Inward (North Channel), Ipswich and Essex River Pilots were assembled to be presented to him. After a period of informal discussion The Master departed at 1635 and subsequently took off from Harwich Green, piloting the helicopter himself for the flight back to Buckingham Palace.

The 1st June 1976 was unique for the Pilotage Service since The Master had in the course of one day been able to observe the Pilot Cutter performing its role at the Sunk Station, the Trinity House Pilot in his operational environment on the bridge at sea, the new Gravesend Pilot Station nearing completion and the new Harwich Pilot Station recently operational. In addition he had the opportunity to meet and talk to about 70 personnel of the Trinity House Pilotage Service.”



The current Patricia is named

In a ceremony attended by the Master HRH Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh and Deputy Master Captain Sir Miles Wingate, The Countess Mountbatten of Burma named the new flagship THV Patricia.

THV Patricia at Skokholm Lighthouse 2012 copyright Trinity House

THV Patricia at Skokholm Lighthouse 2012 copyright Trinity House

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