On This Day in Trinity House History – 19 August


London’s poor receive a gift from a ship’s ‘swear jar’

Trinity House Court Minute:

“Mr. Matthew Cooper, Master of the Scrope of Bristol, and a Younger Brother of this Corp: having sopped sixteen shillings from the wages of several of his seamen in his last voyage to and from Jamaica by way of penalty for Swearing and Drunkenness, pursuant to the By Laws of this Corp: he attended and paid the same into the poor’s box”



Zeppelin Over Souter Point Lighthouse

From the Shields Gazette:

“Graf Zeppelin, the giant German airship which is making a tour of the British Isles, travelled hundreds of miles during the night and is still in the air. The airship was clearly seen over several Tyneside towns, passing over South Shields at about eight o’clock. In response to the salute with the siren at Souter Lighthouse, the airship gracefully dipped in acknowledgement.”

Souter Point Lighthouse was built in 1871 by Trinity house to ward ships from the dangerous rocks at Whitburn Steel; the development of new technology like GPS and satellite navigation led to its decommission in 1988 after 117 years of service to shipping in the North East.

Souter Point Lighthouse, Marsden, Tyne and Wear

Souter Point Lighthouse, Marsden, Tyne and Wear

On This Day in Trinity House History – 3 July


Light Dues are exempted for a good cause

Trinity House Board Minute:

“A letter from Mr. Brooks our Collector for the Isle of Wight was read setting forth that a Master of a ship of 80 tons belonging to Koningsbergh being lately at the Isle of Rhee, met with two English Men, who had been prisoners there and obtained their discharge, but had waited several week for a passage to England, without any opportunity or prospect thereof, whereupon the Master, who was bound home took compassion on their case & tho’ he had no Business in England, yet he was willing to set them ashore on the back of the Isle of Wight, but that he was afraid of being obliged to pay Light Money, Which the poor men (to gain their passage) promised to indemnify him from; That the master not being able to set them ashore on the back of the Isle of Wight, tho’ the wind was then favourable for his return home without touching in England, he came to Cowes on purpose to land them and then pursued his voyage

“That the poor men have borrowed money there to pay the Light Money, but pray it may not be insisted on. The whole of such case being considered and that the charge must fall wholly upon the poort men, The board were of opinion that it ought not to be insisted on.”


Enter the Trinity House 500th anniversary quiz for great prizes

Enter the Trinity House 500th anniversary quiz for great prizes

As part of its 500th anniversary celebrations, the Corporation of Trinity House is offering the chance to win a copy of the new Trinity House photography book Light Through A Lens and a Trinity House-themed print by renowned illustrator Peter Kent.

We’ll post more about the book on this blog closer to its publication on 11 September 2014. In the meantime, you can read about it on the Bloomsbury website.

To find out more, please visit the Trinity House website. Good luck!

On This Day in Trinity House History – 18 June


Samuel Pepys has a good night with the Elder Brethren

Samuel Pepys’ diary:

“By barge to Stepney with my Lord (Sandwich), where at Trinity House we had great entertainment; with my Lord there went Sir W Pen, Sir H Wright, Hetley, Creed, Pierce Hill, I and other servants.”



The Elder Brethren attend to the discord among the almspeople at Deptford

Trinity House Court Minute:

“The Elder Brethren then present were desired by the Master that everyone of them would betwixt this and Saturday next consider what was requisite to add to the By lawes of the Corporacon, The Master Wardens and Brethren having been informed that there is not that love and good agreement amongst theire Almswomen at Deptford as ought to bee.

And the reason to be in regard five of the said Almespeople have but five shillings per month and the other seaven hath ten shillings per month wch. hath caused animosities and undervalluing one another.

To prevent wch. and that they may live as they ought to doe in love and peace, It is thought fit and ordered, That those five new Almeswomen who recd, formerly five shillings a Month shall for the future tyme receive ten shillings a Month as the other seaven doe, and soe in all gifts and payments according to custome or otherwise, there be an equall proporcon amongst them,

Ordered, That they have notice thereof and be admonished to live together in love and peace as is meett they should least the offenders doe incurre the displeasure of this House.”

Trinity House almshouses at Deptford

Trinity House almshouses at Deptford



On This Day in Trinity House History – 2 June


Almswoman Ms. Barman is asked to cease her ‘irregular’ behaviour

Trinity House Board Minute:

“Complaints being made to the Board by the Deputy Master and other brethren who have lately visited our Almshouses at Deptford, that Anne Barman, one of our almswomen there is addicted to drinking and behaves Irregularly, and she having been ordered to attend the board thereon, she attended accordingly, and being severely reprimanded for the same with threats of dismission in case of farther misbehaviour, four shillings a month was ordered to be stopped from her pay till farther orders and her better behaviour.”

Trinity House almshouses at Deptford

Trinity House almshouses at Deptford

On This Day in Trinity House History – 31 May


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.”


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).”



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



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 – 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.”