On This Day in Trinity House History – 14 November


The Sovereign’s Pilot

Trinity House Board Minute:

“Mr. Jeffrey Curtis, one of our Pilots, having lately conducted His Majesty’s sloop, the Hawk, from Galleons Reach to the Orkney Islands, thence on a cruise to Iceland and back to the Nore, and there being no established rates for the whole of that service, The Hon. The Comptroller of the Navy was pleased to consult this Board and to desire their opinion thereon which was that Eighteen pounds is a reasonable rate for conducting the said sloop Out and Nine pounds Home: The trip to be rated at seventy days and the excess of time according to the usage of the Navy.

On his proposing a farther case about the pilotage of a sloop from Heligolandup the River Yezer and down the said River to the sea: the Board were of opinion that it will be reasonable to allow the Pilot over and above the Established rates five pounds for his Extra Pilotage of the Sloop up the said River and five pounds more for bringing her down to the sea.”


On This Day in Trinity House History – 16 May


The First Trinity House Buoy Tender

The Board minutes record the origins of the Corporation’s first vessel:

“The Master was pleased to observe that he thought it might be of service to the Corporation & for the Safety of His Majesty’s Ships to have a vessel of our own, to be sent down amongst the Sands, to observe their bearings, the setting of the Tides & the Depths of Water, Especially from the Naze to the North Foreland & to have some of our Pilots go therein for their Improvement, under the Direction of some of the Brethren, as also for the better care & placing of our Buoys.”

One month later, the minutes would name the vessel and issue its first assignment:

“Our Buoy boat called the Trinity Sloop, being now ready… and she to be sent out immediately on an inspection of the Buoys and Beacons in the North and South Channels.”

The ensuing ‘Yacht Establishment,’ a precursor to the Steam (later ‘Support’) Vessel Service was also used to survey the shifting sands of the Thames, a function performed today by the Admiralty Hydrographer and the Port of London Authority.

For a full history of the Trinity House Support Vessel Service, readers may want to pick up a copy of Richard Woodman’s Keepers of the Sea, the story of the Trinity House Yachts and Tenders.

Thomas Whitcombe's Seascape with a Trinity House Yacht and a man-o-war of the Blue Squadron off the Casquets, 1795, Copyright Trinity House

Thomas Whitcombe’s Seascape with a Trinity House Yacht and a man-o-war of the Blue Squadron off the Casquets, 1795, Copyright Trinity House