On This Day in Trinity House History – 8 September


Sir Thomas Spert, first Master of Trinity House and Comptroller of the Navy, dies

As Sailing Master of first the Mary Rose and then the Henri Grace a Dieu, Thomas Spert was well-placed to accept the Royal Charter on behalf of the Corporation of Trinity House on 20 May 1514. Spert later became Clerk Controller of the King’s Ships circa 1524, a time when Henry VIII was becoming increasingly involved in shipbuilding in London, and was knighted for his work in 1529. Upon his death, he was buried in St. Dunstan’s Church, Stepney.

The inscription upon this monument runs as follows:-

“Here under was laid up ye bodie of Sir Thomas Spert, Knight, sometyme Comptroller of the Navy to K. Henry VIII. and both the first Founder and Master of the Worthie Society or Corporation called the Trinity House. He lived enobled by his own Worth, and dyed ye 8th of Septemb, in ye year 1541. To whose pious memory ye said Corporation hath gratefully erected this memoriall.

‘Not that he needed monuments of stone,
For his well-gotten Fame to rest upon,
But this was reard to testifie that he
Lives in their Loves, that yet surviving be.
For unto Virtue which first raised his name
He left the Preservation of the same,
And to Posterity remain it shall
When Brass and Marble Monuments do fall.
Learn for to die while thou hast breath.
So shalt thou live after thy death.’

An. 1622. By the Company of the Trinity Howse This Monument was erected 81 yrs after ye decease of theyr Founder.”




A Letter to the Editor of Flash Magazine

Amble, Northumberland
8 September 1958

“To The Secretary,
Trinity House.

Dear Sir,

It was a very great pleasure to receive on Saturday 6th instant a magnificent granite model of a lighthouse. As one of the older generation of PKs [Principal Keepers], I remember those early days when, as an SAK [Supernumerary Assistant Keeper] in 1911, I was rowed out to the Bishop in a 6-oared gig by six powerful St. Agnes fishermen, men with muscle and brawn; we had harness casks to stow our food in on reliefs. When I come to look back, and compare the great amenities and other benefits the present-day keeper receives, with big wage packets, TV and R/T in the Lighthouses, I am beginning to think I was born 50 years too soon.

Yours faithfully,

S D Knox”

[Note appending letter from Editor: Mr. Knox, now retired, served as Principal Keeper at Bishop Rock from 1939-40]


THV Mermaid enters service

THV Mermaid enters service, built by J Samuel White of Cowes, Isle of Wight.

Mermaid was the first of three ‘Mermaid-class’ vessels, followed by THVs Siren and Stella. She was the third Trinity House Vessel to bear the name Mermaid, and was sold out of service in 1986 before the fourth THV Mermaid entered service.

THV Mermaid (3)

THV Mermaid (3)

On This Day in Trinity House History – 31 August


Notice of Centenary of Bishop Rock Lighthouse in Flash Magazine

A notice of the centenary of Bishop Rock Lighthouse is published in Trinity House’s Flash Magazine:

“To mark the occasion of the centenary of Bishop Rock lighthouse, special services were held at St. Mary’s Isle of Scilly this weekend.

On Sunday August the 31st special services were arranged at the Church at St. Mary’s by the Chaplain the Rev. J.Gillett. The Church was very full for both services, the preacher in the morning being the Assistant Bishop of Truro, Bishop Wellington. The lesson was read by Captain Sergeant, the Chairman of the Visiting Committee on THV Patricia. At the evening service the preacher was the Rev. J. Gillette and the lessons were read by the Deputy Master and by Captain Catesby, Master of Patricia. Collections were taken for the benefit of Lighthouses and the the Bishop Rock.

Patricia was laying out in the roads, whilst Satellite was along-side the pier at St. Mary’s on Sunday and open to the public during the afternoon.

Satellite anchored in the roads again on Monday and during the afternoon a special service was held on her foredeck, to commemorate the actual day of the centenary. A congregation of about 200 people was taken on board and addressed by Captain G.L. Parnell of the Missions to Seamen, and the prayers and blessings given by Bishop Wellington; the service was conducted by the Chaplain of St. Mary’s. The collection was taken towards providing television for the Wolf Rock Lighthouse, a set already having been provided for the Bishop Rock by the Scilly Islanders. Whilst the service was being held on Satellite, Patricia, with the Visiting Committee on board, visited the Bishop Rock Lighthouse; owing to weather conditions the Committee were unable to land. Parcels and mementos of the centenary were however delivered by rope to the Keepers on the Lighthouse. To mark the occasion all surviving Principal Keepers of the station have been presented with a granite paperweight in the form of a lighthouse by the Chaplain of St. Mary’s.”

During the centenary celebrations at Bishop Rock, the following messages were telegraphed over the air from lighthouse to lighthouse:

Round Island to Bishop Rock:

“As your nearest neighbouring Lighthouse, our best wishes on the centenary of Bishop Rock. We feel the Bishop will continue to remain steady, for the next hundred years. Best of luck for the future from us all.”

Wolf Rock to Bishop Rock:

“The Wolf Rock Keepers offer their heartiest congratulations to Bishop Rock on reaching its centenary, May that trusted light keep turning for many years to come. Very best of luck from all here.”

Bishop Rock Lighthouse internal plaque

Bishop Rock Lighthouse internal plaque

On This Day in Trinity House History – 2 August


The Elder Brethren are empowered to search for gunpowder aboard ships

Trinity House Court Minute:

“Instruments under the Seal of the Corporation issued to the following: Captain John Werry; Captain William Harrison; Captain Charles Hardy; Captain Thomas Rogers; Captain John Robinson; Jun. Captain John Denn, Captain Thomas Wilkins, Captain David Greenhill; and Captain William Lorance, empowering them to (respectively) go on board ships to search for gunpowder, pursuant to the late Act of Parliament.”



Trinity House Pilot Vessels rescue hapless sailors

Notice in Flash Magazine:


The rescue season is now in full swing, and the Pilot Vessel Service has contributed in its usual manner. The best day’s bag was that of Mr. J S Brown, acting as Mate of Kihna who on the 2nd August set out in one of Kihna‘s boats to rescue the crew of a capsized sailing dinghy in Dover Harbour. A second dinghy capsized after Kihna‘s boat was got away, and both crews were duly rescued.

In July the Pilot Vessel Pelorus on station at Dungeness took alongside the yacht Salome which was leaking. The sole crew of this boat was an 80 year old Doctor, who refused to come on board. After Salome had been alongside for an hour and a half she was taken in tow by the Dungeness lifeboat.

On the 25th July the Vigia, which was in charge of her 2nd Mate Mr. L. Ablett, took in tow near Platters buoy the yacht Wayward Wind. The yacht was disabled with a broken rudder and choked pumps. The Wayward Wind with her crew of three was taken safely into Harwich.”

On This Day in Trinity House History – 2 April


Lightvessel No. 18 is launched

Lightvessel No. 18 is launched, from yard of Messrs. Philip & Son Ltd. of Dartmouth. The launch ceremony was performed by the wife of Elder Brother Captain Clifford St. George Glasson. The following account of the event was written up in Trinity House’s journal Flash:

“We assembled at the Shipyard at about 1630 and made our way to the platform which had been erected to accommodate the party. In accordance with time-honoured practice, the youngest apprentice presented Mrs. Glasson with a magnificent bouquet (I thought he looked somewhat self-conscious whilst performing this important part of the ceremony). Mrs. Glasson then “named” the vessel by declaiming “l name this ship Number 18 Light Vessel – may God protect her and all who serve in her.” She then pulled a lever and the traditional bottle of champagne smashed against the Light Vessel’s stern. The launching squad of Shipwrights knocked away the remaining supports (called “dog shores”) and the Light Vessel after a moment’s hesitation slid slowly and gracefully with gathering momentum down the slip, took the water and “bobbed” very nicely as a perfect lady should amid the cheers of all present. The Deputy Master was on board with the gang of riggers whose job it is to moor the Light Vessel after she has taken the water.

The party then returned to the Shipyard canteen where a presentation was made to Mrs. Glasson by the Shipbuilders to mark the occasion. A celebration dinner was held in the evening at the Grand Hotel Torquay.
By the time these notes are in print, No. 18 will probably have been completed and taken over by Trinity House and her sister ship No. 19 will have been launched. Their first stations will be St. Gowan and Seven Stones, two of the toughest Light Vessel Stations in the Service.”

The vessel and its sister, No. 19, were described thus:-

“Two new light vessels, Nos. 18 and 19, now being built by Philip & Son, Dartmouth, Devon, are 133′ 0″ long overall, 114′ 0″ long on waterline, 26′ 6″ beam and having a mean load draft of 11′ 0”. For comparison, they will be about 4′ 0″ shorter but have 1′ 6″ more beam, than light vessels Nos. 1/17, and have slightly more displacement.

These new vessels of mainly welded construction, differ very considerably from all previous vessels in that they are higher out of the water with the upper deck similar to the construction of a District Tender and having all accomrnodation, galley, mess-rooms, washplaces, recreation room, etc., on the lower deck, which is continuous and with watertight doors through bulkheads, so that the constant process of running up
and down ladders is eliminated.

The arrangement of the long and large deckhouse of earlier vessels has been overcome and there are two smaller deckhouses, one amidships forming an entrance and a radio beacon room, with a wheelhouse and bridge deck over, and one aft which forms a magazine and aft accommodation entrance. Upon this after deckhouse is fitted a diaphone turret. The lantern is supported by a circular tube passing through the midship house and abaft of this is a ship-like funnel and the engine room skylight.

Two 16′ 0″ fibreglass lifeboats are provided together with an electric boae hoist which can also be used in connection with the derricks which are provided in place of relief davits. Two cabins are provided for Mechanics and six single berth cabins for the crew. The cabins are entirely lined with plywood and insulated with slab cork to reduce the sound of the diaphone. The furniture is mahogany, upholstery red leather and the colour scheme cream.”

No. 18 Lightvessel was sold out of service in 1994, and can now be found along the Harwich waterfront as a tourist attraction open to the public.

18 LV launch 2 April 1958

18 LV launch 2 April 1958


Trinity House assumes responsibility for Point Lynas Lighthouse

As early as 1766 the need was felt for a station on Anglesey where ships making for Liverpool could pick up pilots. The Liverpool Pilotage Service, after examining several sites, eventually chose Point Lynas. At first the early pilots used a farmhouse as their lookout post. After 1779 they used two oil lamps with Hutchinson’s small metal reflectors set into a tower and showing in two directions. The new lighthouse was built in 1835 by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board.

More information about Point Lynas can be found at the Trinity House website.

Point Lynas Lighthouse

Point Lynas Lighthouse

On This Day in Trinity House History – 17 February


First issue of Trinity House’s Flash Magazine

After the displacement and change of the war years and the great surge of progress and activity that came thereafter, it became necessary for the Corporation to create an in-house journal to keep its far-flung workforce informed. Flash magazine was first typed up in 1958 on folded sheets, providing news, entertainment and notices for the services’ numerous goings-on and staff initiatives.

Deputy Master Sir Gerald Curteis’ foreword for the inaugural 1958 issue read:

FLASH is, I am sure a good idea. Its aim, very briefly, is to help you towards a better understanding and knowledge of our Service, to interest and I hope, in places, to amuse you.

It is not, of course, an original idea: many Organisations have their own Journals; but it is the first time in our long history that the Trinity House has made this venture.

Ours is a Service of great historical, practical and technical interest, but its nature requires the wide dispersion of its personnel. 1700 of us serve the Corporation in various ways and places – many leading austere, lonely and disciplined lives at isolated Stations on and around our Coasts. But, separated though we are, the activities of everyone of us are directed to one end – Service to the Mariner, and the object of this Magazine is to try, as it were, to bring us more together and to remind us that we belong to one Service.

We must wonder from time to time what is happening elsewhere in the Service and at the Trinity House, and vvhat is being done to keep everything up-to-date, improve amenities, and so on. FLASH will give this information. I welcome it, and wish it great success.”