On This Day in Trinity House History – 23 December

1566

The Seamarks Act is passed in the House of Lords

An Act “concerning Sea-marks and Mariners” is read for the first time and passed in the House of Lords.

This Act, passed by Elizabeth I enabled Trinity House

“at their wills and pleasures, and at their costs, [to] make, erect, and set up such, and so many beacons, marks, and signs for the sea, in such place or places of the sea-shores, and uplands near the sea-coasts, or forelands of the sea, only for sea-marks, as to them shall seem most meet, needful, and requisite, whereby the dangers may be avoided and escaped, and ships the better come into their ports without peril.”

 


1977

The Last Trinity House Oil-Burning Lighthouse

St. Mary’s Island Lighthouse is the last of the Trinity House lighthouses to be converted to electric operation.

The paraffin vapour burner (PVB), which had been in use since 1898, was replaced by a temporary portable lamp which was used at the lighthouse for two months while a permanent electrical system was installed.

SI. Mary’s Island, sometimes called Bait Island, lies north of the popular holiday resort of Whitley Bay which is a long stretch of sand with low rocks running far out from the shore. Steep banks of grass front the sea and the many acres of lawn make it a very attractive resort. A causeway links the island to the mainland, and at low tide holiday makers can cross to the lighthouse on the small island and scramble over the rocks.

The lighthouse was built for Trinity House by Messrs. J. Miller in 1898. During the excavation for the foundation of the lighthouse, the workmen unearthed several skeletons and stone coffins from what used to be the burial ground for the monks of Tynemouth Priory. The white round tower is 37 metres high and is connected by service rooms to the keepers’ dwellings.

Postcard from St Marys Lighthouse

Postcard from St Marys Lighthouse

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 – 15 April

1917

THV Alert is Lost During the First World War

The Corporation’s steam vessel THV Alert was sunk near Dover, with the loss of eleven lives, after contact with a mine when on special service.

THV Alert was the second of her name to serve Trinity House as a tender, built in 1911.

She was replaced by the Argus from Yarmouth; in order to carry on the work in that district a new trawler, on the stocks at Selby, was requisitioned and fitted for handling buoys. Her original name Jeria was retained.

She carried out her work satisfactorily until the end of the war; the crew spoke highly of her seagoing qualities. The Admiralty replaced Alert with a duplicate vessel in 1920 from the same builders, Messrs Ramage and Ferguson of Leith; she would also be sunk by a mine in the Second World War.

 


1977

Trinity House Lays the First of the Modern IALA Buoys

THV Ready had the honour of laying the first IALA buoy in a ceremony off Dover, watched over by representatives of 16 nations.

The IALA (International Association of Lighthouse Authorities) Maritime Buoyage System was implemented in 1977 to address the unsatisfactory and sometimes disastrous mix of over 30 buoyage systems being used worldwide. IALA first set up an international technical committee in 1965 to examine the problem and design a system that would be globally recognised. Trinity House played a leading part in the system’s successful deployment, with an Elder Brother chairing the committee.

IALA maritime buoyage system

IALA maritime buoyage system

THV Ready (1947-77)

THV Ready (1947-77)