On This Day in Trinity House History – 24 April


Trinity House deal with a fouled buoy

Trinity House Board Minute:

“Letter from the Buoy Keeper at Yarmouth that the Master of a vessel of that town had lately dragged one of our buoys at the Cockle out of its place by fastening his ship thereto, in order to sheer her off from the land. Ordered that he be directed to send up the master’s name in order to his being prosecuted for the same (which Mr. Mowbray is to be consulted about in the meantime) and that notice be given in the public prints that all such Master of ships as shall drag any of our buoys in like manner will be prosecuted, and all such persons as shall give information thereof to this House will be rewarded.”



HRH The Duke of Edinburgh is elected Master

Trinity Monday: HRH The Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh KG KT OM GBE is elected Master of Trinity House, on the death of the Duke of Gloucester.

He was elected as Master for every following consecutive year until 2011, when he retired, making him the longest-sitting Master in the Corporation’s history. He remains today an Elder Brother of the Court, having been sworn-in in 1952.

Prince Philip was born 10 June 1921. As the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, he is the longest-serving and oldest-ever spouse of a reigning British monarch, and the oldest-ever male member of the British royal family.

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and portraitist Chen Yan Ning at Trinity House

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and portraitist Chen Yan Ning at Trinity House

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.”


On This Day in Trinity House History – 22 April


THV Mermaid to the rescue

The Harwich-based tender THV Mermaid (Commander J Hearn) attends the yacht Strumpet , which had caught fire off Skegness.

The fire fighting crew consisted of First Officer S Turrell, 4th Engineer L J Weller, Coxswain M Parker and two auxiliary seamen. The Skegness Lifeboat, the 37 ft. Oakley Class Charles Fred Grantham, stood by. The hull eventually sank and was plotted on sonar by THV Mermaid; survivors were picked up by another yacht which was sailing with Strumpet.

THV Mermaid 1959-1986

THV Mermaid 1959-1986

On This Day in Trinity House History – 20 April


East coast lighthouses prepared for King George II’s passing-by

Trinity House Board Minute:

“His Majesty about to go to Holland, the Keepers at Harwich, Orford, Lowestoft, and the Foreland [lighthouses] ordered to take special care of their respective lights as soon as the time of his Majesty’s time of departure shall be fixed. A like notice to the Trinity Sloop concerning the buoys in the Nth. & Sth. Channels.”



THV Alert enters service

THV Alert was commissioned into service, having been converted from an Admiralty cable ship (HMS Bullseye).

This Alert, the fourth Trinity House Vessel to bear the name, was built to replace the Alert sunk by a mine during the Second World War. She served well as was sold out of service in 1970.

THV Alert 1946 - 1970

THV Alert 1946 – 1970

On This Day in Trinity House History – 18 April


Trinity House Keep a Thames Waterman from the Press Gangs

Trinity House Board Minute:

“A certificate to the officers employed in empressing seamen, not to Impress John Goodcheape, employed as a waterman to row the Deputy Master and Wardens, was issued under the seal of the Corporation.”

Trinity House had the right to license mariners to row on the Thames as watermen. These watermen were both older and fewer in number than the apprentices and freemen of the Company of Watermen and Lightermen.

Trinity House by the Thames 1746

Trinity House by the Thames 1746

On This Day in Trinity House History – 15 April


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.



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)

On This Day in Trinity House History – 14 April


Trinity House certify ill treatment of British mariners by Barbary pirates

Trinity House Court Minute:

“Certificate of Trinity House to the Keeper of the Great Seal, that Robert Ensome, of Ratcliffe, Master of the Unicorn, of London, was on his return from the Canary Islands, taken by a Sally man-of-war twelve leagues from Scilly, taken to Sally, and sold as a slave and ill-treated; his loss was £250; ransom required £250; he has a wife and three children.”

See our post from 20 March describing Trinity House’s long-running struggle against piracy overseas.

On This Day in Trinity House History – 4 April


Trinity House hosts first meeting of King George’s Fund for Sailors

Trinity House Court Room

Trinity House Court Room

The first meeting of the newly-formed King George’s Fund for Sailors was held in the Court Room at Trinity House.

The King George’s Fund for Sailors (today known as Seafarers UK) was formed by a meeting of representatives of the Marine Charities, Shipowners, Merchants, etc., held at Dixon House, Lloyd’s Avenue, with Captain A W Clarke (afterwards Sir Arthur Clarke) an Elder Brother of Trinity House, in the Chair.

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