We were fortunate to be entertained by Captain Bill Hargreaves, a former ship’s master, who is a member of Trinity House and a Sea Pilot at Southampton. Bill gave us an interesting and informative sight of the history and current importance of Trinity House operations. It was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1514 during the reign of Henry VIII and was given the task of seeking to ensure the safety of shipping and by doing so improving the safety of seafarers.
Since then it has been a leader in maritime safety and navigation, being responsible for lighthouses, lightships and navigation buoys around the coasts of England and Wales. It operates three ships to help with the maintenance and placement of buoys as well as the many other tasks associated with safety at sea. They are the Galatea, Patricia and Alert, which are also available for commercial hire. Trinity House is responsible for licensing Deep Sea Pilots, providing expert navigators for ships trading in Northern European waters.
Unsurprisingly, the introduction of satellite navigation systems has had a significant impact on the movements of shipping. As a result, Differential GPS became operational on 1 July 2002. It is a network of 14 ground-based reference stations providing transmissions with coverage of at least 50 nautical miles around the coasts of the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. It is an open system—available to all mariners—and is financed from light dues charged on commercial shipping and other income paid into the General Lighthouse Fund. Future changes are inevitable and Trinity House will ensure they are incorporated properly to continue with their work of providing the safest environment for all those at sea around the UK.
In addition to its safety responsibilities Trinity House is a charity which invests in training for prospective Merchant Navy officers and care for aged or distressed mariners and their dependants. It also provides grants for other maritime charities whose objectives align with their own.
All in all it was an excellent evening full of interest and good humour.
(With thanks for submission, and photo, by Duncan Honeyman, President)