|Samuel Pepys, Master of Trinity House in 1685. © NMM|
In 1687 the Corporation was also given permission to test these pilots after Samuel Pepys' visit to Spain. Pepys' involvement with the Admiralty had won him the position of Younger Brother in 1662. He later became Master of Trinity House in 1685.
In the previous year, Pepys had gone to Spain to study the Spanish system of examination. Aspiring pilots were questioned on their knowledge of navigation and sea management. Only the best would achieve a certificate of competence and become pilots.
|The Royal Charter granted to Trinity House in 1685 by King James II. © NMM|
Pepys' report was accepted by James II who acknowledged it in a new Charter in 1685.
It was entitled, 'The Royal Charter of confirmation, granted by His most Excellent Majesty King James II, to the Trinity-House of Deptford-Strond, for the government and encrease of the navigation of England'.
The front page of the charter is shown here.
|King James II (1685-88). © NMM|
King James' charter also permitted Trinity House to set its own rates of pilotage and to examine masters for the Royal Navy.
On 24 February 1696, Ambrose Marshall became the first recorded pilot to receive his licence.
It allowed him to cover the area down the Thames as far as Gravesend.
|Trinity House ketch Vigilant. © NMM|
These regions were known as 'Districts' and included Southampton, Milford Haven and Falmouth. This photograph is of the Trinity House ketch Vigilant. Built in 1879 and weighing 70 tons, Vigilant was used as a pilot vessel on the River Thames.
|Receipt for Trinity House dues, 11 December 1810. © NMM|
Shown here is a receipt, dated 11 December 1810, for pilotage dues of £8 10 shillings (£8.50) payable to Trinity House from the ship Aeolus.
|Trinity House Pilot Boat 121. © NMM|
|Trinity House pilot's cap. © NMM|
Trinity House pilots wore a distinctive uniform. The two images here show a pilot's cap and jacket. The cap has a white cotton cover and the Trinity House badge with gold laurel on the peak.
|Captain Henry Austin Fraser's Trinity House pilot jacket. © NMM|
This jacket, which has eight buttons, belonged to Captain Henry Austin Fraser who served in both world wars. For his services, Fraser received:
The medal ribbons can be seen on the left breast of the jacket.
John Foot joined the Trinity House Pilot service in 1967. He was posted as a junior pilot based on the Isle of Thanet, dealing with small ships bound for London from near the Continent. In addition he managed the traffic in and out of Ramsgate and Whitstable.
A vessel was boarded about a mile off the port and the first job was to reassure the worried Captain that the entrance was not as narrow as he feared. Round the fairway buoy, and then N.N.E aiming at the port hand pierhead as the strong N.E. going tide swept across the entrance. Some speed had to be maintained, for once the bow was inside, in still water, the stern rapidly closed the starboard pierhead.
Once inside the Royal Harbour, one could sense the Captain's relief, and it was only when shaping up for the narrow lock entrance that he would realise the ordeal was not yet over. The usual practice was to steer her straight through with fenders at the ready and fingers
On another occasion, Foot boarded a small ship of the North Foreland during foul mid-winter weather:
A very close call, and a situation for which I alone was responsible. Had the ship been stranded, possibly lost, and within site of my home, there would have followed a visit to
|Scenes from pilotage in the Channel. © NMM|
This 1885 image illustrates several scenes from the life of a pilot. The scenes include:
|Pilot Hoist on a Union Castle vessel. © NMM|
Although no longer responsible for local pilotage, Trinity House is still authorised to license deep sea pilots. These often join a vessel off Brixham and stay onboard the whole time the vessel is trading in the continental area. The pilot will only leave when the ship passes Brixham on its outward journey. This 1965 image shows a deep sea pilot being winched on board a Union Castle steamer.
|Vagabond leaving Harwich Pier, 31 March 1986. © NMM|