|A military role|
The Spanish threat
In response, Captain Robert Salmon (Master of Trinity House 1588-89) wrote to Lord Burghley, the Queen's advisor. Salmon told him that it was possible to fit out 30 merchant ships in four days for the use of the Lord High Admiral, Lord Henry Seymour.
Lord Seymour ordered Captain Salmon to 'go with his galley and make ready to guard the mouth of the Thames'.
As it turned out, the Trinity ships did not see any action against the Spanish in 1588. Nevertheless, the threat from the Armada had been real enough.
Mutiny and invasion
The only other time in the history of Trinity House when they armed their ships to protect the coast was during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1803 they were formed into the Trinity House Volunteer Artillery. They blockaded the Thames at Lower Hope as a defence against a threatened French invasion.
Putting out the lights
On only three occasions during its history has Trinity House put out its lights or removed buoys. The first time was during the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-67).
Charles II and his government insisted that all beacons and buoys be removed from the coast and from the Thames. Unfortunately, more of the English fleet were sunk because of this action than by the Dutch Navy at the Four Days Battle in June 1666.
During the First and Second World Wars Trinity House's lights remained off, but they were occasionally relit for the use of Allied shipping and fleet movements.
This image shows a convoy arriving off St Anthony's Lighthouse at Falmouth. The Trinity lighthouse was painted in camouflage colours.
Turning off the lights in wartime was a risky business. On 28 October 1915, the cruiser HMS Argyll was wrecked on the Bell Rock.