Friday, 29 May 2015


A few historical items found along the way. The first is an advertisement for a revolving ‘lanthorn’ (Photo 981).  Yes I wondered at this, but it is the archaic version of ‘lantern’. The translucent sides of early lanterns were made of very thin horn, not glass, and hence ‘lanthorn’. Anyway, a Captain H.G. Pearce invented this device “to prevent those serious and Melancholy Accidents which so frequently occur from Vessels running foul of each other at Night”. 
    Full marks for initiative but it would rely on all Masters knowing the colour codes and understanding (as I suppose they must) the nautical terms which puzzle me – ‘Larbourd’, ‘keep her Luff’, ‘Upon a wind’ etc.  I don’t suppose this idea was ever taken up. Why buy an expensive bit of kit if you cannot guarantee everyone else is going to have the same?
      The second historical item is a set of instructions to help you operate a ‘Manual Fog Signal Apparatus’ should you ever come across one (Photo 982).  These instructions were issued by Trinity House in 1895.  My copy is rather tatty and so I have re-typed the instructions. They are, in my eyes at least, a bit pedantic, but I suppose there was little chance of a help-line phone call, or a home visit when things went wrong!  They had to cover every eventuality.

   The last sentence of the first paragraph conjures up a sense of mounting panic as the horn is sounded more and more frequently until it is emitting a continuous scream. Better that than a collision I suppose!

   Coming more up to date (1960s), I found this short item about pirate radio stations –
 The Suppression of the broadcasts by stations outside national territories. - National legislation and European Agreement.  1966
 Great Britain OK has a radius of action covering the French and British coasts. It emits a wavelength already in use by stations in Stockholm, Spain and the Soviet Union. The station is installed on a vessel, the 'Lady Dixon', off the coast in the mouth of the River Thames.

     In fact Great Britain OK (GBOK) never did get to the proposed mooring ‘off the coast in the mouth of the River Thames’ and indeed never did broadcast. It is believed that in July 1962 the ship, while in Sheerness awaiting a tow out to her station, was raided by the Post Office and the radio equipment confiscated. British youth, or at least those in SE England, had to wait for Radio Caroline to make it in 1964.
   Meanwhile, back on the ship  …. Simon has completed the first stage of the repairs to the stern gunwale.  The last section on the starboard side was the worst and did look pretty grim (Photo 983). 

    Five bags of sand and two of cement later and the whole area looks much better (Photo 984).   

   To finish off, the shuttering has to come off and all the repaired areas need sealing and painting. Then he will have to find a good joiner to design, make and fit the bench seating he has in mind. The seats will be weather-proof lockers in which to store cushions etc., and, as I reported before, there will be a door in the centre to give access to the clinker boat he plans to have hanging out there – if he can find some davits!  My ‘artist’s impression’ shows the idea (Photo 985).