The Corporation of Trinity House has been looking after the welfare of mariners for almost 500 years. During that time, many changes have been made. View our historic timeline to learn about some of the notable changes throughout our history making Trinity House what it is today.
Trinity Timeline Transcript
1514 Royal Charter granted for the Corporation of Trinity House.
1566 Elizabeth I empowers Trinity House to set up ‘so many beacons, marks and signs for the sea… whereby the dangers may be avoided and escaped and ships the better come unto their ports without peril’.
1604 James I grants Trinity House rights concerning the compulsory pilotage of shipping, and the exclusive right to licence pilots in the River Thames.
1609 Trinity House builds its first lighthouse at Lowestoft.
1698 Eddystone becomes the first rock lighthouse in Europe, built as a private enterprise by Henry Winstanley. It is destroyed by a huge storm in 1703.
1709 The second lighthouse on the Eddystone Rocks designed by John Rudyerd is completed, standing for 46 years before being destroyed by fire.
1732 Trinity House's first lightvessel - the first in the world – was moored near Nore Sands at the mouth of the River Thames.
1759 The third lighthouse on the Eddystone Rocks is completed. John Smeaton’s Eddystone stands for more than a century before cracks appear in the rocks upon which it stands. It is re-erected on Plymouth Hoe. The remaining stump still stands on the Eddystone Rock.
1807 Trinity House takes over Smeaton’s lighthouse.
1836 Trinity House given compulsory powers to acquire and maintain all private lights.
1838 Longstone Lighthouse becomes famous as the scene of the ‘Forfarshire’ wreck and the exploits of Grace Darling, a daughter of the keeper in charge - 9 survivors are rescued.
1867 Electricity introduced to the first lighthouse - South Foreland.
1882 The present Eddystone lighthouse (the fourth to be established on the Eddystone Rocks) designed by James Douglass is completed.
1901 Vaporised paraffin gas introduced to lights without electric connections.
1913 First compressed air fog horn installed – Trevose Head, Cornwall.
1958 Purpose-built retirement homes caring for mariners and their dependents at Walmer in Kent, are opened, financed entirely by the Trinity House charity.
1967 Radar Beacons (RACONS) are installed at Souter Point lighthouse. In the next decade, Racons would come into wide usage on buoys, lightvessels and lighthouses and are still in use today.
1969 First reliefs of Lighthouse Keepers by helicopter trialled.
1977 Last oil burner removed from a Trinity House lighthouse at St Mary’s Bay, Tynemouth.
1982 Eddystone Lighthouse becomes the first Trinity House rock lighthouse to be converted to automatic operation.
1989 Lightsmen are withdrawn from the Channel Station – the last manned Trinity House lightvessel.
1993 The conversion of Trinity House buoys to solar power is completed.
1994 Lundy North becomes the first Trinity House lighthouse to be converted to solar powered operation.
1997 Revised legislation gives Trinity House powers to undertake commercial work.
1998 Keepers are withdrawn from North Foreland, the last manned Trinity House lighthouse.
2002 The Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) network provided by the General Lighthouse Authorities becomes operational.
2006 THV Alert enters service, becoming Trinity House’s first Rapid Intervention Vessel (RIV).
2007 THV Galatea, the most technologically advanced vessel ever built by Trinity House, is delivered.
2008 Development of electronic concepts such as AIS, eLoran and DGPS begins.
2011 Modernisation of lighthouse sites completed. Introduction of new power arrangements such as wind, solar and hybrid systems sees reduced carbon emissions.
2014 Trinity House celebrates 500 years of service to the mariner.
2020 The General Lighthouse Authorities predictions for the requirement of marine Aids to Navigation to 2020 (published in 2004), are realised.