Monday, May 01, 2006

Bristol Channel Pilots

Bristol Channel Pilots: "The Bristol channel is probably one of the most dangerous shipping lanes in the world.Over the centuries many ships have been lost whilst navigating it.The channel has one of the highest tidal ranges in the world and many dangerous sand bars and rocks.
If legend is to believed the first official Bristol Channel pilot was George James Ray.He was a barge master who was appointed by the Corporation of Bristol in May 1497 to pilot John Cabot's Matthew from Bristol to the open sea.There is no proof of this, but the name Ray has played a part in Bristol's maritime history.In 1837 Pilot George Ray guided the Great Western safely out to open sea.Then in 1844 William Ray piloted the larger Great Britain out to sea.
In 1611 the Corporation of Bristol delegated the control of pilotage to the Merchant Venturers of Bristol.They were to retain control for 250 years.The Bristol pilots were mainly based at Pill near the mouth of the river Avon. Bristol for many years was the main port on the Channel but as the Welsh ports grew larger due to the coal and iron exported, these ports needed to control their own pilots.Bristol tried to put a block on this and tried to keep it's monopoly.
Various acts were passed over the years and in 1861 the ports of Cardiff, Newport and Gloucester were granted the right to appoint their own pilots"


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