Although many records of Trinity House, the UK Lighthouse and Lightship Authority, were destroyed by a fire in WWII, our researchers located surviving documents at London Metropolitan Archives. Here, we discovered in singed Wardens Minute Books that the successful bid for building the new “Lightvessel for Seven Stones” was awarded to Fletcher, Sons and Fernall, of Limehouse Dock, London (insert photo of Wardens Minutes), the cost excluding fixtures and fittings was £5,650. This Lightship, referred to in Trinity House documents as “No.50” is credited to a design by Bernard Waymouth. A physical identification mark ‘LV50’ engraved into one of her deck beams can still be seen in what is now the bar area.
At the time of her construction, metal was replacing wood for shipbuilding; however Trinity House commissioned a sturdy wooden vessel to withstand the rough seas at Seven Stones. LV50 is 100ft long, 21 ft wide with a draft of 9ft and weighs just over 205 tons; her hull is similar to 18th Century fighting ships. She was fitted with a Chance Brothers light and a reed foghorn, which were state of the art for that time. Conditions on lightships though were not state of the art; they were cramped, noisy, being manned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by brave men who put their lives at risk to warn others of danger.
Early Lightships had no propulsion engines so in September 1879 LV50 was towed to her first station at Seven Stones, a very dangerous reef. She was placed on several other southern and eastern English stations and was active during both World Wars, suffering several collisions. After more than 70 years of hard service, repairs and refits LV50 was again damaged on 26 June 1951 by a barge in tow. Following this incident, Trinity House decided to decommission her “in view of her age and general condition” and had her removed to Harwich for breaking.
Fortunately, in 1952 the Royal Northumberland Yacht Club rescued her from the breakers yard at Harwich and towed her to Blyth to become their much loved house yacht, Tyne III. With recent repairs hopefully she will remain afloat in Blyth South Harbour for many more years.
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1879 Built by Fletcher Son and Fearnall, of Union Dock, Limehouse, London to a design by Bernard Waymouth
1879 Towed by the Trinity House vessel and placed on Seven stones, Scilly Isles, off the coast of Cornwall
1883 Removed to London for repairs and overhaul and placed back on Seven Stones
1886 Following severe storm damage she was towed to London
1887 Back in for repairs and became London ‘Spare Light’ Vessel
1891 Stationed at Shambles, Weymouth
1893 Brought back in for repairs and overhaul and placed back on Shambles
1900 Brought in for repairs and probably placed back on Shambles
1909 Stationed at Outer Gabbard at Felixstowe
1912 Brought in for repairs (not yet known if she went back to outer Gabbard or was placed on Nore)
1916 At Nore and damaged by HM torpedo boat
1919 Damaged by SS Zealand and taken off Nore
1920 Being prepared to go to East Goodwin (no information yet found that LV50 was on East Goodwin)
1924 At Outer Gabbard
1925 Brought in for repairs and overhaul
1926 Became ‘Spare; at Harwich
1929 At Galloper
1940 At Warner (not yet known when placed there)
1943 At Calshot Spit after being fitted with deckhouse protection
1943 Damaged by “Duke of Wellington”
1944 Damaged by two HM invasion craft
1945 Damaged by HM landing craft and brought in for repairs and placed back on Calshot Spit
1951 Damaged by barge being towed by tug “Resnova” and brought in for repairs
1951 Trinity House decided to decommission LV50
1952 Royal Northumberland Yacht Club rescued LV50 from breakers yard to become their Club Ship, Tyne III