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Restoration Team

Let us present here a people who are our treasure, a real members of our Restoration Team - they are helping us a lot to restore our THPV Bembridge & her history. They are supporting us with a lot of information concerning our Old Lady, her history, history of Trinity House pilot activity and history of Smith's Dock - a shipyard which built her in 1938 for Trinity House London. All of them are very important for us so we are presenting them in neutral,  alphabetical order:
Andrew Adams, UK
Andrew Adams a Younger Brother of Trinity House - he is our main source of our knowledge concerning Trinity House pilot activity, their pilot cutters, he is supporting us with many different contacts, help and especially many pictures, drawings and documents and many, many others ... 
Graham Bowen, UK
Graham Bowen, previously employed by Kirkleatham Museum from Redcar. We received a great help from Kirkleatham Museum concerning Smith's Dock Co. Ltd. a shipyard which built our Bembridge in 1938 and a history of that shipyard. A huge help was given especially from their member - so from Graham.

Today Graham has his own activity - you can find him just here:

Graham during his visit in Szczecin - he is on the right, on the left is Rafal and our Old Lady is as a background
Hugh Ferguson, UK
Hugh Ferguson - as a pilot he spent many hours aboard Trinity House Pilot Vessel Bembridge stationed, periodically, off Dungeness from 1956/65. He wrote to us: "She was as comfortable as you could best expect a pilot vessel to be. With a full complement of inward pilots aboard numbering 14, plus up to 20 outward pilots arriving during a friday night she became very crowded. As an underdraftsman I have occasionally spent a full two days awaiting the arrival of a ship with a draft of 16ft or less".

Hugh Ferguson - a Trinity House Pilot in 1980
Jeffrey Wood, UK
Jeffrey was making a full servey in Gillingham before we bought Bembridge and he was issuing for us a Towage Safety Certificate.

He worked at the Orchard from 1945 to 1952 and the repairs to Bembridge would have been done in 1947 when she was a Trinity House buoy tender. The Trinity House yard was next door to the Orchard and that also has been closed and is now a cheap industrial estate.

His story is just here:

"I can only tell you what I have already stated that we replaced three plates on the starboard bow but the cause of the damage was unknown to me.   A second year apprentice shipwright is not usually high up the pecking order and had I asked I would probably have been told to mind my own business.   After all I was only a sixteen year old boy not a Yard manager at the time.

The yard where the ship was repaired and where I did my apprenticeship was the Orchard Dock in east London. The shipyard was closed in 1970 and the area is now a storage depot for Shell Oil with the dry dock filled in and all the buildings gone. No records will exist for the main yard (the Orchard was a small sub-yard) also closed about the same time and is now a housing estate. " 

Nicholas St John Foti, UK
  Nick Foti served on MV Bembridge as catering officer from 1971 - 1973 teaching cookery and serving all the meals to the boys and small staff.  Most of the time they were moored off Ryde pier but occasionally went to sea. Also provided special water to nuclear submarines at Barrow in Furness. Very secret work... He spent his honey moon working on a trip to Guernsey with his now wife of 40 years ago.

The story written by Nick is just here (we connected a stories written by Nick from several messages) :

“My full name is Nicholas St John Foti. I was catering officer on board and at the school base. I was in charge of teaching city and guilds qualifications in cookery for the boys and also feeding them. The original big stove and oven which was diesel fuelled from the waste diesel in the engine room was dismantled while i was on board the Bembridge in the galley and made a terrible mess everywhere. the soot and dirt lingered for weeks.

I have many stories of our life on board . It was full of adventure and fun. Also hard work.

My father had the ship as far as i remember till the pipe laying firm took it over. The school closed in 1973. He had the ship first in early 1971. Bought it for the charity from Trinity House. I remember going on her the first night and taking over from the duty watchman of Trinity House who handed over all the inventory. Everything was on board then. A fantastic amount of brassware including all the oil lamps etc which were mounted in every cabin, Everything was gleaming. Trinity House really looked after this vessel.

The pictures were taken in the officers mess room between the galley and the top of the engine room.

This was the mess for the Officers of the ship. I.E . The Captain, Chief Officer, Chief Engineer and 2nd Engineer. Their Cabins were down below the staircase which was in this room.

I used to sleep in the second engineers cabin. My father had the Captains cabin of course. Commander Preston had the Chief Engineers Cabin and occasionally Mr. Cambell Thomson, the retired Chief Engineer, used to stay in the Chief Officers Cabin. Mostly he stayed ashore. He was very old and was mainly a consultant to my father. He was part of Trinity House originally. The only man who really knew everything about the ship in 1971 when My father took it over.

Before we married My wife used to visit me and stay in the cabin below the wheelhouse on the port side. She was 19 and I was 20 and I see it still exists which is very exciting because when no one was looking I used to creep up there for a late night cuddle. Bembridge has very special memories for me especially that cabin...ok ...

Don’t forget the saloon in the bow of the ship was for The pilots not for the Officers that ran the ship itself. The pilots quarters were below the saloon and galley area too. All the men who manned the ship and also the boys in our time were in the rear quarters as was their mess too. Except the two cooks and two Stewards who had a cabin just behind the galley between the saloon on the saloon deck.  

In your (Smith’s Dock original drawings of ships arrangement) 1938 map it was a store cupboard but Trinity House must have realized there was no room for the Galley staff and must have changed this after the maps were drawn up.

However it was NOT Cosag who had the special contract with nuclear work in the Barrow in Furness Area. This event happened before the ship was sold to Cosag...

It was my Father who took 20 or so of the boys on this mission. I was not allowed to go and stayed on land with the remaining 15 or so boys who were studying catering with me. This event took place in 1972 It was secret work of course and it involved taking water which was stored on the aft part of the ship out to the new submarines in the bay. It was in total about 3 months I guess.

So you see Cosag did remove and make a lot of alterations to the ship for pipe laying purposes but that was after my Father had her. "
Eric St John Foti, UK
Eric St John Foti  is a father of Nick. He was the director and principal of The school on MV Bembridge based in Arundel Priory.

He is 83 now and still going strong. He took his masters ticket just before taking on the Bembridge and really took his first steps under the guidance of chief engineer Campbell who was a real old character.

He is really the person who knows the Bembridge the best as it was straight after Trinity House. He was its first private Captain.

He was and still is a very keen photographer among many other things. He still flies microlite aeroplanes at 83.  

He sold the ship on behalf of the charity to Cosag . who were a pipe laying firm. Nick seems to think it was for telephone cables from country to country.

Linda Sutton, UK Iain Mathieson,
Barrie. D. Davey, UK, IOW
Barrie was personally connected with THPV Bembridge in 1971.

Prior to the "V” class 40ft pilot launches taking over from the THPV Bembridge completely she was anchored off Ryde. The 40fts would lay alongside and refuel. Barrie was on the 40fts at this time, so he knew her in her last days, just before she was taken out of service

Soon we will publish here his stories. He is a member of our restoration team and Official THPV Bembridge 1938 Isle of Wight Coordinator. Barry is trying to do his best to contact everybody who is only related to our Old Lady on IOW. He is also grouping everybody wanted to help in the project of THPV Bembridge 1938.

You can find him on his web site: 
Do not look at his picture - he is much, much younger!!!

Dear Barrie - many thanks!!!

William Richard Pickersgill, UK
Peter Dowling, UK
When he was a small boy he was given the chance to leave the under privileged life in London and go to The Arundel Sea Training School and according to Peter it changed his life for the better. As The shore base for the Bembridge was  Arundel and that time he lived in the priory, based in the Castle grounds.  The Principal was Mr Eric St- John Foti. 
He went on the Bembridge as he decided he wanted to be a marine engineer. The Chief Engineer Mr Campbell, who had been with the ship most of its life, taught him everything.
He described his life on board in his email - what I dare to present here partly:

"I remember there being about 15 of us boys and about 4 or 5 crew, comprising of Mr Foti (who was the captain) the chief engineer and the officers mate and I can’t remember the others.  The Bembridge was mostly moored in Portsmouth Harbour and later on at a pier in Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight.  On a couple of occasions we went on trips to the Channel Isle, Jersey Guernsey, and Alderney etc.  We also went to Cherbourg, France.  These trips were long and slow and sometimes rough.  I remember vividly being on Engine Room duty one night, manning the controls and falling sleep, the next thing I felt was a hard slap round my face it was the Chief Engineer, he hit me so hard I fell of my stool. Mr Campbell was a Scottish man and I think he had been in the Officers Mess and probably had a couple of whiskeys.   Despite this I really respected him he was decent man, and I never fell asleep again on duty.  Although If I wanted some where quiet to sleep I used to climb inside the funnel and fall asleep, no one  could find me!
The boys sleeping quarters were below deck at the back of the ship  and they were separate cabins with bunk beds, two high.  The galley was mid- ship and the officer’s mess was next to it.  The Salon was at the front of the ship and I remember the walls being covered 2 thirds up in wood, lovely thick carpet  very nicely decorated.  There were big mahogany dining tables and benches all the way round.
We all had different  jobs to do, I worked as you can already guess in the engine room and I can still remember the smell and the noise today. The other boys were doing catering on board and deck hands and everyone had to do maintenance and cleaning of the ship.  I remember painting the side of the ship on the Bosons chair what ever the weather.
We were on the ship from when we were 15 to about 17 and from all different  backgrounds but we generally got on, although there were some fall outs  from time to time.  There was a lot of discipline on board ship and we all had our duties, and there were times when we were working and times when we off duty.
I have always had an affection for the Bembridge and I would be very honored  to become an Official Member of your restoration team and hope that what I have sent you will be of some value. "
Tony Wilding (STORES), UK
His own profile made by Tony on Ship's Nostalgia: ex merchant seaman now 70. retired, 22 years sea service, mostly on tramp ships and general cargo, engine room dept. interested in photos of ships of watts watts and co ( Britain steamship co ) collect and restore 1/1200 scale triang merchant ships, and build resin models to same scale, 13 years service on trinity house buoy tenders, was in engine room dept, have over 150 photos of watts watts ships dating back to 1873, always willing to assist in photos wanted and any information i can give.

David James
David James, Trinity House London (North Channels) Pilot 1965 - 1989.

David James, quite recently ...

A very interesting photo dated 1975. It was taken in the Library of Trinity House at Tower Hill, London. The occasion was the signing of an agreement between the two groups of pilots to share their common purses.

It shows Sir Miles Wingate, Deputy Master of T.H. (seated) with, from left to right, Tony Lewis, Deputy Principal of the Pilotage Department. David James, representing the North Channels Pilots.  D. Barrow Chairman of London Sea Pilots Committee. Tim Hughes representing Cinque Ports pilots.

Here is a message from David:

THPV Bembridge was the first Trinity House pilot vessel I boarded when I started training as a London (North Channels) pilot in 1965. I came across your web site when searching for information on the Woodbridge pilotage district for the Woodbridge Town Museum. It just happened that we had friends to visit us yesterday with no connection to Trinity House. I mentioned Bembridge to them and it turns out that they spent many happy hours on board when she was the Yacht Clubhouse. There is much to read in this thread but I will come back to you when I have done so and have considered whether there are any photos I have that could be of interest. Regards David James.

Whole Team of Magemar Szczecin, PL
Our team of restorers grouped in Magemar Polska:

You can see from the left: Marcin Figlak, Kamil Hajduk, Rafal Zahorski & Adrian Buraczynski.

But there are much more people involved in that project from our office from Szczecin, here you have whole our team:

Philippe Mairlot - an Owner of Magemar Polska

Francois Mairlot with his wife - an Owner of Magemar Polska

Katarzyna Bochniak - Kasia

Joanna Druchniak - Asia

Pawel Markowicz - Pawel

Mariusz Januszkiewicz - Mariusz

Marek Wiese - Marek

Andrzej Koperek - Andy

Jacek Knapik - Jacek & his son Bartek

Krystian Szymysl - Krystian

Marcin Figlak - Marcin

Kamil Hajduk - just Kamil

Adrian Buraczynski - Adriano

Magda Juszczuk - Magda

Agnieszka Roszyk - Aga

Krzysztof Blaszczyk - Christoph, our Bosun on board

Rafal Zahorski - Zahus

We are a very strong Crew but some of us are the strongest ...

Marcin lifting up a mooring fender
- he is the strongest ...

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