The Corporation of Trinity House of Deptford Strond, known as Trinity House, is the official General Lighthouse Authority for England, Wales, and other British territorial waters, with the exception of Scotland, the Isle of Man, and Northern Ireland. It is responsible for the provision and maintenance of navigational aids, such as lighthouses, lightvessels, buoys, and maritime radio/satellite communication systems. Trinity House is also the official deep sea pilotage authority, providing expert navigators for ships trading in Northern European waters. It is a non-departmental public body.
Master of the Corporation 
The Master of the Corporation (now an honorary title) is the Princess Royal. Previous Masters of Trinity House have included the diarist Samuel Pepys and the Duke of Wellington, and Admiral William Penn (father of William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania). Other prominent individuals in Britain, often connected with commercial shipping or the Admiralty, have been associated with Trinity House, including Winston Churchill, who gained his status as an Elder Brother of Trinity House as a result of his position as First Lord of the Admiralty before and during World War I. Often, especially on naval-related forays during the Second World War, he was seen in Trinity House cap or uniform. Winston Churchill also had a Trinity House vessel (THV) named after him, the THV Winston Churchill.
Trinity House is ruled by a court of thirty-one Elder Brethren, presided over by a Master, at present HRH the Princess Royal. These are appointed from 300 Younger Brethren who act as advisors and perform other duties as needed. The Younger Brethren are themselves appointed from lay people with maritime experience, mainly naval officers and ships' masters but also harbourmasters, pilots, yachtsmen and anyone with useful experience.
Headquarters of the Corporation 
The headquarters of the corporation is the present Trinity House, which was designed by architect Samuel Wyatt and built in 1796. It has a suite of five state rooms with views over Trinity Square, The Tower of London and The River Thames.
The Corporation came into being in 1514 by Royal Charter granted by Henry VIII under the name "The Master, Wardens, and Assistants of the Guild, Fraternity, or Brotherhood of the most glorious and undivided Trinity, and of St. Clement in the Parish of Deptford-Strond in the County of Kent.". The first Master was Thomas Spert, captain of Henry’s flagship Mary Rose. The name of the guild derives from the church of Holy Trinity and St Clement, which adjoined the king's new dockyard at Deptford. For many years, Trinity House depots were maintained in Harwich, Great Yarmouth, Penzance, Swansea, East Cowes, and on the Thames at Trinity Buoy Wharf which closed in 1988.
In December 2002 Trinity House announced that the Great Yarmouth, Penzance and East Cowes depots would close. Today Trinity House's operational headquarters is in Harwich, supported by depots in Swansea and a flight operations base at St Just. Its operations are also supported by three vessels; the two large tenders THV Patricia and THV Galatea, and the Rapid Intervention Vessel THV Alert. A small secretariat is based at Tower Hill.
Operational responsibilities and role of the corporation 
Trinity House has three main functions:
- It is the General Lighthouse Authority for England, Wales, the Channel Islands and Gibraltar, responsible for a range of general aids to navigation, 'signs of the sea', from lighthouses to radar beacons.
- It is a charitable organisation dedicated to the safety, welfare and training of mariners.
- It is a Deep Sea Pilotage Authority, licensing expert navigators to act as deep sea pilots for ships trading in Northern European waters.
The Corporation also inspects buoys provided by local harbour authorities.
It no longer provides local pilots for entering ports. Contrary to popular belief Trinity House is not (and never has been) part of HM Coastguard although it does work closely with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
All lighthouses have been automated since November 1998, when the UK's last manned lighthouse, North Foreland in Kent, was converted to automatic operation. Lighthouse automation began as long ago as 1910, thanks to an ingenious invention of Gustaf Dalén. His sun valve was fitted in a number of lighthouses powered by acetylene gas. The vital component was a black metal rod, which was suspended vertically and connected to the gas supply. As it absorbed the sun's heat, the rod expanded downwards, cutting off the gas during the day.
Automation in the modern context began in the early 1980s, made possible firstly by the construction of lantern top helipads at remote rock lighthouses, to enable the rapid transfer of technicians to a lighthouse in the event of a breakdown, and secondly, by the development of remote control technology, which enables all lighthouses and lightvessels to be monitored and controlled from the Trinity House Operations and Planning Centre, in Harwich, Essex.
The other General Lighthouse Authorities in other parts of the British Isles:
- Commissioners of Irish Lights — Ireland (Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland)
- Northern Lighthouse Board (formerly known as Commissioners for Northern Lights) — Scotland and the Isle of Man
Trinity House operates three vessels around the coast of England, Wales and the Channel Islands.
- THV Patricia (1982) is an 80m Multi Functional Tender. She carries out maintenance work on navigation aids, towing, wreck location and marking. She has a helicopter-landing pad, a 20 tonne main crane and 28 tonne bollard pull and towing winch.
- THV Alert (2006) is a 39.3 m Rapid Intervention Vessel, able to respond rapidly to maritime incidents on the southeast coast of England. She is capable of buoy handling, wreck marking and towing. Fitted with multibeam and side scan hydrographic surveying capability and DP1 dynamic positioning, Alert can be utilised as a research platform with a large working deck.
- THV Galatea (2007) is an 84m Multi Functional Tender with a helicopter-landing pad. Fitted with a range of high specification survey equipment and a 30 tonne capacity crane, azimuthing propellers, two 750 kW bow thrusters and DP2 dynamic positioning, Galatea replaced the 1987-built THV Mermaid.
Trinity House operates a number of small boats, mostly functioning as ship's tenders to the vessels in the section above. The historic right of Trinity House to escort the Sovereign when travelling by ship in territorial waters is still exercised on ceremonial occasions. On the River Thames and inland waterways the duty is carried out by the vessel Trinity House No 1 Boat. The name is in practice a designation of any boat assigned to this duty, rather than the name of a specific vessel, and at present a tender of THV Galatea is used for such ceremonial duties. However, for the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant on 3 June 2012 this boat had the name "T.H. No 1 Boat" temporarily painted onto the bow (left and right sides) whilst carrying the Master (HRH the Princess Royal) in the jubilee flotilla.
In addition to the maritime assets, the Corporation of Trinity House also owns two listed estates of predominantly residential buildings in Newington, London at the Borough and Greenwich. The rents from these properties form a substantial part of the corporation's income.
Other assets 
Amongst other significant assets, Trinity House operates a helicopter capable of landing on lighthouse and ship landing pads. Since May 2011 the aircraft in principal use has been an MD Helicopters MD Explorer 902. The aircraft is operated by Trinity House and liveried for Trinity House, but is owned by Police Aviation Services (PAS) and operated under lease. The terms of the arrangement also provide for a reserve aircraft.
The Ensign of Trinity House is a British Red Ensign defaced with the shield of the coat of arms (a St George's Cross with a sailing ship in each quarter). The Master and Deputy Master each have their own flags.
See also 
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Trinity House|
- Her Majesty's Coastguard
- IALA - The International Association of Lighthouse Authorities
- Trinity House National Lighthouse Museum
- Winston Churchill Ship
- "Quarterdeck" (PDF). McBooks Press. March 2007. pp. 8–9. Retrieved 2007-08-06.
- "Current Royal Charters 1685-1978" (PDF). Trinity House. February 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-12.
- Moorhouse, Geoffrey (2005). Great Harry’s Navy. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. pp. 169, 170. ISBN 0-297-64544-7.
- "Vessel Services". Trinity House. Retrieved 2008-08-02.
- "HM The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Celebrations | 2012 | Trinity House". Trinity House. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
- The designation 'Tender to THV Galatea' is clearly visible beneath the Royal Standard in this photograph.
- Bartram, Graham. "A Visual Guide to the Flags Used in the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant". The Flag Institute. p. 9. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
- Robinson, Simon (Winter 2011). "New Helicopter — New Ways of Working". Horizon. pp. 18–19. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
- britishflags.net- Trinity House
- See also The Corporation of the Hull Trinity House, established 1369.http://www.trinityhousehull.org.uk/
- The Newcastle Trinity House. http://www.trinityhousenewcastle.org.uk/
- For Deep Sea Pilots see www.europilots.org.uk
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Trinity House|
- Trinity House official website
- Photos of vessels
- English Lightships
- International Association of Lighthouse Authorities
- History of Trinity House
- 1685 Royal Charter of Trinity House
- Trinity Hospital, Mile End - Survey of London, Monograph 1