January to June 2018

14th November 2018


It took over a year to make arrangements for a group of twelve to be able to visit the historic premises of Hull Trinity House but everyone thought that it had been worth the effort.

I will not go into detail about the history of this venerable institution, which can trace its history back to the 12th

century, as this can easily be seen on their website. What I will do is recall what we heard and saw on our three hour tour of the “house”.

We were met at the door in Trinity House Lane by Captain Watts and Captain Tindall who gave us a warm welcome. We were to learn as the day progressed that Trinity House is governed and run by a Master Warden, a Co-warden, 12 Brethren and 6 Assistant Brethren. Captain Watts is Co-warden and will be elevated to Master Warden for one year in the near future. Captain Tindall is the junior Assistant. All those admitted to the governing body must have at least three years experience as a naval captain and pass an oral examination on North Sea navigational routes to and from Hull.

For the tour we were split into two groups of six and this is an account of the one led by Captain Tindall.

The first place we visited was the chapel where services are normally only held on Wednesdays. On the first Wednesday in the month pupils from the boys-only Trinity House Academy attend in their uniforms. The chapel is the latest in a series of buildings used over the centuries and dates from the late 18th century when privateer Captain Ferres became very wealthy and gave significant funding to Trinity House. He also donated five farms north of Hull whose rents provide a significant part of the income of the charity.

From there we visited a small strong-room where we saw Royal charters and subscription deeds dating back to 1369. There were about twenty in all. We were then shown a frame hung in a corridor containing a copy of a contemporaneous account of the Battle of Trafalgar addressed to the House by a former pupil. The original is highly prized and is kept in a secure location.

From here we progressed to the Captain James Cook room where we saw memorabilia of the great man although he was not a pupil or a brother. One item of dubious provenance was described as his musket. Neale Clark took a look inside the barrel and saw that it was rifled. As muskets have a smooth bore the labelling was obviously lacking in attention to detail! We also saw Cedric the polar bear, whose head, feet and paws were mounted on a wall, although it was pointed out that in this case they knew about the inaccuracy of the positioning of the limbs.

In another room we were shown a “rent table”. This was round with drawers positioned under the surface. The collector would sit at one side with the tenant at the other. The latter would put his money in a drawer prior to the table being rotated so that the collector could extract it. In this way money did not pass from hand to hand.

In the next room a seal skin canoe was hung from the ceiling. It had been used centuries earlier in the Arctic for hunting and is known as the Bonney Boat. It is the inspiration for the name of a public house across the road in Trinity House Lane.

From here we mounted a handsome cantilevered staircase to the first floor and entered the Council room. This is in the Adam style and contained many delicate Chippendale (or Chippendale style) chairs. Under much of the furniture reeds were scattered as a reminder of how such rooms would have appeared when the building was erected. We were told that the reeds came from the farm owned by the fictional Greengrass of Heartbeat fame in North Yorkshire.

From here to the impressive oval reading room where we sat at a large table occupying the whole room. The room has a high domed ceiling in pale blue and it is here that the brothers take morning coffee in quite a formal way which reflects the hierarchical nature of the House.

The next call was to the impressive Court room with its huge chandelier which came from a royal palace and matches some still in Buckingham Palace. It was here that we thanked our guides before proceeding to our final point of call.

At this point we were introduced to the Secretary, Paul Shearsmith, who opened another strong-room type cupboard to reveal the impressive silver collection of the House. It dates back to their earliest years and contains many examples of Hull silver which is rare and therefore very valuable. I cannot recite details of all we saw but they did have 12 matching seal spoons which have the coat of arms engraved at the end of the handle. A collection this size is unique and for this reason is valued at about £180,000. A posy bowl was so beautiful that it distracts from the beauty of it to put roses in it.

As with all Rotary trips it is almost a requirement that someone will slip up and amuse the rest of the group. This time it was Neale and Liv’s turn when they followed my example and ordered brunch prior to the tour by using the Wetherspoon’s app.  Being a novice can be dangerous and they ended up with double the food which they wanted. No doubt they will be reminded about it for years to come.

5th January 2018  New Year's Message

Inspirational musician and music teacher, Paul Whitaker OBE, enthralled members and their guests at the club’s New Year’s Message held at 315 Bar and Restaurant, Lepton. 

His musical talents are all the more remarkable because he is profoundly deaf and relies on a variety of techniques and strategies such as mental imaging of music, vibrations and rhythms to play and teach.  Ably assisted by sign language interpreter, Stephen Heselton, he held the audience spell bound as he demonstrated and involved everyone in using sign language to express songs. Performing “The Impossible Dream” he showed how expressive sign language can be. 

That song sums up his disability and his efforts to overcome it. From an early age he persevered in mastering the piano and later the organ. After he was repeatedly turned down by universities he finally found one, Wadham College Oxford, that was prepared to take him on. 

Today his impossible dream is to teach deaf children, wherever they are, to master music and gain confidence in a challenging world. 

“ He is truly an example to us all in how you can overcome adversity and achieve what is seemingly impossible,” enthused Sheila Wainwright president of the club. She added “ When I was a headteacher, his assistance in teaching my children music helped the school to gain an “excellent” mark from Ofsted inspectors". 

The vote of thanks was given by President Elect, Jonathan Eastwood.