Nov 21

‘Local History Book Fair’ at Bristol Records Office

This Saturday (24th November 2012) Bristol Records Office is hosting a ‘Bristol Local History Book Fair’ event in ‘B’ Bond Warehouse.

Old and new books will be for sale from a range of your favourite local publishers, and they will be complemented by four talks from local authors. Two of them will be conducted by members of the Long John Silver Trust.

Vice-Chairman Prof. ‘Billy Bones’ Fairney will be taking a rest from starring in Edinburgh as Ben Gunn and talking about another great love of his life, engineering, and Secretary ‘Long John Steedsy’ will be talking about Pirates and Privateers out of Bristol (please see poster below).

Thanks to our Chairman Gerry Brooke for getting the event highlighted in Tuesday’s Bristol Times supplement of the Post (Gerry’s editor of said tome) and to Radio Bristol’s Steve Yabsley, who featured Bill on his lunchtime show on Monday.

If you would like to hear Steve’s brilliant interview with Bill, please go to the Radio Bristol ‘BBC iPlayer’ for Monday 19th November and go about 30 minutes into the programme – you’ll enjoy it.

If you want the real thing or get some early Christmas prezzies, please come along on Saturday, it’ll be great to see you there.

Nov 20

Robert Louis Stevenson Day – 13th November 2012

RLS Day 2012 (Tuesday 13th November) saw members of the Long John Silver Trust catch the red-eye special from Bristol Airport to Edinburgh to take part in a marathon reading of Treasure Island.

Our friends in the RLS Club of Edinburgh were celebrating the anniversary of Stevenson’s birthday by doing an all-day reading of his ‘breakthrough’ classic in the foyer of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

Star readers for the day were RLS enthusiasts Nigel Planer and John Sessions along with Scottish actor John ‘Jack’ Shedden and other doyens of the RLS Club.

We each took 12 minute chapters edited by the days supremo Jeremy Hodges who had made all the arrangements with the able assistance of Ailene Hunter and Gillean Arjat amongst others. We started at 10am and Jack Shedden finished the event (with a final flourish) at 5pm.

The reason Jeremy had chosen the fantastic location of the foyer of the Portrait Gallery was because it contained the magnificent  bust of RLS himself created by Stevenson’s cousin.

Not only that but the Portrait Gallery also features a copy of Rodin’s famous depiction of William Ernest Henley. As Stevenson buffs know, Gloucester born Henley was an inspiration’s for one of Stevenson’s most memorable (and complex) character’s, Long John Silver.

Myself, as Long John Steedsy, and the Prof, ‘Billy Bones’ Fairney, reprised our roles as narrators of Treasure Island but this time to Jeremy’s fine script. As you can see in the attached pictures, Bill once again steals the show as Ben Gunn.

All of the readers were on fine form and it was an honour and pleasure to be part of such a great day, remembering one of the world’s greatest authors.

Happy birthday Lewis!
Click on an image to enlarge:

Nov 16

Long John Silver Trust holds great store in its charity remit

The Long John Silver Trust holds great store in its charity remit of being educational and to this end regularly conducts an abridged version of Treasure Island to interested parties.

Our most recent outing came in October 2012 when we performed to the 9 and 10 year old students of St Michaels on the Mount Primary School, Bristol.

LJST friend (and doyen of Bristol Pubs Group), local architect Sam Kendon, was keen on us bringing our brand of piracy to his daughters school and after an age of trying we managed to pull it off.

After our rendition of T. I. we held a question and answer session and were staggered at the knowledge of the youngsters.

Sam subsequently has sent us a brilliant picture of Blind Pew and Long John with the following legend on the back: – “Many thanks for doing the Treasure Island gig, I’m sorry it took so long to fix up but it went down well in the end. I was impressed how much some of them knew. As I often am. Yo ho ho! Sam”

Sam’s picture shows LJST Vice-Chairman ‘Billy Bones’ Fairney and Secretary Long John ‘Steedsy’ in full flow.

Nov 06

Make Three Wishes at

The nice people at Bristol Manifesto have done us a big favour and put our Open Letter on their site: where there is a lot more information on the Mayoral Elections, including an invitation to make three wishes for Bristol. Please visit the site, and make your wishes. We would, of course be very pleased if one of your wishes is for our Trail.

Nov 02

European Network ‘In Stevenson’s Footsteps’ Edinburgh 2012

On Friday 16th November 2012, the Long John Silver Trust will be attending the 3rd Meeting of the European Network ‘In Stevenson’s Footsteps’ in Edinburgh.

There will be an introduction by the President of our hosts, the RLS Club, followed by details of the concept of a European Cultural Route, its definition, challenges and prospects for our territories.

Each delegation will then make a presentation of their projects. For your interest I have laid out ours below: –
The Long John Silver Statue Trust, Foundation, History and Project

  • Robert Louis Stevenson is an internationally-acclaimed literary giant and has been recognised as such throughout the world in literary clubs, trails, museums and public buildings. But although he partially set his masterpiece, Treasure Island, in Bristol, there is no commemoration of this at present.
  • The Long John Silver Trust (LJST) was set up in 2005 to advance the literary and maritime heritage of Bristol through the medium of the Robert Louis Stevenson link, and the story of Treasure Island, which was launch book for Bristol’s (and Britain’s) first Great Reading Adventure of 2003.
  • We believe that our aims are in keeping with Bristol City Council’s heritage priorities of Education, Health and Well-being, and Cultural representation by centering on a Trail that encourages walking and exploring Bristol’s past.
  • Bristol has also been home to many literary figures. Poets and writers such as More, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Southey and Swift while earlier, Daniel Defoe interviewed marooned mariner Alexander Selkirk in Bristol before writing his classic Robinson Crusoe of 1719 – the first ever novel in English.
  • Whilst convalescing in Davos Robert Louis Stevenson met the Bristol classicist John Addington Symonds, who not only mentored the budding author, but gave him accounts of Bristol’s history, characters and heritage.
  • The early action of Treasure Island was set in the West Country, and the famous voyage of the Hispaniola was planned, provisioned and sailed from Bristol.  Many of the characters were based on historical truth and RLS weaves descriptions of the harbourside, its inns and population into a believable and gripping tale.
  • RLS has international drawing-power, and the LJST is working with the RLS Club of Edinburgh and the French Association “Sur le Chemin de R. L. Stevenson” regarding an application to come under the Council of Europe’s “Cultural Route” label.
  • We are aiming for an RLS Bristol Treasure Island Trail to be established as a launch partner with the Association. The Trail would consist of a series of seven information points around the Harbourside, in locations which can be linked to real people and places who were the basis for Stevenson’s characters and locations. Identification markers from historic King Street to M Shed are proposed, supplemented by leaflets, podcasts and Apps.  If the Trail is successful we will then strive for a statue of Long John Silver.
  • We are seeking the necessary permissions to create this Trail, which we believe will greatly enhance Bristol’s international appeal and reputation for literary and maritime heritage; benefiting citizens and visitors alike.

The purpose of the RLS Bristol Treasure Island Trail is to advertise to residents and visitors alike, the cultural and literary links between one of literature’s greatest authors Robert Louis Stevenson, his world-famous work, Treasure Island, and some of the rich maritime history of Bristol along with its historic Floating Harbour.

The Trail is sponsored by the Long John Silver Trust (LJST), a registered charity in England and Wales. We were founded after Bristol’s hugely successful first Great Reading Adventure in 2003, where Treasure Island was chosen as its launch book. Calls for a sculpture of Silver in the city had been made as far back as the 1990’s by members of Bristol Civic Society.

Our charter includes:-
“The promotion of the enhancement and improvement of the Area of Benefit [Bristol] for the benefit of inhabitants and…the advancement of art, literature and education for the benefit of the public by…..the provision and maintenance of such artefacts in Bristol relating to the Classic novel Treasure Island as are capable of furthering these objects.”

Our remit also includes the objectives of being “inclusive” and “educational”, and we see these as extending to all parts of the community. We have formed strategic partnerships with a range of associated groups in Bristol including special needs charity PROPS (where we embark annually on a Treasure Island Cruise) and the Matthew sailing ship. We regularly perform readings and re-enactments of the Treasure Island story. We’ve worked with the Bristol Old Vic and most recently took part in the 2012 Bristol Festival of Literature.

We are aiming for the RLS Bristol Treasure Island Trail to be a launch partner in the proposed Cultural Route, initially with centres in Europe – Scotland, France, England, Belgium and possibly Switzerland. These will hopefully be enhanced to cover the world-wide interest in RLS; in the USA (New York State, California and Hawaii), Australia and the Pacific Islands, most notably Samoa.

By sitting alongside existing heritage trails in Bristol we hope to enhance our own educational aspect by visiting locations which were not only important in the City’s maritime past, but also open up key chapters and characters in Stevenson’s classic story Treasure Island relating the tale in sequence.

Many versions of Treasure Island have been published, but the Eyre and Spottiswoode version, published in 1949 has pictures by the world famous illustrator and author Mervyn Peake. His son Sebastian Peake, curator of the Mervyn Peake archives, (now in the British Library), is a Patron of the Long John Silver Trust and has kindly granted us permission to use some of the illustrations on our proposed place markers.

Sir Andrew Motion, former Poet Laureate, whose sequel Return to Treasure Island has just been published, said in support of our project:-
“I’m very pleased to know the shade and spirit of Long John Silver are being commemorated in the places where he haunted. It’s an idea which is delightful in itself, and will bring delight (and the shivers) to everyone involved.”

Treasure Island has never been out of print and has enthralled countless millions of children since it was first published in 1883, consistently featuring in the Top 100 books of all time. Most of these children first learnt of the City of Bristol through this experience.

We want to use a treasure map as the back-cloth to our part of the Bristol story (a pirate treasure map first evolved in literature in Bristol in 1815), telling people about our joint themes using the topography of the Harbourside and some of Bristol’s historic inns, wharves, bridges and caves. This map format will also enable us to differentiate our Trail from other plaques in the city.

Treasure Island contained recognition of disability and ethnicity, elements rarely found in works of fiction in Stevenson’s time. His fictional character Long John Silver, a retired one-legged pirate, was landlord and cook at the ‘Spyglass Inn’ in Bristol and married to a former black slave.

After the huge success of Treasure Island, RLS lived in Bournemouth for a while but was struck down by illness yet again. To amuse himself he wrote up “Places where I have slept” and this included Bristol. He then went on to write another of his critically acclaimed masterpieces “Kidnapped”.

It is our belief that in his own inimitable way, Robert Louis Stevenson brought together elements of Bristol’s adventurous past in a most exciting and accessible format. This is something we maintain should be permanently on display in the city he inadvertently promoted.”

Below is the logo of our international partners: –ECR Network PartnersThrough our involvement with our partners we’ve (just like Stevenson before us) inadvertently become ambassadors for Bristol.  We do so hope whoever is elected Mayor of Bristol in the forthcoming elections likes our ideas and plans and is prepared to help make them become a reality.

Mark Steeds   –  Secretary of the Long John Silver Trust