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

Oct 26

LJST Open Letter to Bristol Mayoral Candidates

We have sent the Open Letter below to all Bristol Mayoral Candidates, to find out who supports us, and to publicise our proposals via the hustings. We will post any replies from candidates when they are received. Open letter to Bristol mayoral candidates

So far we have had the email responses posted below.

Dear Chris
Thank you for your email and your open letter to the Mayoral candidates.

I am certainly delighted to offer you my support and would enjoy walking the route with you in due course but I have to say that my diary between now and 15th November is too full to take any further commitments.

I do however wish you well and please do keep me up to date on your progress.

With best wishes

Yours sincerely

Geoff Gollop

Hi Chris
This sounds a fantastic idea!  I read Treasure Island as a lad and I re-read it a couple of years ago as part of the Read A Million Words Initiative.  I never tire of telling those not from Bristol about our literary past, the Hole In The Wall and the story of Alexander Selkirk and Daniel Defoe.

With all best wishes for the future and for a great boost to Bristol tourism reputation.

Neil Maggs
Respect Party Anti Cuts candidate for Mayor of Bristol

Dear Long John Silver Trust,
Thank you  very much for your letter, sharing with me your exciting plans about a Long John Silver Trail. My family and children already enjoy walking around the docks, and I think you plans would certainly enhance the area and make a great tourist attraction.

If I get the chance over the next week, I will write about your plans in my blog (address below), and publicise further.

Best wishes,

Daniella Radice

Green Party Candidate for Mayor of Bristol

Oct 18

LJST and Bristol Festival of Literature 2012

The LJST was delighted to be involved with the 2nd Bristol Festival of Literature which started last Saturday (13th October) and is going on until this Sunday 21st October (please go to for other events).

The Trust was involved with a Literary walk around Bristol on the 13th – dodging showers – which went well and followed this up with the Festivals first feature event on the 14th ‘!PIRATES! ADVENTURES WITH SCIENTISTS…AND HISTORIANS!’ which went extremely well.

LJST favourite, BBC Radio Bristol’s Steve Yabsley, interviewed Pirates author Gideon Defoe and Aardman film maker and founder Peter Lord.

LJST’s firm friends, the Matthew of Bristol Trust, kindly agreed to support the event with the good ship Matthew and the event opened with guns blazing as the celebrities were collected from Aardman HQ and shipped down to the magnificent M Shed on Bristol’s internationally famous Floating Harbour who were hosting the talk.

A slight hiccup occurred when the pirate planner didn’t allow enough time for collecting and dropping off, but the guests were only a few minutes late and host Steve just breezed over the mishap.

Silver tongued Steve soon settled the speakers down and the ensuing interview just flew by with Peter Lord, the consummate pro that he is, having everyone rocking in the aisles.

Peter and Gideon went off to sign books and the Trust’s motley crew got reunited with the ship to do two sell out sailings around the docks with storytelling of RLS’s Treasure Island and Helen Hart’s Black Banner, complemented by Seb of Jungle Talk’s two parrots Rosie and Dumpling, Saul the sail-maker from HMS Canopus and cannonaders Geoff and Ann (magnificently dressed as characters from !Pirates!).

The two pictures show Trust narrator Long John Steedsy regaling the crowd with tales of Blackbeard and the T.I. connection (Fifteen men on a Dead Man’s Chest) and the other ‘Gouty’ Geoff and Saul the sail-maker.

Huge thanks to all who helped make it such a cracking day, especially Yabbo, Cap’n Rob, the crew of the Matthew and Chairman Gerry’s colleagues at the Bristol Post.

Now the bad news, tonight (Thursday 18th) we were supposed to have ‘UWE History Department vs Long John Silver – The truth about pirates’ but unfortunately it got cancelled. The two teams had assembled but the pitch had become unplayable – a bit like Poland vs England on Tuesday. We’re hoping to reschedule so please keep an eye out for any possible news.Bristol Festival of Literature
Bristol Festival of Literature

Oct 03

Forest Edge Magazine – Matthew Article October 2012

On page two of the Forest Edge Magazine for October 2012 is an article on the Matthew.

Many thanks to Angie the editor for sending us the link and keeping us in touch, and all because they so enjoyed their recent  trip on the Matthew with the LJST !! (The photos on page 2 were taken during the trip).

Forest Edge Magazine – To see the magazine web page

Click here – To see the Matthew article

Oct 02

LJS Trust Activities in October 2012

October 2012 promises to be an exciting time for the Long John Silver Trust, as part of this year’s Bristol Festival of Literature, we’ve been invited to take part in a number of events.

It’s a real honour for us to be involved and there are exciting happenings almost throughout the whole of October but in particular between 13th and 21st October – please go to or follow events on Twitter @bristolfest or Facebook

LJS is involved in three of the offerings: –

  • Saturday October 13th 2-4pm, meeting at Temple Church (behind the Kings Head in Victoria Street) Cost £3 on the day. “The Long John Silver Literary Walk: Adventurers Tales”
    Will take in parts of historic old Bristol that inspired the likes of Daniel Defoe, Jonathon Swift, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Louis Stevenson through the daring deeds of some of Bristol’s more colourful characters.
  • Sunday October 14th 1-5pm, meeting at M Shed Cost variable (Box Office: Book online at or phone 0117 230 5157)
    “Gideon Defoe and Peter Lord: Pirates! Adventures with scientists…and historians!”
    The Matthew will be collecting Peter, Gideon and radio Bristol’s Steve Yabsley form Aardman HQ and delivering them to M Shed, guns blazing at about 1.45pm for what promises to be the highlight of the Festival, a talk between the 3 of them in M Shed 2pm – 3pm with book signings after.The Matthew will then be taking people on 45 minute Storytelling trips around the docks featuring Treasure Island and the Black Banner (3.15pm and 4pm).The Trusts own cannonaders, parrots and sail-maker will be on hand to explain their connection with Bristol’s notorious Buccaneer’s.“The biggest family event of the weekend. Pirates and adventurers take over the Harbourside to tell us who they were and why they did what they did.

 At the centre of things, the author and the film-maker arrive by ship to the M Shed to show us how they collaborated on turning Gideon’s cracking novel into the blockbuster Aardman success, with clips, filmobilia and performances.”

 Families: Take a trip on the Matthew. Grown-ups: Ask the Bristol Radical History Group who the real criminals were or quiz Tom Sykes and Tony Giles, two modern adventurers who buck the trend. Smaller kids: Make something crafty. Everyone: Join in!

 Meet Gideon, Peter and Steve 2-3pm £9 fam/£5/£2.50p

 Kid’s Crafty Crafts 1-5pm £1 suggested donation

 On board tour and tales 3.15pm and 4pm on the Matthew £8

 Radical History, Modern Travel Tales, Craft Demo’s, Book Signings 1-5pm M Shed lobby’s £Free

  •  Thursday !8th October 8-9pm at M Shed Cost £Free
    “UWE History department vs Long John Silver: The truth about pirates”

Academics line-up against Roger Ball of BRHG and Mark Steeds of LJST to answer why pirates have been airbrushed out of Bristol’s history.

“Cheese I likes, toasted mostly”
Ben Gunn

 “I own myself an Ass” Squire Trelawney

 “Smart as paint” Long John Silver

“Be there or be square” LJST

Sep 08

Fish n’ Chips – Successful Voyage

Matthew - Sailing Ship - Bristol“On Tuesday 4th September, the Long John Silver Trust took to the high seas of Bristol’s famous Floating Harbour once again on yet another ‘Fish ’n’ Chip’ excursion aboard the good ship Matthew.

We set off from the Beaufort’s LJS HQ aboard Chris Knight’s classic Routemaster London red bus bound for the bright lights of the ‘Metropolis of the West’ at 6pm, arriving in good time to board the Matthew outside the Arnolfini at 7pm.

Captain Rob Salvidge was our host, ably assisted by his gang of handpicked cut-throats and a more convivial host you couldn’t wish for. Against a fierce head wind (Curly talking too much) we pitched and rolled our way down to the Pump House where Rob’s crew had raided an excellent Fish shop nearby.

Fed and watered (the Beaufort regulars making full use of the Matthew’s excellent licensed bar) the Matthew then returned to her Arnolfini berth, swashing and buckling all the way up the docks.

There to meet us was Chris’s bus once again and we returned home via Fishponds, Downend and Yate (the glamour of it all) for 10pm where some imbibed in yet more drink c/o the Beaufort.

As well as putting some money in the Matthew’s coffers, over £200 was raised for Bristol Vintage Bus Group (of whom Chris is a member) and the LJS Trust – the spoils divvied in half.

Huge thanks once again to all those who either helped or took part. Royston Griffey (Chair of the Matthew of Bristol Trust and LJST Patron) kindly received us on the Matthew and a whole host of Beaufort regulars and Trust members who joined in.

A great effort, we had 38 people from Sodbury, Tetbury, Hawkesbury, Kingswood (W-U-E), Inglestone Common and even Dursley.

Special thanks to Rich and Mo and their party plus Angie and Den of The Boundary magazine ( who made donations over and above the cost of the trip.

Look out for our next tie-up with the Matthew on October 14th during the Bristol Literature Festival, and if you’re down the docks on Saturday 8th September for Open Doors Day we’re at Betty’s Boathouse on Redcliffe Wharf (just outside the Caves which will be open) selling our wares.”

Mark (LJS Trust secretary and trustee)

Jul 31

Pirates at Blaise Castle July 2012

28th July 2012 - Pirates at Blaise was very successful with a reading of Treasure Island by the Long John Silver Trust, Pirate Pete and his lucky dip for the kids and his ghost of Blackbeard, real pirate parrots Cap'n Dumpling and Rosie, local Radio Bristol celebrity Steve Yabsley judging the kid's pirate fancy dress competition, and lots of other goings on – Over 300 children were in attendance.

Many thanks to everyone for making the day such a success ..... If you see a photo of yourself and would like to download it please feel free to do so.

Photos from the day are below, courtesy of Cap'n Adge .... click on an image to enlarge .....

Jul 24

Hawkesbury and Horton Women’s Institute Literary Tour in Bristol

On Thursday 19th July 2012 Trustee “Long John Steedsy” took a party from Hawkesbury and Horton Women’s institute around some of Bristol’s literary heart,  giving them a taste of some of the fantastic literary heritage which has been passed down to us. A great time was had by one and all.

The W. I. very kindly gave the Trust £25 for the charity treasure chest.

If you are interested in one of Steedsy’s walks, he would explain how Bristol’s rich maritime history has inspired stories of exploration and daring voyages and that The Hole in the Wall in Queen Square is said to be the basis for The Spyglass in Robert Louis Stephenson’s Treasure Island ….. and much, much more ………

Jul 18

Amazing Donation

I was in The Beaufort last night and Mark told me of two Americans, Richard and Bill Dalebout from Utah, USA who came into the pub whilst walking a very wet and muddy Cotswold Way.

In return for what Mark called “a simple kindness” they presented him with an amazingly generous donation for The Trust of £40.

So to Richard and Bill a very warm and sincere ‘thank you’ from The  Long John Silver Trust. We hope the rest of your walk went well and wish you good luck with your next adventure!