Our Treasure Island Cruise 2014 was a huge success once again with our friends at special needs charity PROPS in their element roaring and harooing the visitors to Bristol’s 45th Harbour Festival.
The trip nearly didn’t happen after some scallywag blew up the engine of the Brigantia but the Bristol Ferryboat Company came up trumps with an able replacement in the venerable Matilda. Crew were driver Mike Fripp – a favourite of the LJST – and shipmate Gabriel who did a great job keeping us safe and sound and taking no prisoners.
Special thanks must go to John of Westward Travel for getting us there, Liam from the ss Great Britain for ‘doing a deal’ on our much needed ice creams (at cutlass point), the ss Great Britain cafe for the napkins for our messy PROPS pirates and all of the people we held up on Cumberland Road manoeuvring our land carriage for some of our less able seamen.
Many thanks to Brian Henley for the pic’s.
Seb and Cap’n Dumplin’ stealing the show once again, it turns out Seb’s a mate of Ferry Driver Mike from years back and this was the first time they’d seen each other in 35 years!
Long John Steedsy with Rich and Mo awaiting latecomers (Billy Bones, Blind Pew, Jim Hawkins’ Nan and Uncle)
Rich and Mo studying their picture presentation from the LJST and PROPS and thinking ‘where the heck shall we put this’ – seriously, Mo said she had always admired the Shipsides Tribute picture and now she had one! Rich and Mo have sponsored several of our Treasure Island Cruise’s with PROPS and this was long overdue recognition of that
I hope you’re keeping well and not over working.
I was delighted to see in last night’s ‘Post a proposal, with funding of nearly £100k, for a Selkirk/Crusoe sculpture in Clifton marking Goldney’s friendship with Woodes Rogers.
As you know, we at the Long John Silver Trust have long campaigned for more representation of Bristol’s maritime and literary past, and this opportunity to celebrate our links with a landmark in British literature seems almost too good to be true.
If the residents of Victoria Square don’t want it though, could we please have it in Castle Park? There are already many fine works of public art there and an internationally renowned figural addition would be just the jolly job I suspect.
I know the Llandoger Trow has long claimed to be the meeting place of Selkirk and Daniel Defoe (the writer of Robinson Crusoe in 1719) but all of my research indicates another meeting place, in Castle Park!
The Scottish seaman Alexander Selkirk was the 7th son of a 7th son, but his early life was awkward and he ran away from home and joined the ill fated Darien expedition, where Scotland tried to set up its first colony strategically placed close to the isthmus of Panama – he was a lucky survivor.
He was not so lucky the next time, he set sail on Dampier and Stradling’s quest for a Spanish treasure ship and was left marooned on Juan Fernandez Island after quarreling with his shipmates over the seaworthiness of the ship he was on. He was subsequently proved right but was left to dwell on his decision for an agonising and lonely 4 years and 4 months.
He was rescued in 1709 by Woodes Rogers’ privateering cruise which was also on a quest for treasure during the Spanish War of Succession, Dampier was now Rogers’ pilot and commended Selkirk as a sailing master and he joined Rogers’ crew immediately, playing a full role in their adventures until ultimately sharing in the spoils.
On return to Britain, Selkirk escaped the press gang and made his way to Bristol with his pal Rogers, staying first in his house in Queen Square before securing lodgings in the Cock and Bottle Inn in what is now Castle Park. According to old Bristol history books, Selkirk enjoyed his celebrity; often dressing in his goatskins and parading before the public, these books also state that he met Defoe in the Star Coffee House which was located above Bristol Castle’s old dungeon keep.
It must have been quite a contrast as Defoe wore the fashions of the day, putting on his powdered wig and lace finery and only going out on a Sunday – the only day ‘Sunday Gentleman’ could escape their creditors!
Local people gave their ‘sworn affy davy’s’ (to paraphrase Long John Silver) that Selkirk handed over his papers to Defoe and that it was these that inspired him to write Robinson Crusoe.
As for Selkirk, after staying for over a year in Bristol he had to run away again after beating up a fellow sailor in a brawl in St Stephen’s Parish.
He went back to Fife, married, brawled, ran away again, married again without divorcing his first wife, and then ran away to sea again this time joining the Royal Navy. He died of disease aboard HMS Weymouth off of the Guinea coast tracking down the world’s most successful pirate ‘Black Bart Roberts’.
So there ‘tis, if Clifton residents really don’t want him, can we all enjoy him in Castle Park? And if you don’t think Selkirk deserves another statue – there’s already a fine one of him in Lower Largo in Fife – then can we please have one of Long John Silver?
Above: Dr Thomas Dover (former slave ship surgeon and captain) went as second captain on Rogers’ voyage to represent the backer’s interests. This mural is in the Glenside Museum (Dover was the first to offer his services FOC to St Peter’s hospital in 1695, the lure of money in the African Trade overcame him though)
Above: Daniel Defoe (Bristol and its famous associations 1900ish)
Above: The Cock and Bottle Inn (1888)
Treasure Island aboard the Matthew was a huge success – one performance last Thursday for friends and supporters of the Long John Silver Trust (including the RLS Club, PROPS, Patron Nicholas Newton and Bristol City Council cabinet member Gus Hoyt) and two performances for the paying public on Sunday.
Radio Bristol’s Steve Yabsley was amongst the crowd on the final performance and sailing (2.30pm 22/06/14) and all seemed to enjoy it.
Coming soon, “Treasure Island aboard the Matthew” – the grand finale of the Long John Silver Trust’s Big Green Treasure Hunt on the final day of Bristol’s Big Green Week 2014 – Sunday 22nd June 2014.
If you fancy a dramatic voyage around Bristol’s historic Floating Harbour brought to you by the LJST’s cut-throat crew, here’s your big chance.
A faithful adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic, Treasure Island.
Tickets available at the Matthew box office on www.matthew.co.uk
On Wednesday, 21st March 2014, Bristol’s famous Floating Harbour witnessed another docks delight in the form of a water spectacular to help launch the Big Green Treasure Hunt (24th May – 22nd June 2014).
Special thanks goes to Ferryboat Lou for galvanising everybody on the water to help make the event so special, from the gorgeous weather to the Old Vic film team, it was a marvelous effort.
The Long John Silver Trust’s thanks also go to the owners and crews of the Ferryboats, safety chap, Pyronaut and Matthew, the whole of the sensational Ambling Band – featuring our Bristol Treasure Trail app designer Jon Rolfe, the poop deck trio on the Matthew, the Matthew’s gunner, flag raising Steve and the assorted pyrates who packed the quayside.
All and sundry played their part in making it a memorable occasion that showed what could be achieved with some goodwill and enthusiasm.
Huge thanks also to the Big Green Week team for giving us this opportunity and here’s hoping people will enjoy the competition (and the Floating Harbour) in their droves – the treasure hunt has been designed to promote our ethereal Treasure Island Trail.
If you fancy having a go on the treasure hunt and sampling our app, here’s some good news: –
The iPhone/iPad version of the Treasure Island Trail app has been approved by Apple on its first submission and is now available for download from the App Store!
Please visit the App Store and search for ‘Bristol Treasure Island’.
If you want to share via social media please use this url: http://bit.ly/BristolTreasureIsland
It’s all good stuff, happy hunting!
Click an image to enlarge:
LJS Trustees placing our way marks around the Treasure Island Trail in
anticipation of the launch of the Big Green Treasure Hunt on Wednesday 21st
The Treasure Hunt features the whole of Bristol’s Floating Harbour and is
intended for friends and families to enjoy the whole area, by boat, cycle or
At the centre of it is our Treasure Island Trail, and these way marks will
show you the route, allowing you to enjoy some of the history of Bristol and
Stevenson’s classic adventure, Treasure Island.
Look out for details of our free app which will bring our ethereal trail to
Click an image to enlarge:
Friday 15th November saw four intrepid members of the Long John Silver Trust make their bleary way across England to the Channel Tunnel for a rendezvous at Pont-sur-Sambre in Northern France for the fourth annual meeting of the European network “In Robert Louis Stevenson’s Footsteps”.
LJST driver (and Treasurer) Leon and his partner Linda set off at 3.30am and collected Secretary Mark and his wife Fiona at 4am for our passage and we had to get to our destination by noon, which we achieved using Leon’s aged sat nav system.
Lunch was served at the ‘Stevenson Grill’ where we acquainted ourselves with our fellow delegates, friends old and new. After lunch we made our way to the Town Hall where our first meeting had been convened.
In the evening we were entertained at the Auberge de Sambre, similar to one of the stops Stevenson made on his Inland Voyage – canoeing from Antwerp to Paris. As an aside, I had noticed the towns brewing heritage and urged the local Mayor to try and resurrect the craft, especially if they’re going for Eco-tourism. The meal was lovely and we headed off early to our digs to make the most of our big meeting on the morrow.
To be continued ……
It is with great sadness that I have to report the passing of one of our greatest, if not the greatest, of our noble band of fund raisers, that of Vera Bright, sometimes known as ‘Vee’, ‘Mrs Brightness’ or just plain old ‘Lady Hyacinth’.
I can’t remember when Vera wasn’t doing her bit for the Beaufort and helping out with all of our fundraising activities, BBQ’s for PROPS, LJST, HOGS and a host of others along with the masses of produce she made, not just for our Harvest Home but also those for the Evergreens and the Fox and Hounds, Active Turmoil.
Her ploughmans and bread-and-butter puddings were legendary and always raised a mint.
Vera was always the life and soul of the party and the Beaufort couldn’t have been more pleased than when she eloped with Mr Brightness to form their happy union – comedian Johnnie Cowlin couldn’t get over it either.
Always game for a laugh, modesty prevents me from saying what she was going to do with cricketer ‘Syd’ Lawrence and she knew lots of other celebrities as well. She also had a soft spot for the Ghurka’s (“I like those little men”) and helped raise money for them, Frenchay Cardiac Support Group and a host of others.
Even though poorly she carried on helping others right to the end, God Bless Vera, to say we’ll miss you is an understatement.
Click image to enlarge …
Throughout the past six months we’ve been in negotiations with Bristol’s new Mayoral regime and we’ve been talking to cabinet member Gus Hoyt about our Treasure Island Trail and its future. This in turn has led directly to our talking to Bristol’s Green Capital team with a view to taking part in Bristol’s Big Green week in 2014 – with a ‘Geocaching’ version of our Trail in order to try it out and gauge people’s reactions.
All of these talks have been very fruitful and have helped to shape our minds. Gus for instance suggested we lengthen our Trail to incorporate the Merchant Venturers Almshouses at the Broad Quay House end of King Street leading us to eight locations – ‘Pieces of Eight’ if you like.
The case for this is compelling, taking advantage of the vast footfall of this area, the Almshouses were the actual ones that William Williams resided in prior to the publication of his book The Journal of Llewellyn Penrose – A Seaman which introduced to the world an encrypted pirate treasure map, way back in 1815. This concept was ‘borrowed’ by Edgar Allen Poe in his book the Gold Bug (or Gold Beetle as it was called in this country) and this in turn was borrowed by Robert Louis Stevenson for his immortal classic, Treasure Island.
This will now be added to the rest of our Trail which in itself has been tweaked to reflect Stevenson’s chapter headings rather than the picture captions we had originally. The locations of the rest of the Trail remain unaltered.
The Geocache initiative was thought up and proposed by Darren Hall of the city’s Green Team and we welcomed it with open arms. We’re now planning two caches to test the idea out and intend to follow it up for Big Green Week 2014.
In addition to our Trail we’re hoping to engage with the Ferry Boat Company for an outer circuit of caches at each of the Ferry stops and incorporating iconic Bristol attractions such as the Matthew and ss Great Britain. All containing clues leading to a prize available at somewhere like the Tourist Information Centre.
We’re putting all of our energies into this project and have invited our colleagues from the European Culture Route ‘In Stevenson’s Footsteps’ to come over next year to try it out. Watch this space!
Picture shows the coat of arms of the Bristol Merchant Venturers in King Street, the Almshouses to which they’re attached were built in 1699.