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.
Christian, 3rd from right, conducting the meeting with Laura, 2nd from right - they were the two major movers from the Cevennes leading the meetings from start to finish and working very hard
Working through the details towards our Articles of Association
From left to right, Leon, Linda (our artist in residence), Fiona (our translator) and muggins
Post meeting line-up
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 …
Vera (sat with Dave) and her daughter Jackie on her penultimate BBQ for our ‘Along the Edge with Gromit’ fundraiser
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.
This is where the inventor of the treasure map in literature, author William Williams, saw out his days.
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.
Here’s some feedback from a recent talk the Long John Silver Trust conducted with the Port of Bristol Authority Retired Employees Association: –
‘Just a few lines to thank you such an entertaining afternoon last Tuesday (17/09/13). As you could tell, your talk on Pirates and the Long John Silver Trust was much enjoyed by everyone.
We do hope your plans for the Maritime and Literary Trail are successful – I didn’t realise how many authors in the past have had some connection with Bristol.
I was asked by many of our Members to arrange another visit from you… to see if something can be arranged for 2014.
Mrs Ann Tilley – Secretary’
Many thanks Ann, we’ll be doing our best to make the arrangement.
During the talk I mentioned Bristolian author William Williams, whose book The Journal of Llewlin Penrose – Seaman contains literature’s first ever encrypted pirate treasure map and here it is: –
This image is care of Bristol’s Central Library and if you would like to see the whole book, that’s where you’ll find a copy, amongst their priceless collections.
Genuine Privateer (some say Pirate) Captain William Kidd used a treasure map way back in the 1690’s but it didn’t appear in print until William’s book in 1815. Williams lived out his last days in the Merchant Venturers’ Almshouses in historic King Street, Bristol.
William’s map was then famously ‘borrowed’, first by Edgar Allen Poe in The Gold Bug and then by Robert Louis Stevenson in Treasure Island.
You can read all about it in the Trust’s book Pirates and Privateers Out of Bristol – please go to our shop to get a copy.
As you may be aware the LJST HQ, the Beaufort Arms in Hawkesbury Upton, played host to Harmony Gromit for ten weeks in the summer of 2013 and as a follow up, my wife Fiona and I went to the “The Greatest Dog Show on Earth!” last night as sponsors, and bumped in to some old friends, first and foremost being ‘Salty Sea Dog’ Harmony Gromit by the Founder and Creative Director of Aardman Animations, Peter Lord.
As my alter-ego ‘Long John Steedsy’ I couldn’t resist seeking out Salty and having my picture taken with him in the ‘Novelty Dogs’ category. Imagine my delight when buying the brilliant new book ‘The Art of Gromit Unleashed’, I discovered some of Peter’s preparation drawings for Salty himself. His tattoos are a real hoot.
Whilst there we met several other old friends, including Royston Griffey and Bob McKeown from the Long John Silver Trust (this time representing the Matthew, host to Newfoundland Gromit) and Bristol Mayor George Fergusson, resplendent in his red trousers as usual and cock-a-hoop at the success of the Gromit Unleashed Trail.
We joked with them about Bristol’s successor to Gromit and while Royston was keen on Unicorns, George was all for pirates, he could envision a stack of Long John Silvers around the city and I was with him all of the way.
Mark Steeds (Secretary and LJST Trustee, and landlord of the Beaufort Arms)
Photos below, click an image to enlarge …
Royston Griffey and Bob McKeown from the Long John Silver Trust
Mark at "The Greatest Dog Show on Earth"
September 13th 2013 was a special day for the Trust and for one of its Patrons, Royston Griffey, who was made, after a 7 year apprenticeship (where he wasn’t allowed to frequent inns, play dice or fornicate) a Freeman and Burgess of the City and County of Bristol.
To celebrate this ancient Medieval tradition, the Matthew was commissioned to sail down the Gorge in full Medieval regalia which included the crew.
The LJST, with Royston’s blessing, took the opportunity to hand over a cheque for £1000 to the Matthew of Bristol Trust in order to become a ‘Corporate-Life Member’ (joining the likes of the University of Bristol) thereby firming up the great links between ourselves and the Matthew.
Shown here is Vice-Chairman Bill Fairney handing over our cheque to a very happy Royston. The award of Freedom and becoming a Burgess is just recognition for all of his hard work promoting Bristol’s many-faceted maritime past.
Three cheers for Royston ….
More Pic’s below ….. click an image to enlarge …
LJST Vice Chairman Bill Fairney shakes hands with LJST Patron Royston Griffey
LJST Trustees Bill and Leon
LJST Vice Chairman Bill Fairney and Chairman Gerry Brooke
Thursday 11th July 2013 saw the motley crew of the Long John Silver Trust gather around the Beaufort Arm’s Gromit prior to the latest Treasure Island Cruise with the Matthew and local special needs charity PROPS.
Highlight of the cruise, aboard the Matthew, was the handing over of the ‘Jolly Green Roger’ especially made for the Trust by talented LJST member Sue (Sue was presented with a bunch of flowers for her brilliant effort). The flag was made to help celebrate Bristol’s winning of Green Capital status for 2015.
Rich and Mo once again sponsored the event and we had generous help from the Matthew of Bristol, Beaufort Minibuses, M Shed Café and Seb from JungleTalk, whose parrot Dumplin’ once again stole the show…
Huge thanks to everyone involved and roll on next year, it’ll have to go some way to top this year’s event.
Pic's from the day ..... click image to enlarge ...
Sue with Dumplin'
Seb from Jungletalk