Tag Archives: Winston Churchill

Port of London Authority

To the west of Trinity Gardens by the Tower of London you will see a tall white building called the Four Seasons hotel. It was built in the Beaux-Arts style by Edward Cooper and is 100 years old this year.

Near the top, a statue of a bearded figure holding a trident. One might think of the god Neptune but this is our very own watery deity, Old Father Thames, and this gives a clue to the first occupants of the building: the POLA

In the early 1900s things were not well on the river. The Thames was unregulated, many docks and wharfs were in need of improvement, and businesses serving the river were in chaotic competition. In short, something of a shambles and it was felt that ships would start favouring rival ports, especially in Europe.

In 1908 the Port Of London Act was launched in parliament and successfully navigated through the House of Commons by a Liberal party member called Winston Churchill.

The POLA was formed in 1909. So what did it do?

  • Some overdue dredging of shallow parts of the rivers.
  • Effectively nationalised the various dock companies.
  • Provided investment and modernisation.
  • Co-ordinated the port’s operations.

Ax a result London stayed as a successful port.

Today the Authority still looks after the river.

  • It looks after the Thames Barrier which guards against flooding by large tides.
  • Patrols the tidal river 
  • Surveys the bed of the river to find obstructions and where necessary, organises dredging.
  • Monitors river users for compliance with the various regulations.]

One service it provides is Pilotage. What is this?

Let us say that a container ship enters the Thames. The captain may not be familiar with the river’s features – its currents, hidden hazards such as sandbanks and perhaps not the exact location of where they are meant to dock.

To deal with this, they are met by a small boat, or even a helicopter, carrying an official called the Pilot who will board the ship and join the captain on the bridge. The Pilot is a skilled navigator, knows the river, and ensures that the vessel makes safe passage.


…has suffered three centuries of fake news so please set aside your preconceptions.

There are about six million Freemasons worldwide with around 200,000 in the UK.

Freemasonry’s origins are unclear but they seem to have been modelled on – or at least inspired by – the Guilds and Livery companies.

They meet in groups called lodges. The first City lodges were formed in the early 1700s and met in pubs along Fleet Street and at the Goose and Gridiron which was just north of St Paul’s cathedral.

Meetings are presided over by an officer called the Master. The title is used in both male and female lodges. It is not gender specific but denotes somebody who has mastered their trade.

The Master is supported by two Wardens – the same as in the City livery companies.

The ritual and mysticism make reference to geometry, astronomy and, not surprisingly, architecture.

Were one to witness a ceremony then it might appear there is a Christian element as the officials include a Junior and Senior Deacon and there is mention of God.

This is actually what Freemasons call the “Great Architect Of the Universe”.

It is up to each individual mason to decide, privately and personally, how he or she interprets this.

Lodges have no class barriers – a labourer may sit down with a Lord. They are strictly non-political.

Ever since conception they have been places where people of any religion could meet – even in communities which were divided by different faiths.

To this day the discussion of politics and religion is forbidden on Masonic premises.

Members  follow several principles, these include:-

  • To be honest in business and personal dealings.
  • To support a fellow member or friend in time of need.
  • To obey the laws of the land – anybody who has committed a significant crime is not allowed to remain nor become a Mason.
  • To help the less fortunate members of society. As such Freemasons in the UK give around £135,000 each day to charity (£50 million per annum) and contribute over 18 million hours voluntary work each year.

Famous Freemasons include aviator Charles Lindberg, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, scientist Edward Jenner, jazz player Louis Armstrong, politician & author Winston Churchill and Joséphine de Beauharnais whom you will know better as Joséphine Bonaparte.

In the City: Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington; author Alexander Pope and architect Nicholas Hawksmoor.

Women’s Rights campaigners
Several prominent members of the Suffrage and similar movements were masons:-

Lady Agnes Grove (1863-1926). Outspoken suffrage supporter, using her skills as a writer and public speaker.
Annie Besant (1847-1933) . Women’s rights activist and Suffrage leader
Annie Cobden-Sanderson (1853-1926). Militant suffragette who was sent to prison; member of Women’s Freedom League.
Charlotte Despard (1844-1939). Anglo-Irish suffragist, socialist and pacifist, founder of the Women’s Freedom League, one of the main suffrage organisations.
Evelina Haverfield (1867-1920). Prominent suffragette, having taken part in demonstrations, been arrested and imprisoned
Muriel, Countess De La Warr (1872-1930). President of the Federated Council of Suffrage Societies, which tried to unify the many disparate suffrage groups and determine a united policy.

First female masons?

The first record of female masons is in 1740s France. In UK about 5,000 women are masons, most belong to around 300 lodges under the Order of Women Freemasons which was formed in 1908.

Was Christopher Wren a Mason?

This has been subject to debate for over 200 years. There is evidence to suggest that he had begun some connection with freemasonry in the 1690s but there is no firm proof that he was ever actually a mason.