…and the pilot was Long-haired Jan

PUBLISHED: 09:16 19 August 2012

Author John Whitlock's great grandfather, Alfred 'Giley' Evans (right) was one of the first Trinity House licensed pilots on the rivers Taw and Torridge. He is pictured with Captain Frederick Gayette, who was war time harbour master and pilot under Admiral Franklin.

Author John Whitlock's great grandfather, Alfred 'Giley' Evans (right) was one of the first Trinity House licensed pilots on the rivers Taw and Torridge. He is pictured with Captain Frederick Gayette, who was war time harbour master and pilot under Admiral Franklin.

Archant

Launch of book in Appledore this week telling of the river pilots of the Taw and Torridge.

THE dangerous challenging job of guiding ships along the rivers Taw and Torridge is revealed in a new book being launched on Friday in Appledore.

… and the pilot was Long-haired Jan tells of the days when fast rowing gig boats – hence the name ‘pilot gigs’ - competed to be the first to land a pilot on visiting vessels.

In the days before modern navigation a pilot with local knowledge was essential to guide craft through the treacherous currents, shoals and hidden sandbars of the estuary to the commercial quays of Bideford, Yelland and Barnstaple.

The launch is taking place at Appledore Social Club on Friday from 6-9pm, with author John Whitlock on hand to sign books or chat.

John can trace his line back through generations of Appledore pilots, fishermen and sailors and although he now lives in Essex, he still has plenty of family and friends in the fishing village.

Gazette readers may recall he told how his grandfather John was one of the men lost in the 1921 sinking of the steamer Stevenstone, when photographs of the vessel surfaced in Barnstaple Rotary charity shop.

His great grandfather, Alfred ‘Giley’ Evans, was one of the first six licensed pilots on the rivers when Trinity House took over the service in 1923.

This and the fact so little was known about such men, inspired him to write the book:

“I kept stopping and starting on this book and it is thanks to Councillor Andrew Eastman and his wife plus my cousin Josephine Sims, all from Appledore, who kept pushing me on to finally finish it,” he said.

“Alfred Evans’ father, George was chief local pilot for about 60 years, losing a young son on one pilot trip in the Taw. Several gigs and boats were lost over the years and pilots were drowned so it was a dangerous job in many ways.”

When Trinity House took over the risk lessened, but remained – two pilots had a lucky escape in the 1950s when a ship ran them down in the river, cutting their wooden boat in two. Fortunately they survived.

In 1988 Trinity House ended the service and local authorities took over. Today, Bideford harbourmaster Roger Hoad is the current pilot.

Copies of … and the pilot was Long-haired Jan will be available at

Appledore Social Club on Friday and soon from local outlets.

0 comments

Other Entertainment Stories

Friday, April 21, 2017

North Devon events from 20/04/17 to 26/04/17

Read more
Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Join Daniel Nestlerode and Mark Gamon at Shammick Acoustic in Combe Martin on saturday, April 22

Read more
Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Comic Studio Theatre production brings playwright’s comical side to life from Wednesday, April 26

Read more
Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Catch Faustus at The Plough Arts Centre on Saturday, April 23

Read more
Thursday, April 13, 2017

Sorry, no tickets left for the Fremington egg hunt, but read on to find out what else is going on in North Devon this Easter

Read more
Thursday, April 13, 2017

North Devon Easter events from 13/04/17 to 19/04/17

Read more
Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The monster cookie has a diameter of 31 inches, which the Barnstaple store claims is the world’s biggest

Read more
Monday, April 10, 2017

Atlantic Village in Bideford will be hosting an art exhibition this Easter weekend, as well as giving away free gift cards on Easter Sunday.

Read more
Friday, April 7, 2017

A swearing chef and Basil Fawlty references during Kitchen 999: Emergency Chefs all made for great entertainment and showcased North Devon says Trimstone owner Philip Milton

Read more
Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The White Moose gallery is hosting a colourful pop up Japanese food night this week with Seadog Foods

Read more

Most Read Entertainment

Local Weather

Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 12°C

min temp: 3°C

Useful Links

Advertise in the paper
Submit a Story
Subscribe to the paper
Competitions
North Devon Football League
Order Photos
Family notices
iwitness24
Facebook
Twitter
Google Plus Page
Reader Travel

Family Notices 24

Read Online

Image
Read the North Devon Gazette e-edition E-edition

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter
HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Local business directory

North Devon's trusted business finder

Find planning applications