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The hit - original movie from 1964! 12/10/2009

We have a hit - it is an original amateur movie of a former Trinity House Pilot Hugh Ferguson - who sent us that movie. It is only 10 minutes but really fantastic 10 minutes.

Hugh made for us a comments concerning his movie on

Hugh Ferguson's Avatar
Senior Member

Part I dated 10th November 2009, 12:36

The routine for maintaining a complement of pilots aboard the Dungeness cutter had, in all probability, remained unchanged during the hundred years before the film was shot in the 1960's-that is apart from moving from sail to steam and then to diesel. (One of my pilot colleagues, as he walked to school along the sea front in Harwich, clearly remembers seeing his father going off to the Sunk cruising cutter in the sailing tender). At certain times of the day or night, if the numbers aboard the cutter had fallen to a prescribed level, a "muster" was called, and this process began with a 'phone call from the pilots' "messenger" whose job it was to call the pilots, in alphabetical order, and inform them of their position on the roster. That being done, the "told off" pilots would muster at the dock-head in Dover preparatory to going afloat in the tender in order to be taken the ten miles down to the cruising cutter at Dungeness. The pilots' messenger, during my entire 25 years on that station, had been a Mr Bill Munn, an ex. Port Line seaman. Bill knew all of the-at one time 106 of us-better than any, their likes their dislikes and their idiosyncrasies of which some had many. The sound of Bill Munn's voice, speaking very softly to the sometimes half asleep pilot, still echoes in my ear, especially when he might be sympathetically announcing, "takes you last, sir". That would mean that you would be going away No.14 and might therefore expect to be-depending on demand-"knocking about" (in the jargon), at Dungeness for some considerable time.

Part II dated 12th November 2009, 20:56

The movie is in two parts: the first, in fine weather, was taken at an earlier time as evidenced by the magnificent pilot tender, Kihna, still in use. She came along as a result of the restoration of the pilot service from Dungeness taking place after the war. A senior pilot, Bill Webster, was given permission by Trinity House to find a suitable vessel for the transfer of pilots from Dover to the Dungeness cutter. He could not have done better! I cannot recall how or where he found her but she was perfect for the job but, sadly, she became expensive to maintain and sometime around 1962/63 she was replaced by a purpose built tender, the T.H.V. Patrol. It was thought that the Kihna had, before the war, been the luxury yacht of a maharajah. So, as it can be seen, it is the Kihna that features in the fine weather first part of the film, and the first scene is of her boarding boat bringing some pilots off to her where she lies at anchor in Dover Harbour. Up anchor and she leaves via the Eastern entrance with the white cliffs of Dover as a back-drop. The pilots in the clip are members of the C,D & E block, for those are the initials of their names. It was the custom for the Senior pilot-in this case, Bill Duncan who died soon after when still in service-to go first whether into the boat, out of the boat and finally to board the Dungeness cruising cutter when, it is that cutter's boarding boat that comes alongside for the transfer. The next scene is of the magnificent Kihna on its way back to Dover with any outward pilots who will be returning to Gravesend (although mostly they preferred to land at the 'Ness and take the train back to base.) Next scene is of a pilot going away in the boat to the Brazilian passenger ship, Libertad. (Next will be a sequence shot in very different weather conditions).

Part III dated 21th November 2009, 20:56

The second part of the movie was taken in a heavy South West gale. In weather conditions such as that the cruising pilot cutter could get reasonable shelter by working in the lee of Dungeness. Masters of ships would need to bring their ships as close to the cutter as they could, make a lee, when the cutter would "round-up" the ship as close as possible and away would go the boat with the pilot. In this instance the master of the small ship has made a perfect approach. As soon as he felt he was close enough he has turned his ship to starboard, "quartering" the sea, kept some headway on and made an excellent lee for, in this case, Mr Bert Dobby, to board safely. The opening sequence shows one of those magnificent German salvage tugs at anchor in Dover Harbour. The pilots have gone afloat to board the new T.H.V. Patrol to leave the harbour via the Eastern entrance, and as they come to grips with the confused sea off the Detached Mole the French train ferry, St Germain, can be seen departing for Dunkerque via the Western entrance. The passage to Dungeness in such weather would have taken more than an hour and it would be with some relief that we were all safely trans-shipped into the Dungeness cutter where, shortly after, Mr Dobby was put aboard the small ship (the noticeable jump in this shot was me, the cameraman, losing my cap overboard!) The next sequence was taken some 20 minutes later, by which time I had been shipped to a fast Swedish ship, and can be seen soon over-taking the ship with Mr Dobby aboard. Next is a rather indistinct shot of the sea breaking over the Western Arm of Dover Harbour. The old 1936 Twickenham ferry is at anchor outside the harbour apparently waiting for safer conditions to enter the train ferry dock.

So here you can see a movie:

If you have fast Internet connection please look at that:

Movie has avi format - size 172 Mb

If you are not disposing of fast internet connection please look at this movie into 4 parts:

Part 1

This part has avi format - size 40 Mb

Part 2

This part has avi format - size 48 Mb

Part 3

This part has avi format - size 42 Mb

Part 4

This part has avi format - size 42 Mb

Dear Hugh,
Thank you a lot for this light placed inside our dark brains :-)
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