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A brief history of pilotage on the Thames

Before 1514 any pilotage activities that occurred on the River Thames were completely unregulated. In the same year King Henry VIII granted Trinity House a Royal Charter to regulate pilotage on the Thames.

The responsibilities of the Trinity House Corporation for pilotage expanded from that time so that by 1986 the Corporation was the pilotage authority not only for London but also for over 40 other districts. The Corporation licensed upwards of 500 self-employed pilots and the cost of running the service was met by charging licence fees plus a levy on the earnings of the pilots from each Pilotage Act.

The Pilotage Act of 1987 transferred responsibility for the pilotage district of the River Thames and its estuary to the Port of London Authority and, from 1st October 1988, the Pilots became directly employed by the PLA. The Act allowed the PLA to cover the cost of providing the service by charging each vessel that used the services of a PLA pilot