ABP Southampton Helps Shine a Guiding Light
November 9, 2017
AN ICONIC illuminated cross which has been used for decades as an informal navigation aid to Marine Pilots bringing ships into the port, has been restored thanks to ABP Southampton.
Marine Pilot Mark Bray (pictured) works in the Port of Southampton helping to bring some of the largest ships in the world alongside and when he noticed the cross on Christ Chirch in Freemantle was no longer illuminated, he was keen to see what could be done to remedy the situation.
He explained: "For many hundreds of years Marine Pilots and ships’ navigators have used prominent landmarks to help fix their vessel’s position.
"Southampton Marine Pilots back in the days of sail and steam will have used the many magnificent church spires which surround the docks as navigation aids.
"Today's Marine Pilots now bring in monster sized, ultra large container ships. They use modern hi-tec electronic positioning equipment called Portable Pilot Units to get the 400m long ships through the docks.
"Even with this equipment, Marine Pilots still verify the ship’s position and progress by looking at fixed objects ashore.
"The illuminated cross on the Freemantle church is especially useful at night to guide us into the 400m turning circle.
"Now the clocks have gone back it will be reassuring to have a leading light to help us through the docks."
Mark contacted Priest in Charge, Reverend Angi Nutt and she was delighted to discover the cross was used as a guiding light by mariners.
"The iconic cross on the tower of Christ Church was first installed in the early 1950s and has been unlit for a while after the final tube in it failed.
"In the past, it has been a tricky and often eventful project to lower the cross to change the bulbs and do maintenance work on it, " she said.
Apprentice Morgan Rodaway,17, stripped back the 2.2m high cross and fitted LED bulbs with photocell technology so the cross lights up as darkness falls. He joined maintenance team colleagues who used a cherry picker to safely re-attach the cross at a height of 18m.
ABP Southampton Contracts Technician Joe Atkinson explained it was one of the most unusual projects his team has ever tackled.
"This is certainly not an everyday project for us and that's why it was great for Morgan, our electrical apprentice, to be able to work on it.
"It's great to be able to do something that helps our Marine Pilots - and also restores a much loved icon for the church community," he said.