The Chairman's Message
by Captain Jeff Thomas

As published in the July 2002 magazine

It has not seemed very long since I sat down to write the last Chairman’s message in the January 2002 Log. Time in retirement seems to fly past, even faster than when I was at work.

Plenty has been happening in our Group. On January 26th the Committee met for its formal annual meeting and a full agenda occupied the entire day. This is in addition to the informal meetings that occur at the end of each of our regular Spring and Autumn meetings. The following salient points emerged from the meeting.

It is very pleasing to report that our membership numbers continue to increase and now number 150. Let us hope that this trend continues and it is our objective to include as wide a variety of interests as is possible in order to meet everyones needs.

It was agreed to continue to use the Union Jack Club as our venue for future meetings as its facilities met our requirements in every way. As our number of attendees increases it is important to have a good sized room that is able to comfortably accommodate everyone and yet at the same time give sufficient space for display of members material and auction lots. Catering facilities are also good though the morning and afternoon refreshments are considered expensive. Its location adjacent to Waterloo Station is also convenient for most members to travel to.

Our funds continue to be healthy though not substantial and for this we have to thank Alan Game our able treasurer for keeping us on track. With this in mind it was agreed for David Ransom to produce, in postcard format, the set of 14 old black and white photographs of Pitcairn which were illustrated in the July 2001 Log. These will provide a very interesting, good quality pictorial record of Pitcairn past, and will be a valuable addition to collectors of Pitcairn material. They will be limited to 100 sets. Our thanks to our member David Pocknall for agreeing for us to have these photographs reproduced. Further details of this interesting offer can be found on page 17.

It was agreed to display at two philatelic meetings this year. The first display will be at Swinpex in Swindon on the 8th June and a full report will be given in the next Log. The second meeting is a major two day event at Chester, taking place on Friday the 29th and Saturday the 30th November. We will be displaying 24 sheets on two panels and will also have a meeting room available on the Saturday afternoon where our expert Cy Kitching has kindly agreed to give an appropriate talk which should be very informative indeed. Members are most welcome to attend and support our Group at this event and Chester is a particularly interesting and pleasant city for a visit. It will also give you a chance to hear Cy talk.

In the last Log I mentioned that Roy Ellender had kindly volunteered to collect archive material for our Group. On reflection it would be more appropriate to do this electronically for ease of updating and transmitting to our increasing number of members having access to E mail. I have therefore agreed to assume this responsibility from Roy and any archive material should now be sent directly to me and not Roy. I have been busy cataloguing the archive material on computer. It is not very large at the moment but if you have duplicates of anything that you could send then please do so. I have donated half a dozen duplicate books to this service already and Maurice Bligh, John Edmonds and Graham Ford have also kindly given material. Once the deadlines for this Log have been met I will fully update the archives and I will then be in a position to make this list available to members. Details of how best to administer this service are presently being worked out and hopefully they will be available by the next meeting. Any ideas please let me know.

Our Spring meeting went very well with an excellent turn out again, with about 60 members in attendance. May I take this opportunity to thank everyone concerned for taking the time and trouble to attend and support our Group. It makes it so worthwhile and gives us the opportunity to meet up with old friends again. It was also pleasing to note a wide range of ages amongst the attendees. As usual it was another busy meeting but our old enemy, time once again hindered us. I feel a little like Bligh as I try to keep the meeting on schedule with my auction hammer, conscious of the fact that members have other schedules to keep to as well.

In the morning our Vice President Austin Meares gave us a very impressive illustrated talk from his fine collection on “The Stamps and Postal History of Pitcairn Islands, the First Thirty Years (1921-1951)”, whilst in the afternoon Stephen Walters gave a very interesting illustrated talk entitled “Between Hell and High Water – The Bounty’s final departure from Tahiti in search of a new home (1790-1808)”. As usual with Stephen, his vast knowledge on the subject impressed us all and he left us with a few tantalising thoughts to ponder on. My sincere thanks to both members , specialists in their own field, for taking the time and trouble to present to our Group.

The meeting concluded with our ever popular live auction which was a great success with very few items remaining unsold. We have attempted to streamline the auction due to the high number of Lots available and the time constraints in which to conduct it and it is hoped that this has improved things.

As reported in the latest edition of the USA Pitcairn Log the PISG now has its own website up and running on the internet ( It has a link to our own UK Group through David Ransom’s web site and we are most grateful to the USA Group for including us on their web site.

Movie enthusiasts should be aware that the 1984 film “The Bounty” starring Anthony Hopkins and Mel Gibson has been re-released in wide screen VHS video format. Even better, it has also been produced in DVD format which is far superior in quality. In addition, as a result of its enhanced storage capacity, the DVD contains many additional features such as an audio commentary from the film’s director, producer and our very own Stephen Walters who was historian advisor to the film; original Making of the Bounty documentary narrated by Edward Fox; the Bounty on film – a gallery of stills and trailers, extensive cast and crew profiles and a 28 page booklet with extensive line notes produced by Stephen Walters. Stephen figures prominently throughout the DVD. A good buy for those owning a DVD player.

On 1st May, Jennifer Toombs our President, and myself were privileged to be invited to the VIP Official Launch Presentation Day of “Exercise Bounty Bay” at HMS Drake, Plymouth. This is a joint service Scientific and Archaeological Diving Expedition to all the Pitcairn Islands in January 2003. Chief Petty Officer Rod Newman who is a PISG member and who regularly attends our meetings, is Expedition Leader. The team will conduct scientific research into the areas of marine biology and geology. Surveys of the seabed will be undertaken in the first ever search for the remains of the Polynesian temples known to have been discarded into the sea by the mutineers. The whereabouts of these remains have only recently (1998) been discovered. The team will also collate Hydrographic information updating charts on behalf of the National Hydrographic Office. Importantly they will provide community support to the island population themselves, including medical and dental care, engineering support and assistance with existing environmental and conservation initiatives. The team can be followed before, during and after the expedition on the web at Look it up for it is an interesting site. We wish the expedition all success.

Finally it only remains for me to thank the two David’s. David Ransom for continuing to produce such a fine Log which truly enhances our Group and also all those members who take the time and trouble to submit such interesting material to David for inclusion in the Log. The Log is only as good as you make it so please keep the articles coming in. And David Sleep whose workload has increased as member numbers increase, not to mention all the meetings he has to organise on behalf of the Group. In future, full use is going to be made of E-mail in order to reduce the secretary’s workload and also to reduce our Group’s costs. Those of you on E-mail will get your invitations to the meetings electronically so please ensure we have your up to date E-mail address.

I look forward to seeing as many of you as can make it at the autumn AGM on Saturday 28th September at the Union Jack Club. Please use your nomination slips which will be sent out with your invitation to elect next year’s officers.

Jeff Thomas

Number 24 • July 2002