About Us

There are currently 4 authorised pilots in the Gloucester District. This number has reduced over the years from 13. The reason for this is that the number of ships has reduced. The level of trade has remained stable but being transported in much larger vessels.

Current Pilots

Carl Merry

Carl was authorised in 2003. He also served 5 years piloting on the River Humber. Raised in Cornwall he ran away to sea with P&O at the age of 16 serving deep-sea in a variety of shipping including general cargo, container and troop ships. He gained his Masters in 1994 and spent three years as Chief Officer in the car carrying trade. He has held command on a number of vessels primarily in the short and middle sea trades finishing his seagoing career with Carisbrooke Shipping. When not working he enjoys messing about in the Bristol Channel on his boat and is a passionate supporter of Gloucester Rugby. He lives in Slimbridge with his two daughters.

Tim Butten

Apprenticed with BP Shipping and served on tankers ranging from 25,000t to 260,000t. When BP flagged out in the mid 1980s served with various tanker & gas companies including Bibby & Mobil as well as BP. For a bit of extra cash did a trip coasting for 3 weeks in 1989  and  never went back deep sea. The next 16 years were spent on the near continent with ARC and Hanson and first command was gained in 1997.  In 2005 joined a small sand dredger with Cemex working the ports in the  Bristol Channel where remained until joining Gloucester Pilots in 2013.

Though born in Middlesex has lived in West Wales since 1969. Married with two grown up children. We all play lawn bowls and wife, daughter & son at international level. I follow Welsh rugby . Other interests include walking, camping family holidays and reading history.

Charles Drewett

Charles started his seagoing career on container ships with Pacific International Line, trading mainly in the far & middle east,  Asia & Africa. Once qualified as 2nd officer he moved into the North Sea offshore industry where in 2017 he gained his master’s certificate. In 2018 he began training as a river pilot and in July that year gained his first licence.

Charles is married and has 3 young children. In his spare time he enjoys  spending time with his family, walking and fishing on the Severn.

Matthew Finn

Born and lived in and around Hull I joined the Merchant Navy aged 16 in 2005 as deckhand on Humber tanker barges. Joined Maersk in 2007 and sailed globally from cadet to 2nd officer until 2014.
Whist studying for Chief Mates I worked in the offshore renewables sector for Njord Offshore. Aged 26 I joined UK Dredging as Chief Mate, dredging various UK Ports undertaking my own pilotage. Relief Chief Officer on Waverley and Balmoral pleasure vessels including in Scotland and Bristol Channel.
Achieved my Masters qualification in 2017 and joined Humber Pilots in 2018. Departed the Humber for the Severn in July 2021. I have a wife and a young family and enjoy spending family time together on my time off.

Retired Pilots

The following is ‘work in progress’ and will be padded out as and when information becomes available. If you know something about any of the following then we would be pleased to hear from you at sharpnesspilots@gmail.com

Mark Griffey

unknown to 1969

His grandson is Paul Fryer who was a pilot here in 1976.

John Williams

unknown to 1969

Replaced by George Woollard.

Ron Morgan

1941 to 1983

Came from tankers and was a young pilot. Was a long time pilot and had a reputation for running the other pilots!

Les Spiers

1958 to 1988

Arthur Tytherleigh

1961 to 1988

Served time at sea then worked on the tugs before becoming a pilot.

Doug Griffey

1962 to 1988

Working on Harkers tankers and had to be persuaded to join the pilotage service. It is thought that he is Mark Griffey’s nephew.

Peter Tippet

1966 to 1996

Served an apprenticeship on the Eastern Station at Portishead.

John Morgan

1971 to unknown

This was the second time he was a Gloucester Pilot. He left sometime in the 1950s after he grounded the Ramasees II on Lydney Sands

Robert Case

1964 to 1992

Ex Gloucester apprentice.

Brian Richards

1969 to 1995

Was a Bristol Pilot apprentice.

Keith Hadley

1969 to 03-05

A Gloucester apprentice, served time with Strick Line. Introduced George Woollard

George Woollard

1971 to 11-98

Grandfather was Maintenance Manager at Sharpness and father was pilot. Went to work on tankers running between Swansea and Worcester. Went to sea with Strick Line, came back to work on tugs then ashore to work at Oldbury power station. Approached by Keith and asked to join Gloucester Pilots.

Ken Higgs

1972 to 06-09

Ken was a Gloucester apprentice 1965-1970, then served with the Hungry Goose Line (Trinder Anderson) until he was licenced the day after his 23rd  birthday in 1972. Piloting has been in his family for well over 130 years. His Grandmother told him that Sharpness was short of Pilots those years ago and so her family moved up from South Wales.

John Hopkins

1973 to 1985

He was a sand dredger man who originally came from Bideford. He served his time with Reardon Smith. He campaigned for a review of the pay structure in view of the increase in size of ships. When he left he returned to Bideford as Harbourmaster/Pilot.

Paul Fryer

1976 to 1988

Gloucester apprentice then to sea with Bowrings. When trade reduced he relocated to Jeddah and latterly to Portsmouth. He has now retired from piloting.

Clive Wilton

1979 to 1991

Ex SE Wales apprentice, became Cardiff Pilot.

Dave Bainbridge

1979 to 1991

Prior to acceptance as a pilot at Sharpness, had been Harbour Master/Pilot at Scrabster, the port of Thurso in North Scotland after which  continued seafaring career as Master on Chemical Tankers, before becoming a Sharpness pilot in 1979, transferring to the South East Wales pilotage in 1991. Retired from piloting in 2002 and took up command of Sail Training Square rigged Tall ships in the Caribbean, North Atlantic and Mediterranean, continued as Master under sail until 2017. Retired after 57 years seafaring. Highlight of career was setting up the Sharpness Coastguard and SARA rescue service in 1985.

Dave Moore

09-98 to 12-02

Came from Bowker and Kings and then was a Dock Pilot

 Bill Payne

1999 to 06-17

Bill completed his apprenticeship with the Bristol Pilotage Authority in 1975. He then sailed deep sea as a junior officer for five years, much of this time on a round the world general cargo service before entering the coastal trade. Here he sailed as master in both coastal tankers and marine aggregates dredgers, finally completing his seagoing career with two summer seasons as master of the coastal passenger vessel Balmoral. During this time Bill gained pilot exemption certificates for the ports of Milford Haven, Swansea, Barry, Cardiff, Newport, River Avon, Southampton, the Medway, London, and Harwich. Bill has a grown up family with two grand children and lives with his partner Suzette in Wanswell, a short walk from the port of Sharpness. Hobbies include renovating his old house, and exercising an active Cocker Spaniel. Prior to becoming a pilot in 1999 Bill was a dinghy sailor on the river for over 20 years.

Rick Davies

2008 to 06-18

Originally Rick served on a variety of deep-sea vessel types with P&O then in the North Sea Offshore Support industry. In 1984 he gained an honours degree in Nautical Studies and worked ashore for Racal Marine as a Systems Engineer before taking up a position as Assistant Harbourmaster at the Port of Boston. There, he was mainly responsible for hydrographic surveying and Port Control before becoming authorised as a pilot in 1990. After 11 years there he moved to Fowey but in 2007, due to a down turn in trade, was forced to move to SE Wales. In 2008, whilst working there, he was fortunate to be accepted as a replacement for Ken Higgs who retired the following year. He is married with a son and a daughter. In 2018 he celebrated 28 years as a pilot.

Brendan Richardson

2017 to 2020

Since the mid 1980’s Brendan has enjoyed a varied seagoing career on coastal bulk carriers, offshore anchor handling ships , a period in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and the command of two small bulk carriers and a super yacht. Previously a Tees and Hartlepool Pilot for 20 years, he transferred to Gloucester Pilots in the early part of 2017, where he continued to enjoy his career. Unfortunately, Brendan had to retire due to ill health in the Summer of 2020. He lives close to the River Severn with his wife Davina and has two grown up children.

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