9 June 2022
The flag mast at Signal House has now been reinstated. A special ceremony took place at Signal House on Thursday, 2June 2022, where the Union Flag was unfurled for the first time on the new flag mast. The occasion officially marked the reinstatement of the flag mast, and signified the opening of the bank holiday weekend celebrations in honour of HM The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
The ceremony was opened by Bishop Dale Bowers and included speeches by His Excellency the Governor, Dr Philip Rushbrook, the Curator of the St Helena Museum, Adam Sizeland, and ex RMS St Helena Deck Officer, Mia Henry.
In his speech, the Governor highlighted the importance of the flag mast and its iconic stature as being one of the first things an approaching sea vessel would see. He highlighted the sources of funding for the new mast and commended the efforts of all involved in reinstating the huge structure, which included the local workforce teams who had the difficult task of erecting the huge pole and yard arm in windy conditions.
In his speech, Adam Sizeland talked about of the history of the original flag mast and how it was used in the 18th century and after as part of a signalling and communications network to signal the arrival of ships and convey messages around the Island, including conveying the news of Napoleon’s death around the Island in 1821.
In her speech, Mia Henry gave an account of how the flag mast is a prominent landmark for a ship’s navigation system. She also gave some personal recollections as Deck Officer of the RMS St Helena and how seeing the flag mast with its Union Flag flying on approaching the Island would signify homecoming and reuniting with loved ones.
The ceremony also involved the 1st Jamestown Scouts who played the appropriate flag raising bugle call ‘Salute’ as the Union Flag was raised by members of the St Helena Veterans Association (SHVA).
The ceremony concluded with a blessing by Bishop Dale Bowers.
The process of procuring a new flag pole and yard arm to replace the original structure that was part of a British ship’s mast and over 150 years old, started in October last year. The Technical team of the Treasury, Infrastructure & Sustainable Development Portfolio took the lead on liaising with Freeland Yacht Spars Ltd in the UK, on the design of the replacement mast, made from Columbian pine. The Governor’s Office, through the Enabling Fund of the CSSF International Programme, were able to fund the replacement of the main pole and yard arm and the St Helena Government were able to fund the specialist fittings, shipping and erection of the mast. The shipment was managed by Richard James International, and due to the size of the main pole (13 metres); the mast had to be shipped as deck cargo via a different transhipment route to Cape Town to connect with the MV Helena. The process of erecting the mast was done over several days and was a combined effort of the SHG Building Maintenance team, Technical team, Rock Guards and the St Helena Fire & Rescue Service.
As the Governor stated in his speech during the Signal House ceremony: “Long may this new flag mast continue its important role at Signal House; to exemplify the distinctiveness and constancy of our Island community.”
9 June 2022