The then U.K.P.A. was founded in Bristol by Captain George Cawley in 1884. Pilots from 18 Districts attended its Inaugural Conference, with observers from Spain, Denmark and the U.S.A.
Its objective was to influence the development of Pilotage and Associated Regulations, including Acts of Parliament, and to help those members around the country who found themselves in difficulty (but it was not a Friendly Society as such).
In fact the U.K.P.A. was involved with the development of all the Pilotage Acts from 1889 to 1987, and the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894.
Other examples of matters addressed by the U.K.P.A. include a resolution at the 1934 Conference “that a Pilots’ Benefit Fund be established in every port”.
In 1935 the attention of the Board of Trade was drawn to the danger that exists where pilot ladders are fixed to the rail or deck edge without adequate handrails being provided.
In 1942 the pilots from 5 Districts decided to leave the U.K.P.A. and joined the T&GW Union, forming the Marine Pilots’ Branch (M.P.B.)
In 1963 the U.K.P.A. participated in the discussions which led to the formation of the European Maritime Pilots Association (E.M.P.A.), formally joining the new organisation in 1964. The M.P.B. joined EMPA in 1968.
The U.K.P.A. is affiliated to the I.T.F. (International Transport Workers’ Federation, Seafarers Section) with access to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) where matters such as VTS, standards of ship manoeuvrability, electronic charting, passenger ship safety, etc., are discussed at an international level.
In 1985 the U.K.P.A. was faced with several problems, not least that (shared with the M.P.B.) of impending radical legislation. After decisive ballots, in both organisations, the UKPA and MPB joined forces to become the U.K.P.A.(M), a branch of the Transport & General Workers’ Union.
In November 2000, Annual Conference voted to rename the association the United Kingdom Maritime Pilots’ Association. The UKMPA retained the same day to day autonomy as had been the case in its earlier guises but under the umbrella of the T&GW (now UNITE) rules. Today, the UKMPA is based onboard HQS Wellington, London. A full-time UNITE Officer, is tasked with addressing UKMPA members’ industrial relations concerns.
The UKMPA holds an annual members’ conference where all Districts can be represented. There is a national executive (Section Committee) consisting of a Chairman, Vice-chairman, Secretary General and six members (all are serving pilots). Committee elections are held annually.
The UKMPA Technical & Training Committee is a sub-committee of the UKMPA executive. This committee deals with all technical aspects of pilotage, e.g. Protective Clothing, Boarding/Landing equipment, Health & Safety etc. as well as training issues.
There is regular communication predominantly via email and this web site between the executive committee and members. Each District’s Local Secretary helps with the dissemination of information to members and feedback to the Chairman and executives .
The Pilot magazine (edited by a serving pilot) is published 6 monthly and is the official record of the UKMPA. The magazine is distributed to all members, retired members and numerous pilotage organisations globally.