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HMS Fisgard Presentation Paperweight presented to the Controller of the Navy
HMS Fisgard was a shore establishment (otherwise known to all as a 'stone frigate') of the Royal Navy active at different periods and locations between 1848 and 1983. She was used to train artificers and engineers for the Navy. The name originates from the Leda class frigate, subsequently used as a depot ship and harbour flagship for Woolwich since 1848, and was used to train engineers. The facility closed in 1872 and Fisgard herself was broken up in 1879 but the name lived on as a shore base, subsequently relocated from Portsmouth to Chatham in 1930. The Fisgard facility finally closed in December 1983.
Our presentation brass paperweight dates to this time and is nicely engraved 'Admiral Sir Lindsey Bryson KGB Controller of the navy and is dated 13th August 1983. Admiral Sir Lindsay Bryson rose from modest circumstances to serve in WWII and subsequently become the first engineer appointed Controller of the Navy, responsible from 1981 to 1984 for the development and procurement of ships and weapons. During the Falklands war, he oversaw the introduction of several urgent operational requirements to bring what was essentially a peacetime service to the peak of fighting fitness. Bryson was appointed KCB in 1981 and retired from the Navy in 1984. He became a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and was the only naval officer to be president of the Institution of Electrical Engineers and he held various post in industry including deputy chairman of GEC-Marconi from 1987 to 1990. Lady Thatcher, who had been so impressed by her encounters with him during the Falklands War, nominated him as Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex and Brighton and Hove. He died in 2005 aged 80.
Research online indicates via the Fisgard Association website the significance of the date on our paperweight 13th August 1983. It was decided to hold an open day to allow former artificer apprentices to visit the establishment one last time before it closed in December of that year. A date was set for the 13th August as the weather was likely to be good and there would still be sufficient serving apprentices left in Fisgard to man the event with the penultimate class, 823 Entry, passing out four days later. Fisgard opened its gates to visitors at 1330 attended by the Guest of honour, Admiral Sir Lindsay Bryson KCB, visitors were free to wander around the establishment. Supper was served in the evening in the Apprentices Dining Hall and Fisgard's bars remained open until 2300; we imagine it was quite a party! Our paperweight was clearly presented to Admiral Bryson on the day and as such remains a unique souvenir of both a great training establishment, with a history stretching back 135 years and a great Naval Officer of our time.
The Latin motto of HMS Fisgard is "Non manibus solum sed corde" which translates to "Not only with your hands but with your heart" and this seems entirely appropriate to Sir Bryson KGB with the casting showing another Knight's arm appearing from beneath the waves with a hammer firmly gripped and about to strike. Base measures 3" diameter (7.75 cm) and it stands 3.25" high (8.5 cm)