This is arguably Bristol's most famous pub, the Llandoger Trow was built in 1664 and actually takes its name from Llandogo, a small village on the River Wye in Monmouthshire that was home to Captain Hawkins, a sailor who once ran the pub. The "Trow" part of the name comes from a flat-bottomed barge that Hawkins sailed between Llandogo and Bristol. An imposing black and white timber-frame building, the pub was once a popular haunt for pirates and seafarers and during a refurbishment in the early 1960s, the remains of a network of secret tunnels were discovered.
The pub is probably best known for its literary connection to Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson is said to have modelled the fictional Admiral Benbow pub on both the Llandoger Trow and The Hole in the Wall. Legend also has it that Daniel Defoe met sailor Alexander Selkirk here, who was the inspiration for Robinson Crusoe.
(above from an article published by The Bristol Evening Post)
John Benbow (Admiral of the Fleet), (born March 10, 1653—died Nov. 4, 1702, Port Royal, Jamaica), became a popular hero through his exploits against the French and his death in active service.The son of a tanner of Shrewsbury, Shropshire, Benbow served in the navy and merchant marine from 1678 and became captain of a naval vessel in 1689. As master of the fleet under Admiral Edward Russell, he helped destroy the French fleet in the Battle of La Hogue (May 1692), and in November 1693 he bombarded the French port of Saint-Malo.
The most famous incident of his life is known as ‘Benbow’s Last Fight’, a battle off Cape Santa Marta in 1702 when Benbow piled head-long into the fray, but was unsupported by his fellow captains, one of whom hid behind the mizzen mast of his ship. But there is so much more to his life to celebrate than that sorry battle. He fought Barbary Corsairs, designed ships, ran a dockyard, helped to found Greenwich Hospital, was involved in the first Eddystone lighthouse, sub-let his house to Peter the Great, Czar of Russia, (who destroyed it in a riotous bout of partying); and played a major role in the naval wars against the magnificent fleets of Louis XIV.
One episode, however, should make us stop and think carefully about his reputation. In 1694 the British were faced with an incessant wave of highly successful French privateers. The enemy was elusive. This was state-sanctioned piracy undertaken by privately owned ships. The Admiralty needed someone utterly ruthless to shock the privateers into submission. And they turned to Benbow, a man who would stop at nothing.
Benbow’s solution to the problem was to take a 300-ton merchant ship and fill it with twenty thousand pounds of gunpowder. On top of this he piled exploding mortars, broken iron bars, shards of glass, bullets, chain and nails. And he sailed it into the heart of St. Malo - a civilian harbour - where he detonated it. While St Malo rocked from the concussion of the explosion, which was heard 100 miles away, Benbow took a group of men ashore and burned the convent.
(information taken from www.historytoday and brittanica.com) Mike.
( I recall reading somewhere that Bebows family was disgraced and 'set low' leaving the young Benbow with no income. It was suggested that prior to taking to sea with the navy he learnt his trade on the Avon around Pill, bringing goods off larger ships and ferrying them down to the port of Bristol ? - Mike)