The first ship, the name of which is still a mystery, was chartered by Josiah Weston, a member of a long established merchant family with warehouses in Bristol and The Isle of Man. A resourceful businessman, he erected warehouses all along the west side of the Channel, and soon all the imported merchandise passed through one or other of Josiah's repositories and all the merchants and peddlers, who flocked to Crouch End from all parts of south and east of England, marvelled at the beauty and quality of the wares. The storehouses overflowed with fine silks and pottery from Cathay, spices and strange fruits from the Indies, and exotic animal skins from Africa. With the great wealth accrued from his business, Josiah built a mansion in many acres of landscaped parkland to the south of his warehouses, in the area now known as Weston Park. The mansion was held by all who saw it to be the grandest and most beautiful house in the area, even surpassing that of Sir Thadeus himself - an accomplishment looked upon with ire and envy by the Squire.
Sir Thadeus immediately set about planning a new house which would surpass the Weston mansion in every respect, with thirty stories, two hundred bedrooms, and a great tower in the form of a silver teapot. He was dissuaded from this both by his wife, who liked the cosy ambience of the old house, and by his son Ralph, who proposed a new scheme which would exceed anything the Westons had achieved, and re-assert Sir Thadeus' position as the foremost citizen of Crouch End. Ralph, who had studied the natural philosophies under Alexander Lock and travelled to the great universities of Potsdam and Kiel, persuaded his Father to inaugurate a University of Alchemy and Rhetoric, and work began at once on a building of suitable size and grandeur on the site at the top of the Muswell Hills. News of the university was spread throughout the world by the ships travelling down the Great Channel, and when they returned many brought with them eminent sages and mystic deviners, all desiring to study at the university. Many significant discoveries were made as the imprecise science of alchemy - thought by many to be close to sorcery - changed slowly to the modern concept of chemistry, and the debates between philosophers from many different countries and cultures did much to advance the enlightenment of the renaissance, then slowly radiating throughout the civilised world.
Josiah Weston was beset with envy at the success of the University. He hated Sir Thadeus deeply, as the Squire had thwarted many of his schemes - one such being the purchase of several silver mines in the Muswell Hills. He had bid for the mines through an agent, so that none would know of his intentions, but the Squire had learnt of the plan from one of his many spies and when Josiah inspected his acquisitions, he found them to be totally exhausted, and full of nothing but useless clay. He applied himself with even greater energy to his import business, and one day, while walking through the docks, he noticed some of the merchants from the Indies cooking their food on an open fire. Intrigued by the delightful aroma of the spices, he asked the merchants if he could share in their repast, and was so taken by the unique flavour of the food that he set up an eating house to introduce the Indian food to the people of Crouch End. The eating house was so successful that more and more were opened, and soon every other shop along the lane was an Indian eating house, a tradition which is still continued to this day. As Josiah's wealth increased daily, so did his envy of Sir Thadeus, and he could never devise a strategy to outdo the University. Then, one day, he commissioned an artist to paint a portrait of his daughter Sharon. Although Sharon was sweet-tempered and intelligent, she was not beautiful, and the artist, in search of inspiration, wandered up to the Muswell Hills, where he stumbled on the Weston's exhausted silver mines. He quickly realised that the clay, thought to be useless, was actually composed of rare earths and ochres, and from the samples he brought back he distiled colours of such brilliance and purity that the ensuing portrait of Sharon became regarded as a masterpiece. Famous painters came from all parts of Europe to try the new colours, and Josiah, seeing at last an opportunity to rival the University of Sir Thadeus, founded Hornsey College of Art, which soon became the foremost Academy of it's kind in the western world. It was now the turn of Sir Thadeus to feel the bitter pangs of envy, as the world's early love affair with science was waning, and painting and the descriptive arts were assuming the greater importance. Worse was to follow, as Ralph, his son, on seeing the portrait of Sharon fell deeply in love with her, and despite the disparity between the painting and reality they eloped, leaving both families to mourn their loss.
Distraught, Sir Thadeus hurried to his laboratory in the bowels of the University, where he was determined to discover some great secret which would restore the eminence of the University to it's former glory. No-one knows what really happened that day, but it may be surmised that the Squire, in attempting some experiment far beyond his understanding of the new science, produced some compound which burst into flame, and the ensuing inferno was not only the end of the University, but the sad end of Sir Thadeus Llangthorne.