The Coastguard Cutter Vol1 No3

March 2003
Vol 1 - No.3.

The "Lady Margaret"

 |M@il Me | Visit the Website |


New Station Photos;

Kells Co. Kerry

Robert's Cove
Co. Cork

Co. Wexford

and more!!



Ratings were permitted to assist in the launch of the lifeboat in any circumstances, but they were only allowed to volunteer to go out in her when she was in the direst need of hands, the reason being that with a ship ashore in bad weather there was likely to be plenty of work for every man to do in his own proper sphere. When there was no life-boat on the spot, however, they were allowed to put off in their own boats and right gallantly they responded to the call.

Very frequently the Station Officer acted as local manager of the life-boat and no launch was permitted without his written sanction. This was to prevent the rescue of imaginary wrecks for the sake of the launching money.



Latest Additions;

List "Officers in Coastguard Sevice in Ireland 1851" from the Royal Navy publication "Navy List".

"Wreck of the R.H.TUCKER - Loss of four Coastguards"

New Station Photos.

Dear Friend,

Welcome to the March edition of "The Coastguard Cutter". In this Issue the theme is rescue and the role the coastguard played in saving lives and property. I would like to thank our kind readers who have sent in items for future inclusion in our Newsletter. How coastguard families lived, and episodes in the routine duties of their men, sometimes hazardous, bring to life a bygone era.
I would be glad to receive any coastguard information and pass it on in to our readers and hope to be able to send out the newsletter on a regular basis.




The Lifeboats owned and managed by the Royal National Life-boat Institution are stationed at almost every point of our extensive seaboard where loss of life through shipwreck is most to be feared; while the services performed by their crews every year, unostentatiously, and in the ordinary course of duty, are such as would do honour to any age or nation.

The sister service, on the other hand, since the year 1855, when Government took the various life-saving apparatuses under its control, has been owned and managed by the Board of Trade, though the practical working of the apparatus is entrusted to the Coastguard.

Rocket Apparatus

The idea of communicating with a wreck from the shore, by means of throwing a rope over it, originated with Captain Manby, F.R.S., on witnessing a shipwreck in 1807, and took practical shape in the following year, when by means of a mortar, a line was successfully thrown over a vessel and seven lives saved. In the same year another brain working independently, hit on the idea of a rocket, Mr. Trengrouse, of Helston also proposed the use of a kite and lead line. His rocket however proved too small, and the first person to use the idea with success was Mr. John Dennett, of Newport, Isle of Wight. In the year 1826 four places in the Isle of Wight were supplied with Dennett’s rockets, while by 1853 the number had increased to 120. The mortar still continued in favour, but as time went on, however, the superiority of the rocket became manifest when Colonel Boxer devised a double rocket contained in a single case by means of which the range was enormously extended .There are now 297 stations around the coast of Great Britain supplied with the rocket life-saving apparatus, and that during the last thirty years, these have been the means of rescuing over 7,000 lives.


Sixteen hours on the stretch throughout the winter nights in snow, sleet, wind and rain, without shelter or protection of any kind, with the chance of being shot, tied down to the rocks or pitched over the cliffs by the smugglers was certainly no child’s play, wrote Lt. North. To assist the Coastguard on one of those long night watches they were permitted to supply themselves with one-legged stools, called rump-stools or donkeys. By sticking the leg into sand or shingle at a slight inclination a balance was achieved by sitting on its stool top, with the user’s legs forming a prop.

It required something more than free quarters and regular pay to induce men to do such work, and the incentive was that of rewards for seizures . This occasionally amounted to a considerable sum of money, and instances were known when the smallest share, that of a boatman, amounted to about £90, representing nearly two years wages. A "Full Seizure" was granted only when the vessel, goods and a fair proportion of a number engaged in the run were all captured., in fact, if the smugglers escaped, only half the reward was made. Each smuggler was worth £20 "blood money", but in spite of these inducements collusion with the smugglers was by no means a rare offence. The temptations were certainly very great, to poor men with large families, for the smugglers had large sums of money at their disposal, and it was an easy matter for a Coastguard to connive at a run without exciting suspicion.


Who Rattled your Cage ? Two sides to a story.

TRALEE CHRONICLE 2nd November 1844.


The Brig MARY DICK of Kirkaldy. James Norman being fifteen days out of Cardiff, bound to Constantinople, put in to Dingle on the 30th October, in distress, having experienced a loss of mainsails, rigging and bulwarks. It was through the instrumentality of the Kells Coast Guards she was brought in and saved from being a total wreck. The boat’s crew were under the command of Master Edward Jenkins, who at the hazard of his life , boarded her, and succeeded in taking her safe into Dingle harbour. Here he received the highest testimonials of his conduct from the Captain of the vessel, who expressed the strong wish that the heads of his department should notice his gallantry. This is but one of the many hazardous and successful efforts made by Mr. Jenkins and his party on behalf of distressed vessels.
From our Dingle Correspondent.


TRALEE CHRONICLE 16th November 1844.


To the Editor of the Tralee Chronicle, 8th November 1844.

Sir – Will you be good enough to contradict a statement which appeared in your valuable journal of Saturday last, the 2nd. instant, respecting the meritorious conduct of the Coast Guards of this station in being the means of saving the brig MARY DICK , of Kirkalder, James Norman, Master, in which it was falsely stated that the Coast Guards crew were under the command of Master Edward Jenkins.

I, as the officer in command of that station, beg to make known that I was the man who commanded that crew, and not Jenkins; at the same time I have got to say that Jenkins, as well as the rest of the crew, in taking the vessel into Dingle harbour under my command, acted most praiseworthy on the occasion.

Hoping, Mr. Editor, you will have my name inserted in your next publication as having charge of the crew, instead of Jenkins, (as appeared in your last),

I remain your obedient servant. ESSEX HARRIS. Chief Boatman in charge Coast Guards at Kells.



An Austrian barque was wrecked on the 20th October1881 near Robert’s Cove. She had a crew of eleven and was carrying salt from Liverpool to Baltimore. The captain was newly wed to 23 year old Christina, ten years his junior, and she was on board with them. They ran into gales and were badly damaged off the Daunt; the rudder was rendered useless and the ship ran onto the Sleveen Rocks in the entry to Rocky Bay, She was seen, and thought by those on shore to be in no great danger, as she appeared securely wedged at least for the moment; However, the Coastguards with the rocket apparatus where she would be driven in and gone to the wrong part of the cliffs. They were now doubling back, but it was too late, for the ship broke up with great rapidity. The Captain, supporting his wife, was seen struggling through the seas; the coastguards fired their rocket at them and Christina reached for it. Her husband thought she had a firm grip on the line and let her go, only to see her swept away and drowned. The captain himself was saved by a second line and the quick action of a coastguard who rushed into the water and dragged him ashore. A young man, son of a local farmer, plunged in after another man, a badly injured sailor who later recovered. He and the captain were the only survivors. The others - Austrians, a Bulgarian and an Englishman - are buried in Ballyfoyle graveyard, but Christina was buried in Cobh after a big funeral from the cathedral. The Mayor of Lasampiccols, Christina’s home town, was later to thank the Irish people for their help and sympathy in this tragedy.


Further Reading;

"Sir James Dumbrain and the Coastguard" by Edmond P.Symes. In the DUBLIN HISTORICAL RECORD. Vol. LV1, No. 1. Spring 2003.

W.Webb, Coastguard An Official History of HM Coastguard (London, 1976)

Edward J. Bourke, Shipwrecks of the Irish Coast, Volume 1 ,2 and 3. (Dublin,


Ian Wilson, Shipwrecks of the Ulster Coast, (Northern Ireland, 1979)

You can also find more relevant links here
References :
  1. ‘The Navy and Army Illustrated’ July 6th. 1901
  2. ‘His Majesty’s Coastguard’ by Frank Bowen

Click here if you wish to unsubscribe from the newsletter

Copyright © 2003 [coastguards of yesteryear]. All rights reserved.

0 Comments · 7570 Reads · Print  -> Posted by Tony on June 17 2007


No Comments have been Posted.

Post Comment

Please Login to Post a Comment.