The Coastguard Cutter Vol1 No8

August 2003
Vol 1 - No.8.

The "Lady Margaret"

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Whitehead Coastguard Station, Co.Antrim.

On road from Quarry to railway station. Officer’s house and 5 cottages erected by the Crown 1871


Officers house contains 8 rooms viz. 5 bedrooms, 2 sitting rooms and 1 kitchen. Four cottages contain 3 rooms each. Boat-house has watch-room over. Three privies and dust-bins. Three cottages of 4 rooms each and watch-house built by the Crown in 1870. Lease 1820.

A man named Scandlin has occupied a portion of the land and a mud cottage without authority since 1854 or 1855.



A RUSTIC IDYLL (nearly).

"The Coastguard stations are always remarkably neat and clean, with carefully-kept paths and plenty of whitewash about. Every man has a bit of garden, which he tends carefully in his leisure time. The majority of the men at a station are married, and, judging by the appearance of the numerous children running about, a Coastguard station appears to be about as healthy a place to live in as one could find" (2)


Born 19th May 1868. Harriette Wxxxxx. (17th.Child, 16 alive) to Henry and Anne Wxxxxx . Chief Boatman in Charge, Cahirmore. Berehaven, Co.Cork.




As some may be aware there is now a Forum for Coastguard  enthusiasts on the site, if you have a question then just post it on the forum and then check back from time to time to see if someone has the information you were looking for. You may also be able to answer queries others have posted.

Dear Friend,

Welcome to the August edition of "The Coastguard Cutter".


Some writers have said that a posting to Ireland for an English Coastguard and his family was not a popular one. Others tell of a pleasant life in Ireland.Many lasting friendships were formed with locals. When the duty of apprehending smugglers going about their trade lessened, and lifesaving became a larger part of the Coastguard's activities, a bond of the sea, was formed between the coastguards and the local fishermen . In times of danger to vessels at sea there never was any hesitation in manning boats to rescue those in danger of drowning. Many Life Saving Medals were awarded to Coastguards and fishermen for acts of bravery in joint rescues.

I would be glad to receive any coastguard information, stories or general snippets and pass it on in to our readers.



The problem of housing was one of the greatest that had to be tackled. Many of the earlier stations were unsuitable for the purpose. Even when the stations were specially built they were not always suitable for their work. Many were designed by architects who can have had very little knowledge of the life of the men

The Senior Officers did their best to draft men with large families to stations which three bedrooms instead of two, but this was not always possible and very often a family of six or seven children were forced to live under conditions that were disgraceful to a Government service.

Naturally on a coastguard’s pay the living had to be of the simplest description, but the men liked to have some little place which they could keep for best and which would house the trophies which they had collected in long service all over the Globe. Therefore the most popular stations were those built with large kitchens for living and small sitting-rooms for best, and nearly all of them were built on this principle. One or two of them were not, Ramsgate in particular being built as a show station with this order reversed. There the houses were given really beautiful sitting-rooms and pokey little kitchens into which the family had to be packed somehow.

Water supply


Some stations left a good deal to be desired. Many landlords regarded the Coastguard stations as a heaven-sent blessing, not hesitating to make all that they possibly could out of the Admiralty.

A bad case of this, although unhappily only one of very many, was the drinking water of the Roche’s Point Coastguard station in 1886, when it was admitted that the water yielded by the existing well was so brackish that it was practically impossible to drink it, and that the fifty-one persons in the station were compelled to collect rain-water and boil it to make it fit to drink. The Admiralty admitted quit frankly that the state of affairs was most undesirable, but pointed out that all efforts to sink a new well during a number of years had failed because the rent asked was absolutely prohibitive.

"My Daddy"


The Divisional Officer had to report on the schools to which the children of his divisions were sent , and in Ireland the Admiralty made a grant to the school if the scholars were over a certain number. In one case this grant was claimed for a school which had nothing better than a barn built in 1824, with an earthen floor, an open fire of peat, and rough benches as furniture, nothing more. The Divisional Officer had this school closed in 1909, after agitating for some years against the vested interests of its owner.

The authorities made a point of providing a certain amount of the furniture for the men’s quarters, but it was very little. The regulations mentioned one iron double bed, a half tester, two small bedroom tables, one six-foot kitchen table, six Windsor chairs, one dresser built into the wall of the Kitchen, and three sets of fenders and fire-irons, and a coal box to hold half a bushel. The medicine chest was equipped with with a considerable number of drugs, including Antimonial Wine – to be taken with a little warm gruel for colds rheumatism or fever. Opoleldoc for sprains, and Goulard for inflamed eyes.

Otherwise the men provided their own furniture, and it is a great tribute to their character that their quarters were generally exceedingly nicely furnished, in spite of the fact that they knew perfectly well that the little pieces they had collected so carefully were likely to be irreparably ruined the next time they were ordered to make a move by cutter or gunboat.


The 678 ton iron barque Glaramara moored between the Soverigns and Oysterhaven on the 22nd.February 1883. Captain Moreton had dropped anchor during fog when breakers were heard. The anchors dragged and the vessel was driveDadn ashore. The crew were all rescued by the coastguards using rockets.


The COROMANDEL was wrecked east of Power Head with a cargo of paraffin. A coastguard showed the locals how to use paraffin oil in lights using a wick. Previously only rush lights were used in the locality. (3)


On the 16-1-1868 the VANDA went ashore near Power Head. In thick fog the Captain mistook a coastguard beacon for the light at Roches Point.The coastguard rescued all 14 aboard in 20 minutes by line. (3)


Twelve Coastguard Station photos taken in Northern Counties of Ireland can be downloaded free of charge from :  * No Longer available *

Next Issue: Photos: Bullsmouth Coastguard Station, County Mayo.

Bannow Coastguard Station, County Wexford.

Plus; Smuggling tricks.

You can also find links to other interesting websites here
References :
  1. ‘His Majesty’s Coastguard’ by Frank Bowen
  2. "Our Coastguard" in "The Graphic", June 16 1892
  3. "Shipwrecks of the Irish Coast" Vol.1 by Edward J. Bourke.

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1 Comment · 4082 Reads · Print  -> Posted by Tony on June 17 2007


#1 | dorothy on 13/11/2019 13:44:23
Whitehead Coastguard Cottages

Further Census return research suggests that this should be Officer's House and FOUR cottages. The present resident of the fifth house which is next to the tower says that when he watched the station being converted to town houses there was no door to the tower and entrance was through his current house. That combined with the census evidence suggests the base of the tower extended into the mystery house five and may have been used for admin or storage rather than residence.

Dorothy (current resident of house three)

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