The Coastguard Cutter Vol1 No9

September 2003
Vol 1 - No.9.

The "Lady Margaret"

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Bullsmouth Coastguard Station, Co.Mayo.

Chief Boatmans house contains 7 rooms. Four cottages for men contain 5 rooms each, and 2 cottages of 3 rooms. Watch-tower contains 2 rooms. Boat-house 32ft. by 11ft. Houses built 1864. Station sold 1911

One acre of land at Bannow to form main sewer into Killen Bay or Cullens Cove.

Houses for Chief Boatman and 2 men with watch-rooms and boat-house erected by Board of Works 1891, 1,536.

Westport, Co. Mayo Custom letters. 50c

Custom House, London to Collector Westpoint.

Order to keep a watch-out for arms and ammunition likely to be landed in Ireland in floor and pork barrels.

German ship "Brother Adler" might be involved.

"Tuck Stick"

Dear Friend,

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


Smuggling was not an honest trade, but it was a highly lucrative one. The Custom and Excise officials and later on, the Coastguards had to stay ahead of the tricks and hiding places of the wily smugglers. Due to their efforts, and the lowering of taxes in the middle of the 19th.Century smuggling diminished considerably.

I wouldbe glad to receive any coastguard information, stories or general snippets and pass it on into our readers.


Smuggling at Folkestone

By means of false bottoms to the boats a lot of smuggling was at one time carried on, especially in Folkestone, but no sooner was the trick detected than every boat so fitted was seized and sawn asunder. Nor was this confined to fishermen, for as late as 1831 a customhouse officer suspected a pleasure boat which was sailing up the Thames , gave chase to her, and after a run of 20 miles, overtook and boarded her at Blackwall. Under the floor he found a number of tin cases, full of contraband goods, the estimate value being about two thousand pounds.

At one time the Hastings smugglers resorted to a very ingenious scheme for landing their goods.Vessels frequently came laden with chalk, and a "freetrader" got a lot of tubs covered in plaster of Paris to give them the appearance of chalk. The delivery was going on all right, until one of the lumps happened to fall, the shell burst, and the kernel in the shape of a keg of spirits rolled out. A coastguard standing by at once had the whole lot siezed, and a fine haul they had.

The loss of the DORT.

One of the last luggers employed in smuggling transactions was the DORT, a splendid craft of 240 tons burden. She was originally a government cutter, and was bought by Mr. H------- and Mr. M--------, two well known leaders in the smuggling trade, and fitted out by them for the purpose of smuggling. She sailed from Holland bound for the north coast of Ireland, where immense quantities of tobacco and other excisable articles were run ashore. She fell in with the WATERWITCH, a man-of-war brig and was chased by her, according to the captains report, for twelve hours, but she out sailed the brig, and got into the Cove of Cork. Here however, she was captured, her crew were for a time in Cork gaol, and subsequently brought to England. They were half Dutchmen and the remainder English, most of them Folkestonians. The lugger was forfeited, but the crew do not appear to have been severely dealt with, because the Folkestone men shortly afterwards returned and followed their lawful and after all more profitable calling of fishermen. (1)

"The Creepers"

"As the Coastguards became more vigilant after 1832 the old fashioned "runs" became impossible.So the job had to be done in two parts; the boat from across channel would come close inshore and drop and drop the contraband overboard anchored a certain distance below the surface, for their friends to pick up when the coast was clear. The Coastguards business was to find it first and draw prize-money so they were constantly out in their boats "creeping" with grapnels over every likely spot, and they made many hauls."


On the 7-1-1860 the ARETHUSA of Glasgow was wrecked at Bannow. They could not weather the Hook and let go anchor in Fethard Bay. The vessel ran ashore onto rocks. One seaman who could not swim was drowned. The coastguard assembled to protect the cargo as 200 bales of tobacco was washed ashore. The duty alone on the tobacco was 7,000. The locals however were not short of a smoke despite the efforts of the authorities.


An 18th Century writer advised anyone visiting Malahide to bring his own bottle, (the bottle was for a refill of duty free, smuggled brandy or gin) The Coastguard Services originally formed to deal with smuggling which followed the Napoleonic wars rebuilt a row of slate-roofed houses facing the Green and settled them with ex-Royal naval forces to prevent smuggling, assist ships in distress and undertake various duties around the coast. The Coastguard H.M.S. houses date from 1820.

On the Green the Coastguards had a flagstaff on which the colours were raised and lowered precisely to the boom of the morning and evening gun discharged from the Martello Tower. The Coastguards set up upon a gable wall a barometer which gave warning of changes of weather and which saved many a fisherman's life. This barometer was vandalised only in recent years.


Nothing this month....

You can also find links to other interesting websites here
References :
  1. 'Smugglers and smuggling days' by an Old Folkestone Free Trader. Published 1883.
  2. "Shipwrecks of the Irish Coast" Edward J.Bourke
  3. Local Library
  4. 13th.October 1868. I081 2/4. Nat. Archives.

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