The Coastguard Cutter Vol2 No5

May 2004
Vol. 2 - No.5.



Glenarm Coastguard Station, Co.Antrim.

Site for station. 1894 lease to 1994.

Two houses in Castle Street. Lease 1894. Surrendered 1904. Watch-room 14’ x 14’, lease 1883. Surrendered 1898.

Boat-house site owned by Eglington Chemicals Co. Rent one penny if demanded.

Latest Additions;

  • Extracts - Serendipity
  • A complete List of Coastguards in Ireland extracted from the 1901 and 1911 Census.
  • 1854. H.M.S. Samson at Sebastopol
  • Crookhaven 1867<
  • John Holland - Submariner

  • Latest Posts on the Forum;

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  • Coastguard Station Roddens Donaghadee
  • Isle of Grain coastguard
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  • Thomas Helston
  • Coastguard Station Co. Antrim

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

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    All Coastguard stations are cleaned up for inspection every morning by the crew not on look-out.

    Afterwards the crew muster in the Watch-room. One day during the week they are drilled at rifle, cutlass and pistol exercise, and on the other days in all systems of signalling.

    In the evening the crew muster again in the Watch-room , the night-patrols are sent out on duty, and the remainder are exercised in flashing signals.


    Of Interest to Coastguard Family researchers

    Just published -  a complete List of Coastguards in Ireland extracted from the 1901 and 1911 Census of Ireland.
     In all 205 Coastguard Stations and 1,950 entries of Officers and men. On request names of family members can be obtained.

    New C.G. Letters posted

    Permission to go ashore, Sir.

    Irishmen in the Fleet at Cove.

    To the Editor of the Cork Examiner - Cork Harbour, Sept. 9th. 1845.

    Sir, You will very much oblige me if you insert the following in your very valuable journal: There are great numbers of us belonging to the different ships now in Cove, that are natives of the different little towns about the harbour, and we cannot get leave to go ashore to see our friends. When we were in England, Englishmen got plenty of leave on shore, and when the ships that fitted out at Plymouth went to Portsmouth, these persons that belonged to Portsmouth got plenty of leave on shore; in fact went every night at supper time, and now that, by chance almost, we had a run into Cove, we that live there cannot go to see our old fathers and mothers- perchance we may never see them again, - Can it be possible that our Admiral, Sir Hyde Parker, thinks that we Irish are not possessed of as fine feelings as Englishmen? Officers can go- those that have no relation here whatever. Even the boy Midshipmen can go where they please: but we, common fellows, men before the mast, must not even look through the ports at our friends. Is this English justice? Is this English equality Irishmen have always shed their blood as freely as Englishmen, and I am sure that if a war occurred tomorrow, Sir Hyde would be very sorry to dispense with our services.


    C.G. Letters
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    Dear Friend,

    Welcome to the "New Look" May edition of "The Coastguard Cutter".


    ARMS & DRILLSCutlass Drill

    Although the Coastguards carried out work involving checking ship movements and cargos and also fishery protection duties they, as an armed force, were at pains to maintain proficiency with revolver, rifle and cutlass. Cutlass drills were still in use by Navy recruits as can be seen in this photo taken from the April 2nd. 1898 issue of "The Navy and Army Illustrated".




    The station was built by contractors Messrs McManus, Randalstown in 1896. It was the base for the Chief Coastguard Officer who was in charge of a number of Auxiliaries, part-timers from the village. A Boat Station was later erected on the landward side of the Coast Road with a small slipway on the seaward side. The Coastguard Station closed down at the beginning of World War 2, when the head Coastguard, Mr. Dunnan and his Assistant Mr. Gallagher, were transferred elsewhere. The Coastguard Station is now privately owned with a number of different families residing there.


    Sea Service PistolDuring his service in the fleet ever man had been thoroughly trained in the use of arms, and in the station watch-house every man had a service rifle, bayonet, revolver, cutlass and tuck-stick, for whose condition he was responsible. The tuck-stick was a stout stick with a crook handle which opened with a twist and revealed a slender steel blade. It was intended to be used firstly as an aid to walking and scrambling over rocks, secondly as a probe for suspected contraband, and thirdly as a weapon in case of an emergency. The full arms on night patrol consisted of the tuck-stick, a six-chambered Service revolver with ten rounds of ball cartridge and a blue light. The men wore a thick, loose fitting flushing jacket over their accoutrements.

    All Coastguards carried out rifle drill twice a week and pistol and cutlass drill once. Rifle and pistol firing was carried out annually at the most convenient ranges, records being kept and certain money prizes being given as in the Fleet. (2)


    The guardship acted as the depot ship for the tenders and cutters. Most of the cutters had only seven-pounder muzzle loaders as armament and so there was not much opportunity for practice although the men of the cutters were taken on board the guardship from time to time for training.

    Partial mobilisation was actually ordered in 1878, 1882 and 1885 resulting from war scares with Russia or France. A test of the efficiency of the Coastguard as a Naval reserve came in 1878 when there was a threat of war with Russia. The Coastguards were embarked in 17 ships and were afloat for 98 days. Although not in action they were rated as having performed their sea-going duties efficiently and there was not one single defaulter on the book of any ship. Their only defect was a tendency to slowness through lack of practice but it was recognized that this could easily be worked up.

    When the annual fleet maneuvers were started in 1885 the Coastguard Squadron was mobilized and went to sea. This was a great improvement on the annual cruises. (4)

    "Very little is mentioned about yearly fleet training of the Coastguards with active units of the Royal Navy. Although there was no loss of life in the incident below and there were no Coastguards on board the 'Vanguard' on the 1st.September there had been many aboard up until the 30th.August 1875. Many a Coastguard family will recall this incident".


    During August 1875 the Royal Navy's First Reserve Squadron made its Summer cruise clockwise around Ireland, calling at various points to take on and drop off Coastguard men for their regular sea training.  On morning of 1st September the remaining five ironclads and the yacht 'Hawke' left Kingstown for Cork on the final leg of the cruise. The warships were 'Warrior', 'Achilles' 'Hector', 'Iron Duke' and 'Vanguard'.  'Achilles' soon set course for Liverpool, and the remaining four formed two columns after rounding the Kish Light.   Suddenly a thick fog came down, and at the same time a sailing vessel crossed the bows of 'Vanguard', which was leading the second column.

    As a result of action taken to avoid an accident, worse happened; 'Iron Duke ' ran into the side of 'Vanguard', which sank in 70 minutes.  Thanks to good discipline all hands were saved.  'Vanguard' (6010 tons) was launched in 1870 at Birkenhead, and had been doing duty as Guardship at Kingstown (Dún Laoghaire) since her commissioning in 1871. The incident occurred in 18 fathoms about eight miles ESE of the Kish Light.  Because of its strong armour the wreck is in very good condition, and is reported to lie at 42 metres upright but slightly to one side, and is regularly dived by the Marlin Sub-Aqua Club of Dublin.  In 2003 the Irish TV station TG4 screened a programme about the wreck in its series 'Éire fo-Thoinn'. The subsequent Court Martial blamed the Captain of 'Vanguard', and there was a public outcry about the injustice; Captain Dawkins was never given another command.

    Chris Thomas is writing a book about the incident and how it affected those involved, and would be delighted to hear from anyone descended from Coastguards or other crew members of 'Vanguard' and her sister ships.
    You can
    email him at:

    19th.June 1829.

    A very extraordinary smuggling transaction has just occurred in Lough Swilly. A schooner arrived on Saturday the 6th.inst. at Rathmullan, with clearance from Liverpool, as laden with coals. She was boarded by the Coastguard stationed at that place, who left one of their people on board to proceed with the vessel up to Rathmelton, the Port of her destination. On her way up the river a person came on board and told the Coastguard man that the vessel was laden with tobacco, which must be immediately landed; that if he kept quiet he would receive £100, and there was no use in him doing any thing else, as he would be forced to submit. The man, however, attempted to resist, but was immediately seized and secured below; and in the course of a few hours the landing of the whole of the tobacco (supposed to be three or four hundred half-bales) was effected. The Coastguard man was then brought up and sent on shore with a present of 40 or 50s. to drink the Captains health. However on going ashore he immediately informed the party to which he belongs, who to the number of six men immediately proceeded to seize the vessel. In this however they were opposed and beaten off by the crew of the schooner, who subsequently abandoned the vessel and made their escape into the country. In the attack on the schooner one of the coastguard men was wounded with a cutlass in the arm, and one of the crew was stabbed in the breast. The mate of the schooner and one of her people have since been apprehended and lodged in Lifford jail. Of the tobacco, we learn that 96 half-bales have been seized near Strabane.

    References :
    1. "Our Coastguard" The Graphic June 18 1892.
    2. ‘His Majesty’s Coastguard’ by Frank Bowen
    3. "The Evening Mail, 19th.June 1829. (report Derry Journal)
    4. "Coastguard" by William Webb.

    Copyright © 2004 [coastguards of yesteryear]. All rights reserved.

    0 Comments · 17331 Reads · Print  -> Posted by Tony on June 17 2007


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