The Coastguard Cutter Vol6 No7

The Coastguard Cutter
July 08 Edition
Vol 6 No. 07.

"The Lady Margaret"




Hello Friend,

July 99 Years ago.

The First aeroplane to cross the English Channel.
"There was great excitement in Dover when news of Bleriots arrival was circulated. The police men on duty, the Coastguards, the soldiers at Dover Castle, a few early anglers on the pier, and a few pressmen were the only persons fortunate to witness the conclusion of a historic performance."


Louis Bleriot 1909.

Bleriot at Dover

The first person to fly the English Channel was a Frenchman called Louis Bleriot. The flight took place on the 25th July 1909 and won Bleriot a prize of £1,000 from the Daily Mail. An earlier attempt five days earlier, by an Englishman Herbert Latham, had ended when he ditched in the sea.

Bleriot, a motorcar headlamp manufacturer, had injured his foot and walked to his plane with the aid of crutches. He took off at 4.37 am and, guided by smoke from a French destroyer, he spotted St. Margaret’s Bay. Turning towards Dover he was caught by the wind and made a crash landing near the Coastguard Station in Northfall Meadow, behind the Castle, breaking his undercarriage and propeller. The whole journey had taken 20 minutes.

Bleriot’s Channel flight. 1909.

Bleriot's Monoplane 1909French Aviator’s Great Triumph. From Calais to Dover in 33 minutes. Machine flying at 40 miles an hour.

It was in the early hours of Sunday morning the great feat was accomplished by which Bleriot has gained undying fame.Latham, another French aeronaut, attempted the feat last week but failed.He meant to try again last Sunday morning but set about his task in a leisurely way which proved his undoing. While he was sleeping in his hotel at Sangatte, Bleriot was active and busily completing preparations for his epoch-making excursion through the air. Bleriot rose at 3 o’clock and soon the intrepid aeronaut, who owing to an injured foot had been limping threw away his sticks and declared “I shant use them till I have been to England”. Shortly after, his machine was climbing in the sky in the direction of England. Down below he could see a French torpedo destroyer steaming at full speed towards Dover. Madam Bleriot was on board the war vessel which had been placed at her husband’s disposal by the French government.

" When the latter was about four miles distant I rose in the air to a height of 80 metres and at a speed of 40 miles an hour made for the English coast. In a few minutes I was out of sight of land and could see neither French or English coasts but subsequently I found I was in a direct line for Dover, the first object I saw being the Castle and then I flew over the warships of the Atlantic Fleet and after two circles round the Castle I decided to land. I came in contact with the ground  sooner than I expected and I and the machine were heavily shaken".

Ref: The Meath Chronicle, July 31, 1909.

The First Crosss Channel Aeroplane Flight. 1909.

Stories by Eye-Witnesses.

Northfall Meadow, Dover CastleMr. Burnard, the Chief Officer in charge of the Coastguard Station at the Northfall Meadow, stated :- I was called out just before five o’clock this morning by the man on watch, as he had sighted a torpedo-destroyer coming at great speed across the Channel from the direction of the French coast. As it was known that these flying men might make the attempt at any time, and that they were to be accompanied by torpedo-destroyers, the watchman believed that one was making the attempt, although he had not been able to sight the machine. We kept a sharp look-out, and all at once sighted a dark spot on the sky away to the Eastwards, which quickly developed, going almost straight for St. Margaret’s Bay. The speed it was traveling at was almost incredible. It looked just like a huge bird. Then off St. Margaret’s it swept around, and came heading for the Naval Harbour at the same marvelous speed. The noise it made was just the same as a high-power motor , a continuous buzzing that we could hear distinctly when the machine was several miles away. The flight of the monoplane was perfect, and Bleriot managed it remarkably, steering as straight as an arrow for the gap in the cliffs. He came over the Atlantic Fleet at a height, I should say, of nearly 300 feet, and about 80 yards outside of the battleship ‘Implacable’ ; then the machine came into the meadow just in front of the Coastguard Station, but, of course, flying a great deal higher than the houses. I think Bleriot was excited with his success, and that may have caused the mishap at the descent.

Fast Travelling.

Chief Boatman Read, of the Northfall Coastguard Station, also gave some interesting details of this wonderful feat. Mr. Read explained that the reason the machine was not in sight until it was only a few miles  from the coast was, no doubt, because of the very light colour of the monoplane, and the enormous speed at which it was cleaving through the sky, which was very bright and sunny. He stated that he had never seen anything travel so fast as the aeroplane did once it was within the line of vision.

Ref: The Irish Times  26 July 1909.

"The Lighthouse Focus"Lighthouse Focus [Vol 1]

Boat Accident. August 1884. 

Miss Annie Roddy would often visit Dundalk via Soldier’s Point by using a small ferry to cross the Castletown river leading up to Dundalk harbour.  At about half past three on a Saturday afternoon she started for home after finishing her shopping in Dundalk. There was such over the river that the ferry man, a feeble old person, feared to attempt the passage. It would seem that a Coastguard named Barnes, from the nearby Coastguard station at Soldier’s Point, had a light and altogether unseaworthy skiff, which had been lying unused for a couple of years. In this he offered to take Miss Roddy across the river. She thankfully accepted, not knowing the dangerous state of the craft. About mid-way across the river the boat half filled with water and capsized, throwing the occupants into the water.

The local “Dundalk Democrat” tells us:

“Neither could swim, so their lives were in imminent danger. Miss Roddy caught the boat at the stern and the coastguard caught the boat at the bow, and thus they held on and drifted seaward Their screams for help were unheard for about three hours. In this time they drifted nearly four miles outward and at length got on to one of the guide walls from the lighthouse. Here Miss Roddy left the boat and proceeded along the wall towards the lighthouse shouting for assistance. Her cries were heard by the Lightkeeper, a brother of Miss Roddy, who immediately proceeded to her assistance and on coming close he  found to his consternation that it was his own sister. She held up bravely in body and mind up to this time, but on seeing her Dundalk Pile Lightbrother her strength gave away and she fainted, falling flat on the wall.Mr.Roddy took the inaminate form in his arms, waded to the lighthouse and carried her up the iron stairs. Returning he also took the coastguard to the lighthouse and attached his body to a rope with which he was assisted up. At this time Miss Roddy was in an utterly prostrate condition, and for some time her life was considered in imminent danger. She was kept in the lighthouse during the nightt and the following morning was conveyed to her home. She is rapidly recovering from the effects of her long exposure to weather and water, and gallant struggle for life. The coastguard did not suffer much from the effects of the accident.”

It was mentioned in the “The Irish Times” that she was kept afloat by the voluminous clothing which was the fashion of the period. It is possible that Miss Roddy’s skirts did help in her survival, if not by creating a floatation effect then more so by providing insulation against the cold.


The poop is the stern section of a ship. To be pooped is to be swamped by a high, following sea.
A dangerous situation where the wind is on the wrong side of the sails pressing them back against the mast and forcing the ship astern. Most often this was caused by an inattentive helmsman who had allowed the ship to head into the wind.

 Revenue Fleet NewsRevenue Fleet News

Shipwreck off the coast of Erris. 1834.
Extract of a private letter, dated Friday 21st November;

The brigantine, Mansfield, Thomas Moore, master, from St.John’s, New Brunswick, bound to Ballyshannon. 150 tons burden, timber laden, was abandoned among the breakers of North Enniskea, on the 6th instant at day-light; she was shortly after boarded by several boats from the islands of Enniskea, and at three o’clock p.m. by the 'Neptune' Coastguard cruiser. The country people became intoxicated and commenced plundering the cabin and sailor’s berths.- They gave up, however, to the Neptune; but at dark they turned upon the two men of the Coastguard who had taken charge, and compelled them to return to their own vessel.

The islander then ran the vessel into a rocky corner at South Enniskea, where she soon bulged and filled with water, and in the course of that night they stripped her of all her rigging and every other portable article; but the cargo has been saved by the exertions of the Coastguards and Constabulary, and by Mr.M’Laughlin, agent for Lloyd’s, and the Rev.J.P.Lyons, the Catholic Rector of Erris. In consequence of some tobacco, one hundred weight, being found on board, the crew, who had landed at a place called Glenlara, were put under arrest, but they have since been discharged by order of the Board of Customs. Some of the Enniskea plunderers have been arrested and doomed to stand their trial, but the principal delinquents have absconded, and hitherto have eluded the vigilance of the police. It is not yet known to whom the cargo belongs, but it will be sold shortly for the benefit of whom it may concern. The upper works of the ship are still safe, but she will go to pieces with the first rough wind.

Ref: Freemans Journal  26 November 1834.

UK CG NewsCoastguard News from England

Shipwrecks. Yarmouth. 1827.

Yarmouth January 29. On Friday night this coast was visited by a most tremendous gale from E.N.E. that at once caused the most fierce apprehensions for the numerous vessels at anchor in these roads. The Preventive Coast Guard (who patrol the beach all night) , actuated by motives of humanity, as well as performing the orders given to them, “to afford the most prompt assistance in cases of shipwreck, and to exert themselves for the preservation of those on board stranded vessels,” did with a zeal and alacrity that is above all praise, immediately convey to the beach Captain Manby’s life-apparatus under their charge. Scarcely had this service been performed, when four vessels were observed to drive; shortly after to part from their anchors, and quickly to be stranded on the beach. The one appearing to be in the most dangerous situation, was first attended to ; and a rope connected with a shot, immediately thrown by a mortar over the vessel for establishing a communication, ready to apply in what ever manner the nature of the case might require. A similar communication was also made with another brig for the like purpose: but the vessels driving high up, and the tide fast falling, no further use was required for the apparatus.

Captain Onslow, R.N., commanding the Coast Guard, his lieutenant, Mr. Eyton, the Preventive men, with that intrepid and highly deserving man Mr. Denny (commander of the life-boat) and his praiseworthy crew, were foremost in the surf, and using every exertion to bring the people from the stranded vessels. The utility of the Preventive Coast Guard was pre-eminently shown; and the great good will that will unquestionably result from their exertions in similar cases of distress, entitle that branch of the department to the warm commendation of the country. In further confirmation of their services during the awful storm just related, five light brigs, one light schooner and one sloop were driven on shore at Kessingland. At Southwold two other vessels were also stranded ; at each place they were ready with the apparatus to afford immediate relief if required, but which the ebbing tide rendered unnecessary, they likewise ran far into the surf at Benacres Point, and got a rope on board a light brig, by which nine men and two boys were saved. Who will, after such proofs, say this service is not of great importance to the State, by the preservation of its sailors?

Ref: The Times London 3 February 18

 Coming in August Edition.

 The Need for a Coastguard.





With more and more people enjoying the beach and sea, the RNLI has never been busier - rescuing an average of 22 people every day. It now costs over £330,000 a day to run this essential service - to train their volunteers and maintain their craft and equipment. So however you choose to support them, every penny really counts.

To donate to the RNLI, simply call 0800 543210 or visit
(for Republic of Ireland call (01) 800 789 589 or visit

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