Coastguards Strength 1839

Coastguard Strength 1839

In England there were 1,924 men ashore and 970 afloat; in Ireland 1,584 ashore and 298 afloat; and in Scotland 227 ashore and 180 afloat, totalling 6,183 at a cost of £517,809, a formidable sum for those days, but it had remained the same for about 20 years.

The coast of England is divided into 37 Districts, that of Scotland into 10, and that of Ireland into 28. Each District is placed under an Inspecting Officer, generally a Lieutenant of the Royal Navy.

The cruizers are 49 in number, viz: For England 35, for Scotland 4, and for Ireland 10, totalling 49. They are now placed under the direction of the Inspecting Commander of the Districts to which they are attached, and are commanded, for the most part, by officers of the Royal Navy. Many of these cruizers have Tenders attached to them, and of the latter class of vessels there are altogether 21 in number.

Chief Officers27533153
Chief Boatmen30735180
Commissioned Boatmen79542349
Mounted Guard158


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.


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.

0 Comments · 7707 Reads · Print  -> Posted by Tony on April 28 2007


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