Coastguard Cutter

The Coastguard Cutter 2.17

-> Tony on October 30 2016
Although the Grateful is described in press accounts of her stranding near Torr Head as a trawler, there is good reason to believe she was employed on war service.Snow, and gale, made conditions when she was driven ashore just 100 yards from Lloyds Signal Station late in the evening of 25th. March 1916. The station telephoned the Portrush lifeboat secretary, but when he called the crew out it became apparent there was a reluctance to leave the harbour in the high seas running. When the Torr Head coastguards arrived on the scene, they too felt it suicidal to launch their small boat, and at 2.40 a.m. another phone-call was made to Portrush to try to turn out. The harassed secretary eventually rounded up enough men prepared to go with five volunteers from Portstewart. The Portrush lifeboat eventually arrived at 9 a.m. only to find the nine crew of the Grateful had been rescued by the coastguards at 6.20 a.m. As can be imagined, this incident caused quite a furore in Portrush and district, but one point that was made was that when the lifeboat did put out more than six hours after the original call, the swell had moderated somewhat and first light was dawning.
Reference: ‘Shipwrecks of the Ulster Coast’ by Ian Wilson. p.126

K57. A.D.M. (Admiralty) Records.
In the earlier days under the Customs (1820 – 1856) many Coastguards entered from Revenue Cruisers. In 1856 Revenue Cruisers became ‘tenders’ to Guard or Drill Ships.
To gain a pension the applicant had to serve at least 7 or 8 years to enter the Coastguard. The transition from Royal navy to Coastguard shows an AB (Able Seaman) suddenly changing to Boatman. All Coastguards except Naval Officers, entered as ‘Boatmen’ and progressed through the ranks of ‘Commissioned Boatman’, then ‘Chief Boatman’ and possibly ‘Chief Boatman in Charge’. From about 1860 some were promoted to ‘Chief Officer – 2nd.Class’

K137. Whale Killed at Dunany.
A very sensational occurrence is reported from Dunany Point. On Sunday last a whale came ashore almost directly opposite the Coastguard Station, and the noise it made spouting and lashing the water with its tail attracted the attention of the men at the station. They put out in their boat, accompanied by Lieutenant Brown R.N., who was staying with his aunt (Mrs. Bellingham) at Dunany House. They got close to the monster and fired into his huge carcase at short range, but it took six Martine bullets to finish him. The sea all round was red with blood. When the tide ebbed this monster was measured and found to be twenty four feet in length and 14 in circumference. The tail was nearly six feet in breadth. A great number of people came to see the “big fish” from Monday to Thursday. No such visitor has reached this shore before, as far as is known.
Reference; Dundalk Democrat Saturday 18th.September 1897.

H 17. A Destructive Fire at Carballis. Drogheda, Tuesday. (Extract)
The seat of Robert Taylour Esq. J.P. one of the most alarming fires that have occurred in Co. Meath for over 20 years. A granary 100 ft. in length was filled with corn, underneath were store-houses containing wool and timber in large quantities. On yesterday morning about 4 o’clock the flames were observed, the tenentry and many parties from the neighbourhood with Mr.Stevens, of the Nanny Water Coastguard station, and the men under his command in coming to the rescue. – Lack of water hampered the work. In the morning James Jameson of the Drogheda Distillers at once despatched the fire engine belonging to that establishment. The engine was worked with great spirit during the day. Thousands of Pounds worth of damage was done.
Reference: Saunders News-Letter Friday 19th.November 1858.

N.B. There was a lot of agrarian unrest in the County due to talk of introduction of thrashing machines by the Landlords. This has been the cause of three large fires in the area. (Tony Daly)

R2. Baltimore Rocket Wagon. 2010.
The rocket wagon with its breeches buoy was part of the sea safety network and coastguard life saving service all around Ireland from the mid 1800s. There were two kinds of rocket launchers, one was a rocket cart, which had two wheels, and the other was a wagon which had four wheels. The one in Baltimore was a four-wheeled vehicle which was pulled by two horses and was later converted for towing by a tractor.
If there was an emergency close to shore, or close to cliffs, the wagon was taken along, and the rocket fired with a rope attached and a large wooden tag with instructions in three languages. These explained where to tie off the rope so that people could sit into a breeches buoy and be towed to safety.

The rocket wagon was used for training up to the early 1960s. One of its more interesting uses was during the 1940s during a local election which took place during the middle of winter. Dursey Island was inaccessible so the rocket wagon was loaded up to a lorry and was taken down the peninsula.
The rocket was fired across to the island , the ballot box hoisted on the line. When the islanders had voted, the ballot box was brought back brought again. A Mr.Connelly was the person who transported the wagon and fired the rocket on that occasion.

The Baltimore rocket wagon is being conserved in its unique original condition.
Reference; The Southern Star. 22 May 2010.

The Kingstown Guardship ‘Melampus’, in accordance with the new Admiralty regulations has bee completely repainted. The task which occupied a large number of hands during the past fortnight, was completed on Friday of last week. The vessel is now a dull grey colour from end to end, with the funnels of a somewhat darker shade. In her new suit it cannot be said that the cruiser is an attractive object in the harbour, and especially in these dull wintry days the effect is gloomy in the extreme. By April 1st. according to the new regulations every ship in the service will have put on the new grey coat.
Reference; Wicklow News-Letter 24th.January 1903.


There was a discrepancy over pensions. Officers who entered the Coastguard service after it had been taken over by the Admiralty found that they were not entitled to a pension of any sort. This was put right in 1866 when it was ruled that a chief officer would get £100 a year with an additional 35 for every year of service, Senior mates from £82 to £110, and second mates from £62 to £100.

Boatmen and commissioned boatmen were to be retired at 50, chief boatmen at 55 and second-class chief officers at 60.

Former members of the old Coastguard service who had been compulsorily retired at the time of the take-over were given pensions on similar scales to those who had previously retired in earlier years. One old Coastguard established a record for the length of pensionable time. A Mr. Oxenford lived to the age of 100 and at the time had drawn a pension for 52 years.

Reference: ‘ Coastguard’ by William Webb


Sir,- Coastguards are on the civilian meat ration. The Food Controller classed these healthy, hard-working bluejackets as “non-workers,” or “brain-workers” (the same thing in his estimation) ! Official representations through the Admiralty failed to gain them the 8oz. of meat daily ration granted to the soldiers alongside them. Petty Officer Burr of the Coastguard, received the Board of trade bronze medal on Saturday last for going down a cliff at Land’s End during a storm and saving the only four survivors of a shipwrecked vessel. It is most unjust of the Food Controller to refuse a perfectly fair request for such men to receive the same meat ration as soldiers in England get, and it is insulting to the Navy to refuse it. Why, German prisoners and conscientious objectors are treated better in this respect !
Reference; The Times. 19 April 1918.

R6. Valentia Island Coastguard Station 1908.
HC Deb 25 November 1908 vol 197 c414

Mr.Boland (Kerry S.) I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade which Coastguard stations it is proposed to abolish betwen Valentia Island and Bantry Bay, and whether it is proposed to leave forty miles of coastline, which is the first land reached by ships crossing the Atlantic without leaving a life-saving station.
Mr.Churchill. I understand that under the arrangement announced last spring it is proposed to close during the next few months the redundant Coastguard stations at Ballinskelligs and Ballycrovane, and that pending the consideraton of the general policy relating to the Coastguard no action will be taken in regard to closing any other Coatguard stations between Valentia Island and Bantry Bay. It is not proposed to abolish any life-saving station between the points mentioned.
Mr.Joyce (Limerick) Is it within the right hon. Gentleman’s Knowledge that within the last two months the Coastguard by descending a cliff some 400 feet rescued the crew of a shipwrecked Russian vessel?
Mr.Churchill. Yes, Sir.
Mr.Joyce Then that should be a reason for not abolishing this station.
Reference: Hansard, 25 November 1908.

68E Disasterous Shipwreck Loss of the Intrinsic at Kilkee
We have received the following details of the loss of this vessel, from Liverpool to New Orleans;-
Kilkee. 4th.February. She was first seen on Saturday morning, about 7 o'clock, dismasted, within pistol shot of high deer park cliff of Kilkee, in a little bite: she was then at anchor, and had to contend not only with the storm and swell from the north-west, (which was dreadful) but also with the back surge from the cliffs. The Coastguard and people here were most anxious to render every assistance to save the crew, if time had allowed them, but before they could go back to Kilkee for ropes, she filled through her hatches about 8 o'clock and went down. Nothing but the unlimited power of God could save a single person, as the sea was washing over the cliffs, which were 100 yards high. She shortly afterwards broke up, and for 24 hours we could not even surmise what her cargo was; after that time small portions of cotton goods, as small as ribbons, were driven in, in the sea-weed; and till wind having shifted, portions of the wreck were driven
to the north, and ultimately driven on shore from this to Seafield. Very little here of the lighter material. The body of a man has been washed on shore, without clothes; he seems to have been of a better class. I got a coffin made for him and assisted by the Coastguards and Police he has been interred in consecrated ground. His age was about 50, rather bald and grey, a powerful large, rather corpulent man. There is a report that he was stripped by 2 of the country people, and again thrown into the sea, where I believe, I was the first to see him, early on Monday, the sea running high - so high that no boat could go for him. However, about 1 o'clock the body was washed near the strand, and 2 of the country people, John Kennedy and Martin Moran both rather in liquor, rushed into the water, the returning wave brought the body back quickly into deep water: they continued to follow, until caught by the fresh wave: both were drowned, and if the report be true, Moran was one of those who stripped the body. None of the other bodies found - nor those of Kennedy and Moran.
Reference; Dublin Evening Mail. 8th.February 1836.

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