Cowes Letter Collector to Board 1902 - 1905

A partial transcription from the Book held in the National Archives reference CUST61/68

Transcribed entries are in Black, entries in Blue relate to other material included the Book, which has not specifically been transcribed. Uncertain wording is in italics.

Unless otherwise stated the Letters are signed by Collector, A H Drumgoole.


17 October 1902                  Collector granted increment from £340 to £355 from 1 January 1903.


17 December 1902         The enclosed application by the Vice Consul for Sweden and Norway at this port is made by him on behalf of the Master of the “Helios” of Sweden whose request for the issue, free of duty, of stores from his Surplus stock under seal I refused yesterday.

The “Helios” is a salvage steamer never carrying cargo, but fitted and maintained exclusively for the raising, removal &c. of wrecked vessel, and it is apparently, the intention of the Master to make this port the headquarters of his vessel for some months while she is kept available for contracts which may be offered to her owners. She arrived here from Ouistreham on the 11th instant and was duly rummaged inwards, on which occasion allowances of dutiable stores within those prescribed by the Regulations were left out for the use of the crew. It appears to me that while the vessel is employed, or lies waiting for employment, in British waters, the Master and crew are not, under General Order 93/1894, entitled to the further issue, free of duty, for which the Vice Consul, on their behalf, asks, but I beg that I may receive your Honours directions in the matter. (The Board stated the vessel should be treated as if it were on the coasting trade, but that they would have no objection to an issue on payment of duty.)


17 January 1903            I beg to report that the s/s “Pandie Dimmont” (late of Portsmouth Official Number 53398) sailed from Bembridge, within this Port, on the 14th instant, for Rotterdam in ballast, without due clearance outward.

The vessel left Bembridge Harbour in tow of the tug “Sandringham”, of Portsmouth, and when about, according to the estimate of the Coast Guard Officer at Bembridge, two or three miles outside the harbour was transferred to the Dutch tug “Hollander”, in tow of which she proceeded.

The “Pandie Dimmont” was in charge of Mr Vernon Toogood, who states, in response to my request for an explanation of his conduct, that the manager of the Company late owning the vessel informed him that she had been cleared outwards at Portsmouth. The Manager, having also been called upon for an explanation by the Collector at Portsmouth, represents that he was under the impression that all the requirements of the law had been complied with when he had notified the sale of the vessel to foreign subjects, and returned the Certificate of Registry. The matter is now for your Honours directions. (The Board asked the Collector to obtain a further explanation from the Master.)


22 January 1903            I beg to report that there are now in the process of construction at this port, in the building yards of Messrs J Samuel White and Co Limited, the undermentioned small steam craft for foreign Navies:

1  56ft Wood Pinnace for the American Navy

1  56ft Wood Pinnace for the Chilean Navy

1  56ft Wood Pinnace for the Chilean Navy

2  36ft Wood Cutters for the Chilean Navy

2  36ft Wood Cutters for the Chilean Navy

7  Total

It is not the intention of the builders to arm any of the craft specified. (The Board wrote to the Foreign Office giving particulars of the boats and stating they presumed no further action was required by the Department. The Foreign Office replied that the American Charge d’ Affairs had confirmed that the 56 ft Wood Pinnace was for the use of the American Government.)


31 January 1903            Having called on Mr Vernon Toogood for a further explanation on this matter I have received from him on the subject dated 28th instant, which I enclose herewith.

By the same post I also received from the manager of the Company lately owning the steamer a letter in which he represents that Mr Toogood was not required to be on board the “Pandie Dimmont” when she left Bembridge, in as must as she was actually taken away by a Dutch Master and crew. I have referred this question to the Chief Officer of Coast Guard at Bembridge who states nothing is known there as to a Dutch Master sailing in charge of the vessel. It seems, therefore, to be the case that no such person did actually take her over until she had (in Mr Toogood’s charge) been taken outside by the “Sandringham” tug, and handed over to the Dutch tug “Hollander”.

The Chief Officer of Coast Guard at Bembridge furnishes information as to Mr Toogood from which it would appear that, although a shipmaster, his experience in that capacity has been entirely local, and not of a character to enlighten him as to the obligations of a Master trading to foreign Ports. (The Board instructed that no further action be taken.)


3 February 1903 The unregistered barge “Advent”, a craft over 15 tons berthen, arrived here on the 29th ult. with a cargo of coal from Southampton, having sailed from that port without clearance. Discharge was allowed to proceed on deposit of £2 to abide by your Honours decision, and the person who came across in charge of the barge has furnished an explanation in which he represents he was ignorant of the requirements of the law. This I believe to be correct, but I do not think that the explanation furnished by the brokers (and shippers of the cargo) in Southampton – that they thought that “the clearing of a tug covered the hulk as well” – can be regarded as seriously offered, inasmuch as the tug itself by which the “Advent” was brought across was not cleared for the trip. Moreover it appears, from the endorsement by the Collector at Southampton in their explanation, that they sought from him the issue of a transire for the “Advent”, and, on being refused clearance, despatched the vessel on her passage in what seems to have been defiance of the law. (The Solicitor ruled that no further action should be taken beyond retaining the £2 deposit as a fine. A further appeal was made and the fine reduced to 10/-.)


14 March 1903               I submit for your Honours favourable consideration the enclosed application by Messrs Dean and Morgan, Ships Store dealers at this port, to be allowed to pay duty on a remnant, 3 lbs in weigh, of British manufactured Cavendish Tobacco, which was originally deposited in the Warehouse on the 10th January 1901. Eight drawings for Ships Stores have been made from the 80 lbs of which the case originally consisted, but their seems no prospect of the applicant clearing the small remnant subject of their application. (Permission was allowed as a “Special Indulgence” subject to the usual conditions as to labelling.)


1 April 1903                          J Richie, Clerk, Class II, Upper Section  granted increment from £200 to £220 from 21 June and E J Osborne, Boatman, from £82 – 10 – 0 to £85  from 22 June.


1 April 1903                   I have examined the records at this port, and also been in communication with the Medical Officer of Health, and other Officers of the Port Sanitary Authority who have permitted me to examine the Minutes of their proceedings since the constitution of the body in 1885. From this, it appears that, in December of the year, a place for the mooring of infected vessels was decided upon in consultation with the Collector here, and the Minute of the Authority’s proceedings recording this also records a direction that a chart should be marked accordingly. When the Clerk, however, caused a search to be made this day for this chart it could not be found anywhere, and, the terms of the minute being exceedingly brief and condensed, the only definite information forthcoming on the subject is from the Medical Officer of Health who tells me that to the best of his knowledge, the place selected was a spot in the Roads near the Western end of the Brambles Shoal, about 2 miles distant from the shore.

There is no record whatever, either in the Custom House, or in the Minutes of the Port Sanitary Authority of the question having again been taken into consideration after the issue of the Local Government Board’s Order in 1896, and I can only conclude that it did not come up again at that time between the Port Sanitary Authority and the Collector here, the decision of the Authority was to maintain their former selection of a place for that purpose.

I am unable to trace that the question has ever been before your Honours for approval of a selected place.

I may add that the last occasion on which an infected vessel (Yellow Fever) was here was in July 1893, - on which occasion, I gather from the Medical officer of Health, she was not ordered to the selected place to moor, but lay in the outer Roads while the direction of the Council was sought as to her treatment.


4 April 1903                   I am unable to trace either the approval of any quay or quays at Yarmouth, or the receipt of any application for such approval.

I enclose a copy of a Warrant from the Lords of the Treasury, dated 12th June 1868, setting out the limits of this port, with its legal quays, which is drawn in terms identical with those of the Warrant of the 3rd March 1855 except for the substitution of “miles” for “leagues” in the 13th line. It is clear from these documents that no landing place has been recognised as a legal quay since, at any rate, the year 1855 – a date three years antecedent to the Yar Bridge Act to which Messrs. Ward Bowie & Co. refer in their letter.

I find, moreover, that so far back as June 1847 special application was made to the Board for permission to land a cargo of fat cattle from a French port at Yarmouth, which was granted as an indulgence.

In the return of Landing Places called for by Circular 35782/1888, and sent hence on the 11th March 1889, the only landing place reported under “Yarmouth” is the “Town Quay and Slipway of the late Mr J Long”; described as being neither Legal Quay nor Sufferance Wharf. From the same return it appears that no standing authority existed for the practice of permitting small cargoes of free goods to be discharges at this place, the Collector here granting the requisite permission in each instance, and subsequently reporting the proceedings for approval.

The Officer of Principal Coast Officer at Yarmouth was abolished by Board’s Order dated 2nd April 1850 and from the correspondence recorded on that occasion it would seem that the Trade which the Officer supervised was exclusively Coastwise. (The correspondence which led to this report is illegible, although it appears to result from a High Court case between the Yarmouth Town Trust and the Freshwater Gas Company.)

Limit of Port and Legal Quays (referred to above)

We the undersigned Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty’s Treasury of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland do hereby under the Authority of “The Customs Consolidation 1853” appoint Cowes to be a Port in that part of the United Kingdom called England and do hereby declare that the limits of the said Port shall commence at the extreme Western point of the Brambles Shoal, and then as a supposed straight line to Hurst Castle light, thence round the Western, Southern and Eastern side of the Isle of Wight to the extent of 3 miles from low water until they terminate at a point 3 miles from the low water mark of Bembridge Point in the said Isle being the Eastern limit of the Port of Portsmouth and then westwards along the inner edge of Motherbank between the mainland and the said Isle till they terminate at the said Western point of the Bramble Shoal together with the Harbours Rivers Creeks Streams Channels Roads Bays and places within the said limits respectively.

And we the said Lords Commissioners do hereby appoint the following places within the said Port of Cowes to be Legal Quays for the landing and loading of Goods that is to say all that open place Quay or Wharf with the stages projecting therefrom situated at West Cowes called “Medina Commercial Wharf” extending in length Southerly from the North end of the Stage on the South East side of the said Wharf Two Hundred and Six feet or thereabouts and extending in length Southerly from the North end of the Stage on the North West side of the said Wharf One Hundred and Sixty Seven feet or thereabouts and being in breadth at the widest part One Hundred and Six feet or thereabouts.

And we the said Lords Commissioners do hereby annul all former limits of the said Port of Cowes and all former Legal Quays set out and appointed within the said Port of Cowes.

Whitehall, Treasury Chambers

Dated this 12th day of June 1868

(signed) G G Montgomery

(Signed) Henry Whitmore

(The Solicitor subsequently stated “The 63rd Section of the Yar Bridge Act 1858 appears to have created the then existing Quay of the Borough of Yarmouth a legal Quay; but I submit that the applicant be merely informed in answer to their direct question, that no trace can be found of any approval by the Treasury of legal Quays in the Harbour of Yarmouth”. The Treasury subsequently wrote accordingly.)


14 April 1903                 I beg that your Honours will be pleased to give directions for the re-binding, in a sufficiently strong manner, of “Register of Shipping” No. 2 at this port, which contains the entries 1/1866 to 15/1876. The book has become so dilapidated, with broken covers and loose leaves, that it is absolutely necessary to take steps to restore it to the security in which its important records should be kept. (This was approved, and done locally, by Messrs W & G Gubbins, at the cost of 17/6. The work was carried out on the official premises.)


25 April 1903                        The Collector was instructed by the Board that the usual respect be shown to her Highness the Hereditary Grand Duchess of Luxembourg on her arrival on the Isle of Wight.


28 April 1903                 With reference to General Orders 89/1887 and 52/1891, I venture to ask whether your Honours would be prepared to relax at this port the Regulation which forbids the employment of Civil Pensioners as Extramen. Very great difficult has been experienced lately in obtaining the services of any one at all when the Employment of an Extraman has been necessary, and such men as it has been possible to obtain have not been of an entirely satisfactory class. I now approach your Honours, however, for the reason that the services of a highly respectable Civil Pensioner are available, and as he is hale and intelligent man it would be and advantage to the Service if it were possible to employ him here. His name is William Pearce, and he has produced to me excellent testimonials as to his character and ability. He has just retired from employment as Assistant Gatekeeper at Parkhurst Prison on a Superannuation Allowance of £44 – 8 – 9 per annum. The wages of his office were £97 – 7 – 0 per annum, and, as I find from an examination of the Check Book that Extramen were employed on 105 days last year, which may be taken as being the average period per annum for which Pearce’s services would be required, his pay as an Extraman plus his Superannuation Allowance would not equal in amount the wages of his former office. (The Collector was instructed to liaise with the Collector Portsmouth about obtaining a Watcher (Naval Pensioner) to act as an Extraman.)


14 May 1903                 On the 23rd Ultimo there was washed ashore at Ryde, and salved by John Way, a Commissioned Boatman of Coast Guard at that place, a small jar containing about a quarter of a gallon of Spirit. A sample thereof having be tested by the Officers at Southampton, the article is described by them as a Plain, Unsweetened, Unenumerated Spirit of a strength of 65.5 over proof. Not being able to find a purchaser for it, I sought and obtained permission from the Board of Trade to destroy the Spirits subject to your Honours consent, for which I now beg to make application. (The Collector was instructed to pour them down a public sewer or drain a give a Certificate of Destruction.)


18 May 1903   To the Collector, Portsmouth

I regret to have to trouble you further of this matter, but I do not think that Bird, who came over to see me on Saturday in response to an urgent message which I sent to him, has the least intention of taking up duty at this port. I should be much obliged if you would, if possible, put me into communication with some other man, as I have an application for leave from one of the Officers pending which I cannot grant under the current conditions.


22 May 1903   To the Collector, Portsmouth

I am sorry to say that Burtenshaw’s candidacy does not advance us any further in this matter. He came over this morning, and saw me, only to tell me that he had given the matter consideration and had decided that he would not take the employment. May I ask you, therefore, to make another selection, if possible.


22 May 1903                 I submit for your Honours’ directions the enclosed application by Captain J.E. Mundell, Honorary Secretary to the Committee of Cowes Cottage Hospital, for permission to place a collecting box in the Mercantile Marine Office in this Custom House for the reception of contributions on behalf of the Institution. A large number of yachtsmen are discharged in this office each year and many of them would doubtless contribute to by such means to the funds of Hospital, the “Frank James” or East Cowes branch of which has been recently established under the auspices of Her Royal Highness Princess Henry of Battenberg and other distinguished residents of this neighbourhood. (This was granted subject to the Collector not making himself responsible for the safe custody of the box, nor for him, his Clerks and Officers to solicit contributions.)


25 May 1903   To the Collector, Portsmouth

I am much obliged to you for ending over Charles Lawrence, who saw me this afternoon. Unfortunately, however, he declines to accept employment on the terms authorised, and I am compelled to again ask you to select another candidate, if possible.


30 May 1903                 Immediately on receipt of your directions, I communicated with the Collector at Portsmouth, who has taken a great deal of trouble in endeavouring to select a suitable man. He has sent over three Naval Pensioners, to whom I have explained the conditions &c. of the employment offered, but none of them will undertake the work. I now submit a final letter received this morning from the Collector at Portsmouth from which it would appear that he is not able to select another candidate for employment here. (The Board did not object to the employment of William Pearce.)


2 June 1903                         Mr Richie, late Clerk Class II, U S, at Cowes admitted to duty as Clerk in Charge at Port Talbot (Swansea).


4 June 1903                   In accordance with the practice followed at this port for some years past, I beg that your Honours will be pleased to sanction the hire of a small steam launch, for boarding purposes during the approaching yachting season, for a period of ten weeks commencing on the 22nd instant, this would expire on the 30th August and would cover practically the busiest part of the season.

I have obtained the enclosed tenders from three firms who let out craft of the description required, and submit that that of Saunders Patent Launch Building Syndicate Limited may be accepted. They offer to provide fuel and stores, with a man to drive and steer, and to accept all navigation risks for the sum of £10 per week. I have personally inspected the boats offered by this firm and by Mr Guy, and am satisfied that the former is more suitable. She is a strong boat, 27 feet in length, 4 foot longer than Mr Guy’s, of wider beam and will steam 9 miles against only 6 guaranteed in the case of Mr Guy’s boat. The launch which was hired last year was supplied by the Saunders Syndicate and was, on the whole, satisfactory, though the experience gained by her employment was not in favour of electrically driven launches in their present stage of development, for the rough work of boarding in an open roadstead such as this. The proprietors, however, proved themselves to be a reliable and accommodating firm and I have no hesitation in recommending their present tender for acceptance. (The tender of Saunders was accepted.)


9 June 1903                   Will you allow me to point out that Mr A P Miskin’s salary is given in the enclosed Order as £122 – 10 – 0, while in his statement of Age, Service &c. which I have received from the Accountant and Controller General the Officers Salary is given as £130 – 0 – 0 per annum from the 1st ult., and to ask whether you desire to have the Order amended? (The Board requested that the letter be amended. Miskin was transferred from London as a Clerk, Second Division on 1st June. He was subsequently appointed Deputy Superintendent of Mercantile Marine after approval from the Board of Trade.)


1 July 1903                           Increments granted to J Atkinson, Assistant, from £90 to £95 from 24 August, A J H Titheridge, Boatman, £82 – 10 – 0 to £85 from 1 September and A S Cassell, Boatman, from £80 to £82 – 10 – 0 from 31 August.


2 July 1903                    With reference to the provisions of General Order 25/1903 and Circular of the 1st instant, may I ask you to inform me whether, in the case of Charles A Fry, a Boatman, qualifying service towards the grant of a star should be reckoned from the date of his appointment as a Quarantine Mariner, (11th September 1893), or as a Customs Boatman, (7th November 1896).


2 July 1903                    Mr A P Miskin (Clerk and Examining Officer) will proceed to Newport by the 10 am train on the 3rd instant & check the attached claim by Messrs. W B Mew Langton and Co. Limited for return of the duty on 4742 cwts. Barley by:

1. Examining the Contract or Contracts (should such be in existence), for delivery of the goods, to prove their foreign origin.

2. Examining the Invoice or Invoices, by which the goods were consigned to the Claimants, with a view to ascertaining the port or ports through which the barley was imported and at which duty was paid.

3. Examining the Claimant’s Warehouse Register with a view to ascertaining the dates on which the Barley was received into stock, and, as to the last two items of the claim, was converted into malt.

4. Examining the Stock itself, with a special view to ascertaining whether any of the malt referred to in the last sentence of the preceding instruction was used for brewing before the 30th ult.

(This appears to have resulted from the withdrawal of duty on imported Corn.)


3 July 1903   Report by A P Miskin (Clerk and Examining Officer)

In accordance with your Orders I have today visited the stores for the rebate of duty claimed and wish to report as follows:

(1) The manager states that Messrs. Mew Langton have no contacts by which the foreign origin of the goods can be proved, but the grain is purchased from time to time by sample from the importing firms.

(2) The invoices for the good was produced, but they do not shew the port at which the duty was paid, and the manager informed me that he had no documents which would furnish this information. I examined receipted bills for the whole of the goods, which gave the purchase money, including (according to the manager’s statement) the duty, which has been paid to the importing firms.

(3) The Warehouse Registers shew the following transactions in respect of the items mentioned in the claim for rebate:

(a) Barley, 800 cwts received from Messrs Liebmann & Co on 1st & 4th April 1903. Malting operations were commenced on 124 cwts of this quantity on 22/4/1903 (malting occupies 14 days.)

(b), (c), (d), and (e) (other deliveries and maltings) are not legible.

(4) Only a rough check of the stock itself was possible as items (a), (b), (c) and (d) were stored in bulk in large bins 25 feet deep, the respective quantities of which were 283, 568, 568 and 200 quarters, but calculations based on the proportion of unoccupied space in each bin shew that the quantities set out in the claim are roughly correct. Item (e) – 30 cwts Malted Barley – was stored in sacks on the Brewery floor and found correct.


23 July 1903  Letter from the Surveyor General to the Board

In my Inspection Report for Cowes dated 1st April last, I drew attention to the fact that Waterguard Officers did not appear to have relief from Sunday attendance to the extent desired by the Board as a minimum.

At my request the Collector drew up a scheme which has not yet been put in force but is now enclosed.

By adopting the proposals of the Collector two out of six Waterguard Officers would be entirely relieved from duty on each Sunday and each man would then get one entirely clear Sunday out of three.

This can only be done by employing an Extraman on Sundays when the state of the weather demands a third hand in the boat, or on occasions of extra pressure in the summer months.

I submit that the Collectors proposals be accepted and that authority be given for the employment of an Extraman when necessary to carry them out. (This was authorised by the Board.)


25 July 1903                  I venture, with reference to General Orders 18/1902 and 39/1903 to ask whether your Honours would be prepared to sanction the issue of a pocket plumbing machine at this port in substitution for the present method of securing surplus dutiable Stores by wax seals. My reason for approaching your Honours with this request is that the use of such a machine would obviate the risk of damage and annoyance to yacht owners which is involved in the present method of sealing up the surplus Stores on board vessels with increasingly costly and elaborate fittings as are now found on board yachts which report at this port, and on which, almost exclusively, seals are used here. (After some discussion at the Board, the request was approved. It was received on 2nd September from Buck and Hickman Limited, Whitechapel Road, London. It was certified as being satisfactory in May 1904.)


2 September 1903          A period of three months having elapsed since the admission to duty at this port of Mr Alfred P Miskin, Clerk, Second Division, appointed to fill the place of a Clerk, Class II, Upper Section, I beg, as directed by your Honours Order of the 18th May last, to report that Mr Miskin has proved himself qualified to act as Examining Officer and has satisfactorily discharged the duties of that grade which have fallen to be performed by him since he has taken up duty here.


10 September 1903        The small unregistered sailing yacht “Tolosa”, of about 15 Tons, owned and commanded by Mr Thomas Huggins of Toulouse, arrived at Portsmouth on the 18th ult. from Cherbourg, and does not appear to have brought to at the Boarding Station there, or to have hoisted any signal to indicate arrival from a foreign port. On the 19th ult. she sailed from Portsmouth to St Helens at the Eastern end of this Island where she remained till the 8th instant, she came hither from St Helens and was boarded by the Waterguard Officers, where these facts were ascertained and reported to me. I therefore called on Mr Huggins for an explanation as to his failure to comply with the law, and have received from him the enclosed letter, which I submit for your Honours directions. As Mr Huggins will be sailing for France on the 12th instant, he deposited Two Pounds to abide by your Honours decision on the matter.

He states that he is His Majesty’s Vice Consul at Toulouse, an told me that he has resided in France for the last 23 years and has never visited this country in a yacht before. In his letter he represents that his omission to comply with the law was due to ignorance of its requirements and I am satisfied that this was the case, I submit that a portion only of his deposit be retained. (The Board accepted his explanation and ordered the deposit to be returned.)

23 September 1903        Having communicated your Honours Order of the 16th instant to the Preventive Officer and Boatman at this port, I beg to report that these Officers express a unanimous desire, if your Honours will permit such an arrangement, they may continue to be supplied with ordinary uniform jackets as at present, leaving the question of the intervals at which serge jackets should be supplied – if at all – entirely open.

Should your Honours, therefore, favourably consider the Officers’ views in this matter, no Serge jackets will be required here during the financial year 1904 – 1905.


28 September 1903        On No. 1 Warehouse at this port being opened this morning for delivery of goods on which duty had been paid, it was seen that a cask of claret 01/1546, No. 2, which had been warehoused on 18th September 1901, was leaking very badly and the attention of the proprietors was immediately drawn to the fact, - the escaped wine “lying in” a puddle on the floor of the warehouse. The leakage had apparently taken place from the head of the cask at the point where on of the staves is grooved into it. Duty was immediately paid by the proprietor, Messrs. R H Matthews & Sons on the whole quantity originally brought to account including a chargeable deficiency of 7 gallons, and in the enclosed letter they seek remission of of the amount involved 8/9.

My last premises visit to the warehouse was on the 4th instant which occasion the cask was still sound. It is one of a parcel of three which I have rarely failed to inspect when visiting the warehouse, and there is no doubt that the leak to which the loss is due came about quite suddenly. The warehouse was last opened on the 21st instant, and the Officer who was then delivering duty paid goods to Messrs Matthews & Sons drew the attention of their representatives to the fact that the cask in question was showing signs of weakness, but the warehouseman seems to have come to the conclusion that such leakage as may have taken place had stopped, and the firm took no steps to have the cask repaired. (The duty was remitted.)


1 October 1903                    Increments granted to A H Drumgoole, Collector and Surveyor, from £355 to £370 from 1 October and C A Fry, Boatman, from £77 to £79 – 10 – 0 from 7 November.


5 October 1903              No infected vessels have called at this port during the past ten years.

There has been one case of a vessel calling from an infected port. This ship was actually bound for Antwerp but, when passing Shanklin on 14th July 1895, she sent five passengers with baggage in shore boats and steamed away without further communication with the shore.

The matter was reported to the Board, and the Master was cautioned on his arrival at Newport, Mon., on 30 July 1895. (The letter was signed by A P Miskin, Acting Collector.)


8 October 1903              The transire of the “David and Mary” was presented here for signature on the 24th instant, but its issue was withheld pending the production of the C.E. Certificate (G.O.110/1864).

In the meantime the vessel left this port without clearance.

On the 28th instant the C.E. Certificate and Certificate of Registry were produced here by the local agent for the vessel and further copies of the transire were presented for signature.

The agent was informed that the document could not now be issued as the Master had acted in contravention of the C.E. Act 1876 and his offence would be dealt with at Southampton.

It was then stated by the agent that, while the vessel was lying at Cowes, he warned the Master that he should not leave the port until the transire was granted. (The letter was signed by A P Miskin, Acting Collector. The vessel was an open registered barge of 34 Tons normally used within the Port of Southampton, but on this occasion towed to Cowes to load scrap Iron. It was said to be in charge of a youth who had never been on a similar errand. A fine of 5/- was imposed.)


10 November 1903         A statement shewing how far the permanent records for this port extend.

Nature of Record



Whether the series is unbroken

Letters Book


present date

Not absolutely – Books for the period April 1759 – June 1764 and March 1774 – December 1778 are found to be missing.

Register of Shipping

6th Sept. 1786

present date


Register of Officers’ Admissions

4th March 1839

present date


Ages and Capabilities


present date


The Collector added the following comment about the discrepancy between this list and the previous return (1883).

Thorough search, in which I have taken personal part, has been made throughout the premises but no trace can be found of the books from 1740 – the date given in my predecessors return, nor can I find any record of them being sent elsewhere.


28 November 1903         Boards Minute.

The Board appoint Mr Lawrence Daly to fill a vacancy of Assistant at Cowes.

Note the Appointment Book and Vacancy List.

Letter to the Candidate directing him to attend for duty.

Upon his arrival he is to be placed on probation for twelve months from the date of his first employment being reported in due course.

Of this period, one month is to be allotted to the Waterguard Branch on duties generally assigned to the grade of Preventive Officer.

Mr Daly is to receive instructions with a rummaging crew, and is to be made acquainted with the Regulations relating to Baggage, the measurement of deck cargoes, the requirements as to health of persons on vessels from Foreign, and the importation of Animals and Explosives. He is to keep a Precedent or Note Book to be produced for examination by the Collector before a report is made as to his qualifications, and he will be expected at the expiration of the month in question to be able to take charge of a boat’s crew, as well as, if called upon, the undertake the ordinary duties of a Preventive Officer.

Before commencing duty Mr Daly is to signify on the enclosed Memorandum his acceptance of the conditions as to duties &c. of Assistant at Cowes, and he is called upon to fill up the enclosed form A.

Inform the Collector, Cowes and the Accountant and Controller General.

Date of Birth: 13 December 1883.

(He commenced duty on the 5th December)


3 December 1903     J L Atkinson, Assistant, Cowes promoted to Examining Officer, Class II, Liverpool.


15 December 1903         Before remittances are made from this port, for which purpose Bank drafts payable in London are obtained, all the receipts are, in the first instance, credited to the local public account of the Department, and appear in the Bank pass book; and a cheque is signed by the Second Officer and myself for any such remittance.


18 January 1904            In accordance with the directions contained in Code par.602, I submit for your Honours information and directions the enclosed letter which I have this day received from the proprietors of Warehouses Nos. 1 and 2 at this port. From this communication, it appears that the constitution of the firm owning the warehouses has been altered by:

The retirement of Felix Walter Matthews and Richard Green.

The inclusion of Messrs. Mew Langton and Co. Limited, Brewers and Wine and Spirit Merchants of Cowes and Newport, I W.

Should your Honours request a fresh bond to be given in respect of these premises, I have to say that I am satisfied as to the sufficiency of the proposed sureties to meet the Penalty. (A fresh bond was requested by the Board with a Penalty of £3000. The sureties were Joseph Henry Atkey, Alfred James Matthews and Francis Templeman Mew.)


20 February 1904   Order from the Board marked Immediate and Confidential.

The Board having received information that certain person (believed to be foreigners) are about negotiating the purchase of a view to disturbing the peace in Haitian waters, - Collectors at the Outports are directed to make discreet enquiries within their respective Ports and Districts in order to ascertain whether any such transaction is taking place, and to report to the Board thereon, as early as possible, the results of their enquiries, giving the particulars of any information which they may obtain and also anything of a suspicious nature that may transpire.

2 March 1904                In the interval since the receipt of your Honours directions, careful enquiries have been made, but I have not been able to learn that any negotiations whatever are pending at this port as to the purchase of a vessel for the purpose referred to. Due watchfulness shall, however, be exercised in the matter in the future and I will not fail to immediately communicate to your Honours information of any kind which may come to me relevant to the subject in question.


7 March 1904                I submit for your Honours favourable consideration the enclosed application by Mr A E Frogbrook, late Master of the steam yacht “Camelo” to be allowed to pay duty on 2¼ lbs Tobacco other sorts, Surplus Stores, which lave been lying in the Kings Warehouse at this port since the 17th March 1902 and have now become overtime goods. (This was approved by the Board on payment of duty and Kings Warehouse charges.)


25 March 1904   Letter from the Board.

Collectors and other Officers in Charge of Ports are directed to report hereon, for the information of the Board, whether any member of their staff holds an appointment as Assistant Inspector of Nuisances under a Local Sanitary Authority, and, if so, to furnish particulars of such appointment, quoting any papers on the subject. (The Collector replied in the negative.)


1 April 1904                          Increment granted to A P Miskin, Clerk Second Division, from £130 to £137 – 10 from 1st May.


9 April 1904                   I beg to report, in reply to the Circular of the 24th ultimo, that no Boatman at this port has attained the age of 50 years on the 1st instant. (The letter was signed by A P Miskin, Acting Collector.)


9 April 1904                   Two days ago my attention was drawn to local rumours respecting the destination and nature of employment of the steam yacht “Cavalier” (Official Number 67590). This vessel, which has during the past few days, been hurriedly fitting out at this port, is a screw schooner with a registered tonnage of 182.

It was reported that she was to be engaged in a filibustering expedition in the Far East. I immediately caused enquiries to be made, but was unable to trace this report to any reliable source. I was informed, however, in confidence, by the agent who had just negotiated the sale of the vessel, that the present owner, Major Maud of 12 Embankment Gardens, S W (who has not yet registered his title) has stated that she was to be engaged in commercial enterprise and was bound for the direction of Cape Horn. Further, the Secretary of this Gentleman stated that the yacht would not return to British waters.

Major Maud himself called here this morning and assured me that his final destination was the Galapagos Islands where he had obtained a concession from the Government.

I have no reason to doubt this statement, but with reference to the Boards Order of 20th February, I deemed it advisable to submit the matter for your Honours directions.

Under present arrangements the “Cavalier” will leave the port tomorrow for Tilbury, where extensive alterations are to be made in her steering gear. (The letter was signed by A P Miskin, Acting Collector. Further enquiries were made at Millwall Docks, London but the Board deemed no further action necessary.)


22 April 1904                 I beg to report a breach of Section 5 of the Revenue Act 1883 on the part of the barge “Leslie” of London, from whose Master I have taken a deposit of £2 pending your Honours decision on the case.

I was informed yesterday afternoon by the Coastguard at Bembridge that this vessel had arrived from Antwerp with a cargo of glass and cement, and was lying at St Helen’s Quay, an unapproved place about 10 miles from this port. As it was then too late for the Customs Officer to reach St Helen’s, I instructed the Coastguard to take charge of the vessel. This morning the Waterguard Officers proceeded to the Quay, rummaged the barge & found everything in order.

The Master arrived here to report this morning, when I pointed out his liability to a Penalty of £20 for failing to bring to at an appointing Boarding Station and called upon him for a written explanation which I annex. In this, he attempts to throw some responsibility on the Coastguard, who probably took it for granted that he had received permission to discharge at St Helen’s; but his verbal plea this morning was that he was ignorant of the fact that Bembridge was not an approved Boarding Station and St Helen’s not an approved place for discharge.

I have no reason to doubt his plea of ignorance, as the Master states he has not visited the Isle of Wight previously, but I submit whether, in view of the danger to the Revenue and the trouble caused to Officers of the Department and the Coastguard, some portion of the deposit of £2 may not be retained as a fine. (The letter was signed by A P Miskin, Acting Collector. He was fined 7/6. The Agent subsequently claimed Demurrage of £6 (compensation for delay), and return of the deposit, see below.)


7 May 1904                   On the 21st Ultimo the barge “Leslie” arrived at St Helen’s, and without calling at an approved Boarding Station ran up to St Helen’s Quay, a place unapproved for the landing of foreign cargoes, but the following day an application for permission to discharge at the latter place was received here and I was asked to allow discharge to proceed. I declined on the following grounds to undertake this responsibility until your Honours directions were received.

(1) That, although your Honours permission had been granted on many occasions for the discharge of free goods in bulk at unapproved places, this was the first instance and application to discharge package goods at such a place within this district (even in the case of bulk goods the application is usually forwarded and the Boards permission received before the vessel arrives).

(2) That the “Leslie” had arrived from Antwerp, vessels from which place are to be subjected to “more strict supervision than other vessels” (G O 94/1887 para 1).

(3) That the Master had violated Sect 5 of the Revenue Act 1883 as previously reported.

The vessel therefore lay silent until 25th ultimo when I received your Honours directions by telegram and immediately wired to the Coastguard at Bembridge to allow discharge to proceed.

I submit that the question of demurrage lies entirely between the Master and his agents, and that if Messrs. Walker, Morley & Co undertook the responsibility of acting as agents for the “Leslie” they should have made themselves acquainted with the Customs requirements as to approved places for landing cargoes and should have ascertained whether St Helen’s was such an approved place.

The Master informed me that this firm knew early in March that the goods in question were to be consigned to St Helen’s and this statement, if correct, shews that steps might have been taken several weeks before the “Leslie” arrived to obtain your Honours permission to discharge, thereby avoiding both the delay in working the vessel and the fine imposed.

With reference to the owners claim of £2, the amount deposited with Customs, I beg to report that the balance of £1 – 12 – 6, after bringing to account the fine of 7/6 impose, has been handed to Mr G Dover, the agent at this port who made the deposit on behalf of the Master. (The letter was signed by A P Miskin, Acting Collector. The Board rejected the return of the fine and stated “The delay referred to appears to have arisen in obtaining the concession of being allowed to discharge cargo at an unapproved place, and the question of demurrage does not concern the Department”.)


25 May 1904                 I beg to make application for your Honours sanction to the hire of a small steam launch which is required at this port for boarding &c. purposes during the approaching yachting season, and to suggest that the craft should be engaged for a period of ten weeks, 23 proximo to 31 August which would embrace the busiest part of the season.

I have made enquiries of all the firms here doing business of this description, but cannot obtain the offer of a launch locally on suitable terms, and I therefore recommend for acceptance an offer of Mr W Rice, of Southampton, to supply a launch for the required period at a charge of £10 per week to include hands, coal, all stores, and navigation risks &c., acceptance being made subject to the launch offered satisfactorily the trial after re-fit suggested by the Surveyor at Southampton.

Mr Rice supplied on hire the launch which was used here in the season of 1900, and I am informed that the boat which he then supplied was found quite satisfactory. (The Collectors recommendation was accepted by the Board.)


1 July 1904                           Increment A S Cassell, Boatman, £82 – 10 – 0 to £85 from 1 September.


1 July 1904                    The barge “Pegusus” of Rochester, 69 tons net register, arrived here on the evening of 2nd ult. with a cargo of 150 tons of Bog Ore in bulk, intended for the gas works in this town and at Newport, the latter 5 miles from Cowes on the River Medina.

On the application of the agent, I allowed the vessel to discharge at the Gas works jetty in this river, where she put out 40 tons of her cargo, and to discharge the balance of 110 tons at Newport, and I now submit my proceedings for your Honours approval. The first named place is within easy reach of the Watch House, and the barge, after being rummaged on arrival, was visited and re-rummaged on the 23rd ult. On the 25 she proceeded to Newport and at that place she was visited and re-rummaged on the 27th and 29th ult, and finally cleared inwards on the 30th ult. Owing to the fact the steam launch is now at the disposal of the Waterguard staff, no expenses have been incurred for travelling or on any other account.


4 August 1904               As directed by your reference of the 2nd instant, I beg to report that the issue of Special Instructions to Collectors of 26 May last involved no change of practice whatsoever in regard to signatures to cheques on the Departmental Banking Account here. I have made it an invariable practice since I took charge at this port that a Second Officer should always be on duty, and even before the issue of the Special Instructions referred to I always arranged that official cheques should bear two signatures. Strictly this was not necessary under the conditions formerly obtaining, since, under their Honours Order to the port of 20th 1901 only one signature to drawings on the official account need to have been furnished when the Collector or Second Officer happened to be absent on leave; by sickness; or one on duty elsewhere. I thought, however, that even in the circumstances set forth, there could be no objection to the adoption of a permanent arrangement of the character I have described, which seemed to me reasonable and desirable.


9 August 1904               On any occasion on which the appointed Second Officer has been absent from duty, I have written to the Manager of the Bank asking him to honour the signatures of the Acting Collector and Acting Second Officer during such absences (giving him particulars of the dates between which absence would in each case extend). He has always complied with my request.

Should your Honours see fit to approve such an arrangement, I would suggest that the Manager should be authorised to accept the signature of the Preventive Officer (Mr W T Stokes) as Acting Second Officer during the brief periods of absence as are permissible without your Honours special sanction. When leave for longer intervals is granted to either the appointed Second Officer or myself and an Officer sent to the port in aid, a special communication is, of course, sent to the Bank on each occasion bearing the name of the Acting Officer.

I can only, at present, suggest such an arrangement in respect of the Preventive Officer, as the probation of the Assistant here will not expire until the 4 December next. (This was approved.)


Extract from the Deputy Chairman’s Inspection Notes August 1904           

“Both Stokes, the Cowes Preventive Officer, and Gawn, the excellent Ryde Preventive Officer, objected to the new system of fining Sailors (especially yachtsmen) who declare their Tobacco. Effect is that the men, who are willing to pay the Duty only, refuse do pay the Duty + Fine, and either surrender the Tobacco or let it be sealed up indefinitely with the other ships-stores. The men do not understand what they are being fined for, or why they should be treated worse than passengers. Query possible incentive to smuggling.”

25 August 1904             It is not easy to suggest how any distinction could be made, in the application of this Regulation between seamen serving in yachts and those employed on ordinary mercantile vessels, but there is no doubt that, in practice, the effect of General Order 36/1904 has been to very materially reduce the amount of Duty paid on Surplus Stores by the crews of yachts arriving in these waters from foreign. Your Honours will see this is so by the following comparative table, showing the Duty ex ship collected here (entirely on small parcels of Surplus Stores) between 1st May and 25th August 1903 and the corresponding period this year:




Month of May

9 – 4 – 9

7 – 18 – 5

Month of June

9 – 17 – 2

1 – 10 – 4

Month of July

10 -11 – 8

4 – 8 – 8

Month of August (to date)

11 – 8 – 0

2 – 18 – 3


£41 – 1 – 7

16 – 15 – 8 

I do not think that it is the increase in Duty payable on Cigars and Cigarettes which is alone responsible for this shrinkage. I was present at the interview which the Deputy Chairman gave to Mr W T Stokes, the Preventive Officer stationed here, and it did not appear to me that the latter in the least degree exaggerated the impression produced in seamen’s minds. The yachtsman is of no higher intelligence than the average seafaring man, and the fact that, if he offers duty on  a pound and a half of Cavendish Tobacco or Cigars which the owner of the yacht may have given him as a present, and which he wishes to land for his own use ashore , he is liable to be fined an additional 2/- or 1/- excites him in perplexity and resentment which, I learn, have found free expression of late to the Waterguard officers. There have been very many cases indeed, since the beginning of the present season; in which such little parcels of Surplus Stores have been assessed, and the owners, having tendered the amount to which their goods were liable to duty, have refused to pay the additional sum demanded by way of fine, giving up their Tobacco or Cigars for sealing, or, in one or two cases, removal to the Kings Warehouse.

With regard to the Deputy Chairman’s final observation, I must say I fear that, on the whole, the result of this Regulation will be to lead to some increase in attempts at petty smuggling. There are, I believe, in every yachts complement officers and seamen who are, undoubtedly, and from a variety of motives, invariably honest in their dealings with dutiable goods. Such persons will now, possibly, do no more than grumble against the Regulations, and some of them will refrain from paying Duty on Surplus Stores which they would otherwise have cleared. There are others who always have taken, and, under any conditions, always would take a less than straightforward course. But, besides these two classes there are, I think, a large number of men unwilling, from fear of the consequences, to take the risk of being detected in smuggling, and preferring to pay Duty on their Surplus Stores. As to men of this class – perhaps the majority in every crew – I fear the effect of the Regulation will be to induce many of them to try to withhold tobacco and cigars from production and to take their chance of landing their goods uncustomed.

If your Honours will permit me to express a conviction which, after no inconsiderable period of service, and close observation of seafaring men with whom I have been brought in contact, I hold very strongly, I should like to say that it appears to me to be distinctly for the benefit of the Revenue that every reasonable facility should be given to encouragement of payment of Duty on such goods as are now under reference. Feeling this to be so, I am satisfied that the resentment at the idea of being “fined” for paying Duty, to which I have alluded above, and which, I assure your Honours, is deeply felt by these men, will constitute a real obstacle to them tendering these small contributions to the Revenue.


Extract from the Deputy Chairman’s Inspection Notes August 1904

The Portsmouth Motor Launch is a disgrace to the Service. It makes a noise like a traction-engine, the engine usually refuses to start, and it cannot go outside the Harbour. It might be possible to combine the work with that of the Cowes Launch (which is hired for the 3 month yachting season), if a decently seaworthy boat was obtained. I have asked the Cowes Collector to consider this point.

The Lady Primrose has a petroleum stove which fills the cabin with such pestilent fumes that it can rarely be used. Considering the rough work she does in all weathers; I think a spirit stove may be substituted.

27 August 1904   Extract from letter from F W Wood, Collector, Portsmouth.

The oil motor launch (the Gnat) has all the faults described by the Deputy Chairman, and is moreover so slow that it has great difficulty to stem against the tide in the Harbour.

It is an open boat built by Messrs. Vosper and Co., Portsmouth, in may 1899, for Harbour work only, at the cost of £260, and repairs during the last two years have cost £46 – 2 – 6 and £45 – 18 – 6 respectively.

What is required here is a steam launch efficiently seaworthy to assist the Officers stationed at Ryde Pier in boarding duties at Spithead on occasions where a large number of ships arrive at one time, such as the return of the Channel, Home and Cruiser Squadrons, Naval Reviews &c.

But it would not be possible to let the Collector at Cowes have use of it during the three months yachting season at that port, as a launch of some kind is absolutely necessary for the Waterguard work here, visits having to be made generally twice daily to Flathouse Quay – 2½ mile from the Watch House – and almost daily to Fareham, some 6 miles up the Harbour.

A regards a new stove for the cutter “Lady Primrose”; I affix a drawing and description of a methylated spirit stove I have seen at Messrs. Atkey & Sons, Cowes, and which Mr Gawn, the Preventive Officer at Ryde, thinks suitable and just what is required. I therefore submit that I may be authorised to obtain one, with oven, from Messrs. Atkey & Sons, at the price listed, viz £3 -15 – 0.

30 August 1904             I have complied with the directions which, before leaving Cowes, the Deputy Chairman gave to me, and have carefully considered this matter. I have also conferred with the Collector at Portsmouth on the subject, and find that, unfortunately, it will not be possible to work a service launch in combination between the two ports. The months on June, July and August, in which a launch is so much needed here, usually constitute also, I learn from the Collector at Portsmouth, a very busy season at that port, and the launch could not be spared at such a period.

I have, therefore, to submit to your Honours the alternatives of continuing the present system of hiring a launch yearly for use in the summer weeks of greatest pressure in yachting work, or having a suitable craft built, and maintained at the port, for use annually during June, July and August.

The expenditure under the system first indicated averages nearly £100 per annum, and for this substantial outlay very unsatisfactory vessels are obtained. Neither the craft, nor the men supplied to work them, nave been, in my experience, all that could be wished for – even on a very moderate standard of requirement – and though, fortunately no occasion for complaint by yacht owners has arisen, the constant break downs and delays with these hired craft are most harassing and trying to those responsible for maintenance of satisfactory boarding arrangements.

In any judgement, the requirement of the Service would, in every respect, be much better met if a launch were, as suggested above, built and maintained for use here. There would, I believe, be some saving in annual cost, but this would be so small that I feel some hesitation in recommending so large a capital outlay as would in this event be necessary. On the other hand, the sum which has been spent on hire – no less than £568 in six years – is very large, and, in view of the disappointing and inadequate results usually obtained from that expenditure, your Honours might think it is more economical to adopt these alternatives and ensure a more efficient, and infinitely more reliable boarding service.

I have reason to believe that a first class steam launch, a safe and substantial boat, about 26 feet by 6 feet, guaranteed to steam 7/8 knots, could be built here (the launch builders of Cowes have a high and established reputation) for about £380, and, allowing for expenditure on other fittings which would be consequently necessary, such as a travelling cradle and winch for hauling up &c., £400 should, I think, be the limit of capital outlay suggested. On such a figure, the annual charges (for three months use of the boat) should work out roughly, as below:



38 – 0 – 0


Coal & Wood

8 – 5 – 0



7 – 0 – 0


Drivers wages for 13 weeks

27 – 6 – 0


Insurance (estimated)

5 – 0 – 0


Hire of Moorings

2 – 0 – 0



87 – 10 – 0







α (Steering by one of the established Officers)

β (If against total loss only, much less – probably not more than £1 for three months.)

There is a rowing boat housed here, below the Watch Room, in which the launch, and her boiler and machinery, could be safely stowed when not in use.

Your honours will observe that I do not suggest the acquisition of a motor launch. I have carefully considered whether such a craft – of which there are a considerable number now in use by yacht owners and others – might not serve the Crowns purpose, but I have come to the conclusion that, in the stage of development which they have reached at present, and in view of the rough work sometimes to be performed by the Customs launch, a motor boat would not be at all suitable.

31 August 1904   Letter from the Waterguard Inspector to the Board.

The Regulations to which exception is taken by the Officers at Cowes and Ryde were framed with the express object of checking a system of trade which is known to have sprung up among seaman of bringing to this country quantities of restricted dutiable articles, much in excess of their requirements, on the chance of disposing of some portion, or the whole of the goods, thus unfairly competing with the legitimate trader.

The statement made by the Collector, that the amount of duty received from yachtsmen is much less during this season compared with the last may, I think, be taken as evidence that the intention of the Regulations is being achieved, especially as the Collector does not shew that detections of smuggling have increased, which would surely be the case, if, as seems to be inferred, that the Tobacco is now being run instead of produced for duty.

Yachtsmen now enjoy more privileges that the seamen of the Mercantile Marine, and it would be unfair to further accentuate the advantages they possess, by allowing them facilities denied to others, more so as the yachtsmen of the summer are the seamen of the Mercantile Marine in the winter.

The whole question has been carefully considered, in all its bearings, by the Board on representations made by the Merchant Service Guild of Liverpool, and I would suggest that the Collector at Cowes might with advantage be given an opportunity of perusing the papers.

I should like to point out with reference to the last paragraph of the Collector’s report, and with all deference to the opinion expressed therein; that the regulations were suggested by the Waterguard Committee, and only confirmed by the Board after they had received reports on the working for a period of ? months. (The Collector noted the papers.)


10 September 1904        Extract from a report to the Board by the Superintending Engineer.

Regarding the boarding service at Cowes, I do not favour (from an economic point of view) the supply of a steam launch to be used only for about three months of the year and to be stored for the remaining nine months. Its first cost and maintenance would be in excess of the sums named by the Collector, a permanent crew could not be maintained, and a scratch crew would have to be resorted to, which it is would be no better than the hired men the Collection mentions as not having proved all that could be wished for.

For short terms of work, the War Department invariably hire, if another service launch is not forthcoming from some other station. (The Board stated they were not prepared to disturb the present arrangement at Cowes.)


1 October 1904                    Increments granted to A H Drumgoole, Collector and Surveyor, from £370 to £385 from 1 October, Lawrence Daly, Assistant, from £70 to £75 from 5 December and C A Fry, Boatman, from £79 – 10 – 0 to £82 from 7 November.


7 October 1904              The steam tug “Beaulieu” of Southampton, Official Number 114536, sailed from Yarmouth in this Island, on the 27th Ult., for Cherbourg (carry no passengers) without obtaining clearance outwards. With reference to the terms in which Section 6 of the Act 41 Vict Ch. 15 is drawn, and also to the Notice issued with your Honours Circular No 5447/28 May 1903, I beg that I may be informed whether the Master of the “Beaulieu” should have cleared outwards, and whether he should be called on for an explanation as to his failure to do so, I am led to seek your Honours directions in the matter as I find in “Ham’s Custms Year Book” for the current year, page 85, a statement in these words; “Tugs without bonded Stores need not clear outwards B O 4720/1897” (The Boarded stated the Bunker Coals were Bonded Stores, and the tug should have cleared out. The Collector was asked to obtain an explanation from the Master.)


10 October 1904  Return of Old Arms and Muskets &c. lying at the Custom House and Watch House, Cowes

Two flint-lock muskets with bayonets & damaged bayonet cases (Locks imperfect)

One flint-lock muskets (Lock missing)

Four Cutlasses.

(The letter was signed by A P Miskin, Acting Collector. They were subsequently returned to Custom House, London by rail.)


20 October 1904            In obedience to your Honours Order of the 17th instant, I have called upon the Master of the “Beaulieu” for an explanation as to his failure to obtain clearance outwards for Cherbourg on the 27th ult., and have today received from him the enclosed letter of yesterdays date.

It is difficult to reconcile the Master’s contention therein that he has “never under the circumstances been asked to clear” with the fact that, as will be seen from the report of the Chief Officer of Coast Guard at Yarmouth, he landed at that place, asked if he could be cleared there; and, finally, intimated that he would seek clearance at Portsmouth.

Although, moreover, the Master speaks of taking vessels in tow “at sea”, and of picking up a vessel in this case “off Portsmouth” it seems clear that hen he coaled at Yarmouth he was aware that he was doing so for the foreign destination to which he had received orders to proceed. (No further action was taken, but the Master was reminded of the requirements of the law.)


9 November 1904   Minute from the Board of Agriculture to the Board of Customs.

That Mr W T Stokes, Preventive Officer, Cowes may be directed to attend at the Court House, Norman Cross, Hunts at 11am on 15.11.04 and to take with him, for production if required, the Yacht Store Book of the “Lady Sophia”, Steam Yacht, O N 104911. Proceedings taken by the Board of Agriculture against Mr Henry Robertson, of Washingley Hall, Stilton, near Peterborough, in respect of the illegal landing of a dog from the “Lady Sophia”, on or about 5th August 1904. (The yacht arrived at Cowes from Flushing on 15 July 1904). (He was directed by the Board to attend. It was subsequently deferred until 29 November.)


10 November 1904             A Atherfold, Boatman awarded three stars from 14 July 1904


18 November 1904   Report by A Richardson, Departmental Surveyor

I have today visited the shipbuilding yards &c. at this port under your Honours Order 20955/1904.

Messrs. J S White that they have an order from Messrs. Vickers and Coy. To build for the Japanese Government two 56 feet Steam Pinnaces and one 36 feet steam cutter, but they had received no instructions as to armaments for them, and the construction of the vessels had not yet commenced.

Enquiry has also been made of them as to building two steam launches for the Russian Government for use with the Czar’s yacht, but no order had actually been given yet.

With these two exceptions, no work at any of the yards in connection with a foreign nation was in progress or under proposition.

The local arrangements for watching and preventing any infringement of the Law and Regulations in regard to building, equipping &c., of vessels for warlike purposes are in my opinion sufficient. The yards have been visited by the Officers more frequently of late, and they appear to be on the alert to observe and report any circumstances of a doubtful nature that might occur.

I annex a list of vessels of a warlike nature which are being built by the several firms indicated for the British Government.

Messrs. S Gale’s Yard

One 34 feet cutter, to be fitted for carrying a small gun forward. Commenced about October 10th 1904, to be delivered in about six weeks.

Messrs. Clare Lallow’s Yard

Two 30 feet, one 28 feet Cutters each to be fitted for carrying a small gun. Commenced, one in November 1904 and two in September 1904and will probably be delivered during December 1904.

Messrs J S White and Co’s Yard

One Torpedo Destroyer named “Nith”, One Torpedo Destroyer named “Nen”, Commenced March 1904, to be finished March 1905.

Armament of each, five 6 lb Quick Firing Guns, one 12 lb Quick Firing Gun, 2 18 inch above water line Torpedoes

Length 225 feet, Beam 23 feet 10 inches, Depth 14 feet 6 inches.

Nine 56 feet Steam Pinnaces Numbers 569, 594/601, ordered 30 November 1903, to be completed by 31st May 1905

Four 45 feet Steam Pinnaces Numbers 60/63, order 24 August 1903, to be completed, Nos. 60/61 by 31st October 1905, Nos. 62/63 by 30th June 1905.

Each Pinnace to be fitted for two 14 inch Torpedoes and one 3 lb Quick Firing Gun. Four of the 56 feet Pinnaces are awaiting arrival of Torpedo gear, and the other five are nearing completion for the same.

The four 45 feet ones are in various stages of construction.

Messrs. Hausen and Coy’s Yard

Four 56 feet Steam Pinnaces Nos. 606/609, commenced December 1903, to be completed February 1905.

Each to carry two 14 inch torpedoes, and one small quick firing gun.

All these are well towards completion.

Three 42 feet sailing launches, each to carry one 3 lb quick firing gun. Commenced October 1904, to be finished March 1905.

Two 34 feet, two 32 feet and one 30 feet Cutters, each to carry one 3 lb quick firing gun. Commenced November 1904, to be finished in January 1905. All now in various stages of construction.


22 November 1904         A return showing the Customs Duties performed by the Coast Guard within this port.

Coast Guard Station

Rank of Officer in Charge

Nature of Duties performed

Allowance paid in respect of such duties.

Rank of Customs Officer who would, in the alternative, perform the duty


Chief Officer

Keeps Arrivals and Sailings Books.

Supervises (at Bembridge at St Helens) discharge of cargoes coastwise including Coal and Coke. Receives and lodges (monthly) Transires and Notices of Loading and unloading furnished in respect of vessels trading under General Transire.

Collects and lodges at Cowes (at once) for acknowledgement and account Light Dues when any Coasting vessel liable to such Dues arrives on his Station. On rare occasions supervises discharge of Free Goods in bulk when any vessel from foreign is granted the privilege of discharging at his Station (helping also on such occasions by putting off the Boarding Officers sent hence to rummage &c. Furnishes Monthly Returns of vessels arriving and sailing Coastwise, for incorporation in the monthly Shipping Returns from this port.


Boatman in Charge

Sea View


Supervises discharge of cargoes coastwise including Coal and Coke.


Boatman in Charge


Chief Officer

Keeps Arrivals and Sailings Books.

Receives and lodges (monthly) Transires and Notices of Loading and unloading furnished in respect of vessels trading under General Transire.

Furnishes Monthly Returns of vessels arriving and sailing Coastwise, for incorporation in the monthly Shipping Returns from this port.


Boatman in Charge





Chief Boatman in Charge



Supervises discharge of cargoes coastwise including Coal and Coke. Receives and lodges (monthly) Transires and Notices of Loading and unloading furnished in respect of vessels trading under General Transire. Furnishes Monthly Returns of vessels arriving and sailing Coastwise, for incorporation in the monthly Shipping Returns from this port.





Boatman in Charge



Boatman in Charge


South Yarmouth

Chief Officer

Keeps Arrivals and Sailings Books.

Supervises discharge of cargoes coastwise including Coal and Coke. Receives and lodges (monthly) Transires and Notices of Loading and unloading furnished in respect of vessels trading under General Transire.

Collects and lodges at Cowes (at once) for acknowledgement and account Light Dues when any Coasting vessel liable to such Dues arrives on his Station. Furnishes Monthly Returns of vessels arriving and sailing Coastwise, for incorporation in the monthly Shipping Returns from this port.

On very rare occasions during the summer months meets excursion steamers running day trips Southampton – Cowes – Cherbourg and vice versa via his Station and passes the excursionists baggage (if any).


Boatman in Charge



29 November 1904         I submit for your Honours information and directions the enclosed letter received by me this day from the late proprietors of Warehouses Nos. 1 and 2 at this port. These gentlemen have disposed by sale of their interests in the premises in question, which have been acquired by Messrs. Arnold Frank Shepard, Harry Shepard and Joseph Percy Shepard, who carry on business here and at Newport as Carriers and Forwarding Agents. (The new owners expressed a desire for a continuation of bonding privileges, and a revised Bond was accepted.)


5 December 1904           I beg to report that Mr Lawrence Daly, appointed to this port as an Assistant by your Honours Order of 28 November 1903 and admitted to duty here on 5th December 1903, has now completed the twelve months probation prescribed by your Honours Order.

He has not been absent from duty for any cause during his probation.

I have to report that I am entirely satisfied with Mr Daly’s conduct, which has been exemplary during the whole period of probation. He has faithfully and diligently performed all the work required of him, shewing a very satisfactory readiness in its discharge, and sufficient aptitude in learning the duties appertaining to his office. The opportunities for training a young Officer of his class at this port are necessarily very limited but; believing that, with further experience and wider training, Mr Daly will develop into a useful and efficient Officer, I feel justified in recommending to your Honours that he should now be confirmed in his appointment. (The appointment was confirmed.)


17 December 1904         I beg to report that local workmen have begun to fit out for sea the German auxiliary schooner yacht “Elisabeth”, which has been laid up on the mud at this port since her arrival here, from Hamburg , on 12January 1903.

I have made enquiry as to her destination and up to the present have only been able to learn that it is proposed to take her to Madeira in charge of a German master, who is already on the spot, and manned by a German crew who are expected to arrive shortly from Hamburg.

Observation is being kept on the vessel, but up to the moment of writing nothing has transpired to cause any suspicion that she will leave this port with warlike materials or intentions.

She is owned by Mr. Rob. E Loesener, of 20 Alterwall, Hamburg, a partner in a Hamburg firm of shipowners, Sloman & Co., and I forward descriptive particulars of the vessel on a separate sheet herewith.


Auxilary schooner yacht of Germany, formerly the “Hebe” registered at Cowes, Official Number 58815.

Built at Cowes 1867, length 126 feet 6 tenths, breadth 23 feet 6 tenths, depth 12 feet 8 tenths.

Masts – 2, rig – schooner, stern – elliptic, head – female figure, material – wood, tonnage – 171 gross, 75 net, horse power – 33, signal letters – RLTW.

Cowes registry closed and Certificate of Registry cancelled 22 Oct. 1900, on sale by Mr G H Marvin, of Cowes, to a German subject.

(The Collector was instructed to report any suspicious circumstances. The vessel left on 24 December, nothing of a suspicious character was observed.)


23 December 1904  Telegram from the Board

Is anything known at Cowes of reported sale of the yacht Margerita by Mr Drevel to the Russian Admiralty for £120000 if so report particulars wiring effect. (The Collected replied by telegram the same day that he thought the information was incorrect.)


24 December 1904         With further reference to your Honours telegraphic directions of yesterday’s date and my telegram in response thereto despatched yesterday afternoon, I now beg to make the following report.

About a month or five weeks ago, I noticed a paragraph in a London morning paper to the effect that the Russian Government had acquired Mr A J Drexel’s steam yacht “Margarita”. Although, from the manner in which the paragraph was worded, and other circumstances, I thought that the statement was quite without foundation, I gave directions that watch should be kept on the yacht thenceforth, and she has been, ever since, under daily observation by Waterguard officers.

On the 22 instant I saw, this time in a different London morning paper, another paragraph to much the same effect, - though on this occasion figures were given as to the price supposed to have been paid by the Russian Government for the vessel. I renewed such enquiries as were possible locally, and found that no one here who might be supposed to speak with any degree of credibility on the subject knew anything concerning such a sale. The Master and Chief Engineer left here, for their homes, at 7.15 in the morning of the 23 instant, and the yacht lies at her moorings in the River Medina, in charge of a few hands. No work of any kind is going forward on board, nor has any been done on her for some time past.

I have known for some time that the “Margarita” is in the market, and it is commonly said that Mr Drexel is anxious to sell her, but it appears most unlikely the Russian Government should desire to acquire such a vessel for anything like a warlike purpose, and, so far, I do not believe there is any foundation for the newspaper rumours alluded to, - unless it is to be found in the information which I submit to your Honours in the next paragraph of my report. The “Margarita” is a magnificently fitted yacht; by a great deal the largest vessel of her class seen in these waters; and of large tonnage (1782.82 gross and 781.86 net). Her fittings and appointments throughout are so superb and expensive that it seems improbable even that she could be usefully acquired for employment as a hospital ship, and, though she can be driven up to eighteen knots speed on occasion, such an enormous consumption of coal is necessary to secure this margin beyond her normal speed that her suitability for use as a despatch boat seems equally questionable.

I have information, which has been conveyed to me in confidence, that her acquisition has been contemplated by the Sultan of Turkey and, considering her size and the character of her equipment, I believe it to be very likely that the yacht may be disposed of in this manner. I am told that a Captain Aylmer, said to have been formerly Member of Parliament for Maidstone, has been entrusted with the funds necessary to purchase a yacht of the “Margarita’s” description for the Sultan, and it is the fact that a person employed by Captain Aylmer has been in negotiation with Mr Drexel on the subject, the price offered to that gentleman being £120,000. This person is Mr F J Davis, of 10 Clifton Grove, Egremont, Cheshire, and I have today seen a letter written by him on the 22 December from which it appears that his negotiations with Mr Drexel on behalf of Captain Aylmer, have not, so far, been consummated. Your Honours might possibly think it desirable to have enquiries made as to the standing of the two gentlemen I have named. I believe that Mr Davis holds a Commission as a Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Reserve, and carries on business as a Marine Surveyor in Liverpool.

Although the owner of the “Margarita” is an American subject, I understand that she has no American Registry, - having been built on the Clyde. She is, indeed, I believe, practically without registry; has no right to bear the American ensign; and merely flies the flag of the New York Yacht Club, of which Mr Drexel is a member. I venture to ask your Honours for some instructions as to the limits of my powers in dealing with such a vessel, should anything of a suspicious character develop in the course of the observation which is being maintained on her.

29 December 1904   Reply by the Board

I am desired by the Board to inform you that your Report of the 24th instant, respecting the steam yacht “Margarita” has been communicated to the Foreign Office for the information of the Secretary of State. In the meantime you are to maintain a close watch on the “Margarita”, and report any suspicious circumstances which may arise. In any further report on the subject you should state the quantity of coals in her bunkers.

I am to add that should you receive any representation such as would constitute reasonable and probable cause for believing that the “Margarita” is about to be despatched from this country contrary to the Foreign Enlistment Act of 1870, you are at one to communicate the particulars to the Board by telegram and apply for instructions; and pending receipt of a reply to such telegram you should detain the yacht if necessary.

The Board are causing enquiry to be made of Mr Davis, of Egremont, Cheshire, referred to in your report.

(Mr Davis was interviewed by the Collector, Liverpool but gave little further information. The Collector reported on 10th January that the vessel had been sold through Lory’s  Yacht Agency of Piccadilly, but no further details were available.)


24 December 1904         As directed by your Honours telegraphic instructions of this date, I beg to report:

1. That I have no reason whatever to suppose that this port was made use of by any torpedo boats, torpedo boat destroyers, or vessels of a like nature, which could be associated in any way with the incident in the North Sea on the night of the 21 October last; and

2. That I am quite confident that no shipment was made here on board any vessels of engines of war, or ammunition of any description which could be associated with that incident. (It appears that the incident involved the Russian Navy attacking British trawlers at Dogger Bank after mistaking them for the Japanese fleet, with whom they were at war. No attempts at rescue were made and three British seamen were killed. The British government treated it as a major diplomatic incident and eventually the Russian government paid compensation.)


16 January 1905            I beg to submit for your Honours favourable consideration the enclosed application by Mr A P Miskin, Clerk Second Division filling the place of a Clerk Class II Upper Section at this Port for 18 days ordinary leave of absence to be followed by six months special leave of absence to enable him to proceed to South Africa.

On the thirteenth instant I granted Mr Miskin three days leave of absence to commence to-day and as this period will expire on the 18 instant, Mr Miskin applies for 18 days to commence on the 19 instant.

Should your Honours favourably consider Mr Miskin’s request, I beg that assistance may be sent to this port in the person of either a competent Clerk or an Examining Officer qualified to perform the clerical and warehousing duties performed by Mr Miskin.

Applicant was appointed to this port by your Honours Order 9461/1903, and took up his duties on 1 June 1903. For a considerable time after that his health steadily improved, and he appeared to be overcoming the disease from which he was suffering. Towards the end of last year, however, he seemed to lose ground, and, within the last week or two especially, has gone back so noticeably that his friends think that, with as little delay as possible he should embark for South Africa in the hope that the climate of that country may be found beneficial to him.

I append a statement of Mr Miskin’s absence from duty since 1 June 1899.

In conclusion, I beg to say that Mr Miskin’s character and conduct during the whole period of hid service here have been such as to render him specially deserving of your Honours consideration. (The 18 days leave of absence was approved, but a Medical Certificate was requested in respect of the 6 months.)


21 January 1905    Return of the painting of rowing boats in the 12 months ended 31 December 1904

Colours of paint used.

Outside: Black with red streak.

Inside: Zinc White, with blue for gunwale.

Bottom board & Rudder.

Whether mixes with varnish or varnished afterwards.

A little varnish mixed with the paint before application.

Found useful as a preservative.

Quantity of paint used of each colour, in lbs.

10 lbs Black, 7 lbs Zinc White, ¼ lb ultramarine Blue, ¼ lb Vermillion.

Quantity and description of varnish used, in gallons.

1 gallon Black varnish (bottom outside), ¼ gallon spar varnish.

Price paid per lb for each colour of paint.

Black 9d per lb, Zinc White 9d per lb, Ultramarine Blue 5/- per lb, Vermillion 6/- per lb. 

Price paid per gallon for varnish.

Black varnish 6d per gallon, Spar varnish 16/- per gallon.

From whom the paint and varnish is obtained.

Roberts and Fearon, Birmingham Road, East Cowes

By whom are the Boats usually painted and how many coats are applied annually.

a) The Waterguard Officers

b) Two

Following the issue of G O 70/1903, was the former (green) paint removed from the interior of the boats before the zinc white paint was applied.

Only the punt was painted in 1904. She is 20 years old and, on consideration, it was not thought advisable to do more than roughly remove such of the green paint as could be got off by scraping.

Was it scraped or burned off or in what way was it removed.

Scraped off.

Number and sizes of Boats in the District.

Two.  Galley 21 ft by 5 ft, punt 16 ft by 5 ft.

Note: The Galley is not very much used and was in such good condition on receipt of G O 70/1903 that it has not been necessary to repaint her at all since receipt of that Order. The above replies apply, therefore, to the punt only.


26 January 1905            I submit for your Honours further directions, the Medical Certificate as to Mr A P Miskin’s state of health called for by your Honours. It appears that Mr Miskin is in too weak  condition to undertake a voyage to South Africa forthwith, and it is proposed therefore to defer his departure until residence in a part of the country other than this shall have partially restored his health. (The certificate was issued by Dr G R Denton, Medina House, Cowes. He was granted 24 days paid sick leave and at its expiry be at liberty to apply for further sick leave. Mr J Tremlett, Examining Officer 2nd class was appointed in his place.)


27 January 1905            I beg to report that the American steam yacht “Margarita” has been to-day taken in hand for partial fitting-out at this port. It is said, and I have no reason to doubt the truth of the statement, that she is to be fitted out for the use of the owner.

I understand that very little work will be done to the yacht here. She is intended to proceed to Southampton on Wednesday or Thursday next, for the purpose of being docked and to take bunker coal on board, and will nor return hither. She has, at present, 200 tons of coal in her bunkers.

From Southampton she is to proceed, I am informed, to Cannes, at which place, or Marseilles, the fitting out will be completed.


6 March 1905                May I beg that you will advise me as to the course to be pursued in the following circumstances.

E J Osborne, a Boatman at this port (with nearly 14 years service) has asked me to submit to their Honours an application for mission to be allowed to sit at the next examination for Preventive Officerships, and I am not clear as to whether it would be in order for me to forward the petition. Osborne is a very intelligent Officer, much above the average of his class in ability and aptitude; of good address and exemplary conduct; and I think very highly as an Officer both useful and creditable to the Service. He has three “A’s” in the last return of Ages and Capacities, but as, in view of the penultimate paragraph of G O 16/1905, I only gave him and “A” in summary, I am in doubt as to whether the concession which he seeks should be barred to him, or whether, as he asks, not for promotion itself, but only for the opportunity of being tested as to his fitness his application might be submitted.

Will you be so kind as to instruct me as to the proper course to follow?


7 March 1905                       A P Miskin applied for, and received, a further 24 days sick leave without loss of pay.


16 March 1905               In connection with the establishment at Osborne, in this Island, of the Royal Naval College, His Majesty’s cruiser “Hermes” has been appointed to this station as a sea-going training ship for the cadets at the College, and application is made to ship, ex Bond, Cigarettes and Tobacco for the use of her Officers, in quantities which are not excessive. With reference to Par. 8 of Section B of the Instructions “Customs Facilities”, Secr. No. 8161/1904, and the fact that the cruiser is in actual service, I submit for your Honours approval the present request and the question of future similar shipments for the Officers and Canteen while the “Hermes” continues in her present employment. (The Collector subsequently stated that the “Hermes” would proceed to sea every Monday morning and will be absent from the port until the following Friday evening in each week. After considerable discussion, the Board rejected the request. Various appeals followed (including one from Lipton & Co, Tea supplier) but the Board continued to refuse the application.)


23 March 1905               I have, with much regret, to inform your Honours of the death of Mr Alfred P Miskin, Clerk Second Division, which took place at Ventnor yesterday, the 22nd inst., from heart failure following phthisis.

I forward herewith Mr Miskin’s Commission.

(Phthisis is another name for tuberculosis, Ventnor was the location of the Royal National Hospital for Diseases of the Chest.)


23 March 1905               I was very much obliged by your reply to my note of the 6 inst. Osborne’s application goes forward today.

In reply to your question as to his character in summary, I must say that I came very close to giving him an A1, and was only kept, finally, from doing so by the strictness of the terms of the penultimate paragraph of the General Order.

Poor Miskin is deeply respected by all here, - inside the Office and outside. He had won everybody’s regard and esteem, and, personally, I shall miss him greatly. I have never, in my service, been associated with a nicer, kinder fellow, as it was always pleasant to feel that the public thought so highly of him, and that he got on so well with all of them.


23 March 1905               In submitting for your Honours favourable consideration, the enclosed application by Edward J Osborne, a Boatman at this port for permission to present himself at the next examination for the Office of Preventive Officer, together with an extract from the record of  Ages and Capacities as to Osborne’s age, service &c. I beg to say that the applicant has been under survey since my appointment to this port on 1 Sept.1902. He is a very intelligent Officer, much above the average of his class in ability and aptitude; of good address and exemplary conduct; exceptionally well qualified, owing to his early training as a Pilot’s apprentice, in the handling of boats in open Roadsteads &c. and I think highly as an Officer both useful and creditable to the Service.

He is not the Senior Boatman here, but, as A Atherfold, the Boatman next above him has expressed his desire not to seek promotion, Osborne usually acts as Boatman in Charge in the absence of the Preventive Officer, and on such occasions has discharged the duties of the office in a most satisfactory manner.

During the last two years he has been twice employed on special Preventive Service, and each time did what was required of him with commendable zeal and intelligence. (The Board replied that the list of Boatmen to attend had already been prepared, and it was unable to accede to the request)


24 March 1905               At the request of Mr John Tremlett, Examining Officer Class II, London, designated to act in aid at this port by your Honours Order of 28 January last, I submit his application to be transferred to this Port in the room of the late A P Miskin, Clerk Second Division, who acted as Examining Officer and Second Officer here, and whose death I reported to your Honours yesterday.

The office to which Mr Tremlett seeks appointment has been hitherto held by a Second Class Clerk (of late years of the Upper Section) who has added the discharge of the necessary warehouse &c. to his clerical duties, but there seems to be no reason why the work might not be equally satisfactorily performed by an Officer of Mr Tremlett’s rank. The difference between the mean salaries between the two is considerable, amounting to £65 per annum (taking into consideration the allowance of £20 per annum granted to Examining Officers who act as Second Officers).

From the personal point of view, Mr Tremlett’s qualifications for the office appear to me to be satisfactory. He has, however, only been under my survey for the two months of his current special service here, but he has, in that short time, impressed me very favourably by the zeal and readiness with which he has discharged his duties, and by his highly satisfactory grasp of local conditions and requirements. He is an Officer of good address, and I find, on reference to the record of Ages and Capacities, that he was, while serving here before as a member of the Establishment, returned each year as bearing the highest possible character attainable. (The Board stated that they had already selected another applicant, but noted the Collectors report on Mr Tremlett’s service with pleasure.)


4 April 1905   From the Board                

Vacancy of Clerk, 2nd Class, Upper Section; caused by the death of Mr A P Miskin, filled by transfer at the Crown’s expence, of Mr Tom M Lewis, Clerk, 2nd Class, Upper Section, Belfast.


10 April 1905                 At half past twelve pm to-day I received a telegram from the Chief Officer of Coast Guard at Bembridge that the steamer “Abbotsford”, with motor spirit, from Rotterdam, had arrived, and was to proceed at 1pm to St Helens, a place at the East end of the Island not approved for the landing of goods from foreign. I telegraphed to him to put a man in charge of the ship at sea, and to instruct the Master to repair hither to explain his proceedings.

The Master, accompanied by Mr Watson, one of the firms importing the spirit, arrived here between 3 and 4 o’clock this afternoon, and the former explained that he was ignorant of the requirement of the law that he should bring his vessel to the boarding station, and had accordingly gone directly from Rotterdam to St Helens. Similarly, Mr Watson pleaded ignorance of the law as to the unloading of goods from foreign, this being the first occasion on which his firm was making such an importation. I declined to allow the goods to be landed at St Helens without your Honours sanction, and recommended him to telegraph an application, which he at once did. I also instructed him to telegraph for the necessary sanction from the Harbour Authority (on this occasion, the Isle of Wight Railway Company), and at 5pm I received a telegram from that authority consenting to the discharge, which I enclose herewith.

Mr Watson made a deposit of £2 to cover the Officers travelling expenses, and I thereupon dispatch a Boatman by the 5 o’clock train to board the vessel and keep her in charge until the discharge should be completed. It was then too late to send the rummaging Officers, who could not have got back from St Helens that night, but they will go by an early train tomorrow morning.

At 5.25 pm I telegraphed to your Honours reporting that I had received the deposit and the sanction of the Harbour Authority and submitting that discharge might be allowed. I now be to confirm that recommendation, and, should your Honours sanction the discharge, will proceed to St Helens myself to make personal examination of the good prescribed by Par. 666 of the Importation Code.

Of the 710 barrels of Motor Spirit on board the vessel, only 100 are for discharge at St Helens, the balance being intended for Liverpool. It is desired that the “Abbotsford” should leave St Helens on tomorrow afternoon’s tide (about 3 pm), and I submit, therefore, that your Honours directions might be communicated to me by telegraph.

The Master is furnishing an explanation by to-night’s post of his failure to come to the boarding station, and has deposited £2 to abide by your Honours decision in the matter, which I will deal with in a separate report on receipt of his explanation.


12 April 1905                 The Preventive Office left here at 10 am to rummage the “Abbotsford”; and immediately on receipt of your Honours telegraphic Orders gave permission for the landing of the goods to be commenced. I left here by the 2.43 pm train, and arriving at St Helens shortly after 3.30 pm, found that the discharge had just been completed. I re-examined the whole of 6 barrels, selecting two myself for the purpose, and, being satisfied as to the character of their contents, certified the Entry as required by the Importation Code, and allowed free delivery of the consignment. The “Abbotsford” sailed for Liverpool soon afterwards.

The Officer boarded having been employed for the Crown up to 4 pm, I have only charged the merchants for half a day for his services for that date. The day-pay recoverable amounts, therefore, to 6/6, and the travelling and subsistence to 17/1, a total of £1 – 3 – 7 as per the detailed statement submitted herewith.


12 April 1905                 Particulars of this steamers arrival at St Helens, from Rotterdam, with a cargo of Motor Spirit, for this Island and Liverpool, have been furnished to your Honours in my report of the 10 inst. The Master, in contravention of Sec. 5 of the Act 46 and 47 Vict. Ch 55, took the “Abbotsford” direct to the Railway quay at St Helens, (about 10 miles from this port), a place not approved for the discharge of goods from foreign. He has deposited £2 – 0 – 0 to abide by your Honours decision, and, in the enclosed explanation, pleads ignorance of the law on this subject.

It so happens that he took his vessel to a place where, by telegraphing to a Chief Officer of Coast Guard in the immediate neighbourhood, I was able to have her taken under supervision without any dangerous delay, but this does not affect the Master’s conduct, and, in view of the possible Revenue risk involved in such proceedings, I submit that a portion of the deposit should be retained as a fine. (A moiety of the £2 was retained, i.e. £1, a moiety being half.)


14 April 1905                 On the 10 instant I called, under code (Warehousing) Par. 87 for the production of;

03/9253, 32, 1 Pipe Port Wine n/e 42, 116 gallons, warehoused 25 Oct. 1903

in No. 4 Warehouse at this port. The package being produced, I dipped it with the result shewn on the attached regauge sheet, the total loss arising within 18 months being 4 gallons, On the same day I called on applicants for payment of duty on the excessive deficiency of 2 gallons , and have received from them the enclosed application which they have addressed to your Honours. They have so far misunderstood my letter of the 10 inst. as to represent that the Pipe was cleared to Home Consumption and the excess loss is due to leakage, but they are under a misapprehension in doing so. The Pipe remains in the Warehouse, and the loss was due not to leakage but to high temperature and other unfavourable conditions in the Warehouse. there is no reason whatever to suspect that the Cask has been tampered with, and, as I am perfectly satisfied that the deficiency is due to natural causes only, I submit the request for remission of the duty for your Honours favourable consideration. (The duty was remitted.)


25 April 1905                        Tom M Lewis, Clerk and Second Officer, was confirmed as Deputy Superintendent of Mercantile Marine by the Board of Trade.


2 May 1905                   May I beg you to oblige me by saying, with reference to the attached application from the Chief Coast Guard at Yarmouth, whether I should submit it for their Honours directions, or whether, in your opinion, I might supply him from store at this port with the required extra quantity of stationery for which he asks?

Par. 707 of the Coast Guard Instructions to which he refers governs the supply of stationery for Board of Trade purposes, but the extra consumption of envelopes &c. at Yarmouth arises in connection with the Customs business. There is a good deal of Coasting trade there which necessitates more correspondence and passing to and fro of documents and returns than with other Coast Guard Stations in the Island, and, personally, I fully concur with the Inspecting Commanders observation that the Chief Officer’s request is quite reasonable. (This letter was written to the Customs Secretary’s Office. Supply was agreed.)


1892 - 1902

1905 - 1906

Cowes Customs Records  

Note: These pages are my transcriptions of original documents, they are accurate to the best of my ability but I do not take any responsibility for errors.

29 January 2008