Letters Book 1912 - 1915

Transcribed entries are in Black, entries in Blue relate to other material included the Book, which has not specifically been transcribed. Certain pages in the book are faded beyond recognition and illegible with the consequent gaps. Entries in Italics reflect some degree of uncertainty.

Much of the correspondence in this book related to increments, Customs vacancies, applications for leave, the building of ships for governments (British and Foreign) and permission to employ additional staff. These have not all been included.

 Unless otherwise stated the Letters are signed by the Collector J Stephen.


9 October 1912              There is no Preventive Man at this Port who is over 50 or who will attain that age before 1st April next.  (This was in replay to a circular entitled ‘Transfer of elderly Preventive Men to Land Duty’.)


9 October 1912              The only occasion on which relief was required for the Motor-boat “Nimble since the approval of this scheme, was for fourteen days in June last during the annual overhaul.

As, however, the steam launch “Scout” of Southampton was then at Weymouth undergoing repairs, the Motor-boat “Hawk” could not be spared from Southampton, and the boarding done by the punt as in former years.


10 October 1912            The s/s “Long Benton” arrived here from on the 1st instant with a cargo of coal from Blyth, and on being rummaged the master produced 8/16 lb of F. M. Cigars and 5/16 lb Cavendish Cigarettes, Thomas Hill, Fireman, 8/16 lb Cavendish & L. Langois, Fireman, 5/16 lb Cavendish.

The vessel was cleared inwards at Blythe from Havre on the 13th ultimo so that the stores had been in use for 18 days when the Officer boarded her here, and were even then in excess of the quantity allowed duty free at clearance.

As the case looked suspicious the Officers brought the whole quantity of tobacco ashore and deposited it in the Kings Warehouse pending enquiry.

I have since been in communication with the Collector at Blyth and List 142 is annexed shewing that the Master did not declare the cigars at all and the two firemen only 4/16 lb Cavendish each.

The quantity in each case is insufficient to require a personal deposit but should your Honours consider the case one of smuggling the ship would be liable to a deposit of £2 under B.O. 12944/1911.

The Masters reply is not convincing, but from a personal interview with him in this office, I believe that his omission to declare the cigars was more through carelessness than with any intention to smuggle.

I beg therefore to respectfully submit that the whole of the goods be retained as Seizures, and the Master cautioned to be more careful in declaring the stores in future.


23 October 1912            The Coastguard at Bembridge are employed on behalf of this Department in receiving transires, keeping arrival and sailing books and in forwarding monthly shipping accounts. I have prepared a return on Form 409 showing the work performed at this station in the three years ending 31st December 1911. (The letter, which is in the main illegible, compares the work done by the Coastguard with that at Yarmouth, where an allowance of £5 per annum was paid and requesting payment of an allowance at Bembridge. It appears that a £4 per annum allowance was authorised.)


18 November 1912         A Preventive Man is “on call” to act as a Preventive Officer at this Port every third Sunday for the whole of the day and every alternate week from 4pm to 10pm, the Preventive Officer being then off duty. When called out the Man’s attendance record is credited with the number of hours actually employed but the time “on call” is not reckoned as on duty.

As I am in doubt whether Customs Circular No. 179/1912 covers this case, I shall be much obliged by your kindly advising me whether the Preventive Man is entitled to the Acting Allowance for every evening or Sunday he may be called out even when his attendance on any one evening or Sunday is required for only two or three hours.


29 November 1912         I beg to report, as directed by your Honours’ Order of the 22nd August last, that the scheme of Waterguard attendance therein approved to be adopted when the staff is reduced by one officer, has worked satisfactorily since brought into operation on Monday 26th August, and all the officers express their satisfaction with the new arrangements.

As it has been the practice of the Waterguard staff to get their leave at this, the quietest yachting time of the year, one man has been absent by ordinary or compensation leave on 62 days in the three months under review , and during that time it has been necessary to employ an Extraman on only 8 days, seven of which were to allow a second man to be absent for urgent family reasons, and one to assist in the management of the boat in rough weather.

The 48 hour week has been exceeded on only five occasions with an aggregate overtime attendance on weekdays – Sundays not being affected by the scheme – of 4 hours by the preventive Officer and 9 hours by the Preventive Men. (The Collector was instructed to report again in a further six months.)


27 November 1912         The Custom House at Cowes is not connected with a telephone exchange.


14 December 1912         The name, nationality and net tonnage of the steamship with the highest net Tonnage which has been at this port since the beginning of 1911:-



Net Tonnage





20 December 1912         On the evening of the 16th instant I received the accompanying letter from Edmund Jackson, Master of the s.s. “Marden” of Newcastle, 133 tons, o.n. 129736, stating that as he was unable to get to Cowes and back in time to save that day’s tide, he intended leaving Bembridge for Guernsey without clearance.

I requested the Collector, London, to require a deposit of £2 on the vessel’s arrival there, but the Master stated that he had already deposited £1 – 1/– in respect of the irregularity, with the officer at Guernsey.

The railway facilities between St Helens and Cowes are certainly not the best, but the Master gives no reason for not starting early enough to get back in sufficient time to save his tide; and, as he appears to have committed this breach of law deliberately, and not through inadvertence or ignorance, I respectfully submit that a substantial portion of the deposit be retained as a fine and that he be cautioned as to a strict compliance with the Regulations in future. (The Board Ordered on the 30th December that ‘5/- of the deposit to be retained as a fine to mark the irregularity : the balance being refunded. Collector Cowes to note and warn the Master as to the necessity for due compliance with the requirements of law in future’.)     


23 January 1913            I beg to report that this office is now connected with the telephone at Cowes, the number being “Cowes 8.”


7 February 1913 From Stanley T G Spencer, Preventive Man

I respectfully beg to apply for the position of Customs Storekeeper and Baggage Examiner in the British East Indian Protectorate as per circular of the Secretary of Customs and Excise No. 2590.

In support of the above application, I beg to state that I shall be 26 years of age on the 11th November next. I am unmarried, a life teetotaller of strictly temperate habits and believe myself to be physically fit.

I am a native of the Isle of Wight and have served in the Customs for 64/12 years. During the first four I was stationed at the Port of Goole and the remainder at Cowes. (On the 11th February the Collector sent a report to the Board, mostly illegible, he was called for interview at Custom House, London on the 26th February. It is to be assumed he did not get the post as he remained at Cowes for several years)


11 February 1913           William McPherson, Acting Collector wrote to the Board requesting 7 days sick leave for the Collector and stating that ‘ the work of the Port may be carried out by me as acting Collector & Surveyor, with Mr. Parsons, P.O. as Acting Second Officer during the Collectors absence. A Medical Certificate on form 195 is annexed’. (This was extended for another seven days on the 19th February.)


26 February 1913           I beg to report, as directed in your order of 4th June last in papers 15692/1912 that Messrs. Clark & Blachford, Cowes have advised me in the accompanying memorandum that the price of petrol has again been raised, this time by 2d to 1/9 per gallon.

The price of all the other dealers in Cowes has been raised correspondingly; the reason being that the manufacturers have raised the wholesale price by 2d to 1/7, and supply retailers only on the condition that they sell at a minimum profit of 2d per gallon. (The Board were notified of every such increase.)


18 March 1913               I beg to submit the accompanying application of Messrs. W B Mew Langton & Co, Limited, for remission of duty on a leakage of Rum in No.4 Warehouse.

On the premises being opened on Saturday morning the 15th instant, a puncheon stored on the floor, was found leaking, the spirit coming from an open seam where the cask was resting on the floor. There was a large pool of spirit on the wooden floor sufficient to account for the excessive loss.  

The cask was immediately repaired and the rexamination shewed a loss of 28.3 proof gallons since its receipt into Warehouse on the 23rd November 1910, or 10.3 proof gallons in excess of the combined ordinary and special allowances.

Applicants are the Proprietors and Occupiers of the Warehouse which is never open unless an Officer is present. It is examined fortnightly, the last time on the 8th instant.

As I am satisfied that none of the spirit has gone into consumption and the excessive loss is entirely due to leakage, I respectfully submit that the duty may be remitted as requested. (This was remitted by Board Order of the 25th March.)


18 March 1913               I beg to submit the accompanying request from the Waterguard officers at this Port to be provided with sea boots, similar to those supplied to mates and deck hands of the launches under Section XII para 6 of the Report of the Committee on the Waterguard Service.

As all vessels on arrival here from Foreign are boarded in the Roads, seaboots would greatly add to the comfort of the officers who are much exposed in wet and stormy weather, and I respectfully submit their request for your Honours favourable consideration.

19 April 1913   Reply from Board

With reference to your report of the 18th ultimo, I am directed to inform you that the recommendations of the Waterguard Committee as approved by the Treasury only provide for the supply of sea boots to certain members of the launch staff and to crews of sailing cutters; and the Board are therefore unable to sanction the request of the Preventive Officer and Men submitted by you.


18 March 1913   Minute from the Board relating to a seizure at Southampton in February 1913.       

G. Carter, Master of Ketch “Martinet” owner of 10/16 lb tobacco and cigarettes found concealed in flag locker under a quantity of charts; F Foster O.S. owner of 12/16 lb tobacco concealed in topsail attached to mast. Vessel discharging at Redbridge. Information given by William Henry Ayres, discharged Mate of 11 Charles Street, Southampton, that the two offenders had smuggled several packages of tobacco ashore. Deposit of £1 from the Master & £5 on Vessel.

The goods to be retained as a seizure, the deposit thereon to be brought to account as a fine. The deposit in respect of the vessel to be retained. The information given by Ayres regarding smuggling by the Master of the “Martinet” and by local pilot Andrews to be noted confidentially by the Waterguard Officers at Southampton, Lymington, Weymouth, Cowes and Portsmouth.


27 March 1913                     Increment granted to Frederick John Parsons, Preventive Officer, Lower Class, £157- 10 – 0  from 9th April 1912.


27 March 1913               The Custom House Premises are suitable and convenient to the public and to the officials. (This was in reply to a letter from the Board stating that the lease could be determined at Christmas 1913 by six months notice and requesting a report as to its suitability and convenience. Permission was given for its continuance on the 17th April 1913 )


3 April 1913                          Increment granted to C A Fry, Preventive Man, £1 – 16 – 0 per week from 1st April 1913.


17 April 1913                 The Collector reported that the only unestablished employee was a part time Charwoman who received wages of £10 per annum.


17 April 1913                 I beg to report that on Monday when rummaging the Steam Yacht “Sabrina” of Bristol, o.n. 104549   of 156 registered tons on arrival here from the Mediterranean the local Waterguard Officer seized 11/16 lbs Cigars found concealed below the key-board of a piano in the main saloon.

The Offender, Joseph Richards, Chief Steward, admitted ownership and elected to deposit treble the duty paid value of the goods £3 – 10/1, to abide by your Honours decision in lieu of being proceeded against before the Magistrates.

The attempt at smuggling was deliberate and ingenious, the front of the piano being secured with a screw in such a manner as to give the impression it could not be taken off.

Under the circumstances and in view of the attempt apparently to take advantage of the special rummage concession enjoyed by yachts, I submit that the whole of the deposit on the goods be retained as a fine.

As the offender is a responsible Officer, I have in the absence of the Owner, Mr. W E Cain, Wilton Grange, Meols Drive, West Kirby, Cheshire, who left the yacht at Cowes, taken a deposit of £2 from the Master and his request for its return is annexed.

I have no reason to doubt that either the Owner, Master of any other officers was aware of the concealment, the cigars, I believe, have been purchased from one of the bum-boatmen who board vessels calling at Gibraltar.

The Master informs me that the offender has been employed by the owner of the yacht for many years and that he will be retained in his present position.

I therefore respectfully submit that a substantial portion of the deposit of £2 be also retained as a fine.

18 April 1913   From the Board

The Offender is described as the Chief Steward of a yacht. For what reason do you regard him as a responsible Officer.

Undated                        I regard the yacht as a passenger vessel and the position of Chief Steward as a responsible one for the following reasons:

(1.)   He has five stewards and cooks under him and is semi-independent of the Master.

(2.)   The vessel carries a crew of 25 hands all told, and the Chief Steward is responsible for the purchase of all stores for the cabins and the Officers’ mess and he messes with the Master and Officers.

(3.)   His fixed wages are £3 – 3/- per week and he finds his own food but not uniform and in addition it is the custom of the owner and the other passengers to give a handsome payment to the Chief Steward on his giving satisfaction.

(4.)   His fixed wages are higher than any other member of the crew, with the exception of the Master and 1st Engineer.

(5.)   A similar case was similarly dealt with in Papers 9313/1909 (It appears that the goods were retained as seizures and the whole of both deposits retained.)


29 April 1913                        The Collector reported a vessel being built by J Samuel White & Co. Ltd, East Cowes for the Greek Ministry of Marine “To be built of American elm and mahogany, Length 49 ft. 3 in.; Breadth 9 ft. 6 in.; Depth 5 ft.; Draught 2 ft. 6 in.; One propeller; Water tube boilers; Speed 13 knots; to be fitted for 2 – 18 inch torpedo tubes on foredeck, completion date August 1913.”


1 May 1913   Letter from Customs to the Foreign Office   

With reference to the Proclamation issued by His Majesty the King on the 21st October last enjoining the observance of strict neutrality in the present state of War between Turkey and Bulgaria, Greece, Montenegro and Serbia, I am directed by the Board of Customs and Excise to transmit for the attention of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the enclosed copy of a report they have received from the Collector at Cowes respecting a vessel which is under construction by the firm of Messrs. J. S. White & Co. Ltd at East Cowes to the order of the Greek Minister of Marine. The completion of the vessel is given as August 1913. (This was copied to the Admiralty and the Collector, Cowes.)


6 June 1913                   I beg to report that on rummage of the Ketch “Nellie” of 57 registered tons o.n. 81983 when she arrived at this Port from Alderney on the 28th Ultimo, the local Officers found 8/16 lb Cavendish Tobacco concealed under a bag of soda in the forecastle.

The Mate, E Eager, admitted ownership, but as the quantity did not amount to the minimum for prosecution, no proceedings were taken.

As the offender is a responsible Officer, however, the vessel was detained until a deposit of £2 had been made by the Master from whom an application is annexed.

I have no reason to suspect that the Master or any other member of the crew was implicated in the attempted smuggling, but the concealment was a deliberate one. The offender remained aft whilst the officers were rummaging and when he saw that they were finished there he went back and concealed the tobacco in the forecastle.

The seizing Officer, however, being suspicious of the Mate’s movements followed him and found the tobacco concealed, where the offender had just placed it.

Offender is paid by the share, and as he is still retained on the vessel, I respectfully submit that a substantial portion of the deposit be retained as a fine. (£1 of the deposit was retained.)


9 June 1913                   I beg to report, as directed by your Honours Order of the 9th December that the scheme of Waterguard attendance at this Port is still working satisfactorily.

I have had to provide for the absence of one man on leave or sickness for 65 days during the six months ending today, and an Extraman has been employed for only 2 days, to fill the place of a Preventive Man attending at the office of the Assistant Secretary in connection with a position in British East Africa, when another man was absent.

The crew has been called out 6 times after the regular hours, but as relief is given during the day when opportunity offers, the 48 hour week has been exceeded on only two occasions involving a total of 6 hours overtime to the Preventive Men.

The officers express themselves satisfied with the scheme, and there has been no delay or inconvenience to the Public.


2 July 1913                           Increment to Stanley T G Spencer, Preventive Man (£1 – 8 – 6 per week from 4th September 1913).


15 July 1913                  As the Volume of the Board’s General Orders etc. for the year 1912 cannot be bound locally for less that 11/6 or 1/- more than the ordinary price (Miscellaneous Code, para. 291), I request authority may be given for them to be bound by the Stationery Office. (This was approved and the Collector instructed to send them to the Superintendent of Binding, H.M. Stationery Office.)


15 July 1913                  The Preventive Officer at this Port is to be called out if required for boarding duty and to make one disciplinary visit each Sunday except when the Collector makes a visit. To be relieved from liability for Sunday attendance every third Sunday by the employment of the Preventive Man in Charge.

The Preventive Officer has hitherto been credited with two hours attendance for each of these disciplinary visits made by him on Sunday but as I am now in doubt whether they should now be governed by paragraph 6 of G.O. 26/1913 in which a minimum of 3 hours is laid down, I shall be much obliged if you would be good enough to advise me in this matter.


7 August 1913   From Collector to Preventive Officer Parsons      

The French steamer France dropped anchor in the Roads at about noon Tuesday at left at Midnight of the same day without Report or Clearance or payment of Light Dues. As you boarded her when she was lying off the Port please report hereon as fully as you can the nature of the voyage. (The Preventive Officers report is unfortunately largely illegible.)

12 August 1913             The French Liner “France” belonging to the Compagnie Général Transatlantique of 6 Rue Auber, Paris, dropped anchor in the Solent at about Noon on Tuesday 6th instant when she was boarded by Waterguard officers. It was ascertained that the vessel was from Havre with 231 first class tourist passengers who had come to see the yacht race for the King’s cup.

Most of the passengers landed for a few hours and re-embarked again but three left the vessel here and three joined her.

The Health questions were answered satisfactorily, the vessel was rummaged as far as practicable, the baggage landed was examined and the appropriate Aliens Returns were obtained by the Waterguard officers, but the vessel after about twelve hour stay left for Havre without report or clearance, and without payment of Light Dues.

The registered tonnage of the vessel is 3431 tons, and the Light Dues for a single Home Trade voyage amount to £36 – 17/8.

The “France” trades regularly between Havre and New York and does not call at any port in the United Kingdom, but she has been several times dry docked at Southampton to have her turbines adjusted.

There is no Agent for the Owners at Cowes and the Vice Consul has no information about the vessel.

I have not communicated with the owners, but I have ascertained from the Collector Southampton that the vessel did not report, clear or pay Light Dues there. (The Board asked the Collector, London to collect the Light Dues (after consultation with Trinity House) and they were subsequently paid. It decided not to press the report and clearance as the vessel did not come into any dock or quay.)


14 August 1913             The Premises are suitable and convenient to the public and to the officials. (This was in reply to a letter from the Board stating that the lease for the Watch House could be determined at Midsummer 1914 by six months notice and requesting a report as to its suitability and convenience.) Permission was given for its continuance on the 17th April 1913 )


26 August 1913   From F J Parsons, Preventive Officer    

I beg to report that during the five weeks ended August 23rd the 12 hours per day and the 60 hours per week were exceeded by the undermentioned officers:

F J Parsons


July 29th by ½ hour

- “ -

August 13th by 1 hour

- “ -

Week ending August 2nd by 5 hours

W H Finley


July 30th by 1 hour

S T G Spencer


July 30th by 1 hour

- “ -

August 3rd by 2 hours

- “ -

Week ending August 2nd by 4 hours

G O Warne


August 13th by 1 hour

C A Fry


July 27th by 1 hour

- “ -

July 30th by 1 hour

- “ -


Week ending August 2nd by 3 hours

These hours were exceeded through pressure of work and could not have been avoided being an exceptional time for this Port as many yachts arrive for the Cowes Regatta.          

There was also a lot of extra work caused by the arrival of H.M.S. Zealandia @ Gibraltar and the Royal Yacht (Last two lines illegible.)


27 August 1913             I beg to report as required by G.O. 26/1913 paragraph 4, that during Cowes Regatta, and the weeks before and after, the Waterguard officers at this Port have given attendance for more than 12 hours in one day or for more than 60 hours on the six weekdays, as shown in the report of the Preventive Officer.

The attendance has in no case greatly exceeded that laid down in the Order.

As the circumstances are exceptional and occur only at this time of the year and I am satisfied that the attendances were actually and necessarily given, I respectfully request your Honours approval. (This was approved by the Board on the 4th September.)


27 August 1913             It appears from the accompanying request of the Waterguard officers at this Port that I am dealing with your Circular of the 24th Ultimo, regarding the treatment of fractions arising from reckoning attendance between 8pam and 6am at the rate of 7 hours for 6, in a manner different to that of certain Ports and I shall be very much advised by your kindly advising me in the matter.

It will perhaps be simpler if I give examples of cases that have arisen here and invite your instructions on them:

A man gives the following attendance on a Sunday:


Between 6am and 8pm

Between 8pm and 6am

Time all for night allowance

No of hours overtime

8am/Noon : 3pm/Midnight





Should this man be paid 94/6 or 9½ hours?  (Another example is given but it is partially illegible.)


30 August 1913             I beg to submit the accompanying application of Messrs Shepard Brothers Ld, of Newport, IW, that clearance may be granted to the unregistered hulk “Carrier”, by which they wish to convey a railway engine from St Helens, IW, to Southampton.

The vessel is owned by the London and South Western Railway Company and is the only one in the district suitable for the purpose. Similar requests have been granted by your Honours in former years, Nos. 10204/1904, 11071/1905 and 13572/1906, and we respectfully submit that the request may be granted. (The Board gave approval on the 3rd September.)


8 September 1913          I respectfully request authority for the seizure and destruction of 62 lbs of tobacco stalks collected and deposited in the King’s Warehouse by the local Waterguard officers during the month of August 1913.

The stalks were found on board the H.M.S. “Zealandia” when stationed in Cowes Roads as Guard Ship to His Majesty the King during Cowes Regatta. (Detecting Officers were F J Parsons, P.O., W H Finley, P.M., G O Warne, P.M and I J Dobrzanski, P.M. No further details were given. Seizure and destruction was approved by the Board on the 9th September.)


20 September 1913        The only Packet Plumbing Press at this Port, No. 1 Cowes, and this was produced to me today and found to be in good condition.


24 September 1913   Letter from the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to the J Samuel White.      

I am directed by the Secretary Sir E Grey to inform you that he has received notice from the Board of Customs and Excise that you have under construction for the Greek Government, and contemplating shortly despatching, a steam launch intended as a warship.

Sir E Grey desires me to draw your attention to the fact that, owing to the Treaty of London not having yet been ratified, a state of war may technically be held to exist between Greece and Turkey. In these circumstances Sir E Grey feels obliged, with regret, to ask to postpone the despatch of the launch abroad until more peaceful relations are more definitely re-established between the two countries.


30 September 1913   From the Board     

With reference to your application of the 26th instant, I am desired to inform you that the Board have granted you 30 days leave of absence from the 1st proximo inclusive. Mr Patrick Levey, Unattached Surveyor will officiate as Collector during this period.


30 September 1913        The “Dolland” telescope in constant use at the Watch House here is badly in need of repairs, requiring a new body, a new leather covering, and a new tube.

It is, I believe, from 40 to 50 years old, but a local optician of great experience, from whom I have obtained an estimate informs me that such a good telescope is rarely met with nowadays and undertakes to put it in thoroughly good order for 21/-.

As Benzie’s offer is in my opinion reasonable, I respectfully submit that it may be accepted. (This was approved by the Board and the Collector reported completion of the repair on 5th November.)


14 October 1913                  Increment to Isadore J Dobrzanski, Preventive Man, Custom House (£1 – 16 – 0 per week from 1st  October 1913) and to William Henry Finley, Preventive Man, Custom House (£1 – 13 – 2 per week from 11th November 1913)


20 October 1913            With reference to paragraph 4 of G.O. 26/1903, I beg to report that during the week ended the 18th October, two Preventive Men viz:- C A Fry and G O Warne were necessarily employed on the 15th instant for 14½ hours giving a weekly total of 57 hours in the case of Fry and 54½ in the case of Warne.

The necessity for the excessive employment arose through the unscheduled arrival late in the evening of two yachts from foreign when both men had gone off duty after their normal spell and had to be recalled and also through our being one hand short owing to the illness of the Preventive Officer. The circumstances were quite exceptional at this period of the year.


1 November 1913                               The Board approved 10 days sick leave after annual leave for C A Fry, Preventive Man after the Collector certified that he was “really ill”.


18 November 1913         I beg to report that Frederick John Mathers, one of the successful candidates at the recent competition examination held by the Civil Service Commissioners on the 7th ultimo for the position of Preventive Man appeared before me today.

The candidates appears to satisfy the requirements set forth under the Headings III and IV of the Qualifications required for Candidates. His height is 5 ft 6 ins and his chest girth taken with Wilford’s chest measure 31.5/34.6 = a mean 33 ins. There does not appear to be any defect in the Candidates vision, but as he states he has not been satisfactorily vaccinated within the last seven years, I have informed him that he cannot be appointed without vaccination.

I annex a Certificate by the Preventive Officer here that Mathers has been subjected to a practical test in the management of a boat with satisfactory results.

(1) Mr Mathers state of health appears to be such as to enable him to perform satisfactorily the duties of the office for which he has been nominated.

(2) He has not, as far as I am aware, been guilty of any offence against the Revenue Laws.

(3) There is no reason to doubt that he is not free from pecuniary difficulties; and

(4) No matter has come to my knowledge keeping him from admission to the Service.

The Candidate has filled up Form A herewith as instructed. (He was subsequently appointed Preventive Man Southampton.)


27 November 1913         The only occasion in the past year when relief was required for the Motor boat “Nimble” was for 14 days in June last when she was undergoing her annual overhaul.

The Motor boat “Hawk” could not then be spared from Southampton and the boarding was done in the punt as in previous years.


13 December 1913         Following an inspection of the Bonded Warehouse a number of observations were made.

From the Inspector

(1) The storage of Casks in No. 4 Warehouse in somewhat unsatisfactory & the space between the tiers insufficient in many cases to allow free access to the casks for the purpose of taking account of the goods in the Warehouse or discovering possible leakages. Kindly state if this has now been rectified (see para 71 of the Warehousing code).

Reply by the Collector

(1) I have now had the Casks on the ground floor  of this Warehouse restowed in such a manner as to allow free access to them for the purpose of taking acoount or discovering possible leakage.

(2) We observed that

(a) In the 4 Warehouse some of the plaster work of the ceiling had broken and fallen and

(b) The eyebolt on the door on the left hand side of the entrance to No.2 Warehouse to which the bar securing the door is attached is somewhat loose. And allows a certain play on the nut on the inside.

Will you please see that (a) the ceiling is properly repaired and (b) the nut on the inside of the door is tightened and the end of the bolt riveted over the nut in a manner to prevent any possible movement.


(a) I have seen Messrs. W B Mew Langton & Co. Ltd., the proprietors of No. 4 Warehouse and they are arranging for the plasterwork which has broken away and fallen to be repaired forthwith and I will see that this is done.

(b) I have explained to Messrs Shepard Brothers Limited the proprietors of Nos. 1 and 2 Warehouse what is required and they will be making arrangements to have it repaired forthwith.


24 December 1913         I beg to transmit for your information, as directed by paragraph 424 of the Miscellaneous Code, the accompanying Draft Provisional Order “to authorise the Cowes Harbour Commissioners to construct a Breakwater on the Shrape mud at East Cowes; and for other purposes. (The Board stated that no action was to be taken.)


29 January 1914            I regret to report that preventive Man I J Dobrzanski was injured on duty at the Watch House yesterday afternoon.

The cradle was being pushed by Preventive Officer Parsons and Preventive Man Warne, with Dobrzanski at the winch, from the boathouse into the water in order to take the Motor Boat up.

When the cradle was on the level before reaching the top of the slipway too much wire appears to have been run out from the winch as that when the cradle went on the slipway it ran down until the wire tightened with such force as to knock the handle of the winch out of Dobrzanski’s grip. Before he could get clear the handle struck him with great violence on the nose and on the cheek bone cutting and bruising them.

He was immediately taken to the surgery of Dr Mayo where his wounds were dressed and afterwards conveyed home in a cab.

The doctor does not think any bones are broken, but recommends that Dobrzanski be granted sick leave for 14 days.

Dobrzanski is a very good and steady officer, is 33 years of age and is married but has no children. (Sick leave was granted for 12 days.)


17 February 1914           A tin can enclosed in a bucket and containing 4 gallons of a lubricating or cleaning fluid was found washed ashore within the guards of Brook Coastguard Station on 15th November last by a fisherman who conveyed the package to Brook where it was put into the charge of the Coastguard Officers.

The Spirit on being tested by the analyst was found to be 101% proof spirit of which the duty is £3 – 0 – 8.

As I have been unable to find a purchaser, I respectfully submit that the fluid may now be destroyed under the supervision of the Chief Officer of Coastguard at Brook and a Certificate of Destruction furnished by him.

The sanction of the Board of Trade, subject to your Honours concurrence has been given. (The fluid was destroyed on 24 February 1914.)


23 February 1914           I beg to report as directed in Circular No. 24, that no vessels are ever wholly cleared outwards outside Long Room hours at this port, by landing or Waterguard Officers on duty.


14 March 1914   From W H Finley, Preventive Man

On the 13th instant at about 7.45pm I had occasion to enter a shop in East Cowes occupied by a Mr Urry, dealing in furniture etc. Whilst doing business there a man entered and asked for Mr Urry. He was told that was not in. He asked the Son, who was attending to me, to tell his Father he had called about that tobacco he had shifted from a house last week for him.

This raised my suspicion and thinking he might be dealing with contraband good I thought it my duty to acquaint you with the above facts.

19 March 1914               On receipt of the accompanying information from the Preventive Man, W H Finley of this Port, I satisfied myself that there was reasonable ground for suspicion and issued the Writ of assistance to Mr F J Parsons, P.O., directing him to search the premises of Albert Urry & Son, Upholsterers, High Street, East Cowes, with the assistance of the three Preventive Men on duty.

One pound of perique tobacco was found in a pigeon hole in the workshop, and on this Albert Urry, the Senior Partner of the Company deposited 18/6, the treble value and duty.

On the officers being informed by Urry that the tobacco belonged to a man, Ford, in the Trinity Service they at once went to Trinity Wharf and charged him, when he admitted ownership and also deposited 18/6, treble the duty paid value. The officers questioned Ford, but he declined to disclose the person from whom he got the tobacco.

I annex an appeal from Albert Urry for the return of the deposit of 18/6 made by him, and on this I wish to say that although I believe that the tobacco was removed from the house as stated, at the same time he admitted when he called to see me that he placed the tobacco where it was found, and, although it did not belong to him, he knew that it was smuggled tobacco.

In view of the difficulty in making detections of this kind, I respectfully submit that the whole of the two deposits be retained as fines and that Urry be informed that as he was well aware that the tobacco he had on his premises had been smuggled his appeal for return of the deposit made by him cannot be entertained.

26 March 1914               There are no extenuating circumstances in this case. It was a deliberate attempt at smuggling on the part of Ford and he admitted that he was the owner of the tobacco, but declined to say where he got it.

I have nothing to add to my report of the 19th instant submitting that the whole of the deposits should be brought to account as fines.

The Preventive Officer took a deposit of 19/- from Ford and 18/6 from Urry. (The tobacco was seized and both deposits retained as fines.)


15 April 1914                        The Collector wrote to the Board requesting a change to Form 470 as it did not reflect a recent change in the way in which dutiable surplus stores on Foreign Yachts were dealt with in order to remove any misunderstanding.


24 April 1914                        Frederick John Parsons, Preventive Officer given increment from £157 – 10 – 0 to £165 from 9th April.


6 May 1914                   I beg to submit the accompanying application Isadore John Dobrzanski, Preventive Man, at this Port for appointment as Baggage Supervisor, Colombo Customs (Ceylon) as set forth in Circular No. 49 A of 28th April 1914.

Dobrzanski will be 34 years of age on the 25th instant and gives details in his application of his service before coming here.

I have been favourably impressed with his abilities since coming to Cowes, where he has frequently acted as a Preventive Officer, that he possesses initiative, is a good disciplinarian and is firm and tactful in dealing with the public and his subordinates.

He is of good character, health and address and had 13 years service on 15th August last year, but he is married although he has no children.

He proposes, if appointed, to leave his Wife with his Mother in London for the time he should be absent.


12 May 1914                 I beg to report as directed by your Honours Order of the 9th February last that the new arrangements for making disciplinary night, Sunday and Public Holiday visits to the Waterguard and for the attendance of Officers on Week days have been working satisfactorily and smoothly during the 3 months they have been in force.

The daily attendance of each member of staff has been so adjusted that his total credited weekly attendance has not in any instance exceeded 48 hours per week viz.

No. 1 Preventive Man  Midnight to 7 am

No. 2 Preventive Man  7 am – 3 pm

No. 3 Preventive Man  9 am – 5 pm

No. 4 Preventive Man  5 pm – Midnight

Motor Man 8 am – 4.30 pm but varies according to requirement

Preventive Officer 9 am – 4 pm but varies according to requirement


27 May 1914                 A small British build sailing yacht of 9 tons Thames measurement named “Hoopoe” was purchased last year from a French citizen, Mons. R Revait of 69 Grand Rue, Enghien les Bains, France, by Mr A E Marvin of Cowes, who subsequently sold her to Mr Frank Tebbs of Oak Lodge, Ryde, I.W.

The new owner desires Registry, but as no Bill of Sale was obtained from the French Owner by Mr Marvin at the time of Sale, the accompanying letter and Bill of Sale were sent but were returned by the Post Office “Not Found”.

Mr Marvin has produced two letters received from the Late French Owner during the negotiations for the purchase and wishes to know whether Registration will be allowed on his making a Statutory Declaration setting forth the facts of the case and that it is impossible to obtain a Bill of Sale from the late French Owner.

The yacht is now lying at Cowes and has not been registered before.


9 June 1914                   I J Dobrzanski, Preventive Man appointed to Special Service at Peterhead for the Fishing Season and requested an advance of £10 – 0 – 0, £4 – 0 – 0 travelling and £6 – 0 – 0 one months subsistence.


11 June 1914                 I beg to report as instructed that during the week ended 6th June 1914 the Preventive Officer and one Preventive Man exceeded the 48 hour week by three hours each.

During the week yachts arrived late on each day except Thursday, but I had arranged for the different officers to be relieved when they could be spared so that none of them should exceed 48 hours under ordinary circumstances.

Late on Saturday afternoon however an application was made at my house to have trading vessel from Alderney cleared inwards that evening and I had to call out the Preventive Officer and one Preventive Man when every man had put in or would have put in by midnight on that day, and direct them to proceed to Newport, 5 miles distant, where the vessel was lying.

Newport is an unapproved place so that all exense incurred in this instant have been recovered under Miscellaneous Code paragraph 486. (This was approved by the Board,)


17 June 1914                 PB White Unattached Surveyor officiated for the Collector.


26 June 1914                 By arrangement with the Superintending Engineer, Woolwich, the “Nimble” was hauled up for her annual overhaul. It was understood that the “Hawk” would be available for relief, but on application being made for her, the Collector at Portsmouth informed us that she had broken down. The prospect of the “Hawk” again being unavailable, it has therefore been agreed to proceed without a relief boat – the rowing boat will suffice as in previous years.

In view of the Naval Review taking place on the 18th July and the yachting season which follows closely after, it is very desirable that work on the “Nimble” should be completed as soon as possible. Unfortunately the staff has been depleted by absence of G O Warne, Preventive Man. Who is sick with German Measles and not expected of duty for at least 3 weeks from the 17 instant. This, coupled with the absence of I J Dobrzanski, Preventive Man on Special Service at Peterhead has made it essential that some assistance should be received if the “Nimble” is to be in service again without delay.

An Extraman has been employed in the place of Warne, and I beg authority be given for the employment of another Extraman (on the 4 pm to midnight watch) in place of a Preventive Man as at present. In normal circumstances this will permit the Motor Driver and a Preventive Man being employed continually on the overhaul work from 8 am to 4 pm on week-days – with the assistance of the third Preventive Man if he is not required for boarding work. Attendances beyond 48 hours a week will be avoidable.

With the assistance proposed it is thought that this work may be completed in about a fortnight from the 29th instant, and if the additional Extraman is employed from that date he could be dispensed with from the 13th July or sooner should Warne return to duty. (Signed by P B White, Acting Collector.)


8 July 1914                    I beg to report that during the week ended 4th July 1914, One Preventive Man and the Preventive Officer exceeded the 48 hour week by 6 hours and 3 hours respectively.

The late arrival of the barge “Groyneholm” on the 1st, the yacht “Alice Louise” on the 3rd and the yacht “Frampus” on the 4th instant, all from foreign, rendered it impossible to avoid excessive attendance.

The absence of 1 Preventive Man on Special Service at Peterhead and one on sick leave necessited the employment of an extraman on the midnight to 8.0 am watch on week days. (This was approved by the Board, Signed by P B White, Acting Collector.)


17 July 1914                  With reference to the Secretary’s Letter No. 12145, I beg to report that the annual overhaul of the motor boat “Nimble” has now been completed. The boat was re-launched on the 15th instant and is running well except for some slip on the clutch which I understand it receiving the attention of the Superintending Engineer.

The “Nimble was laid up on the 25th June by arrangement with the overseer at Portsmouth (who had been instructed by the Superintending Engineer) in order that it might be ready for his inspection on the 29th June, the attendance of the Engineer at Southampton (Mr Wood) being also arranged for that day to open up the motor.

It was understood that the “Hawk”, although just put right after a breakdown, would be available for relief and she was asked for on the 24th June. On the 25th June the Collector at Portsmouth wired me that the “Hawk” had again broken down and that the Superintending Engineer had requested him to arrange with me to continue the “Nimble” running. In the confirmatory letter the Collector mentioned that the “Hawk” had not been running satisfactorily since he had had her. The prospect of getting the “Hawk” as a relief boat did not seem very sure and the approach of the busy season at this port made it desirable that a reliable launch should be available. The “Nimble” overhaul was due in the month of June; the motor was in need of a cleaning and the clutch was not working satisfactorily. However, I learned that for 14 days in June 1912 and June 1913 respectively, while the “Nimble” was laid up the staff were able to carry out their duties without a relief boat without difficulty. A considerable amount of preliminary work had been done and I therefore explained the circumstances to the Superintending Engineer and suggested that the work on the “Nimble” should be continued. He agreed, I asked you Honours on the 26th June for permission to employ an Extraman to supply the place of a Preventive Man on sick leave and so allow for the Established staff giving all possible attention to work on the “Nimble”. Your Honours approved, but it was not found necessary to take advantage of the approval except from the 6th to 11th July.

On the 29th June the Collector at Portsmouth advised me that the “Hawk” was again available and she arrived here on the 30th June accompanied by the steam launch. She was not required until the 3rd July when she made a visit to a yacht in the roads and on an attempt being made to restart the engine to return it refused to work and the boat had to be rowed to the moorings. The Driver worked at the motor, but it was not until Mr Travis, Superintending Engineer, and his overseer, Mr Cole, came over on the 7th July that the motor was again got to work. The boat was used as required until the 14th July, about noon, when she left for Portsmouth, as arranged in charge of Mr Cole and the Driver. I understand that Mr Cole’s services were again required to start the motor. In all the total time as per daily register was only 8½ while at this port.

This small running time seems hardly to justify the expense incurred, but it is to some degree explained as follows:

During the period of the overhaul several arrivals came late in the afternoon when the Driver had finished duty and it was not considered worth while to call him back. Short distance visits were made by rowing boat or sometimes by land. Some of the less important preventive work was dropped.

Probably a more reliable boat could have been used to a greater extent, but, as it was, the “Hawk” was not used where there were any other reasonably quick reliable means of locomotion.

When the Driver was not required on the “Hawk” he assisted with the work on the “Nimble”.

I venture to suggest that it would be advisable in future to give the “Nimble” her annual overhaul earlier in the year, if possible, (say about May). The arrivals are fewer then and the full staff could generally be available. Any waiting for a relief boat would not then be likely to throw work into the busy season here and the work might even be expeditiously carried out without a relief boat. (Details of the time the “Hawk was had previously been sent to the Board. Signed by P B White, Acting Collector.)


10 August 1914             I beg to report as requested in your Circular No. 1495 of 17th August that:-

(a) No official has been temporarily used in aid of any other Collection.

(b) One officer, Mr Daniel F Ferguson, officer Newport 2nd State, Portsmouth Collection is here temporarily acting in aid of the Long Room.

(c) No official has been released for military or naval mobilisation.

(d) No retired official has been re-employed.

(e) No double duty is being performed in this Collection.

(f) If I could obtain the assistance of additional officers I could dispense with two Extramen who I have found necessary to employ to relieve two Preventive Men sent:-

(1) W H Finley, on the 4th August to attend to the Customs Duties at South Yarmouth and other places in the West of the Island where the Coastguard Stations have been closed down of the Coastguardmen to busy to attend to Customs duties.

(2) I J Dobrzanski, on the 6th August to attend to the Customs Duties at Bembridge and other places in the East of the Island where the Coastguard Stations have been closed down of the Coastguardmen to busy to attend to Customs duties.

I have not so far found it necessary to station an officer at Newport as the Customs Duties there are being performed by an officer from Cowes.

(3) No officer is available for the transfer to another Collection.


11 August 1914             I respectfully request that this Office may be connected by telephone with the Customs Watch House.

The Custom House is now connected with Post Office Telephones, Cowes No. 8, and it would be a great convenience to the Public, my staff and myself during the present crisis – especially after the office is closed – if an extension switch could be installed between the Custom House and the Watch House, a distance of about 100 yards. (This was installed on 5th September.)


15 August 1914   From the Board.          

With reference to paragraphs 370-372 of the Establishment Code as modified by General Order No, 44 of 1912 (Customs), I am directed to inform you that the Board have awarded a “Star” allowance to the undermentioned Preventive Man at your Port from the date set against his name.

The “Star” is granted subject, in each case, to a continuance of the Officer’s good conduct and efficiency up to the date when it is actually due. Should any instance of misconduct or inefficiency occur before that date, the matter is to be reported, and the “Star” withheld pending the decision by the Board.

C A Fry 11 September 1914


18 August 1914   From F J Parsons, Preventive Officer

I beg to report with reference to the letter from the Captain of H.M.S. “Cumberland” that I was performing official duties on this vessel and on completing them came on deck and said to the Petty Officer on the gangway that my duties were completed and asked him to call the Customs Launch. This he did and on our launch approaching the gangway, one of the Cumberland’s launches was seen coming up at about 500 yards and ordered our launch to stand off. I considered that there was plenty of time for us to get on board before the Navy launch could possibly alongside, the launch not stopping at all, causing no delay to the cruisers boat.

As I felt that the officer on duty was ordering the launch away in an officious and quite unnecessary manner, I said to him that he ought to have more consideration as we had our duties to perform as well as we had and we would not detain his launch.

21 August 1914             I beg to report that I have made full enquiry into the complaint made by the Captain of H.M.S. “Cumberland” and believe it to be exaggerated.

The Motor Boat “Nimble” with Preventive Officer Parsons & Preventive Men C A Fry & S T G Spencer on board visited the Warship on the 27th ultimo when brought up in Cowes Roads. Messrs. Parsons and Spencer went on board to take account of certain dutiable stores leaving Fry the motor driver in charge of the boat. The “Nimble” after putting the officers on board lay off until the two officers having completed their duties on board the warship and requested the Petty Officer in charge of the gangway to hail the “Nimble” alongside and take them off, which the Petty Officer did, and, when the “Nimble” was just getting up to the gangway, the Officer on the watch appeared on the scene and a peremptory manner ordered the Customs launch to stand off, this was apparently to allow a launch, then about 400/500 yards off, to get alongside the cruiser, Mr Parsons pointed out to the Officer that there was plenty of time for him & the Preventive Man to get on board the “Nimble” before the launch could possibly reach the gangway and added that he might have more consideration for the Officers of H.M. Customs as they had their duties to perform as well as he had.

The whole matter appears to me to be a petty affair, and I am satisfied that my Officers, who had a heavy day in dealing with Owners of Yachts acted in a reasonable manner – they have a long experience of dealing with Warships – never intended any discourtesy to this Officer.

This is the first time since coming to Cowes that I have ever received a complaint against any Officers and I am satisfied that [illegible] to the reasonable orders of the Officer on watch and to his thinking any discourtesy was intended.

31 August 1914   From the Board

With reference to your report of the 21st instant, I enclose for your information a letter addressed to Captain Fuller in answer to his complaint. You will inform Mr F J Parsons, Preventive Officer that his action and behaviour on the occasion in question was most improper, and you will impress upon him and other officers concerned that they are to obey without question any orders issued to them by the Officer of the Watch in future as to their arrival at or departure from a ship. Any complaints which they may have to make are to be made afterwards through the Collector. (This was noted by all officers involved.)

31 August 1914   Letter from the Board to the Captain.

In reply to your letter of the 28th ultimo, I am directed by the Board of Customs and Excise to express to you their regret that on the occasion in question their officers failed to comply with the directions given by the officer of the Watch and behaved discourteously to him. Suitable notice has been taken of their actions.


25 August 1914             I beg to inform you, in reply to your letter of yesterday, that I think the installation of a telephone in my private residence would ease the position and facilitate public business.

The phone connection should be made direct with the exchange and my private address is:


Granville Road,



26 August 1914             I beg to report as directed by your order 33517/1913, that, during the four weeks ended 22nd August 1914, the Preventive Officer and Preventive Men have exceeded the credited 48 hour week as follows:

Preventive Officer

Preventive Men

Parson F J


















The large amount of extra work thrown on the Waterguard by War Duties viz:- the calling out of the Naval Reserve, the Wireless Duties, the examination of cargo on shipment and discharging the Restriction on Aliens etc. have been the reason for the whole extra attendance.

Dobrzanski is temporarily stationed at Bembridge where Coast the Coastguard Officers are too busy looking after a War Signals Station to attend to Customs Duties

Finley is at South Yarmouth where the Coastguard Station is closed down altogether

These two Officers are carrying out their respective Duties under the Restriction on Aliens Act, examining cargo on shipment and on landing, and issuing special clearances to vessels as required.

The Preventive Officer and the three other Preventive Men are carrying out their ordinary duties and War Duties at Cowes & right up the River Medina to Newport, as well as dealing with about 200 transports returned from France after landing the Expeditionary Force.

I am employing two Extramen to replace the two Preventive Men sent temporarily to Yarmouth and Bembridge respectively. (The excessive attendance was approved by the Board.)


5 September 1914          To enable me to provide for the temporary absence of two Preventive Men carrying out War Duties, the Restrictions of Aliens Order &c at South Yarmouth and Bembridge respectively I have found it necessary to employ two extramen for more than 20 working days in the past month, the first man from the 2nd ultimo inclusive and the second man from the 6th.

I respectfully request your Honours approval of my action in employing these men beyond the limits prescribed in the Establishment Code, Paragraph 351.


5 September 1914          The accompanying telegram is only a portion of message and as such is unintelligible.

On receipt of these papers I asked the Postmaster to obtain the original for your Honours information, but, as he has as yet been unable to get it, and as the matter has now been settled, I think it advisable to report the particulars of the case without any further delay.

The s/s “Tringa” belonging to the Cork Steam Shipping Company Limited loaded a general cargo, including prohibited and restricted goods, for Rotterdam, at Manchester, from which Port she cleared on the 31st July , but in the course of her voyage she was relinquished as a transport by the Government and ordered to Southampton where her cargo was discharged. This Cargo was subsequently shipped on s/s “Heralda” and s/s “Cormorant”, both belonging to the same Company, but after shipment the Military ordered the ships out of Southampton into Yarmouth Roads.

When later the vessels wished to clear for Rotterdam, I declined clearance on account of the prohibited and restricted goods on board.

The local Agents, Messrs. Dawson & Brown of Southampton, contended however, that the goods had originally been cleared at Manchester before war was declared they were entitled to clearance. On my declining to accept their view they asked me to request your Honours instructions by telegram. This was sent, but, as already stated, the accompanying copy is only part of the message then sent.

Next day a representative of Messrs. Dawson came to this office and told me that one of the members of his firm had been at the Custom House, London and had seen the Secretary and that as a result of the interview his company had decided to send the two vessels coastwise in order that the objection to the cargo may be discharged.

The officer temporary stationed at Yarmouth granted clearance to the “Heralda” for Southampton and the “Cormorant” for Liverpool and since have heard nothing further on the matter.


19 September 1914   From the Board      With reference to your report of the 25th ult, the Board have made application for a telephone to be installed at your residence, and you are directed to report the number and exchange of the telephone when the installation is complete.

You will be required to pay for all the local calls in excess of the number covered by the minimum annual subscription, and for all trunk and junction calls not certified on official business. It must further be understood that these facilities will cease to be provided as a free service on conclusion of the war. (This was installed on 12th October with the number Cowes 88.)


23 September 1914        I beg to submit the accompanying application of Mr Charles Brown, Sole Proprietor of Brown’s Stores, 130 High Street, Cowes for a General Export & Store Bond in the Penalty of £100.

The Bond is necessary for Mr Brown’s increasing trade at this Port, and he has nominated as his sureties, James Charles Wilson Damant of Montpellier, Cliff Road, Cowes, Solicitor, and Frank Gladstone White of Mayfield, Park Road, Cowes, Ship and Yacht Builder.

I am satisfied as to the sufficiency of each of the Sureties to meet the Penalty of the Bond.


23 September 1914        I regret to report that one of my children has developed Scarlet Fever.

He was immediately isolated to the satisfaction of the Doctor in attendance, and on his granting me the attached Certificate that there was no danger in doing so, I resumed duty at once, being absent only a few hours.

I have today forwarded Form No. 196 to the Medical Officer, Custom House, London


7 October 1914              William Henry Finley, Preventive Man, granted increment from £1 – 13 – 2 to £1 -14 – 8 from the 11 November


13 October 1914            I beg to report that the yacht “Star” of Colchester owned by Mr Rodney Manners arrived at the Naval Examination Service, Culver on the 5th August, the day that war was declared with Germany.

She was in charge of Mrs Manners who had 2 crewmen on board to assist in the navigation of the vessel from Guernsey to Colchester, where she was bound.

The Naval Officer in charge of the Examination Service appears to have ordered the yacht on her arrival to St. Helens Roads and on the next day, 6th August into Bembridge Harbour.

Mrs Manners told me she was not flying an ensign as she did not know it was necessary.

The yacht lay in the Harbour without being boarded until the 7th instant when Preventive Man temporarily in charge of Bembridge discovered the fact on the owner applying for a clearance to Southampton. He at once put the health questions and rummaged the vessel without finding any dutiable stores; and the owner declares there was nothing dutiable on board on arrival.

As the owner has not yet applied with my demand for a deposit of £10, the yacht is detained pending your Honours decision.

I have no reason to doubt that this breach of the Regulations was with the ignorance of Mrs Manners, who does not appear to be in very robust health, having only recently returned from India where she was engaged in tea planting for the last 25 years.

Under the circumstances I respectfully beg to submit that only a nominal Penalty – if any – be inflicted and that that the Owner be warned to comply strictly with the Regulations in future. (The Board replied that “in the circumstances the vessel may be released”.)


16 October 1914            Navigation in the North Sea

Return of all Coastwise vessels which have been granted General Transires at this Port since the outbreak of war.

Date Clearance was granted

Name and Official No. of Vessel


5th August 1914

5th August 1914

5th August 1914

“Her Majesty” o.n. 90419

“Duchess of York” o.n. 106903

“Princess Beatrice” o.n. 82408

Southampton, Isle of Wight & South of England Royal Mail Steam Packet Company Limited, 2 High Street, Southampton.

Note: All these Vessels run regularly between Southampton, Cowes, Ryde, Southsea and Portsmouth and are therefore not affected by the Admiralty Notice.

22 October 1914            There are no Preventive Men at this Port who are now over 50 or who will attain that age before 1st April 1916.  (This was in replay to a circular entitled ‘Transfer of elderly Preventive Men to Land Duty’.)


22 October 1914            Walter Henry Bright, Unattached Officer, Portsmouth to Unattached Officer, Long Room, Cowes.


11 November 1914         To enable me to provide for the temporary absence of two Preventive Men covering War Duties, Restriction of Aliens Order etc at South Yarmouth and Bembridge respectively, I have found it necessary to employ two extramen for the whole of the month of October, Sundays excepted.

I respectfully request your Honours approval of my action in employing these men for more than 20 days in a month, the limit prescribed in paragraph 351 of the Establishment Code. (A letter was also sent detailing the considerable number of additional hours worked by the Established officers.)


13 November 1914         With reference to your report of the 6th instant, I am directed by the Board to inform you that Mr William McPherson, Officer, has been granted leave under Circular S.C. 2531.

Mr Hubert B Bevan, Unattached Officer, Portsmouth, will act in relief; and you will when you can dispense with Mr Bevan’s service.


14 November 1914             A number of Discharge Books from Seaman the Yacht or Transport Vessels at Cowes having been called up for the Royal Naval Reserve.


1 December 1914           Return of Irish-grown Tobacco remaining in bond at this Port on 31st March 1914 – Nil.


5 December 1914                               Frank Abrook employed as an Extraman for the whole of the month of November in the place of    W H Finley, who was employed on War Duties at Yarmouth.


19 December 1914         I attended the Local Government Board Inquiry held in the Town Hall, Cowes on Tuesday the 15th instant, by Mr R C Maxwell, Barrister at Law, who assured me that there would be nothing in the Provisional Order to interfere with the rights of Government Servants to free passage under Section 25 of the Cowes Ferry Act of 1901.

I annex a cutting from today’s Isle of Wight County Press giving a full and accurate account of the proceedings at the Inquiry. I also annex a copy of the Cowes Ferry Act of 1901. (This resulted from the Board submitting information from the London Gazette that Cowes and East Cowes Urban District Councils were going to purchase all or some of the rights of the Crown in the Royal Ferry across the River Medina.)


21 December 1914             A nil return was sent to a Circular requesting details of detained and captured enemy ships showing the disposal of enemy members of the crews.


5 January 1915                    Increments given to John Stephens, Collector and Surveyor, from £410 to £425 from 20th February and George Oliver Warne, Preventive Man, from £1 – 7 – 0 to £1 – 8 – 6.


7 January 1915              I beg to submit another petition from the Waterguard Officers at this Port to be provided with sea boots similar to those provided to mates and deck hands of launches etc. under Section XII paragraph 6 of the Report of the Committee on the Customs Waterguard Service.

The former petition was dealt with by your Honours in 1913 and your decision communicated to the Officers on 21st April 1913.


2 February 1915 C A Fry, Preventive Man, Driver of the Motor boat “Nimble” and S T G Spencer, Preventive Man, Relief Driver are both sick as per sick note for the former and medical certificate for the latter (both annexed.)

As it is not likely that any of the two will be fit to return to duty within a week and as I am urgently in need of a driver to enable Waterguard officers to attend the fleet of Transports lying off here, I dispatched a telegram today requesting a driver from another Port.

I shall be very grateful if you can send me the assistance required as none of the men here are capable of driving the boat. (Jenkins, Motor Relief Driver was sent from Portsmouth and arrived on the evening of 3rd February.)


5 March 1915                I beg to report, as directed in Confidential Circular 29A of the 4th instant, that Frederick John Parsons, Preventive Officer, attained the age of 50 on 14th June 1912, that his physical efficiency is entirely satisfactory, and that he is in all respects suitable for employment on both the rummaging and the boarding duties at this Port.    


11 March 1915               Stores from other Ports for shipment to the Transports lying in Cowes Roads are usually consigned to the Master or Owners of the vessel so that they are duly produced to the Proper officer. I have accordingly no knowledge of the parties giving the bonds at the other end.

The store dealers usually put the goods on board from a steam launch from Southampton, but in rough weather this cannot be done and a delay is thus caused in some cases.

It is a rather difficult matter dealing with the shipment of bonded stores on the Transports in Cowes Roads where they are anchored over an area of about 7 miles by 3. In rough weather it is impossible for the Customs Motor Boat to get to the Transports or for the ships’ boats to come ashore. Indeed there have already been several accidents to ships’ boats, including loss of life, through attempting to come ashore in rough weather.

Then the vessels are usually ordered away on very short notice, often under sealed orders, and the Cowes Naval Transport Officer, as a rule, cannot or will not tell us where they are bound, and, when he does tell, his information is not always reliable.

These vessels have hitherto become accustomed to having their dutiable stores shipped alongside a quay and sailing at a fixed time, but a new and unaccustomed set of circumstances has now arisen. I believe, however, that on the whole, as far as this Port is concerned, the Masters and Owners of the Transports are anxious to do everything they can to meet the requirements of this Department.


16 March 1915               I beg to submit the accompanying application from three Preventive Men at this Port for permission to join the Cowes Branch of the Central Association Volunteer Training Corps.

I have pointed out to them that under Circulars 1609/10.8.14 and 3257/15.10.14 they cannot be allowed to join an auxiliary force, more especially as the applicants are under 38 and Lord Kitchener has stated that those under that age must agree to enlist if called upon to do so.

As I believe the training would be for the good of the Applicants, I respectfully submit that they may be allowed to join No.4 Section only, the Rifle Club only in which the Honorary Secretary assures me, they will be able to practice rifle shooting and get military drill without binding themselves in any way whatever.

I annex three letters and forms from the Honorary Secretary in which the objects of the Club are duly set forth and I respectfully submit the matter for your Honours’ directions.


19 March 1915   From the Board

With reference to your report of the 16th instant, the Board direct you to inform Spencer, Dobrzanski and Warne, Preventive Men, that there is no objection to their joining the Cowes branch of the Central Association Volunteer Force, subject to the following conditions : -

(1)        that the drills are not held during the usual hours of official duties,

(2)        that membership does not interfere with the personal performance of official duties,

(3)        that they do not undertake any liability to withdrawal from official duties without the Board’s permission, to be sought if and when the occasion arises.


6 April 1915                   I beg to report that I have personally interviewed the Preventive Officer, the local Manager of Messrs. Pickfords Limited and the Master of the “Manchester Importer” regarding the statement made at A on enclosure 15.

(1) The Preventive Officer states that he knows nothing whatever about the stores in question.

(2) The Cowes Manager of Messrs. Pickfords, Limited states that they were deputed to by the representatives of Messrs. Houlder, Brown & Co., Limited, at Southampton to take the stores on board one of their vessels and ship the on the “Manchester Importer” lying in Cowes Roads, but before any of the stores was taken on board, the “Manchester Importer” arrived in Southampton and accordingly they ceased to have any further interest in the matter.

(3) The Master of the “Manchester Importer” generally corroborates the statement of the Cowes Manager of Messrs. Pickfords, Limited and in addition states that part of the stores had actually been taken out of the railway van, in which they had been brought from Cardiff, with the intention of putting them on board Pickfords’ steamer, when his vessel arrived unexpectedly at Southampton. The stores were put back in the van again and run round to the dock where the “Manchester Importer” was berthed and there shipped on Sunday 13th December last. He regrets that he cannot state the number of his berth.


13 April 1915                        Frederick John Parsons, Preventive Officer, given increment from £165 to £172 from 9th April and William Henry Bright, Unattached Officer, given  £80  to £87 – 10 from 2nd June (after approval of previous service in the Portsmouth and Dublin Collections.)


24 April 1915                 I beg to report that the term of 7 years’ approval granted for Nos. 1 & 2 Bonded Warehouses expires on 24th July next, and I respectfully submit and application from Messrs. Shepard Brothers, Limited, of 42 Quay Street, Newport, IW, requesting a renewal of the approval for another term and nominating the same sureties as in the existing bond viz:-

Mr Joseph Henry Wavell, of the Vine Hotel, Newport, IW, Wine and Spirit Merchant and Mr Charles James Richardson of Cowes, in the Isle of Wight, Rate Collector of whose individual sufficiency to meet the penalty of the bond I am satisfied.

These are both small Warehouses but they have been approved for many years and are necessary for the trade of the Port. The accounts are kept at Custom House and the Warehouses are never open unless and officer is present. I am satisfied with the accommodation provided for the officers who only attend for examination and delivery of goods required.

So far as the officers are concerned the condition of the premises may be considered quite satisfactory. (The Board queried the accommodation for the officer, and was told there was no specific accommodation, but only a desk and that attendance amounted to an average of less than 1 hour per day.)


15 May 1915         Circular listing Approved Bonded Warehouse at Cowes issued:

No. 1      Shepards Wharf, Medina Road, West Cowes, Isle of Wight

No. 2      Shepards Wharf, Medina Road, West Cowes, Isle of Wight

No. 4      Birmingham Road, West Cowes, Isle of Wight


17 May 1915                         Collector examined George Hall Rugg of 4 Albert Street, Ventnor, Isle of Wight who was nominated as a Preventive Man. The report was satisfactory an on the 4th August he was appointed Preventive Man, Southampton.


19 May 1915                   Mr William McPherson, Officer, granted leave. Mr H J D Drummond, Officer, Southampton officiated. He requested an extension to this leave but it was rejected by the Board in a telegram and subsequently confirmed by letter.


26 May 1915                 There is never more than one officer employed at one time in these two Warehouses and he performs all Warehousing work in the Port; the longest period of duty is required to give does not exceed two hours at any one time.

The warehouses are never open at the same time and although they are situated in the same block of buildings, they are not connected in any way, No. 1 being entered by a door at the side and No. 2 by a door in the gable. No. 2 is not on the floor above No. 1.

The nearest available convenience for the officer attending the Warehouses belongs to the proprietors and is not more than 50 yards distant.

The Warehouses comply with the conditions in the Warehousing Code and are quite dry and sanitary.

1 June 1915   Minute within the Board.

It is submitted that Floors 1 and 2 Cowes approved as regards No. 1 for deposit of Wines & Spirits and as regards No. 2 for Dry Goods including Tobacco, but excluding Saccharin and the direct importation of Tea. Be re-approved for a further period of 7 years from the 24th July next, subject to their general powers of earlier revocation, on the condition that satisfactory Office, Sanitary and Lavatory accommodation, to include furniture, lighting, heating & cleaning be provided by the Warehousekeeper to the satisfaction of the Commissioners, free of expense to the Crown, if and when required.  A new bond does not appear necessary.

If approved the Collector, Cowes, should be directed to inform the applicants accordingly and the bond returned to him. (This was approved, the Applicants informed and the Bond deposited in the King’s Chest.)


11 June 1915                 I beg to report that under the scheme approved in 1914 the Motor Boat “Hawk” in charge of G Davy, Engine Driver arrived at Cowes from Portsmouth on Monday 17th Ultimo to relieve the Cowes Motor Boat, “Nimble” which was then laid up for her annual overhaul.

The work on the “Nimble” was completed on Tuesday 8th instant, when the “Hawk” returned to Portsmouth.

I have pleasure in reporting that the arrangement proved entirely satisfactory, the “Hawk” doing everything that was required of her, and I respectfully submit the matter for your Honours approval. (The Board stated that the relief scheme should be continued and that if it was not possible to give notice of relief such as accident, serious breakdown etc. a Telegram should be sent to the Collector, Portsmouth who should act upon it without delay.)


21 June 1915                       William Henry Bright satisfactorily completed probation.


30 June 1915                 I beg to report that when Preventive Man Dobrzanski was on Cowes Pontoon on the afternoon of Sunday 19th instant he challenged A Phillips, 3rd Engineer of the Hospital Yacht “Liberty” o.n 125490 of Portsmouth, 887 registered tons, owned by Lord Tredegar and chartered by him to the Admiralty.

Offender landed at the Pontoon from a small boat with the object of joining the passenger steamer to Southampton having been granted a week’s leave from his vessel which had just arrived from Dunkirk after landing her complement of wounded at Southampton.

Offender at first denied having any dutiable goods in his possession, but when his bag was about to be searched he admitted having 1 tin containing ½ lb Tobacco, but on search 2 tins containing 1 lb of Tobacco was actually found. 

Phillips on being given the option elected to deposit 18/6, treble the duty paid value, to abide by the decision of your Honours.

Offender being a responsible officer, I called upon the Master to deposit £2 on the vessel and this has been done.

He has also sent a request for the return of the deposit explaining the steps he took to prevent smuggling by his crew and I have no reason to doubt the Master’s statement.

Offender has however signed articles for the next voyage of the “Liberty” to the Dardanelles and I therefore respectfully submit that the whole of the deposit made by him together with a substantial amount of the deposit on the vessel are retained as a fine. (The seizure was confirmed and the deposit made by Phillips brought to account as a fine.  The deposit made by the Master was returned with a strict warning.)


5 July 1915                    I beg to admit the subjoined Return of Leave for the six months ended 30th June, 1915:-



Leave Granted Days

Leave Due Days

John Stephen

Collector and Surveyor



William McPherson

Officer, late Clerk

14 (including 1 in lieu)


Walter H Bright

Officer, Unattached




23 July 1915                         In absence of F Parsons,  and the possible absence J Stephen and W McPherson, W H Bright  to operate bank account at Capital and Counties Bank.

1909 - 1912

1915 - 1919

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.

22 February 2008