Letters Book 1915 – 1919

Letters Book held at the Isle of Wight Records Office

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. Certain entries in 1918/9 are from the 1918 -1925 book as it overlaps this book, these are marked (1918 – 1925).

Unless otherwise stated the Letters are signed by Collector, John Stephens.


13 August 1915    From S T G Spencer, Preventive Man.

I beg to report that at 9.35am on August 12th the Motor Boat “Nimble” was moored along the Watch House Slipway when a steam launch from the hospital ship “Carisbrook Castle” approached and while landing alongside the slipway collided with the stern of the “Nimble” doing damage to the port side. The top of the stern and the brass capping was broken.

The Third Officer of the “Carisbrook Castle” was in charge of the steam launch and I drew his attention to the “Nimble’s” stern.

The cause of the collision was through the steam launch coming too fast and through the Officer in charge not reducing her heading to land safely.


17 August 1915             A regret having to report that the Customs Motor boat “Nimble” of this port whilst lying alongside the Watch House Slipway was run into at 9.35am on the 12th instant by a steam launch from the hospital ship “Carisbrook Castle” o.n. 108351 lying in Cowes Roads. A small piece of the upper part of the stern was carried away and the brass capping broken, the damage, I estimate, amounting to about £2.

Preventive Man S T G Spencer was the only person on board the “Nimble” at the time of the casualty which appears to have been solely due to the steam launch in charge of the 3rd Officer approaching the slipway with too much way on.

The Superintending Officer and his local representative have seen her and the damage will be made good I understand when the “Nimble” is getting her new clutch fixed this week at Portsmouth.

I annex the statements of Driver Fry and Preventive Man Spencer. (No further action was taken by the Board.)


August 1915                  Collector granted leave. Wilfred Richard Dickinson, Unattached Surveyor officiated.


24 August 1915   Auxillary s/yacht “Valhalla”

I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 21st instant and to state that the costs accumulating against this vessel are:

            (1) 5/- per day for shipkeeping and

            (2) 8/- per day (less 1/3 when the vessel has been at her moorings for 30 days) for moorings.

The charge for the latter is made quarterly by the Cowes Harbour Commissioners and has been paid by Mr G H Marvin, the Registered Owner, up to the end of June last.

The Master, Chief Engineer and Boatswain are standing by the vessel and are paid shore wages. Only the last named and the shipkeeper sleep on board.

It would be very difficult to estimate the value of the vessel, but a Bill of Sale in my possession dated 25th March, 1911, gives the selling price then as 100,000 dollars and since that time she has had wooden masts replaced by steel ones and various other alterations done at a cost of I believe several thousand pounds.

The greatest difficulty would be in getting any one to buy her for besides the initial price she is a costly vessel when in commission requiring nearly 70 members of crew to man her.

Her tonnage is 1219 gross and 806 net.

Although she has been lying in the River Medina for some considerable time she is well looked after and is in very good condition.


24 August 1915             Offender in this case Landed at Watch House Slipway in order to join the passenger steamer to Southampton, whence he was proceeding to his home in Berwickshire on a weeks leave when the Contraband was found on his person by the Waterguard Officers.

This is an ordinary case of smuggling and Tolmie on being given the option elected to deposit £1-4/7 treble the duty paid value to abide by your Honours decision.

Offender being a responsible officer, I called upon the Master to deposit £2 on the vessel (a transport lying in Cowes Roads) and this he has done.

I submit a request from him for a return of part of his deposit, but his statement that Tolmie had no intention of smuggling cannot be accepted as offender has been at sea for several years and should by this time be well acquainted with Customs Regulations in that respect.

I respectfully submit that the whole of the deposit on the goods and a small portion of that on the vessel retained as fines. (The seizure record is illegible, but it appears that the offender was 2nd Engineer on the “Verdallor” from Port Said and the goods tobacco and cigars. The deposit on the goods and 10/- of the deposit on the vessel were retained as fines.)


24 August 1915             I beg to report that the term of 7 years approx. granted in papers 1090/1909 for No. 4 Bonded Warehouse at this port expires on 28 January next, and I respectfully submit and application from the Principal to the Bond, Mr Francis Templeman Mew, of Messrs. Mew Langton and Company, Limited, requesting a renewal of the approval for another term and nominating the same Sureties as in the existing bond viz:

Ernest Charles Langton of The Grange, Wootton, I W, Gentleman

Tom Rogers Tilling of May Dene, Newport, I W, secretary to W B Mew Langton and Company, Limited,

of whose individual sufficiency to meet the Penalty of the bond I am satisfied.

This warehouse consists of 2 floors having 2999.16 superficial feet of storage. It has been approved for many years and is necessary for the trade of the port. The accounts are kept at the Custom House distant 565 yards and the Warehouse is never open unless and Officer attends for the examination and delivery of goods as required.

The attendance given by the Officer, at an estimate, averages half an hour a day, and the longest period of duty he is required to give does not exceed 2 hours at any time.

There is no office accommodation in the warehouse, only a desk furnished by the Warehousekeeper on each floor for the convenience of the officer taking the account.

There are no lavatory arrangements, the nearest convenience being a public one belonging to the town about 100 yards distant.

The Warehouse complies with the conditions in the Warehousing Code and is quite dry and sanitary.


25 August 1915             I beg to report as directed by your Order 33517/1913, that during the four weeks ended 21st August, 1915, the Preventive Officer, 5 Preventive Men and 1 Engine Driver exceeded the credited attendance of 48 Hours per week as follows viz:

Preventive Officers

Preventive Men

Engine Driver





















Part of the Excessive Attendance was due to the extra time credited for night attendance and part to the examination of coastwise cargos on discharge of shipment, but the bulk of it was owing to the attention required to be given on arrival and on the shipment of bonded store &c. to the Transport and Hospital ships lying in Cowes Roads awaiting orders after their return from France and elsewhere, and to the Armed Patrol Yachts fitting out in Cowes Harbour. A certain amount of the extra attendance in this period was due to the distribution of Registration Forms to the Transports &c.


25 August 1915             I beg to report that during the four weeks ended 21st August, 1915, I have found it necessary to employ the two Officers at this Port in excess of the 48 hours per week as follows viz:

McPherson : 56½ hours             Bright : 56½ hours        

The Extra Attendance was wholly due to the large amount of extra work caused by the war; part to the General Long Room War Duties in connection with the Coasting trade, part to the drawing of stores in the Bonded Warehouses here and the clerical work incidental for the Transports, Hospital and Armed Patrol Yachts lying in Cowes Roads, Cowes Harbour and at Southampton, but the greater part is due to the signing off and on of the crews of these vessels, in the Mercantile Marine Office and on board.

It has been absolutely necessary to incur this Extra Attendance and I respectfully request your Honours approval of my actions. (Letters similar to the two above were sent by the Collector to the Board regularly and were normally approved without query. These letters are not normally transcribed.)


26 August 1915             The offender in this case had been granted 10 days leave to go to his home at Preston and landed at the Watch House Slipway with a portmanteau when he was intercepted by the Waterguard officers. On being challenged he produced the perfumery from his bag and stated that he had brought in Alexandria from a bum boat.

On being given the option the offender elected to deposit 13s/9d treble the duty paid value to abide by your Honours decision.

Offender being a responsible officer I called on the Master to deposit £2 on the vessel (a transport lying in Cowes Roads) and this he has done.

I submit a request from him for the return of his deposit on the vessel and although his statement that the officer “did not conceal the perfumery with any intention of causing an offence against the Regulations” can hardly be accepted, I have no reason to doubt his other statements regarding the offender.

As the perfumery is of poor quality and the quantity small, I respectfully submit that the whole of the deposit on the goods may be retained as a fine and that on the vessel returned. (The whole of the deposit on the goods and 15/- of that on the vessel were retained as fines. The offender was 3rd Engineer of the “Crispin” Transport. The seizure report itself is illegible.)


6 September 1915          The arrangements for the delivery of the forms were that the Preventive Officer and crew should visit all the Transports – about 40 in number – lying at anchor in the Solent, from the submarine net westward, to vessels as far as the Reel Bank buoy eastwards, an area of about 7 miles by 3, also vessels as the arrived, yachts moored in the river, and coasters and trading vessels at the Railway Jetty, Cement Mills and Newport Quay. Altogether 2572 forms were delivered.

As the work was carried out in conjunction with other Waterguard duties, it is not possible to state the exact amount of extra attendance, but it was probably about 2 hours per day for a week on average. On Sunday the 16th August a visit was made to vessels in the Solent and this occupied about 1½ in connection with Registration work. (Letter signed by W R Dickinson, Acting Collector. This work was carried out with the National Registration Act 1915.)


8 September 1915          I beg to report that the motor boat “Nimble” proceeded to Portsmouth on the 18th ult. in order to have a new clutch fitted, remaining there until the 23rd. The motor boat “Hawk” from Portsmouth in charge of G Davey, Engine Driver, relieved the “Nimble” at Cowes and returned to Portsmouth on the completion of the work to the “Nimble”. On the evening of the 30th the “Nimble” was laid up for varnishing and cleaning. This was completed and the vessel resumed work on the 6th inst. when the “Hawk” which had again been relieving left for Southampton.

The arrangement worked quite satisfactorily and the proceedings are reported in accordance with B O 12145/1904. (Letter signed by W R Dickinson, Acting Collector.)


13 September 1915        I beg to report with reference to the Est. Code par 44, that S T G Spencer was injured whilst on duty in the motor boat “Nimble” on the 9th instant. The sea was rather rough on that day and Spencer strained his ankle in stepping back on the floor of the launch after pushing the launch away from a steamer to which she was moored.

I enclose a Medical Certificate from which it appears Spencer will be incapacitated for some time, and respectfully submit his application for sick leave for favourable consideration. A somewhat similar case was dealt with in papers 18202/1911, but in that case there was a question of liability of a third party. (Letter signed by W R Dickinson, Acting Collector. He was granted 12 days sick leave, followed by a further 10 days with a further 10 days on 16th October.)


24 September 1915        Relaxation of rules as to the examination of cargo carried coastwise.

I beg to report as directed in Circular 1426 of 23 August, 1915, that:

(1.) The vessels to which the concession has been applied are those belonging to the Southampton, Isle of Wight and South of England Royal Mail Steam Packet Co., Ltd.:

            Princess Beatrice

            Princess Helena

            Her Majesty

            Duchess of York

            Solent Queen

all carrying mails, passengers, and packages of perishable goods between Southampton, Cowes, Ryde, Southsea and Portsmouth and:

            Lord Elgin

carrying general cargo between Southampton and Cowes.

(b) the small steamers belonging to Pickfords Limited carrying general cargo between Southampton, Cowes, Ryde and Portsmouth viz:





(c) and the small steamer to Long & Co., Brewers, Southsea, carrying beer between Southsea, Ryde, Cowes, Southampton and Portsmouth.

(2.) No irregularities have been discovered during the test examinations;

(3.) The resulting reduction in overtime attendance is I estimate about one hour a day for one Preventive Man;

(4.) No reduction could be made in the staff if the relaxation were made permanent.


30 September 1915        The goods in this case were made up in a parcel ready for posting to the offenders mother at 112 Greville Road, Ore, Hastings, and being carried along High Street, Cowes, when he was intercepted by Preventive Man Dobrzanski.

There are no extenuating circumstances and I respectfully submit that the goods be retained as a seizure and the whole of the deposit brought to account as a fine. (Offender was T Francis, Quartermaster of the “Mount Temple” steamship who deposited £1 – 8 – 0, the remainder of the seizure report is illegible.)


3 October 1915              I beg to report that A J White, 3rd Engineer on the s/s “Algerian”, a transport lying in Cowes Roads, was intercepted yesterday by Preventive Man W H Finley whilst landing at Watch House Lane Slipway. He was found to be in possession of 8/16 lb Cavendish Tobacco which he was carrying on his person to the boat for Southampton whence he was bound to his home for a weeks leave.

No deposit was required from the offender – the quantity of tobacco not being sufficient – but being a responsible Officer I called upon the Master to deposit £2 on the vessel and this he has done.

I annex a request from the Master for the return of the deposit and although I have no reason to doubt his statement that he tries to prevent smuggling by his crew I respectfully submit that the goods be retained as a seizure and 10/- of the deposit as a fine. (The seizure was confirmed and 5/- brought to account as a fine.)


7 October 1915              I hope you will excuse me for writing to you, but I am in doubt about the rewards due to Waterguard officers under the following circumstances viz:

The Preventive Officer, Motor Driver and another Preventive Man were on boarding duty and the other morning before the Preventive Officer left for other duties he instructed the two Preventive Men left at the Watch House to keep a look for members of the crews of Transports coming ashore until his return. This I am satisfied the men would have done without any instruction from the Preventive Officer.

The two Preventive Men in the absence of the Preventive Officer made a seizure and the Preventive Officer now claims to be a participator in the reward having given directions which led to the seizure being made. He was not present at the seizure and I am not at all satisfied that he is entitled to a share in the reward or to any other credit for the seizure. I know you will have a lot of experience in such cases, and I beg to refer the matter to you for your decision on my behalf and that of the Officers concerned who have undertaken to abide by what you say. (Unfortunately the result is not available.)


16 October 1915            There is no Preventive Man at this port over 50 and only one, Charles A Fry, will attain that age before 1st April, 1917, viz: on 9th July 1916.

He is still fit for active Waterguard duty and no grounds exist for considering his transfer to light duties ordinarily performed by Watchers on shore.


21 October 1915            The desks provided provide sufficient office accommodation for the officers and nothing further is at present required. I have filled up the forms as far as applicable and beg to submit them herewith.


21 October 1915                  William H Finley, Preventive Man granted an increment from £1.14.8 to £1.16.0 per week from 11 November.


12 November 1915         I beg to report, as instructed by your Order in papers 21853/1914, that the leave scheme for Preventive Officers and Preventive Men has worked satisfactorily so far as this port is concerned.

Cowes is districted with Southampton and each officer here has been granted ordinary leave within the period for which he was minuted and has been relieved by an officer from another port.

Several officers here did not ask for their full leave at the time for which they were minuted, but they understand that any application for further leave would not be likely to receive favourable consideration.


16 November 1915         I beg to submit the accompanying application from Mr Charles Brown, Proprietor of Brown’s Stores, 130 High Street, Cowes, for remission of duty on 48/16 lbs B M Cut Cavendish Cigarettes and 12/16 lbs B M Cigars, delivered from No. 2 Warehouse in this Port, on 14th July last for shipment as stores on the Transport, “Lucincitor”, lying at Southampton.

The goods not being produced to the Proper Officer were returned to be charged and duty was paid per H C Warrants No 21/22 of 22nd October 1915, viz: £1 – 5 – 6 for the cigarettes and 7/10 for the cigars.

A declaration made before a Justice of the Peace by the Master that the stores were actually shipped and used as stores on board the vessel is submitted.

As these transports are usually ordered away on very short notice I have no reason to doubt the statement of the applicant that this was the cause of the goods not being produced in the usual way, but perhaps the Collector at Southampton may have something to say. (The application was accepted.)


13 December 1915         List of Officers at this Port who have been attested, passed into Section B of the Army Reserve in their appropriate group and returned to their civil duties.



Married or Single

Date of Attesting

Address of Recruiting Authority

Appropriate Group to which passed

McPherson, Wm

Officer, late Clerk II U/S



Newport, Isle of Wight


Bright, W H

Officer, Unattached



Newport, Isle of Wight


Dobrzanski, I J

Preventive Man



Newport, Isle of Wight


Finley, W H

Preventive Man



Newport, Isle of Wight


Spencer, S T G

Preventive Man



Newport, Isle of Wight


Warne, G O

Preventive Man



Newport, Isle of Wight



22 December 1915         I beg to transmit for your information, as directed by Paragraph 424 of the Miscellaneous Code, the accompanying copy of a Draft Provisional Order for transferring the Victoria Pier at Ryde to the Ryde Corporation and other purposes in connection therewith. (After consultation with the Collector, Portsmouth, the Collector again wrote to the Board indicating there was no objection, providing the Department’s right of access was maintained.)


30 December 1915             Increments granted to J Stephens, Collector £425 to £440 from 20th January, G O Warne £1.8.6 to £1.10.0 per week from 21st February and W McPherson, Officer, late Clerk II U/S, £300 to £315 from 7th January.


10 January 1916            Stanley T G Spencer, Preventive Man, having expressed a desire to be relieved of his duties as Relief Driver of the Motor Boat “Nimble” to which he was appointed by your Honours, I have had William Henry Finley, Preventive Man, under instruction in order that he might qualify himself for appointment to the vacancy.

As Finley has shown considerable aptitude in acquiring the knowledge necessary for the proper care and management of the Motor, I respectfully submit that he may continue under instruction and I feel sure that he will soon be able to satisfy the Advising Officer as to his fitness for the post. (The Board replied that “under the peculiar conditions at Cowes” they agreed to the proposal. An allowance of 6d per day (later increased to 1/-) was paid when he was so employed.)


19 January 1916                  The Master of the Norwegian Whaler “Bas” applied for 20 Tons of bunker coal to take him in ballast direct to Sandifjord (Norway). This was granted by wire.


21 January 1916                  John Haslett, Unattached Officer, Cantley, Norwich appointed Unattached Officer, Cowes on relief.


9 February 1916                  John Stephens, Collector granted 12 days sick leave from 9th February. W McPherson acted as Collector.


9 February 1916 I beg to report that G E Mawdsley, 4th Engineer of the chartered transport “Maidan”, lying in the Solent awaiting orders, was intercepted on the 3rd inst. by I J Dobrzanski, Preventive Man, when landing at Watch House Slip & found to be in possession of 6 ozs. of Cavendish Tobacco which he had ready parcelled for the post. A deposit of 11/3 was taken from the offender and £2 on the ship from the Master. I enclose the P O’s report on form 458, and an application from the Master for the return of the deposit on the vessel, but submit that some portion of it may be retained to mark the offence. (Signed by W McPherson, acting Collector. The deposit on the goods was retained, as was 5/- on the vessel.)


10 February 1916           I beg to report that a return of the coal brought coastwise to Cowes in the years 1914 and 1915 has been issued through the Bill of Entry to Cowes U.D.C. who urgently required it in connection with representations they are making to the Board of Trade in the matter of the retail price of coal in the Island. The return was prepared by an Unattached Officer. Time taken was 8 hours, 5 of which were overtime at 1/- per hour.

I submit the proceedings for your approval and suggest that a fee of, say, 10/-, should be charged. (Signed by W McPherson, acting Collector.)


21 February 1916  (From the Preventive Men.)

We the undersigned Officers respectfully permission to be allowed to work in the local munitions factory.

In support of this request we wish to state that in this district foodstuffs, cloths and coals have increased in price from 20% to 60% in addition to pre-war rates, also that all other articles cost considerably more than they did previous to the commencement of hostilities. Our salaries are inadequate to defray this additional cost of living and we wish to augment them.

We respectfully appeal for a favourable consideration to our request and promise if granted, any work undertaken by us shall in no way interfere with our Official duties as Officers of Customs. (This was supported by the Collector, and approved by the Board provided it did not interfere with the efficient performance of their Official duties.)


7 March 1916                I beg to report that having received information from the local police that there were reasonable grounds for suspecting that contraband goods were being harboured in the “Prince Regent”, a licensed house in Market Hill at Cowes, I yesterday issued the Writ of Assistance to Mr F J Parsons P O and directed him to search the house with the assistance of three Preventive Men.

This was done and I enclose his report shewing that nothing contraband was found nor anything of a suspicious nature seen on any part of the premises. The search was made between the hours of 2.30 and 4 pm.


16 March 1916               I beg to submit the accompanying application from G Davey, Engine Driver of the Motor Boat “Hawk” now at Cowes on relief duty from Portsmouth.

Davey asks for assistance in replacing his spectacles which were knocked of his face and lost overboard when alongside the Transport “African Prince” lying in Cowes Roads. .

I have made enquiries and am satisfied that the loss was as stated by the applicant and not due to carelessness on his part.

As I have no knowledge of any similar case, I beg respectfully to submit the matter for your Honours instructions.


27 March 1916               I beg to report that while rummaging the s/s “Courtfield”, a transport lying in Cowes Roads, the Waterguard found concealments of 12/16 lbs and 14/16 lbs Cavendish Tobacco on board, belonging to Ah Sam, No. 1 Fireman and Loy You, Greaser, respectively.

Both offenders are Chinamen and on being offered the usual option elected to deposit £1 – 17/6 and          £1 – 2/6 treble the duty paid value in each case to abide by your Honours decision.

The latter is a leading Fireman and is in charge of others, and accordingly I called on the Master to deposit £2 on the vessel. This he has done and I submit a request letter from him. Although I have no reason to suppose that there is any lack of supervision on his part, I am satisfied that the Chinamen knew well enough what they were doing.

The “Courtfield” has for some time been running frequently between Cowes Roads, Southampton & France.

The wages of the offenders are £8 and £7 per month respectively with free rations in addition.

I respectfully submit that the whole of the offenders’ deposits and 10/- of the deposit on the vessel be retained as fines. (Deposits from the offenders were brought to account as a fine. Deposit in respect of the vessel returned, Collector appears to have been informed he should not take deposits from vessels on Admiralty Charter.)


3 April 1916                   I certify that I am satisfied that all persons to whom pensions are paid out of the Vote of this or any other Department and who receive their Superannuation or other allowances in this Collection are identical persons to whom the pensions were originally granted.


14 April 1916     Theatres, Music Halls, Cinema Theatres and Football Grounds in Cowes and Suburbs.


No. of places of Entertainment

Total accommodation for Audience



1. Theatres





2. Music Halls viz: [illegible] Hall, Forresters Hall & Town Hall, E Cowes



Very irregular

From 6d to 2/-.

3. Cinema Theatres viz: Poole’s, Empire



Full daily

300 @ 3d, 1000 @ 4d, 200 @ 6d, 100 @ 9d. When booked the 6d and 9d seats and 9d and 1/- respectively.

4. Football Grounds viz: Park Road and East Cowes


Not known

300/400 about twice a week in the season.

Anything from 2d to 6d.


19 April 1916                  Increments granted to F J Parsons, Preventive Office, £172.10/- to £180 from 9 April and W Bright, Officer, £87.10/- to £95 from 2nd June.


May/June 1916                     A considerable number of seizures were made during this period, frequently from crew landing at Watch House Slip. These have not been included.


15 May 1916     (From F J Parsons, Preventive Officer to the Collector.)

I beg to report with reference to the case of the perfumery in question, that from what the storekeeper said the Officers at Southampton would not release it until proper documents were forthcoming. It remained under seal until the 6th inst. when the enclosed vouchers together with the letter from the owner of the goods were produced to me. I examined the goods as per invoices and everything seemed in order and as the vessels was expecting to proceed to Belfast on finishing Hospital work. I cleared the case from under seal, as is done in the case of yachts on production of proper evidence as to the goods being duty paid.

I very much regret not having written of the perfumery from the Jerque Note, but this I have now done.

15 May 1916     (To the Collector, Southampton)

I beg to transmit the report of Mr Parsons on this matter.

Most of his work has been with yachts and I am afraid that he dealt with this package as if the vessel had been a yacht instead of a Red Cross Boat.

He has now endorsed on the Inward Clearing Bill a certificate of the delivery of the package from under seal on the 6th instant, but I do not see anything on that document to indicate that the goods were missed when the Surplus Stores were sent to the King’s Warehouse on the 9th instant.


(Undated) May 1916                   As most of the work required of the Unattached Officer here is in the Long Room (including Mercantile Marine) it seems to me that an Ex. 1st Class EO would require some training before his services could be economically used.

The office hours are from 9am to 5pm, whilst the first train and boat from Ryde are due at Cowes at 9.20am and 9.40am respectively. The boat service is not reliable as the port is frequently closed by order of the King’s Harbourmaster. The Officer could, however, travel by train and I could arrange for his hours to be, say, 9.30am to 5.30pm.

The name of the present Unattached Officer is William Henry Bright whom, I may say, I shall be very sorry to lose as he is doing exceptionally good work here. (The Collector had been asked whether it would be possible to employ a Reserve Officer living at Ryde. An Order was issued on 27th May transferring Mr Thomas E O’Reilly, Reserve Officer from London Port to Cowes and Mr W H Bright, Unattached Officer in the opposite direction. This was, however, cancelled on the 12th June. )


19 June 1916                 On coming to Cowes Mr Haslett gave me the impression that he was careless in his work, but on personal investigation I found that this was partly due to his inexperience and partly due to his manner.

I therefore instructed him with regard to his manner, and also, when in any doubt with regard to his work, to seek instruction from me, and when these were sought and given he proved himself apt and intelligent.

He was certainly not a slacker, but like most persons who have no experience of business, he was at first inclined to depend more on his own ideas than to consult the regulations.

The inexperience referred to in some of the reports is in my opinion due to inexperience in life as well as departmentally as, except as a farmer’s son, he knew nothing of business until he entered the department

Mr Haslett is of a quiet and retiring disposition and of a manner which on slight acquaintance could be easily misjudged, but I think he has been somewhat handicapped by the shortness of his stay in the different stations and possibly by the lack of guidance from fellow officers which a beginner usually gets.

I have no hesitation in saying that whilst at this port the quantity, and after he had got over his initial inexperience, the quality of the work he was called on to perform, were quite up to the standard reasonably to be expected of an officer of his service.


3 July 1916                    I am desired to inform you that the Board, by their Order of the 1st instant, have now directed that in the circumstances, Mr Thomas E O’Reilly, Reserve Officer, London Port, be transferred to Cowes, and that Mr W H Bright, Unattached Officer, Cowes, to be transferred to London Port, both at the Crown’s expense.

Mr O’Reilly will not be paid subsistence allowance, but will be allowed the actual reasonable expenses of getting to and from his work under par. 3 (c) of the memorandum as to the conditions of temporary re-employment No. 20619/1913. (O’Reilly took up his appointment on 2nd August.)


10 July 1916                  I beg to report as instructed by your Order in papers 17928/1915, that the Motor Boat “Hawk” from Portsmouth has been at Cowes relieving the “Nimble” on three occasions since my report on the working of the relief scheme in papers 12145/1914 viz:

(1.) From 17th August 1915 to 23rd August 1915, when the “Nimble” was at Portmouth having a new clutch fitted. On the return of the “Nimble” on the latter date the “Hawk” had to go to Portsmouth for some repairs due to herself but returned to Cowes on:-

(2.) 30th August 1915 and remained until the 6th September 1915 during which time the “Nimble” was hauled up on the slip for varnishing and minor repairs and

(3.) From 8th March 1916 to 17th March 1916, when the “Nimble” was on the slip for varnishing and minor repairs.

In addition to the ordinary work of the port the “Hawk” had to cover a wide area with officers visiting a fleet of Government Transports lying in the Solent and on all of these occasions her work gave entire satisfaction.

I have much pleasure in reporting that the scheme, so far as Cowes in concerned, has proved itself all that could be desired. (The Board ordered to scheme to be continued, with a further review in July 1917.)


17 July 1916                         Increment granted to S T G Spencer, Preventive Man, £1.11.6 pw to £1.13.0 pw from 4 September.


16 August 1916             I beg to report that the amount of petrol allowed by the Petrol Control Committee for use on the Customs motor Boat here is only 104 gallons for the 4 months commencing 1st August 1916, of which not more than 26 gallons can be obtained in any one Calendar month.

This is not nearly enough as the quantity used during the Quarter ended 30th June last was 130 gallons, and I estimate that I shall require the same quantity in the present and each succeeding quarter.

There is a contract with the Anglo-American Oil Company for the supply of Pratt’s Perfection Spirit at 2/5 a gallon from the depot at Cowes for the year ending 31st March 1917.

The local Agent however informs me that he cannot now supply me with more than the quantity covered by the licence for each month.

It is impossible to give the required attention to the work of the Port unless the amount allowed is increased to at least 130 gallons a Quarter.

I beg to submit the matter for your instructions and venture to suggest it may be possible to obtain a supply for official purposes as is done when petrol is required by Naval and Military Authorities. (The licence was increased to 50 gallons a month.)


21 August 1916             I regret having to report it was discovered on Monday morning the 31st ultimo that the No. 2 Dry Goods Bonded Warehouse. Medina Wharf, had been broken into.

The door was left securely fastened by the Officer under the Warehousekeepers’ and Crown locks on the preceding Saturday, but the Warehousekeepers’ local Manager found it open on Monday morning with the door damaged, the Crown lock missing and the Warehousekeepers’ lock forced and broken.

I immediately caused the damage to the door to be repaired and new Warehouse and Crown locks to be put on the door. The Police were called in, but up to the present the culprits have not been traced.

I directed the Waterguard officers to rummage a number of vessels lying off the Warehouse, but nothing of a suspicious nature was found.

The stock in the Warehouse was taken and it was found 98 tins of British Cavendish Cigarettes weight 115/16 lbs was missing belonging to Brown’s Stores, Cowes.

I called upon the Warehousekeepers’ Messrs Shepard Brothers, Limited, for payment of the duty, £4 – 14 – 6, on the missing cigarettes and they have done today the amount being brought to account by H C Warrant No. 9/21.8.1916.


22 August 1916             I beg to acknowledge the receipt this morning of your letter dated the 18th instant enclosing a deputation appointing me to be an Officer for the receipt of certain of His Majesty’s Stamp Duties.


October 1916                       The Collector was instructed to buy Lubricating Oil for the motor boat and paraffin for Custom House and the Watch House through the Office of Works.


21 October 1916                         Collector granted 17 days leave. Ainsworth Adair, Unattached Surveyor to officiate.


31 October 1916            I beg to report that the Waterguard leave scheme for the current year has worked well.

With a few slight exceptions the ordinary leave due to the respective officers has been taken by them within the periods minuted on the scheme, and relief has been provided by the approved port of Southampton.

The overlap period of acting by a Preventive Man was for some days recently when the Preventive Officer was absent on sick leave. It was expected that the PO would resume duty soon, as the indisposion was known to be slight. (Letter signed by A Adair, acting Collector.)


9 November 1916           This postal packet was handed to me by the local Postmaster. On inquiry by the Waterguard officer the offender was traced. He is serving as Steward on the Tug Ranger recently from Harwich towing the Government salvage barge Dromedary on passage to Holyhead. The barge is manned by naval ratings in charge of Petty Officer Smith from whom the offender stated he received the tobacco. P O Smith admitted the transfer to Mr F J Parsons, Preventive Officer. The tobacco was of a kind from the naval victualling yards and the tins had the appropriate warning against improper use.

This is a deliberate attempt to smuggle and I respectfully submit that the whole of the deposit may be taken as a fine. (Offender was W Wild of 60 Douglas Road, Anfield, Liverpool. Deposit of £1 – 18  – 3 was brought to account as a fine.)


16 November 1916             2 seizures made on shore by I J Dobrzanski, both in the High Street, one from Charles McCarthy, deposit of 19/- (11th) and the other from Donald Kerr  £1 – 10/- (16th). Deposit brought to account as fines.


17 January 1917                  Increments granted to J Stephens, Collector, £440 to £450 from 24th January, W McPherson, Officer, £315 to £330 from 7th January and G Warne, Preventive Man,  £1.10.0 to £1.11.6 pw from 21st February.


19 January 1917            I shall be very much obliged if your kindly advising whether the accompanying Sufferance Wharf Bond requires to be renewed at the termination of the seven years for which it was approved viz: 13th February 1916. No goods from foreign have been landed at this wharf for many years. (This related to Thetis Wharf operated by Pickfords. The Board appear to have offered no objection to the renewal for a period of seven years with a bond of £1000.)


16 February 1917           I beg to report under the writ of assistance issued by you, I proceeded with two Preventive Men to search the premises known as “Lynwood”, Bernard Road, Cowes, in the occupation of Mr Elderfield. On tin containing about 2 oz of navy cut tobacco was produced by Mr Elderfield, who stated he got it from his father in law. No other dutiable goods were found.

I then proceeded to the address of his Father in law Mr Plumbley in Beckford Road and he produced one tin containing about 4/16 lbs navy cut tobacco and one empty half pound tin. He stated that he had received three half pound tins of tobacco from H M Trawlers which had been under repair at White Bros Yard, Cowes where he is employed. Two tins he got from one trawler and one tin from another, but could not remember their names. On searching the house one box Cigars and one part box 2/16 lbs were produced (Remainder illegible)

22 February 1917  This letter is partially illegible, the following are legible extracts.

…… harbouring contraband tobacco in his house “Lynwood”, Bernard Road, Cowes, I issued the Writ of Assistance to Mr F J Parsons, Preventive Officer and directed him to search the house with two Preventive Men.

This was done and from information received from Mr Elderfield searched the house of his father in law, Mr Plumbely, and assistant Engineer with Messrs W White & Sons Ship at Cowes, at residing at Selworthy, Beckford Road, Cowes.

I annex the report of the Preventive Officer giving the result of the search of both the houses.

It appears from the enquiries I have made that Plumbley, who is employed by W White and Sons to fit guns on Government trawlers, obtained the navy tobacco on board ……

…… took treble duty paid value £1 – 18 – 3 on the tobacco (1½ lbs) from Plumbley and 12/9 on the one tin from Elderfield to abide by your Honours decision.

There are no extenuating circumstances in these cases and I respectfully submit that both deposits be brought to account as fines.

Plumbley stated that the 12/16 lb Cigars found in his house were purchased duty paid from the Bond Cigar Company, Alexandra Dock, Grimsby, but could not produce the receipts as they had been destroyed. He has since obtained duplicates and as they appear to be in order, I respectfully submit that the cigars may be returned to him. (The deposits were retained as fines, the cigars were returned.)


24 February 1917  (To the Recruiting Officer, Castle Road, Newport, I W)   

I am directed by the Commissioners of His Majesty’s Customs and Excise to inform you that the Officers are noted in the accompanying list are employed by this Department and have been granted further exemption from Military Service to 31st May 191, inclusive.



Married or Single

Date of Attesting

Address of Recruiting Authority

Appropriate Group to which passed

McPherson, Wm

Officer, late Clerk II U/S



Newport, Isle of Wight


Dobrzanski, I J

Preventive Man



Newport, Isle of Wight


Finley, W H

Preventive Man



Newport, Isle of Wight


Spencer, S T G

Preventive Man



Newport, Isle of Wight


Warne, G O

Preventive Man



Newport, Isle of Wight



11 March 1917                     4 detentions of compressed tobacco were made from the Trinity yacht “Warden”. The Board decided that it was prohibited and that the goods should be seized.


11 April 1917                        The Preventive Officer and Preventive Men requested new Sea Boots as those issued on 12.2.1915 were worn out and leaking and those issued on 30.5.1916 were of inferior quality. This was granted as a “special concession owing to the exceptional conditions prevailing at your port”


16 April 1917     (To the Collector, Portsmouth)    

I beg to return in the envelope annexed all the papers you sent me.

Mr Bruce L Atkey called here a few days ago when I explained to him that if this car is being used as stated in his letters the car could not be treated as complying with the Finance Act 1916.

He replied that the car was being used for commercial purposes only and was claiming on that account. I told him that as his new statement appeared to alter the case, he had better put it in writing.

It is not possible for him to say that he satisfied me because not being conversant with the facts of the case, I could not and did not give any opinion one way or the other.

I sent down to his shop on Saturday for his reply in writing but found that he had gone away sick, but evidently the letter he has now sent to the Board is meant to be his reply.


23 April 1917                 The sender of the parcel is a No. 1 fireman on board the s/s “Aquitaine”, about 17 years of age, and is in the receipt of a wage of £10 a month with all found in addition.

He has been on the vessel for 6 months and, as there are notices in every part of the ship warning the crew of smuggling, he cannot be so innocent as his father would like one to believe.

As the offender is in receipt of a high wage, and believing that he sent the tobacco well knowing the offence he was committing, I beg to submit that the whole of the deposit, £1 – 19/4 is retained as a fine. (This was agreed by the Board.)


28 April 1917                 I beg to report in reply to your letter of yesterday that Preventive Man Isadore J Dobrzanski:

(a) has no constitutional delicacy or physical infirmity which would impair his efficiency on any duty as a Preventive Officer;

(b) has not been absent by sickness within the last 3 years for a single absence exceeding 2 months or an aggregate absence exceeding 3 months.


25 May 1917                 Police report forwarded by the Clerk to the Isle of Wight County Council

I beg to report that this car DL589 is at present at Andrews’ Garage, Southampton. I have seen the car on many occasions. It is a two seater and has a box arrangement at the back which is sometimes used to carry small articles in connection with the ironmongery business. From what I have seen of the car it is principally used as a run-about, for joy-riding and going for meals. To the best of my recollection the name “Pascall Atkey & Son” was on the car.


30 May 1917                 I beg to submit a letter from the Police to the Isle of Wight County Council on this case.

The report by the Police as to the employment of the car appears to be substantially correct as far as I have casually noticed. As the car is now in Southampton I cannot unfortunately verify the name on it but the Collector at Southampton will probably be able to do so.


7 June 1917       Coastwise traffic.

The principal classes of goods (other than coal, coke and manufactured fuel) brought into the Isle of Wight are:

(1) Provisions of all kinds, both food and drink.

(2) Materials both raw and partially manufactured for the building of Seaplanes, Torpedo Boats, Destroyers and all kinds of small boats.

(3) Building Materials.

(4) [illegible] and other furniture

(5) [illegible]

(6) Cloth and clothing of all kinds, and

(7) Grain for brewing and milling.

The principal Ports in the United Kingdom from which all classes of these goods are brought are Southampton and Portsmouth, the railway termini.


9 June 1917                         Collector granted leave, Walter F Bradley, officiated.


21 June 1917                       Increment granted to S T G Spencer, Preventive Man, £1.13.0 to £1.14.6 from 4th September.


3 July 1917        To Preventive Man I J Dobrzanski

Please ascertain as far as possible without attracting attention, whether motor car DL 589 belonging to Messrs. Pascall Atkey & Co Limited, High Street, Cowes is constructed or adapted for use, and is used, solely for the conveyance of any goods or burden in they course of trade of husbandry and does it bear in letters legibly painted not less than one inch in length the name or style and place of business of the Company or firm.


10 July 1917                  I beg to submit for your Honours instructions the accompanying application from the Waterguard officers concerning participation in the detection of a smuggler on board s/s “Aquitania”, lying off this port.

The package concerned contained 15/16 lbs F M Cavendish Tobacco which was intercepted by the Post Office officials at Southampton whence it was sent by the Collector there to the Collector at Ramsgate who ascertained from the addressee the name of the sender, a fireman on board the “Aquitania”

On receipt of the papers I sent the Waterguard crew on board the vessel where they found the offender and obtained from him treble the duty paid value, £1 – 19/4. By B O of the 26th April 1917 the tobacco was ordered to be detained as a seizure and the whole of the deposit to be brought to account as a fine, and this was done accordingly.

I am inclined to favour the application of the officers, but, as I am not sure whether it may be considered that the offender was traced “by special investigation and inquiry of a detective nature on the part of the applicants” (paragraph 56 of the Revised Smuggling Instructions, Part 1), I beg to submit the matter for your Honours instructions.


13 July 1917      From I J Dobrzanski, Preventive Man

I beg to report, when I saw it the car was not adapted for trade purposes. The car bore no marks other than “D.L. No. 589” except and address viz:- Atkey Garage, Cowes” on an accumulator box on the step of the car.


19 July 1917                  I beg to report as instructed that the Motor Boat “Hawk” from Portsmouth has been at Cowes relieving the Motor Boat “Nimble” on two occasions since my report of the 10th July 1916, on the working of the Relief Scheme viz:-

(1.) From 2nd October 1916 to 2nd November 1916, when the “Nimble” was hauled up on the slip for her annual overhaul, and

(2.) From 26th March to 11th April when “Nimble” was hauled up on the slip for varnishing and minor repairs

On both occasions the “Hawk’s” services were entirely satisfactory and again I have much pleasure in reporting that the Relief Scheme, so far as Cowes is concerned, has proved to be all that can be desired.


23 July 1917                  I beg to submit the accompanying application from Preventive Man S T G Spencer to be given permission to transfer from Section R to Section B of the 1st Battalion Isle of Wight Volunteer Rifles.

Since joining this body, Spencer has been promoted from Private to Company Sergeant Major and is desirous of retaining that rank, but he believes from what the adjutant states in a Memorandum to the Captain that he will lose his rank unless the transfer is granted.

I have pointed out to him that the transfer would render him liable to be called out for actual military service without the consent of this Department (Customs Circular No. 34/12th February 1917) and now beg to submit the matter for your Honours instructions. (This request was granted.)


1 August 1917               With reference to paragraph 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 each of the undermentioned Preventive Men at your Port from the date set against his name.

The “Star” is granted 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 of the Board.

I J Dobrzanski    15 August 1917


31 August 1917                   In reply to a request from the Board the Collector reported that there were no employees of Enemy Extraction.


10 September 1917            The Petty Seizure account for August 1917 reported the seizure of 2 lbs of Sugar. There were no further details.


19 September 1917        With reference to Trading with the Enemy Instructions and subsequent circulars it has occurred to me that some saving of labour and stationery would be effected if your Honours would be pleased to grant permission to issue General Clearances to all regular traders which do not proceed outside the Needles in the west nor a line from Culver Cliff to East Head at the eastern entrance to Chichester Harbour in the east. These vessels are largely craft of 30 tons plying daily to weekly between the Ports & Creeks of Southampton, Portsmouth, Ryde, Cowes, Lymington and Langstone and Chichester Harbours. The concession, if granted, would only be applied to well known regular traders, plying in a restricted area, I do not anticipate any danger of a breach of the Regulations through the proposed relaxation. (After consultation with the Collectors at Portsmouth and Southampton the concession was granted by the Board.)


26 September 1917        I have in the King’s Warehouse at this Port a cask of Spirits, unenumerated of the following dimensions:



Hyd. Str.


Act Str

Proof Gallons








£24 – 16 – 8

The cask was found afloat at Compton Bay, Isle of Wight, on the 6th instant, and appears to have been adrift for some considerable time. The Analyst reports that the Spirits are contaminated with salt; and they are in such a state from being afloat so long as to be unfit for consumption and not worth the duty. It is not known from which ship the cask came, nor are there any marks by which the ownership or origin may be traced. As the Spirits are of no commercial value, I respectfully submit that they may be destroyed. The sanction of the Board of Trade to this cause has been obtained. (Goods were destroyed by being poured into the sea.)


10 October 1917            I have in the King’s Warehouse at this Port a quantity of Absolute Alcohol washed ashore on the Isle of Wight, and now ascertained to be the property of the India Office. By his letter the Director General of Stores, India Office, asks me to forward the goods to their Depôt at Lambeth, S E, and I respectfully request your Honours permission to do so. The particulars of he alcohol are as follows:

(Full details not transcribed, but the quantity was 25.52 proof gallons)

I should be glad of your Honours instructions as to what security, if any, should be required of the transferees. (No bond was required, but the goods were to be examined on arrival by the Officer, London Port.)


16 October 1917            From I J Dobrzanski, Preventive Man

I beg to report that from a conversation I had with a Police Office I had reason to believe that Navy tobacco was being dealt with in the public houses at Yarmouth I W and if these houses were searched it was likely that smuggled tobacco would be found there.

Previous to the above I was waiting at the Pontoon, Cowes I had overheard parts of a conversation between two sailors in which tobacco and Yarmouth were mentioned. This I reported to you accordingly and you issued the Writ of Assistance to me and instructed me to search the licensed houses at Yarmouth, this I did according to your instructions. (It appears that nothing was found.)


24 November 1917         I beg to report that the Waterguard Leave Scheme for this Port has worked satisfactorily during the current year.

The Leave, as minuted has been taken by the officers within their respective periods with very slight modifications, and the relief has bee provided by the approved Port of Southampton.

The only periods of acting by the Preventive Men aggregate 13 days viz:- 2 days Compensation and 11 days Sick Leave by the Preventive Officer.

On 12 of these days I J Dobrzanski, the Senior Preventive Man, acted and on the other S T G Spencer, the Senior Preventive Man then available.


24 November 1917         I beg to submit the accompanying application from Messrs. Dear & Morgan, Cowes for permission to clear from the Store Floor of No. 2 Warehouse in this Port, four tins containing 56 lbs of Coffee and Chicory F M, the remainder of a package of 112 lbs received under bond from Grand Surrey Warehouse, London on 19th July 1915, for export only.

The shipments of the applicant have now practically ceased and they accordingly desire to clear this remnant for Home Consumption and retail it in their grocery establishment.

The last drawing from the package was made on the 23rd May 1916. (This was agreed by the Board subject to duty being paid at the rate prior to the date of importation.)


26 November 1917                     I beg to report, in reply to your letter of the 23rd instant, that no women are at present employed in this Port and in my opinion it is not desirable to employ the type of woman needed to cope with the work.

It would be difficult to find suitable clerical work to employ her full time as the volume and nature of the business is so uncertain and of a varied character that neither of the two present officers can with efficiency be definitely assigned to any particular work, but have to undertake any duty as it presents itself including Wreck Work, Mercantile Marine Work involving dealing with mixed types of crews of various nationalities and visiting the small isolated Warehouses both wet and dry – in company with a purely male Warehousekeepers staff, in most instances one man only.


29 November 1917         The s/Yacht “Grianaig”, has her base at Southampton, and does not enter Cowes Harbour, but sails in Cowes Roads where she embarks convalescing officers from Osborne by means of her own launch from Trinity Wharf, East Cowes.

No stores have been shipped here, but a quantity as shown by the accompanying Warrants and despatch was delivered from Warehouse for shipment at Southampton, which according to the certificate on the despatch was duly carried out.

The vessel is described on the Warrants as for “Active Service”, and was treated by the Warehouse officer in the same way as a Transport, no Form 64 having been produced.

It appears to be a case for your Honours to direct whether the vessel should be treated as a bona-fide seagoing ship in Commission.

The vessel is capable of going to sea and was deployed as a hospital ship in the Mediterranean some time ago, although she has recently spent most of her time in harbour of cruising in Southampton Water owing to the action of the enemy with regard to hospital ships. As the Collector at Southampton is likely to be able to give further information about the matter, I recommend reference to him.


6 December 1917           There has been a vacancy of Preventive Man at this Port since Mr I J Dobrzanski left on the 21st ultimo on promotion to Preventive Officer, Southampton.

I am in need of assistance and have applied to Southampton, the Port approved for sending Waterguard officers in case of leave, but the Collector there does not consider he can send any one in a case of this kind without your Honours sanction, although he does not think there will be any difficulty in supplying the assistance.

I therefore respectfully submit that your Honours may be pleased to direct that a Preventive Man be sent from Southampton in aid of the Establishment here until the vacancy has been filled. (Watson was sent and arrived on 19th December.)


24 December 1917         I beg to transmit for your information as directed by paragraph 424 of the Miscellaneous Code, the accompanying copy of the draft Order for the transfer of Sandown Pier to the Urban District Council of Sandown and for conferring further powers on that Council. (The Board stated that there was no objection.)

7 January 1918                    Increments granted to W McPherson, Officer, £330 to £345 from 7th January and G Warne, Preventive Man,  £1.11.6 to £1.13.0 pw from 21st February.


12 February 1918           A quantity of cargo from the French Steamer “Le Perouse” recently stranded at Puckaster, Isle of Wight, was jettisoned before the vessel could be refloated.

The salved perishable goods were sold by me at once and realised about £2,000 and now it is proposed by the French Consular Agent at Cowes to sell the non perishable, consisting of lubricating oil and Motor Lorry Accessories by public auction on Tuesday 19th instant, Messrs Marvins, Cowes being the Auctioneers.

The accessories for the Motor Lorries are shown in the accompanying Catalogue, Lots nos. 120, 121, 122 and 166.

The goods were assigned from New York to Havre for the French Government and no Bill of Lading or evidence can be produced, these documents having gone on with the vessel to France where the cargo not jettisoned was discharged.

I am in doubt whether the Motor Lorry Accessories are liable to duty and, if so, the rate, but, if not, on what conditions they may be delivered duty free.

The goods in question are damaged by salt water and I respectfully submit the matter for your Honours instructions. (The Board ruled that they were exempt from duty providing they were for lorries and not for pleasure.)


19 February 1918                                A seizure was made at the Cowes Naval Transport Office following a report by John Gordon Offord, Lieutenant R N R. It appears that S W Warren, Master of s/s “Leitrim” had left a package, in that Office which was found to contain a case of Spirits. As the vessel had left for Southampton, the case was dealt with by the Collector there. The Preventive Men who attended received rewards, S T G Spencer, £2.5s.11d and C A Fry £1.7s7d.


22 February 1918           I beg to report in reply to your Minute of 20th instant, on the questing of extending the employment of women in substitution for men in this office, that:

(1) No women are or have been employed in this Port,

(2) Only 2 officers are employed here, viz:- Wm McPherson, Officer aged 414/12 years and Thomas E Reilly, Reserve Officer aged 641/12 years, and

(3) I beg to repeat what I said in my report of the 26th November last on the same subject, viz:- That in my opinion it is not desirable to employ the type of women needed to cope with the work.

It would be difficult to find suitable clerical work to employ her full time as the volume and nature of the business here is of so varied and uncertain character that neither of the two present officers can with efficiency be definitely assigned to any particular work, but has to undertake any duty as it presents itself, itself including Wreck Work, Mercantile Marine Work involving dealing with mixed types of crews of various nationalities and visiting the small isolated Warehouses both wet and dry – in company with a purely male Warehousekeepers staff, in most instances one man only.


20 March 1918               The cleaning of the two rooms occupied by the Waterguard officers at Cowes viz:- the Watch House and the Preventive Officers room is done each morning by the Preventive Man on Watch from Midnight to 8am.

The Preventive Men take their turn on this Watch changing round each week. Their duties during this Watch are not such as must employ their full time and consists in keeping account of arrivals and sailings, answering the telephone &c. leaving sufficient spare time to do the cleaning work which does not interfere with the outside work.

I am of the opinion that a Watcher could be employed on this Watch instead of a Preventive Man.


13 April 1918                 I beg to submit the accompanying application from Mr Charles Brown, Sole Proprietor of Brown’s Stores, 130 High Street, Cowes for a General Export and Store Bond in the Penalty of £500.

The increased Penalty is necessary for Mr Brown’s trade at this Port, and he has named the same Sureties as in his former Bond of £100.

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

I submit a draft Bond for your approval, and also the existing Bond.

26 April 1918                 The French steamer “Le Perouse” was recently stranded at Puckcaster Cove, Isle of Wight, oil &c. had to be jettisoned before she could be refloated.

Nine persons were detected in possession of parts which they had not reported to me and were subsequently charged and convicted, the fines amounting in the aggregate to nearly £40.

G O Warne, Preventive Man, acting on my behalf made all the seizures and was assisted in some of the cases by:

Fred Crews, Inspector of Special Constables, Niton, Edward Medlock, Leading Boatman, H M Coastguard, Ventnor, and William Shannon, Police Sergeant, Ventnor.

As a reward for zeal the French Consul at Cowes decided to grant the following awards:

G O Warne – Salvage on all the goods seized amounting to £6.2/6

Crews - £2

Medlock - £1

Shannon - £1

The Board of Trade by their Order have allowed these amounts to be paid to Crews, Medlock & Shannon on condition that their competent superior Officers agree to the rewards being paid to them, and to Warne the sum of £5 provided your Honours see no objection.

As Warne displayed great zeal in the work and was complimented for the manner in which he gave his evidence, I respectfully submit that he may be allowed the £5 as a reward for his service. (.)

3 May 1918                   The French Steamer “La Perouse” was stranded   at Niton and a large quantity of goods was jettisoned. In the absence of the Coastguard, I sent out PM Warne to be on the spot to take report from Salvors and send them on to me. Mr McPherson visited Niton twice viz on the 15th & 20th to sell to sell the perishable goods by auction on the shore. These proceedings were reported to the Board of Trade, & approved by them. No report was made to the Board of Customs & Excise in the matter. (This was in reply to a request for further information from the Board. The Board allowed Warne to keep the £5.) (1919 – 1925)


8 May 1918                     Increment granted to F J Parsons, Preventive Office, £187.10/- to £195 from 9 April.


8 May 1918                           The Collector reported that the s/s “Serena” which was being towed by Admiralty Tugs after being torpedoed broke in two off the Needles and became a total wreck. No B P Spirits were salvaged.


10 May 1918                 An American Tanker OB Jennings was lying several miles off Sandown and her cargo or rather some of it was salved under the Superintendence of the Admiralty Salvage Officers from Portsmouth.

No cargo was landed or washed ashore on the Island and no report was made of transire issued. The vessel was refloated some time ago and taken to Southampton where I believe she still is. (This vessel was in collision with the “War Knight” (see below) on 24th March.) (1918 – 1925)


10 May 1918                 The time occupied by Warne in travelling on 15th January was 2 hours and the mode of travelling by train, whilst on 16th January the time occupied in travelling was 2 hours and the mode of travelling by car.

He was employed on the 14th January from 5/7pm in preparing evidence for the Police Court proceedings on the 19th January. (1918 – 1925)


21 May 1918                 To Helen E Lock, Spring Vale, Niton.

I beg to acknowledge the receipt this morning of you letter of yesterday and to inform you that I have no record of any dog being landed from the Norwegian Steamer “Snar”.

As to the date of landing of the crew no information can be furnished in connection with torpedoed vessels, these matters being treated as strictly confidential. (1918 – 1925)


12 June 1918                       From the A & C G (Accountant and Comptroller General)

1. A outstation is a place outside the Customs zone of the Office and Port.

2. A public conveyance is any vehicle of travel including traps, motor cars, &c. hired for the occasion, trams, trains, hired boats, coastguard boats, if not worked by the Officer but not including cycles or service boats.

3. Under the present rule any time spent travelling to an outstation by public conveyance as defined above in excess of an hour per journey should not be credited as attendance. (This resulted from a query on G O Warne’s travel to Niton in respect of La Perouse.)  (1918 – 1925


13 June 1918                 To the Clerk to the Rural District Council, Newport

It has been reported to me that a Cask of Berlin Black, wrecked goods salved by Charles Kellaway has been taken from the Quay at Yarmouth by men of your Council, engaged in tarring the road, doubtless in error. Will you please enquire into the matter and let me know the result? (1918 – 1925)


5 July 1918                    The British steamer “War Knight” after being in collision, on fire, mined and fired on by a British Torpedo Boat Destroyer in an attempt to sink her, stranded at Watcombe Bay near Freshwater on this Island when a quantity of pork, lard, and oil &c. came ashore from the vessel.

Thirty persons were detected at various places in illegal possession of lard and pork and were subsequently charged, when fines amounting to a total of £411 were imposed.

W H Finley, Preventive Man, Cowes, acting on my behalf as Receiver of Wreck made nearly all the seizures and was assisted in some of the cases by Police Sergeant Sibbick and Police Constable Clark, both of the Isle of Wight Constabulary.

As recognition of their services the owners of the cargo have expressed their desire to grant the following awards, Viz:-

Finley £5
Sibbick £2
Clark   £2


The Board of Trade have allowed these amounts to be paid on receiving authority from the proper authorityin each case.

I have received permission from the Chief Constable, Isle of Wight, so far as the Police are concerned, and respectfully submit that Finley may be allowed to accept the £5 as recognition of his zeal. (The Board allowed the award.)


July 1918          From F J Parsons, Preventive Officer

I beg to report making enquiries re Navy Tobacco seized by the Post Office authorities at Southampton.

On visiting Mrs Clark at the address mentioned (Fish Shop, St Mary’s Road, Cowes) she at first stated she knew nothing about any tobacco being sent from her house, but later said I had better see her daughter. I then saw the daughter who stated she sent the tobacco to her Grandfather at Lymington, and that it had been in the house for a long time and did not know where it came from.

I gave her the option of depositing treble value and duty in lieu of being prosecuted before the Magistrates. She decided to make the deposit of £1 – 10 – 9.


17 July 1918                  I beg to report as instructed by your Orders in papers Nos. 8262/1917 that the Motor Boat “Hawk” from Portsmouth has been at Cowes relieving the Motor Boat “Nimble” on three occasions since my report on the 19th July 1917 on the working of the Relief Scheme:

(1.) From 27th July 1917 to 2nd August 1917

(2.) From 18th October 1917 to 27th October 1917, and

(3.) From 15th March 1918 to 23rd March 1918

on each occasion when the Motor Boat “Nimble” was hauled up on the slip for varnishing and minor repairs.

On each of these occasions the “Hawks” services were entirely satisfactory and I therefore have much pleasure in reporting that the Relief Scheme has again given entire satisfaction as far as Cowes is concerned.


17 July 1918                  I beg to transmit for your instructions the accompanying application of the Captain for the Expeditionary Force Canteen, London, and respectfully submit that it may be allowed without bond being required. The cigarettes in the two cases are in fairly good condition being packed in hermetically sealed tins.

The goods in the other seven cases are totally unfit for any use being soaked with salt water and I respectfully submit they may be destroyed. (These were mainly Capstan Cigarettes, having been salved from the s/s “Luciston”, which had been torpedoed on its way to France. The Collectors submission was accepted by the Board.)


17 July 1918      From F J Parsons, Preventive Officer.

In reply to further questions re seizure of tobacco, I beg to state that from enquiries made that the sender’s Father is a Boatswain on the Trinity Yacht “Warden”.

I again saw the girl who accepted the responsibility of making the deposit. She is 22 years of age, and sent the parcel by her Fathers instructions. I do not think she knew she was committing an offence.

I visited the Yacht “Warden” and questioned the Father as to the tobacco in question, and he stated he brought it from a sailor some months ago in a public house but did not know who he was or what ship he belonged to and since then it had been lying at his home in St Mary’s Road. (The goods were seized and the deposit brought to account as a fine.)


17 July 1918                  To J Bridgeman, Southampton.

The Customs and Excise Inspector has complained that the lock fitted on the Entertainment Tickets cupboard does no meet official requirements and the doors must be secured by a Revenue lock and fastening. I would be glad if you would give your early attention to this matter. The present lock was fitted under your instructions in response to my letter of the 17th July1917. (1918 – 1925)


23 July 1918                  Return of Services carried out and expenses incurred in connection with the Hull and machinery of the Motor Boat “Nimble” at this Port during the Quarter ended 30th June 1918.

Name of Boat









4 white metal brushes





One length flanged copper for exhaust





2 springs, 2 coil springs, 12 yds low tension wire moulded, postage 5d









(1918 – 1925)


30 July 1918                  The late Sir Charles Seely’s title to wreck washed ashore and unclaimed covered the Manors of Brighstone, Mottistone & Brook.

1. Brighstone extends from Cowleaze Chine on the east to Chilton Chine on the west.

2. Mottistone extends from Chilton Chine on the east to the point marked X on the chart on the west (not included).

3. Brook extends from the point marked X on the chart on the east to a little to the east of Hanover Point in the west. This includes the whole of the parish of Brook touching the seashore.

These include the whole of the foreshore for which the late Sir Charles Seely was entitled to unclaimed wreck. This title was admitted by the Board of Trade in March 1897. (1918 – 1925)


16 August 1918                   Patrick Carey, Unattached Surveyor to officiated for Collector while he was on leave, 24th August to 16th September.


23 August 1918   To the Ward Estate.

I am instructed by the Harbour Department of the Board of Trade, to inform you that on account of the death of Edmund Granville Ward, it will be necessary for the new Lord of the Manor to prove devolution of the title before the proceeds of unclaimed wreck can be paid. (1918 – 1925)


23 August 1918   From the Board of Trade.

Received Form WR 22 in regard to the proceeds of wreck due to the manors of Brook, Brixton and Mottistone late successor to the Sir Charles Seely, not yet paid.

The Receiver is notified that the claim of General Seely is under consideration by the Boards solicitors & that he will be notified in due course of the decision. (1918 – 1925)


1 October 1918              The statements in the letter of the Clerk to the County Council are, so far as my knowledge of the case goes, correct.

I visited Freshwater along with Mr A E Marvin, Lloyds Agent, Cowes, & finding the pork coming ashore to be putrid & smelling very badly did not take it in charge. Indeed no one had courage enough to attempt to salve it.

The CC themselves undertook the responsibility for the burial of all carcases washed ashore in the Isle of Wight excluding the Borough of Ryde.

Lloyds Agent made a suggestion to the underwriters to have the putrid pork collected for the purpose of trying to turn it into something useful, but they rejected the proposal as impractical.

On being asked by the Clerk to the CC, I advised him to claim the expenses incurred in burying the pork from Mr A E Marvin Lloyds Agent, Cowes, Agent for the underwriters. (This resulted by a protest against the inaction of the authorities at Cowes whereby expenses of £27 – 14 – 3 had to be incurred in burying putrid pork washed ashore at Freshwater from the “War Knight”.) (1918 – 1925)


1 October 1918     From S T G Spencer, Preventive Man.

I beg to report that acting under your instructions I proceeded to Whitecroft and interviewed Mr T W Leadbeater, Chief Attendant at Whitecroft Asylum, the address of a parcel containing 4 oz of Navy Perique tobacco detained at the Post Office, Dunfermline.

The addressee denied all knowledge of the sender and said he was not expecting any tobacco by post. He has one son serving in H M Navy who was then home on leave.

I interviewed the son who denied ownership of the tobacco. There was no communication in the parcel and no indication of its origin. It contained nothing but tobacco. (The papers were forwarded to the Collector, Stirling.)


9 October 1918              I beg to report that all nine officers stationed at this Port have taken the Oath of Allegiance:



John Stephen

Collector and Surveyor

William McPherson

Officer, late Clerk II, u/s

Thomas Eugene O’Reilly

Reserve Officer

Frederick John Parsons

Preventive Officer

Charles Albert Fry

Preventive Man

William Henry Finley

Preventive Man

Stanley Spencer

Preventive Man

Frederick Petty Watson

Preventive Man

George Oliver Warne

Preventive Man


7 January 1919                    Increments granted to McPherson £345 to £360 and Warne £1.13/- to £1.14.6.


17 January 1919                  The Clerk to Freshwater Parish Council (G H Merwood of “Uplands”, Totland Bay) complained of damage from tubs of oil from the “War Knight” and suggested payment of compensation of 1/- per tub. He was referred to Mr Marvin, agent for the owner.)  (1918 – 1925)


21 January 1919            From William McPherson.

Age: 423/12 , Rank: Senior Clerical Officer, Salary £360, Length of Service 202/12 years.

With reference to G O 4/1919, I beg to offer myself as a candidate for nomination to a First Class Clerkship in the Ministry of Pensions. I have served this Department since 1st December 1898, when I was appointed to the Long Room, Custom House, London, as a Second Division Clerk. After some service there, I was, with others transferred to the Customs Establishment as a Port Clerk of the Lower Section and, in 1901, was in that capacity transferred at my own request to the Long Room, Custom House, Manchester, and, in 1904, was promoted to the Upper Section in the Long Room, Glasgow, whence, through reduction in establishment, I was transferred to the Long Room in London, and in November, 1909, to my present position at Cowes.

Before entering the Customs Service I was employed in the Secretariat of the Congested Districts Board for Ireland, Dublin, as a boy Clerk, and subsequently as a Temporary Clerk from April, 1894, to December, 1897. From 14th February, 1898 to 19th April, 1898, I was employed as a Man Copyist at the Mint, the Home Office, and the Local Government Board; and from 21st April, 1898, to 10th October, 1898, I was a Temporary Second Division Clerk in the Education Office, Dublin. I have thus been serving the Crown in a clerical capacity for nearly 25 years, always, I believe, with satisfaction to my official superiors. On this ground of long and varied clerical experience I respectfully put forward my claim for your Honours favourable consideration. I would further press my claim as, so far as can be seen, I have no prospect of advancement beyond my present special maximum of £400.

During all my service, I have enjoyed good health and believe myself physically and by experience fully qualified for such a post as is now sought.


27 January 1919            As directed by Circular C17/25.1.19, on the subject of overtime attendance I beg to report:

(a) Officers.       No overtime attendance in operation.

(b) Waterguard and Launch crews.          The only regular overtime attendance, involving a charge not recoverable from the merchant, is that needed to provide a continuous watch at the Boarding Station. It involves the attendance of one man each day, at the night rate allowance of 1/6 of an hour additional to the actual hours of attendance, from 8pm to midnight and one man from midnight to 6am at the same rate. On Sundays and Public Holidays the 24 hours is divided into 3 watches of eight hours each paid at 1/3 per hour with the usual addition for night allowance. The Preventive Officer makes one Sunday visit per Calendar Month which is paid for as overtime.

The foregoing attendance is given under “schemes” approved by your Honours. It is not possible to reduce of abolish this attendance and maintain the necessary continuous watch.

(c) There are no Watchers at Cowes.


February 1919                      S T G Spencer and G O Warne, Preventive Men, both applied for post of preventive Officer at Longhope.


12 February 1919    Narragansett

In reply to your enquiry, I beg to report that I yesterday visited this vessel ashore on White Ledge, Forelands, near Bembridge and interviewed the Commanding Officer of the ship which still remains fast. She is a US naval vessel under the Command of US Naval Officers, and manned by US naval ratings, and the C.O. informs me that he has made a statement through the usual departmental channels. There is a US armed guard mounted over the vessel and a US salvage party stands by, both under the command of Captain Allan of the “Narragansett” and acting with the Salvage Offers of the British Admiralty who are engaged in salvage operations on the vessel.

In the circumstances, no depositions have been taken. (Signed by W McPherson, Receiver of Wreck. The vessel was refloated on the 17th February.) (1918 – 1925)


21 February 1919                                William Urry of Mount Lodge, Freshwater found guilty of misdealing in Paraffin wax believed to be from the “War Knight”. Fined £1 or 14 days. (1918 – 1925)


22 February 1919           Royal Naval Reserve

With reference to your circular or the 18th inst. I beg to report that the Isle of Wight has in the past not provided many RNR men in proportion to the population, and there is no reason to think that even an increased retainer will attract many additional recruits, although such an increase is in my opinion necessary in order to keep up the present strength. It might be thought that Cowes, a yachting centre, would furnish men for the Reserve, but the majority of local yacht crews are recruited from seamen non-resident of the Island except in such ratings as Masters, Deck Officers, Engineering Officers and Stewards. Our only hostility ratings are 12 Trawler Section men who enlisted as the result of the Military Service Act, and although some of them may enrol, it will only be a small percentage as there are no local vessels of this type forming the trawler fleets used during the War.

It will be possible to keep a roster of demobilised men entered for “hostilities” only who appear before me. (Signed by W McPherson, Acting Registrar RNR.)  (1918 – 1925)


1 March 1919                I beg to report as required by the Board of Trade that Thomas Alfred Mayo of Clifton House, Bath Road, Cowes, who was appointed Medical Inspector of Seamen for the Port and District of Cowes is still alive and in practice in Cowes.

No Medical Inspection has been made by him under Section 203 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894 in the last twelve months. (1918 – 1925)


16 April 1919                 I beg to transmit for your instructions the accompanying documents which have been lodged with me today in connection with the Discharge of a Mortgage for £200 and interest at 5% on the ketch “Lord Kitchener” of Cowes o.n. 111370

There is no Declaration of Transmission by Death and the Discharge has not been endorsed on the original deed.

The documents, I think, give proof that the Mortgage has been satisfied, but in the face of the irregularities mentioned I request your instructions whether under the circumstances the Mortgage may be discharged, or if not what further evidence will be required.


2 May 1919                           The Collector was granted 30 days leave. Mr Archer Hoare, Unattached Surveyor officiated.


5 May 1919                           Increment granted to F J Parsons, Preventive Officer, £195 to £200 from 9th April.


23 May 1919   From the Board

The present rate of overtime for existing PM on Sundays and holidays is:

PM salary up to 30/- per week inclusive               9d + 6d + 50% = 1/10½

PM salary over 30/- per week                              1/- + 6d + 50% = 2/3

(1918 – 1925)


24 May 1919                 I beg to report for your approval payment of overtime to Preventive Man W F Hodge in respect of the following attendance in excess of that required by the approved scheme:

Week ending 10 May 1919 – 43/12 hours for overtime pay.

The excess attendance was necessitated by the arrival of the “Western Belle” @ Dieppe at 7pm on 7 May.

Week ending 17 May 1919 – 43/12 hours for overtime pay.

The excess attendance was necessitated by the arrival of the “Saruna” @ Alderney at 6.30pm on Sunday, May 11th.

I am satisfied that on both occasions the excess attendance was unavoidable. (Letter signed by A. Hoare, Acting Collector.)


28 June 1919                 I beg to submit my report on War Work.

Scheme.  In the instructions issued to me it was laid down that the Commanding Officer at Portsmouth should provide the scheme for the Isle of Wight, but he failed to do so although asked for it on several occasions, and eventually I had to prepare it myself. This might be obviated in future by arrangement with the proper authority either by calling on the Collector here to prepare the scheme – as I did – or the Commanding Officer at Portsmouth doing it as originally arranged. It would in any case save the Collector a great deal of uncertainty, which I experienced.

Boarding.  A large number of Government Transports were unexpectedly brought to anchor in Cowes Roads. These were visited as far as possible by the Crew stationed here, but during the earlier part of the War dutiable stores supplied to some of these vessels were not produced to the proper officer, and had therefore to be returned to be charged. This, however, did not apply to dutiable stored ex Warehouse in Cowes, but to those coming from other Ports at Southampton on tugs &c. and taken directly on board, the officials having no knowledge of these transactions.

Aliens.  It is presumed that the Police will in any future war take over this work from the beginning as there was an extra large amount of work thrown on the small staff here. There are four routes by which passengers can enter the Island, and I had to send an Officer to Yarmouth and Bembridge respectively to watch these routes as the Military Authorities were very anxious about Spies getting in to the Island. Later on however these duties were taken over by the Police at both these places and the situation thus relieved, Yarmouth and Bembridge being then only then periodically visited by an Officer from Cowes.

Revenue Protection.  During the latter part of the War a large number of both Naval and Mercantile vessels came to anchor temporarily in the Solent, all the way from Yarmouth to St Helens, waiting for convoy &c., and I feel that some protection to the Revenue should be afforded in this case.

Mercantile Marine Work.  A great deal of work was done in connection with the Government Transports which lay in Cowes Roads. The absence of any clear agreement as to the nature and duration of the voyage caused considerable difficulty in dealing with the crews of these vessels at first, but as the novelty of the situation wore of, a form of agreement of a more definite nature and for longer periods of time was evolved and the situation eased. The difficulties encountered in constructing these agreements and the indiscipline of these scratch crews could be obviated in future if Government Transports are manned by Naval Ratings subject to Naval discipline, as is done with French and American ship.

Wreck.  Owing to the absence of the Coastguard on War Duties unusual difficulties occurred in dealing with wreck goods which came ashore in very large quantities from vessels torpedoed in the Channel and from other sources which if not adequately dealt with would have endangered Revenue Interests of the Department, as well as wreck Revenue for the Board of Trade and the supply of material for other Departments engaged on urgent war work such as the manufacturing of munitions. (The remainder of this paragraph it illegible, but suggests that by reorganising the work, it had been carried out without further assistance.)

On various occasions prosecutions were instituted against upwards of 40 persons for misdealing in wreck goods.


3 July 1919                    I beg to report, with reference to your letter of the 24th June in regard to selections for appointment to vacant posts in new Government Departments, that the name of William McPherson, Senior Clerical Officer, submitted subsequent to your letter of 28th February last, is the only recommendation I feel justified in making. I enclose particulars on a separate sheet as now instructed.


26 July 1919                  With reference to your circular of the 2nd instant, I beg to report that up to date it has not been possible to secure the entry of any candidates as seaman or stokers RNR. (Signed by W McPherson, Deputy Registrar RNR.) (1918 – 1925)


(undated) August 1919   To the Station Officer, H M Coastguard, Shanklin

Please warn owners and masters of uncertificated boats that they are liable to heavy penalties under the M S Acts if such boats carry more than 12 passengers.

Note that the M S Act 1894 sec 271 (2) provides that:-

“A passenger steamer attempting to ply or go to sea may be detained until such certificate as aforesaid is produced to the proper officer of Customs”

With reference to your report of the 5th inst, report more fully if you are in a position to do so and if you can produce corroborative evidence by an official witness.

If in future an owner or master commits any offence against the M S Act 1894 sec 271, please count, with an official witness the passengers and report giving full particulars. (Letter signed by C H Bakewell, Acting Supt..) (1918 – 1925)


6 August 1919                      A square of glass was supplied to Nimble for the skylight to the engine room at the cost of 4/6. (1918 – 1925)


8 August 1919               I beg to report in accordance with your Order of the 23rd ultimo that a telephone service is provided to my residence:

(1)  was used during the War on average of about 3 or 4 times daily to communicate officially after office hours, principally with the Custom House, Watch House and the Coastguard stations throughout the Island and in a lesser degree with merchants and others on urgent official business.

(2)  is used at present for the same purposes on average about once daily.

(3)  is likely to be required in the future for the same purposes on an average of less than once daily

I regret that being absence on sick leave I have been unable to make my report earlier.


14 August 1919             The Naval Transport Officer has given up his office at this port.

The current Guide to Routes in Home Waters is prominently displayed in the Long Room in this building, and the attention of Masters and Agents drawn to it.

The instructions contained in O 6963 A par 2, last sentence, and par 3 will be carried out as occasion arises. (Letter signed by C H Bakewell, Acting Collector.)


14 August 1919             Salvors inform me that they intend to discharge cargo of the St Luis until 8pm daily, including Sundays. This will depend on the state of the weather and tides being favourable.

Mr Mann came to see me this afternoon. He deposited a cheque for £5 but refused to sign an application to be allowed to work outside authorised hours or on Sundays. He contends that as the whole of the cargo had belonged to the Government, he is not liable to pay for officers attendance.

It will probably not be necessary to send an officer every Sunday but I am of the opinion that a visit should be made by an officer to examine the cargo on that day occasionally.

As it is extremely probable that salvage operations will be proceeded with on Sunday next, I request your Honours instructions as to the action I am to take and as to the charge, if any, for time and expenses of officers. (A reminder was sent on the 21st. Both letters were signed by C H Bakewell, Acting Collector. The vessel was torpedoed of St Catherine’s Point  in April 1918. The salvage was carried out off Shanklin. The Board ruled that an application was required, but that as the Coastguard were observing it no further Sunday visits were necessary, one had already been made.)


August 1919                  I should be glad if you would inform me whether it is necessary to pass free entries for the cargo of the wreck s/s Luis which was being carried out on Government account from Halifax N S and St Johns N B. The vessel has been submerged since May 1918 and the cargo which is now being salved is considerably damaged.

Particulars as follows:

Loaded at St John N B


1925 tons



2631 tons

)Sold by the Ministry of Shipping to Salvors.


162 tons


Shells (ammunition)

971 tons

Salvors authorised to salve on account of the Ministry of Munitions

Loaded at Halifax, N S

Fuel Oil

939 tons

Sold by the Ministry of Shipping to Salvors.

The Ministry of Munitions inform me that the shells now have only scrap value.

It is impossible at present to estimate what proportion of the cargo will be salved. (Letter signed by C H Bakewell, Acting Collector.)


29 August 1919             John Stephens, Collector granted a further 12 days sick leave.


5 September 1919              Seizure of 6/100 gal Perfumed Spirit from W B Riding, A B, Ketch “Minnet”. 18/10 deposited. Wages said to be £3 -15 per week, without rations. It was stated that the vessel had be chartered for 10 trips from Cherbourg to Cowes with broken granite and back in ballast, of which she had completed 5 trips. Seizure was confirmed and deposit brought to account as a fine.


10 September 1919        I beg to submit the report of the Preventive Officer who examined this seaplane in my presence, immediately after its arrival at Messrs. Saunders yard. Everything was satisfactory. It is presumed that the attendance of the Officer be charged to the Crown as in the case of the arrival of a ship from Foreign. (It appears that both floats of the seaplane were damaged on landing in the river from Nieuport and it was towed to Saunders yard for repairs. No charge was made for this attendance.)

10 September 1919        The cases referred to in these papers were examined in my presence by the Preventive Officer whose report is submitted above. Everything was found to be satisfactory and the goods released accordingly.

The six cases contained spare parts of Seaplanes and will be returned by the owner when the race is over.

The Preventive Officer was called out to examine the cases on Sunday when it was found that those that had arrived were for an Italian seaplane and had been sent and examined by the Officers at Southampton.

The actual cases arrived on Monday evening and were ready to be opened at 6pm, and the examination was completed at 8pm on the same evening.

I have a deposit to cover the attendance of the Preventive Officer on Sunday viz: 4 hours at 3/6 = 14/-, and 4 hours each for the Preventive Officer and Preventive Man on Monday evening viz:

PO       4 hours at 2/4 = 9/4

PM       4 hours at 1/5 = 5/8

(The Board instructed that a charge of 29/- be made.)


16 September 1919        I beg to report as instructed in Papers 59040/1919 that Charles Albert Fry, Preventive Man at this port is fit for active Waterguard duty in all respects. He discharges his duty to my entire satisfaction. Fry was born on 9th July, 1866.


16 September 1919        I beg to report as instructed in Papers 59040/1919 that Frederick Petty Watson, Preventive Man at this Port, is in my opinion no longer physically fit satisfactorily to discharge the heavier duties of a Boarding Station.

He has recently represented to me that while serving with the Military he developed Bronchial difficulties and has frequent chills. They give him most trouble whilst employed on Boarding Duties and when  employed  cleaning the Waterguard Offices.

He came from Ramsgate during the Enemy raids when it was likely his nerves were affected. I have always found him ready and willing in his duties.

He would, I believe be fully competent in an isolated place or any other place where there is no heavy work to do. I therefore submit that he be transferred to such a post.

Watson will be 55 years of age on the 15th April.


18 October 1919            The Board direct me to inform you that they have been authorised by the Lords of the Treasury to sanction the retention of the free telephone at the private residences of the principal officers at Customs ports where they are satisfied that such retention would be in the public interest, subject to the condition that officers will be required to pay for all local calls in excess of the number covered by the minimum annual subscription and for all trunk and junction calls not certified to be on official business.

The telephone service at your private residence will accordingly be retained on these conditions on and after the 1st proximo.

1912 - 1915

1920 - 1926

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.

23 February 2008