Letters Book 1918 – 1926

 Letters Book held at the Isle of Wight Records Office

The entries for 1918 and 1919 are including in the extracts for 1915 – 1919 as the books overlap.

Transcribed entries are in Black, entries in Blue relate to other material included the Book, which has not specifically been transcribed. Parts of the book are faded beyond recognition and illegible with the consequent gaps. In addition, this book does not appear as comprehensive as previous ones.

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


19 January 1920            List of Waterguard Officers serving at the Port of Cowes:

F J Parsons

Preventive Officer

C A Fry

Preventive Man

W H Finley

Preventive Man

S T G Spencer

Preventive Man

F P Watson

Preventive Man

G O Warne

Preventive Man


11 February 1920   To the Collector Southampton

Unregistered dumb barge A733 arrived here from Southampton on 24th January last without a transire & before allowing her to commence discharge I took a deposit of £5 from the charterers Vectis Shipping, pending its production.

This company has been recently formed and I am satisfied they committed this offence purely through ignorance of the Customs Regulations. The Secretary called me when making the deposit and expressed the Company’s regret at unwillingly having committed this offence, and their anxiety to do everything possible to comply with the regulations in future. A transire for the tug towing the barge is not necessary. In all the circumstances I would suggest that the transire may now be issued for one voyage coastwise previous to Registry and the £5 deposit returned, if you have no objection.


27 February 1920                                A Kellaway, R Buckett, E Ball and J Smith were reported for misdealing a cask of oil from the “War Knight” at South Yarmouth, No further action was taken beyond forfeiture of the salvage and a warning as to any subsequent offence.


14 April 1920                        A boat slipway on the foreshore at Wootton Creek belonging to Mr Chatfield Clark and leased to Col R M Wert was inspected. It was found to be in good condition although a trifle overgrown with grass.


20 July 1920                  In reply to your letter of Saturday:

(1)  The practice here , in the event of a yacht going foreign again is to utilise the book used on the previous arrival, but a fresh book is issued at the beginning of each season.

(2)  If stores are shipped from a bond by an Officer other than that who dealt with her on arrival, the change of seal and date of shipment is recorded at the foot of the second column viz:- “Shipped for Bond”

(3)  If stores sealed up are subsequently released under the condition of par 5 of the book, the quantity so released, even if part of only is so disposed of, is shewn in the disposal column, but in all cases the quantity released is shewn.

(4) The quantity of dutiable stores left out for the individual use of the crew after rummage is the minimum quantity allowed to crew under Revised Instructions Vol 1 Par 5. This quantity has never been enumerated in the Store Book, but I can see no objection to it being done if so desired.

I have made a short sketch (not included) which I think would improve the book and meet your desire to bring it more in line with I.C.B. Form 569. It would also perhaps improve the book if the whole of the left hand page be devoted to particulars of stores on board the yacht and the whole of the right hand page to their disposal.

If this were done the present size of the book would, I believe, to meet the requirements of most, if not all, yachts during a season commission.

No space for the record of subsequent visits to the yacht is required so anything in the nature of a re-rummage or of avoidable second visits are so strongly resented by yachtsmen that such visits are only made when absolutely necessary.

I think I have covered all the points, but I shall be very glad to send you further particulars should you so desire.


29 January 1921                  The Collector requested 150 schedules of 10 names and 50 for 90 names for enumerating the 1921 census. These were sent to Ryde (Customs), Bembridge, Shanklin, Ventnor, Totland and Yarmouth Coastguard on 30 May 1921 and Newtown Coastguard on 1 June 1921.


4 February 1921  From the Accountant and Comptroller General.

With reference to the charge raised on the Merchants Request for the “Imperator”, it is pointed out that, as the work performed was Waterguard work, the charge should have been at the Preventive Officer rate – 2/9 per hour.

The charge may be allowed to stand in this instance, but the position should be noted for future guidance.


7 February 1921  re Droits 74 & 78 16/17

With reference to your letter of the 1st instant, I beg to report that the 12 Casks of paraffin oil claimed by Mr Joseph Purcell to have been salved by him appear to be part of the 31 Casks salved by the Boats of the Western Patrol and handed over to me as Receiver of Wreck on 8th November 1916. Salvage amounting to £10 – 13 – 3 was paid to Commander Harrold in respect of the 31 Casks on 17th January 1917.

The goods did not appear to be Government property, and the net proceeds of the sale of these and other casks reported by various salvors about the same time remain in the hands of the Board of Trade.


17 March 1921                     Payment made of the proceeds of unclaimed wreck made to the executors of the late Sir Charles Seely (died 16.4.15) and  confirmed that General Seely was now entitled to the proceeds having produced a statutory declaration and map of the foreshore.


March 1921                           The Collector was on a leave roster with the Surveyors Winchester, Southampton I & II and Southampton Excise. He selected June 1st to June 29th, 25 days.


11 May 1921     To the late Master of the “Star”

With reference to your failure to open proper article of agreement with crew on Form 6 before taking the barge “Star” to Dieppe &c. I am directed by the Board of Trade to warn you against a repetition of the offence and to draw your attention to the Penalty of £5 for each offence to which you have rendered yourself liable.

If you still have the official log Book of the vessel, please forward it to this office or date what you did with it.

Please state the dates of arrival and departure in respect of voyages made by you in the “Star” between 1st July 1920 & the date of you leaving the vessel in October 1920 also the draught of water on each occasion.

What were the dates of the boy Horkey joining and leaving the vessel.


5 July 1921                    No reparation duty has been taken at this Port to date, but the work of scrutinising entries &c. takes about one hour per week.


8 August 1921  

Inquiry from the Chief Inspector


1 How far is your private residence from the Custom House or Watch House.

2 Could not arrangements be made for telegrams to be delivered at the Watch House after official hours & then taken to your house by the PM.


3 With regard to your remarks in A & B in your attached report can you please state the nature of the business which is transacted with the public over the telephone. Cannot the public arrange to perform such business during official hours?



4 What is the nature of the communication referred to at B?

1 About half a mile


2 The Telegraph Office is closed at 7.0pm and all telegrams after that time are telephoned from Southampton to the Watch House whence they are taken to my house by a PM or telephoned to me if the one PM on duty cannot get away.


3 When any emergency arises which the Officers on duty do not feel able to deal with they telephone to me for instructions from the Custom House or Watch House. The Coastguard throughout the Island telephone me if a vessel is stranded or otherwise in distress. The public cannot arrange as these are unforeseen circumstances.


4 These are mostly in connection with strikes, such as communicating to merchants the results of applications to discharge coal when a telegram comes from London granting a reply to the request. This has saved much time.


25 August 1921                   An overcharge of £1-1-4 for attendance was incorrectly made for attendance at Medina Railway Wharf by Messrs Cottell and Chapman. This was stated that this was because they were on relieving duty & evidently did not understand the matter. It was repaid.


28 August 1921             The “Balmoral” is an excursion steamer plying between Southampton & France, sometimes calling at Sandown, sometimes at Cowes or Yarmouth I W within this Port, embarking and landing passengers at east place. In the former case she arrives at Sandown via Portsmouth & departs to France direct & comes back from France direct to Sandown & thence to Southampton via Portsmouth. In the latter cases she arrives from Southampton direct & departs to France via Bournemouth, which is the first port touched at on her return voyage to Cowes or Yarmouth, and Southampton.


30 August 1921             The CO HMCG Seaview advises me today that the timber in question is not wreck having come from the submarine boom defence, constructed from Seaview to the mainland during the war. It was salved on 1.4.21 by F Bloomfield, Glenville House, Seaview who on finding it was not wreck purchased it for £1 from the Superintending Civil Engineer Dockyard Portsmouth. This sum was paid to the Cashier Civil Engineering Department Portsmouth.

The slipway used by the Public as an access to the shore belongs to the landowner of Seaview, W A Glynn of Seaview. The CO is unable to ascertain who maintains it.

No timber is obstructing the highway but is above the H.W. mark. The slipway is about ¼ mile W of Seaview Pier & opposite to Seafield Garage. There will be no difficulty in marking the spot on an Ordinance map of the locality if you can send me one.


9 September 1921          I do not see anything further can be done in this case. I am satisfied that the Preventive Man’s report of 21st June 1919 is a correct account of the case and was corroborated by the Chief Officer of Coastguard Fielding and Mrs Fielding, both of whom I interviewed on the matter subsequently. This is included in my report of 2nd July 1919.

There has nothing occurred since my last report and Stark has not yet claimed the sum awarded to him viz: £1 – 11 – 4. (This followed a complaint by a Mr Stark that he had received a sufficient award for the salvage of 300 lbs of loose lard and ½ ton loose wax, and he considered that it must have been overlooked or paid to another salvor.)


20 October 1921            In reply to your Circular of the 19th Instant, I beg to report that no watchers are employed at Cowes, and no Officers performing duties at warehouses which should properly be performed by Watchers.


27 October 1921                  The Collector was informed that as Mrs Woodland, who was employed as temporary cleaner 30.6.21 to 17.7.21, had been paid more than 3/- an hour (6/8) full Insurance deductions should have been made, but as it was now to late he should make a note for future guidance..


28 October 1921                  The Collector was informed that W Cottell, Preventive Man, had been paid 4/- too much whilst working at Southampton in June and that the payment should be recovered from him.


16 November 1921         The replies to your questions of the 11th instant are as follows:

(1) The walls of the Custom House offices and the Customs Watch House are swept down regularly about once a month.

(2) The work would be facilitated by the provision of two longhanded brooms with handles about 7 feet long, one for Custom House and the other for the watch House.

(3) No additional expense would be incurred.


24 November 1921         The salvor found the cask of Wine on the shore, 40 yards south of the Sandown Coastguard Station, and with the assistance of others whom he employed delivered it to the Coastguard boathouse at Sandown.

As the contents of the Cask were apparently sound, it was removed to the King’s Warehouse at Cowes for security, and for gauging for purpose of sale. As the Cask was not fit for travel, the expense of 11/6 was incurred for coopering. The cost of removal to Cowes was £1. When sampled for sale the wine was found to have turned sour and no offers could be obtained for it.

In all the circumstances, I consider the sum of £2 a fair and reasonable reward for services rendered and the protection afforded to the Customs revenue.


29 November 1921         The steamer came to anchor with her ensign flying about 2pm, off Castle Point, about 1½ miles from the Watch House.

There was a strong wind with a choppy sea but not enough to prevent the boarding of the steamer and so the crew of the “Hawk” were called out and put off, but when nearing her, the wind increased to gale force from the NE with a very rough sea. It was not considered safe to go alongside as the “Hawk’s” engines were not running well and she was pulling heavily. The attempt to board the steamer had therefore to be abandoned.


29 December 1921         Application for Imprest of Three Hundred and Fifty Pounds.





Payment on a/c O.P.D.


Seamen’s Money Orders


Life Saving


Permanent Bank Balance




Cash in Bank & in hand £437 – 10 – 10





27 January 1922                        I beg to submit for your instructions the accompanying letter from the Manager of Lloyds Bank, Cowes where the Customs and Excise Account is held.

The cheque he refers to are mostly those paid by Messrs. Mew Langton & Coy, Wine and Spirit Merchants of Newport I W and drawn on the National Provincial & Union Bank of England in that town.

They are immediately on receipt placed to the a/c of Customs & Excise here and a Remittance to the Bank of England is applied for on the same day for the amount that can be spared.

This has always been the practice & this is the first time I have heard of such a thing being described as an overdraft.

There is a permanent bank balance of £250 kept. (The Board told the Collector to draw the attention of the Manager that this arrangement was long standing and that to recoup the Bank a permanent deposit of £250 was kept. They also asked the Collector privately whether any other bank would be convenient to him. The Bank Manager (D W Lingard) backed down and cancelled his previous letter.)


2 February 1922             Recruiting for the Provisional Seaman Rating R.N.R.

With reference to your circular of the 30th December last, I beg to report that with the co-operation of the Coastguard throughout the Island, and the Customs staff, I have distributed handbills to likely candidates of the above class, but so far there has been little response.

In Cowes itself there are at present few, if any, suitable seamen as one or two big yachts with local crews are in the Mediterranean, and others have gone in ice-breakers to the Baltic under the Russian Government. When they return, I shall do my best to recruit the balance (2) of the quota for this Port.


7 March 1922                The vessel before “Cambria” which discharged at Cement Mills was the “Evelyn” on 13/4/21 from Dieppe with Plaster Stone.

 Since 1911 the discharges and loadings have been 1911 – 2, 1912 – 3, 1914 – 1, 1920 – 1, 1921 – 3, 1922 – 1.


20 March 1922               I certify that I am satisfied that all persons to whom pensions are paid in this Collection out of the vote of this or any other Public Dept are the identical persons to whom the pensions were originally granted, and, in the case of widows, that none have remarried since the grant of their respective pensions.


24 April 1922     To William A Crump & Son, 17 Leadenhall Street, London EC3

I beg to acknowledge the receipt this morning of your letter and to inform you that the “Marie Louise” is detained by me on a Declaration of Claim to Remuneration for salvage services by the Salvor Master of the Swedish steamer “Emile A Bowman” under sec. 552 of the M S Act 1894.

Under sec. 551 the Receiver may on the application of either party appoint a valuer to value the property so if you complete the accompanying form WR14 and return it to me, I shall see that is done.

Security for the salvage services may be by bond in the form WR01 also annexed.

Either party, if dissatisfied, may apply to the Admiralty Court to have the security settled.


24 April 1922                        Repairs were made to “Nimble’s” propeller at the cost of £1 – 4 – 3.


12 May 1922                 In reply to your circular 7222/22, I beg to report that the only persons in this District empowered to take depositions are myself:

John Stephen

Collector & Surveyor, H M Customs & Excise

Receiver of Wreck M12397/1921

And my Second Officer

William McPherson

Officer of Customs & Excise

Receiver of Wreck M12397/1921


12 May 1922                 The Board in papers 19852/1922 directed that Mr H W Chapman, Preventive Man at this Port, is to continue under instruction, with a view to qualifying as Relief Driver of “Nimble”.

The motor Driver goes on leave on Monday 15th inst. when Mr Chapman will have to take charge and I should like him to be certified as competent as soon as possible. I am satisfied he is qualified and asked Mr Taylor, Engineer, Portsmouth, to examine him, and he was also satisfied.

I shall be glad if you could manage to get the matter through to enable Mr Chapman to obtain the 1/- per day as from Monday next.    


15 May 1922     From the Board.

Up to the present we have had no report from Engineer Thompson that he has ever seen PM Chapman working the motor of the “Nimble” & not having been seen either by anyone from here, we rather hesitate, in the circumstances, to put him in charge.

As, however, he has had the opportunity for five weeks further instruction since the Board’s last letter to you and you now express satisfaction in his ability to work the motor, I will raise no objection to his taking charge relying on you to let me know at once if any difficulty is experience is Mr Chapman’s handling if the motor.

To begin with, however, and until we have tested him for doing minor repairs, the allowance due to Mr Chapman will be 6d per deim, not 1/-.


23 May 1922     With reference to your letter of the 7th inst., I am directed by the Commissioners of Customs & Excise to inform you that they will be prepared to withdraw the privileges of Warehouses No. 1 and No. 2, Cowes, when all goods have been duly removed from the Warehouse and all liabilities under the bond fulfilled.


29 May 1922     To the Collector, Portsmouth.

There will be no difficulty in doing what you desire with regard to the shipment of beer from Messrs. Mew Langton to the Royal Yachts.

I have seen the Cowes Manager of the firm and will arrange for the beer to be produced here.

All the papers when completed so far as the sampling shipment are concerned will be forwarded to Officer of Newport 2nd Station.


22 July 1922      From the Board of Trade.

The Superintendent is informed that Messrs H H Wells & Sons, Solicitors, acting on behalf of Dr W S Nockolds, have applied for permission to assign to Arthur Edmund Lowein of Medina Lodge, Cowes, Dental Surgeon, the Crown lease, granted to Dr Nockolds on the 16th September 1907 of certain foreshore of the River Medina at West Cowes opposite to Medina Lodge occupied by a landing stage, slipway and causeway.

The Superintendent is requested to furnish the Board with a report stating (1) whether Mr Lowein may be regarded as a suitable person to become a Crown Lessee (2) whether the premises in question are in a reasonably good state of repair, and if not, in what way they are defective.


25 July 1922                  (1) Mr Lowein is a suitable person to become a Crown Lessee. (2) The landing stage is in a bad state of repair. The stones in the causeway slipway being broken to pieces & quite unsafe to land upon, the landing stage very rotten & useless & unless something is done to it will soon be unfit to walk upon.


6 August 1922               The lease of the foreshore referred to, according to the records at this Office have been granted to “the Executors of the late John Pennethorne” but Miss Rose Pennethorne of Hamstead, Yarmouth, I W, by whom the payment is made, alleges that the lease has been assigned to her.

May I be informed, please, whether this is the case, as no such information has been received by me.


August 1922                         Notification given that Frederick J Parsons reached the age of 60 on 14.6.1922.


2 October 1922                    C W Mogg of 17 Mary Street, Cowes claimed wages against the s/s “Winnark”. His claim was rejected as he had refused to proceed with the ship.


9 October 1922  To Hutchinson & Cuff, Solicitors, London

I return probate of the Will of the late Sir Ernest Shackleton, which has been duly noted, and the Declaration of Ownership by Lady Shackleton in order that the person attesting her signature may add the place of attestation in accordance with the footnote on form 73. Please return Declaration, with fee, when the Registration will be completed. (This was in respect of the vessel “Quest”, on which Shackleton died in South Georgia.)


25 October 1922  From the Board of Trade to Dr Nockolds.

I am directed by the Board of Trade to refer to your letter of the 9th October relative to the condition of the landing stage, slipway and causeway occupying foreshore of the River Medina, of which you hold a Crown lease from this Department, opposite Medina Lodge at West Cowes, and to state that they understand that you wish to be informed whether, in the event of the cost of repairing the works in question being excessive, you would be allowed to terminate the lease.

The Board desire me to point out that under the lease you have covenanted at all times during the term to “keep the demised premises in a good and proper state of repair and in proper condition, free from all defects injurious to navigation or the adjacent lands or the public interest”, and at the expiration or previous determination of the term to deliver up the premises……in good and substantial repair and proper condition, having regard to the erections and works authorised by this Department.

The Board are not prepared to release you from your obligations while the works are in a condition prejudicial to the public interest, but they do not wish you to incur excessive expense in repairs, and will be prepared to consent to the proposed assignment of the lease to Mr A E Lowein as soon as they are satisfied that the premises are in reasonably good condition. I am to explain that the Boards requirements with regard to the repairs would be the same if you wished to terminate the lease as they are now you propose to assign it.

I am to suggest that, if you are in any doubt as to precisely what repairs are essential in order to comply with the Board’s requirements, you should approach the Superintendent, Mercantile Marine Office, Cowes in the matter.


25 October 1922                  Frank Williams, enrolled volunteer St Catherines Station was injured while at exercise. He was paid compensation of £5 – 18 – 9 (34/7 weeks @ £1 – 13 – 3 per week.)


1 November 1922                               Repairs made to the petrol tank of “Nimble” at the cost of £1 – 16 – 6.


1 November 1922                Additional attendance for the period ended 23rd September was approved, this apparently reflected a reduction in the rates:

F J Parsons


C A Fry


F P Watson


A J Titheridge


H W Chapman


L P Griffin



7 December 1922           While there has been no transfers of Lascars at Cowes since the War ended, and as there is now not likely to be any, I do not think it necessary to retain the appointment any longer. I therefore return the document for cancellation as requested.

I only returned from leave this morning or your minute would have been answered before. (A lascar appears to have been a native Indian seaman.)


9 January 1923               A nil return was sent to a request for list of freeman of the Vintners Company.


12 February 1923           With reference to your minute of the 9th instant, I beg to report that no repairs to the landing stage etc. on the foreshore leased to Dr S W Nockolds have yet been carried out, but I am informed by Mr Lowein that the work of repair will be commenced next month when tides and weather are more suitable for carrying out the work. (The work had not started in May due to unavailability of shingle, but was again due to start within a month.)


31 March 1923               I beg to report that Doctor Mayo of Clifton House, Bath Road, Cowes, who was appointed Medical Inspector of Seamen for the Port and District of Cowes is still alive & still practices in Cowes.

No seamen have been inspected by him during the last 12 months.


20 April 1923                        Expenses of £2 – 2 – 6 and £3 – 17 – 6 made to J Reed and W Hicks Coastguardmen respectively on being removed from Culver Cliff to Brook. A subsequent payment of £3 – 15 – 0 was made to H Mardlin who moved from Culver to Brighstone on the 1st May. A series of other payments for transfers by Coastguardmen between various parts of the country were subsequently made by the Collector.


8 May 1923                   This property (at Gurnard) was brought from the Ward Estate Northwood about 4 years ago by Farmer Chambers (since deceased) and his two sons Stanley and William Howard now own it down to the high water mark. The former son is a PO at HMS “Vernon” Portsmouth whilst the latter William Howard manages the property in question.

The removal shingle was made partly from above & partly below high water mark.

8 June 1923       From F J Parsons, PO  

With reference to the Board of Trade letter of the 7th Inst. regarding the removal of shingle from Gurnard Bay, I beg to state I visited the place in question, and with the owner inspected the spot from where the shingle had been taken, and from my own observations could see quite plainly that a lot of the shingle had been taken from below the high water mark. An interested occupant also stated that some days between 20 & 30 carts have taken shingle away, & that if it continued the property he was renting would soon have water coming into it, as the bank is now made so very thin, and a heavy sea would wash through it.

The removal appears to have ceased since the present question was raised. (This was forwarded to the Board of Trade by the acting Collector, W R Preston, with the additional comment that Mr Chambers had made a charge of 2/- a load.)

3 July 1923                    James Clark of The Marsh Cottage, Gurnard submits plan of foreshore at the Marsh Gurnard & rough sketch showing present high water mark & asks for a decision as to where the high water mark is now. The original foreshore is shown on the plan and the present foreshore on the rough sketch. Transmitted to Harbours Department, Board of Trade.


10 July 1923                  The Southampton, Isle of Wight and South of England Royal Mail Steam Packet Boat Company suggest that an Officer from Southampton should meet the “Balmoral” at Sandown & return with her to Southampton clearing her at Sandown, Southsea and Southampton. Officer would leave Southampton by 5.20 steamer for Sandown via Cowes.

This request is, I think a reasonable one. The Officer would be furnished by Southampton from which Port he would start at 5.20 pm to Cowes from whence he would travel by rail to Sandown getting back to Southampton by the vessel herself whilst all the necessary work at Sandown, Southsea and Southampton arriving back at 10 or 11pm according to circumstance, wind, weather &c.

The Officer would be charged for the whole time he is withdrawn from his station, about 6 or 7 hours, whereas with the present system it amounts to at least 12 hours viz: a minimum of 4 hours at each place, Sandown, Southsea and Southampton.

The only travelling payable would be from Cowes to Sandown as the Officer would travel all the rest of the journey by the Coy’s boats. (This was sent to the Collectors Portsmouth and Southampton, but no action was taken during that season.


7 August 1923               With reference to your report of the 26th:

1. What are the present arrangements for supervision of landings at Yarmouth. Please quote the relative papers. Presumably Yarmouth arrangements will suit Totland Bay?

2. At what other places on the Island do passengers from Cherbourg land, & what Officers attend to supervise the landings as such places, if any?

3. If landing at other than Totland Pier, does the Officer accompany the steamer from one landing place to another to deal with landings, if so has the question of insurance been considered?

1. The PO or a PO in charge cycles from & back to Cowes, BO 74302/1921. The arrangements at Totland Bay Pier would be the same as at Yarmouth.


2. Cowes & Sandown are the other places and the PO attends in each case.



3. No other place is touched at but Yarmouth at present & accordingly the Officer has to cycle each way, the question of insurance does not therefore arise.


23 August 1923             Waterguard Staff Overtime period to 25/7/23

1. Will you please forward request No. 67.

2. Mr S T G Spencer, PO 12 – 7 – 23. Will you please state the necessity for the attendance of Mr Spencer from 10.30pm to 11.30pm in connection with the “Lady Maud” seeing that she had already been boarded and rummaged.

3. Mr A J Titheridge, APO

(a) June 25 Bdgs s/s Balmoral atYarmouth

June 28 Bdgs s/s Balmoral at Sandown

Will you please say why attendance is claimed until 11.30pm on the 25th June & 10.30pm on the 28th June. Is there an hours difference in the time taken to travel to these places?

(b) June 29th s/s Hera @ London  5 -7pm

Will you please give full particulars of this attendance (by the way this is not mentioned in the report to the Board) including the time of arrival, time of boarding & the time of return of the APO.

4. At what time does the s/s “Balmoral” normally arrive at Sandown?


5. Will you please have it carefully noted that the actual time of attendance should be shown in col. 2 of the Employment Record.

6. Will you please draw the attention of the W G Officers to not at the foot of the Employment Record and have the form 201 made up in future strictly in accordance with this instruction. Attention was drawn to this on 9.6.23.

1. Herewith.

2. This Officer was absent at Sandown from 6.30pm to 10.30pm & on return he was required to visit the Yt. “Lady Maud” to take duty on surplus stores as the vessel was leaving early in the morning, the APO who rummaged not having a duty slip book.

3. There is no public conveyance available.

(a) for the return journey from Yarmouth accordingly a cycle has to be used, which takes somewhat longer than the train. There is not much difference in the mileage from Cowes.


(b) The vessel arrived in Cowes Roads in distress with seal broken. After her arrival it was decided to continue the voyage and she was underweigh at the time of the Officers arrival. The time of stay in the Port was 4.30 to 6pm.

4. “Balmoral” normally arrives at Sandown between 7.40 & 9pm, but of course the time is varied according to the state of the wind & weather.

5. Noted for future guidance.



6. Attention of the W G Officers again drawn to this.


23 August 1923             Official Safe and Strong Room.

The undermentioned are required relative to all official Safes & Strong Rooms in your Collection:

(1) How many Safes or Strong Rooms are there:-

  (a) with a single lock

  (b) with two or more locks?

(2) Where there are duplicate keys who has the possession of:-

  (a) the original

  (b) the duplicate

and what precautions are taken for the security of these keys?

(3) Where there is only one key, who has possession of it?



Two Safes, no Strong Room.

(a) One with a single lock.

(b) One with two locks.

Coll/Sur holds (in the case of the two lock safe) the original and duplicate of number one lock & the 2nd Officer the original and duplicate key of number 2 lock, the duplicate in each case being under lock & key at home. The single lock safe has a key held by the Coll/Sur & a duplicate key held by the 2nd Officer.


30 January 1924            Expenses on “Nimble” – Cutting & altering 2 Valve springs 2/6, Replacing Water Pump (Circulating) 2/-, Repairing oil feeder 3d – Total 4/9


18 March 1924   From C H Grimshaw, Board of Trade

The Collector is informed that the Board have received from Mr J H Black an application for permission to assign to Mr A J Denham of “Algeria”, Park Road, Cowes, the lease granted by the Board to Mrs Harriot Guy on the 31st August 1916, of a portion of the foreshore of the River Medina below high water mark at the rear of the premises known as N0. 107 High Street, Cowes, occupied by the pillars and supports of a quay or jetty.

The Collector is requested to furnish the Board with a report stating if the quay or jetty is in a reasonably good state of repair and free from all defects injurious to navigation and the public interest, and if not, in which ways it is defective.

The report should also state:

(1) if, in the opinion of the Collector, Mr Denham is a fit and proper person to become a Crown lessee;

(2) for what purpose it is proposed to use the quay; and

(3) If Mr Denham proposes to keep the quay in his own hands or sub-let it to another person.

25 March 1924               This place is in good condition with the exception of the corrugated iron roof which is holed and eaten away with rust, and the sea wall which has fallen down and is in a dilapidated state apparently by the action of the sea.

(1) In my opinion Mr Denham is a fit and proper person to become a Crown lessee.

(2) He proposes to use the place, as he has so used it for several years, as a boat store, and

(3) He intends to keep it in his own hands.

(The Collector later informed the Board of Trade that the shed covered the whole of the jetty, and that the previous tenants were Messrs Fletcher and Butcher.)


12 April 1924                        Query of expense claim made by W Strong, E M, who apparently worked at Cowes from 2nd June 1923 until 3rd February 1924.


19 April 1924                        F J Henning, Preventive Officer, was asked to produce receipts for hiring expenses for a trip to Alum Bay.


20 April 1924                        A report was made of the Sick Leave of Frederick Petty Watson, A P O, over the last four years.


17 May 1924     To the British Museum (Natural History)

In confirmation and continuation of my telegram of yesterday, I beg to report that what appears to be a whalebone whale (Common Finner?) is stranded 1 mile East of Atherfield Point, Isle of Wight, at the foot of high cliffs in a place rather difficult to access. The whale was first sighted about 8am on Friday last & finally stranded just below the H.W. mark, lying on its side, but so twisted that the top of its head is buried in the sand as is its back fin. Its tail is horizontally black on top & white underneath & measures about 8’ 5” across. It was not possible to examine the head for a blowhole or to inspect the mouth for whalebone; the lower jaw appears to be free from either teeth or whalebone. The skin of the whale is smooth, black on the back and white on the belly. The lower surface of the throat is marked with numerous parallel grooves. The flippers are white with a black edge. In parts of the back the colour is yellow. The animal is a male. It is in good condition so far as can be seen and with the aid of a tug hawsers could possibly be secured if the weather remains calm.

After the whale came ashore, observers state that a balloon like object came out of its mouth (body being greatly swollen). This object is now protruding from the whales mouth as a flat object of sponge like texture, and of a fatty nature. (Letter signed by William McPherson, Acting Receiver of Wreck.)        


20 May 1924                 Queries from the A&CG regarding April 1924 overtime.

F J Henning, PO

10/11 April. Please State:

1. The time the train left for Sandown.

2. What time the vessel arrived.

3. What time the work ceased.

4. The nature of the work

5. The time of the train taken back to Cowes & the time Mr H arrived there.


13th April.

Please state why it was necessary to rummage the “Bras”. From what port was she making? For what reason was attendance given under ARO (presumably Aliens Registration Order).

Are all vessels boarded which bring into Cowes Road, irrespective of whether they are bound for Cowes or not?

A J Titheridge, APO

Please say in lieu of which day the 24th March was taken as leave.

H W Chapman, APO

Please say why it was necessary to retain this APO from 4-5pm on the 28th March for the purpose of launching the “Nimble”


I was called to the s/s “Bras” lying in the Roads off Sandown, by the CPM at 8pm. No train being available the journey was done by cycle (16 miles). The vessel was boarded, rummaged & ARO completed in the time occupied from 9pn on the 10th to 5am on the 11th in going to and from Sandown by bicycle, 32 miles, obtaining a boat to board the vessel & rummaging. The vessel arrived at Sandown about 8pm.

13th. The “Bras” left Sandown for Bordeaux on passage to Naples but was driven into Calais by bad weather, on leaving the vessel met bad weather again & the Master received severe injuries to his leg and put into Cowes for medical assistance.



All vessels from foreign which bring in at Cowes are boarded night and day.



December 22nd, Saturday preceding Xmas day 1923.


The M.L. “Nimble” is a 2 ton boat, usually 5 officers have assisted in bringing up or launching when overhauling is required, but owing to the staff being reduced leaving only three hands, Mr Chapman was kept on 4-5 to assist, as a matter of fact I enlisted other hands.

This report was made by F J Henning, PO, and submitted to the Board by the Collected. A further query, undated, was then received:

F J Henning, PO

10/11 April9pm/5am. Please State:

1. What time he arrived Sandown.

2. The time actually occupied by the work.

3. The time he left Sandown.

4. Did the vessel (the ss Bras) discharge or load cargo from or to foreign.

Is it to be understood that vessels which do not subsequently put into Cowes are boarded in the Roads



1. Arrive Sandown 11.45pm

2. 10th 11.45pm : 11th 2am

3. 2.15am

4. No


Vessels that bring to & remain any length of time at any port or any place on the Island for landing crew, passengers or taking stores or bunkers are boarded & rummaged whether in the roads or alongside the different piers or landing places, although they may subsequently put into Cowes.


22 May 1924     To the Keeper of Zoology, Natural History Museum.

I send herewith further particulars of the whale and a photograph. I will communicate particulars of the out of pocket expenses, which are small, later on and will go into the question of a honorarium to the Coastguard Bradshaw.

Mr Hamilton of the “Discovery” expedition is in the Island and will be given every facility for his experiments. (Letter signed by William McPherson, Acting Receiver of Wreck.)


21 July 1924                         Report of alleged encroachment on the foreshore at Seaview by the erection of an iron fence between the Coastguard Station and Tea Room extending 12 ft below the H W mark by Mr W A Glynn of Seagrove, Seaview sent to the Board of Trade.


23 July 1924                  With reference to your letter of the 16th instant, I beg to report that I have inspected the site of the proposed new bridge at Newport Town Quay, and interviewed some of the interested parties, and find that it is desired to have the new structure erected at the same height above high water mark as the old bridge. In my opinion there is no objection to this proposal in the interests of navigation or otherwise.

The raising of the new bridge to a height of at least 2 feet above high water mark of ordinary spring tides would necessitate the raising of the levels of existing quays and approaches at considerable expense, and to the disadvantage of some premises the entrances to which would then be below road level. There is no traffic under the bridge when it is closed, except an occasional row boat, as, when there is sufficient depth of water to float craft of any considerable size there would not be enough head room under the bridge even if raised to the height contemplated in the Act of 1872, to permit craft of the type using the waterway above the bridge without the bridge being opened.

The existing lamps on the approach to the bridge are sufficiently near adequate to light it both during and after construction.


10 November 1924         Proposed Shore Road – Cowes to Gurnard Unemployment scheme.         

At the urgent request of Mr J C W Damant, Clerk to Cowes U.D.C I have today inspected the plans for the projected road and beg to report that there does not appear to be any objection to the interests of fishing, navigation or otherwise to the carrying out of the proposed work.


12 December 1924         With reference to Circular No 18165/1924, of the 6th instant, I beg to report that navigation warnings received by telegram at this Port after hours, during the weekend or on Pubic Holidays, are delivered at the Customs Watch House, where there is always a man on duty. The local Post Officers deliver telegrams from 8am to 7pm and outside these hours telegrams are received by telephone at the Watch House from the Post Office at Southampton.

Navigation warnings received from the Examiner of Masters & Mates are disseminated amongst Masters and Agents of ships at the Custom House or Mercantile Marine Office from 9am to 4pm and at the Watch House outside these hours. No special arrangements exist for conveying such information to vessels in the port and it would not be possible effectively to convey such information to such vessels except by considerable interference with the regular work of Customs staff as the vessels moor over a considerable area and many of them could only be boarded by use of a boat.

There are no Harbour or other authorities here with staffs available for giving publicity to these warnings.


2 February 1925  A report was made by the Collector detailing Officers who have attained the age of 60 or will attain the age of 59 in the year ending 31 Dec 1925:

John Stephens, Collector and Surveyor, 23 June 1864

C A Fry, Asst Preventive. Officer, 9 July 1866

The Collector certified their health and efficiency remained satisfactory.


26 March 1925               I have enquired as to the proposals of the Southern Railway Company at Wootton Creek viz I have interviewed:

1. The Managers of the Wootton Trading Coy. and of the Roller Mills, Wootton, and both stated that there was not only no objection whatever on their part, but the proposals would be to their advantage. These two Companies are the only people who use the Creek for Trading and Commercial purposes.

2. The fishermen also look upon the proposals as of great commercial value towards opening up Fishbourne.

3. The use of the foreshore by the public would not, in my opinion, be interfered with.


April 1925                      Report on the mooring of bulk in the Solent by the National Benzole Company.

I have to report that as requested in M9172/25 that I know the place referred to well and have interviewed several interested parties such as masters of vessels, pilots, fishermen etc., but have found no objection so far as navigation is concerned so long as the bulk is securely moored and well lit with someone on board to look after the moorings and lights.

There are many oyster beds in Newtown River, prawn grounds stretch on the south shore of the Solent from Thorness Bay to Yarmouth & spawning grounds for prawns & shrimp on the north shore from Beaulieu to Hurst Castle and I am afraid they would be contaminated if there was any spilling of the oil during shipment.

There have been many complaints by the fishing interests of injury done by oil in the Solent and if the proposal were carried out, I feel there would be many protests. I do not know of any other interest that would be affected by the proposal.


August 1925                       The Summer leave roster, which included the excise staff, was:

Cowes                   J Stephens

Ryde                       Carroll

Newport 2nd           Penning

Newport 1st           Ferguson

Cowes                   McPherson


7 January 1926                  A report was made by the Collector detailing Officers who have attained the age of 60 or will attain the age of 59 in the year ending 31 Dec 1926:

John Stephens, Collector and Surveyor, 23 June 1864

C A Fry, Asst Preventive. Officer, 9 July 1866

The Collector certified their health and efficiency remained satisfactory


1926 seems to have been a year of change for Cowes, John Stephens, Collector, appears to have retired and Cowes ceased to be a Collection. The Island became part of Portsmouth Collection, the Preventive Officer being the most senior Waterguard Officer and the Officer being responsible for the Custom House Work. No further books have been released after this date 1926, so further information is somewhat vague.

It also appears that in the same year the Preventive Officer, F J Henning left Cowes, being replace by I J Dobyanski (who had previously been a Preventive Man at Cowes), as did the Officer in the Custom House, William McPerson, being replaced by A H Nundy.

!n 1927 the Motor Launch “Nimble” was transferred to Gravesend after over 20 years service, where it served until 1935 when it was sold for £46. The replacement launch was the “Stormcock”.

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.

1915 - 1919

Cowes Customs Records  

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

26 February 2008