Coastguard History Search

Over the years various people have asked about Coastguard’s from years gone by so I thought I would add a page with some of the fantastic websites which have tons of information on Coastguard history. It is fascinating to read this stuff whether you know these people or not.

Naval engagements by HM Coastguard – World War One 1917-918

HM Coastguard in World War One - © HM Coastguard
HM Coastguard in World War One – © HM Coastguard

More Sites to Explore:

If you want to find out about anyone or are just interested in Coastguard history please check out these links.

The Coastguard Association try to make sure this sites are current and accurate, but we have no responsibility for any of the external content provided.


Trebetherick Coastguard


Trebetherick by John Betjeman

We used to picnic where the thrift
Grew deep and tufted to the edge;
We saw the yellow foam flakes drift
In trembling sponges on the ledge
Below us, till the wind would lift
Them up the cliff and o’er the hedge.
Sand in the sandwiches, wasps in the tea,
Sun on our bathing dresses heavy with the wet,
Squelch of the bladder-wrack waiting for the sea,
Fleas around the tamarisk, an early cigarette.

From where the coastguard houses stood
One used to see below the hill,
The lichened branches of a wood
In summer silver cool and still;
And there the Shade of Evil could
Stretch out at us from Shilla Mill.
Thick with sloe and blackberry, uneven in the light,
Lonely round the hedge, the heavy meadow was remote,
The oldest part of Cornwall was the wood as black as night,
And the pheasant and the rabbit lay torn open at the throat.

But when a storm was at its height,
And feathery slate was black in rain,
And tamarisks were hung with light
And golden sand was brown again,
Spring tide and blizzard would unite
And sea come flooding up the lane.
Waves full of treasure then were roaring up the beach,
Ropes round our mackintoshes, waders warm and dry,
We waited for the wreckage to come swirling into reach,
Ralph, Vasey, Alistair, Biddy, John and I.

Then roller into roller curled
And thundered down the rocky bay,
And we were in a water world
Of rain and blizzard, sea and spray,
And one against the other hurled
We struggled round to Greenaway.
Blessйd be St Enodoc, blessйd be the wave,
Blessйd be the springy turf, we pray, pray to thee,
Ask for our children all happy days you gave
To Ralph, Vasey, Alistair, Biddy, John and me.

trevThe trawler ‘Peace and Plenty’ was in grave danger out at sea near Padstow, and two of the town’s lifeboats; ‘James Stevens’ and the ‘Arab’ were involved in an attempt to rescue the crew.

Five of her crew were saved by the Trebetherick Rocket Brigade, and three were drowned. Soon after the local pulling lifeboat ‘Arab’ was launched, but was struck by the stormy sea which completely buried the lifeboat. It washed eight of her crew overboard and broke all of her oars.

The crew were helped safely back on to the lifeboat and they attempted to reach the shore minus the oars. When the tired crew finally reached the creek they jumped for the shore. The lifeboat dashed against rocks becoming a total wreck.

The Padstow steam lifeboat was launched after the pulling boat. But soon a heavy swell broke and completely turned the boat over. The second coxswain, Orson French was at the helm. He was among the three members of crew who survived. The other eight drowned.


Pett Coastguard from 1861

pett cg1860 The Coastguards took over the crewing of the Hastings Lifeboat because no civilian crew could serve.

1861 The ten-yearly census records 10 men at Fairlight described as Coastguards, plus families. Also there are two “commissioned boatmen” at Cliff End Cottage, plus families, and 11 Coastguards and families at Pett.

1864 Diplock’s Handbook says: “The old Coastguard Station, which formerly stood on the beach east of the [Ecclesbourne] stream, was so seriously damaged by the storms of 1859 as to become uninhabitable, as it had long been insecure. The new houses, erected on the western side, a little way higher up the cliff, are far more substantial and comfortable than the old wooden houses, though less picturesque.”

Coastguard strengths in 1922 were said to be: Eastbourne 4; Bexhill, St Leonards, Fairlight, Pett 2 each; Rye Harbour 3; Jurys Gap 2 .

1926 August: Pett Coastguard Station was sold by auction at Castle Hotel, Hastings..


Various Historic Coastguard Stations

King’s Cutters and Smugglers 1700-1855

padstowEBOOK – Chatterton, E. Keble (Edward Keble), 1878-1944

Newport Coastguard  1876

newportPrussia Cove Coastguard1907

Built right on the smuggling cove to stop the smugglers, they predate nearby Porthenalls which was only built c1900


prussi cove map

Sennen Cove Coastguard 1893

Coast Guard Station, Thomas Stone, chief officer & five men

sennen cove

Shoebury Coastguard

The Coastguard station was closed in 1844 and was moved to Leigh on sea.

The buildings were then taken over by the board of ordnance  in 1847.


Southend Coastguard



Lepe Coastguard 1893


A coastguard station was built on the Lepe Estate to combat the smuggling activities in the region shortly after the modern-day Coastguard was formed in 1822. Completed in 1828, the Coastguard Cottages (Grade II listed) and the Watch House remain largely unchanged today. These appear in  C and J Greenwoods 1826 map of Hampshire and are clearly shown below in the 1871 Ordnance Survey map of the area. The commander of the first crew appointed as coastguards was Lieutenant Hodge.

In 1800s after years of smuggling in the area, the Coast Guard Cottages and Watch House were built, housing the Preventative Officers and their boat. Soon after Billy Coombes, the captain of a smuggling ship, was captured and hanged at Stone Point.