Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Sailing Yacht "WASP"

This beautiful yacht is one of the NYYC fleet of large sailing craft 1898 she was a very successful competitor at all the regattas in the area taking many "FLAGS" (firsts)in her illustrious career earning her the name "boat with a sting in her tail"

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Sailing Barge "GRETA"

This was taken today from Harty, Isle of Sheppey, Kent, It is seen here slipping through the Swale, en route to open water, the amount of people on the stern denotes to me it is a charter.

I used a 400 mm lens to get this shot.

Sailing Barge "GRETA"

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Thames Sailing Barge "THISTLE"

The Thames sailing barge "Thistle" under full sail and a wonderful sight they make, and it is remarkable how fast these workhorses are even with a full load.

Shamrock V

Shamrock leading White Feather, J Class. A postcard from my collection

Smacks and Smuggling

Smuggling has been around for several centuries and will always be a means of making easy money, it still applies today although the commodity has changed, at present it is class “A” drugs, a big problem to which Police and customs seem to have no answer. The risk is big, big money returns and big time if apprehended. Gold is fetching a good price and is considered worth the risk, good returns, low sentence, Krugerrands being the present favoured bullion and favourite for concealment thus evading VAT, weight 1 ounce, of 22k Gold present price £656 per coin UK. Uncut gemstones, small risk, excellent returns. And then we have people smuggling, very lucrative and there are people willing to pay large sums to bypass immigration, high risk, high money, and big time.

Smuggling was rife in Kent and Sussex, being conveniently close to France, Belgium and Holland but our North coast was less prone to large scale activity than the Coast from North Foreland all the way round to most of the Sussex Coast, apart from the Goodwin and Margate sands there was little else to concern these hardened master seamen, this area was the domain of the Smuggling gangs who were notoriously violent they were known as the Hawkhurst, Mayfield, and Groombridge gangs, placed in the centre of Kent they could cover all of Kent and would at times team up with the Chichester Gang, it was an uneasy coexistence with the local populous, their success was based on bribery, fear, terrible retribution should any member be arrested as a result of collaboration with revenue men.

I think now is the time to introduce you Rudyard Kiplings famous poem the


If you wake at midnight, and hear a horse's feet, Don't go drawing back the blind, or looking in the street.Them that asks no questions isn't told a lie,
Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!
Five and twenty ponies,Trotting through the dark, Brandy for the Parson, Baccy for the Clerk, Laces for a lady, letters for a spy,
And watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!

Running round the woodlump if you chance to find Little barrels, roped and tarred, all full of brandy-wine, Don't you shout to come and look, nor use 'em for your play.Put the brishwood back again--and they'll be gone next day!

If you see the stable-door setting open wide. If you see a tired horse lying down inside,If your mother mends a coat cut about and tore; If the lining's wet and warm--don't you ask no more!

If you meet King George's men, dressed in blue and red,You be careful what you say, and mindful what is said. If they call you 'pretty maid,' and chuck you 'neath the chin. Don't you tell where no one is, nor yet where no one's been!

Knocks and footsteps round the house--whistles after dark You've no call for running out till the house-dogs bark. Trusty's here, and Pinchers here, and see how dumb they lie They don't fret to follow when the Gentlemen go by!

If you do as you've been told, 'likely there's a chance,You'll be give a dainty doll, all the way from France,With a cap of Valenciennes, and a velvet hood A present from the Gentlemen, along o' being good! Five and twenty ponies,Trotting through the dark--Brandy for the Parson,'Baccy for the Clerk.Them that asks no questions isn't told a lie--Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!

Behind these poetic words lurks a sinister truth of the dangers and the lengths these thugs, which is what they were, would go to, people would turn there heads for fear of recognising someone, a loose tongue down the tavern on a few pints could easily get your throat cut your house burnt down and even your family harmed.

The North Kent shore can be divided into two parts East of Reculver, deeper water and becoming chalk as you move further east. West of Reculver you have shingle and sand and mud cliffs but shallower water so the chances of being apprehended were much greater, due to running aground and high ground to the South a vigilant Eye could be kept during daylight hours.
It is known that the Dutch in their Djalks flat bottomed barges and employed the use of Leeboards as do our Thames and Medway Barges, they have been known to sail round the Isle of Sheppey and enter the Eastern end of the Swale at Queen borough to avoid the detection of the intended destination which could have been anywhere from Stangate Creek, Sittingbourne, Conyer Creek, Faverham Creek, or Seasalter very often the boat would not know the exact offloading destination but would come through the Swale from the Eastern end at night and watch for the predetermined signal by a Spout Lantern “ a lantern that could emit a beam of light ” they would then unload and cart away Ankers of spirit, “ a keg containing seven and a half gallons” and or half Ankers, three and a half to four gallons of Geneva ( Gin ) Brandy, Tobacco, Tea, Coffee the quantities of which already had customers, any residue was sold in the London waterside Taverns another cunning means of beating the revenue men was to “sow a crop” to attach the spirit barrels to a chain or warp and play out the chain with the barrels attached and either mark with a unobtrusive flag, a small buoy, or take a bearing, they would then be retrieved by drudging with a grappling hook at a time of perhaps of less risk, I should add that this was done whilst underway and on the seaward side with the right preparation two men could accomplish this without cause of suspicion if observed from the shore.

Whitstable, was to have another string to its bow, it already played a reasonably active part in the free-trade but we must bear in mind that the area had the oyster trade, shrimping, whelking, copperas production, farming and fishing, fruit picking, hopping woodland conversion ( hop poles and wattle fencing etc ) so there were other less dangerous and risky occupations that could be persued. And a lot did.

What makes Whitstable more unusual is the trade in smuggled prisoners of war that was carried on in the area.
During the Napoleonic wars the enormous numbers of POWs put a considerable strain on the country's resources, and led to a vast prison building program (including Dartmoor). Many French prisoners lived in appalling conditions in prison hulks filthy, overcrowded and disease-ridden malarial hulks anchored off-shore. These were moored in the Medway at Chatham and off the Hoo Peninsular at Cooling , and inspired Charles Dickens book “ Great Expectations” the prisoner in the churchyard “ Magwitch” discovered by Pip, and who had escaped from the prison hulks moored off Cooling a mile to the North.
When a house in Castle Road was demolished in about 1946 a huge amount of manacles were discovered beneath the floor, proof of human traffic passing through the town.

There would have been an elaborate network of contacts and safe havens collusive guards would be almost a certainty and would have helped, prisoners to escape from the hulks at a price, they would be brought to London, Whitstable smacks were making regular runs to fish markets, they would pick up these POW’s and were then taken to London then smuggled onto a Hoy or an oyster-boat and transported to a timber platform at the low-tide mark near Whitstable. This platform was a mooring for the oyster-boats and fishing vessels that were prevented from reaching the true shoreline at low-tide by the two-mile wide ribbon of mud that fringes the beaches here.
Mingling with fishing folk and wildfowlers, the French escapees were able to make their way back to the shore, rest up and hide for a few days, then make a clandestine departure one dark night from Swalecliffe rock a shingle spit jutting out from the mainland and formed naturally by the action of the tides. Relatives of the wealthier prisoners would no doubt have paid handsomely for their safe return, and the arrangement no doubt suited the smugglers, who would otherwise have had to pay for their returning cargo of contraband in currency, rather than bodies. The trade continued between 1793 and 1814.
One other overlooked legal smuggling enterprise was the legal transportation of English spies to France, but the French spies they returned with were obviously illegal and if caught you would have been hung and then gibbeted this probably says something about the scruples of these upstanding folk.

Owling - The stealing of wool, and the exportation of it to the continent and with the proceeds buying, Brandy, Geneva (Gin) Tea, Tobacco Coffee and luxury goods, this particular form of smuggling was favoured by the Whitstable, Seasalter and other small North Kent gangs, although seasonal, the benefit was, that it was self funding so therefore cutting out greedy upstanding respected folk who normally put up the capital at high rates for the continental runs. The Whitstable and Seasalter gangs operational headquarters was Seasalter Parsonage Farm in Genesta Avenue in about 1740 and still stands there to this day. The Owling trade in this area centred around the Swale and near Thames Estuary, Cliffe and Cooling marshes taking in Sheppey ( Island of Sheep) Shellness was a good place to take on cargo, the water depth was good at most times except absolute low water, Sittingbourne, and Faversham Marshes had good berthing places, the wool from these areas were considered to be of high quality by the woollen trade on the continent therefore commanding quality money.

Unfortunately, encounters between the local smugglers and the authorities sometimes led to bloodshed and death, as the following will show by an entry in the Kentish Gazette.Wednesday, February 28th, 1780.
WHEREAS ON SATURDAY, the 26th Inftant, A party of his Majefty's 4th Regiment of Dragoons, efcorting a Seizure of uncuftomed Goods from Whitftaple towards Canterbury, was attacked about Half a Mile on this side of Whitftaple, between Six andSeven o'Clock in the Evening, by a very numerous body of Smugglers, upwards of fifty
of whom had Fire-arms; who, having demanded the goods, without waiting for an Anfwer, they proceeded to fire on the Party, by which two Dragoons were killed on the fpot, and two more dangeroufly wounded.In Order to bring to Juftice the Perpetrators of this Murder, LIEUTENANT- COLONEL HUGONIN, of the 4th Dragoons, does hereby offer a reward of fifty GUINEAS to anyPerfon or Perfons who fhall difcover and apprehend, or caufe to be difcovered or apprehended, any one or more of the Offenders; to be paid upon Conviction.
Canterbury, February 28th, 1780.
The story told by this advertisement was amplified in the news ofthe following week.
ON Saturday, 26th inft., Mr. Nicholfon, Supervifor of the Excife, affifted by a Corporal and eight men of his Majefty's 4th Regiment of Dragoons, feized in the town of Whitftaple, 183 tubs of Geneva which they were conveying in a wagon to this City, when, about half a mile on this fide of Whitftable, between fix and feven o'clock in the evening they were attacked by a very numerous body of fmugglers, upwards of 50 of whom had fire-arms : having demanded the Goods without awaiting for an Anfwer, they fired upon the party, by which two dragoons were Killed on the fpot, and two dangeroufly wounded.
They then unloaded' the wagon and carried off the whole of the goods, exceptthen unloaded' the wagon and carried off the whole of the goods, except two tubs, on their shoulders, which is a convincing circumftance at the numbers the party confifted of. A great many fhots must have been fired on this occafion as balls paffed through the hats and cloathes and grazed the legs of others of the dragoons. The deceafed were both men- of exceeding good character, one of them has left a wife and three children. The above goods, it is faid, were landed out of a cutter that was driven into Whitftaple the preceding evening
evening by the late high winds; fhe carried of a cutter that was driven into Whitftaplethe preceding evening by the late high winds; fhe carried 18 braff 9-pounders and put out to fea as foon as the fmugglers had put on board the tubs of Geneva they had retaken.Monday the Coroner's inquest fat on the bodies of the dragoons who werekilled, and brought in a verdict, " wilful murder by perfons unknown."
The sequel came swiftly and resulted in a gruesome warning tothose who might be tempted to follow in the same evil ways. On
On March 15th, 1780, the Kentish Gazette reported:
Sunday laft John Knight, jun., of Whitftaple, was committed byEdward Hafted, Efq., to St. Dunftan's Goal being charged on the oathof Edward Edenden, and others, with having been aiding and affiftingwith fire-arms, in the late dreadful affray and murder, on the bodies of two dragoons of the 4th regiment, on Boftal Hill, near Whitftape, on, Saturday, 28th of February laft. A few days later the unfortunate man appeared at the Assizes:Saturday, March 18th, 1780.
At the Affizes held this week at Maidftone, John Knight was capitallyconvicted of aiding and affifting in the murder of two dragoons on Saturday, 28th February laft, near Whitftable, and he received sentence of death. accordingly. He will be executed this day on: Penenden Heath from whence his body will be removed and hung in chains on Boftal Hill, near the place where the murder was committed. It appeared by the evidence on the trial that he was one of the men who fired a fignal gun to affemble the fmugglers ne of the men who fired a fignal gun to affemble the fmugglers, and that he was afterwards feen to' load his piece with a, leaden bullet, and that he among others actually fired when two of the dragoons were shot. He had no defence to make, but faid he had only fired once in the air, and feemed utterly infenfible defence of the nature of his crime. Punishment followed swiftly, for under the date Monday,
20th March, 1780, we read:
John Knight, committed by Edward Hafted, Efq.; the 12th day of March;charged on the oath of Edward Edenden and others, with aiding and affifting in the murder of two dragoons at Whitftaple, in. this county,
He was accordingly executed on Saturday on Penendem heath.—Hisbehaviour at the place of execution, was fuch as became his unhappy stuation and juft before he was turned off, begged of the spectators to take warning how they affift fmugglers. He faid he was at that time ignorant of the nature of the crime he had committed, and was drawn in by the purfuations of thofe who knew better, and were more interefted. He died very penitent, and the people Feemed to be greatly affected at feeing fuch young a man cut off in the flower of hif youth He was not 18 years old. Monday, his body was brought to Borftal-hill guarded by a body of dragoons, and hung in chains near the place where the murder was committed.
And Further
In the night between the 27th and 29th 1784. a boat detached from HisMajesty's Cutter Griffin, stationed on this coast to cruise for contraband, had the misfortune to run upon the stakes of a fish weir at Swalecliff near Whitstaple, by which unhappy accident, a midfhipman and feven men were drowned.
Wednesday, March 10th, 1784.
On Tuefday the bodies of a midfhipman and fix of the seamen who wereunfortunately drowned in Swalecliff Weir, were interred in one grave inSwalecliffe Church-yard. The other was carried to Faverfham.
The Swalecliffe Register of Deaths contains the following entry
Seven seamen were drowned they had a communal burial in St Johns Church Swalecliffe.
They were, Moses Pike, Francis Bell, Henry Bugden, Thomas Burlam, John Smith, Michael Brown, Thomas Taplock. One of the unfortunates were taken and buried in Faversham - RIP -

I in fact, was married in this church and for a while lived nearby, But I have never found a stone marking the grave of these unfortunate naval ratings.
Wednesday, March 23rd, 1782.
Last Sunday night, as five men in a boat were rowing from Herne Bay to Whitstable, they were unfortunately struck against a stump at Hampton to which a Weir had been formerlyfixed, the stump ran through the bottom, of the boat, and she had been formerly fixed, the stump ran through the bottom, of the boat, which instantly sunk, four of the men were drowned and the other with much difficulty swam ashore, the men were strangers in this part of the country, and had just bought the boat at Herne and were supposed to be going on a smuggling scheme.In his book My Recollections of HAMPTON by Frank Mount and published by Herne Bay College in 1942 signed by the third son and in my library. In this publication he mentions a one Judas Downs who applied to the board of trade for permission to build legitimately, a Fish Weir ( Trap ) at Hampton, it was granted and it was a successful enterprise but it did take the lives of a number of mariners it did not discriminate between free traders and naval personnel.

As a young lad I was with my Uncle Ted delivering groceries to Miss Lambs, “School House” a beautiful building, after expressing an interest in old buildings and secret passages, Miss Lamb took me to a staircase which we climbed, halfway up there was a very small window, I was told that this could not be seen from anywhere adjacent to the house but that it was a window used for placing a spout lantern as a signal that it was okay, or, do not land on this tide, revenue riders about. There was in Whitstable a lot of sympathy for free traders as most of the inhabitants derived benefit from this activity in one way or another, and that is why the good times lasted for so long 1700-1840 which was the date of the first postage stamp, and the industrial revolution was gaining momentum giving forth new opportunities, and so on the scale smuggling had been, would never be again, Finally the coastguards of Herne Bay area were able to report that the free trade had been virtually extinguished, also the reduction of Customs Duties after 1840 took much of the profit out of smuggling and this coupled with the vigilance of the coastguard service, effectively stopped large scale operations for the next 100 years.
There is one more bizarre episode that needs mention in 1851 and more than forty years after we had abolished the slave trade, an armed vessel was boarded off Whitstable and was found to be equipped as a slaver, with boxes of beads and bangles for trading and barter, however the boat was American owned so could not be detained.
And perhaps pertinent when Charles Dickens expired, Bleak House, his holiday home, wherein was discovered in the cellar, when valuing the premises for probate 2,400 bottles of wines and spirits, many of them unlabelled and perhaps therefore being from unofficial sources.
I have been left musing after writing this article, my male bloodline emanate from the Ramsgate area and it crops up several times occupations given as dredgermen, no oysters in that area, nearest place to ply that trade would have been Hampton, Swalecliffe, but more probable Whitstable, and coincides with some of the dates herein mentioned. Mmmmm I wonder!

Kind regards
Dave Jordan

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Classic Boat "Radio Caroline"

Some of the music played on this boat is certainly classic this little craft entertained millions over the years, This shot is when she was having repairs done at Rochester, Kent UK,
The other picture is where she was berthed at Queenborough, Kent UK


Norota in 1890 she was just one of the many yachts of the exclusive New York Yacht Club membership by invitation only, between all the members they had a very large fleet. she was a very yacht and won many races at the various regattas.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Helen & Violet. LO 262

I photographed this Oyster Smack only a fortnight ago at Brightlingsea, there are still a few of these to be seen there are several at Faversham, Kent, and includes The Game Cock F 76, but the East coast of Essex is the legendary home of Gaff rigged sailing craft.

The American Gaff Cutter "Suzanne"

This picture wonderfully epitomises the splendour of a gaff cutter running with the wind and flying full canvas.
I painted this from a photograph about two years ago, the boat is part of the fleet of the New York Yacht Club

Friday, September 11, 2009

Resumation of posting

I have been a bit lax in my upkeep of this site, but I will resume posting very soon, I have some interesting material that needs publishing.