Gun evokes smuggling past of Flamborough

Joe Stadler pictured with victorian coastguard Gun'PA1152-2a
Joe Stadler pictured with victorian coastguard Gun'PA1152-2a

Flamborough today may seem like a quiet haven to spend the long summer days but this Victorian pistol hints at it’s darker past.

This gun belonged to the Flamborough coastguard and may have come in handy in the 19th Century when smuggling was rife nearby.

Flamborough has natural coves, accessible creeks and deep water near the cliffs which together made it the ideal location to smuggle contraband into the country.

Some of the older houses in Flamborough still contain smugglers hole cupboards in which tea, brandy, tobacco, silk and cotton could be hidden from customs officers.

Smuggling increased as excessive duties on an ever expanding list of items made the activity very profitable for those who dared take on the authorities.

A common trick used by smugglers was to pass smuggling information to coastguards indicating a landing further down the coast whilst actually bringing in goods miles from that spot.

This 22-bore government issued pistol, shows that the coastguards were permitted to use whatever force necessary as they cracked down on smuggling.

Inscribed on the barrel are the words Flamborough CGD and a Queen Victoria stamp is clearly visible.

The gun’s owner Joe Stadler said: “I have never seen a gun issued to the coastguard, it’s a rare piece and it’s causing quite a bit of interest. I got it at a sale room about six months ago, I collect a few guns and this one had a little bit of local history so I bought it.”

Mr Sadler said the gun has ordinance marks on it and has definitely been fired a few times in the past.

HM Coastguard today is primarily concerned with the safety of those at sea but the service originally evolved from an organisation called The Preventable Water Guard which focused on the prevention of smuggling and assisting shipwrecks.