Tag Archives: Lugger

Saving The Saxon King

The Saxon King is housed in the Museum’s downstairs Maritime Gallery.

From the East Kent Mercury newspaper, Thursday, July 23rd 1970

“A Deal galley – one of the most famous beach craft in this island’s maritime history – is being preserved for posterity. A small band of enthusiasts are at work on the to a fine breed of longshoremen.
‘In a large building tucked well away in that labyrinth of narrow streets that constitutes North Deal this week I came across three members of the Deal and Walmer Local History Society working on the Saxon King.
‘The Saxon King is a fine example of a Deal galley and was owned by Freddie Upton, the internationally famous former-cox’n of Walmer lifeboat.
‘Built at the turn of the century, the sleek craft has a fine history of work in the Downs and of rescues on the seas around the dreaded Goodwin Sands.
‘But, alas, the once proud craft has fallen into disuse, and decay has become apparent in her timbers. Had it not been for the Deal and Walmer Local History Society the galley would have become, as the seafarer says, a total loss.

‘Instead, within a matter of months, the Saxon King will be restored to her former glory and will, no doubt, be the envy of those who delight in matters maritime.
‘When, as the History Society hope, Deal Town Council put the craft on permanent display, she will become on object of world-wide interest.
‘The men behind the restoration of the Saxon King are Mr. Harry Franks, of Middle Street, Deal, the Society chairman; Mr. William Honey, Society treasurer, who lives in Sandown Road, Deal, and Les Cozens, a sheet metal worker, who lives in Canute Road, Deal,
These three are giving hours of ..[their time]

‘When I penetrated the gloom or their workshop I found the three of them hardly pausing from their labours as they tenderly restored the slender lines of the galley, which has buckled with the passing of time.
Here was the same intense concentration that there is, I imagine, at a heart transplant operation. And, indeed, this operation is something like that.
‘Harry Franks, Bill Honey and Les Cozens are putting the heart back into the Saxon King. They are working in ash, which is hard to obtain.
‘But their perseverence unearthed some stored by an old hurdle maker deep in the rural district.
One of their big tasks will be the replacing of the transom and stern post, using good old British oak.
Saxon King, 28 feet long and with a five feet two inch beam, is at present painted in an odd blue.
One of the tasks is to restore her to the original and natural varnished state.

‘Bill Honey told me: “This craft is priceless. Her value cannot be enumerated in pounds, shillings and pence.
“We spend two evenings a week working on her. We put in three or four hours at a time, but we have months or work ahead of us.’ Saxon King is one of two Deal galleys still extant. The other is Undaunted, owned by popular Deal boatman, Bailey, and to be found on the beach just south of Deal pier.”

Fisherman, deep-sea mariner, boatman, smuggler and pilot

WH Stanton took on virtually any seafaring job available…

Deal native William Henry Stanton (1803-1878) first went to sea at the age of 11.

By the time he passed his examination as a Cinque Ports pilot around the age of 30, he had been a fisherman, deep-sea mariner, boatman, smuggler and pilot. We know much of this story from his autobiography, written during the winter of 1860-61, now in Deal Museum. It is an intriguing if curious volume, containing episodes from his life, interspersed with observations, songs, poetry, even the occasional illustration.

In 1826, after a series of overseas voyages to India and South America:

‘He left of foreign voyages entirely and stuck to the boating business for some years and bought the sixth part of a set of boats. The largest of these was called the Ox, a second class boat call’d the Fox, together with a galley, a punt and materials of all descriptions for working at wrecks on the Goodwin.’

The Ox was a Deal lugger built in 1807, registered to Thomas Cottle. This section of the autobiography contains many colourful accounts of shipwreck and salvage over a period of about 15 years. From these stories we can see that several large Deal vessels were often in action together. On New Year’s eve 1830, the Dart and Stour luggers worked with the Ox to rescue the crew and salvage the cargo of the Alexander of Hamburg. There are many references to the hazards of life as a boatman, the poor rewards for salvage, and the wear and damage to boats often up to 20 years old.

Perhaps this lack of reward tempted William to try smuggling. Goods (tea, silks and satin ribbon) were brought from Calais in a French boat. After several successful runs, the vessel was seized by the coast blockade soon after landing, with William escaping arrest. He was tempted again three years later, when he was asked to recover spirits sunk in the anchorage off Deal. He was captured but was able to persuade the magistrates that he was innocent, claiming he had been fishing for smelt.

By early 1832, the conditions of Deal boatmen and their dependents became so desperate that a petition requesting relief was made to both Trinity House and the House of Commons. William was prominent in pleading the case, which resulted in a House of Commons enquiry into the local conduct of pilotage. The boatmen argued that allowing them to bring vessels into the Downs and to be paid the same fees as pilots would resolve many of their problems. The enquiry recommended in favour of the boatmen.

Encouraged by this outcome, William applied for a pilot’s examination. After a direct appeal to the Duke of Wellington, then Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, he succeeded and was admitted in 1835. He remained a pilot until his retirement about 30 years later.