11 February 2017

Hove Coastguard Station

Judy Middleton 2002 (revised 2017)

copyright © J.Middleton
Although the postcard is titled ‘Coast Guard Station’ the central building was actually Hove Battery in peaceful mode because there are no gun barrels poking through. The Coastguard Station was to the left. The house on the right was demolished when the swimming baths were built in 1939; initially called Hove Marina, the building has been known as the King Alfred since the Second World War. In the postcard the only part still in place to this day is the railing on the right.

The Coastguard Station was established at Hove in March 1823 as a direct result of Hove’s notorious reputation for smuggling. In those days Hove was quite an isolated coastal village with few residents. There was a long shelving beach with fishing boats and it was comparatively easy for boats from France loaded with untaxed merchandise to land their wares discreetly. It was said that the Ship Inn was a rendezvous for those in the ‘trade’ while goods could be stored in the near derelict St Andrew’s Old Church, at Hangleton Manor, or at West Blatchington Windmill before being transported further inland.

 copyright ©  Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove  (photograph from the Brighton Graphic)
The Ship Inn in Hove Street, a rendezvous for smugglers

1841 Census

The following men were stationed at the Coastguard Station:

John Warren, 35
Edward Baruch, Royal Navy, 46
William Jane, 25
Joseph Quick, 40
Richard James, 35
Richard Merry, 38
Richard Bond, 20
John Wheeler, 49
William Hudson, 25

1851 Census

By this time the men lived in nine Coastguard Cottages fronting the coast road and south east of the Ship Inn. The men and their families were as follows:

copyright © J.Middleton
This postcard shows a part of Hove that has vanished. On the right are the roofs of the Coastguard Station / RNVR Depot; to the north stand the Coastguard Cottages; and the building fronting Kingsway on the west side of Hove Street is Hove College.

George Saunders, 37, born in Chelsea, wife, three daughters, two sons.
Benjamin Kerridge, 46, born in Weymouth, chief boatman, wife, two daughters and three sons.
Richard Port, 40, born in Seaford, commissioned boatman and coastguard, wife and one daughter.
Richard James, 47, born in Falmouth, boatman, wife, two daughters and two sons.
Thomas Moon, 29, born in Ballycollin, Ireland, boatman, wife, three daughters and one son.
Joseph Quick, 53, born in Beer, Dorset, 53, wife and one son. By 1861 he had retired but he continued to live in Hove on the coast road and not far from the Coastguard Station.
Anthony Murphy, 49, born in Ballybean, Ireland, boatman.
David Higgs, 37, born in Crayford, Kent, wife, two daughters and two sons.
Bartholomew Jeffrey, 45, born in Peckham, Surrey, Lieutenant Royal Navy on half-pay in charge of the coastguard, with two sons, and two servants.

It is interesting to note that out of these nine men, only one was Sussex-born.

At 4 Cambridge Road, Hove, lived James B. Willoughby, 45, his wife, three daughters, and two sons. He was a Commander, Royal Navy, on full pay, doing duty as Inspecting Commander.

1861 Census

George Saunders (same as for 1851)
Henry Houghton, 43, born in Sheerness, chief boatman, wife and one son.
M. Stone, born in Cornwall, wife, and two daughters.
Richard James, 57, born in Falmouth, wife, one son and one daughter.
Henry Ivor, 36, born in Cornwell, wife and three daughters.
David Higgs, 47 (same as for 1851 but with another daughter and a niece.)
Ellen Burwood, wife of a coastguard, born in Essex, one son and two daughters.
John Williams 35, born in Devon, wife, one son and one daughter.
Francis W. Turton, 30, Lieutenant Royal Navy, wife, three daughters and two servants.


J.S. Monneypenny was Chief Coastguard during this time. When he retired he stayed in the area and died at Station Road, Portslade on 8 July 1890.

Directory -1896

George Stone, chief officer
W. Chard
Mr Clark
R. Taylor
Thomas Harding
Charles James
A. Ellende
Stephen Histead

Directory - 1898

George Stone, chief officer
Mr Homer
Mr Starkey
Mr Dudley
Mr Brown
Charles James
A. King
Stephen Histead

Directory – 1903

George Southey, chief officer
P. Grigg, common boatman
W. Goodman, common boatman
W. Gourd, boatman
L. Hounsell, common boatman
R. Seakell, boatman
Albert Tooze,
William Parslow, chief petty officer, gunnery instructor
Henry Homer, chief boatman
A. Birch, divisional carpenter
W. Wheatley, common boatman

(Two years later Southey, Grigg, Goodman, Gourd, Hounsell, Seakell, Tozer and Wheatley were still there but Alfred Storkey had become chief boatman and S. Angear was divisional carpenter).

Directory – 1910

Alfred Gorringe, chief officer
Charles Leppard
Samuel Angear
J. Pocock
Arthur Lee
Thomas Reeves
M. Southern
W. Morley
H. Harvey
W. Green
P. Grigg

Directory – 1915

F.A. Rewell, chief officer
J. Sandback, CPO
Mr Wellington
E.A. Clifford, gunnery instructor RNVR
H.J. Sace
A. Bishop
Fred Clayson
R. Coventry
G. Winder
P. Denton
Henry Coates
S. Matthews, signal instructor RNVR

 copyright ©  Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove  (photograph from the Brighton Graphic)
S. Matthews, signal instructor RNVR on the left, teaching semaphore signalling at Hove Coastguard Station on the 
15 July 1915

Directory – 1925

A.A. Miller, station officer
T.F. Quigley
Arthur Townsend
F.D. Dodd
Thomas Stevens
Edward James
Thomas Hallsey
George King
George Wingham
William Cantrell
E.W. Diaper
John Cassford

copyright © J.Middleton
This postcard dates to around 1927 and the gun barrels of Hove Battery can be seen clearly. Also on view is the trophy German Mörser gun. See also Hove Guns.

Directory 1930

F.D. Dodd, station officer
Arthur Townsend
Thomas Stevens
George King
Thomas Hallsey, customs & excise officer
E.W. Diaper
Ernest Walker
Frederick Heath
F.J.C. Payne
G.W. Batty
William Bennett
Frederick Jerram

copyright © J.Middleton
This photograph was taken from an unusual angle. It shows Hove Battery on the left, with the roof of the Coastguard Station visible between it and the hut, and in the right background are Hove College and the Ship Inn
C. Tamkin printed the postcard and he was a picture framer of 93 Church Road, Hove.

Directory – 1935

Ernest Heighton, station officer
Arthur Townsend
Frederick Heath
George King
David Allen
Arthur Townsend
George Fowler
Gilbert White
James Daley
William Glyde
J. Sheppard
William West

Vain Rescue Attempt

On 1 November 1923 coastguard T.F. Quigley, wearing a cork life-jacket, attempted in vain, together with Police Sergeant J. Ockenden and L. Kemp, Baths superintendent, to rescue Agnes Turner from drowning in the sea opposite Hove Baths.

Chief Officers

1850 – Lieutenant Drew
1851 – Lieutenant Bartholomew Jeffery
1854 – Lieutenant William Hay
1859 – Lieutenant William Turton
1864 – B.L. Littlehales
1868 – Lieutenant Paul Stoor
1871 – John H. Moneypenny
1880 – D. Pengelly
1889 – William Veal
1896 – George Stone
1900 – George Southey
1908 – Alfred Gorringe
1912 – F.A. Rewell
1921 – S. Griffiths
1922 – Fred Simkins
1924 – A. Miller
1927 – F.D. Dodd
1932 – G. White
1934 – Charles Ernest Heighton

Hove Commissioners and the Admiralty

In  1881 Hove Commissioners were keen to remove the Coastguard Station from its site south of Hove Street. They had the agreement of the Vallance Estate but the Admiralty would not agree.

In January 1894 the Commissioners wrote to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty seeking permission to build an esplanade in front of the RNR Battery. The Admiralty agreed but only if Hove Commissioners agreed to certain terms, which were as follows:

Battery, semaphore and flagstaff to be removed and re-erected
Battery floor to be raised 5 feet to bring portholes up to a proper level
Public to be excluded from walking in front of Battery when gun practice in progress
A slipway to be provided for the coastguard’s boat

All the foregoing expenses were to be borne by Hove Commissioners while the Admiralty reserved the right to resume possession.

By June 1894 Hove Commissioners had agreed to the terms.

Hove Council and the Admiralty

Hove Council was involved in a long correspondence with the Admiralty when the Council wanted to improve Shoreham Road (now Kingsway) which at one point was bordered on both sides by land belonging to the Admiralty because the Coastguard Cottages were on the north side while the Coastguard Station was on the south side.

At length by 1905 the Admiralty said they were willing to sell the strip of land required for £750.

The Coastguard Station became part of HMS King Alfred in 1939 and after the war it reverted to being an RNVR site, which closed in 1968. In 1969 Hove Council purchased the site from the Admiralty with great hopes for the regeneration of the area. It is an astonishing fact that so years later the site remains undeveloped and is used as a car park. There have been plans a-plenty for the King Alfred site but one by one they have bitten the dust. 

Coastguards were stars of early films

The Hove film pioneer James A. Williamson featured Hove coastguards in some of his early films such as Hove Coastguards at Cutlass Drill and Hove Coastguards at Flag Drill; both these films were shot in 1897.

Hove Coastguards were also shown to good effect in another locally shot film made in 1901 Attack on a China Mission where the gallant men are seen racing to the rescue.   

Coastguard Cottages

In February 1908 it was stated that the coastguard cottages were being pulled down now that the strip of land from the Vallance Estate was the property of Hove Council. But this event did not take place and the cottages remained until 1936 when they were demolished. The site remained vacant for 20 years.


In 1923 the coastguards were given planning permission by Hove Council to erect a post east of the Coastguard Watch House on the esplanade. The wooden post would be 3 feet 6 inches above ground and 6 inches square. The post was required for firing rocket signals to call the life-saving apparatus crew into action, the crew being composed of Hove fishermen.

On 7 October 1933 during Safety First Week hundreds of people watched an exercise from the sea wall as night fell. In the ‘glare of an enormously powerful searchlight projected from the elevated platform of the Coastguard Station’ people watched the pretend ‘wreck’ being towed to safety. The boat actually belonged to Leo Evershed, secretary of Hove Deep Sea Anglers, who had lent her for the demonstration. When flares were sent up, a rocket answered them from the Coastguard Station and the Shoreham motor lifeboat came to the rescue.

The display also included a demonstration by the coastguards and Hove Volunteer Life Saving Company where a rescue was effected by means of the ‘rocket apparatus and breeches buoy from a mast erected on the groyne.’

See also HMS King Alfred & the History of the King Alfred site

The rebuilt Ship Inn Hove was renamed Le Bourdeaux in 2004, its present day name is The Ginger Pig


Census Returns
Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade
Hove Council Minutes
Local newspapers

Copyright © J.Middleton 2017
page layout by D.Sharp