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Wreck of a Rum Vessel at New Brighton


Liverpool Mercury - Monday 18 March 1867


AN INVESTIGATION BY THE BOARD OF ON TRADE. On Saturday an inquiry, instituted by the Board! P of Trade, was commenced at the Liscard court- P house into the circumstances connected with the wreck of the Elizabeth Buckman, which occurred ii near the mouth of the Mersey on the night of the X b 26th of November last. The vessel, it will be: remembered, was laden chiefly with rum, which v went ashore on, the Chesire coast at New Brighton and in the direction of Hoylake, and was plundered by a number of persons who drank of the liquor and became insensibly drunk, death result- B ing in one or-more cases. The scenes of drunkenness and debauchery which took place on the cO shore on the day the' cargo of the ill-fated vessel was washed on the beach were described in the: a, current issues of the Mercury. The inquiry took E place before Mr. J. J. Hughes and Captain H. D. A Grant,Board of Trade inspectors. According to the E official circular, "although in the main the inquiry i b will have reference to the case of the wreck of the . Elizabeth Buckham, it will be extended'by a, tho- u' rough and searching inquiry with reference to the. ' nature of wreck matters generally on the Cheshire d coast, with the view, if possible, of devising same h plan likely to ensure better protection to- wrecked e property, and a more efficient co-operation between. the local authorities and offlcers." Some of the magistrates' also attended the inquiry, including' Sir Edward Cust, Mr. J. C.i Ewart;,.and' Mr. Bduch, the owner 'of the' Elizabeth Buckharn ' Captain Smith, the, head-constable of the county constabulary, was also present during a portion ofs the inquiry. Mr. Hughes having stated the object of the investigation, and cited the, law as to the 1 way in which wrecked property should' be dealt ' with, said they should' be glad to hear any observations the magistrates present had to make on the 'h subject; . t. Sir Edward Curt then 'described what he saw of the wreck of ?? Buckham, and the n rum casks coming ashore. He had'instructed his b gardener to collect all the men hie could to assist* in protecting the property. Afterwards saw some; t of the east guardmen, and told them his men c r would give all the assistance'in their power; and' a also communicated 'with Mr. Superintendent t Hammond. ~Unfortunately, the police and the i' coastguard could not act together. He had lived r in the neighbourhood 40 years, and had said 2 whenever there was a wreck use "might be made I of 'his farmyard, where the property should' be V properly taken care' of and given up to the right a parties. He bad also promised that the interests c of the ealvdrs should be properly looked' after. C He thought proper' iustructionsi should be issued by the Board of Trade and made 'public as to the mode in which wrecked goods should be 9 secured and the rights of the salvorse maintained. a It was generally known amongst the' people that they ought to take the wreck to the coatguard, s but they did not know sufflciently that they would 5 receive remuneration. People had been so-long in t the habit of going on the shore when there was a wreck and picking up anything theaycould, think- c ing they had a right to 'it, that it had led to a great r deal of immorality'and improper conduct. People saving wrecked property ought to be more liberally treated by the authorities, and the duties of persons 'with regard to such property ought to be better 1 published. He also thought there should be a t larger coastguard force. ' Mr. J. C. Ewart, who bad also witnessed some t of the proceedings on the coast when the rum casks C came ashore, described what he had seen, and said 1 he agreed with Sir Edward-Cust that there should I be a larger coastguard force. Sonie years ago c there was a larger force, the object of which a then was to prevent smuggling ; but since the re- duction of the duties the force had been reduced. I Mr. Hughes reiiarked that there were three t coastguardmen-'at New' Brigtor and' even at I Hoylake. ' C a' se a - c Mr. Ewart said that was not a sufficient forco. He also thought people ought to be better paid f6io salvage. Lately the inhabitants had 'much -im. t proved in their morals with regard to the right in I wrecked property. c Mr. Martin Bryne, assistant-receiver of wrecks, t was' then called, and gave evidence as to the time he received information of the wreck of the 'vessel, I and also the means theat were adopted 'to prevent c the cargo being plundered when it came ashore. For the number of men that wlere'at command c he thought everything was done that'was possible a to prevenit the cargo being plundered.'' He bad t never experienced any difficulty in g'ettiag 'assist- f ance from the constabulary, and 'also from the E coastguard, when any vessel was wrecked. He I could not suggest any number of mnea that would have prevented the car'go being"plundered beoau6e t he had seen whenc'aska had been placed on thi quays for the purpose of being gauged, while an officer was stooping gauging the contents of one, a man would be dipping into the bunghole of the x next cask before' the officer had time to raise his head. He hardly knew an instance where, casks, either on the beach or on the quays, had 'not been tampered with. I Mr. W. E. Maude, merchant, New Brighton, said on the afternoon of the 27th of November last he saw several of the rum casks come ashore at New Brighton. A good deal of the run was lost owing to some of the casks being stove when they came ashore. The atmosphere. was tainted with the smell of 'rum. He was particularly struok with the lawless oharacter of the mob. H we saw ai6 great many partially drunken, peoplej and, one man was so deplorably drunk that he got a person to place him in a cart andtake him away. Witnessi was much afraid some of the- people would be drowned whenthe tide came up, and he encouraged the police to do all they could to save the people. I -Mfr. Hughes: Did you see any females* in a I state of intoxication ?, Witness: To the' beat of my' recollection I saw some females in a very talkative state.' I left the shore about five o'clockI and oaw nothing of it afterwardsf. I should think there would be 200 or 300 people there. There were not many woimen.-Mr. Hughes: 'Are there any suggestions 'you can 'make to' us?' Witnesa said in his opinion a dozen policemen, 'and espe- l cially two or three mounted policemen; would have i had great influence in preserving order,' but 'they' would not have succeeded entirely.' . Mr. W. Watson, inspector of constabulary for the parish of Wallasey, said he had ten policemen under his charge, and they were all present on the beach on the afternoon the wreaked property came ashore. Witness got home from Liverpoolbetweea 1 r half -past five and six o'clock in the evening, and l drove to New Brighton as fast as he could. When b be got there he found great disorderi men were drunk, and were taking the rum away in cans and e I bottles.-Mr. Hughes: Did you in the course of the evening see one or two females in a very bad 1 I state, not only of intoxication, but- something worse?-Witness: I did, sir; it was disgraoefulI I Witness then went on to say that one person, I I to his knowledge, lest his life, another was 3 sent to the Birkenhead hospital, and ,another was * carried away helplessly drunk and placed'under a b shed. He thought there was a large' quantity of . rum carried away, but he did not estimate it. a People were drawing it in buckets and cans from F gimlet holes made in the casks. Four osaka were i 9 plundered at Egremont; and while this was going ?? a on there were no coastguardmen nearer ?? 1 a Brighton. When witness' got down to the beach, t Sergeant Hindley told him that one of the coast- o guardmen,' named Thomds, said they (the police) had no business there. E Thomas afterwards went to witness and was very abusive. Witness told , Thomas he was in drink and that he would report I him, upon which Thomas challenged himn out to 9 fight, and pushed him. He reported him to Mr. I Springett, chief boatman, who also said Thomas i was in drink. Witness told -Mr. Springett that g tbey were acting to protect life and property. Mr. Springett thanked him for the assistance. If he t had had more men he should have sent them. ?? were drinking from pools of rum in the a sand like pigs. If they bad had double the force t in the forepart of the day a great portion of the a plundering could have been prevented, but not the r whole of it. LI Police-constable 167 (CJames Bowden) and Police. r constable 163 ?? Bohan), both stationed at ' New Brighton, also gave evidence. Bowden said .a some children were there from 9 to 16 or 18 years n of age. He saw sever'al boys drunk, and one child about twelve years of age who had had some la drink. a Captain Smith then made some remarks as to n the number of men required to meet such an h emergency as the one in. question. The Cheshire constabulary, -numbering 240 men, were scattered d over an area of four or five square miles each man, d and there was only one officer to 1300 of the , population. Within about two hours he thought e he might get together between 60 and 60 of the 3, county constabulary. He thought, however, the n accounts about the scenes at New Brighton had is been overdrawn. I- Mr. Hughes said they had bad it before them Lo that there were a great deal of drunkenness and a large crowds of lawless people prepared to go any is length. He was confident that the police had done ,11 all'that men in their position could have done. is Had the assistant receiver of wrecks been at home La and received information 'earlier, no doubt considerable assistance of policemen and coastguard. ie men might have been obtained, and a great deal of' s. demoralisation prevented.. Apart from drunken- re ness being demoralising, he considered to give 200 a or 300 'people a senee of right that they should ce plunder the waste of the sea was demoralising, ic 'and thev should try and prevent it. L11 (aptain Smith said in this instance the circum- mn stances were most exceptional, and .the amount of ho thieving and drunkenness was not more than a might have been eicpected. During the ten years oir h hbad been chief constable only two wrecks of as this Bolt had occurred.; In I Mr. Hughes said he w&s perfectly aware of the he ' exceptional circumstances of this particular case, lie but he felt satisfied that with arrangements which id might have been very simple nearly the whole of ly thin matter would never have arisen at all.' What they ran ted to ascertain wee'b occurred, ,aid especially to see whether they could suggest something to the Govornment that wotild meet the -difficlty, and check it at the earliest moment, pot only in that locality, but in other localities where similar things occurred. After some further conversation as to, what weans of prevention should be adopted, the in- |quiry ws adjourned until Monday. Daring the inv'estigation Mr. Bonch stated that the quantity of rum shipped in the wrecked vessel was 138 Punchonss 19 hogeheads and 13 barrels. of that were saved 103 puncheons 17'hogsheads and 10 barrels. If the cargo had been safely landed the revenue to tho Government would~ have been £6888, in pl'aioeof 1100 only on that which was saved from the wrecL. - L \ i _W,.


Accessed 22nd March 2018

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