The once proud Customs Service is now nothing more that a shell of what it previously was, there are now no staff employed on the Island. The Watch House, a Customs office since the early 18th Century, has been sold to the RNLI.
I have worked on and off for 25 years as a Customs Officer at Cowes on the Isle of Wight. In 2005 the office was effectively closed giving no Customs presence on the Isle of Wight for the first time in over 430 years. There is also no presence along most of the UK coast which is now open to smugglers and terrorists.
Whilst I was a Cowes I had the opportunity to extract details from some of the historic records which were held at the Cowes office, fortunately some of these have now been returned to the Island and are held by the Isle of Wight Records Office, and it is hoped that others will be transferred to the National Archives. I am now also transcribing extracts from records (mainly Letters Books) held at the National Archives and Isle of Wight Records Office, but this will be a long job. I am also attempting to compile a list of officers who have served on the Isle of Wight, which also includes Excise Officers, although most of these records do not appear to have survived, and Coast Guard Officers until about 1830. I have recently added a list of Prosecutions from 1751 to 1860.
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Cowes in the News Newspaper Extracts about Customs at Cowes, also includes some Excise and Coastguard.
From Cowes Record Books - This includes transcriptions of extracts from Collector to Board Letters Books, now held in the National Archives, which give insights into the way Cowes Customs operated.
Preventive Waterguard/Coast Guard 1816 - 1832 - transcription from the records at the National Archives
Customs Staff 1821 - 1830 - transcription from the Oaths of Admission book held at the National Archives.
Cowes staff 1839 - 1922 - transcription from the Ages and conditions book held at the National Archives.
Serving from 1885 to 1898 - extracts from record books
Serving between 1892 and 1912 - extracts from record books
The wreck of the Varvassi off the Needles, 1947 including Customs reports.
Customs Gallery - a limited range of pictures of Customs Officers and property on the Island.
Do you want to be a Tidewaiter? Take the examination to become a Tidewaiter from the Guide to the Civil Service Examinations, 1856
Salt Survey 1749 - of the English salt officers, Wight Isle collection, by the Excise Surveyor General, 1749
Tales of Island Smugglers - From the Isle of Wight County Press 1927 New
Customs Cowes Papers - An occasional series of papers about more specific areas of work / Customs Officers
Robert Willis, Boatman Yarmouth 1785 - 1823
Richard Chiverton Coastwaiter Ryde 1804 - 1816
From the Charge Book
Note: These pages are my transcriptions of original documents, they are accurate to the best of my ability but I do not take any responsibility for errors. This page predominantly contains Customs records, but have included Excise records where available. Unfortunately these do not appear to have been preserved in the same way as Customs records.
1 July 2010