Maritime 9: Pelter Brig
This old wooden sailing ship known as The Pelter Brig has been hauled high up the beach at Folkestone Warren, near Horse’s Head Rock.
In the early to mid 1800s it was used as a coastguard station, as a base to catch smugglers. It became quite a landmark.
In the 1830s, coastguard John Anderson lived on board with his wife and 8 children. They shared the ship with 8 other families. Life was basic and somewhat cramped! There were no toilets or running water.
A story is that one of John’s children, John ‘Chopper’ Anderson, who later became Folkestone Town Crier, once got into trouble as a boy for letting off a cannon out to sea, with the explosion alerting the whole town.
This was probably a gun used by the coastguards to raise the alarm in case of smugglers or a ship in distress. As you can imagine, he got into serious trouble!
Look closely at the picture to see:
- Some people (probably from the families who lived on board) standing next to the vessel.
- Washing hanging on a makeshift line strung across the deck
- Windows to let light inside (converted gun ports from when the Pelter was a Royal Navy fighting ship).
- Chimneys to let out smoke and steam from cooking and heating.
Beyond The Pelter Brig is the cone-shaped Horse’s Head Rock (so-called because from a particular angle it looks like a horse’s head) and the sweep of East Wear Bay.
In the distance three Martello Towers are visible on Folkestone’s East Cliff. These forts (looking like upturned buckets) were built to defend Britain from the threat of invasion in Napoleonic times.