Share your stores to help HM Coastguard celebrate 200th anniversary

It is almost six months to the day until Her Majesty’s Coastguard celebrates a milestone birthday – and readers are being asked to help make the occasion extra special.

Friday, 16th July 2021, 6:22 pm
The outfits may have changed in the last 200 years, as has the technology, but HM Coastguard has always been committed to saving lives at the coast and on the sea.

On January 15, 2022, HM Coastguard will turn 200.

The history of the coastguard can be traced back to 1822 and, with more than 200 years of memories to look back on with pride, there are no doubt countless stories to tell.

HM Coastguard hopes that readers will help tell its history by sharing their pictures, memories and experiences over the years.

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Share your stories to help HM Coastguard celebrate.

Over the past two centuries HM Coastguard has gone from strength to strength, with coastguard operations centres co-ordinating responses to emergency situations at the coast – calling upon approximately 310 Coastguard Rescue Teams made up of around 3000 dedicated volunteers – and 10 search and rescue helicopters.

It is now one of the UK’s four frontline emergency services, operating a 24/7, 365 day a year search and rescue service to save lives on the coast and at sea.

Safety has always been at the heart of what the coastguard does and, with technology ever evolving, HM Coastguard continues to strive to be at the forefront of innovation in order to carry on improving and saving lives.

Claire Hughes, director of Her Majesty's Coastguard, said: “From our volunteers to full-time staff, we are all immensely proud of the coastguard’s distinguished and fascinating history which has really helped to shape the incredibly important work it carries out today.

"We look forward to marking our 200th birthday in 2022 and upholding HM Coastguard’s commitment to keeping the public safe at the coast for many years to come.”

Can you help tell the coastguard story? If you have something to share use this link to upload your files or email [email protected]

In the 1700s and 1800s, goods which now travel by road were carried by hundreds of small ships. Every year, dozens of ships and hundreds of lives were lost.

Public shock and dismay at the tragedies drove forward the creation of national life saving organisations. However, HM Coastguard originally came into being to combat smuggling.

By 1743, half the tea in Britain was illegally imported and local people lived in fear of reprisals.

In 1809 the Board of Customs formed the preventative water guard to fight smugglers; using boats to patrol, they quickly acquired extra duties.

In 1821 a Committee of Inquiry recognised the Preventative Water Guard as a major force against smuggling and recommended that it again be controlled by the Board of Customs.

In a minute dated January 15, 1822, the Treasury accepted the proposal noting the new force would be called ‘Coast Guard’ which is, in effect, the birth certificate of HM Coastguard.