Island Lore

Smugglers' relic at Canvey

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From the July 1904 edition of the Canvey News Dutch Island Chronicle and Benfleet Advertiser, passed to us by Ray Woodberry.

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It may not be known to many readers of the Canvey News that an interesting relic of Canvey’s smuggling days lies in one of the creeks near Leigh Beck. If the visitor be of an adventurous turn of mind, and will explore the eastern extremity of the Island, he may come across the fragmentary remains of what was once the water home of a crew of smugglers.

A few moments’ survey is sufficient to show how well selected was their position for purpose of concealment; the outlet being eastward, a high bank on either side, with mast lowered, their position seemed secure from view either from land or sea.

The presence of these smugglers was extremely obnoxious to the then owner of the land, and parley was followed by threat. As warnings to leave seemed all in vain this state of affairs only produced severe tension between the owner of the land and the smuggling crew. This was ended suddenly, for upon one occasion, when seeking recreation and change, the crew, having found entertainment on the mainland, spent the night ashore, and upon their return a surprise awaited them. What had occurred to the boat?

In the absence of the men this had been set on fire, and now but little else than charred cinders is left to tell of those days.

The decked craft that had been their home so long, together with stores and cargo, had made a bonfire of no small proportions: all had been consumed in the devouring flame, save for the little that is now to be seen, viz.—the stem of the boat, its transome on end connected by its keel, this sustaining a few stumpy broken ribs which stand out on either side.

This is but one out of many little reminis­cences of Canvey’s smuggling days which may be retold in our columns from time to time.

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