Battle of Mudeford Cruises
Enjoy a one hour cruise and hear about the Battle of Mudeford.
Book on the Mudeford Ferry or phone direct on 07968 334441
Date afternoon Friday 15th July 1784 weather conditions warm winds light and variable sea calm.
The previous day, on the site of today’s car park, John Streeter has supervised the unloading of his two luggers the Phoenix and the Civil Usage of 5000 casks of spirits and 400 chests of tea.
This operation was observed by a customs vessel the Resolution which sent a long boat to summon help from other custom vessels in the area. It found the Swan in Poole Bay and the Orestes just off the Needles.
All three boats converge on the Harbour entrance about six in the evening. The smugglers boats have been moved just inside the harbour to be ballasted
John Streeter is in Christchurch when he hears about the position of the three customs vessels. He rides his horse as fast as he can to Mudeford shouting out to his men to get their muskets and get to the quay.
When he gets there he realises he is trapped and orders his men to strip the boats of as much equipment as they can to prevent it falling into the hands of the authorities. As more men arrive they are ordered to take up positions around the quay.
By now the three ships outside the entrance have launched two boats each crewed by marines and sailors. Leading in the first boat was Captain William Allen the custom officer in command. As the first boat approached the run it hit a sand bank and William Allen jumped out to pull the boat forward. As he did so firing started from the shore he was hit in the leg and in the side. Falling back into the boat he urged his men on.
As the boats moved forward the musket fire from both sides grew more intense from the Haven house Inn (at that time on the sea side of the Dutch cottages) and from the Marines left on board the Orestes. The sergeant of Marines now in command realised that the Smuggler’s boats were aground and decided to return to the Orestes with his wounded.
As the sun set smugglers were observed returning to the Luggers. Commander Ellis now in command ordered the main guns of the Orestes to open fire sending nine pound iron shot howling over the smugglers heads.
At three the next morning, with a rising tide, the sailors and Marines entered the harbour again and towed away the luggers towards Cowes with no opposition. The battle was over.
Aftermath many people were arrested but only one, George Coombes, was hanged for the murder of William Allen. His body was brought back to Mudeford where it was hung in chains out side the Haven Inn.
Article written by Mike Andrews – Copyright Christchurch Local History Society
All cruises are subject to demand and the weather on the day.