Smugglers Of The Norfolk Broads

The 3,000 miles of British coastline are rich with stories of smugglers, in days of yore. But few are as high born or ingenious as the smugglers of the Norfolk Broads.

The wild coast of Cornwall, thrust out like a leg into the Atlantic had its wreckers, both real and fictional. Who has not had a shiver down their spine when reading of the antics of the evil Joss Merlin, in Agatha Christies’s novel “Jamaica Inn”? And on the south coast, in Dorset, forbes a real life smuggler, by the name of Issac Gulliver, even went to the trouble of planting a line of trees on a prominent hilltop, so he could navigate his contraband laden ship safely to shore in the pitch dark. There was even a story that he whitened his face with chalk and pretended to be a corpse to escape the revenue officers of the Custom and Excise.

But the county of Norfolk, thrusting out into the North Sea right opposite Holland, usdtocad must take the top spot for the amount of contraband and the ease with which it was smuggled in, right under the noses of the government officials. It was during the Napoleonic wars in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, with Britain at war with France, that supplies of illicit goods through Holland turned into a torrent.

During that period, because of the ready made vast network of rivers and lakes that form the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads, eshop development road building was practically non existent. Huge flat bottom barges with vast sails, called wherries, were used to convey all manner of goods from corn to coal. So it was a simple matter to tag onto this efficient distribution network a few unauthorized items, such as forbidden French brandy and other luxuries.

In the words of Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem:

Five and twenty ponies,

trotting through the dark – Brandy for the Parson

‘Baccy for the clerk:

Laces for a lady: letters for a spy,

And watch the wall, my darling, retroandclassicflixs while the Gentleman go by!

The irony of it is that, in Norfolk, the parson — or other member of the clergy — sometimes actively assisted in the business of smuggling! One such was the Reverend Forbes Phillips, a staunch advocate of free trade. He even wrote a book (under a nom de plume), entitled “The Romance of Smuggling”.

Apart from abnormally high standing of the membership, and the efficiency of their well oiled distribution machine, the smugglers of Norfolk had another rather unique secret weapon: the wind pumps. These were similar to the more familiar windmill, but instead of grinding corn, they pumped the water out of the low lying fields. As such they were — and still are — a common feature of the Norfolk landscape.

So, if the officers of the Custom and Excise were seen to be in the area, a clever system of signaling with the wind pumps swung into action. At the first sight of an official, VPS Hosting the nearest wind pump operator would stop the sails, so they made the Cross of Saint Andrew X. This would be seen by the other nearby wind pump operators who would also set their sails the same way. Thus the warning could be passed far faster than the poor revenue collectors could travel. On seeing the danger signal, any wherry captain with an illicit cargo, only had to drop his brandy and other kegs into the river to be free of suspicion. He could then safely retrieve the goods later, when the danger had past. toalla playa


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