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Sailors Purchase Goods and Deliver

Dorset is very close to the coast of northern France and the Channel Islands.  A large sailing boat called a 'lugger' could cross the Channel in about 8 hours.  It would return under cover of darkness loaded with as many as 3,000 barrels of spirits and up to 12 tons of tea.  During the summer fishing boats also made the trip.  In 1739 it was alleged that four fishing boats from Kimmeridge, Worbarrow and Chapman's Pool left the Purbeck coast every week to pick up contraband from Alderney.

Either the boat's captain or an agent working on behalf of the Venturer bought the contraband at warehouses specially set up to assist the smugglers.  The goods were ready packed; barrels were strung with ropes to make them easier to handle and dry goods such as tea were wrapped in waterproof oilskin packages known as 'dollops'.

Hiding Places Onboard Ships

Smugglers devised many hiding places for their contraband in case their ships were searched.  Barrels and tobacco were hidden under coils of rope and secret compartments were hollowed out of the woodwork, even in the masts and oars.

Sometimes barrels of drinking water had false tops.  If a revenue man used his swordstick (a walking stick fitted with a blade) to probe the barrel he would find only water.

Photo - swordstick Cigarette card - The Water Cask

Once a hungry revenue man noticed a big, fat goose intended for the Captain's supper.  He offered the Captain a good price, but the Captain refused to sell it.  Later the Captain told his friends that lace was hidden inside!

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