Old Folkestone Smugglers - cocktails p.32

Here the author describes smugglers sailing out to sea in six-oared boats known as 'cocktails', in order to collect sunken barrels of alcohol.

One night revenue officers go out to sea to capture the cocktails. But the smugglers have prepared for such an emergency: a group of women light a large fire by the church as a signal. In this way the smugglers know that the officers are on their way, and can sink the barrels again.

About Old Folkestone Smugglers

This book is a collection of anecdotes describing the exploits of 19th century Folkestone smugglers. The stories tell of sunken kegs of spirits, women smugglers dressed as laundresses, and revenge taken against revenue officers.

By the late 1800s the subject of smuggling was becoming the stuff of folklore. These tales of mischief and adventure are told with a sense of nostalgia, and the book was probably designed to intrigue and excite, rather than horrify. Indeed, the author writes of the smugglers in glowing terms: they are seen by their neighbours as 'public benfactors', providers of luxuries and basic necessities. 'There is [now]' writes English 'a more general feeling of sympathy with [the smuggler] who, having been detected, is mulcted in a heavy fine.'

John English was editor of the Folkestone Express, and these stories first appeared as a series of articles in the newspaper. They were based on tales told to English by an old smuggler named E. Dale.


Taken from: English's Reminiscences of Old Folkestone Smugglers and Smuggling Days
Author / Creator: English, John
Publisher: English, John
Date: 1885
Copyright: By permission of the British Library
Shelfmark: 10348.bbbb.14.(4)