Local reserves

The Royal Naval Coast Volunteers: 1853-1873

By Tony Drury

The Royal Naval Coast Volunteers  were the second national reserve force to be formed in Britain, being created by act of parliament in 1853. This force was comprised of up to 10,000 Seafaring men around the UK who could be called upon to serve in the Royal Navy in case of war, but who could not be sent anywhere beyond 100 leagues (300 miles) outside the shores of the United Kingdom.

Under Coastguard control
These men were to be trained and drilled by the Coastguard, and skills wrere taught in seamanship, gunnery, and the use of arms both afloat and ashore. The volunteers had a commitment  for no more than 28 days under training in any one year. Volunteers served for a period of five years. Locally stations were manned at Black Rock Brighton, Hove, Fishergate and Shoreham, and these came under the control of  No. 40 Coast Guard Region at Hastings.

Little is known about this force but there appears to have ben some problems over volunteers signing up for other reserve forces and militias in the area, possibly in return for some form of bounty or other enticement. A warning against this practice was printed in 'The Illustrated London News',on  September 15th, 1855  Notices have been issued, warning men who belong to the Royal Naval Coast Volunteers not to enlist in the Regiments of the Line, the Militia, or the East India Company's service, as they will thereby render themselves liable to  imprisonment for six months.

The Royal Naval Coast Volunteers  were never called in to active service, the force was disbanded in 1873.

Photo:Enrolment certificate of Isaac Ambrose, Coast Volunteer number 779 with the Gravesend Division dated 15th October 1866. This document declares that he is exempt for service in the Royal Navy,  the Militia or service as a peace or parish officer.

Enrolment certificate of Isaac Ambrose, Coast Volunteer number 779 with the Gravesend Division dated 15th October 1866. This document declares that he is exempt for service in the Royal Navy, the Militia or service as a peace or parish officer.

Image courtesy Mrs. Eleanor Clamp

This page was added on 24/09/2007.
Comments about this page

Thank you for this information. My great great Grandfather was on the Dauntless at Southampton on census night 1861 and was recorded as a member of the Royal Naval Coast Volunteers. I am interested in any information about this force and any other records that might be held that I can research in order to find out more about my ancestor.
Thanks once again
Best wishes
Lynley Chapman
Whitby, Porirua, New Zealand

By Lynley Chapman (25/09/2007)

Can I just correct one statement in the piece by Tony Drury. A number of men from the Coast Volunteers saw active service with the Baltic fleet during the Crimean War.

By Crimea1854 (25/06/2009)

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