Newhaven's tug from 1898 - 1924

By Andy Gilbert

Photo:S.T 'Alert'

S.T 'Alert'

Old postcard.

I was recently sent a copy of an old postcard showing the Newhaven harbour tug Alert, alongside a sailing ship at the West Quay. I've seen many photos of Alert before now, but not this one, and the sender, Crawford Alexander, asked me to share it here.

Alert was built in 1898 at Woolston and, as far as I can tell, served the port until the arrival of Foremost 22 in 1924. Surprisingly, Alert was a twin-screw tug, we'd not have another until Meeching in 1960. Alas, her engines developed just 66 horsepower and that rendered her somewhat underpowered. However, for most of her work, it sufficed.

As well as being the main harbour tug, she was also classed as a tender, and took people out to waiting liners, presumably in the Solent. There are also records of her operating pleasure cruises as far west as Studland Bay in Dorset.

In the photo, you can clearly see the houses at the southern end of Fort Road, as well as the original Coastguard Cottages. At the extreme left is the steep sloping roof of the old Lifeboat House, prior to its heightening for the later, larger lifeboats. So we can deduce that Alert is alongside what would become the usual stage for the tug, ie No.5 Stage.

This page was added by Andy Gilbert on 16/11/2012.
Comments about this page

Many thanks Andy for posting this most interesting photo plus the information about the Alert. It has filled in a bit of a gap in my knowledge.

By Derek Longly
On 16/11/2012

You're welcome, Derek. I have a small personal connection to the Alert. When I was very young and my Dad first let me steer the Meeching, I was too short to see over the wheel and out of the wheelhouse windows. So they stood me on an old First Aid box, bearing the name S.T Alert. That box had no doubt been passed down from tug to tug to tug. It was probably still on board when Meeching left!

By Andy Gilbert
On 17/11/2012

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