Ministry of Shipping, Coastguard Service, 1939-1940
Ministry of Transport, 1946-1953
Ministry of Transport, 1959-1970
Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation, 1953-1959
Ministry of War Transport, Coastguard Service, 1945-1946
Subject to 30 year closure
Administrative / biographical background:
During its history the Coastguard Service has been the responsibility of HM Customs, the Admiralty, the Board of Trade and the Ministry of Transport. The board's interest arises out of its statutory duty to provide a life-saving service, dating from the Merchant Shipping Act 1854. Under provisions of this Act the board took over the supervision and management of private life-saving companies and established additional ones. From 1910 onwards they also provided a few look out huts at danger points not covered by the existing (Admiralty-controlled) Coastguard organisation.
In 1922 an Inter-Departmental Committee recommended that in times of peace the Coastguard, as such, should be suspended and that there should be substituted a Naval signalling force; a coast-watching force, to be administered by the Board of Trade; and a coast prevention force, to be administered by Customs. The Committee's recommendations became law in the Coastguard Act 1925 although the board had assumed control of the Service in April 1923.
In October 1939 the Ministry of Shipping took over the administration of the Service, along with the function of the Mercantile Marine Department, but after the capitulation of France and the Low Countries, when invasion seemed imminent, the Admiralty assumed control in accordance with powers given it under the Coastguard Act 1925, the required Order being dated 28 May 1940. This Order was revoked on 1 October 1945, administration of the Service passing to the Ministry of War Transport, which had been formed in 1941 by amalgamation of the Ministries of Transport and Shipping, and to the Ministry of Transport under the Ministry of War Transport (Dissolution) Order, 1946.
In February 1965, along with most of the marine functions of the Ministry of Transport the Coastguard reverted to the Board of Trade.
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