Mudeford is separated from Mudeford Spit by a small channel, only 50 metres wide, which acts as the entrance to Christchurch Harbour. We stood at Mudeford Quay and looked across the harbour entrance to Mudeford Spit and “The Black House”.
It is said by some that The Black House stands on the site of the Battle of Mudeford (1784). Others say the battle took place on the opposite side of the harbour entrance, where we stood. Either way, battle commenced when three customs ships observed smugglers (called “free traders”) unloading contraband in the harbour. The three customs vessels shot at the free traders and the free traders returned fire from trenches. This lasted for three hours, during which the contraband was unloaded from the smugglers’ ships and spirited into the surrounding countryside. One customs officer was killed during the exchange. Three free traders were arrested afterwards; one was executed in London and his body brought back down to be hung in chains outside the local inn. It was eventually cut down by the man’s friends and buried.
It is said that The Black House got its name from another smuggling story. A group of free traders were holed up here and surrounded by Customs Officers. The free traders refused to surrender, so the Customs Officers lit fires around the building until the heat and smoke forced them out. By the end of this episode the walls of the building had turned black with soot. Since that time they have been painted black to this very day. This story is believed by some and disputed by others, but it’s a good story.
Ah! Here comes the ferry!
See how small the harbour entrance is?
Mudeford Spit is filled with beach huts, and will perhaps become the site of the Second Battle of Mudeford, for there is war brewing here. Mudeford Spit is the point of departure for the so-called “Noddy Train”, a land train which for 45 years has ferried people up and down the coast. The original owner of the train started it in 1969. On his death his wife took over. In March 2014, when her current contract expired, the Council refused to renew it. Local uproar ensured. A petition was launched to save the train which attracted 21,500 signatures. As at the time of writing this post (August 2014) the matter has not been resolved, but if something cannot be worked out I fear Mudeford may see bloodshed again…
Points on this part of the walk (copy and paste the co-ordinates into Google Earth):
- The Black House: N 50° 43.365 W 001° 44.530
- Land Train Terminus: N 50° 43.065 W 001° 44.665
Walk #71 Statistics (of which this post forms the fourth part):
- Date of Walk: 3 May 2014
- Walk #71 total distance covered (excluding ferry): 12.44 miles
- Coast of Britain Walk Total Distance Covered: 619.14 miles
- CLICK HERE FOR LINK TO INTERACTIVE MAP!!!
‘Free Traders’. Such a good concept. I expect they worked with ‘personal property liberation executives’. And I’m on the side of the train. What can the council offer that’s half as fun ?