Capt. Richard Woodget

Richard Woodget (21 November 1845 – 6 March 1928)

During this time has been apprenticed to various ships of Bullard , King and Co, firstly on the billyboy Johns 80 tons in 1861 , the Johns was a river barge and traded along the coast from Seaton Sluice to London with small cargoes .

In 1862 he was still an apprentice , this time on the Peace , a schooner which also plied a coastal trade. He finished his apprenticeship in 1865 aboard the brig British Ensign 196 tons and sailing from Bristol to London via Egypt and Ireland and then on to Trinidad and back to Greenock , with cargoes of sugar .

It seems likely that once he was qualified he worked for various masters and owners including Jock Willis , known as Old White Hat, who named his ships after his Scottish heritage and the novels of Sir Walter Scott . In the year of his marriage 1871 Captain Woodget was Mate in the brig Nina to the West Coast of Africa and back . Although slavery was abolished by this date , the Nina a mahogany built brig of 183 tons had been a notorious slaver in her day . She had been over worked and was held together by strengthening bands , and as Basil Lubbock says “ though she leaked like a bucket , she sailed like a a witch .”

The final ship in which he was Mate , was the Copenhagen , 876 tons, which in the years 1874-1880 sailed to India during the famine and was in the coolie trade to Mauritius. The coolie trade succeeded the slave trade . The shortage of labour caused by the abolition of the slave trade created a very similar trade transporting , often in dreadful conditions, a new Asian workforce . Basil Lubbock says that Capt Woodget took the Coldstream , 756 tons, out , as Captain , in March 1881 and brought it back in January 1885 after a most successful voyage financially . This again was to Africa and included three coolie passages to South Africa and Mauritius.

The success of this voyage in the years 1881-1885 landed Captain Woodget his most famous command , the Cutty Sark Between 1885 – 1895 , he and Cutty Sark made ten voyages to Australia in the wool trade , several of which were record breaking and all of which were faster than any other ship on the Australia route . He was also noted for breeding collie dogs and latterly took one or more on board on his Australian voyages . Their descendants made headlines in the Australian show rings.

An extract from “A History of Downham Market”

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