Brett Volume 4: Chapter XLVI - Hastings 1851

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Chapter LVI Hastings. — 1851[edit | edit source]

Transcriber’s note[edit]

Contents.[edit | edit source]

 Pg.109 The last transactions of the Hastings Commissioners — Town Council meetings in 1851 — the Town Council as the new Local Board of Health – Mr. Eversfield’s offer of the parade between Claremont and St. Leonards Archway accepted — Hastings Mechanics’ Institution — Hastings and St. Leonards Athenaeum — Early-Closing Association — Smuggling Misadventures — Maritime losses and casualties — Heroic actions of the Coppard family in saving life — Railway matters — Petitions to Parliament — Hastings and the Great Exhibition (Preliminary local show) — The Duke of Brunswick and Mr. Green’s Balloon Ascent — Nature’s raw materials in Hastings and its neighbourhood — Particular Deaths — Sudden deaths and Inquests — Accidents and Incidents — Robberies and Burglaries — Public dinners and private hospitalities — Balls and Concerts — Lecturers and Readings — Meeting to found a Public Hall — Complimentary Memorial to Mr. Pepys — Vestry Meetings — Missionary Meetings — The Censi of 1821, 1831, 1841 and 1851 — Curiosities and Miscellaneous occurrences.

The Hastings Commissioners[edit | edit source]

As most of the earlier chapters opened with the transactions of Commissioners, as applying to St. Leonards, and some of them as applying to Hastings, so, in the same order, the present chapter commences with the sayings and doings of the Commissioners under the Hastings Improvement Act of 1832, prior to that body becoming defunct.

At their meeting on the 3rd of February, it was stated that the Countess Waldegrave, though loath to sell or lease the land near Ecclesbourne for additional waterworks, yet, for the benefit of the town she would do so.

Financial. The Finance Committee’s report showed an increased expenditure of £1,600 during the year, which, added to the previous debt, made the latter £11,700, whilst there was a decrease in the coal duties of £274.

The Public Health Act. The committee appointed to consider the Provisional Order of the Public-health Act, recommended that the clause which required gratings to be kept over openings in the pavements be approved; that, also, that which required two places for the gratuitous supply of water to the poor near the Bourne be approved; but that which provided for the repeal of coal duties be not adopted. They further recommended that sections 159 and 166, in Pg.110 the Local Act which referred to the debt under William IV, which is now paid off, be repealed.

Messrs. Burfield’s application. An application was received from J. & C. Burfield, for the purchase of a small piece of land, then covered by a building recently occupied by Mr. H. N. Williams as an office for which as an acknowledgement 1s. a year was paid to the Commissioners. The occupants were making considerable alterations in the adjoining property, which they believed would be an improvement to the town. They made the application at that time because the Town Council in whose hands the Commissioners powers would soon be vested would have no authority to sell the land. They offered 20s. as that number of years purchase for the said small piece of land. (This was at one time part of an ancient passage leading from George street to West street, about 4 feet wide and 20 feet long. It was first hired by Mr. Powell in 1831 at 1s. per year.) Mr. Harvey proposed the purchasing price to be £5, and Mr. Barham proposed £20. Mr. Edward Wingfield moved a second amendment of £10. Mr. Williams said the original passage was a great nuisance, and Mr. Powell, who occupied the adjoining cellars, offered to fill it up if the Commissioners would let him have it at a nominal rent. Seeing that there was a warehouse overhead and that the filling up the passage beneath had been a public benefit, he would support the motion for £5. Mr. Wingfield discounted on the value of property until he made the small piece in question to be worth £40 or £50. When put to the vote the £10 amendment was carried. At a later meeting, the Clerk stated that they had fallen into an error, respecting the offer of 20s. as a twenty-years’ purchase of this piece of ground. Instead of it being the whole length of the passage, it was merely an office entrance and a very small piece, too, for which Mr. Powell paid 1/- a year. Mr. Bromley moved that the Messrs. Burfield’s offer be accepted, and Mr. Harvey remarked that considering the improvements lately effected by the applicants, no harm would be done even if the ground were given them. The motion was carried.

Alteration of names. Resolutions were passed at the same meeting to alter “Cobourge Passage” to “Cobourg Place”, and to make Cavendish terrace one with Cavendish place.

A long lease of land. At the Commissioners meeting on the 3rd of March, the Committee reported that at last they had arranged with Lady Waldegrave and the trustees of E. Milward, and Henry C. Milward, for a reservoir on their land in Ecclesbourne Valley for bringing water into Hastings on the following terms; — A lease of 999 years to be granted at a rent of £30 per annum, Lady Waldegrave’s house to be gratuitously supplied with water, the Commissioners to make compensation to tenants for damage, and proper accommodation to be made for the tenants; watering cattle and washing of sheep. The Commissioners were unable to carry out the arrangements Pg.111 in consequence of legal difficulties, the first of which was a want of power by the trustees to grant so long a lease, but which difficulty was proposed to be removed by Lord Waldegrave being willing to become the purchaser for the purpose, who could then make the necessary lease, and re-convey it to the Trustees. A case had been placed before counsel to advise the trustees as to the legality of such a course. The second difficulty was in the want of power in the Commissioners to take such a lease, the work being principally outside the limits of their Act. This was proposed to be removed by the lease being granted to seven of the Commissioners as individuals, who would you enter into the covenants for the payment of rent etc., For which they could be indemnified by the Council, under the Local Board of Health, if established here; or, otherwise by further powers being granted to the Commissioners. The gentlemen agreeing to accept the lease were Messrs. A. Paine, John Wrenn, Geo. Clark Jones, Henry Beck, Charles Duke, John Roger Bromley and John Smith. In a discussion which ensued, it was stated that the supply of water to Lady Waldegrave would only be occasional, as the house had its own supply nine months in the year. The expense was estimated at a thousand pounds, in addition to the rent of £30, which meant an annual outlay of £80. It was calculated that 250 additional houses could be supplied, which at 15/- would bring in a revenue of £200. The calculation, unfortunately, as will be seen hereafter, proved to be erroneous.

New Market Hall. at an adjourned meeting on the 17th of March, a proposal for the enlargement of the Market-room was discussed. The appointed committee exhibited plans prepared by Mr. Walter Inskipp for the construction of a room 60 x 30 feet, such being for thrice the size of the then room, and 700 square feet larger than the Swan Assembly room. The estimated expense was £600, on which Mr. West, of the Anchor inn, was willing to pay 5 per cent. The entrance would be through the Anchor. The Chairman (porter-merchant Ginner) thought an entrance through the bar of an inn was objectionable. Mr. Dunk explained that had they wished for a larger building, to cost £1,400, comprising a room for general purposes and having an entrance in George street, but their Act restricted them to a Market-room. Mr. H. N. Williams, in moving the adoption of the Committee’s report, said they had spent upon the Market buildings about £5,500, from which they received an income of about £300 a year. He thought the three parishes which had made this outlay should endeavour to retain in their own hands the benefit accruing therefrom. Their present Market room was too small for its purpose, and Mr. West, who had paid £35 a year for the room, had offered 5 per cent. upon the Pg.112 outlay for a larger room. Mr. H. Beck observed that they would have to borrow money at 5 per cent., and as they would only get 5 per cent. & would have to keep the building in repair, the Commissioners would be losing money. As also they might shortly have a market-room at the west end of the town, it behoved to them to act with caution. Mr. Harvey had no fear that market business would go westward. If a building were erected at the Priory such as he had seen proposed, it would cost six or eight thousand pounds, and the poor would be taxed for that which would give them no benefit. If the project was to have all the machinery of business together, the capital ought to be raised in shares and not be a burden on the borough rate. Mr. Womersley disclaimed any idea of conflicting interests between the two ends of the Commission, but the general idea was that things were moving westward. He did not know that such a movement was wise, or that it existed to the extent to which some persons supposed. He did not think it desirable to bring all sorts of business down to the west end: that district, as he viewed it, being more for the purposes of pleasure than of business. For this reason he had always questioned whether a harbour at the west end would be beneficial to the town. But the construction of a room such as contemplated in the report would not supersede a larger one for public purposes elsewhere. They had to bear in mind, however, that there would be at least a loss of about one per cent. To the Commissioners, and that Mr. West could only a hire the room for a term of three years. — Mr. Harman thought the Commissioners ought not to be particular to a hundred or two. True, their debt amounted to £11,000, but where was there an improving town in the kingdom which did not incur a larger debt in the course of 30 years? Mr. Dunk had not lost sight of a separate entrance, but that would involve the sacrificing the rent of a shop which realised £30 a year. — Mr. T. Edwards. moved as an amendment that the room have a separate entrance, Mr. West to use the room on market days, and the Commissioners retaining it had for their own purposes on other days. Mr. H. Winter would vote against Mr. Edwards’s amendment. He thought the Committee’s plan sufficient. If they meant to build a room still larger, it ought to be at the west end of the town, so as to be in a central position. — Mr. Wingfield did not see that because a certain gentleman had leased the Crown land, they should carry all their public buildings down there. The amendments being put to the vote, were lost by considerable majorities, and the Committee’s report was accepted by a majority of 28. It was further resolved that the architect should receive £200 as soon as the building was roofed in.

Withdrawal of Tender. At the meeting on April 7, Mr. Broadbridge declined signing his tender for plastering of the Market room, pleading Pg.113  that he sent in his tender without examining the quantities, and when he was otherwise not in a fit state of mind. It was considered that he was trifling with the Commissioners, and it was ordered that his name be struck off the list of tradesmen serving the Commissioners. Mr. Burchell’s tender of £65 was accepted instead. Then came a difficulty with Mr. Brown’s tender for plumbing, painting and Glazing; his price being £48 10s. 7d. — with the understanding that he was to have 30 pounds worth of old lead in addition. The other tradesmen who tendered had done so with the understanding that they were to allow for three tons of old lead at £10 per ton. After an hour and half’s discussion, in which the phrase “three tons of old lead” was repeated some hundreds of times, and in which confused and complicated question, some of the members proposed amendments to their own resolutions, the meeting passed on to their next business. Mr. Mott having offered a loan at 4 per cent., to the extent of £500, the same was accepted, as was also Mr. Stubberfield’s tender for forage.

The Ecclesbourne Water. The Waterworks Committee reported that the opinion of counsel being unfavourable to the granting a long lease of the ground at Ecclesbourne to the Commissioners for the new reservoir, tunnel and other works, application was made to the Countess Waldegrave, under the power which she herself possessed of granting a lease for the shorter period of 21 years. Her consent was obtained, as also that of the Rev. E. L. Sayer, next in remainder to the estate. The draft of the proposed lease was then with the solicitor to the trustees for a legal decision as to the power of making the tunnel and taking the water. The Committee, impelled by the necessity of procuring a further supply of water requested sanction for the estimated outlays of £1,000 and a yearly rental of £30. At a later meeting (May 5), a draft of the proposed lease was approved. It comprised 3 acres of land, in the Ecclesbourne Valley, and the privilege of collecting and conveying water into the reservoir, and thence into the Commissioners works in Hastings for 21 years at £30 per year. Lady Waldegrave’s house was to be supplied gratuitously; and there were covenants for fencing-in the land, for making good roads where damaged, and for contributing towards their future repair; also for making a sheep-wash and watering for cattle; and for giving up the premises, if not required for supplying the town with water.

The new Market Entrance. — At the same meeting (April 7) Mr. C. Duke proposed a new entrance to the Market Hall by placing the stair-case where Mrs. Kent’s shop stood and letting the upper part of the house to Mrs. Burrell. To this plan Mr. West was not opposed; and it was felt to be incompatible for the then entrance through the Anchor to continue Pg.114 to be attached to so handsome a room in association with the purposes to which it would be applied. — Mr. T. Edwards in seconding the proposal did not see that that part of the town should be so generous as to let every good thing go from the east end to the west end of the town. Presumably, Mr. Edwards was in sympathy with himself, he having a business within a short distance from the new Market room; albeit, some years later, he, too, followed the western current of commerce. After some discussion and not a little badinage, the motion was carried.

At an adjourned meeting on April 14, it was reported that the new entrance will be 8 feet wide and consist of one flight of seven stone steps and one flight of sixteen steps, at an estimated cost of £200. The upper part of the adjoining house would be added to the next house, for which Mr. Burrell was willing to pay extra rent. Mr. West, of the Anchor, was also willing to pay rent for the Market-room at the rate of 5 per cent. on the outlay up to £600. The report was adopted.

Tenders, etc. At the next meetings tenders for the new entrance were received, and the lowest in each case was accepted, the sums being as follows: — William Manser for plastering £20; B. & H. Tree, for carpentering, £77; Fredk. White, for bricklaying, £43 10s.; Burchill and Welch, for mason’s work, £17 10s.; Joseph Brown, for painting £35 18s.; total £194 — thus six pounds below Mr. Inskipp’s estimate. The meeting adjourned to next day.

A Warning. — At the adjourned meeting on May 6th, it being known that Mrs. Kent had not moved out of the house required for the alterations, as requested, a distress warrant for £14 rent was served on her, with the proviso, that she might go, with all her goods, if she would, but the if she remained over one day her goods would be seized.

Danger. — The committee appointed the preceding evening to examine a portion of wall said to be in a dangerous state, recommended the wall to be rebuilt at a cost of £20. As against this recommendation Mr. Vidler — whose idiosyncracy was to differ from his fellows — declared that if he lived till the wall fell down, he should live longer than any man in Hastings. It was the greatest piece of humbug he ever heard of, and was only a scheme for drawing money out of people’s pockets. It even beat Aesop’s fables hollow. They had got their foot into it, and like the fox, they would soon get their body in. He was only surprised they did not want to pull the room down [several voices “We do!”]. Mr. Standen said the wall had sunk several inches, and was in a very dangerous state. This being confirmed by the architect, it was decided to rebuild the wall. But at a meeting on the 15th of May, the resolution to the rebuild the weakened south wall of the Market was rescinded, and a resolution was passed instead to reconstruct the old room so as to make it unite with the new one, thereby raising the roof of the Meat Market beneath to the level of the Fruit-market roof, the expense being roughly estimated at £150.

 Pg.115 At the meeting on the 2nd of June, the lessee of the Market having made a claim for loss sustained in reduced trade and profits through the building operations, a sum of £38 was voted to him by way of compensation. This amount not being deemed sufficient by the lessee, it was resolved at a meeting on July 7th that additional compensation be given; also that Mr. Burrell be allowed a quarter’s rent, he having had to hire apartments elsewhere for 18 weeks; that his rent in future for enlarged premises be £40 instead of £30; that the rates be 4d. in the pound for the Commissioners three parishes of St. Clements, All Saints and St. Mary’s-in-Castle; that Mr. Gant be requested to produce his long delayed plan of the town at the next monthly meeting; that a committee inspect and report on some necessary drainage; and that an additional thousand pounds be borrowed. — All this, notwithstanding that the Commissioners would soon be defunct and that the church bells would proclaim their departure.

The Public Health Act. — At the Commissioners’ meeting on April 7th, in reply to a question by Mr. Edwards, the Chairman said that there was an idea that Lord Seymour forgot Hastings through thinking so much about St. Leonards. Mr. Harman contended that his lordship knew well enough that Hastings itself, taken as a whole, did not want the Public Health Act.

Money Matters. At the same meeting, the Clerk said they had already overdrawn £300 at the Bank, and there was no money to pay the Gas Company £100 on a/c., £196 other bills, and £50 to their surveyor. It was clear their income was not sufficient to meet their expenses.

The Swan Gateway. Mr. Harvey called attention to the slippery nature of the stone-pitching in the roadway under the gateway which belonged to the Commissioners. The proprietors of the Yard were willing to macadamise their portion, if the Commissioners would do the same with theirs. — Resolved accordingly.

Nuisances. The St. Leonards Commissioners were not the only ruling power to set their houses in order after the report by Mr. Cresy was made — enormously exaggerated as that report was declared to be. The Hastings Commissioners at their meeting on the 2nd of June, received a committee’s report that certain nuisances had been removed, and the Chairman expressed a wish that existing nuisances at the back of Russell street could also be abated. Mr. Scrivens would like to know if the Commissioners could not issue a recommendation to parties to remove nuisances; and Mr. Williams again referred to some intolerable nuisances at Halton. The cottages near the “Fortune of War” which he said were also in a Pg.116 deplorable condition. A memorial was received from the Messrs. Scrivens, Crake, Lucas-Shadwell and other property-holders at Pelham place, setting forth that they had, in conjunction with other parties, raised a subscription of two thousand guineas for the removal of the shipyard from that locality, and that in 1849, the parade in front of Pelham place had been given up to the Commissioners on the understanding that nothing should be done to depreciate the contiguous property; but now, through the recent establishment of a donkey-stand, the road between that and the houses was narrowed to a dangerous degree, whilst the lower rooms of the houses were almost untenantable in consequence of the bad language of the donkey-boys who congregated on the pavement and about the doors. — A long discussion followed, from which it appeared that the case was beset with difficulties; but a committee was appointed to see into it.

Touting. — Another complaint and another difficulty was the system of touting by tradesmen — an obnoxious system that prevailed in both towns; and undoubtedly, to the disadvantage of each. It was a matter which the Commissioners confessed their inability to deal with, but hoped the Press would take note of it.

The Waterworks again. — At the same meeting the Waterworks Committee reported that the lease of the ground for the new reservoir have been executed by Lady Waldegrave and the lessees; that the lowest tenderer for the work having failed to give the required reference, Mr. Benjamin Richardson had been engaged to drive the heading through the East hill at 12/6 per yard; that Messrs. Grizbrook & Co. had contracted to supply iron pipes (delivered), at £5 2s. 6d. per ton; that Mr. George Neve had agreed to cart the same to the works at 3s. 6d a ton; and that an arrangement had been made with Mr. Putland for him to receive ten per cent. upon the outlay up to £1,200. So far everything appeared to be favourable for getting a large additional supply of water, but, as is shewn further on; even this undertaking was beset with further difficulties.

Press Comments.The Hastings News, of July, 1851, had an excellent article on “the Local Commission”, of which a few passages are here reproduced: —

“The General Board of Health Bill has now to work its way through the Upper House, where it has only passed its first reading. We would take Dickens’s advice, not to holla before we are out of the ‘Woods and Forests’. . . The Hastings Commissioners are looking forward to their decease with a calmness perfectly delightful . . . They have borrowed nearly all they can Pg.117 borrow, and next month they borrow £1,000 more. They have built a Market room somewhat larger than the Swan room, and they have cut their way through the bowels of the East hill; so we may rest assured that we shall not suffer quite an Asiatic drought in the ensuing autumn, nor be obliged once more to have recourse to water-budges and duck-pools. They have performed some things for which the town will owe them a lasting debt of gratitude, and other things for which the town will owe a lasting debt of money. It is evident that a Local Board, having wider jurisdiction, is necessary; . . . The Commissioners of both towns are fast running to the verge of their means, and a wide intermediate district stands in positive need of some Act of Parliament to provide for its local necessities. . . . The Town Council will not be ruined like the suitor in Chancery by having money left to it. It will step into a nice inheritance of debts and liabilities, though Mr. Harman is persuaded that the water in the Hastings reservoirs will wipe out all the old scores against the 120 gentlemen who have for some years ministered to the improvement of the town of Hastings. . . . This General Act might be entitled a ‘Winding-up Act’, as it affects a settling of local Commissions who, to use the vulgar phrase, have ‘outrun the constable’; or, at least, have kept neck and neck with that fabulous gentleman.”

Financial. — The St. Clement’s debt having been reduced to £100, with £50 available and a person being willing to take up that sum, an order was made accordingly. The required £1,000 had been advertised for, and two offers had been received at 5 per cent, and one from the Benevolent Society at 4½ per cent, the latter under certain conditions which the Act did not permit, but by a suggested arrangement it was thought the terms of the Act might be evaded; and so, the offer was accepted. Sundry a/cs. amounting to £145, having been sent in by the several contractors for the new Market-room, a very warm and lengthy discussion ensued in which were expressed the following:

Contradictory Opinions. — “Let all the bills be paid”. “No! The delay has been shameful and discreditable.” “Not a stroke has been done for a fortnight.” “They played into each other’s hands.” “White has done his work; let him be paid.” “No! Serve them all alike; give them all the black ball.” “Employ others to finish the work and charge to contractors.” “But we broke the agreement ourselves.” “The work may not be done for 12 months.” “Give them notice to finish in six weeks, or forfeit £5 per week.” “Would you tolerate it in your private capacity?” Pg.118  “I decline to answer.” Ultimately a motion to pay the money was carried. It was next resolved to drain some cottages at the top of All Saints’ street at a cost of £10.

Mr. Gant’s plan. A warm discussion also ensued on this topic. Mr. Gant had promised, it was said, to get out a plan for thoroughly draining the town, with report and estimate in three months for £100, and after 18 months, was only prepared with a rough draft from the turnpike gate on the old London road to York Buildings. The Commissioners, it was further said, had been trifled with, and they would shortly be defunct; Mr. Gant had broken his contract; what was to be done? Two courses were open — an action to recover the sum already paid, or an action for damages through non-fulfilment of Contract. There was that unfinished thing stuck up on the wall, and of what use was it? “Let me say something! Harvey is too tight upon the gentleman; he doesn’t understand it more than he would a chart of the Channel; he doesn’t know more about the plan than my hat does; it isn’t gentlemanly to talk like that.” “Mr. Harman, too, if he is powerful, he ought to be merciful; he has drawn the cord too tight, but I am not one of his tail to be drawn by him [Roars of laughter]. This debate is irrelevant, said Mr. Womersley. Then Harman would “speak before Womersley.” “But Womersley speaks to order.” “So he may, but I sha’n’t sit down; as to Wingfield, he has no knowledge and never will till he goes to school again.” As Gant had received a pretty good dressing from Harman, Mr. Wrenn would say a word for him. He was persuaded that Gant had taken very great pains that his plan might be complete. The discussion ended with a resolution that the plan be completed by Nov. 4th, and in case of failure an engineer to be employed and the expense charged to Mr. Gant. The said plan, in connection with the drainage, gave rise to many additional and prolonged discussions, as will be seen in the transactions of the Town Council as the Local Board of Health.

The Waterworks Committee reported that within a week the new supply would be available, yielding 24,000 gallons a day at that time, or 10,000 gallons in the driest season.

Demise of the Commission. “Is this our last meeting?” “Yes! It appears probable; directly the Public Health Bill receives the Royal assent, the Town Council will supersede the Commissioners.” “It is an unceremonious mode of departing from the world; will any obsequies be observed or requiems be sung?” “We cannot pronounce the funeral oration ourselves; that will be out of character.” “Leave it to Mr. Pg.119  Harvey” [Laughter]. “But we are not certain of dying; suppose we adjourn.” “You may exist corporeally, but not corporately,” responded the Clerk. “Yes, to be buried alive.” [More laughter]. Other suggestions were offered, including an adjournment to the Swan, where the funeral orgies might be observed in the shape of a substantial dinner, in the midst of this ghostly counsel.

The last act. — The meeting then proceeded from personalities and amusement to harmonious business. Mr. Williams moved a vote of thanks in eulogistic terms to their clerk, Mr. John Phillips, for his valuable services during a long period, and hoped that he would live many years, among his townsmen. Mr. Phillips expressed his sense of obligation and pleasure at being thus honoured by the Commissioners. He hoped that their duties would fall into hands equally honest. He believed that although differences sometimes existed, the welfare of the town had always been studied. Virtually, this was the last meeting of the Commissioners as a public body.

Town Council Meetings[edit | edit source]

The meetings of the Town Council in 1851 were more than usually numerous; and — as was the case with the Commissioners — the matters brought before them gave rise to animated discussions, in which personalities were rather freely indulged. At a special meeting on January 3rd, the Clerk reported that Mr. J. Amoore had been elected in the place of Mr. J. Emary, who had been made an alderman. Also that Dr. Mackness and Mr. Clift had accepted office as aldermen.

Hire of Ground. The application of Mr. Peter Banks for the hire of ground at the back of Kentish Buildings, with the view of ultimate purchase, was not complied with.

Taking Beach. — A memorial having been received against the removal of beach between the Government wall (Robertson terrace) and the Chalk road, the Town Clerk stated that carters were not permitted to take beach within 15 feet of the said wall. Ald. Mackness had seen as many as 10 teams taking beach at one time. Coun. Putland had sometimes known as many as 40 teams so engaged in one day; and observed that it was only reasonable to suppose that when a great hollow was made, the sea would rush in and endanger the houses. Could they make a charge for the beach? asked Coun. Amoore. They would want a man there all day to look after it, replied the Clerk. The discussion ended with a resolution to restrict the removals to 50 feet seaward from a line parallel with the Government wall.

The Window Tax. In moving that a petition be presented to the Pg.120  House of Commons, Coun. Putland said the Window Tax was of an odious character, especially as bearing upon the Poor. It was opposed to Scripture, to morality and to common sense. It was also detrimental to a watering place as well as to the health of the population. It was, moreover, a barrier to architectural improvements; and he hoped if the proceeds of the tax could not be dispensed with, Government would find a less obnoxious mode of raising the required revenue.

Re the Proposed New Local Act. — Mr. Ross thought that notwithstanding the Town Clerk’s assurance that the Council had nothing to do with the proposed Local Act for the district between the late Priory Bridge and the St. Leonards Archway, they were interested in everything which affected the prosperity of the borough. The Clerk then repeated his former statement, that they would not be permitted to oppose the Bill, because their interests were not immediately concerned. They might petition against the Bill, but they could not get a standing committee of the House. Coun. Putland remarked that the three parishes embraced by the proposed Act were opposing it at the expense of the holders of property, and the first thing the parties would have to do would be to pay the expense of procuring the Act. Coun. Deudney said it was not his intention to say anything on the subject, but as one of the parties concerned in the movement for the local Act, he was compelled to rise. He was agent for one of the greatest owners of property in the district, and one who had spent large sums of money in improvements. As to what had been said about bringing the parishes in debt, it was as great a falsehood as was ever uttered in that hall! He conceived that they would all allow that something was necessary for the parishes in question. The proposers of the Bill were anxious to raise the district to that position which it merited, but if the Health of Towns Act would do better for it, he would instruct Mr. Eversfield to adopt it [Hear, hear!]. Coun. Harvey contended that it was a question for the parishes themselves, and not one to be entertained by the Council. They must fight their own battles; for the Council had neither money nor marbles to spare for such. A petition, however, was adopted by 7 votes to 5, the remaining seven members declining to vote either way.

Health of Towns Act. — The meeting on the 24th of January was specially convened to receive an order generally upon the draft of the provisional order of the Public Health Act. The Town Clerk stated that a committee had been appointed at a public meeting of ratepayers on July 17th of last year, to consider the report of the Inspector (Mr. Cresy) from the Board of Health, and that committee was appointed to procure the insertion of such clauses in the provisional order as might appear expedient. The Pg.121  committee had received the provisional order on the 7th instant, and had since held several meetings in which they had fully discussed the matter. They had advised some amendments on the provisional order — some clauses from the Local Acts which the Board of Health had struck out, being recommended for retention, and vice versa. Some discussion had also arisen as to why one clause in the St. Leonards Act was retained which had been struck out of the Hastings Act — being that which empowered the Commissioners to borrow money for paying the principal and interest of money borrowed for the execution of public works. He had written to Mr. Taylor on the subject and had suggested the advisability of a private interview. The committee had recommended that an exception should be made to the clause which abolished all existing local officers on the day the Public Health Act was applied. Some portions of the Towns Improvement Act were also felt to be capable of being introduced with advantage into the general measure, including a clause preventing turnpike trustees from levying tolls within the jurisdiction of Local Acts. There were three parishes in the borough paying toll for a turnpike road which they themselves kept in repair, and at the present time the Commissioners’ carts had to pay tolls for carrying beach through the gate to mend the trustees’ road, merely because the cart-wheels were about half an inch wider than the law allowed. Variations of other sections and clauses were also enumerated by the Town Clerk. — Ald. Burton then rose and was received with applause. He said perhaps it was almost unnecessary for him to repeat that he was greatly opposed to the Health of Towns Bill being applied to St. Leonards. He was therefore opposed to the provisional order and to what the town committee had done. He was as much convinced as ever of the injustice of applying this Act to St. Leonards. He had that morning conversed with Mr. Easton, an engineer, who had told him about the state of Harrow where the Public Health Act was applied in 1849. There the cost of the projected works would be three times the Inspector’s estimate. The Act had been applied, but nothing was done, for the ratepayers were frightened. They were being put to the expense of a staff of officials; and everything had turned out different to what they had anticipated. He (Ald Burton) maintained that St. Leonards ought not to have a similar expense thrown upon her. He was willing to acknowledge that the qualification for a Commissioner was too high. It kept out of the Commission several gentlemen whom he would like to see in it; but he did not consider that to be a sufficient reason why the Local Act should be abrogated altogether. He preferred to be even as they were to being placed under the power of an Act which might deprive St. Leonards of a representative in the public body. He was ready to say

“Tis better to bear the ills we have
Than fly to others we know not of.”

He did not object to the Public Health Act where it might be required, Pg.122  but he maintained that it was not required in St. Leonards. In reply to Mr. Ross, Alderman Burton explained that it was quite possible for all the Councillors of the West Ward to be elected out of that portion which was not included in St. Leonards town; and if that was not robbery he did not know what was. — Coun. Chamberlin had no doubt that the introduction of the Public Health Act would at first increase the expenditure in St. Leonards, but not afterwards; for the mismanagement of the Commissioners was such that the general Act would effect a saving. Ald. Burton requested an explanation. Well, said Coun. Chamberlin, there was that bungling mess at the end of the Marina, with the water coming into the Market; if the work had been in proper hands, that casualty would not have happened; the groins, too, were in a damaged state, and to say the Act was not required in St. Leonards was a deviation from the fact. The medical gentlemen were in favour of the Act, but there might by a majority of tradesmen and others on the other side, because people had been going about to create it. Stories had been told about being ruined by the expenses of working the general Act, but he did not believe they would be greater than under the Local Act. He did not say that St. Leonards was an unhealthy place, but it was not so good as to be incapable of being made better. Ald. Burton said the so-called bungling mess was no expense to the ratepayers, and it was one which the Public Health Act could not cure, the builders having placed their houses on too low a level. He was sorry Mr. Chamberlin was not on the Commission, seeing that his activity might discover many things which the Commissioners overlooked. As to the expense, they were now rated at 2s. in the pound for thirty years, and every additional expense caused by the Public Health Act must have the effect of increasing the rates. Ald. Mackness expected that in five years’ time there would not be a watering place of any repute without the Act. Coun. Putland, in a lengthy speech, said when the first Public Health Act was introduced, its clauses were to apply to all towns of a certain population, but it passed in a modified form which made its application conditional. The town committee greatly assisted by the Town Clerk — had given the subject careful consideration, and they had advised changes as to which clauses should be repealed and which retained. The space between Hastings and the St. Leonards Archway certainly required some legislative enactment, and for such purpose he believed the Public Health Act to be advantageous. In reference more particularly to St. Leonards he could say that “with all her faults he loved her still”. He knew that town’s advantages and disadvantages, and although its complete drainage was perfectly practicable, yet it required a master hand to do it. He had no hesitation in saying that the intermediate district of the Magdalen and other parishes, having no Act what-ever,  Pg.123  was, upon the whole, in as good a state of drainage as St. Leonards itself; the defects of one district applied also to the other. For the drainage of the whole borough the natural facilities were great. The eastern portion of Hastings could be drained into the Bourne, which would be kept clear when the additional water supply was obtained [a monstrous suggestion], and the western portion could run into the Priory stream [nearly as bad]. The intermediate district had the benefit of the Gensing stream [often dry], and St. Leonards itself had an outlet at the Asten [which was being shortened and diverted]. Thus, there were four natural outfalls for the drainage of the borough; and this could be completed as cheaply as in any town in the Kingdom [Yes! And with four centres of sea-pollution]. He believed that 25 per cent. in expenses would be saved under the Public Health Act. [This statement was at least illusory, howsoever beneficial the adoption of the Act may have proved to be in other ways]. He could not see why the St. Leonards rates should be raised under the general Act. Ald. Burton maintained that such must be the case for thirty years, after which there might be some improvement. He (Mr. Putland) felt a great interest in St. Leonards, and though he did not like to speak of himself, yet he felt excused in saying that he had spent much time and devoted much exertion for its benefit without any pecuniary recompense. [The Commissioners’ books show that Mr. Putland was always paid the price of his contracts.] Why should St. Leonards, he asked, pay 9d or 10d in the pound for water when Hastings was to have it for 3d or 3½d [but Hastings did not get it at that price. Hastings, in fact, was trying to get the water-rate reduced from 9d to 6d, the latter sum being what the intermediate district was paying to the Eversfield Waterworks]. — Ald. Scrivens, while speaking in favour of the Public Health Act, hoped that nothing which he might say in favour of the general measure would be allowed to interfere with private friendship, as he should deeply regret such a result. It was perfectly natural for his esteemed friend, Mr. Ald. Burton, to be opposed to the introduction of the Public Health Act; were he in the place of that gentleman, he should most likely act in the same manner — simply carrying out the principle of not parting with any security or guarantee which he might possess. But he believed there was a misconception as to the working of the Act. When he heard of the increased expense under the Public Health Act, he heard nothing from the same parties as to the increased revenues which would be realised. The Gas Company alone would have to contribute an addition of £200 a year to the public rates, and, eventually, as much as £300. The proposed clause for constructing party walls was a good one. . . . The Councillors were fewer in number than the Commissioners, but they were men of greater weight and importance [Some of them], and he did not see why they were not sufficient Pg.124  for the duties they would have to perform under the general measure. If they looked at other towns they would find them adopting it. Under the Act, justice would be done to the landowners of Bulverhythe, who at present had to pay for the repairs of the road so much used for the benefit of Hastings. As the borough was all united in the municipality, it was desirable that it should be so under the new enactment. He believed that all parties were actuated by a sincere desire for the good of the borough, notwithstanding the opposition in some quarters. His own wish was that opinions should be freely expressed, so that the introduction of the Act might be really the result of public conviction. [The speech of Ald. Scrivens was the most gentlemanly and sensible of any delivered at that meeting]. Coun. Harvey moved & Coun. Clement seconded a resolution, confirming the recommendation of the town’s committee, which was carried, with Ald. Burton as the only dissentient.

Death of Alderman Dr. Mackness[edit | edit source]

Alderman Dr. Mackness, who spoke at this meeting on the 24th of January, died, a fortnight later, and on the 10th of February, the Council again met, this time to elect an alderman in his place. The subject was talked over, but no decision was arrived at until the 17th, when at a special meeting, the Mayor passed a high eulogium on the late alderman; and, on the motion of Coun. Harvey, a letter of condolence was ordered to be sent to the widow. Coun. Harvey also proposed Coun. Clement for the aldermanic vacancy. Coun. Deudney seconded, whereupon, the Mayor said it was not necessary to propose anyone. They had simply to write the names on slips of paper. At this stage Ald. Clift impudently asked if Mr. Clement had got £25 in his pocket, towards the expense of electing an alderman? Mr. Clement retorted that at that moment he would not answer the question. When the papers were collected there appeared 12 votes for Mr. Clement and 11 for Mr. Ginner. The announcement was received with applause, and the new alderman returned thanks for the honour conferred upon him, and hoped they would have no occasion to regret their choice. He was, he said, pledged to no political party in the Council, and if they referred to his election as a councillor, they would find that he polled more votes than any other candidate had done up to that time. A question had been asked if he had £25 to spend? If he liked to spend £25 or £50, or even £500, he could afford it; but he was not pledged to such a course. That Mr. Clement, as really a Liberal in politics, should have been elected by Conservatives, was extremely vexatious to the Liberals (some of whom were too strongly partizan for the good of the town), may well be conceived, and perhaps Ald. Clift’s jeering question deserved no better reply than it got. The elevation of Mr. Clement to the Aldermanic bench, left a vacancy in the Council,  Pg.125  which was filled up by the election of Mr. W Ginner.

The Health of Towns Act again[edit | edit source]

At the Council meeting on the 2nd of May, Mr. Hickes enquired if anyone could tell him the real objection to the inclusion of St. Leonards! — Alderman Burton replied by asking not merely why St. Leonards wished to be left out, but why Hastings should be so determined to drag her into it? The sanitary condition of St. Leonards rendered the application of the Act unnecessary. There was no occasion to incur the additional expense, and as the town was already provided with a local Act of her own, she objected to be put under the domination of Hastings. As to having more than one Act in the borough, he had not yet observed any inconvenience arising from the two Acts still in existence! He believed the expense under the Health of Towns Act would be enormous. The General Board might require the extravagant system of drainage proposed by the Inspector, to be carried out to the very letter. He (Ald. B.) addressed the Council now under different feelings to those experienced on former occasions. Hitherto it had been thought that he only expressed his own views; but at a meeting recently held, out of an assemblage of 80 or 90 persons only 5 or 6 held up their hands for the Act. Then, as to the sanitary condition of the town, for one testimony against it he can bring a hundred in favour of it. It was, in fact, the most healthy of any town of its size in the Kingdom. — Coun. Ginner (the new member) was very sorry to find St. Leonards so opposed to the measure. He had no personal interest to serve in advocating the general Act. — Coun. Harvey thought it was remarkable that Mr. Ginner himself had been called upon to remove nuisances from his own property, but had taken no notice of the demand. Surely he was inconsistent for a man to argue for the application of that which he would not carry out as a private individual. — Mr. Ginner said he was only a trustee of the property alluded to. — Surely (continued Coun. Harvey) a landlord could put a tenant in as good a position without the Act as with it. As to St. Leonards, it was quite clear that the inhabitants were opposed to the Act. — Ald. Burton contended that they might talk for ever without getting any nearer to the point. — Coun. Putland, in a lengthy speech, repeated his former argument in favor of the Act being applied to the whole borough. — Coun. Harvey then moved that the Public Health Act be not applied to St. Leonards. The Mayor said he could not put such a motion to the vote; and here a long and irregular discussion came to an end.

Town Hall Site. Coun. Beck referred to the appointment of a committee, some time back, to look out for a Town-hall site. The Clerk said he was in correspondence with the South-Eastern Railway company, respecting a site at the Priory, but an interview with Capt. Barlow was necessary.

 Pg.126  Mr. Beck then broached the subject of the Elizabethan Charter, and was answered by the Clerk that the charter of itself would be of very little use if laid before them. There was great difficulty in defining the limits of the places enumerated. He had on previous occasions examined some references to the Charter amongst the Ministers’ rolls kept in the Tower, but it was a work of time, and an expense must be incurred if the Council desired an inquiry. — Coun. Hickes moved and Coun. Ginner seconded that the Clerk obtain such information as might be necessary to determine the rights of the Corporation as affected by the recent claims of the Woods and Forests Commissioners. The motion was carried, but it was destined to prove abortive.

Those who were in favour of the Health of Towns Act, were gratified to find that it had passed the second reading in the House of Lords on the 12th of July, but they were less pleased to find (as has already been shewn) that the petition from St. Leonards, supported by counsel, was successful in getting St. Leonards excluded. From an editorial in the Hastings News, the following sensible remarks are extracted: —

The Council as a Board of Health. — Says the News: —

“The Council as a Board of Health will become the recipient of great powers, and we hope to see those powers employed for good. It will rest with the burgesses to consult their own interests by returning such men at the municipal elections as will really advance the general interest of the place. Rightly wielded the Public Health Act will be a boon to the locality; but in bad hands it will prove — to the joy of its opponents and regret of its friends — an injury instead of a benefit. There is some truth in the couplet of Pope: —

‘For forms of government let fools contest;
That which is best administered is best.’

A Local Improvement Act really well administered would prove a less evil than the Public Health Act in the hands of men determined to pervert it from its designed end. On this ground it is that we are somewhat inclined to share in the rejoicings which are heard within the Archway; because, with the existence of a determined opposition in that quarter, it would have been impossible to have worked the Public Health Act properly through the whole borough. . . . Like two contrary dogs chained together, the two wards would only have effected each other’s misery, while the real object which they should have seized upon would have escaped their grasp. As things now are both parties may shake hands and ‘make it up’. The West Ward did not wish for the Act, and it has not got it; the East Ward wished for the Act, and it has got it. Thus the matter rests at present. Fighting must now give place to working, and the labours of our public men be directed solely to the  Pg.127 improvement of the place. The Local Board of Health must take care of all except St. Leonards, which will take care of itself.”

The Crown Land Inquiry. — At the meeting on Aug 1st the Town Clerk stated that he had searched the records in London as directed, with a view to discover the right of the Council to the land formerly overflowed by the sea along the borough coast, but had been unable to obtain any satisfactory information, as the records only referred to the subject of his enquiry incidentally. The records appeared simply to embrace certain Roman Catholic charities called chauntries. — Coun. Ross did not like the matter to rest thus, and would take another opportunity of calling attention to the subject. [But he would find himself as far off as ever.]

The Lighthouse. — In consequence of the lighthouse being shut out from the sea by the Commissioners’ new Market-room, it was ordered to be removed to the West hill if Lady Waldegrave would give consent. This she would do on a proper arrangement being entered into by the Council.

A Possessory Title A freehold right to an obnoxious rope-shop having been obtained by a fisherman named Spice through undisturbed occupancy, without original purchase, and he having asked £80 for it, whilst the Council would not give more than £40, Coun. Putland moved and Coun. Harvey seconded the removal of a capstan, so as to render the rope-shop of less value. [In after years the Council had to pay many hundreds of pounds for a capstan in front of Grand parade and a piece of ground, now part of the West-Marina Gardens and parade — in the one case originally used by the same Mr. Putland in connection with his coal trade, and in the other case for storage of timber and a saw-lodge on the beach, and a possessory title claimed, similarly to that of Spice’s, through undisturbed possession. It is probable that in each case the claim could not be the vitiated or set aside; but it often happens that with men in authority there is a want of consistency as pertaining to their public and private dealings.

In Spice’s Case, although the old fisherman afterwards accepted the proffered £40, he held out for some time for the larger sum, he being persuaded to do so by other persons, who argued that the rope-shop being erected on the beach outside the town wall, the Corporation had nothing to do with it. Then, as to the claim of the “stone-beach” per Elizabethan Charter, this had been continually the subject of dispute and of several contradictory counsels’ opinions; also as expressed by the Town Clerk, there was great difficulty in defining the limits of the places mentioned in the Charter, and that, in fact, the said Charter was of very little use.

The Dover Gaol Rate. At the Council meeting still under review, Mr. Putland expressed a desire to know how the Dover-gaol rate was expended,  Pg.128 and was told by the Clerk, that he was afraid they were not in a position to demand the information.

The Local Board of Health. The Town Council lost no time in making known that by the Public Health Supplemental Act, 1851, No.2, which received the Royal Assent on the 7th day of August, the whole of the municipal area of the borough (St. Leonards town excepted) from Ecclesbourne, east, to Bulverhithe, west, was now under the jurisdiction of the Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses. Therefore all streets and highways, not turnpike roads, in such district would not in future have their surfaces broken without permission of that Board. All the general clauses for scavengering, removal of ashes, prevention of nuisances, licensing of hackney carriages, pleasure-boats and bathing-machines, contained in the Hastings Local Act and Public-Health Act, 1848, as well as certain clauses in the Towns Improvement Act, 1847, and the Police-Clauses Act, 1847, were now applicable to such district. All coal, culm,[1] and coke imported by sea and land into the said district would be charged with the duty under the Hastings Local Act, and the principal officers with whom the inhabitants would have to communicate were Stephen Putland, Surveyor, and John Dungate Thwaites, Inspector of Nuisances. Thus the Public Health Act, dated Aug. 7th was immediately in force, both in Hastings, proper, and the intermediate district between the Priory-bridge site (the western limit of the town under the jurisdiction of the late Hastings Commissioners) but excepting so much of St. Leonards as was under the jurisdiction of the St. Leonards Commissioners — that township being excluded from its operations. As the Town Council became at once the Local Board of Health, no fresh elections were necessary.

The First Meeting of the reorganised body was on the 22nd of August, when there were present the Mayor (J. Emary) Aldermen Burton, Clift, Ticehurst, Scrivens and Clement; Councillors Mann, Ross, J. Amoore, Beck, Putland, A. Amoore, Peerless, Hutchings, Hickes, Deudney, Cousens, Williams, Stubbs, Harvey, Ginner, Burfield, Jeudwine and Chamberlin.

Light-House. — Resolved that the offer of Lady Waldegrave to grant a 21 years lease of ground on the West-hill for a light-house at £1 per year, with Mr. Arckoll’s (the tenant’s) consent, be accepted.

Election of Officers. In taking up the new powers vested in them, the Council proceeded to elect new officers, a work which occupied two or three hours in consequence of the uncertainty of the nature and extent of the duties involved in the appointments, as well as to the advisability of discussing matters in private or public. Coun. Ginner thought it would be best to form themselves into committee, so that they might speak more freely, but the idea of closed doors was strongly opposed by Ross,  Pg.129 Harvey, Burfield and others. The Town Clerk conscientiously believed their better plan would be to invest their Clerk with the office of the Local Board; for although two persons might be elected, it would be impossible to work such a system. The same officer was then elected to the double office, the amount of salary not being decided on. — Mr. F. Bennetts, the treasurer, was also elected treasurer to the Local Board, his salary of £10 remaining as before. Nine coal-meters were next appointed, including six formerly under the Commissioners, the two holding office in Saint Leonards, and the additional one in the person of Henry Kent, son of Philip Kent. — Mr. John Bailey, jun., was appointed collector of coal duties, his salary to be £25, the same as it had been under the Commissioners. — Mr. William Phillips was also to be retained as collector of district rates, at a percentage of 6d in the £. Mr. George Pearce, the waterworks manager under the Commissioners, was retained in the same capacity under the Local Board, with an unaltered remuneration of 15 per cent. As Inspector of Nuisances, Mr. John Dungate Thwaites, applied, his application being backed by a memorial from 391 ratepayers. He was asked by Ald. Ticehurst how he could conscientiously accept such office, after his strenuous opposition to the Public Health Act? Coun. Ross also referred to the opposition in which the applicant had been active, his signature being also one of 300 ratepayers (exclusive of St. Leonards) who had signed a petition against it. Mr. Thwaites, in his reply said he thought he had a right to his own private opinion as to the merits of that Act, and he was surprised that gentlemen calling themselves Liberal and claiming a right to their own opinions should endeavour to deprive him of the same privilege. He certainly did oppose the Act; but if he were elected by the Local Board he should consider himself their servant, and would do his duty as such. Ald. Ticehurst was satisfied with the explanation and moved that Mr. Thwaites be elected to the office at his former salary of £90. For the office of Surveyor, there were Mr. Stephen Putland, Mr. J. C. Hale (of London) and Mr. W. J. Gant. The application of the two last named was by letter, backed by high testimonials, but Mr. Putland’s was personally verbal. He said he had not taken any part in the day’s proceedings because of the situation in which he was placed. He was already their servant, as he was under an engagement with the late Hastings Commissioners to carry out the works of the new reservoir. Either he must relinquish all superintendence in that quarter or give up his seat in the Council. Hitherto he had been able to enter into engagements for public works, whereas as Councillor, he would be precluded from earning anything on any of the public works in the district. But if he were elected to the office Pg.130 of Surveyor, he would give up his seat in the Council, pay the fine which might be required, and give the whole of his time to the work, and for which purpose he would leave his other business in the hands of his son. He would also bring up a younger son to assist him in his office. In support of his application, he appealed to the various engagements which he had fulfilled, including one under Mr. Rastrick, an engineer, at the rate of four guineas a day and his expenses. He felt that he was able to the duties required of him, but if found otherwise he would resign. It was then and there resolved that Mr. Putland be appointed, at a salary of £150. This pay of 9/6 per day would seem to be a great drop from the four guineas a day, under Mr. Rastrick, who I remember, was engineer to the Brighton, Lewes and Hastings Railway Company, but then in the one case the work might have been only for a few days, whilst in the other it was expected to be continuous.

The Chalk-road Groin. At a special meeting of the Council on the 12th of September, a memorial was received from the dwellers of Carlisle Villas for the Council to repair the Chalk-road groin, as the property was in danger. The Clerk said the groin was originally put down by Ransom and Ridley, without permission, and they afterwards consented to pay 1/- a year. [These noted shipwrights put down the groin at their own expense to protect their property, then enclosed by an extensive hoarding where are now the first six or eight houses in Wellington place which had been more than once flooded by the sea. There were no Carlisle Villas when the groin was constructed, but afterwards, advantage was taken of the accumulated beach to build houses thereon, which with an intermediate road of about 36 feet, would be an encroachment of over 100 feet upon the run of high spring tides. Another vulnerable point was thus added to others, and the Corporation were repeatedly besieged to protect private property which ought never to have been placed in so dangerous a position]. At the Council meeting referred to, it was resolved to take the groin into the Council’s own possession for the purpose of getting it repaired. At a later meeting it was determined to lengthen the groin 45 feet and lower it two feet at the top, at an expense of £70.

Application by Mr. Brisco. This gentleman applied for a long lease of a piece of ground in front of the Forester’s Arms (at the East Cliff). He stated that Mr. Lavender, the former owner of the house had held possession of the ground for 40 years; and he (Mr. B.) had the testimony of an old man named Banks that when he hired the stable of Mr. Shadwell, that gentlemen said the ground in front belonged to him. The application was not granted.

Other Applications.—Leases of ground under the East Cliff were granted to Mr. Hutchinson, Mr. Tutt, Mr. Winter and Mr. Thwaites, at 10s. per foot frontage per year. In moving an unsuccessful amendment that  Pg.131 the price be 8s. per foot, Coun. Ross remarked that the Hastings shipwrights of former days had earned a very high fame, and he believed that the present boat-builders possessed an inherent genius, which only required to be encouraged to restore Hastings to its former position.

Transfer of Stock. The Clerk reported that Mr. Boykett Breeds had valued the late Commissioners’ horses, carts, stables, engine, etc. at £424 12s.

New Buildings. The Surveyor reported that upwards of 100 buildings were being erected between the late Commissioners’ limits at the Priory water and the St. Leonards Archway, and that the plans of these and many others would shortly require consideration and pass under the seal of the Board.

The Woods and Forests Commissioners obdurate. A letter was read from Messrs. Reeks and Humbert, objecting to certain portions of the Surveyor’s report referring to their building operations on the Crown land, and particularly to the width of the road opposite Mr. Hickes’s warehouse, which the Surveyor required to be made 30 feet, instead of 27 feet. The Crown lessee declared he should not comply with such a direction, and disputed the jurisdiction of the Local Board. The street was not a new one as required by the Act, and therefore not subject to provisions relating to new streets. The Surveyor (Mr. Putland) argued on the great necessity of enforcing compliance with the order of the Board, particularly in this case, as it was the first which came before them. Hundreds of similar cases would arise, and many of them might present similar difficulties. He greatly regretted that the Crown lessee, backed no doubt, by the Woods and Forests, should be the first to oppose the Board [This was not the only case of the Woods and Forests Commissioners or their lessee and the Local Board, were in conflict, to the defeat of the latter]. The Town Clerk allowed the exemption thus claimed as that which he had suspected from the first. The street was certainly not a new one [being 29 years old], and the ground which the Board had ordered to be added to the width of the street, had been sold for building purposes before the Local Board existed. A confused discussion ensued, in which several members coincided with the opinion of the Surveyor, and advocated enforcing their authority, whilst others considered such a course would be very expensive and most likely unsuccessful. The Surveyor then said if they had no authority in this case, they had better leave the Crown Land entirely alone, although there was much there to require his attention. The discussion ended with leaving the question where it was, and so it has continued, the Local Board never having had the power to force the hands of the Woods and Forests Commissioners into compliance with their demands. Even at the time  Pg.132  of writing this portion of History (1898) the Claremont road is still only 27 feet wide, notwithstanding that legal proceedings were taken. (See below)

The Water Supply. The water-works manager having given notice to consumers to be sparing of the water, Coun. Ginner said the supply was 50,000 gallons a day, and the consumption 80,000; hence, the supply must ultimately fail altogether, unless greater economy were used.

Rent of Ground too high. At a special meeting on the Oct. 3rd, Mr. Tutt’s offer to hire the ground under the East Cliff was accepted, but the other three plots were declined, the rent being considered too high.

Law Expenses. At the same meeting it was resolved to levy a borough rate at 4d. in the £, to pay £939, which sum included £159 Parliamentary expenses and £36 law expenses. Coun. Harvey called attention to the latter as having been caused by Messrs. Ross and Putland’s course that had been entered upon against the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, against the advice of the Town Clerk, who told them that such an action would be unavailing.

The Market Room. This new room, which was commenced by the late Commissioners, being nearly completed, Mr. West, of the Anchor Inn, offered to take a lease of it for three years at £65, which offer was accepted.

The Municipal Elections. Notwithstanding that on the 1st of November there was a strong rivalry with the candidates for the vacant seats, the only change was the substitution of Mr. H. N. Williams for E. W. Stubbs, the latter having declined being again put in nomination. The result of the polling however, was somewhat remarkable. The four Conservative candidates polled a total of 1723 votes, whilst the six Liberal candidates could only show a total of 1442.

Plan of the Town. At another special meeting which was held on the 31st of October, Mr. Gant’s plan of the town was produced and was much admired for its fidelity and the beauty of execution. In a letter which accompanied it, Mr. Gant offered to survey and map the whole of the district then under the Local Board on a reduced scale of two feet to a mile for £150, he to take no other work, nor to receive any money till the map was finished. It was resolved that the Clerk should give in by Nov. 10th, a statement of the plans required.

The Beach Question. At the same meeting, the Town Clerk suggested the propriety of taking a lease from the Woods and Forests Commissioners of that portion of the beach between the Priory Water and the St. Leonards Archway, this, of course, would be parallel with the extra-Hastings district, now brought under the jurisdiction of the Local Board. This idea was scouted by Coun. Ross, and the application strongly opposed as an admission that the beach belonged to them, instead of, as he believed, to the Corporation.  Pg.133 The Clerk said he could not find any trace of jurisdiction exercised by the Council over that portion of the beach. Mr. Ross, however, moved that no such application be made, and the motion was carried. After many years the necessity for the Corporation having to purchase the larger portion of the said beach was another proof that the Town Clerk’s views were generally correct.

Mr. Eversfield's offer of the Parade. In a correspondence between the Town Clerk and Mr. Eversfield, the latter gentleman declined to give up what had cost him so much money without compensation; but Mr. Deudney having stated personally that Mr. Eversfield would relinquish his claim on being paid for the iron railings only, such offer was received with applause. At the following meeting Mr. Eversfield’s offer to give up the parade and the groins for the value of the iron rails, but reserving his manorial rights, was thankfully accepted. A committee had been previously appointed to meet Mr. Deudney, as Mr. Eversfield’s agent, who at first asked a thousand pounds for the rails and lamp-posts extending from the west of Carlisle Parade to the St. Leonards Archway, the original cost having been £1075. They were valued, however, by two persons employed for the purpose at £261 11s. 9d., and this sum, added to other costs of purchase and transfer, amounted to £325. Commenting on this transaction, Coun. Ross, said it was a lucky escape for the parishes of the West Ward, who, perhaps, would have had to spend six or seven thousand pounds if Messrs. Robertson and Deudney had succeeded in getting their “West Hastings Bill” passed. Coun. Deudney warmly resented the insinuation, and earnestly declared that Mr. Eversfield’s intention was not to charge anything for the parade.

Shirley’s Application at a Council meeting on the 12th of December, Mr. Abel Shirley, as purchaser of a house and piece of ground at the south-east corner of Castle street, formerly belonging to the Corporation, but purchased of them some years back, with a covenant that no building should be erected on the ground, applied for the covenant to be revoked, so that he might build on both sites. The Stone-beach Committee recommended the grant if Mr. Shirley would pay £20. Ald. Clement thought £10 was quite enough for a man to pay to build on his own ground. Ald. Scrivens reminded the meeting that when certain inhabitants, including himself, sought to clear away the ship-yard in front of Pelham place, they paid two thousand guineas out of their own pockets. Coun. Ross considered that Mr. Shirley ought to pay the market value of the land. But Mr. Shirley had already paid the demanded price of the land, and only wanted permission to build on it. This permission was ultimately granted on payment of £20. It was certainly a high price for so small a piece.

The Groins. — The Clerk reported the repair of the East groin at an expense of £125, and the estimate for lengthening the Chalk-road groyne to be £115; also in answer to a question by Ald. Burton, that the expense would be charged to the Borough fund.

 Pg.134 Plan of the Town. Mr. Gant’s plan of the town was laid on the table at the same meeting, and was greatly admired for its elaborate execution. It embraced the whole of the late Commissioners’ district, from the toll-gate on the old London road, to the Priory water. It was on a scale of two feet to a mile, and consisted of ten sheets, making a total of 60 square feet. Mr. Gant’s plan was so generally appreciated that his offer to survey and map the same, including the new district under the Local Board, for £200, was accepted, the same to be completed by the first Friday in September.

Future Meetings. — Mr. H. N. Williams moved that the future meeting be held on the 1st Friday of every month. There was now, he said, so much business that monthly meetings became a necessity. By meeting frequently, they would be able to exercise a better supervision of the Committee’s, and become better acquainted with the business of the town; also by holding the meetings at fixed periods, they might have all their officers present, and learn from the collectors of rates how they were proceeding. Their contracts might also be paid up sooner. Coun. Ginner seconded, and the motion was carried.

The Bank Book. Mr. Williams next called attention to the absence of the Banker’s book at their general meetings which placed them in the dark as to whether they had £100 or £500 in hand, or what had been paid in and who received it. Matters might be all right, but the manner in which they conducted their business was not creditable. — Ald. Scrivens quite agreed with Coun. Williams that the book should be produced. It was so at the Board of Guardians, the Gas Company and the Building Society. The Clerk said, in future the accounts would be audited twice a year.

Mechanics’ Institution[edit | edit source]

At the quarterly meeting on the 7th of May, it was shewn that the number of members on this, the 18th anniversary was 333, and the financial condition £2 1s. 7d. to the bad.

At a quarterly meeting on the 6th of August, the report showed that 18 new members had been added, and 50 had declined, some of the latter, it was thought in consequence of the founding of the Athenaeum.

At an adjourned meeting on the 7th of August, to consider a motion for introducing politics into the Discussion Class, Mr. Pitter said such a motion required a change in the fundamental laws of the Institution, and he conceived that the proposed innovation would prove to be a fatal one. — Mr. Chamberlin could not see any good likely to Pg.135 arise from the introduction of politics. The members of a discussion class were at present allowed all the range of creation except the two departments of Religion and Politics, the introduction of which would give rise to personalities and dissensions. — Mr. Dobell was perfectly convinced that politics would lead to the downfall of the society. — Mr. Ransom, in an applauded speech, did not agree with all the arguments in favour of the motion, yet he would vote for it. It was said that under the present laws political economy might be discussed in the Institution, but the term did, in fact, embrace most of the subjects comprehended by the term party politics. Their discussions of politics would not be identical with those of a pot-house. The class would be under the direction of a superintendent, and the Committee could stop the class if disorderly. Mr. Banks was strongly opposed to the motion, as it would be a departure from the Laws of the Institution, and a breach of faith with the public. Mr. T. Elliott, Mr. R. Elliott, and Mr. Mawle all spoke in favour of the motion, and contended that a great deal of rant had been uttered in opposition. The sentiments urged might have done in former days, but were altogether unsuitable in the present age. — The Chairman (Mr. Rock) having expressed his disapprobation of the proposal, put it to the vote, when it was carried by 32 to 14, amidst loud applause.

At the next quarterly meeting, on the proposition to confirm the minutes of the previous meeting, an amendment was moved to omit that portion which referred to the Discussion Class. The annual soirée during the quarter had not been arranged for, and it was understood that some of the officers and most of the active members intended to resign if the new law was put into force, the amendment was supported by Messrs. Edwards, Pitter, Banks and others, whilst Messrs. Mawle, Hutchings and Ransom gave way as an act of expediency, rather than endanger the success or existence of the Institution. The report stated that numerous offers of paid lecturers had been received, but only one had been accepted — that by Dr. Nicholl, and which had entailed a loss, even with the aid of a subscription from the St. Leonards Institution.

After the meeting so fortunately ended, harmony again prevailed, and the officers of the Institution commenced to arrange for the annual soirée, which took place in the new Market Room on the 25th of November, and which was closely packed with company. After the social meal the proceedings consisted of vocal and instrumental music, interspersed with addresses by Mr. G. Scrivens (president) Mr. Banks, Rev. W. W. Hume, Rev. J. Stent, Mr. Chamberlin and Mr. Womersley.

The Athenaeum[edit | edit source]

 Pg.136  under the title of the Hastings and St. Leonards Athenaeum a project was advertised on the 25th of April, with Earl Waldegrave as President and Mr. W. B. Young, as Vice-president, each of whom had subscribed five guineas, which, added two other subscriptions, already announced, amounted to nearly £50. In reference to this project “Argus” wrote to the Hastings News to the effect that the object in view deserved encouragement, but as Rumour pointed out George street or East parade as its locality, it would be better to expunge the name of St. Leonards from its title; for, that town, although enrolling members and paying subscriptions, would, by distance be shut out from its advantages. The building should be more westward, otherwise to attempt to unite the interest of the two towns in such a project would be absurd. The society was, however, established in George street, and received a gift of valuable books from the Bishop of Chichester. But the exact locality was not fixed upon until the month of June, when arrangements were made for the erection of a suitable building on the site of the old house next to Mr. Elford’s in George street, the lower part to be a shop and the upper part to be devoted to the purposes of the society. It was expected to be opened at the beginning of winter.

When Inaugurated. It was on the 8th of December (soon after the opening of the new Market Room with the soirée of the Mechanics’ Institution) that the Athenaeum was inaugurated by a musical entertainment. The instrumentalists were under the management of Mr. Dawes and Mr. B. Wood, whilst the vocalists were led by Mr. Elford, who was himself recalled for his singing “The Flying Dutchman,” and his son for singing “The Irish Emigrant”. Earl Waldegrave declared the Athenaeum to be then opened.

Early-Closing Association[edit | edit source]

The Hastings Early-Closing Association was permanently formed in Mr. Banks’s schoolroom on the 18th of June, with Mr. J. Rock, jun., as treasurer and Mr. J. Hallaway as secretary. It continued to gain adherents, and on the 27th of October, a meeting, with the Rev. W. W. Hume, as president in the chair, was held, when Mr. Passmore Edwards attended as a deputation from the parent society in London and gave a long address. That gentleman was at that time Editor of “The Public Good”. The meeting was both crowded and enthusiastic, and Mr. Edwards was frequently applauded.

Smuggling Misadventures[edit | edit source]

 Pg.137  at 6 o’clock on Monday morning, January the 6th, Mr. Matthew, assistant to surgeon Ticehurst, was called to the eastern side of the Ecclesbourne station, where he found John Tilden lying on a ledge of the cliff about 60 feet above the level of the beach. On this ledge were 15 tubs of spirits, and on the beach below were 43 more. Two of those on the ledge were broken. Tilden was greatly injured through falling from the cliff above. His head was much battered, his body was bruised, and the upper part of his dress was soaked in blood. The other part of his dress was saturated with rain, he having lain there about four hours. He was cold and insensible. Mr. Matthew had him removed to the Coastguard station, and afterwards to the Infirmary. The coastguards knew nothing of the occurrence until then, after which they held him in custody, and placed a sentinel over him while he remained at the Infirmary. The sufferer was very reserved and displayed no willingness to commit himself. On the morning of the occurrence two men came ashore at Hastings, as they said, for some beef, and after landing, they quickly decamped, leaving their nameless punt in the hands of the coastguards, who also took care to secure the tubs of spirits at Ecclesbourne. Tilden was well known in the town as foreman to a builder. The place chosen for this “derricking” mode of smuggling was a very dangerous one, the cliff being of great height. After undergoing magisterial examination, four days later, he was conveyed to the gaol. On the 17th he was charged before the County Bench with aiding and abetting in the landing of 175 gallons of brandy, to which he had made himself liable to forfeit £100. He pleaded guilty, by Mr. Langham’s advice, and a promise was given him that the Board would deal leniently with his case. John Tilden recovered, but although he lived for 37 years after the event, he was never quite the same man. He was liberated from gaol on the 7th of February, and again taken to the Infirmary, by virtue of a warrant signed by two Commissioners of Customs, and was thus released both from the fine of £100 and the imprisonment in default. A memorial had been sent to the Board on his behalf, containing among other names, some of those of magistrates. He died on the 13th of July, 1888, at the age of 87 years.

As suggestive of another unsuccessful or only partially successful smuggling venture, on the 16th of January 15 tubs of spirits were dug out of the sands near the Winchelsea coastguard station, and ten more soon afterwards.

A fortnight later, a leaky boat, 16 feet long, was found at the water’s edge on the sands opposite to Carlisle parade, and judged to have been used in some smuggling transaction — probably in connection with the tubs found near Winchelsea.

Shipping Movements and Maritime Casualties[edit | edit source]

 Pg.138 Loss of a Fishing Boat. On Saturday, March 1st, the boat Catherine, belonging to Margaret White; and the Rose, belonging to George Phillips, while trawling, got into collision during a blizzard (heavy snow squall) from the N.E., at about 4 miles off Dungeness point. Owing to the storm and the darkness of the night, the nearness of the boats to each other was not observed until it was too late to avoid a collision. The Catherine was stove in and immediately sank, the crew saving themselves by hastily getting on board the Rose, which was also badly damaged.

Fishing-boats Damaged. During the Saturday night of March 22nd, the severe gale which sent the sea across the road into the West-Marina houses, also caused great confusion in the Hastings Fishmarket. Tiles and chimney-pots were blown about, and several fishing-boats were damaged. The Philanthropy, belonging to Robert Kent, had one side knocked in and her spars broken. Mr. Webb’s Jane was also greatly damaged. Three other boats were washed off the beach, but were recovered without material injury.

Groins damaged. On the 2nd of October, a strong wind and rough sea doubled up the land-ties of the easternmost groin and breached the groin to the extent of 30 feet. By the same wind a plank was blown from a building in Robertson street, and a lady seriously injured by it.

The Fisheries. An item of good news in connection with the fishery, as in some measure a set-off to their losses by storm, was that from the 5th of November to the end of the month there was a continual run of success in the catch of herrings. The prices ruled from £16 to £8 per last.

Shipping Arrivals. From February 8th to 10th, and within a few days after the opening of the Hastings and Ashford Railway, the following vessels discharged their cargoes: — Milward sloop (Welfare) general cargo; William Pitt: (Fisher), do.; Burfield Brothers (Piper) with coal; Albion (Austin), oats; Mary and Theodosia (Eastland), potatoes; Quintus (Guiller), timber; Royal William (Saffron), timber; Ant (Fox), coal; Perseverance (Winter), coal; Fairy (Morphee) coal; Lamburn (Woodgate), coal; Queen Victoria (Young) coal; Maria (Coppard), coal.

The Coppard Family. The last named master of a vessel in the list of Shipping Arrivals, is a reminder of the praiseworthy efforts of the Hastings Coppards in saving life. A plucky rescue by James Coppard is described in chapter XL. He was master and owner of the Maria, dandy rigged yawl, and another of his exploits is here detailed. On the 31st of August, he saw the Apollo, screw-steamer on the Kentish Knock, a sand-bank 18 miles from Margate (the nearest to land). There was a strong gale at the time from the east, accompanied by a heavy sea. Coppard, at great risk, immediately beat up to windward, to render assistance. With almost superhuman exertions he took off the whole of the passengers and crew,  Pg.139 numbering 42 persons, together with their luggage, thus saving them from what threatened to be a watery grave. He was heavily freighted at the time with a cargo of coal, but rescued the last man only a few minutes before the vessel went down. He received from the party a sum of £8, but our townspeople at the time thought that for the saving of 42 lives under such trying circumstances merited a more substantial reward.

Heroic conduct of the Coppards[edit | edit source]

The Coppards Again. Verily, this family was destined to achieve a most honourable fame! On the 14th of September, Dennis Coppard, jun., of the Galloway Ark, took 11 persons from the side of a Neapolitan brig which had struck on a rock, off Scilly, and washed off on her beam ends. He landed them, two days later, at St. Mary’s. This made a total of nearly 60 lives up to that time saved by this intrepid family. Such heroic conduct, while it merited substantial reward, was a credit to Hastings as the town which owned the men who possessed it. It was therefore gratifying to learn that Capt. James Coppard afterwards received from the South-Holland Institution, at Rotterdam, its large silver medal and several complimentary letters from private Dutch gentlemen for his humane exertions in saving them and the crew of the Apollo steamer which struck on the Kentish Knock and went down.

Railway Items[edit | edit source]

The Ashford Extension Railway was examined on the 24th of January by the Government Inspector (Capt Wynne), together with the Chairman, Deputy Chairman and six Directors of the South-Eastern Company, and when returning, they travelled from Hastings to Rye at the rate of 65 miles an hour.

Guestling Station. The inhabitants of Ore, Fairlight, Pett, Westfield and Guestling memorialised the S.E. Railway Company for a station in the last-named parish. The Board of Directors afterwards made it known that the memorialists and public generally might understand that a station would be erected at near the “Three Oaks”, Guestling. The station in that parish, was, however, never built, and more than 40 years went by before the present station at Ore was built.

Winchelsea Station. — This station which was closed because the traffic did not pay for its maintenance, was again opened on the 4th of December.

Petitions[edit | edit source]

On the 7th of February, petitions were presented to the House of Commons from Hastings, Bodiam, Battle and Hailsham, praying for relief to agriculture; also from Hastings against the window-tax. Also against Romanist aggression from Hastings, Ninfield, Pett, Arlington, Ore and Fairlight.

Hastings and the Great Exhibition[edit | edit source]

 Pg.140 It has been shewn in the pages devoted to the Mechanics’ Institutions that those associations, both of Hastings and St. Leonards, were the first of their kind in the provinces to take an active movement in the project; and that the movement resulted in a large measure of success will now be seen from what follows.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the 26th and 27th of February, an exhibition of a majority of the manufactured articles intended for the “world’s fair,” took place in the carriage show-room of Messrs. Rock and Son at Stratford place (now White-rock place). The admission was by gratuitous tickets and the interest then manifested was such as to give the strongest encouragement to the local committee who had laboured to forward the movement. The exhibition was open from ten till four each day, and the crowd which pressed for admittance was so great that it became necessary to keep the doors closed against the applicants for several minutes at a time, so that they might be let in and out by batches. Shortly before 4 o’clock on the first day a notice was posted that no more could be admitted that day, and several hundred persons had to go away disappointed, although it was calculated that not fewer than a thousand had been already gratified with the view. Such an unexpected crowd caused some embarrassment to the committee, who, during the evening sent out the crier to announce that on the following day the public would be admitted fifty at a time at intervals of twenty minutes. This arrangement was only made under circumstances of imperative necessity. The articles exhibited were as hereunder described.

A Dioropha Carriage was a prominent feature in the exhibition, constructed by Messrs. Rock & Son on an entirely new and improved principle. It combined three distinct carriages in one — namely, a close carriage, a half-headed barouche, and a completely open carriage without any cover whatever, and all this without any sacrifice of comfort. It was painted with the richest ultramarine blue and embellished with other appropriate colours. The inside was lined with rich silk tabbiret,[2] which as well as the blue and white lace trimmings was designed and manufactured for the purpose. The carriage was further ornamented with silver mountings, the lamps were of an original design, and the steps were upon a new principle under letters patent. The panels were decorated with devices emblematical of the reign of peace, having the motto per totum orbem[3].

A Pony Phaeton, by the same manufacturers and of a kind peculiar to Hastings, was another of the exhibits. It possessed, however, several improvements, including the patent springs invented by J. Rock, jun., and remarkable for their extraordinary lightness. The  Pg.141 seven springs of this vehicle weighed only 12½ pounds, and were capable of bearing from three to four hundred weight.

Testing the Springs. The Messrs. Rock also exhibited an apparatus made for testing springs, on which were several of their own designs, contrasted with some of the ordinary make, in which the economy of weight was remarkable. A spring of the new construction, weighing 9lbs 13oz was shewn to be more than equal in strength to an ordinary one of 19 lbs 14 oz.

A Barricade Leveller. Another invention by Mr. J. Rock, jun., was a model of a contrivance to attack a street barricade. The plan was communicated to General Cavainac ,[4] at Paris, immediately after the insurrection, and when another was in anticipation. The machine was constructed directly the communication was received, but the looked-for occasion for its use did not occur.

A Model of the “Ocean Queen” was exhibited by Mr. George Tutt. This was the name of one of the large class of fishing luggers built at Hastings for local and other coast uses. The model was beautifully finished. It was on a scale of one inch to a foot of the original, which was forty feet long & 14½ feet beam.

Several Inventions were shewn by Mr. T. Beaney, of St. Leonards. The first was a lathe rest of a simple, yet ingenious construction, of which the inventor intended to take out a patent. The next was a case of arrows, prettily inlaid by machinery with parti-coloured woods. The rest of Mr. Beaney’s inventions consisted of a boomerang, and some Australian implements of war. Another instrument which he did not exhibit, but of which he was the inventor was a machine gun for discharging a number of bullets in quick succession.

Weeds and Mosses, the former from the sea-shore and the latter from the land, collected and artistically arranged, were shewn by Mr. Holt of White-rock place.

A Daguerrotype Accelerator, a new invention for quickening the time in taking portraits, was exhibited by Mr. Beaumont, the invention being already registered for protection.

A Centering Machine for correctly inserting the dowels in hand-rails, the ingenious invention of Mr. Victory, of St. Leonards, was another of the articles shewn.

Artificial Teeth, constructed on the principle of self-adhesion, were exhibited by Mr. Robert Ransom, of Verulam place.

Truck Baskets, of Sussex industry and made by Mr. Thomas Smith, of Herstmonceux, of white wood, and capable of holding water, were among the collection of exhibits. There was a set of these of different sizes and beautiful finish.

 Pg.142  Mineralogical Specimens (not yet completed) in a case, were exhibited by several contributors, the specimens consisting of coal; hone-stone, iron-stone, lime-stone, etc. from the strata of Hastings and its neighbourhood. These specimens were to be added to before the time arrived for sending them to the International Exhibition in Hyde Park.

Church Hassocks, of characteristic design, and bearing appropriate inscriptions in old Saxon letters, were exhibited by Mr. George Curling Hope. These were only two in number, and although founded on the basis of a common rush hassock, their elaborate covering of silk and coloured Berlin wool, gave them a very tasteful and elegant appearance.

An Elegant Vase, of Hastings grass, decorated with some pretty specimens in blossom, was the handiwork of Miss Rock. Around the base of the vase were some beautiful specimens of Hastings pebbles, and the general effect was heightened by ornamental appendages of velvet and chenille. It was enclosed in a glass case, and displayed much ingenuity and a cultivated taste.

A Plaster Model of a grand ship canal through the Isthmus of Suez in the Red Sea, was exhibited by Mr. Charles Clark, civil engineer, and proprietor of the Eversfield Waterworks. This proposed canal was modelled on a scale of a quarter inch to a mile; and if the work were carried out, it was calculated that it would save 5,000 miles in the route to India. The work having been since accomplished it is well to remember that the project emanated from Hastings.

Another Model — that of Mr. Pitter’s Archimedian Balloon — was also one of the exhibits. The model was on the scale of one twentieth the intended size, and was first placed before the public in 1847. It was afterwards improved, and again made public in the following year. The propelling power in this machine was to be produced by four paddle wheels, with a total of 96 floats, and set in motion by an engine. There were a number of other contrivances, including an Archimedian screw. The machine was altogether different from any other that had been constructed, and was calculated to navigate the air in any direction.

A Balloting Machine, of an elegant and ingenious construction, was exhibited by Mr. W. Chamberlin, of St. Leonards. By means of this machine a person might give his vote for one, for all, or for none, as it pleased him, and without any other person being able to detect the course adopted. The votes were registered by means of dials. The voter would be in a room or recess by himself and would record his vote by pulling one or more levers. When he had voted to the extent of his privilege the machine would become out of gear, and would not be again useable till the door of the balloting apartment had been opened for the exit of the voter.

 Pg.143  Although not shown at this preliminary local exhibition, it was understood that there would be several other things sent to London when the proper time arrived, including a pocket of hops from Lady Ashburnham, and a similar one from Mr. Richard Smith, two under carriages for pony phaetons from Mr. T. Beaney, an improved stove from Messrs. Alderton and Shrewsbury, an improved omnibus from Messrs. Rock and Son, and a number of agricultural implements. For these articles the space required was 800 square feet.

A large Solar-Telescope (which I had almost omitted) was also shewn by Mr. T. W. Richardson, of Brede. This excellent telescope, with additional eye-pieces, was constructed on the principle of Sir Isaac Newton’s, and every part of it was made by Mr. Richardson himself. He built the furnace with his own hands, cast the brass himself, whilst the lenses, the glass reflector, etc. were ground and polished by processes of his own contrivance. The wood was of English oak, given to Richardson by Thos. Frewen, Esq., of Northiam, and grown in the parish of Brede. Taken altogether the instrument was a master-piece of skill and a triumph of amateur and self-trained inventive genius. Mr. Richardson, known by the sobriquet of “Crazy Tom”, — (like “Tom” Beaney, another exhibitor) — was as eccentric as he was ingenious; and partly through his eccentricity, in connection with the said telescope, when the latter was placed in its allotted position, I gained admission to the Hyde Park Exhibition before it was opened to the public. Richardson wanted help to readjust his telescope and his casual fellow-traveller would like to see the all but completed exhibition. By an improvised ruse suggested and managed by Richardson, I found myself suddenly honoured as the exhibitor and Richardson (who was meanly dressed) as my “workman”. In that way, passes for two were readily obtained for the specified exhibit in one of the galleries where a splendid view of the interior was presented. The story is an amusing one, and is more circumstantially told elsewhere.

Coming Back to the local exhibition of the articles already enumerated and to the second day’s proceedings, the crush to gain admittance, was even greater than on the first day. Although otherwise well conducted, the pressure of the eager multitude was so great that the doorkeeper, assisted by two or three policemen, had great difficulty in carrying out the instruction to admit only 50 at a time. The concourse steadily increased outside until the whole width of the road was occupied, and it soon became evident that hundreds must be disappointed. This proved to be the case, notwithstanding that 3,000 persons had been admitted, irrespective of the first day’s number. As a last resource, a third day was devoted to the exhibition with a small charge for admission.

An Aerial Voyage[edit | edit source]

 Pg.144 On the 31st of March, the veteran aeronaut, Mr. Charles Green, made his 456th balloon ascent — this time from Hastings, in company with the Duke of Brunswick. The intention was to cross the Channel to France, for which purpose the wind was favourable. The balloon was inflated in the Priory Meadow, close to the Gas Works, where it was sheltered by a stretch of canvas. The required quantity of gas was 32,500 cubic feet, and the time occupied in filling was from about a quarter to 8 to a quarter to one. This operation for the whole five hours was superintended by Mr. Green’s brother Henry, who described the gas, with its low illuminating power, as being the best they had ever obtained. At the time of the ascent there must have been not fewer than 6,000 spectators, a large number of them (including the writer) being crowded together on the Castle hill. Depending from the balloon was a gutta-percha line about 200 feet long, fastened to which were several logs of wood and a piece of wicker-work at separate distances for floatation in the water, thus easing the balloon of its weight without discharging ballast. When all was ready, His Serene Highness the Duke of Brunswick, clad in oilskin garments, stepped into the car and took his seat whilst Mr. Green stood erect and gave the signal to let go. When released from its moorings, amidst a volley of cheers, the “Royal Victoria” rose quickly, and as it appeared likely to come in contact with the Castle hill, I, with many others stepped back from the ridge to be out of harm’s way, whilst others fell or rolled into the “Ladies’ Parlour”. Judge our joyful surprise to see the monster balloon, with its occupants sweep majestically over our heads, and its 200 feet of appendages not even touching the high ground. It followed a course nearly S.E. for several miles, then more southerly or south-westerly, and soon afterwards it became becalmed in mid-Channel. It also descended; and, as viewed from the Castle heights, fears were prevalent that something had gone wrong, particularly as several fishing-boats were apparently clustering beneath the balloon. It was ascertained next day that Mr. Green intended the machine to sail at a low altitude, and was thus using his guide line and logs as a compensating weight. By means of a speaking trumpet, the fishermen were warned not to touch the apparatus. A fresh breeze sprang up, and the balloon, with its gas expanded by the sun’s rays, ascended to a height of 4,000 feet. A splendid view of the southern area of England was then obtained; and after descending again to a lower level, the aeronauts sailed in an enjoyable manner until the vicinity of Cherbourg became visible. They were soon over the French coast, and as the trailing line and logs emerged from the water on to the sands, two men caught at them, one of them being immediately thrown to the ground and the other being made to perform a somersault. The occupants Pg.145  of the car were highly amused at the incident, and the more so as both men were able to rise and walk on apparently unhurt. The balloon once more ascending, cleared a high hill, and then degraded to a valley beyond, where it was secured without any mishap, at about six o’clock in the evening. The locality was about 7½ miles from Boulogne. The Duke went on to Paris, whilst Mr. Green packed up his balloon and returned to England.

Some Local Materials[edit | edit source]

In the description of the articles collected at the local exhibition to be sent to the great show in Hyde Park, it is stated that a case of minerals was one of the exhibits. In a lengthy article on this “Heap of Stones” the Hastings News concluded as follows; —

“It has often appeared to us that Hastings, like most places, we suppose, does not sufficiently remember itself. That which is peculiar to Hastings is just what Hastings ought to make the most of. We wish the scientific institutions of the town would present us with a real local museum. It is just the thing which strangers would like to see, particularly strangers of intelligence. Good service might be done in this matter. The botany, the geology, and all the other 'ologies of the district ought to be looked after, and specimens classified and exhibited in a local museum. We see now that our white sand will make excellent glass; that our iron-stone will make good iron; and it is also true that we have grass near at hand with which to make baskets; that we have pebbles on our shore as beautiful as the German agate; that we have wood of a peculiar hardness buried in our sands; that we have pipe-clay under our cliffs which has almost driven hearth-stones out of the market at Hastings; that we have an extraordinary geology, perplexing railway engineers almost to distraction; that, in short, Hastings possesses a variety of peculiarities which we cannot enumerate, and many of which we forget, even with pen in hand, whilst others, doubtless, which we have never known. All these should be made the most of. Would not the members of our Mechanics’ Institutions be doing the state some service if, during the summer months they were to form parties of investigation to explore our local riches; and then, when summer days are over, exhibit the fruits of their labours in the class-room, giving their specimens from the moment of discovery a niche in the local museum. In this matter, as in many others, we should like to see a beginning.”


Deaths and Inquests[edit | edit source]

 Pg.146 Death of Dr. Mackness. Although this gentleman had been a great sufferer from neuralgia, his brother-aldermen had no thought that his death was so near at hand when he took part in the discussions at the Town Council meeting about a fortnight before. He died on the 8th of February from inflammation of the lungs. He was loved as a real friend and valued medical adviser. He had taken part in the agitation to secure the application of the Health of Towns Act, and he had written a work on the Climate of Hastings. He had also published a treatise on “Dysphonia Clericorum” and an essay on “Agricultural Chemistry”. His death was regarded as a great loss to the town. The funeral took place on the 14th of February, his remains being placed in the St. Mary’s Cemetery. The funeral was attended by the Mayor (Mr. Jas. Emary) and members of the Council. The service was impressively read by the Rev. T. Vores. Several friends of the deceased gentleman being anxious to testify their affectionate regard for his memory, and his unwearied attention to rich and poor alike, subscribed for a handsome Tomb, and attached to the record are the words “Who closed a life of benevolence and usefulness, on Feb. 8th, 1851. This monument is erected by his attached friends and patients”. His age was 46 years. His widow survived him till the 3rd of August, 1895, and died at the great age of 94 years.

We mourn and wonder at the gap death makes,
  Not by the living can thy place be filled;
But tears are needed only for our sakes,
  Thy work was done, and all God meant fulfilled.
We measure not thy life by years, but worth.
  For he lives longest who does most on earth.

And thou art living yet in the fond hearts
  Of all whom sickness brought beneath thy care;
Skill may relieve, but sympathy imparts
  Fresh wings to Hope, and even quells despair;
They who once felt it may forget thee never,
  Thy patients for a day, thy friends for ever.

Death gave thee immortality, and now
  ˊMidst the first throbbings of a nobler life,
How dost thou look upon the scenes below —
  Its toils and griefs, its vanity and strife?
The labour o’er, how sweet the rest must be!
  The battle fought, how grand the victory!

Farewell! farewell! The spirits of the just
  Have called thee brother. Happy soul, adieu!











Footnotes (including sources)[edit]

  1. Coal dust, usually anthracite.
  2. An upholstery fabric of alternate satin and plain stripes.
  3. Throughout the World
  4. Louis-Eugène Cavaignac was a French general who put down a massive rebellion in Paris in 1848.