Manuscript History of Hastings and St Leonards Vol 4/Transcription

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Chapter XLIII St. Leonards 1850[edit]

Transcriber’s note[edit]


 Pg.01 Transactions of the St. Leonards Commissioners—Railway Company charged with having caused danger to the parade; correspondence thereon and calling in competent opinion; action at law advised, but abandoned— New assessments—Vestry meetings of St. Leonards and Saint Mary Magdalen—Wesleyan matters—Mechanics Institution—St. Leonard’s church; its baptisms and burials—Marriage in high life—Death and interment of the Rev. John Jones, the founder of All Souls Convent—Deaths of Sir Thomas Marrable and Sir John Buchan—Converts to Romanism—Accidents and incidents—Railway works and their progress—Counterfeit tickets and coins—The Eversfield waterworks—Storms and destructive tides—Mr. Woodford’s new houses and why they were named “Agincourt” (an item of ancient history)—Public amusements—Royal visitors—The Queen’s St. Leonards archers—Atmospheric and other phenomena—Miscellaneous occurrences.

Transactions of the St. Leonards Commissioners[edit]

The first quarterly meeting of the Saint Leonards Commissioners in 1850 was not held until the 25th of March. I will follow my rather usual course of reviewing those meetings first; and this will afford an explanation of some of the business transacted or matters discussed at the meetings of the Town Council. Presiding at this meeting was Captain Davies, and the other commissioners present were Messrs. Alfred and Decimus Burton, James Mann, H. W. Brown and the Rev. G. D. St Quintin. The following report was received from the committee.

“The Superintending Inspector from the board of health having, in consequence of a petition from the borough, given notice of his intention to come down for the purpose of obtaining evidence as to the sanitary state of the town, and as the Commissioners had, on a previous occasion, expressed their disapprobation of the Health of Town Act being applied to St. Leonards, your committee consider it their duty to obtain the feelings of the inhabitants on the subject by having a petition to the Board of Health drawn up, praying that the Act shall not be applied. This was agreed to by about fifty householders. The clerk subsequently had an interview with the Inspector (Mr. Cresy)[1], who intimated that the Act would be applied to Hastings only, but suggested that certain improvements might be made in the local Act by means of a provisional order of the General Board of Health, to be sanctioned by a public General Act which, if approved, would be noticed in the Inspector’s report. But doubts having occurred as to the  Pg.02 possibility of making alterations in the local Act without the town being put under the application of the Public Health Act, a case was submitted to Mr. Lawes for Counsel’s opinion. This opinion was that such amendment could not be effected except for the purpose of applying the whole or part of the Public Health Act to the town. A copy of this was forwarded to Mr. Cresy[1].”

Whether Mr. R.B. Brander and Mr. G. F. Jarman were for or against the Health of Towns Act being applied to St. Leonards does not appear, but it was announced at this meeting that they declined to serve on the Board of Commissioners to which they had been elected in the preceding December.

At their next quarterly meeting on the 24th of June the members present were Messrs. St. Quintin, Davies, A. and D. Burton, W. J. Burton, C, H. Southall, J Mann. S. Chester and G. B. Greenough; the last named gentleman in the chair. The business transacted was that in future every proposition intended to be made should be put in writing, and sent to the clerk a week prior to the meeting; that a committee confer with Dr. Harwood, he having applied to lay down water-pipes to his house at The Uplands from a well that Messrs. Eversfield and Deudney allowed him to sink; that the east line of boundary be correctly laid down in the Commissioners’ map and that Mr. Decimus Burton be permitted to drain his houses leading west from the National Schools into the sewer at Mercatoria.At the September meeting it appeared that Mr. Jarman had revoked his determination to resign and then took the usual oath to serve. The matters discussed were few, and the decisions arrived at were Mr. D. Burton to be allowed to drain his “Cottage” at Maze Hill, and Dr. Harwood “The Uplands” on certain conditions of payment.

The next meeting held on the 27th of the same month was special and important. A loan of £1000 was obtained from a Mr. Marrable, bearing interest at five per cent. Of this sum a moiety was invested in an Exchequer bill, and deposited with the Treasurer. Tenders were received to complete the channel on the East Ascent as authorized, with other work as far back as June 25th in the preceding year. John Burgess’s tender of £10 18s. was accepted for the work. Mr. Chamberlain having complained of the noise occasioned by carriages crossing the stone pathway leading from the hotel to the Assembly Rooms, the stones were ordered to be taken up and used for the fly-stands. The occupiers of Mercatoria having applied to have York-stone pavement put down, and promising to pay half the expense, the same had been done by Hughes and Hunter for £15 14s. and 6d. — a very modest price and the half sum had been charged to G. Potten, T. Ranger, W. Pannett and C. Vine. The pavement at the Sussex hotel had been relaid for £5.00.

Petition Against the Health of Towns Act, 1850[edit]

The committee  Pg.03 further reported that having observed the sea’s encroachment near the west end of the town caused by the bank of earth deposited by the railway contractors on the beach, which had already been the means of an overflow into the haven, against which, and to preserve the hutch, the Commissioners of Levels had commenced putting down a groyne, the committee considered it to be urgent to protect the shore to the eastward, and had consulted Mr. Major Vidler, under whose advice Nos. 3 to 5 groynes were put up. It was then decided to advertise for tenders for a groyne nearly opposite to 102 Marina. The tenders were those of Jas. Hutchinson, jun., £126 10s.; John Carey £99 10s.; W. Winter, £96; and Richard Selden, £94 10s. The last-named tender being sent in too late, and irregularly accepted, the commissioners agreed to pay him £8 out of their own pockets, and to advertise for fresh tenders.—A rate at 1s. and 6d. respectively, was ordered as usual. It was next resolved to adopt the following memorial, to the General Board of Health:—

“The humble memorial of the Commissioners for the Improvement of St. Leonards, sheweth that your memorialists have taken into consideration the report of Mr. Cresey[1] on the sanitary condition of the Town and Port of Hastings, recommending that the Public Health Act (11 & 12 Vic. Cap. 63) should be at once applied to the entire borough, including St. Leonards, by which the corporation will be the Local Board of Health; that there are many errors in the Report, calculated to injure the town of St. Leonards, and such as to induce your honourable Board to believe that the Public Health Act is properly applicable thereto, inter alia.— The limits of the said town are so indistinctly defined, and districts within the said town so blended therewith that many statements in the report apparently applying to the inefficient sewage, drainage and supply of water; and the sanitary condition of the inhabitants thereof, have, in reality nothing whatever to do with the said town, but relate to a district eastward of the archway forming the eastward boundary thereof. That the correct limits of said town are set forth at page 18 of Mr. Cresy’s[1] report, and are delineated in the plan annexed thereto and distinguished thereon by dotted lines; and to which plan your memorialists crave leave more particularly to refer. That by reference to such plan it will appear that the town of St. Leonards reaches more than half a mile along the sea-beach, from which the ground rises rapidly to the north or upper part of the town; that it possesses great natural advantages for draining, and that it is situate 1½ miles westward of the town of Hastings. That the proposed drainage of the populous district forming the East Ward of the borough by means of a sewer, to be carried through and to terminate westward of St. Leonards, and the proposed manufacture of the sewage water to be collected by such sewer at such western termination into solid manure will be injurious to  Pg.04 the health and comfort of the inhabitants and visitors, in as much as the only level carriage-drive into the country is westward of the town, and that the W. and S.W. winds prevail on this part of the coast for three-quarters of the year. That your memorialists are fully aware of the advantages that would be gained in many places by the collection of sewage water, but they are entirely convinced that in this case the nuisance and inconvenience to invalids and others would very greatly counterbalance any profit likely to accrue by the sale of such manure. That the contents of all houses may be discharged into the sea without any of the evils referred to by your Inspector by the adoption of the reservoir plan patented by Mr. Page, C.E. That the proposed union of the two towns for the sanitary improvement of Hastings being therefore unnecessary, will manifestly be most unjust. That St. Leonards is of recent formation and consists chiefly of first-class houses in wide, airy streets, built on one uniform plan, with well-constructed sewers, and a sufficient water supply; whereas the town of Hastings is of great antiquity, and where, according to your Inspector’s Report a great proportion of houses are of an inferior class, many of them having cesspools only—many having no supply of water, some having no drains whatever, and many of the streets without cover sewers. That it will be most unjust to throw a portion of the expense of improving the drainage and water supply of Hastings or of the intermediate district of the two towns, which has no local Improvement Act upon the owners and occupiers of property within the town of St. Leonards. That by the Municipal Corporation Act the borough of Hastings is divided into two wards, viz., All Saints and St. Leonards. That All Saints ward comprises the parishes of All Saints, St. Clements, part of St. Mary-in-the-Castle, and part of Ore. That St. Leonards ward comprises the parishes of St. Andrew’s, Holy Trinity, St. Michael, St. Mary Magdalen; part of St. Leonards and St. Mary Bulverhithe (sic). That All Saints ward returns 12 Councillors, and St. Leonards only six. That the town of St. Leonards is situate partly within the parish of St. Leonards and partly in St. Mary Magdalen; is wholly within the borough of Hastings, but is, in fact, only a fractional part of the area of the St. Leonards ward or western division of the borough. That new houses being continually erected in the district lying between the two towns, the owners or occupiers whereof would be eligible as councillors for the said ward, the town of St. Leonards would not be fairly represented at the proposed Local Board of Health; and that even assuming that the full number of six councillors were elected from its inhabitants (a circumstance most unlikely considering  Pg.05 the smallness of the town as compared with the remainder of the district forming the western division of the Borough), the same objection would prevail, the proportion of voters in the proposed Local Board of Health,—exclusive of the Mayor and Aldermen—being 12 to 6. That if the Public Health Act be applied to St. Leonards, the interests of its inhabitants will not therefore be so well protected as they are at present. Your memorialists, with hardly one exception, being deeply interested in promoting their prosperity, and having each of them a considerable amount of property at stake in the town, and it not being for one moment capable of supposition that the Town Council of the borough would be influenced by a similar desire to watch over the welfare of St. Leonards. That by the St. Leonards Local Act, certain “rates, assessments, tolls, duties and impositions are authorised to be made, raised and collected”; and your memorialists are thereby empowered to borrow and take up at interest any sum or sums of money not exceeding in the whole the sum of £16,000; and by writing or writings under the hands and seals of any seven or more of your memorialists to mortgage or assign the said consolidated rates, &c., as the case may be, or any part or parts thereof to the person who shall advance money thereon, as security. That under such powers, various sums of money, amounting, in the aggregate to £13,300, have been borrowed, and the debt so incurred is still a charge on such rates. That if the St. Leonards Local Act be repealed by means of the Public Health Act, the mortgages or securities given will be invalidated. That the provisions of the Public health Act St. Leonards Local Act are amply sufficient for all sanitary purposes of the Public Health Act within the limits and jurisdiction of St. Leonards. Your memorialists, therefore protest against the injustice of the proposed application of the Public Health Act to St. Leonards.”—Signed W. W. Burton, clerk to the Commissioners.

The committee further reported that having observed the sea’s encroachment near the west end of the town caused by the bank of earth deposited by the railway contractors on the beach, which had already been the means of an overflow into the haven, against which, and to preserve the hutch, the Commissioners of Levels had commenced putting down a groyne, the committee considered it to be urgent to protect the shore to the eastward, and had consulted Mr. Major Vidler, under whose advice Nos. 3 to 5 groynes were put up. It was then decided to advertise for tenders for a groyne nearly opposite to 102 Marina. The tenders were those of Jas. Hutchinson, jun., £126 10s.; John Carey £99 10s.; W. Winter, £96; and Richard Selden, £94 10s. The last-named tender being sent in too late, and irregularly accepted, the commissioners agreed to pay him £8 out of their own pockets, and to advertise for fresh tenders.—A rate at 1s. and 6d. respectively, was ordered as usual. It was next resolved to adopt the following memorial, to the General Board of Health:—

“The humble memorial of the Commissioners for the Improvement of St. Leonards, sheweth that your memorialists have taken into consideration the report of Mr. Cresey[1] on the sanitary condition of the Town and Port of Hastings, recommending that the Public Health Act (11 & 12 Vic. Cap. 63) should be at once applied to the entire borough, including St. Leonards, by which the corporation will be the Local Board of Health; that there are many errors in the Report, calculated to injure the town of St. Leonards, and such as to induce your honourable Board to believe that the Public Health Act is properly applicable thereto, inter alia.— The limits of the said town are so indistinctly defined, and districts within the said town so blended therewith that many statements in the report apparently applying to the inefficient sewage, drainage and supply of water; and the sanitary condition of the inhabitants thereof, have, in reality nothing whatever to do with the said town, but relate to a district eastward of the archway forming the eastward boundary thereof. That the correct limits of said town are set forth at page 18 of Mr. Cresy’s report, and are delineated in the plan annexed thereto and distinguished thereon by dotted lines; and to which plan your memorialists crave leave more particularly to refer. That by reference to such plan it will appear that the town of St. Leonards reaches more than half a mile along the sea-beach, from which the ground rises rapidly to the north or upper part of the town; that it possesses great natural advantages for draining, and that it is situate 1½ miles westward of the town of Hastings. That the proposed drainage of the populous district forming the East Ward of the borough by means of a sewer, to be carried through and to terminate westward of St. Leonards, and the proposed manufacture of the sewage water to be collected by such sewer at such western termination into solid manure will be injurious to the health and comfort of the inhabitants and visitors, in as much as the only level carriage-drive into the country is westward of the town, and that the W. and S.W. winds prevail on this part of the coast for three-quarters of the year. That your memorialists are fully aware of the advantages that would be gained in many places by the collection of sewage water, but they are entirely convinced that in this case the nuisance and inconvenience to invalids and others would very greatly counterbalance any profit likely to accrue by the sale of such manure. That the contents of all houses may be discharged into the sea without any of the evils referred to by your Inspector by the adoption of the reservoir plan patented by Mr. Page, C.E. That the proposed union of the two towns for the sanitary improvement of Hastings being therefore unnecessary, will manifestly be most unjust. That St. Leonards is of recent formation and consists chiefly of first-class houses in wide, airy streets, built on one uniform plan, with well-constructed sewers, and a sufficient water supply; whereas the town of Hastings is of great antiquity, and where, according to your Inspector’s Report a great proportion of houses are of an inferior class, many of them having cesspools only—many having no supply of water, some having no drains whatever, and many of the streets without cover sewers. That it will be most unjust to throw a portion of the expense of improving the drainage and water supply of Hastings or of the intermediate district of the two towns, which has no local Improvement Act upon the owners and occupiers of property within the town of St. Leonards. That by the Municipal Corporation Act the borough of Hastings is divided into two wards, viz., All Saints and St. Leonards. That All Saints ward comprises the parishes of All Saints, St. Clements, part of St. Mary-in-the-Castle, and part of Ore. That St. Leonards ward comprises the parishes of St. Andrew’s, Holy Trinity, St. Michael, St. Mary Magdalen; part of St. Leonards and St. Mary Bulverhithe (sic). That All Saints ward returns 12 Councillors, and St. Leonards only six. That the town of St. Leonards is situate partly within the parish of St. Leonards and partly in St. Mary Magdalen; is wholly within the borough of Hastings, but is, in fact, only a fractional part of the area of the St. Leonards ward or western division of the borough. That new houses being continually erected in the district lying between the two towns, the owners or occupiers whereof would be eligible as councillors for the said ward, the town of St. Leonards would not be fairly represented at the proposed Local Board of Health; and that even assuming that the full number of six councillors were elected from its inhabitants (a circumstance most unlikely considering the smallness of the town as compared with the remainder of the district forming the western division of the Borough), the same objection would prevail, the proportion of voters in the proposed Local Board of Health,—exclusive of the Mayor and Aldermen—being 12 to 6. That if the Public Health Act be applied to St. Leonards, the interests of its inhabitants will not therefore be so well protected as they are at present. Your memorialists, with hardly one exception, being deeply interested in promoting their prosperity, and having each of them a considerable amount of property at stake in the town, and it not being for one moment capable of supposition that the Town Council of the borough would be influenced by a similar desire to watch over the welfare of St. Leonards. That by the St. Leonards Local Act, certain “rates, assessments, tolls, duties and impositions are authorised to be made, raised and collected”; and your memorialists are thereby empowered to borrow and take up at interest any sum or sums of money not exceeding in the whole the sum of £16,000; and by writing or writings under the hands and seals of any seven or more of your memorialists to mortgage or assign the said consolidated rates, &c., as the case may be, or any part or parts thereof to the person who shall advance money thereon, as security. That under such powers, various sums of money, amounting, in the aggregate to £13,300, have been borrowed, and the debt so incurred is still a charge on such rates. That if the St. Leonards Local Act be repealed by means of the Public Health Act, the mortgages or securities given will be invalidated. That the provisions of the the Public Health Act St. Leonards Local Act are amply sufficient for all sanitary purposes of the Public Health Act within the limits and jurisdiction of St. Leonards. Your memorialists, therefore protest against the injustice of the proposed application of the Public Health Act to St. Leonards.”—Signed W. W. Burton, clerk to the Commissioners.

St. Leonards Commissioners v. S.E. Railway Company 1850[edit]

Considerable correspondence took place in December, 1850, and continued during January, 1851, between the St. Leonards Commissioner and the Hastings, Rye and Ashford Railway Company, the former seeking compensation for alleged damage to the parade wall by an inrush of the sea consequent on the deposit on the beach of a large quantity of earth, forming a high bank at Bopeep. The railway company would not admit their liability, their engineer, Capt. R. H. Barlow, stating that there was no proof that such deposit was the cause of the damage; that such an inundation had occurred before, time out of mind; and that people had been allowed to carry away the beach, the natural protection, also time out of mind; that the diverting the deposit to another place, about  Pg.06 the time the damage was done was merely a coincidence, it being so diverted because it was more convenient, and not because the Company considered that harm would be done. Counsel’s opinion was, however, obtained by the Commissioners, which was strongly in favour of an action lying either against the Company or the contractors, but not undertaking to say which.

Mr. Major Vidler’s opinion was also that the said bank of earth had caused the damage, and he recommended the Commissioners to employ Mr. Elliott, of Dimchurch (sic) (Surveyor of Romney Marsh) to act as their surveyor at a proposed meeting with Capt. Barlow. This was done, and Mr. Elliott afterwards expressed his opinion in the following letter:—

“There can be no doubt that the damage was caused by the throwing out, at some small distance to the westward, of a large bank of earth brought from the works of the Hastings and Ashford Railway. The effect of this, which acted as a groyne on a large scale, would be to stop the natural progression of the shingle eastward, and it would then follow that deeper water and a stronger eddy would be created on the east side of the bank of earth. The result of all this, combined, would be precisely what has occurred at the spot referred to. By what right—legal or illegal—the Company deposited the earth I have nothing to do with; I can only speak as to the fact; and that this bank caused the damage there can be no reasonable doubt. The question now is—What is to be done so as to give security and confidence to the owners or occupiers of property? My opinion is that as the earth bank has now considerably worn away, and released a large body of beach that had been accumulating westward, a groyne is unnecessary, as the shingle will continue to increase at the spot most wanted; and at the best, a groyne would do but little beyond preventing matters getting worse than they now are, and would not restore the esplanade which has to some extent been carried away. Without such restoration it is probable that every extreme tide will continue to encroach on the highway, even though there should be the usual quantity of shingle below. I should rather recommend the construction of an inexpensive sea-wall, which, I think, would answer every purpose at this point for many years. This, built of concrete, and faced with small hard stone, would not cost, probably, more than £400, the whole of which, it might be too much to ask the Railway Co. to pay; but as the necessity for the outlay has arisen and great positive damage occurred from—to say the least—by an oversight of  Pg.07 theirs, I do think they ought to bear the larger portion of it. I would recommend you to bring all the influence you can to bear on the Commissioners of Sewers to induce them to keep the new groyne they have erected eastward of the Sluice as low as possible. My opinion is that this groyne is now to a great extent unnecessary.”“John Elliott, jun.”

By appointment, Mr. Elliott met Capt. Barlow, and after the conference he wrote as follows:—“It rests with the Commissioners as to what evidence they can bring to refute Capt. Barlow’s objections, but I shall be prepared at any time to prove to the utmost of my power the truth of the conclusions to which I have come. I have had too much experience in such matters, and am too well aware of the action of the sea under such circumstances to be easily driven from the position I have taken: but it must rest with the Commissioners as to the evidence they can bring to support my views.”

The clerk having laid before the Commissioners so much as could be adduced, it was resolved at their next meeting “That under the circumstances, the Clerk be authorised to make such arrangement with the Company as he may consider advisable to bring the matter to an amicable settlement.”

Parochial Matters 1850[edit]

Parochial Matters — St. Leonards[edit]

A Vestry Meeting was held at the Railway Terminus Inn on February 13th, when, there were present C. M. Thorpe, Robert Deudney, Rich’d Lamb, John Bray, and W. Payne, jun. The only business transacted was to appoint as constables, Wm. Gower, Joe Bird, Jesse Marchant and Rich’d Catt.

At the meeting on the 28th of March, the persons named for overseers were Wm. Payne, Rich’d Lamb, F. R. Gausden and John Bray. The election of Surveyors of Highways fell to R. Deudney and Edward Farncomb. The assessors were W. Noon and N. Parks. Mr. John Phillips was Vestry-Clerk.

At a meeting on the 5th of April, a borough rate of 3¼d was agreed to. It was also resolved that Mr. S. Putland be rated at £10 a year for his timber-yard on the beach opposite the Fountain Inn; that Newton Parks be rated £18 for his slaughter-house and yard; and that Wm. Kirby be assessed at £12 for his cottage and garden. — At the meeting on Oct. 3rd, after making a poor-rate at 3d. and a highway-rate at 4d., the new houses on the Marina were assessed as follows:—

No72 £110 as £88 No 116 £30 as £24
Nos 73 to 76 £100 as £80 Sussex House £150 as £120
No 77 £120 as £96 Railway £120 as £120 net

 Pg.08 At a November meeting the two overseers and one other person only were present, who decided to levy a borough-rate at 3½d and a county rate at 4d.

Magdalen Parish[edit]

The first vestry meeting in 1850 was at the Warrior’s Gate Inn on the 4th of April. There were 14 persons present with R. Deudney in the chair. The persons named for selection of overseers were Jas. Smith, Jas. Nocholas, Fred. Tree, John Wellsted and Sam. Woodgate. The Surveyors of Highways were Hy Tree and Hy Hughes. The Collector of the highway rate was Jas. Everett. — On the 17th of the same month the accounts produced showed £24 due to the Surveyors (Voysey and Roberts) and £17 7s. uncollected of the 1849 rate. — A meeting on May 9th was held at the Horse-and-Groom when it was resolved to expend a small sum from the highway rate to put into a better state the road disturbed by Mr. Clark in laying down water mains — a work that it would be reasonable to suppose Mr. Clark should have done at his own cost. A borough rate at 2d. was passed, and an order made for the parish boundary to be walked on the 16th of May, commencing at the St. Leonards Hotel. — On the 11th of July the meeting was again held at the Warrior’s Gate, attended by only four persons, who passed a poor rate at 4d. in the pound. — The next and last meeting for the year was at the Anchor Inn, where seven parishioners passed a poor rate at 4d. in the pound. Much would it add to the source of contentment if the ratepayers of half a century later could get off so lightly. — At one of the meetings Mr. Metcalf complained of the dusty state of the roads, and regretted that so large and influential a parish should allow visitors and others to be thus incommoded. He was told, however, by Messrs. Austin and Eldridge that the surveyors could not legally apply the rates for watering the roads except for the purpose of preserving them. Counsel’s opinion had been taken, in which it was stated that there was no other means but for those who wanted the roads regularly watered to pay for it.

Wesleyan Items[edit]

On the 8th January two elegant discourses were given by the Rev. Dr. Joseph, of London, to large audiences in aid of a fund for erecting a new gallery for the Norman road Chapel. The services for this purpose were continued on the 13th of the same month, when sermons were preached by the Revs. S. Coley and H. W. Williams. The financial result of these efforts was a collection of about £30. — On the 27th of January the Rev. W. Barton, of Brighton, preached in the St. Leonards Chapel the anniversary sermons in aid of the Wesleyan Missions, and a meeting was held on the following evening, presided over by Mr. S. Symonds, a  Pg.09 gentleman from Madras. There was a full attendance, and the collection was said to be above average. — The Good Friday anniversary services were conducted by the Rev. J. Hollis, from Margate, and the Rev. W. Close. — On Whit-Monday, an annual treat was given to the Sunday-school children, who to the number of 180 (including those of the Bopeep branch) assembled for the purpose, after which 100 teachers and other persons took tea together.

Mechanics’ Institution, 1850[edit]

The Mechanics’ Institution[edit]

To a full audience in the rooms of the society, a lecture on “Sleep, its Nature and Effects” was given by T. B. Brett, on the 16th of January. In its report of the same the Hastings News said — “The subject was treated in a lucid and philosophical manner, and a great deal of valuable matter was produced which must have cost the lecturer a vast amount of labour to collect.”

On the 23rd of January Mr. William Ransom delivered to members of the same Institution an interesting lecture on “”The Nature and Influences of Superstition.”

On the 29th of January, Mr. Brett delivered his second lecture on “Sleep” to a numerous and attentive audience. He considered the nature of trances and adduced (said the Hastings News) some valuable information on the subject. The lecture was received with applause, and a third lecture was announced for the 13th of February. Mr. Chamberlain, jun., presided on each occasion, and at the conclusion of the series, whilst proposing a vote of thanks to the lecturer, expressed surprise at the comparatively small amount of sleep which (by a tabulated record of two years there produced) Mr. Brett had found to be sufficient. The Chairman also expressed his belief that the lecturer, although perhaps unconscious of it, possessed the power requisite for a mesmerist. As Mr. Chamberlain was himself an adept at Mesmerism, and solicited a trial of his powers on Mr. Brett after the close of the lecture, the experiment was made and continued for an hour, without the slightest effect, although no resistance was offered. “This,” said the Mesmerist, “quite confirms me in my belief". Thus armed with a sufficient amount of confidence, on getting home, the subject of the operation became himself the operator on two persons, with but little difficulty. This newly discovered (and later exercised) power might be profitably enlarged upon, but it must be at another place.

The talented Mrs. Balfour lectured for the same Institution on the 13th of March, her theme being “Perseverance in Relation to Self-Education". Her hearers were numerous and  Pg.10 enthusiastic. — A week later, Mr. Chamberlain gave a lecture to a crowded room on “Phrenology”, a subject which he had well studied under Professor Donovan.

At a quarterly meeting of the Institution on the 8th of Aug., the Committee’s report showed the number of members to be 201, and that, in round numbers, the receipts were £22, as against £16 disbursements.

On the 29th of October the second annual soiree of the society was held in the Assembly Rooms. Mr. Chamberlain presided, and 255 persons were present. The tea, music, addresses, and other features of this intellectual feast, were completely successful, the details of which are given in a separate “History of the St. Leonards Mechanic’s Institution”.

St. Leonards Church — Baptisms, Marriages, &c, 1850[edit]

This church, which, by Act of Parliament, was erected for the two parishes of St. Leonards and St. Mary Magdalen, registered during the three years which ended with 1849, the number of baptisms 225 and of burials, 141, apportioned as under: —

1847 Baptisms 71 Burials 30 Excess of births 41
1848 Baptisms 79 Burials 37 Excess of births 42
1849 Baptisms 75 Burials 74 Excess of births 1
225 141 84

Of the 74 burials in 1849 there were 32 of strangers, so that, probably, the excess of births over deaths was considerably greater than the figures represent. During that period the Rev. G. D. St. Quintin was the Incumbent or Perpetual Curate, with assistant curates G. W. Phipps, C. W. Blathwaite, A. F. Pedigrew, H. C. Carter-Smith, T. A. Sprowle, E. Rudge and J. F. Pizey. The subordinate clericals did not, of course, all officiate at one time.

On the 11th of March, the Revs. G. D. St. Quintin, T. A. Sprowle and H. C. Carter-Smith attended, with clergymen from Hastings, a Church-Missionary meeting in the Assembly Rooms, presided over by Earl Waldegrave. — Mr. St. Quintin was also the officiating clergyman at a marriage in high life, which took place at the St. Leonards Church on the 9th of April. The bride was Helena, eldest daughter of William Bosanquet, of London, and the bridegroom was Mr. Robert Meade, son of the Rev. Percé Meade, of Ireland, and nephew of the Dowager Lady Howden; also cousin to Lord Howden, Lord Clanwilliam and Viscount Brabazon. The bridesmaids were Miss C. Bosanquet, Miss Meade, Miss A. Meade and Miss Percy. Among the wedding party were the Dowager Lady Howden, the Hon. General and Mrs. Meade, Earl Clanwilliam, Viscount Brabazon, Sir Godfrey and Lady Webster, Capt. Meade, and Mrs. R. Shafto Adair.

All Souls Convent — Prosetylism, &c. 1850[edit]

 Pg.11 At the church of All Souls, the Rev. C. Garside (curate of Margaret Street Chapel, London), the Rev. C. Cavendish (rector of Little Casterton, Rutland) & the Hon. C. Pakenham (Capt. of the Grenadier Guards), were received into the Roman Catholic Faith; the first gentleman by the Rev. Dr. F. Melia, and the other two by the Rt. Rev. Dr. Wiseman. — Birds of a feather flock together; so these three Charlies all went together.

The conversion or perversion — as differently viewed at All Souls is a reminder that the Rev. Jones, the founder of the Convent, died rather suddenly at about 9 a.m. on Thursday, the 27th day of February. He had long laboured under an affection of the heart, and had been more than usually indisposed for a few days before his death. He proceeded, however, to his duties as usual, but was seized with a fainting fit, which, in about half an hour, proved fatal. He had been always kind to the poor, irrespective of their religious profession, and was greatly respected by the inhabitants. At his interment high mass was celebrated, and a sermon was preached by Dr. Wiseman.

Some other Deaths[edit]

Twenty days after the death of the Rev. John Jones, it was announced that Sir Thomas Marrable had died at his official residence in London. His Out-of-Town residence was at 34 Marina, St. Leonards, which he and his family had occupied for several years; hence the record here of his demise. Sir Thomas had been connected with the Royal Household for 34 years. He filled the office of Secretary to the Board of Green Cloth in the Lord Steward’s department, and had been previously in the Privy Purse and Private Secretary’s department. He was knighted in 1840, after 34 years service, and, as a coincidence had a residence at St. Leonards in a house bearing the same number 34.

Another St. Leonards resident also died at his house in London, on the 2nd of June. This was Sir John Buchan, K.C.B., who, with Lady Buchan, had successively occupied 14 Undercliff, 19 Marina, and 5 Seymour Place. This distinguished officer was the second son of George Buchan, Esq., of Kelloe, Berwickshire, his mother being a daughter of Robt. Dundas, Esq., of Arniston, Edinburgh. Sir John entered the British service as a lieutenant in the Scottish Brigade in 1795, became a full colonel in 1819 and a lieutenant general in 1841. He saw much service and on all occasions displayed great courage and ability.

Accidents and Inquests 1850[edit]

On the 8th of January a labourer, named Francis Cook was seriously hurt by a fall of earth on the railway works; and, on the following day,  Pg.12 Edward Harris broke his collar-bone and was otherwise injured by a fall of earth which pressed him against a waggon-wheel. In the same week the coachman to Miss Mossip, of 9 Maze Hill, fractured a leg while riding a horse slowly past the Colonnade, where was a baker’s cart, at which the horse took fright and threw his rider. — On the 7th of February an inquest was held at the Warriors’ Gate Inn on Richard Gwyatt, aged 19, who had been fatally jammed between two waggons in the railway tunnel. The result of the enquiry was “Accidental Death”. — On the second of February there was a slip of earth in the St. Leonards tunnel just before the workmen commenced operations, consequently no one was hurt; but, in the same tunnel, three days later, a labourer had one leg broken by being run over by a waggon. — On the 22nd of March a pair-horse fly, owned by Mr. Emary, of the Castle Hotel, having been left a few minutes at the Bopeep station, the horses started off, and collided with a train of trucks that was being run across the road with earth from the tunnel to the beach. The horses were knocked down, the fly turned over and the harness broken. — On the 14th of May, a man was seriously injured in the tunnel by a collision of the contractor’s trucks. — On the 10th of June, Walter Friend, age 16 years, whilst driving Mr. How’s horse with a cart of coals, applied the whip, which caused the animal to start forward, when a wheel of the cart caught the lad’s leg, threw him down & broke a thigh-bone. — On the following day, two railway labourers, while passing a pond at the foot of the road west of the Catholic establishment, observed a child rise to the surface, to rescue which, one of the men plunged in and brought it out. It was all but suffocated, but by prompt exertions, was restored to life and to its mother. — Also, on the succeeding day, (the third day in succession) a railway man, while dozing by the side of a brick-kiln, fell into the fire, and was seriously burnt. — An inquest was held at the Warrior’s Gate Inn by J. G. Shorter, Esq., on June 15th, in consequence of a suspicion that the death of Rebecca, wife of James Hyland, of the “Black Horse” beer house, had been caused by blows from the husband while in a soberless condition. But, as the deceased had been attended by surgeon Gardiner, and the evidence was conflicting, “Death by natural means” was the verdict. — On the 30th July, a horse belonging to Mr. Bodkin, a sub-contractor of the railway, fell over the cliff, near the Fountain Inn at the West Marina, and was so badly injured that he had to be killed. — On the 1st of September, as Mr. Lindridge, organist at St. Mary’s, was returning in a chaise from Bexhill, with his mother, wife and child, he had to drive through a crowd of quarrelling and fighting navies, consequent upon which his horse took fright and dashed off at great speed. Getting into contact with a column at the Colonnade, the whole party was thrown out, and Mr. Lindridge  Pg.13 from injuries received, became insensible for several hours. — Also on the same first of September, another George — Mr. George Clement, whilst out shooting with a party of friends, received several shots in one of his legs from one of the guns which in the first aiming at a flight of birds went off all together. — About the same time a man named Ashdown, whilst sinking a well at St. Leonards, fell a distance of 40 feet, and though he was much shaken and bruised, no limbs were fractured. — On the 4th of October, some squibs let off in the public road so frightened a team of horses that one of them reared up and broke the shaft of a waggon and one of his own legs. The horse — a valuable one — had to be killed. — On the 21st of the same month, a fatal accident occurred in the railway tunnel to Wm. Clark, of Coggeshal (sic), Essex, 34 years of age, by the falling of the tail-board of a loaded waggon, thus letting him down, to be run over by the next waggon. — Four days later, another, but less serious accident occurred to a youth named Cripps, who fell down while cleaning bedroom windows at the South Colonnade. — [The numerous accidents at and near Hastings are described in the next chapter.]

Railway Progress. 1850[edit]

In the month of March, at the suit of a shareholder, the Rolls Court granted an injunction to restrain the South-Eastern Company paying any more dividends until so much of the line from Bopeep to Hastings as had been transferred from the Brighton, Lewes and Hastings Railway Company to the South-Eastern Company should be open for public traffic. This decision caused a fall in the price of shares, but quickened the work of construction between Ashford and Hastings.

On the 18th of June — a memorable day in military annals — 200 persons availed themselves of a cheap train from Bopeep to Portsmouth, to witness the celebration of the battle of Waterloo, including a review of the troops, and the inauguration of the statues of Wellington and Nelson. The excursion was for two days, and most of the Hastings excursionists — the present writer among the number — crossed over to the Isle of Wight there to seek Somnus for the intermediate night.

Two days later the same (South-Coast) Company trains brought nearly 1,000 persons from London to Hastings and St. Leonards.

On the same Company’s line in the same month (the exact day is not remembered) were conveyed 1,247 persons, in 37 carriages, drawn by two engines, to the Swiss Gardens at Shoreham. This excursion was got up by the Benefit Societies of Hastings.

Urged on to expedite the work on the South-Eastern line by the recent decision of the Rolls Court, the contractors were at this time employing 3,000 men, and only 200 yards of the St. Leonards tunnel remained to be bricked.

 Pg.14 Messrs. Newton and Smith, the contractors for the western portion of the S.E. Company’s line had arranged to issue tickets to their workmen instead of money, and to exchange them for cash with such tradesmen as received the tickets, on the understanding that five per cent. would be deducted when the exchange was made. By this arrangement the local tradesmen were protected from the competition of “Tommy shops” on the works, and the system appeared to be perfectly satisfactory. The present writer, who was then a draper and clothier in Norman road, received a great many pounds worth of such tickets, and one noticeable feature in his dealings with the navvies was the purchase by them of smart trimmed caps for their wives. To their credit, it may be said, that upon the whole, they displayed very good taste, and never objected to a reasonable price. The tickets were of different values and were ingeniously printed and signed; but on one occasion, some hundreds of the shilling tickets were counterfeited and got in to circulation. As soon as the fraud was detected, tradesmen were cautious against taking the forged tickets, and a fresh batch, with new devices, was issued. There was at the same time a number of spurious half-crowns and sovereigns in circulation. As regards the counterfeit tickets, if I remember rightly, the loss upon them was equally borne by the contractors and tradesmen. Messrs, Newton and Smith gained the respect of the inhabitants, as did also their secretary, Mr. Fisher, and their partner or sub-contractor, Mr. Munday. The after history of these gentlemen at St. Leonards and elsewhere is somewhat curious and instructive, and may find a place further on for description. Their contract proceeded, briskly, and by the middle of September the completed western entrance to the Hastings tunnel and eastern entrance to the St. Leonards tunnel as viewed from where is now the Gensing or Warrior-square station, were looked upon as creditable pieces of brickwork. A small shaft had been sunk through 30 feet of solid sand-rock; and, owing to the many springs that had been tapped in excavating the tunnels, the arched brickwork was to be lined with grooved galvanised iron to carry the water to the bottom, where a channel was made for its exit. The first permanent rail was laid in the St. Leonards tunnel on the 16th of October.


Whilst writing of the numerous springs that somewhat impeded the work in the tunnel, I am reminded that the intercepting or diverting them did not appear to affect the several wells in the Magdalen parish from which numerous families were supplied. Those, for instance in Lavatoria, Shepherd street, North street, Crystal square, Western road,  Pg.15 etc., did not appear to be deprived of their usual quantity; and whilst the cry for water at Hastings was daily increasing, with a falling-off in the supply of that necessary commodity, it was given out that the proprietors of the Eversfield waterworks intended to add to their reservoirs, one with a surface of seven acres and a depth of 50 feet. This, it was said, would have a sufficient area to supply not only St. Leonards eastward of the Archway, but also Hastings; each district with 50,000 gallons of pure filtered water daily. It was further stated that the supply from such a source would enable the Hastings Commissioners to reduce their water-rate by at least one-third of that which had been theretofore made. The Eversfield reservoirs were supplied by springs in the Newgate and Shornden Woods, and the water, which was said to be of excellent quality, was conveyed in 6-inch pipes through the lands belonging to the Countess of Waldegrave (who gave permission for the same), past St. Andrews terrace, across the Priory ground, to the St. Leonards Archway. Consumers were supplied to an elevation of 100 feet above the road, and stand-pipes had been connected with the main for purpose of watering the roads — a service which the different parishes had already availed themselves. The rate levied by the proprietors from Jan. 1st, 1850 was 6d. in the pound, which was one third lower than the rate at Hastings. At a meeting of the consumers it was resolved that a memorial should be presented to C. G. Eversfield, of Deane Park, stating the benefit that the enlarged supply would afford, and urging that the additional works might be completed as soon as possible. Further on it will be seen that Mr. Clark was the proprietor of the so-called Eversfield Waterworks, and that Mr. Eversfield was the lessor of the ground.

Storms and Tides 1850[edit]

The blizzard of wind and snow; with 14 degrees of frost, which at the close of last year scattered hay-ricks and corn-stacks, and was in other ways unpleasant in our own locality, wrought terrible havoc at Yarmouth — a place which for centuries had been familiar to Hastings fishermen. The spring tides, increased by tempestuous winds from the north-west, laid under water the towns of Yarmouth and Lowestoft, together with miles of adjacent country. Eleven vessels were driven onto the sands, and were partially wrecked.

On the 28th of January, the schooner “Perseverance”, of St. Leonards, while running for the harbour at Ramsgate, collided with the Pier-head, broke her anchor, and started several planks in her bow.

On the 9th of May, a water-spout passed over St. Leonards from west to east at about noon. It was apparently of great altitude, and had  Pg.16 the form of an inverted cone, the apex of which was near the earth. It had a rotary motion, and dissipated itself in a heavy shower, instead of a torrent or a deluge as was feared it might do.

On the night of June 26th, a heavy thunderstorm passed over St. Leonards and Hastings, during which what is popularly called a “fire-ball”, descended in a field near Bunger Hill, in the parish of Ore, where the ground was pierced to a considerable extent. Another thunderstorm occurred on the 27th of September, and the lightning which immediately preceded a deafening detonation, killed two sheep belonging to Mr. Edward Farncomb. Whether these were the sheep that, one morning, were taken to the railway station to be conveyed to the London market, this deponent sayeth not; but he doth aver that when Mr. Gilbert, the Goods-station clerk, asked in a jocular strain, the bearer of the said sheep if they died by the visitation of God, the reply of the man was — “I’m sure I don’t know, but they died in the night".

On the 6th and 7th of October a strong gale caused a very high sea, which swept the parades, both at St. Leonards and Hastings, whilst the large bank of beach at Bopeep was cut through, the sluice choked up, and the adjacent levels were flooded. At Yarmouth, too, a Hastings boat named “Betsy” lost all of her nets, ropes and other gear. The gale commenced on a Sunday, as did also a terrific gale on the 24th of November. During the later storm, notwithstanding that the tides were falling away from their maximum spring-tide run, the waves bounded over the parades in grand style, and once more broke down the wall in front of the new houses then building east of Warrior Square, to be called “Lossenham”. At that place the earth was scooped out even into the road outside of the parade railing.

A Scrap of Ancient History[edit]

The houses which were next to “Lossenham” were built for Mr. Woodford, and were called “Agincourt Terrace”, for the supposed reason that in an ancient chartery, in the British Museum, is preserved the following:

“Kyng Henry the Fyfte rayned Kyng of Yngland IX yere and more; and in the third yere of his reyne he wan Harfleur by a sege; and on the Friday in the fest of St. Cryspyn, and Cryspryngam erly in the mornyng, he dubbyd Sir Robert Woodford Knyght, and many odure at that Sege beyng present; and anon, aftr that same friday he faught manfully agens a 100,000 of frenchmen at Agincourt, and had the victory of them. And toke the Duke of Orlyaunce, and odur Dukes and grete Lordis of F’nce; and there was slayn of frenchmen yt day thirteen thowsand. And after, he wan ye cytie of Paryse, and mykill all F’nce. And he made his brodr Sir John the Duke of Bedford, Regent of all Fraunce. And after that at the IX yere of his Reygne, he passed to God Almighty, on whos soulle J’hu have m’cy. Amen.”[2]

Public Amusements[edit]

On Friday, the 18th of January, the annual Batchelors’ Ball took place in  Pg.17 the Assembly Rooms, and was regarded as the most splendid affair of the season. Upwards of 150 distinguished fashionables were present and dancing was kept up till the roseate morn broke forth, and chased away the festive night.

A week later, Robert Hollond, Esq., M.P., entertained a numerous party of nobility and gentry at his residence, “The Allegria”, where all was mirth and jollity, and where also dancing was kept up till the small hours of the morning.

On the 25th of September, a large and fashionable company assembled in the St. Leonards rooms to witness and to enjoy a performance by Richardson’s Rock and Steel Band. The inventor of these unique instruments of harmony and melody was highly complimented for his ingenuity.

On the 21st of December, the same rooms were engaged by the celebrated Distin Family, who gave a morning concert on their Sax-horns, the instrumental portions being relieved by a lady vocalist and pianoforte accompaniment.

Royal Visitors[edit]

The French Royal Family[edit]

Louis Phillipe and his family arrived at Chamberlain’s Victoria Hotel at 5 p.m. on the 22nd of May. The illustrious party consisted of the “Count and Countess de Neuilly” (ex-king and queen), the Queen of the Belgians, the Duke and Duchess de Nemours, the Count d’Eu, the Duke d’Allencon (sic), the Princess Margeurite, the Prince and Princess de Joinville, the Duke de Pentheeve, the Princess Francois, the Duke and Duchess d’Aumale, Prince de Condé, Gen. Chabannes, Gen. Dumas, Gen. Hendetot, the Duchess de Marnier, Dr. de Mussey, Madame de Vanderstatten, Col. Moerkerke, and the Countess de Montguyon. They alighted from the Bopeep (now West Marina) station, the approaches to which were lined with respectably dressed people, who saluted the Royal party. About a week later, the Duchess of Orleans, with the Count de Paris and the Duke de Chatres (sic), arrived at 65 Marina, where Mr. J. Hardwicke Braye was again in daily attendance as English tutor. Most of the Royal family were said to be improving in health since their arrival, except the ex-king, whose feebleness gave his family no permanently good hope. Visits of royal or distinguished persons were frequent, and among them were the Duke and Duchess of Saxe Cobourg and Gotha, the Duke de Montmorency, the Marchioness of Loban, and Lord John Russell. At a later date the health of the Count de Neuilly was said to be improving, and on June 17th the dinner party consisted of 41 persons, including the Duke de Broglie, M. Guizot, M. Duchatelle and M. Durmon. On the 22nd of June, the ex-royals having passed Wellington Place, where a man had been accidentally killed [See next chapter], one of the party went  Pg.18 into the “Pelham Arms”, whither the dead man had been taken, and left £5 from the ex-Queen to head a subscription for the young widow of the deceased. On the 3rd of June the Prince and Princess de Joinville and their younger children left St. Leonards for Scotland, whilst the Duchess d’Orleans was still occupying 65 Marina. At that time the health of Louis Phillipe was said to be still improving, he being able to take an airing twice a day in a Bath chair. — After many weeks residence at the Victoria Hotel, amongst much English sympathy and affection the royal party effected their departure, as arranged, on Thursday, the 8th of July. The Duchess d’Orleans and her two sons, however, remained at 65 Marina several weeks longer, finally leaving on the 16th of August.

The Queen’s St. Leonards Archers[edit]

This Society held its prize meetings as usual, and were more than once honoured by members of the French ex-royal family. The winners that year of the Royal Victoria prizes were Miss Bramley, Mr. W. G. Flood and Rev. J. Simpson. The winners of Her Majesty’s annual prize, gold bracelet and silver cup, given by the Society, were also Miss Bramley, and Mr. W. G. Flood. The winners of other prizes were, on July 20th, Miss Helen Wood, Miss Rander, and Capt. Davies; and on Sept. 14th, Miss Pearson and Mr. Day.

Atmospheric and other Phenomena[edit]

A brilliant arched aurora was observed in the north-west on the night of Feb 16th, consisting of luminous rays elevated a few degrees above the horizon, and presenting a beautiful appearance. On the following morning, soon after sunrise, a mock-sun appeared below the true sun and resembled the latter as though veiled by attenuated vapour.

On Saturday, June 15th, after a sharp shower of rain, a mass of dark vapour appeared over the channel, within a few degrees of the horizon; from which a mass of cloud depended four or more cones, each with an inverted apex. In a few minutes they became elongated, and a long waving column descended from each till it met a cone or mound rising from the sea, the surrounding water at the same time being much agitated. Ultimately, they were either dissipated or drawn up to the upper mass of vapour, the last phase of the phenomena giving place to heavy rain.

Demand for Cheaper Gas[edit]

Meeting of Gas Consumers[edit]

 Pg.19 On the 31st of January about 50 gas consumers met at the Saxon Hotel to consider the means of getting gas at a cheaper rate. Mr. C. Duke was voted to the chair. The first speaker was Mr. W. P. Beecham, who, in some lengthy remarks, said he hardly need tell the meeting that a good supply of gas in towns like our own was the best kind of police (sic), and that it was to the corporate body what the loaf was to the natural body. At the same time it was one of those articles which it was the duty of the consumer to obtain as good and as cheaply as possible. This view, he believed, induced a gentleman who was then with them, as secretary, pro tem (Mr. S. A. Bacon), to commence the present movement. Although bacon was only part of an animal, yet he might possibly go the whole hog [Laughter]. Since the meeting was announced a little change had taken place, which had some reference to the other side of the question. He alluded to the offer of a reduction in 1851. The notice contained no signature, yet, as it has not been denied, by any of the Company, they were bound to assume that it had come from that body. The question now would be should they accept the offer of 2/- a thousand feet reduction in 1851, or should they attempt to get something better?

Mr. Bacon, in some able remarks, proposed “That in the opinion of this meeting, gas can be supplied for the lighting of the borough at a charge not exceeding 5/- per 1,000 cubic feet, after allowing a fair percentage to the shareholders”. The chairman put the motion, and produced statistics to show that where Gas Companies had reduced the price, they had increased their profits.

Mr. Putland moved “That the most beneficial system is that the consumers of gas should be the manufacturers of it, but that it is not the object of this meeting to interfere with the existing Company, provided they will supply gas at about the price at which it could be obtained by the formation of a Consumers’ Company”.

Other resolutions were carried, the most important one being “That this meeting having seen that bills, assumed to be publicly posted by authority of the Gas Company, stating their intention to reduce the price of gas to 6/- per 1,000 feet from the 1st of January 1851, entertain the hope that an amicable arrangement may be made, not doubting that the present company will consent to an immediate reduction, with an understanding that further reductions will be made from time to time, as circumstances may arise, to keep pace with the price at which it shall be ascertained that gas can then be fairly supplied”. A deputation was then appointed to wait on the Gas Company. [See next chapter for reply, etc.]

Miscellaneous Occurrences 1850[edit]

At night, on the 28th of January a desperate poaching affray took place on the grounds of Sir Charles Lamb, at Beauport, between Henry  Pg.20 Sims (head keeper), T. Stubberfield (under-keeper), and Eldridge (a watcher), on one side, and “Turf” Highland (of St. Leonards), Frank Coote (of Spittleman’s Down), and William Smith (of Bohemia) on the other side. Blows with the butt ends of guns were given by both parties, and severe injuries were inflicted. The poachers, however, were secured, and committed for trial.

At a hop-sweepstakes dinner, presided over by Mr. R. Deudney, thirty persons were present. On opening the box, one person had set the duty as high as £195,000, but the three nearest were £78,000 15s. by William Walter, £78,000 by Fredk. R. Gausden, and £83,000 by C. H. Gausden. The actual duty was £79, 7s. 1d. (sic, should be £79,000 7s. 1d.). Apropos of hops, a fine hop, rising 38 feet from the ground, was seen during the autumn in front of Mr. Ross’s house, No. 1 Claremont.

Mr. Groslobb having effected great improvement in his ground at the West Hill, re-opened his chalybeate spa on the 22nd of April; and on Whit-Tuesday, Brett’s St. Leonards Band was engaged to play on the lawn, thus forming an additional attraction to visitors.

On the 24th of October, a running-match took place, between Albert Parks, butcher, and a footman named Barnes. The stakes were £2, the race ground was the parade, and the distance was 100 yards. On this occasion the footman “leg’d” behind and the knight of the cleaver proved to be the best footman.

Up to this time £2,508 had been given or promised for the proposed new church of St. Mary Magdalen.

Chapter XLIV Hastings 1850[edit]

Transcriber’s note[edit]

This is a verbatim transcription of Brett’s work, which comprised both manuscript and typescript cuttings, and therefore reproduces Brett’s variations in style, capitalisation, punctuation and spelling. Where possible, personal names have been checked against the 1851 census, parish records and the Central Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths. Any footnotes have been inserted by the transcriber when this has been thought to be useful. Readers should be aware that Brett’s narrative was written some forty to fifty years after these events and his memory has occasionally been found to be at fault by later historians.


The Hastings Commissioners — Town Council doings — Agitation for cheaper gas — Charity Trusts — Priory Culvert — Money in Chancery — Removal of rocks — Grand banquet to the Lord Mayor of London — Condolence to Lady Peel — Mr. Cressy’s[1] report on the sanitary condition of the borough — Municipal elections — The Burgesses in a fix — Civic festivals — The Regatta — Hastings and the Great Exhibition — Gas consumers v the Gas Company — Railway matters — The Road Coach — Commencement of Robertson street, etc. — Marine casualties and curiosities — Accidents and Incidents — Terrible fall from the cliff — “Robinson Crusoe Caves” — Proposed baths and wash houses — Music hath charms — “The Church a robber” — Bank robbery — Shipping — 16,200 old pennies saved — Dinners, teas and treats — Union-house rarities — Forgery of £5 notes, etc., etc.

The Hastings Commissioners[edit]

Having viewed the proceedings of the St. Leonards Commissioners during 1850, I will now summarise the transactions of the Hastings Commissioners during the same year.

Their first meeting was on the 7th of January, when John Goddard, Richard Martin and A. Thorpe, newly elected members qualified as such.

On a complaint that there were too many fly-stands in front of York Buildings, it was ordered that the number be reduced from 8 to 5. No answer had been received from any of the parties concerned as to whether they would contribute to the expense of lowering the Priory culvert for drainage purposes. Also no reply had come from the Railway Company nor from the Woods and Forests. The joint owners of the Priory farm (Lady Waldegrave and Earl Cornwallis) wanted more information thereupon.

Mr. Paine was desirous of seeing the town properly drained. He thanked the committee for having bestowed so much time and labour on the plans and estimates, but there must have been some great error in their calculations. The proposed main drain, 1,610 yards, was less than a mile, for which the estimate was £2,300.

Also at a special meeting on Jan. 21st., after Mr. E. Bowmer had qualified, Mr. W. J. Gant’s offer of a survey and plans of the town was accepted.

 Pg.21 In a town similar to Hastings, he found that 7 miles of main drainage had been laid down for £5,000; so that their own estimate was too high. They should be very cautious in spending such a sum of money on work which, after all, the Board of Health might not approve. On a late occasion a gentleman offered to prepare a plan, showing every drain in the town, every house that had water on and every house with proper sanitary arrangements for 100 guineas, and that gentleman [Mr. Gant] was still willing to undertake it. He would therefore move "that before any further steps be taken, the town be properly surveyed."

Mr. Harman had every confidence in the committee’s capability, notwithstanding that it had been said that the Commissioners sat from time to time without doing any good for the borough. He contended that there never was a question introduced that did not receive due consideration. He, however, approved of Mr. Paine’s; motion, and believed if they could get the town properly surveyed for a hundred guineas it would be money well spent.

Mr. Vidler presumed that both the surveyor and the committee knew how to take levels, knew the quantities in a certain space, and the price of brick-work and digging; and it was on this knowledge that they prepared their estimate.

Mr. Shirley opposed the estimate as being extravagant, and hoped to see the town drained at less cost.

Mr. Womersley would support Paine’s motion, and had no doubt that Mr. Gant would do the surveying as Government would require. — Motion carried unanimously.

The office of coal meter having become vacant by the death of David Brazier, four candidates were proposed, when the votes were 28 for George Brazier (the deceased‘s brother), 25 for Robert Plane, 10 for Robert Hinkley, and 1 for William Wellerd.

Mr. Gant arrived at Hastings, agreeably to the appointment of the Commissioners, for the purpose of surveying the town, and on the 4th of February, the Commissioners at their meeting received a letter from the Woods and Forests Commissioners respecting a contribution for lowering the Priory culvert, which stated that the Crown Lands adjoining the culvert had been let on a lease of 99 years.

A communication was also received from Mr. C. F. Mott that he rejected the application to set back the fence of a house in York Buildings occupied by Mr. Womersley.

At their meeting on the 4th of March the Commissioners accepted Mr. Howell's tender of £81 9s. 6d. for building a six-stall stable at the Ash-yard; the higher tenders for the same ranging from £89 to £120.

The dedication of Russell street and Bedford place was the next business, Mr. W. B. Young on behalf of the owners and occupiers having applied to have them taken over.

Mr. H. Beck, in support of the application, said he had lived in Russell street 33 years [since I817, about the time when the houses were built, the bricks for which were made on the spot under the superintendence of Mr. Beck's father], and he had regularly paid rates during that time. In the preceding year the committee recommended the request to be complied with on payment of £114 — two-thirds of the estimated cost of repairs, but that was rejected. Then it was thought that the Railway would have done something in the matter. Since then the proprietors had effected some sanitary improvements.

Mr. Vidler referred to the heavy pressure of the rates. He thought Mr. Beck had been in his house quite long enough. It was all very well for Mark Breeds to build his houses below the level of the sea, and then when floods arose for subsequent owners to want the Commissioners to put the place to rights. The property would prove very troublesome, for even when there came a shower of rain there would be someone running after the surveyor with, "Oh! I there's all my furniture floating about!"

Mr. Paine thought the cost of the late improvements should be deducted, and that the roads should be taken over on payment to the Commissioners of £50. This was agreed to.

It was thought at the time that road between Russell street and the lower range of Wellington square was included, but such was not the case, and it was more particularly this narrow thoroughfare — a receptacle of ashes and other refuse — that probably induced Mr. Cressy[1], a Government Inspector, to libel the town as one of the worst he had ever been into. Certainly it was very different 45 years ago to what it is in the present day, yet even at the former period it could show a remarkably clean bill of health. Those of our townspeople who remember the unsightly premises on the meadow side of Russell street, and now view the locatity with its Recreation Ground, its Municipal Buildings, its Gaiety Theatre and its handsome shops must be ready to exclaim "What a metamorphosis is here!”

The Committee, at the meeting on April 1st having recommended £63 to be spent for better lighting the town, Anthony Harvey objected, saying that the Commissioners were already £400 in debt, and a bill of £165 for paving being then presented, it was most imprudent to incur further expenses. But Henry Beck, who was chairman, denounced the Commissioners’ conduct as being "abominably stingy". To this, Harvey replied that if they were so unwise as to let their expenses exceed their income, they must borrow money to make up the deficiency, and he hoped it would be a lesson to them, for if they continued in that course, they would have to obtain a fresh Act to increase their borrowing powers.

The next business was to appoint a committee to consider the application of Richard Styles, for straightening the road [originally known as the Chalk road], leading down to the sea, as he was about to build at the corner of Wellington place. [I am reminded that there was a sad fatality in connection with the said building, but more of this anon.]

Of the transactions of the Commissioners at their June meeting I have no account, but the Hastings News comes to my assistance with the following article in its issue of July 8th: —

"We have heard of throwing away a sprat to catch a herring; of a Chancellor of the Exchequer disposing of a surplus revenue by so adjusting a graduated tax as to make it yield more; of an Irishman trying to lengthen his blanket by cutting a piece off the bottom and sewing it on the top. In short, we have heard of a variety of schemes in the shape of ways and means; but all these little stars are made to hide their diminished heads when compared with the brilliant experiment commenced in our local Commission on Monday night. The herring was there sacrificed to the sprat; and an inefficient revenue aided by a reduction in the income. It was resolved that as there was an apprehension that "as the St. Clement’s parish was paying off its debt rather too fast, the parishes of All Saints and St. Mary-in-the-Castle should have their half-yearly rating reduced by a penny in the pound". The insanity of this resolution will be evident when we consider that lately the three parishes have been rated up to the highest point allowed by law — namely, 4d. in the pound per half year; in despite of which the heavy expenses incurred by the recent improvements have sunk the Commission deeply in debt — a thousand pounds being overdrawn at the Bank! The point of support upon which the Archimedians of this new movement have placed their lever is this: some half century ago, when St. Clement comprised nearly the whole of Hastings, that parish got deeply in debt by its paving and other expenses. At the time when the present Local Act was obtained, St. Clement agreed to take a thousand pounds of its debt upon itself solely, in order to pay which it was to be rated a penny in the pound higher on the half-yearly rates than the two other parishes. The utmost rate to which any of the parishes could be rated was four pence. Under this arrangement things went on smoothly enough till lately, when the increased expenditure rendered it necessary for all the rates to be at a maximum. When those rates came in January last, the St. Clement's debt had been much reduced, and the only step taken for its further reduction since the fourpenny rate was levied has been an order for paying off of £50, which was made last month. Never-the-less, some of the Commissioners in All Saints and St. Mary’s appear to have been seized with a horrible apprehension that they were being taxed to pay off the St. Clement’s debt; so in order to remove that contingency and to satisfy their own minds of the impossibility of such benefit arising from their unworthy liberality, they have turned round, and resolved by cutting down the taxes in their own parishes, to plunge the whole Commission into a gulf of financial difficulties; plainly saying by their action that they would rather run the risk of swamping the whole Commission than by any possibility assist in removing the paltry residue of the St. Clement's debt. Thus a narrow parish feeling is allowed to prevail, to the injury of the town".

At the Commissioners’ meeting on the 1st of July, Dungate Thwaites was re-elected surveyor, and with an increase of salary from £75 to £100.

The Clerk said there was due a half year’s interest on the debt, which at 4 per cent. was £213. There were also sundry bills, including £65 for paving at Pelham place, amounting to over £188. They had overdrawn £1,000 at the Bank, which constituted a temporary loan at 5 per cent. Mr. Beck remarked that they could neither borrow money nor spend it with facility. They ought to follow the example of Brighton, who, the other day, had bought the Pavilion. Mr. Harvey differed, and said they had been going on too long upon a false principle, by supposing that they were richer than they were, when they were really poorer than they ought to be. He should like to see some alteration in collecting the coal duty, and he could not see why one part of the borough should be able to obtain coals at 3s. per chaldron less price than another part. If they had a new Act, he would like to see Holy Trinity and St. Michael's pariah included. They might even have St. Mary Magdalen and St. Leonards, although he knew those parishes would fight hard against it.

The next was a special meeting, held on the 10th of July, when Mr. Harman attacked the veracity of Mr. Cressy's[1] report, especially that portion which, as was shown at the Town Council’s meeting that morning, was altogether untrue. He would move that their own meeting be adjourned, and that a public meeting be called by the Mayor.

Dr. Mackness seconded the motion, remarking that Cressy's report was certainly erroneous in detail, but that the main facts were undisturbed.

The Surveyor being asked for his opinion, said Mr. Cressy estimated the cost of the main sewers at £5,000, whereas they could not be constructed for less than £8,800, which, added to the cost of branch drains, engine power and other items would amount to a sum of £12,960.

Mr. H. N. Wi1liams_addressed the meeting at considerable length, but being several times interrupted by Mr. Paine, retorted that he was rather glad of interruptions, because they would serve to put, the matter in its true light. He wished it to go forth by means of the Press that whereas Mr. Cressy denounced Hastings as being unhealthy, even the tables of mortality in his report proved the direct contrary. He proposed, in lieu of Harman's motion (then withdrawn), that a committee be formed to take such steps on Cressy's report as might be thought best. This was carried, and the following committee appointed: — H. N. Williams (wine merchant), C. Womersley (upholsterer), “Spike" Harman (tailor), J. Wrenn (brewer's manager), H. Beck (baker), A. Paine (reporter), H. Dunk (grocer), C. Duke (tailor) and J. Mackness (physician).

Notwithstanding Harman's withdrawn motion to memorialise the Mayor for a town's meeting, such meeting was convened, seven days later, and as the discussion at such gathering shows that the genera] feeling of the town was not so much against improved sanitation — howsoever costly — as against the Government Inspector’s exaggerated and damaging report, a summary of the arguments adduced is here given as a prelude to the Commissioners' next meeting.

At the said public meeting, Dr. Mackness expressed himself in favour of sanitary reform, as tending to the duration of life, and as the drainage of Hastings needed improvement, he moved that the introduction of the Health of Towns Act would an advantage.

Mr. Harman opposed the motion, and said they had nothing to do with Derby, Dover and Bradford, for whom the Doctor had pleaded so eloquently, with never a word for the poor working men of Hastings. As for the alleged bad condition of the town, he would remind Dr. Mackness that few years ago he wrote a pamphlet, in which he made out that Hastings was the most beautiful and healthful place imaginable. [Hear, hear, and laughter]. Had, then, our town grown worse during the last ten years? [No, no! A great deal better]. To be sure it had. Much attention had been paid to drainage, and, had it not been thwarted, a more comprehensive sanitary system would have been adopted. By the present proposal they were called upon to lay out forty or fifty thousand pounds, and to appoint a staff of officers at an expense, perhaps, of £500 per year, whom the Town Council might appoint, but whose acceptance and dismissal would rest with the central hoard. If the town wanted cleansing, the inhabitants could do it better and cheaper than any set of strangers. As to Cressy’s report, it went to show that Hastings people were the most pauperised and demoralised community in Europe; for it stated that the poor-rate last year amounted to £12,876, and the borough-rate to £3,468; thus making it appear that they were nearly all paupers, and required a large police force to keep them in order. Cressy had more than trebled their poor-rate, and had represented their borough-rate as £3,468, instead of £1,643. Mr. Harman pointed out other gross inaccuracies, and then moved as an amendment, that in the opinion of the meeting, Mr. Cressy’s report was calculated to do serious injury to the borough. Mr. Burton (of St. Leonards) and Mr. Harvey (of Hastings} also condemned the report, the latter speaker declaring it, amidst Hear, hears! be a libel upon the town. He therefore seconded the amendment.

Mr. H. N. Williams, in a speech of 40 minutes’ duration, went over the main points, both of the report and the Public-Health Act, condemning the former for its inaccuracies, and supporting the latter for its promised benefits. He combatted the assertion of the town's unhealthiness, and contended that during the last three years the death-rate had been considerably below the average of the United Kingdom, notwithstanding that for some time past the town and neighbourhood had been inundated by railway labourers, who indulged in every kind of dissipation. This speaker was greatly applauded, and the Mayor having put the motion and amendment to the vote as though they were independent motions, the latter, as censuring Cressy’s report, was carried by a majority of nearly 60, and the latter, as favouring the Bill, by 20.

At the adjourned special meeting of the Commissioners, on the 22nd of July, the committee appointed at the previous meeting, presented a long report, the chairman (Mr. Dunk) remarking that they had given the matter the closest attention. His own feeling was that as they had now reached the limit of their allowable expenditure, they must adopt some other means to carry out desirable improvements. Mr. Shirley, in moving that the report be received, said he thought we were so compromised by Mr. Cressy’s report, despite its errors, that the Health of Towns Bill must come sooner or later. He thanked his stars that he was not one of those who were the means of bringing Mr. Cressy here and supplied him with information so erroneous that could not fail to seriously harm the town. Mr. H. Winter, in moving that the committee’s report be adopted, said he had something to do with first mooting the sanitary subject, but had given Mr. Cressy no information, and had he seen his report before it was published, he would have corrected some of its errors. Last year's deaths from cholera were set down as 65, but the statistics of the registrar showed only 40. Dr. Mackness remarked that the registrar was not so good an authority as the doctor [Oh, oh!]. Mr. Edwards, in seconding Mr. Winter's motion, said if other towns improved their drainage, visitors would go there. Mr. N. Wingfield thought that despite the numerous errors in Cressy's report, we should let visitors see we were earnest for improvements. Mr. H. Williams, in some lengthy remarks [his speeches were always lengthy, but usually sound] said that the previous discussion had cleared the way for the real business of the evening, and he would at once move that in the opinion of the Commissioners the introduction of the Health of Towns Bill is desirable. He was certain that either that or some other bill was necessary for the acquisition of larger powers in the way of improvements imperatively demanded. They all knew the expense of Local Acts. It cost them £1,500 to get their last one. But here was a Bill of extensive provisions ready to their hands, and the question was whether there were any disadvantages formidable enough to counteract its many advantages. Although he was once opposed to the Bill, he confessed that it was because he did not know what it was like. It was said that under its provisions we should have to borrow £60,000, a sum represented as enormous; but which would not really he without a prospect of a proportionate income with which to pay it off. Suppose the drainage, estimated by Mr. Cressy at £5,000, should coat £6,000 with interest at 4 per cent. and a sinking fund at 2½ per cent., and reckoning £135 a year for repairs, such would make it 5s. a year to each house, and in 30 years there would be an end of both capital and interest. If landlords could add to the comfort of their poor tenants for about 1d. per week, he thought they ought to do it. Even some of the best houses had nuisances of which they ought to be rid. Then as to the increase of water supply, Mr. Cressy said it could be got for £5,000, but say £7,000; that would not be an expenditure without a return, as there would be an income of £1,000 a year from the improved supply. There was, however, one recommendation to which he was opposed — namely the erection of a house for tramps at a cost of £5,000, which he feared would he an encouragement to vagrants to visit the town. One other advantage was that the railways, coming under the provisions of the Bill, would contribute to the rates. He therefore moved that this meeting approve of the new Bill. Mr. H. Thwaites, in seconding, believed that the chief objection to the Bill had been through an idea that it would be  Pg.22 worked out by a irresponsible board. He would suggest that 500 copies of the committee's report be circulated to counteract the effect of Mr. Cressy's report. Mr. Williams, in reply to some objections, said it was wrong to suppose that the Board in London would have the appointing of officers; the local bodies were empowered by the Act to do that. In regard to the controlling body, the Town Council, it was a matter for deep regret that the election of persons to that body was too often made the batttlefield of politics [Hear. hear]. He hoped it would not in future be a question of Whig, Tory or Radical; but that of fitness for carrying out the important powers devolving on them [Cheers]. After further remarks, Mr. Williams concluded, amid loud cheers, and his motion was carried by 24 votes to 8.

Here is a proof that Mr. Horatio Nelson Williams - named after the hero of Trafalgar - had shot home in the most convincing manner, and that he, though regarded by Radicals as an unbending Tory, was in this, as in the Town-hall business, the Water-supply, and in many other public matters, a veritable reformer. He said, at the commencement of his long and practical address, of which I have given but a summary. that previous discussion had cleared the way for business, but it was himself who really cleared the way out of what was little better than a chaotic impasse; and it was he, as will be seen, when I review the proceedings of the Town Council, who practically initiated the Health of Towns Act. Talk of Williams being a Tory of the old school, who wanted things to go on as they hitherto had done; why, he was 40 years of time before some of his liberal opponents!

The August monthly meeting of the Hastings Commissioners was of a more routine character than that of the preceding meeting, and consequently less exciting. As touching the water supply, it was shewn that the receipts from the rate amounted to £821, such sum being £44 over the receipts of the preceding year. As regards the borrowing of money, capitalists did not appear to be much more enamoured with the Hastings Commissioners than they were with the kindred board of St. Leonards. The only response to the former's advertisement for the loan of a thousand pounds was that of Mr. Aubert’s, of Wellington square, at 5 per cent. interest. The question of fly-stands came up once more for discussion, in consequence of a complaint from Messrs. Lansdell, Shirley, Goldsmith, Noakes and Murray, owners of property in Breeds place and Castle street, that although there were stands in front of Breeds place for only four flys, there were frequently as many as 9 or 10 at that spot, the extra carriages having to stand on the beach, thus proving a nuisance in more ways than one. No remonstrance was sufficient to remove the additional carriages, the owners or drivers contending that the beach was not within the Commissioners' jurisdiction. In the discussion which ensued, Mr. Ginner said that to provide stands for all the licensed carriages (just the number that there were weeks in a year) would require the whole of the space from the town's western boundary at the lower end of York Buildings to Diplock’s Library in George street. The discussion ended with an order to the Clerk to inform the complainants that the Commissioners could not interfere with carriages on the beach.

At an adjourned meeting, a week later, it was resolved to accept the loan of a thousand pounds offered by John Daniel Aubert, Esq., at 5 per cent. on the security of the rates, tolls, &c. It was further resolved that £100 then lying in the Bank be paid over to any creditor who would receive it in discharge of such portion of the St. Clement's debt.

At their next monthly meeting, on Sept. 2nd, the Commissioners got a sort of quid pro from Mr. Lansdell, as a set-off against their inability to interfere with the flys in front of Breeds place. Mr. Lansdell had been requested to abate what was held to be a nuisance by lengthening the drain-pipes from his houses to the beach. He, however, refused to comply, but in such a manner as could not well be complained of. His objection, he said, was based on the consideration of the Health of Towns Bill being in the near prospect, and which would provide for a general drainage. At the same meeting, Mr. Styles applied for permission to place a pavement, 5 feet wide, with sundry gratings, from Wellington place round to Pelham street in front of the houses he was then having built. But, as he had carried up the buildings on the full extent of his ground, and required the pavement to be taken from the road, a committee was appointed to investigate the same. Also a committee was appointed to arrange with the South-Eastern Railway Company to exchange a piece of the Company's land for that at the Priory, on which stood the water-wheel, the tank and the donkey-stand, their removal being required for the approach to the station — now the lower part of Havelock road. The next matter was a proposal by Mr. Beck (the chairman) to reduce the water rate from 9d. to 6d. in the £, Mr. B. being of the opinion that as the debt was so nearly annulled, and with the prospect of the works soon passing into other hands, then was the proper time to make the reduction. Mr. Harvey contended that such reduction at such a time would depreciate the property to a serious amount when it came into the market. Mr. C. Duke was in favour of a reduction, but there should first be a greater supply. Mr. Womersley argued against the system of making people pay a price beyond the cost of production; and in reply to certain questions, was told by the Clerk that the works cost £5,300, the debt on which was £1,600, such debt being in process of reduction by the excess of rents over expenses. This was a condition which materially differed from Mr. Beck's statement that the debt was nearly annulled, yet it required Mr. Williams’ eloquence, as usual, to convince the meeting that the rate should not be reduced. Mr. Williams — our local Rupert of Debate — in a long speech, contended that the town had not received a farthing benefit from the works, recollecting, as the Commissioners ought to, that in estimating the cost of the works they were chargeable with £500 and interest for their share in the expenses of procuring the Local Act, the cost of which had been £1,500. It had always been understood that such cost was distributable in equal portions on the Market, the Waterworks and the general improvement of the town. They had also for the last month or two been soliciting a loan of £1,000. Was that, then, a time for reducing the town's income? These and other arguments were so far effective as to induce more than two-thirds of the Commissioners present to negative the motion for reduction.

The Last Meeting of the Hastings Commissioners[edit]

This, however, turned out to be the last meeting of the Board of Commissioners, their powers, under the Local Act having been absorbed by the Town Council as the new Local Board of Health.

Town Council Proceedings[edit]

Inspector of Nuisances.[edit]

At a special meeting of the Council on the 4th of January, a request was received from the Board of Guardians for the Council to appoint an Inspector of Nuisances. The request, Mr. Ginner thought, was a very good one, as no one could expect unpaid persons to give their time and attention to such matters, bound, as they would be, by no authority. The payment of such an officer, said the Mayor, rested with the Guardians, and the payment for such an officer would come out of the Poor-rates. The Town Clerk said he could not see what the duties pertaining to such an office would be, and it was possible to overstep the Act.

The Burgess List.[edit]

A letter having been received from the Rochester Town Council, requesting Hastings to petition Parliament to submit the revision of the Burgess list to the hands of a revising barrister, the Clerk said he thought the letter had been written in a party spirit. — Mr. Ross thought something should be done to improve the system, seeing that warm partisans, if they had the will, certainly had the power to make their own side preponderate. The letter was simply acknowledged.

Charity Trusts.[edit]

In letters received from Mr. Fearon, Secretary to the Charity Trust Commissioners, it was asked what had been done with the Ellsworth Charity since 1809; and in reply the Town Clerk said nothing had been done since Mr. Breeds intermeddled in the matter. — Mr. Ross considered the word intermeddled very inappropriate. The town was under a deep debt of obligation to Mr. Breeds for the part taken by him. He would like a committee to be formed for supplying the Commissioners with as much information as possible. He considered they would be only doing their duty by  Pg.23  such a course. The Clerk said they could get no information beyond what he had already supplied from the town records. At the request of several Councillors, an extract was then read from a report of the Charity Trusts Commissioners, in which it appeared that in Trinity Term, 1809, His Majesty’s Attorney-General, at the relation of Thos. Clark, of Rye, and Thos. Jas. Breeds, of Hastings, exhibited an information in the Court of Chancery, against Edward Milward, the elder, and Edward Milward, the younger, praying that a bequest made by Richard Ellsworth “towards teaching the poorest children of the parish to read and to say their catechism, and to buy them spelling-books, Bibles and the Whole Duty of Man; paying first, the tenth part of his share to the minister of the said parish (whom he appointed to take care that that part of his will be duly executed) should be applied to the purpose to which it was intended. The will was dated the 14th of July, 1714, and the legator appointed his sisters, Elizabeth and Penelope, as executrixes of the said will, the latter of whom sold the farm to one Nicholas Furrs, under whom, Edward Milward claimed the premises. The Master of Chancery further certified that the said Edward Milward, to whom the land was conveyed by indenture 15th April, 1765, had notice of the will of Richard Ellsworth by which a fourth part of the Dissolved Priory, near Hastings, was especially bequeathed, subject to a particular trust in favour of a charity in the said will mentioned. The report of the Master was confirmed by the Court, and referred back to him, to make further enquiries, and at that point the matter dropped in 1815”. — Mr. Ginner said the land had been in the hands of the present possessors 65 years. It might have been bought incautiously, but it had remained in the Court of Chancery for a long period without any satisfactory result. It was, therefore, not worth while to take any proceedings. It was much too complicated; and he did not approve of any hostile speeches against the present occupiers, to involve themselves or others in trouble and vexation. There was a possibility of the Council running their heads against a brick wall. [If the last sentence meant taking the action at law against the holders of the property and spending a large sum of money to no purpose, then — as will be shown further on — Mr. Ginner was perfectly correct.]. — Mr. Ross had no fault to find with any member of the Milward family, but as Mr. Milward had erred in purchasing the land, he was bound to perform the request as a legal trustee. — Mr. Putland thought when there was a prospect of the Priory Farm rising in value, and getting into other hands, they should make an effort to secure it, and he would therefore second Mr. Ross’s proposition for a committee. — This was carried.

The Priory Culvert.[edit]

The Hastings Commissioners having applied for pecuniary assistance towards lowering the Priory culvert four feet throughout its whole length, and carrying it farther into the sea, the Town Clerk said, when it was first laid down, the Commissioners paid £150, the Woods and Forests Commissioners, £400, and the Priory Farm, £50. Then, after a general subscription, the Town Council paid over £100. — The question was allowed to stand over.

The Ariel Lifeboat.[edit]

It having been stated that the lifeboat was likely to be sold, Mr. W. Scrivens wrote to the Council to the effect that  Pg.24 he had purchased the same, and in fitting it up had expended £22 12s. 9d., which sum he hoped would be refunded by the Council. The matter was resolved to be referred to the original subscribers. [The said boat had been lying for a long time, dilapidated and uncared for, on the disinhabited Priory Ground.]

Recovery of Ground.[edit]

Moved by Mr. Ross and seconded by Mr. Burfield, “That the Government be memorialised not to dispose of the ground belonging to them, near the parade to individuals, but to surrender it to the Corporation, from whom they took it for public purposes in 1759”. The Mayor said, last year, a committee was formed to select a site for a new Town Hall, and they thought of the property in possession of Government. Having heard that persons had applied for a portion of such property, he instantly communicated with the Board of Ordnance, wishing them to transfer it to the Corporation, from whom they originally redeemed it at a nominal charge of £5. It was surrendered to the Government, for the protection of the country; but, seeing that it is no longer wanted [except for a coastguard station, it might have been said], — a proof of which they now had in the Battery being removed — and the [town] original possessors being in want of it, he thought it was only reasonable to expect it to be again surrendered to them. They were greatly in want of a large Town Hall, and as the town was increasing to the westward, he thought it advisable to look to the future. [Few persons outside of the Town Council would suppose that the avowed object in obtaining the site of “Government House” was anything more than a pretence. To recover the ground, even without the building, would have been an advantage to the town in some other respect, and if sold for the erection of better houses, would unquestionably have led to the greater value of Mr. Ross’s adjoining property. But to build “a large Town Hall” in so confined a space and close to the narrow entrance of George street, where vehicular traffic was and still is so often congested, would have been an absurd project. The fact, however, that Government still uses the site at the time I write — nearly half a century later — is a proof that no practical heed was given to the memorial.]

At their meeting on Feb. 1st, the Council received the certified costs of prosecutions and maintenance of prisoners, amounting to £110 12s. 10d. The Council also resolved to give notice to Messrs. F. Smith and _ Dunn to give up the ground at Denmark place held by them, it being intended to throw the ground open. Also that a communication be made to the Woods and Forests Commissioners to compel Mr. Dunn to remove the stone and other materials from the road to the Priory culvert.

Chancery Money.[edit]

The Clerk reported that in the cause ”Attorney-General v. Hastings, the Vice-Chancellor had made an order to pay the money which had lain in Chancery since 1834 to the Town Clerk of Hastings, subject to deductions of costs to the Attorney-General in the first instance. The expenses were much heavier than anticipated, and some difficulty had been  Pg.24a  experienced. In February 1849, they first took steps in the matter, and in May they obtained the consent of Mr. Clark to have the money applied to the Charity, provided that it was no expense to him. In June they presented a memorial to the Attorney-General, and then appeared by counsel at his chambers; but the Attorney-General was engaged at Westminster. They subsequently met Mr. Wray, counsel for the Attorney-General, who insisted that they should go before the Master of the Rolls. The Corporation's counsel pressed to have it taken in the Vice-Chancellor's Court. He (the Clerk) afterwards waited on Mr. Wray, to induce him to alter his opinion, but he was obstinate, and would not. On Dec. 20th, they met before the Master of the Rolls, who cut the matter short by saying they should have gone to the Vice-Chancellor. The case went before the Vice-Chancellor, on Jan. 25th. All this increased the expenses, as they had to change counsel every time. — At the next meeting of the Council, on March the 8th, the Clerk reported that he had at last got the money out of Chancery, which, after paying all expenses, except his own, amounted to £18. Some amusing remarks were here made on the rapacity of lawyers, who had thus proved true to their reputation of devouring the oyster and leaving the shell. [See also, May 3rd.]

Reply to Memorial.[edit]

To the memorial re the site of Government House, the Board of Ordnance had made objections, which the committee reported the Council would have to meet with a stronger representation of their case. The Board chiefly objected to giving up to the town, the Government buildings, as in case of necessity, they might be wanted for a magazine.

Court of Chancery again.[edit]

At the Council meeting on May 3rd, Mr. Ross thought it very desirable that there should be a reform in the practice of the Court of Chancery, seeing that, only a short time since, it cost the Council £185 17s. 9d. to recover possession of £139 then lying in the Court, to which they had a legitimate right, the Council having to pay £45 more than they received. Ald. Clift condemned the expense as a shameful imposition; and Ald. Mackness reminded them that all law reforms were of slow working. Forty years ago, he said, the Court of Equity was called the Court of Iniquity. A motion was here passed “That the provisions of the Bill for the Court of Chancery in Ireland be extended to England” — that is to say, a memorial to that effect.

Removal of Rocks.[edit]

Mrs. Cobby, proprietor of bathing-machines, applied to have certain rocks removed, which had been laid bare by the late tides, and which prevented bathing operations. Her sons, she said, had at an expense of £3, and great personal labour, cleared away sufficient space for 5 machines, but more space was wanted. — Application referred to Stonebeach Committee.

The Great Banquet.[edit]

The Clerk laid on the table the report of the late banquet to the Lord-Mayor of London. The expenses were shown to have been £294 6s. 8d., which had been all settled. Mr. Ross thought that their thanks to their Clerk should be embodied and recorded with the report, great credit being due to him for his exertions. A resolution to that effect was  Pg.25  passed amidst general applause. Full details of this famous banquet will be found in “Historico-Biographies”, Vol. 1, Chap. XXI.

Surgeon’s Salary.[edit]

Resolved that the application of Mr. Walter Duke for an increase of salary, as surgeon to the gaol, be sent to the magistrates, the only liability of the Council in this case being to pay the money.

Condolence to the Widow of Sir Robert Peel.[edit]

On Saturday, the 29th of June, Sir Robt. Peel fell from his horse at Constitution Hill, and was so severely injured that he died on the following day. In consequence of this melancholy event, the Town Council at a special meeting, voted a letter of condolence to the baronet’s widow, the Mayor passing a high eulogium on the deceased statesman, especially on his sagacity and ability in adjusting the currency of the country. The only member of the Council who abstained from voting for the motion was Mr. Robt. Deudney, who remarked that Sir Robert might have conferred a benefit on certain portions of the community, but there was a large class who had greatly suffered by his vacillating policy.

Mr. Cressey’s[1] Report[edit]

The Mayor, in bringing before the Council the Report of the Government Inspector, remarked that there was much in it which no one could deny, although, if the Council declared themselves in favour of the Health of Towns Act, they would, as he understood, only carry out Mr. Cressey’s plans so far as they deemed desirable. — Ald. Burton read several extracts from the Report and denied the accuracy of several of the statements. He asserted that the condition of St. Leonards was nothing like as bad as represented. He alluded more particularly to the Market, to a house on Maze hill, and to Lavatoria. As the St. Leonards Commissioners had expended large sums on the drainage of their town, he regarded it as unfair that they should be brought under an Act which united them with Hastings. — The Clerk called attention to a considerable error in Mr. Cresey’s report, wherein the borough-rate was put down as £3,468, instead of £1,819. — Mr. Ginner also complained of inaccuracies, which, he said, was not to be wondered at, seeing that Mr. Cresey had not gone to the best sources of information, and had made up what he (Mr. G.) conceived to be a mere gossiping report. For himself, however, he was in favour of the Health of Towns Bill, as he believed it would be more economical than the present uncombined system. The report was further discussed at a special Council meeting on the 26th of July, when the Mayor reminded them that they had waited for other public bodies to express their sentiments before the Council took action. The Commissioners and the public, although nearly unanimous in condemning Mr. Cresy’s report, he expressed a favourable opinion of the Act being applied. Ald. Mackness thought the Council should now show itself foremost in the work of getting the Act applied, notwithstanding the many misstatements in Mr. Cresy’s Report, and moved a resolution to that effect. This having been seconded by Mr. Ross, Ald. Burton, though having nothing to say against the Act being applied to Hastings, demurred to any attempt to force  Pg.26  it upon St. Leonards, against the wish of its inhabitants. The Mayor had read the Town’s Improvement Act, and thought it in every way preferable to the Health of Town’s Act. — T. B. Williams would read more of the Act before voting either way. — Mr. Harvey found the Health of Towns Act to be more of a permissive than of a compulsory character, and he therefore advised caution in getting the provisional order, so as to have inserted just what they wanted, and nothing more. — The motion having been carried, the Mayor remarked that they had laid the foundation for duties much more arduous than hitherto, and he hoped that while they took care of the public health, they would also take care of the public purse.

The Municipal Elections[edit]

on the 1st of November resulted in the West Ward in the re-election of Mr. Deudney by 3 votes: ditto, of Mr. Peerless, by two votes, and the non-election of Mr. H. W. Tree, with 1 vote. For the East Ward there was a remarkably heavy poll, Anthony Harvey (C.) being elected by 552 votes; Thos. Ross (L.) by 505; Chas. Burfield (C.) by 498; and John Cousens (L.) by 456. The losing candidate, Will Ginner, obtained 455 votes, and was thus only one vote behind Cousens.

The Mayor elected on the 9th of November was Jas. Emary, of the Castle Hotel, he being also a Councillor, professing Liberal opinions in politics. The election was unanimous, the proposer being Mr. Harvey, a Conservative, and the seconder being Mr. Putland, a Liberal. But even this unanimity was somewhat broken by political sparring between two antagonists who could rarely be accused of superfluous courtesy. Mr. Harvey previously expressed a hope that Mr. Ross would not vote, as it was intended to appeal to the Queen’s Bench on the validity of his vote, in consequence of the failure of due preparation in his district of the Voter’s list. Mr. Ross retorted that he didn’t care a snap of the finger for Harvey, nor for anything he might say. Mr. Harvey then said “Ross’s Scotch blood is up” “Yes!” said Ross, “My Scotch blood is up. It’s no disgrace to be a Scotchman, and my position as second on the poll shows that the people think differently to Mr. Harvey”. Here, the latter Councillor neglected his chance of having the last word by replying that “the difference in the people’s mode of thinking and acting was shown by placing you second on the poll, with 47 votes below me”. — It was, however, amusingly curious to find Mr. Ross proposing a vote of thanks to the outgoing Mayor, and Mr. Harvey seconding the same, with the remark of the latter, “We agree on this motion, and I doubt not we shall shake hands before we leave the meeting”.

The Aldermen elected were Messrs. Emary and Clift, for the first time, and Dr. Mackness, for the second time.

The Burgesses in a fix[edit]

The warm expressions by Councillors Ross and Harvey at the meeting above described arose from an irregularity of which neither party was the author, and which will be fully understood by means of the following paragraph taken  Pg.27 from the Hastings and St. Leonards News. The said journal under the heading of The Burgesses in a fix says —

”Our public men and politicians have lately experienced considerable excitement; and in the case of those who are not the sufferers, no little amusement by the Laches[3] of our respective overseers of the Holy Trinity and St. Michael parishes, Mr. Thos. Ross and Mr. John Smith. These official gentlemen in their capacities as overseers, should have forwarded to the Town Clerk, on or before the 5th instant, a list of persons entitled to rank as burgesses in their respective parishes; such list to be published by the Town Clerk at least seven days prior to the 15th inst. It so happened that the lists of the above parishes did not make their appearance before the public till something like five days before the 15th inst. Rumour, probably speaking truth in this case, states that the lists did not reach the Town Clerk by the required time. Such being the case, the fault rests with the overseers. To make ‘Confusion worse confounded’, among the burgesses thus threatened with a year’s disfranchisement are two members of the Town Council, Mr. Thomas Ross, himself, and Mr. Thomas Hicks. The latter, on finding that his franchise was lost in Holy Trinity, congratulated himself on retaining his position in virtue of his claim on the parish of St. Michael, when he found, to his dismay, that in that parish also the treacherous memory of an overseer had placed him hors de combat. In this predicament the unfortunate burgesses have resorted to the expedient of putting their names on the lists of claimants, which are to be published by the 22nd. It remains to be seen whether it is available. In the mean time, Mr. Anthony Harvey has published a notice that he intends opposing the claim of Mr. Ross to be entered as a burgess for the parish of Holy Trinity. As if to outrage the majesty of the law still further, the printed notice was issued without the printer’s name, whereby a penalty of £5 was incurred by everyone printing, publishing or distributing the same. An intimation to this effect was speedily given. As the case now stands, pains and penalties form a gloomy background to the picture, while in the foreground may be seen the disconsolate burgesses and apprehensive councillors encircled by eager politicians, lawyers, etc., the obnoxious overseers being the grand concoctors of this serio-ludicro tableau vivant.”

Civic Festivals[edit]

Public Banquets[edit]

To give here full details of public dinners and festivals is not intended, it being thought sufficient to do but little beyond an enumeration of them; but in the case of the Mayor’s banquet of 1850, the after-dinner speech of Mr. Emary, the Mayor-elect, was such as to be worthy of a record and was as follows: —

“Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, — I have been in the habit of attending public meetings and public dinners for the last half century, but I never rose under greater embarrassment to return thanks for  Pg.28  any honour conferred than at the present moment; for, when I look back through some thirty or forty years, and remember, as I do, the gentlemen who have filled the important office of Mayor — gentlemen of the highest consideration in society — gentlemen of very superior education — gentlemen of wealth and influence — the more, I say, I remember this, the more it convinces me of my own unworthiness [No, no!]; but you, gentlemen of the Council have thought otherwise, and I consider it my undoubted duty, as it is always my inclination, to bow, with respect to a majority of my fellow-townsmen. I know it has been argued by gentlemen present that the office of Mayor has been filled in various parts of the kingdom by tradesmen — a fact which I am willing to admit. I know that before the Municipal Act passed, no one in Canterbury was allowed to serve as Mayor who was not in some trade or profession. But there is a marked difference between the tradesman of Canterbury and those of Hastings. The former — or a very large portion of them — keep up an establishment of horses, carriages, and livery servants; their country house standing in a park, and their well-frequented shops in a crowded thoroughfare; and it is thus likely that the industry of the one maintains the dignity of the other. But, gentlemen, how stands it with the tradesmen of Hastings? It is true, they are acknowledged by visitors and others to be an industrious and honourable set of men; but it is known that a great many are obliged to spend a large portion of their time behind the counter [Hear, hear!]. Now I wish it to be understood that I am the last man within these walls who would depreciate the trade of Hastings, of which I am so humble a part; but even if you take the most opulent to place in the civic chair, two-thirds of them will acknowledge themselves to be somewhat out of their element. I am one of you, with many inconveniences, and subject to all the frailties of human nature; but it has been your pleasure to elect me to this honourable post, and it shall be my endeavour to fill it as near to your satisfaction as my humble ability will admit. If I do not give satisfaction to all — which I can hardly expect — let me beg of you to attribute the failure to the right cause — namely, an error of the head, and not of the heart. If my life be spared to the next 9th of November, I will endeavour to give you some account of my stewardship; and I assure you I shall feel amply repaid if I can but hear one faint voice exclaim “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” [Cheers] I am promised the support and advice of gentlemen who sit with me, and who have themselves served the office; and as I shall need it, I already feel their kindness in relieving a trembling hand and fearful heart. To you, Gentlemen, who responded so heartily to the last toast, permit me to tender my best thanks. [Prolonged cheering].

The Lord Mayor’s Banquet[edit]

 Pg.29 Thomas Farncomb, and Alderman and Lord Mayor of London, entertained the Corporations of Hastings and Rye at a banquet in the Egyptian Hall of the Mansion House on the 24th of January, 1850. A lengthy report of this interesting festival will be found in Chapter XXI of Historico-Biographies; and, as intended, the following is but a summary. The Hastings guests travelled to London in saloon carriages, and were received at the Mansion House by the Lord Mayor, and his sister, the latter as Lady Mayoress, the splendid band of the Coldstream Guards being in attendance. A dinner of the most sumptuous kind was served in the Egyptian Hall at half-past five, grace being sung by the celebrated vocalists before and after the repast. The golden Loving Cup was passed round the company, Mr. Harper, the toast-master, calling out the company by twos, and announcing a hearty greeting of the Mayor and Mayoress. After the usual loyal toasts had been given, the Lord-Mayor gave “The Mayor and Aldermen of Hastings”, to which G. Scrivens, Esq., responded. After that, his lordship gave “The Mayor and Aldermen of Rye”, and this was responded to by J. Smith, Esq. Among other toasts were The Members for the City of London, The Members for Sussex, The Members for Sussex boroughs, The Sussex Magistrates, The Recorder of Hastings and Rye, The Town Clerks of Hastings and Rye, and The Town Councils of Hastings and Rye. These were all suitably responded to, and the company — about 200 — separated at about 11 o’clock, apparently delighted with the splendid entertainment.

The Return Banquet[edit]

The Wednesday of April 20th was a brilliantly fine day, and on that particular date, as previously arranged, Alderman Farncomb, while still Lord Mayor of London visited Hastings — his native locality — by invitation of the Corporation and other gentlemen to a return-banquet. His Lordship was escorted from the St. Leonards station of the South-coast railway by a grand procession of horsemen and carriages, headed by the Hastings Band. Following the Hastings Mayor, Town Clerk and Mace-bearers, in a carriage with four horses, was the Lord Mayor, with his Chaplain and Sword-bearer, also in his state-carriage, drawn by four richly caparisoned horses, preceded by an outrider, and accompanied by a second band. The grand procession of fully a quarter of a mile in length, passed round the town and alighted, not at the Swan Hotel, where, in the newly decorated assembly-room was to be developed the “feast of fat things and the flow of soul”, but at the Castle Hotel, which, 35 years previously, had been erected by his lordship and others of a company who built Wellington Square, Russel street, etc. At about six o’clock his lordship processed to the Swan Hotel, where, as already intimated, the banquet was arranged, and where he was met by a distinguished company, including Earl Waldegrave, Viscount Chewton, the Mayor of Hastings, the Mayor of Rye, the Mayor of Manchester, the Borough Members, several other M.P.s, etc., all of whose names, together with toasts, speeches and other details are given in the “Lives and Times of the Farncombs”, Historico-Biographies, Chap XXI. Suffice it here to say that, what with the unique procession, the ringing of bells, and the firing of guns, even the outdoor pageant  Pg.30  made the day a memorable one in the annals of the borough. It was befitting that the “Premier Cinque Port” should be the first town to entertain the Lord-Mayor with a return-banquet, and equally in order that the chief “Ancient Town” of the western ports should follow in a similar entertainment.

The Rye Banquet[edit]

As the particulars of this event are also given in my Historico-Biographies, Vol 1, Chap XXI, it seemeth meet that it should be presented here only in a skeleton form, as were the two preceding banquets. It took place on Thursday, the 23rd of May, and in a similar manner to that which was adopted at Hastings, although, as might be imagined, upon a somewhat smaller scale. The Lord Mayor and suite travelled from London, per South-Eastern railway to Ashford, and thence to Rye by a special train, even before the line had been opened for traffic. The reception was of the most gratifying kind, and the grand procession round the town, was hailed with enthusiasm. The streets were decorated with flags and a triumphal arch. The banquet was held at the George Hotel and the company numbered about eighty persons, including the Mayor of Hastings (G. Scrivens) and several other persons from the same town.

The Whit-Monday Banquets[edit]

A brilliant day was May 20th, and it was ushered in by the ringing of church bells. Most of the shops remained closed and crowds of country people flocked into the town. At about 10 o’clock the Friendly Society formed into ranks at the Swan Hotel, headed by the Old Town Band; the Manchester Unity formed at the King’s Head with the Ore Band; and the Benevolent Society at the Anchor Inn, with an unusually strong band formed by the St. Leonards Band and a German Band, united. An enormous crowd lined the thoroughfares as the procession of three clubs perambulated the town to the St. Clement’s Church, where prayers were read by the Rev. H. S. Foyster and a sermon was preached by the Rev. W. W. Hume. After service, the long procession was again formed and with its inspiriting music and handsome banners, perambulated the western part of the town through the Fishmarket, Castle street and Wellington square, back into George street; where they performed their customary evolutions. At two o’clock the respective societies were seated at dinner at the club-houses above named. The host who catered for the “Old Friendly”, at the Swan was Wm. Carswell, the chairman was Mr. H. Foster, the vice-chairman was Mr. H. White, and the speakers after dinner were R. Holland and Mr. Brisco, (Boro’ Members), W. D. Lucas-Shadwell, G. Scrivens, W. D. Cooper, and other gentlemen. For the Manchester Unity of Oddfellows, Mr. Smith, the landlord of the King’s Head erected a marquee in Bourne street, where the banker, F. Smith, was chairman and J. B. Eaton was vice-chairman. Among the after-dinner speakers were Messrs. Burfield, Eaton, Crockett, Huggett, Develin and Duke. Mr. Chapman, in proposing the Health of the Rev. W. W. Hume, thanked that gentleman for his excellent sermon; at the same time he remarked that when their society was first established, the late Mr. Whistler used to charge them a guinea for the sermon, but Mr. Hume had charged them nothing. The speaker might also have said that Mr. Whistler at one time charged two guineas for his sermon, and when told that the clergymen at Rye charged only a guinea to the club of that town, the eccentric Mr. Whistler replied “Oh! You can have a guinea sermon, but it will be wretched stuff”. — The Benevolent Society, to the number of 220, dined at the Market-Hall, attached to the Anchor, the dinner being  Pg.31  provided by Mr. West. The chairman was Mr. T. Ross and the vice-chairman Mr. T. Eldridge. The toast givers and speakers were Mr. Scrivens (Mayor), and Messrs. Burfield, Hicks, Harvey, Edge, Banks, Dunk, Duke and others. Before the clubs had performed their march round the town, a train arrived that was three times the usual length, and at 12 o’clock an excursion train arrived to swell the immense throng of sightseers. At one time, High street presented a vast mass of human beings from end to end, the gay banners of the clubs waving over all, while the animating strains of the bands sounded above the buzz of eager spectators.

Trade Protection Dinner[edit]

At the same Anchor Inn, on the 7th of March, a dinner was held under the auspices of the Trade Protection Society, with Mr. George Scrivens (banker and president) in the chair, who said he was very glad to meet his fellow-townsmen on that occasion. The society, he believed, was but little known, and, perhaps not sufficiently appreciated. In this country we had arrived at such a state of social advancement that the efforts of individuals alone were hardly sufficient for their own protection in mercantile pursuits. Population increased and trade was carried out on a larger scale than it was in the quiet, easy days of earlier times. Roguery and fraud also advanced in as great, if not greater ratio. He feared that even their taxes went more to the rogues and knaves than to the industrial community. There was a large class in the country who, like the beggars, would rather do anything than work, and who possessed a natural propensity for preying upon the labours of the industrious. Trade protection societies were now spreading over the country, and were achieving what never could be done by isolated effort. — After the report had been read by the secretary (Mr. Womersley), Mr. Dunk proposed “The Health of the Chairman, who, he observed, was both their Mayor and their President. He, (the speaker) felt bound to remind them of the promptitude with which their chairman, as chief magistrate, took up the Bank forgeries case [described further on] when they had to complain of a want of vigilance in the officer of the police. — In acknowledging the compliments, Mr. Scrivens said so long as he held such an office he should always feel it his duty to respond to the calls of his fellow townsmen. He could never turn his back on those from whom he had received so many marks of kindness. In the ordinary routine of life, they were many times in pursuit of different ends; hence the necessity for occasionally assembling for a common purpose. With respect to different frauds to which tradespeople were liable, there was one to be guarded against — namely that of giving change to strangers. The benefit in such cases was wholly on the part of the receiver. It was a very one-sided bargain, yet persons very often solicited the favour in an imperative manner. He knew it was a difficult matter to deal with, yet he hoped the cost of their recent experience would last a long time as a sort of insurance against future frauds. Mr. Scrivens concluded with proposing “The health of Mr. Womersley, our excellent secretary”. — This was acknowledged in an able speech. The chairman next  Pg.32  proposed “Prosperity to St. Leonards”, and expressed his gratification at seeing both towns gradually advancing towards each other, — W. Chamberlain, jun., responded and said when he looked round and saw so many enterprising persons, he thought the time was not far distant when the space between the two towns would be entirely filled up. In coming over the “Desert” [the Government ground] that morning, he was gratified at seeing signs of civilisation upon it, and he hoped the inhabitants would no longer let their supineness detract from the beauties with which the Omnipotent had surrounded them. The chairman again rose and said they were indebted to a certain public body for the publication of matters which otherwise would not come to the knowledge of the community at large. It was not now as in former days that they had to survey the press at a distance from them. They had now a paper of their own; and although that was not the place to canvas its merits or demerits, it might be said that it was peculiarly a local paper, taken up for the benefit of the borough. He should like to see it so well supported as to enable the proprietors and conductors to increase its size. They required to be paid for their labours, and the more support they received the more efficiently would they be able to carry it on. Whatever different views might be held with respect to their local organ, he thought it [The Hastings News] was a paper calculated to advance the interest of the public good; and he, for one; hoped to see it reach a greater size and to become a source of profit to those who had undertaken it. He, therefore had great pleasure in proposing “The Press”. Mr. Pitter, of the ”News” returned thanks. — It so happened that during the civic year Nov. 1849 to Nov. 1850 — the honours as well as the responsibility fell upon Mr. Scrivens to attend and to speak at no fewer than five Mayoral banquets, and at least one or two other dinners of a public character. Besides the one just refereed to, there was the one when he was elected Mayor, the superb entertainment by the Lord mayor at the Mansion House, the return grand banquet at Hastings, the similar festival at Rye, and the local Mayor’s dinner when quitting office. Also with other Mayors, Mr. Scrivens dined with the Lord Mayor and Prince Albert in connection with the Great Exhibition.

Other Amusements[edit]

The second monthly concert at Hastings took place in the new decorated assembly-room at the Swan hotel on the 14th of January which, said concert was a brilliant and altogether a successful affair. Long before the time for commencement carriages began to arrive and set down a company of rank and fashion and continued until the room was crowded. The executants were Mr. Lockey, the Messrs. Williams and Mr. Madin as vocalists; Mr. Lindridge, as pianist and conductor; and Herr Haag, as violinist.

Odd Fellows Ball[edit]

Two evenings later (Jan 16th) the annual ball of the Victoria Lodge Manchester Unity, was held at the King’s head in, when a company of nearly 100 danced to the strains of Mr. Brett’s St. Leonard’s Quadrillo Band.

A Musical Prodigy[edit]

 Pg.33 Although not engaged in a public performance at Hastings, there were some Hastings people who could attest that a child, seven years of age, niece of Mr. Cruse, organist at Battle church, who played on the piano or organ, with extraordinary firmness and precision, the sublime choruses of Handel, Hayden and Mozart, and even the difficult fugues of Sebastian Bach. — Such precocity is indeed a rarity and an attribute or acquisition that cannot fail to excite the wonder of the average musician. The child was living with her parents in London where she had not an equal. Much less would be the chance of finding such infantile proficiency in the more restricted area of Hastings. Yet it is only fair to say that a juvenile concert given by Mr. Wise’s family and pupils on the 25th of Feb. gave great satisfaction, and showed that whatever talent the young people possessed was well developed by good training.

On the evening of Valentine’s Day a numerous audience assembled at the Swan Hotel to witness a performance by Mr. H. Phillips, a celebrated vocalist, who sang several of Moore’s best melodies, interspersed with anecdotes.

On the same night, the Annual Trades Men’s Ball took place at the Royal Oak Hotel, when 70 persons danced to the music of Wood and Elford’s band. Also, on the last day of February, the Annual Dinner at the same house attended by tradesmen and others, was one of harmony as well as of feasting.

The Fourth and last Subscription Concert[edit]

was held at the Swan Assembly Room on the 5th of March, and was listened to by a full and fashionable audience. The executants were Miss Pyne, Mr. Frank Bodda, and Miss Messent (vocalists) Mr. Willy (solo pianist), and Mr. Acraman (accompanist.

The Royal Oak Harmonic Society[edit]

closed their 4th season on the 27th of March with a soiree, about 60 persons being present. The society started with a rule that nothing of an immoral tendency should be introduced, and to a strict adherence to this rule was attributed their success. The members of the Town Band gave their gratuities services throughout the season. Mr. Elford and his son sustained their solos, and the Hastings Glee Singers, the choruses. Mr. C. W. Chandler was secretary.

A Gypsy Party[edit]

under the management of bandsmen Elphick and Woollett, assembled in Ore Valley on June 25th, upward of 200 being present.

A select party of friends[edit]

were entertained by Mr. James Breeds at the Albion Hotel on the 23rd of September. It was a festal, social and convivial party of merchants and tradesmen who drank to Mr. Breeds’s health as a matter of course, and warmly wished him happiness in his prospective marriage.

The Hastings Regatta[edit]

on the 23rd of September, was witnessed by many hundreds of residents and visitors. The parades and beach were crowded, the West Hill and Castle Gardens were lined with spectators, and carriages, with living freight, were drawn up nearly the entire length of the parade. The  Pg.34  Hastings Band and the St. Leonards Band were engaged as musical adjuncts, and the weather favoured the proceedings. Three new boats had been built by Mr. George Tutt for the local Galley Club, named respectively, Letia, Flora and Surprise. The three principal races were with 4-oared galleys, in one of which, the Albion, an older and heavier boat, gained the first prize under the oars of Tapsell, Cuthbert and brothers Hutchinson. The second galley race was with the three new boats, the £10 prize being won by watermen Page, Carpenter, Mann and Burton in the Surprise; the £5 by Enefer, Swain, Crouch and Haddon; and the £2 by Enefer, Phillips, Mepham and Isted. In the third galley match, the Flora which in the preceding races came in greatly last, arrived at the goal a good second, the rowers this time, who were much applauded — being young men from St. Leonards, named Beck, Orton, Roberts and Smith.

The Distin Family[edit]

gave a concert at the Swan Hotel on the 20th of December, with whom were two excellent vocalists, Miss O’Connor and Mr. Willy. The quartets with sax-horns gave great satisfaction to a crowded company.

The Hastings Mechanics’ Institution[edit]

This institution, like its kindred society at St. Leonards, played an important part in the educational features and in the formation of character; and although at the time of writing this portion of local history it has long ceased to exist, a remembrance of some of the good work it accomplished is worthy of record. On the 7th of January, Mr. John Banks gave to the members a lecture on Electricity, with interesting experiments.

On Jan. 14th, a highly instructive and eloquent lecture was delivered by the Rev. J. F. Moody, of Rye. Mr. W. Ransom occupied the chair, and the subject of the lecture was “The Philosophy of Eternal Nature”.

On Jan. 21st, Mr. Jas. Rock, jun., (with Mr. W. Chamberlin in the chair), gave the first of two lectures “Material Evidences of Civilisation”. The lecture, which is epitomised elsewhere, was an exceedingly good one. The second lecture under the same title was delivered on the 28th of January, and a summary of this is also intended to be given in Historico-Biographies.

A lecture on ”Galvanism, or Voltaic Electricity” was delivered by Mr. John Banks to the members of the same Institution.

”The Utility of Poetry” was the theme of a lecture delivered by the talented Mrs. Balfour, to a large and warmly applauding audience, the date of the lecture being March 11th. In referring to this lady, the Hastings News remarked, “The fervid eloquence and high-toned moral sentiments of Mrs. Balfour will dwell long in the memory of those who have listened to her lecture-room oratory”.

The Great Exhibition[edit]

 Pg.35  was the principal object of discussion at a special meeting on the 8th of April, when a report was read from an appointed committee, consisting of Messrs. Jas. Rock, Hy. Winter and John Banks. In moving the reception of the report, Mr. Pitter remarked that it would always redound to their credit that the Mechanics’ Institution had been the first public body that had moved in contemplation of the Great Exhibition. He believed that when Mr. Cole visited the borough as a deputation that gentleman stated that although in other towns the Mechanics’ Institutions had been willing to act when any other body had begun, those of Hastings and St. Leonards were the only ones that had taken the initiative. Mr. T. Edwards, in a lengthy speech, said he did not know exactly the character of other Institutions. It was possible that they occupied higher ground than theirs, but in the latter he was proud to know that there was an amount of energy that the larger bodies did not seem to possess. It was here arranged that a committee receive weekly contributions from members and others of not less than sixpence for visiting the Exhibition at a convenient time, the accumulated amount to be spent by the contributors in whatsoever manner they thought best. Several other matters in connection with the Exhibition are clearly described in the separate History of the St. Leonards Mechanics’ Institution — one that celebrated its Jubilee in 1898, and one that still exists — although under modified conditions, necessitated by the changes of Time — whilst scores of kindred societies have become defunct. The Mr. Cole referred to by Mr. Pitter was C. S. Cole, Esq., who came to Hastings from the Royal Commission, a summary of whose excellent speech occupies a later portion of this chapter.

At a quarterly meeting of the Institution on Nov. 6th, a life-membership was voted to Mr. John Banks for his long and unwearied services. At the same meeting, which was in the High-street rooms, a sub-committee, consisting of Messrs. Rock, Ransom, Banks, Chamberlin and Hollaway was formed to search for more commodious premises.

Gas-Consumers v Gas Company[edit]

In the preceding chapter was described the proceedings at a meeting held at St. Leonards for the purpose of getting a reduction in the price of gas. A deputation was then and there appointed to wait on the Company. The deputation consisted of several persons from St. Leonards and four from Hastings. The propositions laid before the Company were — “That the promised reduction from 8/- to 6/- commence from the 1st of April 1850, and that a further reduction to 5/- be made on the 1st of January, 1851; that if such proposals be not acceded to, a part of the Deputation are prepared to take a  Pg.36  lease of the works and pay 6 per cent. on the value of present capital, reserving 1 per cent. as a sinking fund, and to supply consumers at 5/-. At the same time giving security for the performance of such proposal; or, to purchase the works at a fair value by competent persons. The reply of the Directors was — “Gentlemen, — We have already announced our intention of reducing the price of gas to 6/- per 1000 feet from the 1st of January next. In fixing the period for this reduction we have not acted capriciously; and it is not our intention to vary the time named for it. We regret that our intended reduction should not have been received in a better spirit, and we cannot omit this opportunity of noticing that statements in reference to our company were made, and uncontradicted at the meeting from which this Deputation emanates, regardless of all authority. We have reduced the price from 15/- to 8/- and have further resolved to reduce it to 6/-; and we assure you that we shall always bear in mind the public interest in our proceedings. We claim, however, and intend to exercise, the right to manage our own affairs unbiased by all unjust or unwarranted agitation, whensoever it may arise. We decline your offer to lease or purchase our works”. After delivering the reply, the Directors withdrew.

A meeting took place on the following day (Feb. 15th) this time at the Town Hall, Hastings, to receive the reply. After reading the same, Mr. Beeching said it was for the meeting to decide whether the meeting between the Company and consumers could be met, or whether they would form another company, — Mr. Hutchings did not approve of monopolies, and the Gas Company was a monopoly, but if they reduce to 6/- from the 1st of April next, instead of from the 1st of Jan. next year, he thought the meeting would be satisfied. — Mr. Bacon would ask if anyone could say the demands of the consumers were unjust. Had the Directors met the Deputation in a proper spirit, they would have parted as friends. The price at Ramsgate and Margate was 6/-, and Mr. Barlow had told him that before he left London a company had offered to supply him at 3/6 — Mr. Dunk (a spokesman for the Company) said it did not at all matter as to the time the reduction should take place [Dissent], and as to the alleged discourtesy of the Directors, they only left as soon as the reply was given to avoid discussion. — Mr.Ginner, as chief officer of the Gas Company, thought the meeting was going rather headlong into the question of reduction. He was sure there was no company could pay a dividend at 4/-, and Hastings ought not to expect it even at 6/-. They had reduced from 15/- to 12/- without being asked to do so. Afterwards they reduced to 10/- and, four years ago, they further reduced to 8/-. — Mr. Bacon said, at Whitehaven, the price at one time was 12/6, it was afterwards severally reduced to 10/- and 8/-, and there the company  Pg.37  determined to try the experiment of reducing to 4/- with the result that the consumption so increased that the Company gave a bonus of 10/- [Here, then was a refutation of Mr. Ginner’s statement that no gas company could pay a dividend with gas at 4/- to consumers]. Mr. Thwaites would like better reasons than had yet been given why consumers should pay 8/- for another year. — Mr. Paine complained of the discourtesy of the Directors and of their calling the movement an unwarrantable agitation. — Mr. H. Winter moved “That the thanks of the meeting be given to the gentlemen who met at the Saxon Hotel, and expresses surprise at the manner in which the deputation were received and the answer given”. Mr. Hope moved an amendment, “That this last paragraph of Mr. Winter’s motion be left out”. — Mr. Womersley asked Mr. Winter if he would withdraw his motion as it then stood. To this there was a general shout of “No, no!” and a refusal by Mr. Winter. The amendment being put, only 8 hands were held up for it. Mr. Winter’s motion was then put, when the whole of the assembly voted for it except three persons, one of whom was discovered to be holding up two hands. The meeting then separated.

Hastings and the Great Exhibition[edit]

Another meeting to receive a Deputation was held on the 18th of March, and to the Deputation on this occasion as given as hearty a welcome as to the Deputation to the Gas Company was accorded a censurable discourtesy. It was held at the Swan Hotel, and was presided over by the Mayor, George Scrivens, Esq., who, in opening the proceedings, said he felt sure that when the muster came of all that could be furnished by the various towns of the Kingdom, their own ancient town would not be found wanting. The next speaker was C. A. Cole, Esq., a deputation from the Royal Commission. In a long address, Mr. Cole said — some four or five years back, at an exhibition of the Royal Society of Arts, H.R.H. Prince Albert stated that from what he saw before him it occurred to him that an exhibition might be extended to all branches of industry. He accordingly selected several gentlemen from the South, who visited various parts to enquire whether it was possible and desirable that the different branches of industry could be fairly represented in an aggregate exhibition. Among other places visited by those gentlemen were Dover, Maidstone, and Canterbury, as well as the large manufacturing towns. The result of their enquiries was so favourable that a Royal Commission  Pg.38  was formed. One great guarantee of this was the support of Prince Albert, who had never been known to lend himself to any mean or party purpose. He believed that the result of such an exhibition would be a better feeling between master and man, the employer and employed, the capitalist and the labourer. It was intended that every man of work should feel that he had a real interest in the scheme, whether he followed at the plough, worked at the loom, or whatever else his occupation might be. Let them carry their minds back to the Ancient Briton and consider how he dressed himself in skins, how he painted his body, how he ate his food, and how he hid himself in caves. Then let them consider the descendants of that man — how they learnt to build themselves commodious dwellings; how they took the paint off their bodies and put it on their clothes; how they carefully dressed their food, etc. Let them make this comparison, and they would own that the contrast was great indeed between the Briton in the days of Julius Caesar and the stout, well clad yeoman of the reign of Queen Victoria. Only some few years ago 12 miles an hour was considered to be rapid travelling, but now the railway carried us fifty. In the reign of Elizabeth, notes were dispatched under the wing of a pigeon, but in these later days we had the electric telegraph, which wingged (sic) a message round the world in a few minutes. Some of these were made to print, while it was asserted that others were carried to such a pitch of perfection that a tune played at one end of the wire could be heard at the other end [Laughter]. One great benefit expected from the Exhibition was the comparison of ideas. A man would hear and see what he never dreamt of before, and would thus derive valuable information. Improvements would follow this interchange of ideas, and would make themselves felt in all that ministered to the comfort and adornment of human life. As an instance of this he would mention the French exhibitions, commencing in 1798. In 1844, a distinguished person, addressing the king of the French on the great progress which had been made in the arts and Sciences since those exhibitions commenced, dilated upon the distillation of salt water, the perfection of iron-casting, the improvements in the modes of warming and ventilating, the researches of metallurgy and chemistry, the manufacture of dyes and pigments, the increase of national resources, the production of sugar, silk and flax, and the amazing advance in the manufacture of those machines by which other machines were made, and by which the stubborn metal was subjugated to the use of man. Now, if such were the results of the French exhibitions in 1844, what might we not expect from an exhibition in 1851, open to all the world? In their general aspect such exhibitions were highly conducive to the encouragement of industry, thereby adding one more check to the progress of crime, and putting to flight that mother  Pg.39  of all vice — idleness. At the first French exhibition, held in 1798, there were only 110 exhibitors, but in 1844, there were no fewer than 4,490. True was the saying of the poet

“Emulation hath a thousand sons,
That one by one pursue.”

In a similar strain Mr. Cole continued at still great a length, after which Mr. F Smith (a banking partner of the chairman) moved the first resolution, and in a brief but appropriate speech, remarked that England would now be brought into competition with all the world, and it would be for Englishmen to see what they could do. Their own borough might not possess anything of great importance; still, they hardly knew what is did possess, for they had never had the inducement to develop its resources. — The Rev. W. W. Hume, in seconding Mr. Smith’s motion, said it might be urged — What have ministers of religion to do with such meeting? Would they not be better employed in attending to the duties of their own profession? He, however, believed he was not out of his place in coming there. His opinion was that ministers of religion had the power of performing for the objects of the meeting that which no our class could be found to do. They could infuse into the movement that lever of Godliness and that recognition of the God of Nature, without which the exhibition of England’s wealth — which was England's idol — would prove a source of evil rather than of good. He did not claim that on the ground of their education or their profession, but on account of the deep religious feeling in the hearts of Englishmen which could be brought into activity by a word spoken in season. Some might ask — Why should we have religion thrust into everything? Others might exclaim “It’s only the old story over again; every man to his trade; the merchant says there is nothing like commerce, and the minister says there is nothing like religion. But he would enquire, was it right to have an exhibition of the products of Nature and the works of Art without recognising the God of Nature? He remembered reading a speech of one of Gurneys at a large meeting of mechanics, when he endeavoured to point out to them the exercise of a Divine Providence over all the works of nature. He led their minds to a consideration of a vast machine in one of their workshops which consisted of a great number of component parts, combining to produce one definite result. The question arose, where and what was the moving power? The speaker reminded his hearers is that there was concealed in an upper room a vast wheel, appropriately styled “the governor” which by its movement set all the other wheels in motion, and when it stopped all the others ceased. [Applause.] So it was in nature, one wheel governed all. Man might sometimes think that he was the power, but the real mover  Pg.40  was above them. But it might be urged that in Art, at least, man’s industry was the chief power at work, and that he might take praise to himself for the effect which he produced. We were proud of our mental powers, but God gave us that capacity; so that at the utmost all that man could do was to arrange and combine the ancient elements of things. Although much had been discovered by man, his knowledge was still greatly limited, and those who went deepest into the mine of nature were obliged to confess that they knew nothing as they ought to know. Upon all the trophies of their exhibition should be inscribed — “What has God wrought?”. Of the good effects to be anticipated, he believed they would equally apply to the manufacturing and agricultural districts. The former were capable of great improvement, whilst the latter were restricted by atmospheric changes and other forces. He might not believe the cotton-lord who might tell him that by means of chemistry and other sciences he could make his land grow seven quarters of wheat where now it only yielded three; still, he expected that England would derive great benefits from the great international exhibition. The Rev. T. Vores, in moving the second resolution, said it contained one word which carried with it the fullest justification for his advocacy, and that word was peace. [Applause.] Their religion was a religion of peace. Their great Lord and Master was the Prince of Peace, and it was the duty of ministers to spread the principles of peace throughout the world. It was true that the age of miracles was past, but he conceived that the contemplated exhibition would show to man one great truth which God had written upon the broad face of the nation. It was a testimony in the history of nations that Christian countries were immeasurably superior to all others in science and art. Even their neighbours across the Channel were enraptured with martial glory, the opposite of peace. Let the two nations now meet — not as at Waterloo — and say to each other, “We contend no more upon the battle-field; we now meet in friendship, and our mutual object shall be to spread the light of science and civilisation throughout the world”. The Rev. Dr. Gray (Baptist minister), in an excellent speech, seconded the motion, and remarked that he found it as a principle taken for granted “that the admission of foreign manufacturers and productions to the exhibition was calculated to unite nations in the bonds of friendship and commercial intercourse”. He believed this would create no controversy. They were not so one sided as to think that the riches of one nation occasioned the poverty of another, or even that a high appreciation of one national resource was necessarily the depreciation of another. He did not hold the opinion that anyone was blest on account of poverty, though he was aware that a man might be blest notwithstanding his poverty. The second proposition contained in the  Pg.41  resolution was that commercial interests between different nations was calculated to increase the probability of continued peace. In support of this he cited the case of Solomon in whose peaceful reign the royal ships were spoken of as going to and from Tarshish. There was also on record that the slumbering feud between Herod and those of Tyre and Sidon was quenched in consequence of the commercial interest that existed between the king’s country and that of his neighbours. He (the speaker) was not, however, so sanguine as to expect that peace would infallibly arise from commercial relations. He was even ready to

— grant that men, continuing as they are;
Fierce, avaricious, proud, there must be war,”>

and when the passions were excited, the voice of political wisdom would not be listened to. Still, it was a great thing to elicit on the side of peace the teachings of wisdom that nations could not profitably go to war. The more nearly we approach to the principles of universal brotherhood, the more would it appear to be our interest and our duty to preserve the bond of peace. — On the motion of Earl Waldegrave, a committee was formed for carrying out the objects, which committee included his lordship, the Mayor and members of the Town Council, the special committees of the Hastings and St. Leonards Mechanics’ Institutions, Viscount Chewton, the two Borough Members (Brisco and Hollond), the Hon. George Waldegrave (afterwards M.P. for Hastings), three clergymen (Vores, Hume and Parkin), three journalists (Paine, Pitter and Tyrie), two doctors (MacCabe and Rankin), two bankers (Scrivens and Smith), two lawyers (Phillips and Langham), three librarians (Diplock, Hope and Reid), four esquires (P. F. Robertson, Tilden Smith, Fred. Webster and Wastel Brisco), and four tradesmen (Rock, Womersley, Smith and Chamberlin). Mr. F Smith was appointed treasurer and Mr. James Rock, jun., hon secretary.The last named said he accepted the office with much pleasure, for he viewed the proceedings as constituting an educational movement calculated to elevate the taste both of the consumer and the producer, as also to act as a stimulant to man’s inventive genius. The importance of education was generally allowed; yet while much was done for the infant, little comparatively speaking, was done for the adult. An impulse was required to overcome the love of wealth. He wished to see the artisan (sic) imbued with the love of his work for the work’s sake, and for the good which it was likely to produce. He wanted to see more of an artistic taste — a love for the useful and beautiful, apart from the price which it would fetch. The man of trade and commerce ought not to be a shamed of his business, and whilst not wishing to appear as a gentleman, yet at the same time to feel the value of his position. — Mr. C.A. Cole said  Pg.42  for the encouragement of those who might take part in the present movement, a record would be kept all who gave their assistance. He was glad to find that the first step taken in this locality was by the Mechanics’ Institutions.— The Chairman, in acknowledging a vote of thanks, said he should have great pleasure in attending the meeting at the Mansion House; when Prince Albert would be present as well as most of the mayors of English towns. — A message was received from Rye to the effect that a meeting had just been held by the Town Council, and a resolution passed to co-operate with Hastings in connection with the exhibition. That the Rev. Dr. Gray, in his speech was justified in saying he was not so sanguine as to expect that peace would infallibly arise from the exhibition, the great war with is Russia so soon after maybe adduced — a war in which one of his hearers, Viscount Chewton, was so sorrowfully slain. The speeches at the above meeting, it needs no assurances, were all good in their way, but the one by Mr. Rock was most to the purpose because the most practical; and that he was determined to make it so will be seen when his own ingenuity and praiseworthy exertions come to be described in chapter XLVI.

Railway Matters[edit]

The progress of the South-Eastern Railway Works under the contract of Messrs. Newton and Smith — that is the tunnelling from the Priory to Bopeep — has been described in the preceding chapter, and the labour of construction, together with its concomitant incidents and accidents now to be considered are those pertaining to Mr. Hoof’s contract. Of Mr. Hoof himself (as well as his son) the townspeople and others with whom he had business transactions spoke respectfully, but it happened that, upon the whole, the workmen under him were not nearly so well conducted as were those in the employment of Messrs. Newton and Smith. In that respect, St. Leonards appeared to fare much better than Hastings. On the 25th of March one of the labourers was found lying in a ditch between the toll gate on the old London road and the union workhouse, half-immersed in water that had frozen around him. At first it was thought that he was dead, but he awoke to consciousness, and it was afterwards learnt that he fell into his comfortless quarters on the preceding (Sunday) night while in a state of intoxication. With difficulty he was got to his lodgings, when the foolish man discovered that he had been robbed of four pounds. It was a marvel that, under the circumstances, he had not been deprived of life.

On the 9th of April, Phillips, who had a warrant against George Brown,  Pg.43  found his man on the railway works at Bunger Hill, in the parish of Ore, and made him a prisoner. But Phillips (who was the superintendent of railway police) was immediately set upon by five or six other labourers, who struck the constable, threw him down, kicked him, and rescued the prisoner. But Phillips, having ascertained the names of the ruffians, went back to Hastings, and obtained warrants for the whole party. Later in the day, the constable, notwithstanding his ill-treatment, pursued Brown to Battle and recaptured him. The magistrates sentenced Brown to three months’ hard labour, in default of £6 18s. 3d. fines and costs.

About the same time, for nearly an hour, and a furious fight by a railway labourers, involving women and children, was carried on in the Fishmarket, and until stopped by a policeman, when the men went down to the sea to wash the blood from their bodies. Soon after, a similar scene was witnessed in church street, the combatants being four men and two women. Both parties appeared to have been drinking to access.

On the 19th of April, a heavy rain during the night, laid under water nearly the whole of the brick fields north of the line where it crossed the ozier grounds from St.t Mary’s terrace to the Gas works, and in a short time a cluster of four temporary huts were reduced to ruins, and the occupants had to find shelter in one small house on higher ground.

On the 3rd of May, an inquest was held on the body of James Colin who, a few days before, fell backwards while running a waggon of earth, and had one leg cut nearly in two; the limb was amputated, but erysipelas set in on the other leg, which was also injured, and proved fatal.

Another inquest was held on May 21st, this time at the Fortune of War, on the body of William Gear, who was killed by falling down number three shaft at Bunger Hill, a distance of 180 feet.

Another death, and one that was greatly regretted, occurred on the 25th of May in the person of William Hoof, jun., son of the railway contractor. The deceased attended a cricket-match, a few days previously between East and West Sussex, where he caught cold, which was followed by inflammation of the lungs. Mr. W. Duke and Dr. Blakinston were called to the Marine Hotel, where Mr. Hoof had been staying, and the patient’s father was sent for. On Saturday the sufferer expressed himself as feeling much better, but shortly after was seized with violent shivering and sudden giddiness, which terminated in death. It was only about six months since his elder brother died at Wolverhampton. Two days later (May 27th) the remains of deceased were conveyed from the Marine Hotel to the St. Leonards station of the Brighton Railway, en route for interment in the West London and Westminster Cemetery. Despite the rainy weather so greatly respected was the deceased that an immense crowd  Pg.44  assembled to witness the sad departure. The hearse was preceded by about 140 persons connected with the works, and followed by a many Hastings friends of the deceased, among whom were Capt. Barlow, J .G. Shorter (Town Clerk), J. Newton (one of the contractors of the western part), Mr. Butt, W. Carswell, C. West, A. Amoore, J. Carswell, F. Hoad, and others. Then came Supt. Phillips, of the Railway Police, headed by a dozen labourers, carrying shovels reversed and the handles hung with crape. Following the hearse were four young men as chief mourners, they’ being nephews of Mr. W Hoof, sen., and also engaged in superintending the railway works. These were followed by a party of clerks, gangers, etc. The bell at St. Mary’s was tolled, and the shops along the route were partially closed. When arrived at the road leading up to the St. Leonard’s station, the processionists formed an avenue for the bearers and chief mourners to pass through, and then returned to Hastings. Agreeably to Mr. Hoof’s request, a substantial and quiet dinner was partaken of in the evening at the Royal Oak Hotel by about 60 clerks, time-keepers and gangers, who talked over the merits of their young master and drank in silence to his memory. This sudden and unlooked-for death of a young man of 24 years, whose active superintendence of the works was felt to be all-essential, caused a painful sensation throughout the town.

On the same day (May 27th) a gloom was also cast over the town of Rye by the intelligence of the deaths of the captain and crew of “The Bodiam Castle” (ten in number), which occurred at Bahia from a virulent fever that was raging there. Capt. Bray; of Rye, left a widow to mourn his loss, and the young men, John Small, William Tiltman, and a son of Capt. Cuff, all of the same town, left numerous relations.

At this time the railway operations in the Priory Meadow (where now is Havelock road) proceeded more favourably, and the mountain-waves of earth which the embankment had formed before by a pushing forward motion, had now come to a stand-still, and the embankment itself instead of sinking during night as much as it was raised in the day, began to find a foundation, and was mounting the summit of the upheaved portion. The meadow had been bored in three places, and a solid foundation of beach and stone had been found at a depth of nearly 40 feet. This raising of the ground to form the approach to the station was on a part of what had been the bed of the old haven. It has been noticed that the numerous springs met with in the tunnels were somewhat troublesome, and at this time the outbreak of another spring had caused the falling in of a heading, but the delay, it was thought, would not be great. Another trouble with railway labourers occurred on the 3rd of June,  Pg.45  when the town hall was crowded on the bringing up of eleven prisoners, charged with sleeping in the fishermen’s rope-shops where they had no right to be. On the preceding (Sunday) morning, a fire was discovered in one of the said shops at the bottom of Bourne street, and one which had replaced the row of shops consumed by fire, a few years before. The fire was luckily discovered by Sergt. Phillips and Supt. Phillips; who pulled out a quantity of smouldering nets and sails, and thus prevented what might have caused great destruction. They then searched the other boat-shops, and found them full of railway labourers, who, as it afterwards turned out, had been in the practice of sleeping in them night after night, and for that purpose had wrenched off padlocks, bolts, and other fastenings. The prisoners —some of whom had barely slept off their drunken bouts, pleaded inability to obtain lodgings — some because they had not the means, and some because there was no room for them where they applied. The Mayor said he was determined to put a stop to the practice, and so sentenced nine of them to a months’ imprisonment.

On the 17th of June, William Hilton and Thomas Hewett, carter on the railway works, were accompanying a load of timber down the old London road, and when near to Mr. North’s residence the skid-pan came off, and the shaft-horse not being able to hold the waggon back, Hewett, who was riding on the shafts, jumped off, and was fatally crushed by the wheels.

On the 22nd of the same month, several railway accidents occurred, but although serious, they were not fatal. A labourer, named Clark, fell in the Ore tunnel from the centering to the floor, and got a deep wound in one leg by a large nail; a boy, named Friend, had a muscle partly torn from one leg; through being caught against the bumper-board at the tip in the Priory Meadow; and a man, named Macdonald, was greatly injured in head and hand by a truck in the Ore tunnel running against him.

The foundation stone of the Hastings railway station was to have been laid on the 4th of July, but was prevented by wet weather. Of the exact date when the ceremony took place I have no knowledge, but I suppose it would be the first later day that was favourable.

On the 17th of July a Polish railway workman named Edward Lisiechi, while mounting a train of empty trucks in motion at the Priory, fell under the wheels and received severe injuries by three trucks passing over his legs.

For the acceleration of the railway works, on the 7th of September, an engine drawn by 16 horses arrived on a ponderous carriage; and, two days later, Hastings witnessed the first puff of the same engine as it climbed the incline from the Priory to the cutting at Bunger Hill with a long train of empty trucks. The trucks or waggons, when filled, ran down by their own  Pg.46  gravity. The Ore tunnel was nearly completed, and the cutting at the northern end was rapidly progressing. Great activity was also shewn in the erection of the Priory station, which within the last few days had been carried to a considerable height above the foundation. The walls consisted of massive stone-work in consequence of the ground being much lower than the rails. In six weeks’ time it was calculated the building would be covered in.

At the end of September a second line of rails had been laid down on Mr. Hoof’s contract from the Priory ground to the Mount-pleasant tunnel, and the approach to the nearly completed station had been laid open by the removal of the town’s water-wheel and donkey-stand.

On the 10th of October, James Altey was taken to the Infirmary with a broken leg caused by a fall of earth, and Luke Young was also injured at the Priory, “tip”, by a waggon falling on him.

On the 16th of October, the first permanent-rail was laid in the St. Leonards tunnel, under Smith and Newton’s contract; and, two days later, Edward London, a young man of respectable appearance, and said to be well connected, was sentenced to six months hard labour, for having, on his own admission, as a time-keeper, defrauded Mr. Hoof of several sums of money.

On the 23rd of September an inquest was held at the Workhouse on the body of Daniel Walton, alias Robert Walker, a railway labourer, aged 25, who had been drinking at the Hastings Arms; had quarrelled over a penny-worth of nuts; had staked with his disputant 2/- or 2/6 to fight him on the next morning; had walked out with a woman and returned with her; was knocked down by some roughs; was found in a semi-unconscious state, and was taken to the Workhouse, where he died from the effects of a fractured skull. — Verdict — “manslaughter against some person or persons unknown”. With such scenes of navvies quarrelling and fighting and others lying intoxicated on the parades and in the streets, the reader need not wonder that “dull business” was the cry from every quarter, and that visitors were kept away by the debasing conduct of railway labourers. It is right, however, to say the men were not all of this class, and that many of them were really respectable and trustworthy workers. The latter character appeared to apply to those whose abode for the time was at St. Leonards more than those who could only get accommodation in the worse parts of Hastings, Halton and Ore. The difference between the eastern and western districts of the borough in the conduct of the men was very observable, and my own opportunity of conversing with Mr. Fisher, Mr. Butt and others connected with the Smith and Newton contract (all of whom were near neighbours) would enable me, if necessary, to explain  Pg.47  the cause of that difference. Many of the labourers who had families lived in temporarily constructed huts, and on the 21st of October, seven of such huts in the parish of Ore were burnt to the ground.

For robbing a ganger, a man named William Gates was sent to Lewes for trial on the 3rd of November. The charge, was that he had robbed the ganger while asleep out of doors, of a silver watch, worth £3.00, one sovereign, five half sovereigns and a florin. On the 12th of the same month, a man named George Lee lost one eye, with a probability of losing the other in an operation of blasting some part of the Ore tunnel.

On the 7th of December a young man named Richard Jones was taken to the Infirmary, he having been nearly buried and severely hurt by a fall of earth between Hastings and Battle. Frederick Hilton, a lad, was also in the Infirmary with a broken thigh. These two accidents were on the South-Eastern Railway works on the London and Hastings branch.

Although the Hastings and Ashford line was not opened for public traffic until 1851, of which opening and other particulars will be found in chapter XLVI — the work of keying the St. Leonards and Hastings tunnels, as a finishing touch, was arranged for the 28th of October. Alderman Thomas Farncomb, Lord Mayor of London, was invited to perform the operation; and, albeit, I have given details of the ceremony in my “History of the Farncombs” Historico-Biographies, Vol 1 its repetition here is necessary to complete my story of the Hastings and Ashford railway, in 1850.

His lordship having accepted the invitation of the directors of the South Eastern Railway Company to put the finishing touch to their Ashford, Rye and Hastings branch, the event was regarded with much curiosity by the people of Hastings, and specially so by those who had supported the South-Eastern Company in preference to the Brighton Company for communication with London and Hastings. There was, therefore, excitement on the morning of the appointed day, but there was also not a little depression, it being viewed by some as a bad augury that, unlike the brilliant weather which attended his lordship’s first state-visit to Hastings, the day was wet and miserable, added to which there was on the preceding day an unfortunate landslip of 30,000 cubic yards of earth on the north side of the Mount Pleasant tunnel. By this untoward accident the rails were forced upward and outward many feet from their position. All hands were at once set to the seemingly superhuman work of clearing away the obtruding earth and getting the rails back into their place. Stupendous efforts were made by all concerned, the promise of extra pay causing the workmen to exert themselves to the utmost. Thus from Sunday morning until about noon on Monday the work of reparation was continued, during which just when hope returned that the difficulty would be surmounted some more of the earth slid down and increased both the labour and anxiety. Additional men were got together from other parts of the line where their services were still required, the consequence of which was the want of completion of the line in the parish of Guestling until within an hour or two of the contemplated time. Even up to the last moment it was feared that the line would not be in readiness for the Mayors of London and Hastings to accomplish their work on the day appointed; and here it should be stated that Mayor Farncomb was to perform the ceremony of keying-in the Mount Pleasant tunnel and the St. Leonards tunnel, whilst Mayor Scrivens was to insert the last brick in the Hastings tunnel. Two of these objects and actions were ultimately accomplished, but for reasons hereafter shewn, the third had to be abandoned.

No difficulty was apprehended in the journey of the Lord Mayor and his party from Ashford to Rye, at which latter town it was proposed the train should stop, and an address be presented from the inhabitants: but as there was still a doubt as to the possibility of removing the obstruction further on, other means were adopted for bringing the party to Hastings, should the necessity arise. Mr C. P. Hutchings, of the Marine Hotel, was also a large fly-proprietor, and being well acquainted with Mr. Hoof, the contractor, as well as with his highly-respected son — the latter of whom regrettably died at the hotel — was appealed to for providing a large number of conveyances, some to go to Rye with the Company’s engineer and chairman of directors, and some to a nearer part of the line, in each case to return with such of the travelling party as might not have been able to proceed further. But as supporting the aphorism that "mishaps come not singly," other accidents and disappointments occurred, as will here be described. Mr. Hutchings got together some twenty or more carriages, of which number nine or ten were sent to the neighbourhood of Bunger-hill — where quite recently a station has been formed—and the remainder to Rye. In the journey to Rye, however, the horses attached to the carriage in which Mr. MacGregor and Captain Barlow were seated ran away, upsetting the carriage and throwing its occupants to the ground. The first-named gentleman escaped unhurt, but Captain Barlow received some injuries. In another carriage was Mr G. Scrivens, our Hastings Mayor, who received the two gentlemen into his carriage, and thus enabled them to continue their journey to Rye. That such an accident should have occurred is no source of wonderment to persons who have travelled to or from Rye via the Guestling and Icklesham hills in bygone times, when they were in a worse condition than they are now; and especially is it no surprise to me who have had two similar "spills" while travelling that route. It seemed, however, that there was to be no end to the many accidents which happened before the completion of that line of railway, some of which, as being intimately acquainted with Capt. Barlow (engineer), Mr. MacGregor (chairman of Directors), Mr: Butt (assistant-engineer), Messrs. Newton, Smith, Fisher and Mendy (contractors) and Mr. Fry (surgeon), I was called upon to assist at or otherwise to witness. It is my intention to give a classified list of the numerous accidents as I proceed with my general history; and if it should seem that my own personality is too frequently introduced in what I write, the explanation is that I am prompted by the desire to offer vouchers of accuracy through opportunities of personal attestation. It may also be stated that I was at the time a contributor to a county paper. I purpose, however, to complete the story of the Lord Mayor’s last public visit to Hastings by appropriating the excellent report of the Hastings and St. Leonards News, the oldest of our local journals.

On the arrival of the expected train at Rye, the occupants were received by the Mayor and Corporation and the leading gentry and trade, who had walked in procession from the Town Hall, preceded by the mace-bearers, a band of music, flags, &c.; flags were also hoisted on the Church, the Town Hall, Landgate Tower, &c.; and a temporary arch was erected over the line near the station, bearing the word "Welcome," in gold letters, with the Cinque Ports arms and the arms of the City of London on either side, decorated with evergreens. Merry peals were rung from the church bells. The Lord Mayor, the Chairman and Directors, with their friends, alighted at the station, where the following address was read by E. N. Dawes, Esq., Town Clerk: :—

To the Chairman and Directors of the South Eastern Railway Company.

Sir and Gentlemen, We, the Mayor and Corporation and Inhabitants of the Ancient Town and Port of Rye, cordially and sincerely greet you on your arrival here this day, and on the completion of the works of the Ashford, Rye and Hastings Line.

We hail it as a prospect of a new era for the benefit of this Town, and we hope that you may long continue to manage the affairs of this important Company, advantageously to the interests of those whom you represent, feeling as we do, that under such circumstances an opportunity will be afforded for the development of the resources and energies of those who now respectfully address you and give you a hearty welcome.

Signed on behalf of the meeting, JEREMIAH SMITH, Mayor. Dated 28th October, 1850.

Mr. MacGregor made a suitable reply. The whole party then partook of refreshment; after which they left, amid loud cheers from the spectators, of whom there were upwards of a thousand. P. Barlow, Esq., engineer in chief, preceded the train in a beautifully constructed miniature engine, to which was attached a coupé carriage, so as to pilot the travellers. On reaching Guestling, nearly an hour’s delay took place, the road not having been completed for a short space. At length the Ore tunnel was reached (which is 1380 yards long), and here the important ceremony took place of nominally completing the work, by inserting the last brick. Accompanied by the Chairman and Directors, the engineers and other invited friends, his Lordship alighted from the train, and having ascended the platform erected for the purpose, after a short address, the brick was pronounced to be deposited in its (we trust} long resting place in a “workmanlike manner” — having, it would seem, been pronounced by the engineer as satisfactorily completed.

In the interim a scene had been going on at the Terminus about which we, as chroniclers of the day's proceedings, must say a few words. In the circulars of invitation issued by the Directors to the Town Council of Hastings, and other guests, to the déjeuner at the Swan Hotel, one o'clock was named as the hour of arrival. About this time numbers might be seen wending their way towards the Priory, attracted by the strains of the Town Band, which was waiting to greet the train's arrival. A great concourse had assembled, although the ground was exceedingly damp, from the heavy rain. One o'clock came, two o'clock came, but no train, nor any tidings of it, and the public mind began to waver as to the probability of its reaching Hastings at all. By half-past two many began to think of returning home, feeling assured that something had occurred to prevent the auspicious event from coming off at all, The ballast engine went up the line to reconnoitre, but was not many minutes ere it returned at a rapid speed, and in the distance the curling smoke, of another engine was descried when, in an instant, the cry was raised, "They come, they come!” In this, however, disappointment had again to be submitted to. The Sampson, with three second-class carriages attached, had piloted the road, but could give no account of the voyageurs, they not having  Pg.48 been seen on this side of Rye. In ten minutes another engine was seen coming at a rapid rate, when the announcement was again made of the approach. This was the small engine. No. 126, with carriage attached, built by the South-Eastern Company for traveling on the line on special occasions. In this was Mr. P. Barlow, the Engineer, with one of the directors, who announced the long-expected train as close at hand. All was cleared in a few minutes.

The band struck up an enlivening strain, and all was animation. A few minutes after three his lordship arrived with six first-class carriages, drawn by No. 18 engine, and, accompanying was a great number of ladies and gentlemen, invited on the occasion. The beautiful little model engine at once crossed the road just finished, and proceeded on to Messrs. Newton’s and Co.'s line towards Bopeep, accompanied by its two former occupants, leaving the other carriages to follow. On reaching the platform, about forty yards within the tunnel, the Lord Mayor alighted, as well as our own respected Mayor, Geo. Scrivens, Esq., and other gentlemen, for the purpose of inserting the last brick. This was done by our worthy chief magistrate, who made a few appropriate remarks: expressive of the pleasure he felt in having the honour of completing so important a work as the South-Eastern Company's coast line. Inscribed on brass plates, neatly inserted in bricks; were, “Farncomb, Lord Mayor of London, Oct. 28, l850, G. Scrivens, Mayor of Hastings, J. McGregor, Chairman of Directors, P. W. Barlow, Engineer in Chief, R. H. Barlow, Resident Engineer, W. Butt, Assistant Engineer”. The handsome silver trowel was then handed over to the resident engineer by the Mayor, and the work declared-completed, amidst the huzzas of the assembled throng. It being now nearly half-past three, it was deemed advisable to forego the keying-in of the St. Leonards tunnel, where a similar ceremony was intended to be gone through by Lord Mayor Farncomb; but as he had already inserted the last brick in the longest tunnel this was not thought of much consequence. The distinguished visitors proceeded to the Swan, where an excellent spread, prepared by Messrs. Hutchings and Carswell awaited them. The engine, with the principal engineer, traversed the two tunnels at a moderate speed, running to the junction with the Brighton line. Such a sight as was witnessed in the tunnel seldom occurs. It was one blaze of lights, some hundreds of candles illumining the dark walls. The stage was fantastically decorated with lights, and had a striking effect. By courtesy of the contractors, we were enabled to inspect the works on this part of the line, temporary carriages being fitted up in case of emergency, should the ordinary train not have reached Hastings. The work-men on the St. Leonards contract were plentifully regaled, to the number of 400, with Bread, cheese and ale.


The so-called dejéuner, at the Swan Hotel did not "take place until four o'clock in the afternoon in consequence of the delays heretofore described. A lengthy report of the same appeared in the Hastings News, but of which, to, economise space, connective extracts only are here reproduced. Upwards of one hundred persons partook of the repast, which was prepared by Mr. W. Carswell, assisted by Mr. C, Hutchings, of the Marine Hotel, who laboured under the difficulty of having to keep the viands hot from one o'clock to four. Mr. MacGregor, chairman of the directors, presided, and at the same table were seated Alderman Farncomb (Lord Mayor of London), Mr. G. Scrivens (Mayor of Hastings), Messrs. Hollond and Brisco (Borough Members), Mr. J. Smith (Mayor of Rye), &c. There were also present most of the Hastings Corporation and the Directors of the South-Eastern Railway Company. The post-prandial proceedings commenced with the customary loyal toasts, after which the chairman said, I have the honour of proposing "The Health of the Lord Mayor of London,” while I ask his 1ordship's permission to thank him for the honour he has conferred on the South-Eastern Company in performing the ceremony of completing the tunnels. We feel it an honour that a man — not more dignified by his office than by his personal virtues and abilities, and one who is a native of Hastings — should have completed that line of communication that connects, not only Ashford with Hastings, but also Ramsgate with Plymouth. I cannot convey to you more fully the importance of this work than by quoting the high authority of the Duke of Wellington, who valued the line in a military view as forming a connection between the various defences of the country. These views were also those of the Earl of Dalhousie, the distinguished Governor-General of India. The Lord Mayor, like a master-workman, has this day turned the last rivet and fixed the last link in the chain, and I feel assured that in wishing his lordship every happiness and a long life, I only express the wish of everyone present. His hand has ever been held out to assist the young and the enterprising, and many here are aware of the services he has rendered to many in Hastings and elsewhere. The toast was heartily responded to.

The Lord Mayor, Alderman Farncomb, whose rising was the signal for prolonged cheers, said he truly felt that he had had a great honour paid him in being selected to perform the important duty described by the Chairman. The remembrance of such a pleasure would go down with him to the last day of his life. Beyond this, they had done him the honour of drinking to his very good health. In his position as Lord Mayor of London, if he could only carry out the duties as he felt they should be, it would indeed be a source of great satisfaction. So far all had gone on well, and if it should continue to the end it would make him a happy man, and particularly so as a man of Sussex.

The Chairman next proposed “Prosperity to the Borough of Hastings". He felt rewarded for his own exertions by the reflection that the work thus far completed would tend to replace the borough in the position it was in before the formation of railways by joining it to those towns of Kent and Sussex that were formerly most in relation with it. He also had confidence in the success of the line, notwithstanding Lord Dalhousie’s opinion that it would not pay as a commercial transaction. The Company owed a debt of gratitude to Hastings, for it was a fact that the line in this neighbourhood was not commenced until after the Act which gave the Company power to purchase land had expired. In no single instance was this legal difficulty taken advantage of by the proprietors of land, and thus what might have been serious difficulties were avoided. The delay was caused by the poverty of the Company, and some persons thought the line would never be completed. He spoke with the greatest sincerity in introducing the toast, and he would couple with it the name of their excellent Mayor. Mr. Scrivens quickly replied, apologising for his haste by reverting to the growing lateness and to the fact that the directors had to proceed as soon as possible to Folkestone. He thanked the Railway Company for their hospitality, and wished they could have been favoured with finer weather and a longer stay. He hoped that the railroad would benefit both the Company and the town, and he cordially proposed as a toast "The Health of the Chairman of the Board of Directors". Mr. MacGregor had; been deputed by the great capitalists of Liverpool to take direction of the affairs of a great company, a position of which a man might well be proud. In carrying out the line for this locality the Chairman had encountered difficulties probably known only to himself and his colleagues, but the good result was now making itself evident.

The Chairman, in returning thanks, said, with respect to his exertions, he was grateful in thinking that railway property had turned the corner, and that his life had been prolonged through the period of difficulty. After further remarks Mr. MacGregor resigned his seat to the Mayor of Hastings and with the Directors and the Lord May or took his departure for Folkestone, where dinner was ordered for half-past six, the time being then half past five. The meeting at the Swan was continued under the chairmanship of the Mayor, various toasts following each other, which called forth speeches from the Rev. T. P. Sproule, Messrs. Hollond and Brisco (Borough Members), Messrs. Hoof and Smith (con- tractors), Mr. W. Ginner, Mr Shorter(Town Clerk}, Mr. Baker (Clerk of the Peace), Councillor Ross, Mr. Langham, Councillor Hutchings, Mr. Pitter (of the Hastings News), Mr. Edge, Mr. Deudney, and other gentlemen. In the meanwhile, the absent party having regained the train, proceeded on their perilous return journey to Ashford, which town they did not reach until 9 o'clock, and where they found the party who were to be their guests almost tired out with hunger, it being three hours after the appointed time ere they could sit down to the table. At half-past nine the dinner was served up, and at an hour after midnight the heroic party started for London.

The Road Coach[edit]

From rail roads to coach-roads is but a step, not only in the imagination, but also in actuality; and the sentence is here employed to introduce an opportune connection of the past and present modes of travelling. It will be understood that the more direct route of the South-Eastern Company’s line via Tunbridge Wells was not yet completed to Hastings, and that one or more of our well-appointed coaches still ran to the midway station for passengers. A newspaper correspondent thought, however, that the fares were too high, and he wrote thus: that — “Sir, in these days of rail and steam, a voice from the road may sound like a voice from the dead; but I beg to be allowed to inform the public that the road from Hastings to Tunbridge Wells has not quite given up the ghost. On the contrary, the public may still be conveyed on this road in a as fine in a coach, drawn by as fine a team of horses, and driven by as fine as a coachman as ever graced the road in days of old. But I must also inform them, that if they travel by this coach, they will be required to pay for it. I was an outside passenger from Battle to Hastings the other day, a distance of seven miles, and was charged the modest sum of 3s., and a young friend was charged 5s. for 11 miles. I beg of you to give your veto against such charges and endeavour to induce Mr. Coachman to moderate his bill of fare”.

Preparations for Robertson terrace, Robertson street & Carlisle Parade[edit]

 Pg.49  That the near completion of the railway terminus in the Priory Meadow should be an incentive to building operations in that neighbourhood was a concomitant likely to be expected; and means were therefore employed to utilize for that purpose the Crown Lands, which, after the driving off the usurpers of “no-man’s-land”, had lain dormant for about fifteen years. On Friday, the 8th of Feb’y, the ceremony of transferring the Crown Lands from Her Majesty’s Commissioners to the lessees took place on the spot, between the representatives of each party, the one conducting the other over the ground the “walking-in” thus completing the transfer. Apropos of this simple ceremony, the Hastings and St. Leonard’s News had an article, from which the following extracts are made: —

“Many of our readers, doubtless, recollect the Desert (as it has recently been denominated) ere Neptune and the Board of Woods and Forests combined to give a stimulus to local immigration by rudely disturbing aboriginal right, and violating many a local habitation where at the period of which we write many a person might still have sung “home sweet home” while wending his way to free ‘America,’ and knew

‘By the smoke that so gracefully curled
’Bove the Rope Walk his cottage was near.’

But this antique accumulation of ill-built and undrained houses has long been removed, and we do not grieve the change. The ground has for the last few years presented a waste, a bleak and sterile wilderness — an fact which needs not our pen to awaken it in the recollection of anyone who has chanced to journey across it on a winter’s day during a gale from the north, with snow, rain or hail as an accompaniment. A scheme is now in working for covering the ground with capacious mansions and shops, which, when erected, may again become the homes of those who were driven from their ‘native land’ to wander in the strange country of Hastings and St. Leonard’s. According to the plans now lying at the office of Messrs. Reeks and Humbert, a row of good sized houses is intended for the front. This will consist of 36 houses [the number built being 31 and the Queen’s Hotel], with a frontage each of 22 ft. 6 in., and a depth of 40 feet. The centre houses [named Robertson terrace when built] will be run back in the form of a crescent, the space in front being filled up with a grass plat or ornamental ground. The line of frontage [here] will be 70 feet from the sea wall, and a carriage road will be allowed in front of the houses. No road across the ground will be left [a track only existed previously], but 10 feet in width will be given to the present road [now Robertson-street] leading from York Buildings to White Rock. On the south side of this road and along the whole extent will be a line of shops, and the same northward between the St. Leonards road and the one going up the hill towards Bohemia, so as to fill up the angular  Pg.50  space fronting Claremont. A single exception to this will be the corner house at the angle of the roads at Claremont place, which will be reserved for a lodging-house [also shop], the spot affording a glimpse [a good view] of the sea. This place will be in all probability the heart of the borough.” [The words interpolated between brackets indicate the conditions after the work was carried out.]

The Building Operations at the Priory[edit]

After the Crown land had been transferred to the lessees, no time was lost in getting to work, so that in the first week in March active operations had commenced upon the foundations, cellars, drains, etc.

On Monday, June 24, Mr. Anthony Harvey laid the first stone of a range of buildings on the Priory Ground, which at first it was proposed to call Waldegrave Place. After the ceremony, the party, with a band of music, and the builder, Richd. Cramp, proceeded to the Wellington Inn to a dejéuner.

Building operations were continued with spirit, and seemed to remind one of a similar energy that was displayed in the erection of St. Leonards two and twenty years before. There was also a coincidence in the time of year in which the new town of St. Leonards and the new part of Hastings were commenced — namely the first week in March. The first shop opened on the Priory ground, — afterwards named Robertson-street was on the 5th of October. It was opened by Mr. Henry Polhill, who carried on the trade of pork-butcher and poulterer. He was also an electioneering agent in the Conservative interest.

Marine Casualties[edit]

The month of February brought a succession of south-west gales, and on the 11th day of the month, the “Happy Return”, a dandy-rigged vessel, which had been landing railway material, was hauled off the shore and sailed away westward, but having to encounter rough weather, she became leaky, ran for Rye Harbour grounded on the bar, and became a complete wreck. On the 14th, three coal-brigs were ashore discharging their cargoes. Their names were The Lamburn, The Pelican and Queen Victoria. A gale came on, and at about 11 p.m. The Lamburn managed to get off and went away fairly well. The Pelican was next in floating, but had a narrow escape, one of her stern hawsers having broken while the vessel was being hauled off. The Queen also broke one of her hawsers and was obliged to be wound up. At the same time a fishing-lugger, a short distance from shore, shipped a heavy sea, heeled over, and had her raft carried away. Also the Fairy schooner, owned by the Messrs. Burfield, of Hastings, was washed up at Eastbourne.

On the 21st of March, the last named vessel was again launched  Pg.51  from the slipway at the Priory, after having been got home from Eastbourne and undergone repairs. A casualty of a different description — a casualty without loss, except a loss of time — was that of the 14th of May, when a barge from London named “The Four Brothers”, was brought ashore under the Customs surveillance, on the suspicion of having smuggled goods. The barge was laden with timber and guano, and, after undergoing a rigid search, she disappointed the searchers in their hoped-for prize, and got released.

The Fairy Schooner, already referred to, was the scene of another mishap on the 21st of May. While off Dungeness, on her way from the north to Hastings, her apprentice, George Aggams, fell from the top most head, and struck the bulwarks and then over into the sea. A life-belt was thrown to him, but as he made no effort to save himself, it was supposed that he was unconscious, and he sank before a boat could be lowered.

Another drowning case occurred on the 1st of August, but under different conditions. The schooner “Prospect” from Aberdeen, was getting under weigh at the Priory after discharging a load of deals, when James Forbes, a sailor, in a state of intoxication, fell overboard. Another drunken man pushed off to save his comrade, but owing to his incapacity, Forbes quickly sank, to rise no more. The mate had been discharged the night before for drunkenness, and had got robbed of his watch. The drowned man left a wife and four children.

On the 23rd of October, as Adam’s fishing lugger was running home before a gale with a heavy catch of herrings at low water, she struck on some rocks and was for some time in a perilous condition. Cables were managed to be attached to the boat, and then lustily pulled by people on shore until, aided also by the rising tide, the boat was dragged off the rocks with the result of only small damage.

On the day preceding the last named accident, William Hide’s boat “Enterprise” brought in 9 tubs of spirits picked up at sea, and supposed to have been the outcome of a casualty to smugglers, by accident or design in getting adrift when the dark nights were too rough or the still nights were too bright for being “run in”.

Within a week, other casks of spirits were severally picked up by coastguards and Langley Fort, Galley hill, 62 tower and Ecclesbourne. These were washed ashore, and idea was entertained by some persons that there had been a fatal misadventure.

Marine Curiosities[edit]

At the beginning of the year, in a cod-fish caught by Thomas Bodle, off Bexhill, was a tortoise-shell comb; and being offered a price for it, Bodle said he should himself keep it as a curiosity.  Pg.52 On the of the 17th of February, a halibut fish, weighing 200 lbs. and measuring 5 feet 10 inches, was caught by fisherman Foord, and sold to fishmonger Ball, at St. Leonards, who sent it to London. The halibut is the largest of the flat-fish species, and is rarely taken in the English waters.

“Something Extraordinary” The announcement which appeared on the outside of a tent placed on the beach was — “To be seen a Wonderful Curiosity”. The ancient fishermen supposed it to have been lost from a man-of-war when the Castle was standing. There was, of course, a charge for admission, and the object to be seen was an old anchor, covered with barnacles.

On the 21st of April a novel scene was presented by thousands of water-fowl, supposed to be black ducks, on the sea off Hastings, which being disturbed by a fishing-boat, bent their course to sea and were lost to sight in a shower of rain.

As showing to what uses a fishing lugger can be put, the “Francis and Sarah”, in the midst of a thunder-storm on June 26, brought from Havre half a ton of cherries and a cargo of potatoes. This, in its way was also a curiosity. The same boat on the 2nd of July brought a cargo of cherries from Honfleur. She also brought Benjamin Taylor, one of the crew of the “Richard Cobden”, captured by the French for illegal oyster dredging.

In September, a marine curiosity in the form of a short sun-fish (Orthagoricus mola) was to be seen in front of the Marine Parade, and another marine curiosity, measuring 32 inches and weighing 9 lbs. was exhibited at the fishmongers shop of Ball & Stace.

Accidents and Incidents[edit]

On the 16th of February, John Thos. Pomphrey, son of a fisherman, Francis Pomphrey, had one side of his face riddled with shot, at the East Well from the of the gun of boatman Jas. Fennings, while the latter was placing the nipple on his gun, to fire, with some of other men at a mark.

A singular accident was that which befell Henry Parker on the 11th of March. While sawing some tops of trees in the Wilderness at the top of High street, he was struck by one of the branches as it fell, which threw him from his footing. He held by one hand until he sprained the tendons of his arm and the tips of his fingers. He then dropped a considerable distance, and in so doing dislocated his ankle and broke the bone. With great presence of mind, he reset the joint as he lay on the ground, and being afterwards conveyed to his home, he there made satisfactory progress towards recovery.

On the 12th of April, Mr. Hickes’s horse, with a van, dashed into the window of a stationer’s shop at White-rock place, kept by Mr. Holt, and broke 16 squares of glass; also carried away the framework and injured the goods.  Pg.53 George Higglett, a child of three years, while crossing the road near the parade, was run over by a chaise-cart and considerably hurt; and a woman, who saw the accident, went into a fit.

On the 21st of May, the wife of fisherman Edward Kent, set fire to her clothes while in a state of intoxication. Her husband and a man, who was called in, extinguished the flames, but not till the woman was seriously burnt.

A Fatal Fall.— On Saturday the 22nd of June, the entire parapet and some of the scaffolding of the east side of a house in Wellington Place suddenly fell whilst the men were at work, and one of the bricklayers, named Thos. Francis, was thrown to the ground and killed. The house was the property of Mr. Richard Styles, and was being built on the ground formerly used by Ransom and Ridley as a ship-yard. The ex-royal family, at St. Leonards, passed the spot soon after the accident, and seeing the road strewed with wrecked masonry and timber, made enquiries and headed a subscription with £5 for the deceased man’s young widow.

Five days later (June 27th) a waggon, with hay, was coming out of the Swan Yard, when the greater portion of the load fell off, and broke two squares of plate glass and the frame of Mr. Amoore’s shop window.

On the 2nd of July a party of young folk journeyed from Hastings to Bodiam for a day’s pleasure, and on returning home at night, the shaft of their vehicle broke, and they had to walk the rest of the way from Sedlescombe.

Four days before the last-named accident, Richard French was jerked out of a waggon on the Hole Farm, and the wheels passed over his breast, but broke no bones. It was regarded as little short of a miracle.

An Injured Eye. — A young gentleman from Cambridge, staying at White-rock Place, while trying to break a stone by throwing it against another, so injured an eye by a sharp fragment as to necessitate his being taken to London, where it was thought the site could not be recovered.

Rock-Fair Accident. — Before 1822, Rock Fair was always held under Cuckoo Hill where now are Claremont and parts of Robertson street and Trinity street; after that date in a field belonging to the Priory Farm; but in 1850 it was held in a field of Mr. Brisco’s, over the White Rock, where now are White-rock Gardens and Trinity Villas. On this last-named location a man named Polhill was at the fair with his wife, and both fell over a high part of the bank into a sand-hole. The woman had to be taken to the Infirmary, she having sustained concussion of the brain. Also, a man fell over the cliff behind 12 White-rock Place, where he lay for about five hours, and was then hauled up with ropes. He was drunk at the time and fell asleep. He was not much hurt, but his escape from death or severe injuries was regarded as miraculous.

Terrible Fall from Cliff[edit]

 Pg.54  Fall from the East Cliff.— On the 30th of July, a girl, 14 years of age, named Augusta Mooney, daughter of a widow at Camden Town, and niece to Fredk. Oakley, of Hastings, went for a walk, and not returning as was expected, search was made for her, and at 6.00 in the evening her uncle found her on a heap of rocks at about 30 feet above the Ecclesbourne station, soaked in blood and quite exhausted. She was taken to the Infirmary in a most critical condition, although sensible. She explained that when stooping down on her hands and knees [at Foul Ness Point] to look over the cliff, the earth gave way and she fell — a distance of 100 feet. Her pelvis bone was shattered, one thigh was broken, a pair of scissors in her pocket stabbed her in the side, and she was otherwise greatly bruised. For seven hours she lay in that condition, unheard and unperceived, notwithstanding her cries. Such was the information gathered at the time, and when it was thought by the medical attendants the sufferer could not possibly recover. But a week after, it was found that Miss Mooney was in a fair way of restoration, though she would be a life-long cripple. She was a very intelligent girl, and was then better able to relate the story of her accident, which was as follows: —

“I took a walk on the beach, and went up and saw some pigs and fowls at Mrs. Butler’sliving in the cliff [‘Crusoe’s Caves’]. I afterwards went up the [Tamarisk] steps to the East Hill. I walked on the hill gathering flowers. I sat down and mended my gloves. I walked on to an opening, were a piece of stone projected upwards. I placed my hand on the stone to look over. It gave way, and finding myself falling, I turned on my side and slid down till I came to a mound of stone or earth, which turned me over, and I lost my recollection. I cannot tell how long I remained insensible, but I think it must have been a long time. I felt as if in a dream, and instead of being in Hastings, I thought I was coming on the following day. When I came to myself I tried to move my arm which I laid on, and after difficulty and pain I did so. I tried to get up, but my leg seemed to swing, and I had no use of it. All my desire was to get to the sea; I was so thirsty. I saw a little boy pass and I called to him as loud as I could, but he did not hear me. I laid my head on a small lump of gravel and I think I slept a little. When I awoke I remained a long time without seeing anyone: but afterwards I saw another boy. I called to him, and he looked up and laughed, and went away. I saw my cousin’s husband and called to him, and he came. I asked for water, and he told me to be still and he would fetch a doctor. I told him I only wanted drink. I then saw some sailors and a little boy. They said ‘there she is; there is life in her yet’; and they pulled off their jackets to make a conveyance for me. I lifted up my eyes and saw some gentlemen stand, who said a stretcher was coming. I don’t know who put me on, as I was beginning to feel very faint. I recollect coming through the street, followed by many people; also coming to the Infirmary and seeing my cousins, Agnes and Matilda. After that, until I was on the bed, I don’t recollect anything but asking for water”.

 Pg.55 At about seven weeks after her accident, Miss Augusta Walter Mooney was still in the Infirmary, and making marvellous progress of healing. She was able to walk about the garden, to the astonishment of all persons who knew how extensive were her injuries. Also, at the same time, the railway labourer George Vinall, whose injuries were thought to be too severe to admit of his recovery, was making satisfactory progress.

On the 11th of September, James Bryant, a labourer was taken to the Infirmary, suffering from severe injuries to his legs, through falling or jumping off the shafts of a waggon near the “Black Horse” on the Battle road, when his legs were crushed under the wheels, making it necessary for one to be amputated.

Robinson Crusoe Caves. — In the Miss Mooney’s description of her terrible fall from the East Cliff, she said she first visited Butler’s caves. This is a reminder that on the 13th of December, two gentlemen visitors, in attempting to scale the East Cliff, via Butler’s Caves, and pig-styes, after much toil, reached a dizzy height, from which they could neither ascend nor descend; and in a terrified tone, shouted to the fishermen below to rescue them from their dilemma, promising them a handsome reward. They were eventually hauled to the top of the cliff with ropes; and, doubtless with a silent avowal not to repeat so hazardous a journey.

Butler’s Caves again.— A grandson of Butler’s, living in the “Crusoe Caves”, while playing in one of the ferry boats on the beach, was drawn out to sea, by a huge wave, with the boat, and thrown beneath the same. The boat was at the same time capsized, and the boy would have been drowned but for the rushing into the sea of a number of fishermen, who rescued him and saved the boat.

Cart Accident By in a collision, on the 4th of November, between a cart belonging to J. Sinden, a pork-butcher, of Hastings, and Filmer’s cart of Rye, the latter being furiously driven on the wrong side, Sinden’s head was severely cut, and Filmer’s cart disabled.

Falling head foremost.— Beside advertising their teas in rhymes, Stephenson and Co. (or Stevenson and Co.) on the 25th of October, adopted the expedient of sending round a band of music with a van laden with empty tea-chests. A porter named Perry fell from the said van head-downwards, and was severely injured.

Accident at the Priory. — At the new buildings on the Government Ground, on the 17th of October, by the giving way of a “putlog”, three men, each with a hod of bricks, were precipitated thirty feet to the ground, by which William Lippard severely crushed an arm, and a man named Jeffery had a wrist broken. Harvey was not much injured.  Pg.56 Frank Bennetts, senior clerk in the Hastings Bank, dislocated a shoulder in being thrown by a horse.

Hurt and Unhurt. — On the 25th of December, George Stanford, a carpenter, sustained a broken leg by being pushed into the road by a crowd; and on the next day, two flies collided in George street, and the driver of one was thrown into the road, but not injured.


An Eagle.— Mr. Bissenden, of St. Leonards, had the work to do of stuffing an eagle, which a man shot under the cliff near Pett, and sold to Mr. Tong of Battle. It weighed 8½ lbs, was 3 ft. in length, and 6½ feet in the spread of its wings.

A handsome hen-pheasant, with the plumage of a male pheasant, was in the possession of Mr. Carswell, of the Swan Hotel.

A Fox and several varieties of birds, were presented to the museum of the Hastings Mechanics’ Institution by Capt. Bird, who had recently returned from the Arctic regions, whither he went with Capt. Ross, in the Investigator in search of Sir John Franklin.

A gigantic hog was killed for Mr. Parks, of the South Colonnade, on the 14th of January. It weighed 85 stone, 3lbs., and measured 8½ feet in length and 6½ feet in girth. It was only 15 months old, and two of its kindred were still in Mr. Parks’ possession.

A six feet refracting a telescope, with excellent lenses, all made by “Crazy” Tom Richardson, of Brede, being raffled for, was won by Mr. W. Ginner, of High-street, with a throw of 91 out of a possible number of 105.

A rare feat of Equestrianism. A horse was ridden by Mr. Paul Tolhurst, up steps into the Royal Oak Hotel, through a passage and down a steep and winding flight of stairs into the lower bar, much to the astonishment of the host and numerous customers at that time assembled. When there, the animal refused to move until a glass of ale had been given to it. After that, it quietly walked out and discharged its rider by tipping him on to the pavement.

Ten feet longer. If not a rarity, it certainly was a work of ingenuity to cut a schooner asunder at midships, draw the two portions apart, and insert additional ribs, keel and timbers to the addition of ten feet. This was done on the Hastings stade to a vessel belonging to Burfield Brothers.

Old pennies. It came to the knowledge of Hastings people that the wife of a respectable farmer at Goudhurst, saved 16,200 penny-pieces of the old coinage, which she had taken in payment of farm-house commodities. The weight was 1,011½ lbs. One can imagine that this rare accumulation was by dint of solicitation rather than by the ordinary mode of commercial exchange.  Pg.57 A Bull Roar— the term of which was so rare to the writer that he had to enquire for its meaning — took place at the “The Fortune of War” by a supper from the prize ox of last year’s Lean Stock Show at Hastings. The animal was afterwards fattened and purchased by Mr. Walter Vincent. The dead ox weighed 192 stone, exclusive of 18 stone of fat.

Temperance Rarities. — At the Temperance meeting on the 11th of September, presided over by Mr. W. Ransom, an analysis of a recent report was given by Mr. Pitter, in which D. H., a sawyer, had entirely recovered from a complication of diseases, said to be incurable, by adopting the cold-water cure and total abstinence. J. C., a bricklayer, once a complete drunkard, had greatly benefited by six months trial of temperance. F. C., had been very intemperate, but since his change had made himself a comfortable home. W. H., a railway time-keeper, after many years of moderate drinking, “fell down the hill” as a drunkard, but now as a teetotaller was a better man in all the relations of life. H. T., an old soldier, had been many years a drunkard, but was now benefited physically, morally and financially by teetotalism. F. Streeter had been ten years a member of the society, and hoped the cases enumerated would become less rare.

Union-house Rarities. — At the sitting of the Board of Guardians on Sept. 19, the proceedings occupied less than an hour, a fact said to be unprecedented in the history of the Board. Another rarity was the fewer inmates by 40 than the number in the previous year’s corresponding quarter. A third rarity came to the knowledge of the Board that a woman named Sarah Clayfield, aged 67, had recently died in the Stroud Workhouse, where she had been from infancy, and had cost for her maintenance, reckoned at 2/6 per week, no less a sum than £446, leaving out the interest. The Guardians might well hope that such cases would continue to be rare.

A rare farming operation was that of setting three grains of maize corn and getting an abundant crop. This was done by Mr. E. W. Stubbs, in his garden at Laurel Villa (now “the Laurels”). The seed was transmitted from America by Bartlett Woods, the youngest son of the Hastings postmaster, whose farm was at Hickory Ridge, Ross township, Indiana. The seed thus planted grew to perfection, and in the same time (March to October) as in America.

A Rarity in Shaving. — In the week which ended on December 28, a respectably dressed man entered Stonestreet’s shop and requested to be shaved. After the operation, he asked for it to be repeated, remarking that he had undergone this process in all quarters of the globe, but had never been so easily shaved before. The lather and the razor were again applied, not only once, but actually fifteen times, by request. All that time the barber’s whimsical customer showed no signs of risibility, whilst the operator could barely repress a fit of  Pg.58 laughter. After the 15th shave, the gentleman calculated the cost of the service thus rendered to be half a crown, paid the money and took his leave. This event, which was one of “Billy” Stonestreet’s varied experiences, was in strong contrast, to one of Chatfield’s, at an earlier date, which was this: — A well-known economist, named Godden, insisted on being shaved for a penny, and shaved he was, but to his mortification, as he afterwards discovered, on one side only. He protested against what he called (or mis-called) a bare-faced cheat, but his protest was unavailing.

A Rare Christmas Box. — At Christmastide, an inmate of the Hastings Union, named Richard Page, whom I once knew as a basket-maker, living at the foot of Bourne street, received a letter from his step-son, Frederick Ballard Page, enclosing a draft for 250 dollars, with an intimation that a similar sum would be transmitted quarterly.

Robberies and Forgeries[edit]

A Robbery was committed at the house of Mr. W. Giles, organist, on the 10th of January, whilst he and Mrs. Giles were from home, attending a professional engagement. The thief effected an entrance to the bedroom and carried off £12 or £13in gold and silver.

A Fat Sheep, was carried off during the night of the 20th of January, from a field near Hastings Lodge, the said sheep belonging to butcher Waghorne of Castle street. The head and skin were left on the field.

A Great Forgery of £5 notes on the Brighton Union Bank was discovered in Hastings on Saturday, the 22nd of February, and a number of the spurious notes (an excellent imitation) passed on tradesmen by the swindlers. In about two hours as many as 27 of the forged notes were thus passed, but four of the gang were caught, and on the following Monday were committed for trial. There had not been a similarly great excitement since the failure of Wigney’s branch bank, some years before. The detected thieves were Joseph Green, of London, Joseph Hasland, of Sheffield, Robert Stewart, of Brighton, and Henry Clarkson. On the same Saturday evening two men passed the same sort of forged notes at Lewes, the victimised tradesmen being Mr. Funnell, of the Cliffe; Mr. Funnell, of St. Ann’s; Mr. Funnell of Southover; Mr. Porter, a butcher; and Mr. Broad, a tallow-chandler. The swindlers got away from that town without detection. The Funnells were related to friends of mine at Chiddingly, and Mr. Broad used to serve grocers of Hastings, with candles. The two men at St. Leonards and Hastings passed the spurious notes on Mr. R. Coleman,  Pg.59  of Grand parade; David Hurst, of Norman road; William Beck, of East Ascent; Mr. Taylor, of Stratford place; Mr. Taylor of York place; James Emary, of the Castle Hotel; Robert Dunk, of Castle street; Alfred Amoore, of Castle street; Mr. Taylor, of George street; Mr. Robinson, of George street; Mr. West, of the Anchor Inn; Rodger Bromley, of George street; J. & G. Amoore, of High st.; H. Dunk, of High street; and W. Grant, of High street. Thus, 16 persons were victimised in St. Leonards and Hastings, 9 of whom were grocers. The rogues appeared to have commenced operations at East Ascent, and then into Norman road, where they only succeeded in duping Mr. Hurst. Getting down to Grand parade, Mr. Coleman was the next victim. Then passing the range of lodging-houses at Eversfield place, Verulam place and White-rock place they made another haul at Stratford place. Robertson street was then in course of formation, so they had to go on to York place. They next proceeded through Castle Street, Breeds place, George street, and to nearly the top of High street, in all of which places they were successful in palming off their notes, either in exchange for good money or in the purchase of some small articles. If the rogues had been content with their ill-gotten booty so far, and had decamped at once, they would probably have got clear away. But as if they wanted to make up their eighty pounds to at least a hundred, and being unsuccessful in some of their attempts, they got back again into busy George street, where they tried the game on Mr. John Reeves, by whom they got checkmated. Mr. Reeves and his brother had their suspicions aroused by the manner of one of the swindlers, and Mr. Reeves communicated his ideas first to PC. Hayward, and next to Inspector Campbell at the station. The latter, however, displayed an indifference about the matter, and took no steps to search for the utterers of the notes. Richard Reeves followed the man who had called at his brother’s shop, and kept him in sight for ¾ of an hour, whilst Mr. John Reeves went to the station, but finding no police coming to his aid, at length gave up the pursuit. The brothers, however, after closing the shop, went again in search of the suspected rogues, but could not find them. A memorial was afterwards presented to the Mayor and magistrates by the tradesmen who had been duped, and the Inspector was called to account. In his defence, he said he was very dull that night in consequence of some family affairs which he did not wish then to go into, but which caused him to be quite overcome. He admitted that he was negligent in the case, and would leave the matter to the magistrates’ kind consideration, hoping that they would remember his long service of 29 years. The Mayor, after paying a high compliment to Mr. Reeves for his exertions, told Campbell that the sentence of the court was that he be suspended for a month. This decision was afterwards confirmed by the Watch Committee of the Town  Pg.60  Council, who also suspended Sergt. Ginner for a like period because he refused to act while being off duty. Sergt. Phillips was appointed to take the Inspector’s place, and privates Jones and Adams were to be sergeants. The utterers of the notes got away notwithstanding the energetic watchfulness of the Brothers Reeves, simply through the supineness of the police. They were connected with a gang of forgerers and utterers, some of whom were taken and judicially dealt with. One of the gang, named William Davies, was captured at Birmingham. The gang had forged and passed notes on the banks of Stourbridge, Sheffield, Rotherham, Weymouth, Chippingham (sic), Northampton, Leeds, Warwick, Worcester, York, Darlington, Abergavenny and Brighton. The readers of this will do well to read also the speech of the Mayor at the Trade-protection dinner, in an antecedent section of this chapter.

Pocket Picking. On the 17th of July, a lady, while sitting on the parade, had her pocket picked of a new purse, containing a sovereign and some silver. Perhaps the picker thought the purse was safer in his own pocket, but being unknown and unfound, he could not well be questioned.

Obtaining Money. — Another way of obtaining money was revealed on the 28th of August by a case at the County Bench. One Francis de Latour Dupin, professing to be the son of an aide-de-camp to the late Count de Neuilly, was charged with extorting money under false pretences. He had a bandage over his left eye, and his right arm in a sling. He had, he said, a pistol wound in his arm and a bayonet wound in his face, which he got at Rome. His arm, he declared had also been broken at Hastings while getting out of a carriage. These and the other versions of his ills were the means by which he obtained 3/- from some ladies near Bexhill, 2/6 each from a Mr. Paine and another man at the Bopeep hotel, 11/6 and 2/6 from Mr. Lucas-Shadwell, at Fairlight, with food, wine, and bed at a cottage, he having been found in the road, supposed to be in a fit. The evidence, however, of surgeon F. Ticehurst, (who tore off his bandages and showed the deception), together with that of other witnesses, resulted in the impostor being sent to three months hard labour at Lewes.

Another way of doing it. — Cn the 2nd of August, a man about six feet high and of fine proportions, having also a gentlemanly bearing, and calling himself Mr. Martin, from Court Lodge, Mountfield, where he had been shooting, called on the tradesmen and gave orders to a large amount, at the same time taking away the goods in his dog-cart. Tailors, shoemakers, a draper, a clothier, a perfumer, a gunsmith and a saddler, were all patronised. A horse was also hired of Mr. Hoad to do duty in a tandem. At length, his manoeuvers were observed by tailor Harman, whose suspicions were communicated to the Mayor, and the police  Pg.61 were put on Mr. Martin’s track. Taught by experience in the forgery case, the police were now more alert, and when confronted by the men in blue, the hero of the story was unable to give satisfactory answers to their questions, and immediately set about to show that discretion was the better part of valour by delivering his too easily acquired stock to their several owners. The goods thus returned included ten or twelve pairs of boots from Mr. John Reeves; showing that he, astute and wary as he was in the case of uttering forged notes, was not entirely proof against imposition.

A Loin purloined. On the 16th of December, during the evening, the larder at 34 Marina was found to be minus a loin of mutton, a leg of mutton and a piece of beef. This was achieved by some unseen person who cared more for meat than honesty.

Stealing and assaulting. On a Sunday evening, two respectable females who were out on an errand occasioned by illness of one of their household, were knocked down by four navvies, issuing from the Albion Shades, and were considerably hurt, one of them also having stolen from her a shawl, said to be worth a guinea. People might well desire the railways finished and the workmen gone.

Bank Robbery. The not infrequent robberies of banks in one way or another proves that notwithstanding their many checks to dishonesty, the ingenuity and dexterity of thieves are sometimes more than a match for them. In the second month of the year now under review (Feb. 17th) a young man, 20 years of age, named Thomas F. Laurence, by profession a sailor, entered the Hastings branch of the London and County Bank, then in George street and carried off £37 in gold and £22 7s. in silver.

The Church a Robber. It is possible that there would be many dissentients to the following charge made at an All Saints’ vestry on April 1st, but the charge was there and then made by Mr. “Split-plum” (Henry) Thwaites, who was a Wesleyan as well as a grocer. Mr. Jackson having proposed that Thomas Elliott be re-elected organist at £20 a year, and the money be raised by subscription, Mr. Thwaites opposed it, with considerable warmth. He declared that parties ought to pay for their own peculiar pleasures out of their own pockets. He disapproved of instrumental music in a place of worship altogether, and he considered it very dishonourable for churchmen to force others to pay for what only themselves approved of. But the Church had got the law on its side; and it was like a rogue, when it got you down, you were obliged to submit and let him put his hands into your pocket and take your money out. It was a shame for the Church to dip its hands into people’s pockets in that way in order to get their money. The proposition being that the pay of the organist should be raised by subscription the probability was that Mr. Thwaites would not be asked to subscribe, and that those who wanted the music would be  Pg.62 willing to pay for it out of their own pockets or purses. In any case, the proposition was carried, and the Church even with the stigma of being a rogue and a robber was again triumphant.

Magisterial Dictum[edit]

Inspector Campbell having complained to the Bench that gentlemen frequently bathed in front of Beach cottages without drawers that were provided for them, Mr. Brisco said the police had no business to be spying about, and it would serve them right to give them a good ducking. Taking advantage of this magisterial dictum, four gentlemen; so-called, jeered the inspector, a few nights later, when they were taken into custody for being drunk, using oaths and other bad language, ringing door-bells and breaking lamps. Their names were Lumsden, Bent, Rust and Barton. When at the station they were so turbulent that the Inspector could not enter the Sergt’s report. One of them read aloud the Bye-laws on the wall, while others kicked the door with such violence that the police and the gaoler had to take their boots off. They threw half-crowns out of the window, as they said for someone to go for their servants. These gentlemen, though ably defended by Mr. Langham, were fined 20s. each, and costs 8/6. The Watch Committee, afterwards (July 19th) passed a vote of commendation to Sergt. Ginner and P.C. Brazier for their apprehension of these gentlemen roughs in their midnight orgies. Rightly did Mr. James Smith say, as one of the speakers at the St. Leonards Mechanics’ Institution soiree that there were vulgar rich as well as vulgar poor, whilst among both would be found men of large and comprehensive ideas. Even poverty, he averred need not disqualify a man from being a gentleman, whilst riches alone could not make one. Such an axiom was manifested in the conduct of the four moneyed-rowdies above described. But that also among the working classes are to be found men of a debased type has been sufficiently shown in foregoing paragraphs anent the railway labourers. Nor have the Hastings fishermen always been free from debasing and censurable conduct. An instance of this is conveyed in a letter addressed to the Mayor, G. Scrivens, Esq., as follows:—

”British Consulate, Havre, June 28, 1850.

Sir,—The fishing smack, Richard Cobden, George Boreham, master, belonging to your port, was brought into Havre by a French brig on the 22nd instant for dredging oysters during the season prohibited by the fishing convention of 1846 between England and France. After a detention of two or three days, the crew would have been allowed to depart, the ulterior measures against them being left to the discretion of their Government at home; but while in a drunken state they attacked a French seaman and violently assaulted a gendarme  Pg.63 who came to the seaman’s assistance, inflicting various injuries, under which he is still suffering. In consequence of this outrage, George Boreham and Spencer Kent and his brother were lodged in the gaol of this town, and are indicted to appear next Tuesday before the Criminal Court to receive judgment. The French law is severe against persons who injure any officer of justice; and although every attempt has been made to obtain the release of the offenders, no further concession has been allowed, but that of hastening their trial. A clever lawyer has been engaged, and it is thought an official testimony of their general good conduct at Hastings might serve them; this, of course, if they are entitled to it, which they affirm they are, they never having broken the laws of their country. They say that they are personally known to you. If therefore you accede to their request, which I understand they have forwarded to you, it is necessary that no time should be lost, and every use shall be made of the document to favour the cause of the seamen.

I am, Sir, your very obedient, W. Featherstonhaugh.

It was stated that the letter was only received that morning, it having laid at the office on Sunday, through the mischievous operation of the new postal regulations. It was questionable whether there would be time to comply with the request of the Consul, as the trial would take place tomorrow.

If the appropriateness of placing this later case of ruffianism under the heading of “Magisterial Dictum” be questioned, the reply is that as the rowdyism of the drunken “gents” sprang out of the indiscreet remarks of a magistrate, so the rowdyism of the drunken fishermen has associated itself in the mind of the writer with the debasing conduct of those who assuming the character of gentlemen should have been exemplars of gentlemanly conduct. The sentences on the three fishermen were 60 days’ imprisonment for Boreham, the master; 30 days for Spencer Kent; and acquittance for Robert Kent.

Getting into difficulties.[edit]

The Hastings “gents” and the Hastings “tan-frocks” were not the only Hastings people who got themselves in difficulties; for, there was another Hastings body-yclept the Hastings Commissioners, who in a review by the Hastings News, were “Getting into Difficulties”. There is so much history of the financial career of this large and unwieldy board of our old-time rulers, as to justify a reproduction of that journal’s criticism. On July 8th the Editorial article appeared as follows:—

"We have heard of throwing away a sprat to catch a herring; of a Pg.64 Chancellor of the Exchequer disposing of a surplus revenue by so adjusting a graduated tax as to make it yield more; of an Irishman trying to lengthen his blanket by cutting a piece off the bottom and sewing it on the top. In short, we have heard of a variety of schemes in the shape of ways and means; but all these little stars are made to hide their diminished heads when compared with the brilliant experience [experiment][4] commenced in our local Commission on Monday night. The herring was there sacrificed to the sprat; and an inefficient revenue aided by a reduction in the income. It was resolved that as there was an apprehension that "as the St. Clement’s parish was paying off its debt rather too fast, the parishes of All Saints and St. Mary-in-the-Castle should have their half-yearly rating reduced by a penny in the pound". The insanity of this resolution will be evident when we consider that lately the three parishes have been rated up to the highest point allowed by law — namely, 4d. in the pound per half year; in despite of which the heavy expenses incurred by the recent improvements have sunk the Commission deeply in debt — a thousand pounds being overdrawn at the Bank! The point of support upon which the Archimedians of this new movement have placed their lever is this: some half century ago, when St. Clement comprised nearly the whole of Hastings, that parish got deeply in debt by its paving and other expenses. At the time when the present Local Act was obtained, St. Clement agreed to take a thousand pounds of its debt upon itself solely, in order to pay which it was to be rated a penny in the pound higher on the half-yearly rates than the two other parishes. The utmost [rate][4] to which any of the parishes could be rated was four pence. Under this arrangement things went on smoothly enough till lately, when the increased expenditure rendered it necessary for all the rates to be at a maximum. When those rates came in January last, the St. Clement's debt had been much reduced, and the only step taken for its further reduction since the fourpenny rate was levied has been an order for paying off of £50, which was made last month. Never-the-less, some of the Commissioners in All Saints and St. Mary’s appear to have been seized with a horrible apprehension that they were being taxed to pay off the St. Clement’s debt; so in order to remove that contingency and to satisfy their own minds of the impossibility of any such benefit arising from their unwitting [unworthy][4] liberality, they have turned round, and resolved by cutting down the taxes in their own parishes, to plunge the whole Commission into a gulf of financial difficulties; plainly saying by their action that they would rather run the risk of swamping the whole Commission than by any  Pg.65 possibility assist in removing the paltry residue of the St. Clement's debt. Thus a narrow parish feeling is allowed to prevail, to the injury of the town".

“Music hath charms”[edit]

Says a writer — “Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast”. “No, it hasn’t” says the critic; — “for it often excites the canine race to savageness and to a fit of incessant howling; besides which, those whose employment it is to disseminate the harmony of sweet sounds are themselves too frequently the most inharmonious”. It will be no difficult task to reconcile these divergent views; but, leaving that work to others, the intention here is merely to place on record the difficulty with which the Hastings Band had to contend in 1850, and the cause of its abrupt cessation of performance. It ceased playing on July 25th because the Committee had only paid for 2½ weeks. The Band was censured for its hasty action, but the Hastings News remarked that the getting in subscriptions appeared to be a work which neither the Committee nor the band could manage. But (said the same journal), see what St. Leonards is doing! A letter, in explanation appeared in the News, dated Aug. 15th, of which the following is the substance: —

{{Quote|“The band was engaged at £6 10s. per week. The third week commenced and no payment was made, the Committee not having begun to collect subscriptions. The Band felt there was a want of energy, and that there was likely to be a failure, as in previous years. The Committee has since collected, paid the demands and ceased to act. It is 27 years since the Band began to play on the parade, and by dint of great study and expense, have gained a name that will rank with the first local bands in the kingdom. A collecting Committee was formed in 1847, and after the Band had played 13 weeks there was collected only £16 11s. They waited till February of the following year, and then when the subscriptions were got in, they shared 11¼d. a man per night. — If Hastings requires a band, the Hastings Band will feel honoured by being engaged; and all they require is to be placed on the same footing as a German band.”/>

Proposed New Baths[edit]

On the 30th of January, a meeting was held at the Marine Hotel to promote the establishment of Baths and Wash-houses on a more popular scale than at that time existed. Mr. Humbert attended, and submitted plans for such buildings on the Priory ground. It was contemplated to supply the public with good baths at very reduced charges.

Money Collections.[edit]

 Pg.66 Ten guineas remitted from Hastings and St. Leonards, in January for the windows and all orphans of pilots who perished at South Shields in attempting to rescue the crew of the “Betsy” of Littlehampton on the 5th of December, 1849. — £62 15s. collected after a sermon by the Rev. T. Vores on the 7th of April for St. Mary’s Schools. — £10 collected at the Croft Chapel on Sept. 8th, after a sermon by the Rev. Wm. Davis, for the British School in Waterloo place. — £96 collected in the several churches on Dec. 22nd for the Infirmary.

Dinners, Teas and Treats.[edit]

A farewell dinner given on Feb. 15th by 16 personal friends to Mr. George Barton, previous to his leaving Hastings. — A tea-meeting was held in the Bourne-street Wesleyan Chapel on Easter Monday, together with address and special singing by the choir. — Also on Easter Monday, a tea was given to about 150 night-school adults in the National schoolroom. — On Good Friday, a lecture, preceded by tea, was delivered by Dr. J. T. Gray, in the Baptist Lecture-room. — On Whit-Monday, the annual dinners were served to the several Benefit societies, as previously described, under “Banquets”. — Also on Whit-Monday the Wesleyan School children had a treat of games on the hill and tea in the schoolroom. On the same day the children of the Independent and Baptist Sunday schools had games on the hill and tea in the Croft Chapel. Afterward 120 teachers and friends took tea together in the Girls’ British Schoolroom, Waterloo place. — A supper was given to the All Saints Church choir on Sept. 26th.


A petition was signed by 700 persons against the Window Tax; which cost the ratepayers of the borough about £4,000, and induced them to block some of their windows and shut out the light of heaven. — Also petitions against the Jew Bill and for the extinction of Beer-shops.

Temperance Meetings[edit]

Mr. James Rock, senr., presided at a Temperance meeting held on January 30th in the Lecture-room of the Baptist Chapel, when addresses were given by Messrs. Paul Hugh, F. Beck and F. Streeter. — The first Juvenile Temperance Society in Hastings was formed on the 11th of June in the same room.


The vessels trading to and from Hastings in 1850, were Flora (capt. Bayley) with coal; Caroline (Allen), coal; Jane (Morfee) timber; Fairy (Piper) coal; Phoenix (Palmer) general; Milward (Welfare) general; Hastings (Pettitt) coal; Delight (Stevens) coal; William Pitt (Fisher), general; Perseverance (Winter) coal; Rock-Scorpion (Phillips), coal; Sarah and Francis (Wood) fruit; Wanderer (Piper) coal; Juno (McBean) coal; Amelia (Broomhead) deals; St. Leonards (Lingham) cement; Elizabeth Hardie (Higgins) iron sleepers; Helen (Clarke) iron; Sisters (Hughes) slate; James (Ainsworth), timber; John Weavel (Picknell) coal.

Chapter XLV. — St. Leonards. 1851[edit]

Transcriber’s note[edit]

This is a verbatim transcription of Brett’s work, which comprised both manuscript and typescript cuttings, and therefore reproduces Brett’s variations in style, capitalisation, punctuation and spelling. Where possible, personal names have been checked against the 1851 census, parish records and the Central Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths. Any footnotes have been inserted by the transcriber when this has been thought to be useful. Readers should be aware that Brett’s narrative was written some forty to fifty years after these events and his memory has occasionally been found to be at fault by later historians.


 Pg.67 Transactions of the St. Leonards Commissioners — St. Mary Magdalen Church projected and building tendered for — Laying the Foundation Stone — Ill-feeling at the ceremony between East and West, followed by separate luncheons — Protestantism vs. Romanism — Opening of Ashford and Hastings Railway — Conflict between the L.B. & S.C. and S.E. railway companies — Trains impounded and rails taken up — Legal decision adverse to South-Eastern Company. Competition in fares, ultimately leading to an amicable arrangement, detrimental to the borough — Historical sketch of the L.B. and S.C. Railway Company and its formation with the West of France Railway Company, of the Newhaven Harbour Company. Immense up-to-date enlargement and improvement of Newhaven Harbour described — Proposed new Local Act for the district between the Priory and the St. Leonards Archway, to be called “the West-Hastings Improvement Act”. — Strong opposition to and abandonment of the Bill — Meeting against the inclusion of St. Leonards in the Health of Towns Act. — The case carried to the House of Lords, resulting successfully for St. Leonards. New Buildings — A question of Public Bands — Diverting the Haven — Horticultural Shows — Accidents, etc.

The St. Leonards Board of Commissioners[edit]

At their meeting in January, the Commissioners received communications from Mrs. Deudney and Miss Greata, calling attention to the necessity of the immediate erection of a sea wall at the West Marina, and stating that at the recent high tide the water had entered their kitchens, and besides doing damage, had caused an effluvia that was injurious to health. They claimed to have the rates suspended until the asked-for protection was afforded.

The Sea-Wall. — At the meeting on March 3rd, tenders for the sea-wall were opened, when there appeared the following disparity: — Hemmings and Foster, £2,020; Newton, Smith & Co. (railway contractors) £1,328; Hughes and Hunter, £1,160; and Jonas Gregson, £1,150. The tender of Hughes and Hunter was accepted, not only because it was within £10 of the lowest, the also because they were local tradesmen, and the Commissioners had confidence in them.

Pipes. — Tenders for cast-iron pipes were also received, and in the following varied forms: — Troughton and Bevans, £10 per ton; Alderton & Shrewsbury, £7; Chas. T. How, £6 3s.; Jesse Man, 3/4 per foot; B. Garrott, 2/10; J. S. Morris, 2/2; and S. H. Willard £34 15s, for the whole. Morriss’s was accepted. — It was ordered for a board to be placed at the west end of the town, cautioning persons against bringing coals into the town without paying duty.  Pg.68 On the 25th of March it was reported by the committee that Mr. Waghorne having complained of the Commissioners’ drain running through his house at 11 Undercliff, the same had been examined and repaired. — Mr. Gant, of Hastings, having offered to take the office of Surveyor at a salary not exceeding £25, his offer was accepted. New land-ties were to be put to the groyne east of the Library for £11.

More Tenders. For repaving with York-stone the pathway at the back of 22 to 44 Marina, tenders were received from Burchell and Welsh, at £172 10s.; from Vennal, at £171 1s. 8d.; from Winter & Son, at £162 12s.; and from Hughes and Hunter, at £138. The last-named tender from such a firm was, of course, accepted. — Surgeon Norwood’s offer was also accepted to bear half the expense of a stone pavement round No. 1 East Ascent.

Damage by storm. The Clerk was instructed to ascertain the amount of damage caused by the storm and high tide to the houses at West Marina.

Progress Reported. At an adjourned meeting, it was stated that the York-stone pavement had been laid at from 22 to 44 Marina, and at from 1 to 5 East Ascent; also that the sea-wall at the West Marina was being rapidly constructed, there being 600 of 866 feet already done.

Coal Dues. — Being convinced that for a considerable time past the Commissioners had been defrauded of coal duties, they at the same meeting resolved to accept Messrs. Hughes and Hunter’s tender of £270 per year for the purchase or hire of those duties. The public notice previously given it was believed had not been effective, and there appeared to be a difficulty in checking the fraudulent practice. The usual half-yearly rate of 1/- for house property and 6d. on agricultural property was ordered.

The Dispute with Railway Company. — A letter having been received from Mr. Elliott, a surveyor of Lydd, stating that two letters of his to Capt. Barlow (re the alleged injury done to the St. Leonards wall through the high bank of earth on the beach at Bopeep made by the railway contractors) had been discourteously unanswered, the Commissioners resolved that no further proceedings be taken. This was, undoubtedly, a wise resolution for even if it could have been proved that the earth in question was at fault (and not the storm) there would have then been the question whether the liability rested with the Company or the contractors; and it was quite certain that the Commissioners had no money to spend in legal proceedings. Under any circumstances the wall which was being erected and the strengthening of the groynes, appeared to be the better course.

Loans. Pg.69 Mr. Wagner’s offer to lend £800, and Mr. Jarman’s offer to lend £200, accepted with thanks, the said amounts being necessary for the completion of important works.

Additional Improvements. — Mr. Gant having become the Commissioners’ surveyor from the commencement of the year, he recommended the new wall to be two feet higher for 600 feet, and Hughes and Hunter had promised to do it for an additional sum of £168. At the meeting on Nov. 13th, the Surveyor submitted a plan for improved drainage, and Mr. Jesse Mann’s tender of £285 for lengthening the outlets was accepted. Twelve additional fire-plugs were ordered to be put down in different parts of the town, and the fire-engine to the overhauled and re-painted. Mr. Barnes’s employment as a constable ordered to be given up, and a contract was completed with S. J. Knight for continuing iron pillars and rails on the esplanade for £140.

The Clerk’s Duties. — At the last meeting of the year (December 26), the Clerk having made extra charges for work which the Commissioners considered was included in his salary, the clerk (W. Burton) tendered his resignation, whereupon the charges were allowed, but a resolution was passed that on the appointment of another clerk the duties should be clearly defined. Profiting by this occurrence as well as by the more than one dispute between the Town Council and their officers on the same want of explicitness, the resolution thus passed appeared to be necessary. Dr. Harwood, writing from the Clock Tower, complained of the pavement at West Double-Villa, and of the drying of clothes in the rear of the same property. In addition to the £1,000 lent by Mr. Wagner and Mr. Jarman, it was found that £700 was wanted to be borrowed to liquidate existing liabilities.

Greater Energy. — The restricted limit of their borrowing powers and the half-yearly rating being confined to a shilling, in the pound, disenabled the Commissioners to carry out, not only desired improvements, but also the means of protection against the action of the sea and other works of necessity. These limitations of the Local Act also many times militated against the obtaining of loans even within the prescribed limits, and had not some of the residents (among whom were the Burtons themselves) come to the rescue, the urgencies could not have been met, and the Commission must have collapsed. The prevalent belief was that as the building increased, the revenue derived from additional rates would cover the outlay on the theretofore unoccupied roads and byeways, but it was found that this additional source did not much more than equal the requirements of the new property. Under all circumstances much credit was due to  Pg.70 the Commissioners for their increased energy during what has been popularly called the Exhibition Year. Aided by the advice of Mr. W. J. Gant, their new surveyor, the West-Marina wall, already begun, was completed, and the system of drainage improved. The height of the extended parade was 11½ feet on a two-feet bed of concrete. It was on an incline of 8 feet from the perpendicular and considerably curved. It was contemplated, among other improvements, to form the road more seaward between the end of the Marina and the Fountain Inn, so as to widen the building ground under the cliff. The Commissioners had been asked to allow the West-Marina houses to be drained into the Haven, but the said Commissioners intended to remove the sluice to half a mile further westward. Improvements of a character were also projected, including the laying-out of gardens on the West Hill, and the forming the road to the top of an easier gradient. Some new villas or other residences were also contemplated in that district. In all these undertakings it may be that the Commissioners were stimulated by the assurance at a meeting of the Town Council, at which the Hastings members endeavoured to force St. Leonards under the Health of Tounds Act, that “the St. Leonards Commissioners were quite capable of managing their own affairs”.

With regard to the new wall I occasionally watched its progress, and dared to express an opinion that howsoever effective for its purpose the slight concavity of its surface might prove to be, a projecting gradient from bottom to top would have been a better plan. Some of my acquaintances said such a wall would be top-heavy — that it would be much more costly to build, and that it would not so well withstand the force of a heavy sea. It was hardly likely that my plan would have received any attention even if I had been in a position to suggest it to the ruling authorities; but I had not only watched the action of the sea at that time for more than 20 years, by I had also made sundry miniature experiments with water rushed against kitchen utensils (baking tins, etc.) and made a note thereof. Also in the year under consideration (1851) I had acquired a sufficient architectural knowledge to be able to draw the elevation and working plans of my own house in Norman Road, which Mr. Voysey, an architect said he could not improve, and Mr. C. T. Howell, a builder, declared that in economising space and in some other features for which the building was designed, I had shown myself the best amateur architect he had met with. This personal allusion is my only diploma for the assumption that a parade wall should be so built as to throw back the sea upon itself; instead of having rearward incline with which to reach the top and flow over. Subsequent observations never removed me from this theory. At a later period I made repeated observations on the  Pg.71 efficacy or otherwise of groynes, the result of which has been given in one or more of my numerous articles on storms and tides. It has often surprised me that — if only as an experiment — a small, but strong groyne has not been put down to run slightly to the east instead of the east, and then if it did not answer to place another against it bearing to the west, the acute angle of the two forming the shape of an elongated V. Where so many thousands of pounds are involved in foreshore protection, surely the cost of such an experiment ought not to be objected to.

The Commissioners Accounts. During the warm controversy between the two towns — both of which declared the Government Inspectors’ Report to be very erroneous — the Hastings News, apparently misinformed as to the Commissioners’ accounts not being open to inspection, said “We should very much like to see what Mr. Cressey[1] could not — their accounts”. To this, the Commissioners’ Clerk (Mr. W. W. Burton) replied, in a letter to the News, thus: — “Mr. Cressey[1] having been offered by me on behalf of the Commissioners, every information with respect to their Local Act or otherwise, having relation to the proposed application of the Public-Health Act to the borough of Hastings, and an inspection of the accounts having been subsequently afforded to the committee appointed to carry the last mentioned Act into operation, in the Borough, I feel bound to request you will take the earliest opportunity of correcting the misstatement. I take this opportunity also of reminding the ratepayers and others interested in the prosperity of the town of St. Leonards, that the accounts, as made out annually, are always open to their inspection and scrutiny”. — The St. Leonards Gazette was not then in existence, but after its birth, in 1855, the said annual accounts were published therein.

St. Mary Magdalen Church[edit]

On the 6th of January, the committee for the erection of this church met at Bacon’s Saxon Hotel, the said committee consisting of Earl Waldegrave, Rev. G. D. St. Quinton, the Ven. Archdeacon Hare, Rev. J. G. Foyster, Rev. H. Simpson, W. Brisco, Esq., W. D. Lucas-Shadwell, Capt. Davies, Mr. R. Deudney, Mr. G. A. Bacon and Mr. R. Hempsted. — Mr. Lucas-Shadwell gave a second donation of £50, and the subscriptions then amounted to about £3,800. A tender of £4,200 by Mr. Piper of London, for the erection of the church, without the tower, was accepted.

The Foundation Stone was laid on the 25th of June by the Countess of Waldegrave, and in the presence of several hundred persons. The Mayor  Pg.72  and Corporation having been invited, they met at the St. Leonards Assembly Rooms, and walked in procession to St. Leonards Church, where the Rev G. D. St. Quinton read prayers, and the Bishop of Chichester preached an appropriate sermon. An offertory was collected the amount being £148. After the service, a procession and was re-formed, consisting of the churchwardens, children of the National Schools (St. Mary Magdalen and St. Leonards) lay members of the Committee, Mayor and Corporation, architect and contractors, parochial and other clergy, Earl and Countess Waldegrave, the Bishop and Chaplains, and the general public. Mr. Eversfield, who gave the site for the building, was absent. When the procession had taken positions on the ground, Mr. Brisco, as one of the Committee, gave a preliminary address, in which he said — “My Lord Bishop and ladies and gentlemen — It has devolved on me to state the object of this assembly, which is to lay the foundation stone of a new church in St. Mary Magdalen, or rather to commemorate the rebuilding of an old one which stood in this parish till destroyed by the encroachment of the sea. I congratulate you on the fact that we meet for this purpose on such an auspicious day, the anniversary of our Protestant Queen’s accession to the throne. [The speaker might have added, for the information of those who are curious in such matters, that the foundation stone of St. Leonards Church was laid by the Princess Sophia of Gloucester, who once inhabited the house which was now his own, on the coronation day of William IV.] I am sure, continued Mr. Brisco, that you will all join me in wishing Her Majesty a long and prosperous reign. I next thank the Lord Bishop for coming to assist in the service, and in the name of the Committee, I thank him for his liberal donation. To the Rev. G. D. St. Quinton our thanks are also due, both for his donation and his exertions in helping forward this important object; so energetic, indeed, have been his labours and so great his influence that we may almost consider him the founder of the church. I’m glad to tell you that there will be 500 free sittings allotted to the poor — And now I will address the noble Lady who has come hither specially to assist in the formality of laying the foundation stone [Applause]. Her usefulness in promoting and patronising the Halton Chapel will be borne in mind; and I am sure that it must be a source of great gratification to her ladyship to be called on so often to perform an office, thus indicating the esteem in which she is held. To Earl Waldegrave, for his donation and his presence I also tender the thanks of the Committee”. — The appointed order of service was then read by the Rev. T. P. Sproule, curate of St. Leonards and intended incumbent of St. Mary Magdalen. After that, the stone was lowered in to its place, and the Countess Waldegrave, while spreading the mortar in a manner which showed that she was no novice at the work,  Pg.73  declared “In the faith of Jesus Christ, we place the foundation stone in the name of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit”. The remainder of the service was led by the Bishop, except the singing which was led by the St. Leonards choir, and effectively supported by the schoolchildren. On the outside of the stone was inscribed “lapis auspicialis Dei Gratia, A.D. MDCCCLI”. The foundation tablet also bore the following: — “To the honour and glory of the Holy Eternal and undivided Trinity, this foundation stone of a new church for the parish of St. Margaret and adjoining district, to be known by the name of the church of St. Mary Magdalen was laid by the Right Honourable Sarah, Countess Waldegrave, in the presence of the Right Rev. Ashurst Turner-Gilbert, D.D., Lord Bishop of Chichester, June 25th, 1851. Committee — Wastel Briscoe, Esq. (chairman and treasurer); Earl Waldegrave; W. D. Lucas-Shadwell, Esq.; The Ven. Archdeacon Hare, M.A.; Rev. H. W. Simpson; M.A.; Rev. J. G. Foyster, M.A.; Rev. H. S. Foyster, M.A.; Rev. T. Vores, M.A.; Rev. H. J. Rush, M.A.; Mr. Robert Deudney, and Mr. S. A. Bacon. Secretary; Rev. T. D. Sproule; architect, Frederick Marrable, London; builders, Thomas and William Piper, London”.

Luncheons. — After the conclusion of the ceremony, luncheon was partaken of at three separate places, in consequence of a regrettable ill-feeling between some of the actors thereat. Not only had the long existing jealousy between east and west not died out, but the acerbity of that existence had recently been accentuated by the attempt by the East-Ward members of the Corporation (12 Councillors and 5 Alderman) to coerce the West-Ward (six Councillors and one Alderman) into the acceptance of the Health of Towns Act, to the advantage, as was believed, of Hastings and disadvantage of St. Leonards. Such was the unsympathetic feeling of the two parties that even the religious aspect and bearing of that day’s ceremonial had no effect in bringing the contending parties into harmony. Mr. Brisco, as has been shown, was treasurer of the fund for building the church, and at his mansion at Bohemia, the Bishop, the Earl and Countess Waldegrave and many other persons of distinction or fashion were sumptuously entertained. At the same time the Mayor, and the aldermen and councillors of the East Ward (two only excepted), repaired to the Castle Hotel, to partake of luncheon by themselves, as had been previously arranged. Then also the West Ward Councillors, clergymen and others, including Ald. Scrivens and Councillor Hicks, of the East Ward, assembled at Bacon’s Saxon Hotel, there to enjoy a very excellent repast specially provided. Here it was that Capt. Hull presided over a meeting that was appropriately friendly and harmonious, among whom were the Rev. G. D. St. Quinton, the Rev. H. W. Simpson, the Rev J. F. Pizey, the Rev. H. C. Smith, Ald. Burton, Ald. Scrivens, Councillors Deudney, Beck, Mann, Peerless, and Hicks, Messrs. Marrable, Piggot, S. Putland, jnr., and other persons.

Toast were proposed, duly honoured and responded to; and howsoever much, on the one hand the discordant separation of east and west might have been regretted, the perfect harmony of the latter by itself — had nothing to detract from its pleasure. The church was completed and consecrated in 1852, an account of which will be found in chapter XLVII. In the meantime, towards the building fund £200 was received from the Duke of Norfolk and £100 from the Duchess.

Protestantism vs. Romanism[edit]

The first of a short series of lectures on Popery was delivered at St. Andrew’s [Quadrangle] chapel, St. Leonards, on Sunday, January 5th, by the Rev. A. L. Gordon, of the Free Church of Scotland. The converts to Romanism at All Souls Convent Church and the efforts at that establishment to compete with the influence likely to be effected in antagonism to Romanism by the new church of St. Mary Magdalen, begat an ultra-Protestant feeling, which unfortunately displayed itself in a mischievous outrage by the breaking of ornaments and crosses from the railings forming part of the enclosure of All Souls; also by the damaging the convenient seat and asphalte floor at the side of the public road, available to the general public, all of which had been made at the cost of the late Rev. John Jones — a really good man, apart from his religious faith. After this outrage, Cardinal Wiseman came to the Convent, and returned to London on the 12th of January. Following the lecture on Popery at the Quadrangle Chapel, was a series of lectures delivered at Hastings by Protestant ministers of different denominations. The Rev. W. W. Hume, (the future incumbent of St. Mary Magdalen) was then the curate at St. Clements, and by him was delivered the first of the series of organized lectures against the pretensions of the Romish church. It was an interesting and eloquent lecture, the substance of which is given in the “Memoirs of the Rev. W. W. Hume”. (Historico-Biographies). In the same “Memoirs” will be found lengthy reports of the other lectures, and the names of the lecturers are therefore only here given. The second of the arranged series was delivered by the Rev. J. Parkin, incumbent of Halton, on the 24th of January. The third lecture was delivered by the Rev. H. W. Williams, a Wesleyan Minister, on the 31st of January. The fourth lecture was given in the same room on the 7th of February, by the Rev. C. D. Bell, curate of St. Mary’s-in-the-Castle. — The fifth lecture, on the 14th of Feb., was given by the Rev. William Davis, Independent Minister. The sixth of these weekly lectures, as well as the first, was given by the Rev W. W. Hume; and the seventh was by the Rev. H. J. Carter Smith, curate of All Saints, on Feb. 28th; and this last  Pg.75 like all the preceding ones, to a crowded assembly. These admirable lectures, which should be of enduring interest to all professing Christians, are placed in consecutive order in the Memoirs of the Rev. W. W. Hume, who was soon after to be the Incumbent of the new Magdalen church, both for the convenience of reading, and because they mainly in originated with him.

Cardinal Wiseman. as an apropos association with these lectures, it may be stated that Cardinal Wiseman revisited St. Leonards on the 23rd of April and sojourned for a short time at the Convent, and there administered the rite of Confirmation.

Railway Matters.[edit]

The first travellers on the Ashford and Hastings line were Mr. Tucker and family, who stayed for a few days had 107 Marina.

Opening of the Ashford Line. the opening of the Ashford branch to St. Leonards took place on the 13th of February — just seven years, to a day, after the meeting at Hastings to promote the same. On the preceding evening the crier was sent round to announce the opening on the following day, and when the morrow came, the Saint Clement’s church bells were rung in honour of the event. The first train left the St. Leonards station at 7.20, and exploded fog signals as a feu de joie. Six trains (3 each way) traversed the line during the day, variously timed to reach Ashford in about 1h. 20m. and London, on an average of about 4 hours. This was held to be a fair rate of travelling, considering that the distance between St. Leonards and London was 95 miles. Mr. Talbot was station-master at Hastings, for the South-Eastern Company, whilst Mr. Sutton was station-master at St. Leonards for the Brighton Company, whose trains at first did not run through.

The Companies in Collision. — When the South-Eastern Railway from Ashford was opened on the 13th of February it was understood that the South-Coast Company’s trains would run through from Bopeep to Hastings and vice versa. The Hastings station had been built for that purpose and arrangements had been made for such traffic with the “Brighton, Lewes and Hastings Railway Company”, which had afterwards changed its name to that of the “London, Brighton and South-Coast Company”. Taking advantage of this technicality, and refusing to acknowledge its rival by the latter name, the S.E. Company gave orders for the South Coast trains not to be admitted; so, when on the morning of the 14th, the first down train of the Brighton line arrived, it was stopped by the hoisting of danger signals, and had to be backed, with its passengers, to Bopeep. Communications passed between the officials of the two companies, and on the following day (Saturday) the Brighton trains ran through to the Hastings station agreeably with the original arrangement. Notice, however, was given that the line would be permanently blocked on Monday. In the mean time the Brighton Company had got Pg.76  seventeen carriages and two engines at the Hastings station, but, on Sunday night the rival company tore up a portion of the rails between the station and the tunnels, placed blocks of stone in the way and drew some trucks across, so as to form an efficient barricade. Thus, a portion of the rolling stock of the Brighton Company was impounded, and no further traffic between Bopeep and Hastings could be carried on. The Company however, were prompt in issuing bills to the effect that a four-horse omnibus would be at the Hastings station to convey intending passengers to Bopeep; and many persons, indignant at the conduct of the South-Eastern Company, availed themselves of the omnibus service thus provided. But even this was only permitted for one day; there being at night a bar, secured by a padlock, put across the road leading up to the station, through which only vehicles for the Ashford line were permitted. Trucks, laden with earth, and fixed down to the rails, with padlocks, were placed on the line at the Bopeep end to increase the effectiveness of the blockade. The next thing was to cut off the gas on the side of the station that was built for the Brighton Company, and then to saw down the partition that divided the two platforms, whilst about £7,000 worth of rolling stock had been impounded for an alleged trespass. [Here go to the interpolated loose sheet]*

  • The rival companies continued their mysterious contention for a fortnight, the engines and carriages of the Brighton Company remaining impounded at the Hastings station until the 26th or 27th of February, and the barricade remaining on the line at Bopeep. Then it was that an announcement appeared that the Court of Chancery had granted an injunction to restrain the South-Eastern Company from continuing the obstruction, and that the trains of the South-Coast Company would immediately recommence running through to Hastings. During the night, the South-Eastern Company were busy in removing the obstacles, and on the morning of the 27th all was clear for the resumption of traffic between Bopeep and Hastings. But instead of the South-Coast Company removing their detained engines and carriages, they were merely shunted back, and it was reported that it was intended to have them valued for the purpose of assessing damages. In any case it was evident from the decision of the Chancery Court that the South-Eastern Company were not legally justified in the hasty step thus taken.

The South-Coast Company Explains. The Chairman and Directors of the South-Eastern Company at their meeting on March 1st, having cast imputations on the L.B. & S.C. Company, the latter immediately issued a long reply, from which the following is extracted.

“The L.B. & S.C. Company having a joint right, with the S.E. Company under Act of parliament, to use the Hastings, Rye and Ashford line and stations, no alterations seriously affecting the engineering character of the line should have been made without previous communication. Repeated overtures had been made by this Company to negotiate for some arrangement by which the obvious waste of capital in constructing three lines to Hastings might be avoided; but the S.E. Company invariably refused to come to any understanding respect in the construction of the Hastings lines and the mode of conducting the Hastings traffic. The title of the L.B. & S.C. Company to exercise the right and privileges of the Brighton, Lewes and Hastings Railway Company, over Hastings, Rye and Ashford line and stations is founded on the Act 9 and 10 Vict., c 28, by which the Brighton, and Lewes and Hastings Company is amalgamated with the L.B. & Hastings Company, and all the rights and privileges are expressly vested in this Company. The directors are advised by eminent counsel that it is impossible to have a clearer title; and not a question has ever been raised respecting it by the S.E. Company. They have built a station for this Company at Hastings and otherwise have recognized the title throughout all the transactions for the Pg.77 last five years, until at the last moment when a technical objection was made the plea of forcibly interrupting the passage of this Company’s trains. . . . The directors would add that so far from the opening of the Ashford and Hastings line having been delayed by objections raised by this Company, they were officially informed by the Commissioners of Railways that the certificate was withheld in consequence of the incompleteness of the works.”

The South-Coast Company removed their impounded rolling stock on the 3rd and 4th of March, it having been shown that the S.E. Company were legally in the wrong. But the latter, by way of retaliation, entered into a fierce competition with the former by a system of low fares; hence, at the half-yearly meeting, on the 24th of July.

The Report of the L.B. & S.C. Company stated that the principal increase of expenses had arisen from competition with the S.E. Company at Hastings, together with £3,000 for new and lighter engines for branch lines. It also stated that the Directors notified to the S.E. Company their determination to take no step in the direction of competition unless compelled to do it in self-defence; but as the S.E. Company, after the first month, increased the number and speed of their trains at reduced fares for the 94 miles from London through Ashford, the Directors had no alternative but to place an additional trains on their lines also, and at the same fares. Expense was thus entailed on both companies, with diminished receipts. The loss, however, it was stated, was less than it would have been had not the demand for half the profits of the entire traffic from London been resisted. The chairman (Mr. Laing) congratulated the shareholders on the progressive increase of traffic to an annual extent of £100,000 during the last three years, and the present year, to probably £120,000. He did not blame the S.E. Company for the course they had taken so much as he did the Legislature for sanctioning two lines to a town for which one line was ample. He had noticed generally that in such cases an injury was inflicted on the town; for, when the companies got tired of competition, they entered into an arrangement, not to develop the traffic, but to make the best of a bad job; and it might be so in the present instance. When the Tunbridge Wells line was opened it might be shorter than their own line, but the gradients would be a much steeper. The directors would be glad to settle the dispute with the S.E. Company, but if they divided the traffic before the Tunbridge Wells line was opened, the S.C. Company would be doing all the work at a loss of £20,000 a year. Mr. Laing was right in his view of the results of unprofitable competition; and such a result was clearly foreshadowed in the present case; for after the arrangement made by the two companies when tired of a ruinous rivalry, the facilities were never so good, and the fares were never so reasonable as when there was only one line.

The Tunbridge Wells Line. Pg.78 At this time (Aug. 1st) the line could have been opened down to Robertsbridge if desired, but the completion of the work to Hastings was held to be not possible till the following spring. From Bopeep, where it would join the South Coast line, there was an ascending gradient of about 1 in 130, and after that, a descending gradient. The constructive works were both heavy and difficult, there being within a distance slightly exceeding 5 miles no fewer than 14 cuttings and 13 embankments, nearly all of which were of great declivity. Some of the valleys also were very precipitous, and of a loose and boggy character. One of the latter, like the Priory meadow at Hastings, swallowed up several thousand truck-loads of earth, which sometimes during 10 or 12 hours sank as many feet. The excavations as far as Whatlington required the removal of about 1,250,000 cubic yards of earth, of which a million yards up to that time had already been removed. The line also abounded with curves, which made it of a devious and varied character. It was during construction adversely criticised by some engineers as a very costly conception, and at an entertainment given by the Rev. J. A. Hatchard, many years later, was admitted by Sir Edward Watkin to have been the most expensive line for its distance out of London. The chief contractor was Mr. George Withers, but Mr. Richard Perry was a sub-contractor for the portion between St. Leonards and Robertsbridge. Later than anticipated, however, the line was not opened till 1853, but the fierce competition of the two companies came to an end in September, 1851. At the same time, the Winchelsea station on the Ashford and Hastings branch was closed, the traffic not being sufficient for its maintenance.

Low Railway Fares Ended[edit]

The Competition Ended. The system of low fares referred to at the half-yearly meeting of the L.B. & S.C. Company, were commenced on March 9th by the S.E. Company, by their trains via Ashford and the same low fares to London were adopted, two days later by the South-Coast Company. Most persons had a belief that such fares would not be maintained for any lengthened period, and were surprised at their continuance for six months at the then unremunerative scale. But no one appeared to be prepared for the extent of the reaction which was to follow. By an arrangement to share the profits, the fares were put up to the highest that the law permitted, the same fares being equal on both lines as pertaining to the journey between Hastings and London. The second-class tickets were 12/- and the first-class, 18/-. These prices could not fail to operate against the welfare of the borough, and one would but suppose that they would also act prejudiciously to the interests of the shareholders. The arrangement of the two Companies was that from Monday, Sept. 1st, the Brighton and South-Coast Company was to have two-thirds of the through-traffic to Hastings, and the South-Eastern one-third until the Tunbridge Wells line was completed, and after that, to share equally. Before this arrangement had been made, many persons visited the Great Exhibition, daily, even at ordinary fares, but afterwards it became  Pg.79 more the practice to wait for special excursions. One of these was on the 9th of October, when 800 persons were conveyed from Hastings and St. Leonards per L.B. & S.C. railway.

An Historical Sketch. the following is extracted from the Iron Roads Dictionary of 1881.

On the 5th of June, 1839, a line of railway from London to West Croydon was opened for traffic under the auspices and control of a company known as the “London and Croydon”. Another company, incorporated as the “Croydon and Brighton”, constructed a line between those two places — via Red Hill, which was opened on the 1st of September, 1841. By the authority of an Act of Parliament, passed on the 27th of July, 1846, these two companies were amalgamated, and the undertaking then became that of the “London, Brighton and South Coast Railway Company”. The western section of the South-Coast line — from Brighton was opened for traffic as far as Chichester, on the 8th of June, 1846, and the Eastern section — from Brighton to Hastings — on the 27th of June, 1846. The extension from Chichester to Portsmouth was completed on the 14th of June, 1847. By the purchase of the Mid-Sussex Railway, in 1860, the London, Brighton and South-Coast Railway Company provided an alternative route to the South-Coast. The Mid-Sussex Company was incorporated by an Act, of Aug, 10th, 1857, to construct a line from the Brighton Company’s Railway at Horsham to Pulborough, again joining the Brighton Company’s system at that place, with a branch to Petworth. The Horsham and Dorking Company, incorporated by Act of parliament July 17, 1842, constructed the line between those two places. This company was amalgamated with the Brighton Company, by the powers of an Act passed in 1864, the latter Company having obtained parliamentary sanction in the previous year, 1863, for making a line between Dorking and Leatherhead. Between Leatherhead and Epsom the line was constructed by the South-Western Railway Company. These roads thus gave direct communication with Portsmouth. The extension to Portsmouth Harbour, opened on the 2nd of October, 1876, greatly increased the facilities of access to the Isle of Wight. By the imminent purchase of the interests of the Portsmouth and Ryde Steam-packet Company and the completion of the Ryde Railway Pier, the Brighton Company became possessed of the readiest route from the Metropolis to the “Garden Island of the South Coast”. The L.B. & S.C. Company [now 1881] will shortly secure a third direct route to the South Coast, and one which will slightly decrease the distance to Newhaven Harbour. On the 6th of July, 1865, the Surrey and Sussex Railway Company was incorporated and authorized to construct a railway from Brighton Railway, south of their South Croydon station to their station at East Grinstead — length 24¼ miles. The works were commenced, but abandoned on the Surrey and Sussex being amalgamated with the Brighton Company by the provisions of an Act passed on the 12th of July, 1869. The Brighton Company Act of June 17th, 1878, conferred powers for renewing the abandoned works with certain modifications. The line thus formed will connect with another — 17½ miles Pg.80  in length — between Barcombe and East Grinstead, and which, by the enactment of the Act referred to will, when opened, be amalgamated with the Brighton Company’s system. Newhaven will thus be brought about 10 miles nearer London than by the present route via Keymer junction. For the purpose of facilitating the Company’s continental traffic the following works are in progress at Newhaven: — 1. A breakwater extending about 900 yards out to sea. 2. Extension of quay accommodation, 570 yards from the railway wharf to the harbour mouth, and extension of the pier. 3. A new sea-wall or pier in connection with the above. 4. A tramway (1 mile, 2 furlongs, 7.30 chains) from near Newhaven Town station to the breakwater. 5. A dock on the eastern side of the river Ouse. 6. A sea-wall (750 yards long) from the said dock to the existing sea-wall of the Tide Mill. 7, 8, & 9. The straightening of Mill Creek and other works of improvements. By the Act of the 17th of June, 1878, before mentioned, a company was incorporated to carry out the work, but authorised the Brighton to raise money and to subscribe all or part of £150,000 towards the capital of the undertaking. This capital has been subscribed as authorized and a deposit of 10s. per share has been paid to the Harbour Company. By the terms of the Act this new route must be completed by June, 1882. Starting from East Croydon, the Company will then have three branch lines to the coast, the centre (Main line) being through Mid-Surrey and Mid-Sussex to Brighton; the right through West Surrey and West-Sussex to Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight; and the left through East-Surrey and East-Sussex to Newhaven Harbour, Eastbourne and Hastings.” . . . A curious fact is that the Company’s roads, upwards of 400 miles in extent, are almost wholly comprised within the limits of two counties — those of Surrey and Sussex; not more than 25 miles being included in the three counties of Middlesex, Kent and Hants. The number of persons employed by the Company is over 10,000. The Company’s fleet of passenger and cargo steamers comprises 15 vessels. The number of passengers carried over the Company’s lines (exclusive of season and annual ticket-holders) from 1870 to 1880, graduated from over 19 millions to over 36 millions. The Company acquired what is now their principal sea-port station — Newhaven Harbour — by the provisions of an Act passed on the 13th of July, 1876. The improvements effected within the last two or three years have been considerable, but when those in progress are finished, Newhaven will boast of one of the most capacious and safest harbours in the Kingdom.

The Railway and Newhaven Harbour. 1878 – 1898[edit]

With a view of seeing how far the projected enlargements and general improvements of 1881 have been carried out, I, whilst writing this portion of “Local History”, went to Newhaven and by a special permission, traversed the greater portion of that town’s extensive harbour. Nearly 60 years had passed since my previous visit to the place, and my surprise was great at the change that had been effected — not so much in  Pg.81 the town itself as in the harbour and its adjuncts. Readers hardly need to be told that Newhaven is situate on the navigable river Ouse, and that a great storm in 1570 completely changed the outlet of that river from Seaford to a more direct course at Meeching; hence the altered name to Newhaven —a distance of about 3 miles from the then choked up haven at Seaford. In 1882 Newhaven was declared to be a port by the provisions of the Customs Consolidation Act of 1876. Its jurisdiction as a port was to be 3 miles seaward, and to extend eastwards to Galley Hill, near Hastings, and westward to Rottingdean, where its eastern boundary would meet the western boundary of Folkestone port, and its western boundary would meet the eastern boundary of Shoreham Port. The harbour, thus situated between Beachy Head and Brighton, is acknowledged to be the safest of its kind between Spithead and the Thames. The natural harbour was used for centuries by small coasting vessels, but it was of no importance until 1878, when the steamers plying to Dieppe forsook the Brighton Pier and made Newhaven their depot and starting point. From that date, at an immense expense, the harbour has rapidly improved its accommodation, and its traffic has proportionately increased. It is entered at all times of the tide and in all weathers. At spring tides (high water) there is as much as 30 feet of water on the bar and inside the harbour, and at neap tides the depth of water is not less than 26 feet. By the constant operation of powerful steam dredgers — of which I noticed six or seven, the water is kept to a depth of 12 feet even at low-water spring tides. By this means the silting-up process, which averages six inches per year, is entirely kept under, and the Continental steamers of the London, Brighton and South-Coast Railway and Ouest of France Railway, which draw 9 feet, are enabled to enter and depart at all times. I saw some of these splendid vessels alongside the quay, and another one entering during my comparatively short stay. The Dieppe steamers became the property of the London, Brighton & South-Coast and the Ouest of France Railway companies in 1878, and with a desire to keep pace with the times, these two companies resolved to build a larger and better class of vessels for the Continental traffic. Then it was that for their accommodation the great additions and improvements described in the Iron Roads Dictionary (published in 1881) were being put into operation by the Newhaven Harbour Company, which in 1878 was formed by members of the L.B. & S.C. Railway Company.

The said operations have resulted in a magnificent concrete Breakwater, Sea-defence Esplanade and a West pier, which completely protect the harbour from W. and S.W. winds. There is also an East pier, 1400 feet long. The two piers are 250 feet apart, but narrow to 200 feet at the northern ends. The breakwater, running out in a south-easterly direction, is 3,000 feet long from the cliff, and the Pg.82 West pier 750 feet, the whole extending nearly 3,000 feet outside of the original harbour. The quays which on the east side of the harbour extend from the north end of the East pier to 1,090 feet north of the Town Bridge, are about a mile in length.[* 1] They are well fitted with steam and hydraulic cranes, thirty in number, for the rapid discharge of cargoes, either into waggons for inland or coast towns, or into storage sheds. The “Newhaven landmark” a gigantic pair of sheers, 110 feet high, such as very few harbours are provided with, and capable of lifting 80 tons, is situate near the Town Bridge, and a 15-ton hydraulic crane is placed at the south end of the railway quay. Large and convenient spaces are also provided for the deposit on the quays for all descriptions of timber, and water space for floating balk timber. The sheers are specially adapted for masting purposes and for shipping or unshipping heavy machinery. The Town itself is but little assistance either to the railway or the harbour, the quays being used almost exclusively by vessels having cargoes for inland delivery. I saw (or rather we saw, for I had a companion with me) a cargo of eggs, in the usual long boxes, lifted from the vessel on to the quay, and from the latter into railway waggons; and the thought occurred that the rapid discharge and despatch of Goods at Newhaven would indeed be hard to beat. The west side of the harbour is mainly used by vessels discharging over side, from which large quantities of grain, coal, timber and other goods are barged or rafted up the river to Lewes and Hailsham. Such is the connection of the Ouse and the harbour that there would be no engineering difficulty in continuing the latter right up to Lewes. The only requisite would be money and much of it; but even now the harbour keeps extending. A large gridiron, 250 feet in length, is located adjacent to the quay and near the town, adapted for examining ships’ bottoms and for executing repairs, but the use of this can only be had when it is not required by the Company’s vessels, and then a pilot must be engaged. A powerful tug commanded by an experienced master, with licensed pilots is always in attendance. The Railway keeps up a large engineering staff for repairing its own steamers, and also in cases of emergency for other vessels that may put in for such assistance. The prevailing winds, as at Hastings, are from the S.W. and W., and storm warnings are exhibited from the flagstaff, at the Berthing-Master’s office near the Town Bridge. Paddle and Screw steamers (of which there are twenty or more) ply daily to and from Dieppe in connection with the Western Railway of France, this route of being preferred by many for the beauty of the scenery from Dieppe to Paris, as well as for the cheapness of the journey throughout. Not only that, but to such as admire the scenery of the Downs and their surroundings, the parts about Newhaven must be extremely interesting. Numerous villages and hamlets are within easy walking distance, whilst Eastbourne,  Pg.83  Lewes, Brighton and other places may be reached in as short a time by rail. The adjacent villages are mostly on cultivated sites, with abundance of trees and green pastures, (though the Downs in which they lie are naturally bare) and many of them possessed each a Norman Church — quaint little flint buildings of an interesting character. The Newhaven Cricket Ground is situate about 300 yards from the west bank of the harbour. It has been made by Lord Sheffield, a large landowner and a renowned patron of sports (see Premier Cinque Port for military and other exploits of first Lord Sheffield in connection with Hastings). Football and golf are also played here in the seasons respectively for those sports. The links are, however, on the hill, just opposite to that on which the church is built. The Railway Company have three stations — namely, those of the Town and the Wharf on the line to Seaford, and that of the Harbour, which is only used by the trains for the Continental mail-boats. Continental passengers who desire to break the journey will find every convenience at the “London and Paris Hotel”, close to the quay from which the vessels sail, whilst the “Bridge”, the “Ship” and the “Sheffield Arms” will meet the requirements of business people staying in the town. During the summer months — from or about Whitsuntide till the 14th of September, the excursion steamers from Hastings, Eastbourne and Brighton frequently call and land passengers for a short time. Altogether, Newhaven is now a flourishing seaport, with a large passenger and cargo steam trade in connection with the Continent. The foreign import traffic — chiefly from Dieppe and Caen — consists of fruit, vegetables, grain, eggs, butter, wines, spirits, silks, leather, and all kinds of French and Italian manufacture and produce. It has also a good import trade in timber, grain and coal for neighbouring districts, and a steadily increasing traffic with St. Nazaire by the steamers of the Compagnie Generale Atlantique, and with Glasgow and other ports by the Clyde Shipping Company. The principal officials of the Newhaven Harbour Company at the time of writing this notice (1898), are:– Mr. J. F. S. Gooday, General Manager; Mr. W. F. Pollok, secy., London Bridge Station; Mr. C. L. Morgan, Engineer; Capt. H. M. Lambert, Harbour-Master; Capt, H. Noyes Lewis, Deputy Harbour-Master; Mr. W. Geering, Berthing-Master. The Harbour-Master’s offices are at Newhaven Wharf opposite to the Packet Berths, and West side, near the Coal Wharf, both connected by telephone. The Marine-Superintendent’s office is the same as the Harbour-Master’s, Newhaven Wharf. The (Boat) Station Master’s office is at the back of the Harbour-Master’s office, Newhaven Wharf. The Custom House is opposite to the London and Paris Hotel, on the east side of the Harbour. The Lifeboat House is nearly opposite to the said Hotel. Sentinel-constables are stationed at the various points of ingress and egress, and all the arrangements of this Huge establishment appeared to be efficiently complete.

  1. The southern quay 1,700 feet long, the middle quay 1,899 feet, and the northern quay (above the town bridge, 1,090 feet.)

As before intimated, my last previous visit to Newhaven was nearly 60 years anterior to 1898, and as when writing of the of London, Brighton and South-Coast Railway in connection with Hastings in 1851 (the year historically under review) I was anxious Pg.84 to see up-to-date condition of the harbour under the management of that Company, I solicited the requisite permission, and have to thank the officials, in general, and Capt. Lewis, in particular, for their courtesy in imparting to me the information here set forth. In the course of conversation I incidentally asked to “What think you of the prospects of the Hastings Harbour now in course of construction?” The reply to this question (accompanied by a smile) was “it is one thing to build a harbour and another thing to maintain it. The expense alone of keeping in the water and keeping out the drift is enormous”. Thus, although my object in going to Newhaven was purely one of historical enquiry, I became convinced that a harbour should be safe to enter, commodious when entered, and have not only a railway at its side, but also a navigable water-way behind it. I have been assured that even Rye Harbour could be endowed with all these advantages if sufficient capital were invested in the operation, though such an investment would have to be a large one. But these conditions cannot possibly be obtained at Hastings, and that fact will probably be realised by the harbour promoters when too late.

Having thus traced the history of the London, Brighton and South-Coast Railway Company in connection with the Hastings and St. Leonards and followed the Company’s course until it became associated with the West of France Railway Company in the formation of the Newhaven Harbour Company; having also described the vast up-to-date enlargements and improvements of that harbour, I will return to the Railway Company, by a attaching a cutting from the Brighton Herald of its report of half-yearly meeting of the Company in 1889. In thatr report, as well as in the Company’s own report, is mentioned the agreement with the South-Eastern Railway Company — an agreement which, of whatsoever advantage it might be to the Companies themselves, was rightly or wrongly regarded as inimical to the interests of Hastings and St. Leonards. — To the credit of the South-Coast Company, however, be it said that until quite recently, that Company was the pioneer in railway improvements. It was the first to place third-class carriages to every train, and the first to adopt vastly improved carriages. It was the first to apply the new system of breaks (sic), and it led the way in some other facilities, including the electric light in carriages.

The half-yearly meeting of the shareholders of the London and Brighton Railway Company was held on Wednesday afternoon at London Bridge, under the presidency of the Chairman of the Directors (Mr. Samuel Laing), who was supported by the other members of the Board and the chief officials of the Company, including the General Manager and Secretary (Mr Allen Sarle). The report showed a large increase of traffic (due partly to the fine weather, partly to the Paris Exhibition, but chiefly to a general development of traffic over the system). In comparison with the corresponding half-year of 1888, there had been an increase of £67,933 in the gross revenue, and an increase of £21,274 in the working expenses ; the total receipts being about £6,000 more and the expenses about £6,000 more than shown by the published monthly returns, owing to a reserve having been made to meet the possible result of Mr Oakley’s award between this Company and the South-Eastern Company. Under this award the Company would have to pay the South-Eastern Company under the two agreements, for the use of the Red Hill lines and for the division of the competitive traffic, about £20,000 a year instead of about £14,000 a year, which has been the average payment for the last three years under the competitive traffic agreement.

In reference to a circular issued in support of a resolution against affording facilities for Sunday travelling by excursion trains and cheap fares, on the ground “that such a course is really beneficial neither to the public nor to the Company,” the Directors intimated that, apart from any question of the effect on the Company's dividends, they intended to oppose this resolution, as there could be no doubt that trains were only run to meet the demand of the public for these facilities, and any restriction in them, which would obviously have to be accompanied by similar restrictions on Sunday traffic by steam vessels, omnibuses, and other conveyances, was a large question of public policy which no single Railway Company could be allowed to decide in a sense adverse to established practice and the wishes of the general community. The Chairman, in moving the adoption of the report, congratulated the shareholders on the conclusion of the arbitration with the South-Eastern Company, which he believed both sides would loyally accept, and, though it would make their future dividends worse by £5,000 or £6,000, the advantages of peace were cheaply purchased at that price. (Hear, hear.) He stigmatised as ridiculous and absurd the suggestion that this Company had been keeping up its sleeve a scheme for crossing the river to Cannon-street. The increase of traffic during the past year had far surpassed his most sanguine expectations, not having been paralleled since the present Board came into office. Searching for any exceptional causes for this increase, he found that the Paris Exhibition had affected the railway traffic favourably to the extent of £4,000, and the steamers to the extent of £3,000; whilst Eastertide had yielded an increase of £5,500; Whitsuntide, which was wet, led to a loss of £1,450; whilst the Derby yielded a surplus of £450. All the rest of the increase, namely, £56,500, was attributable to the regular expansion of the ordinary traffic (hear, hear), and, as usual, that was mainly due to the increase of third-class traffic, which had contributed £31,000. He warned the shareholders that that expansion might not be repeated in the current half-year, but at the same time they might congratulate themselves on having passed the goal of 6 per cent., and that the prospect of its being maintained looked exceedingly favourable.

Proposed New Local Act[edit]

West Hastings Improvement Bill[edit]

 Pg.85 More than twenty years had now passed since the inhabitants eastward of the Archway, by choice and necessity had adopted the name of St. Leonards and in all things, except being under the jurisdiction of the St. Leonards Commissioners, were in complete association with the dwellers westward of the said Archway. And as the original town of St. Leonards was built upon even a greater area of the Magdalen parish than upon that of St. Leonards, the interests in parochial matters were to a great extent also identical, and could not be separated. There was, indeed, a St. Leonards Without and a St. Leonards within, which in common parlance were distinguished as “Insiders” and “Outsiders”, or in other words as “St. Leonards” and “St. Leonards-on-sea”, the latter appellation being applied to the district for which Mr. Burton obtained the Commissioners Act. Several of the Commissioners had property in both districts, and so immediately contiguous were the properties that in the front line the Archway, first called the “East gate” was the only mark of distinction, whilst in the rear, the wall which originally marked the boundary had by mutual consent disappeared and the roads thrown open. There were, however, one or two ambitious “nobodies”, well known to the writer, who sometimes asked “Why should we not have a separate town to be called St. Mary’s?” It was then proposed by a few others to apply to Parliament for a local Act to be called “The West Hastings, Improvement Bill”. The area to be included in this bill was not only that portion of St. Mary Magdalen parish which was excluded by the St. Leonards Commissioners Act, but also the parishes of .St. Michael and Holy Trinity, which were not within the jurisdiction of the Hastings Local Act of 1832. At the commencement of 1851, or at least in January of that year, the proposed Bill for the district between St. Leonards, proper, and Hastings, proper, was published, and the 25th of February was the last day for lodging petitions against it. It was entitled “A Bill for Improving, Watching, Lighting and providing with Water that part of the Borough which is not comprised within the respective limits of the Local Acts for regulating the Town and Port of Hastings and the Town of St. Leonards. The district thus embraced is to be called “West Hastings”. It was prayed that the Bill should become law on the first of August if possible. The Commissioners were to be 26 in number, of whom 14 were to be permanently in office. The permanent Commissioners named in the Bill were Charles Gilbert Eversfield, Patrick Francis Robertson, Decimus Burton, Rev. T. P. Sproule, Dr. Blakiston, Philip E. Barnes, Robert Mace, Robert Deudney, Albert Jenkins Humbert, Robert Hempsted, Samuel Beckles, Dr. Duke, John Austin, and Robert Ransom. The remaining 12 were to be from time to time elected from owners of property and ratepayers in the district, and from these elected commissioners were also to be chosen permanent Commissioners to supply the place of those who died or removed from the town. Several of the names, however, had been placed on the list without sanction, and some of them declined to serve. Among the latter were Dr. Blakiston, Dr. Duke, and Mr. Ransom. Messrs. Fearon and Clabon were the draftsmen of the  Pg.86 bill, and they were willing that the permanent commissioners should be only six, if that number were preferred. As Mr. Robertson and Mr. Mace were the lessees of the Government ground in the Trinity parish, which was being rapidly built upon by Hastings people, and as Mr. Eversfield and Mr. Deudney, were owners of land that was being extensively built upon by St. Leonards people, it is easy to conceive why those names should prominently appear on the list as promoters, or, in any case, as first commissioners.

The Bill opposed. — a meeting was held at the Saxon Hotel on the 15th of February to oppose the Bill in Parliament, when Mr. Putland, as one of a previous deputation, said, when he accompanied the deputation to Gwyer House, Mr. Taylor said the Public-Health Act would be applied to Hastings (including the district for which the proposed measure was designed) before the Local Act would have a chance of getting passed; but the information lately received of the rapid progress of the private Bill had necessitated a prompt meeting of the Committee on the Dec. 19th (1850). — Mr. Beecham remarked that they ought either to oppose the Bill in earnest or let the matter drop. Merely presenting a petition would be useless unless they prayed to be heard by counsel, and were determined to follow it. Hitherto the Bill had not been opposed before the House at all. He then read a rough draft of a petition containing the grounds of the opposition, and praying that the second reading of the Bill might be delayed to give the petitioners time to be heard by counsel or otherwise. A petition to that effect was agreed upon, after considerable discussion, and it was also resolved that a deputation, consisting of Dr. Blakiston and Mr. Putland (of St. Mary Magdalen), Messrs. Ross and Hickes (St. Michael’s), Mr. Chamberlin (St. Leonards), Mr. Rock and Mr. Paine, should proceed to London as a deputation to the parliamentary representatives of Hastings, Brighton and East Sussex. The petition was to be signed by the Committee, and similar petitions if time permitted were to be got from other parishes. On the second day after the meeting (Sunday only intervening) the Deputation proceeded to London, taking with them petitions from the parishes of St. Mary Magdalen, and St. Michael’s, also from the Town Council. They went to the House of Commons and laid their case before Mr. Hollond, Mr. Frewen and Mr. Fuller. It was there purposed to obtain, if possible, the postponement of the second reading of the Bill for a month, so as for it to go into committee at the same time as the provisional order for applying the Public Health Act. A deputation in favour of the Bill was also ushered into the room, and the opposing forces argued the question, each, of course from different stand points. The opponents next proceeded to Gwyer House, and were introduced to the Lord Ashley. After the interview they went with Mr. Taylor to obtain an audience with Lord Seymour at Whitehall. His lordship was too much engaged to receive the deputation that day, but would do so on the following day. They returned to Hastings, and on the following morning, Messrs. Putland, Ross, Chamberlin and  Pg.87 Shorter formed a second deputation, together with Messrs. Beecham, Cooper and Venables. They met Lord Seymour as by appointment, but did not receive much encouragement. During the afternoon they visited the House of Commons, and delivered to the Members as they passed in through the lobby some printed papers containing .objections to the Bill. When the case came on Mr. Piggott moved the second reading, and remarked that the promoters had received a requisition in its favour, signed by three-fourths of the St. Leonards ratepayers, representing nearly the whole of the landed property in that district. — Mr. Hollond moved, as an amendment that the Bill be postponed for a month, Mr. Brisco seconded the amendment, and Mr. Frewen supported the same. The House divided, when 20 votes were given for the second reading and 49 for the postponement. As soon as the result was known, the deputation left London by express train, and attended a meeting at the Saxon Hotel, where they were cordially thanked for their exertions. At the same time a resolution was passed that the Magdalen, St. Michael’s and Trinity parishes would bear the expense. A sub-committee was appointed to watch the proceedings.

West-Hastings Improvement Bill defeated[edit]

More Deputations. on the 17th of March, a deputation consisting of Messrs. R Deudney. W. M. Eldridge, H. W. Tree, J. Nicholas, .Jas. Smith, F. Jarrett, C. Edwards, W. Hunter, W. Birch, and S. Stubberfield, got in the train at Bopeep, en route to London, to obtain an interview with several M.P.’s for advocating the local Bill. In the same train from Hastings, was an opposing deputation, consisting of Messrs. S. Putland, T. Ross, W. Chamberlin, jun., C. J. Jeudwine and A. Paine. These latter were joined in London by Messrs. W. D. Cooper, Beecham and Venables. The two parties met, and again argued their cases. In the House Mr. Piggott moved the second reading of the Bill, and in his explanation stated that the East end of the borough had its local Act, and St. Leonards within the Archway had its local Act; and the inhabitants of the intermediate district only asked by their Bill to have their own Act, to manage their own affairs. On the other hand, Mr. Frewen contended that a majority of the inhabitants were opposed to it, and preferred to join Hastings for the introduction of the Health of Towns Bill. Mr. Hollond moved as an amendment, that the Bill be read that day six months. Mr. Brisco seconded, and on a division the Bill was rejected by 59 to 21.

The Health of Towns Act. — More opposition.[edit]

 Pg.88 An associative subject for contention was that of the Health of Towns Act, which as viewed in connection with the via media inhabitants for and against the proposed local Act, appeared to place the parties in a very anomalous position. But the district thus divided against itself was less real than it seemed to be. St. Leonards “within” had a local Act and a board of Commissioners of its own, and did not want the Health of Towns Act. St. Leonards “without” being only under parochial management, wanted a more comprehensive ruling body with the increased powers for sanitary and other purposes. At first, a majority of the inhabitants were willing to assist Hastings in obtaining the Health of Towns Act, and its extension to themselves, but they did not approve of their neighbours, the “insiders”, who, unlike themselves, had a legalised rate which they could not get rid of, being additionally burthened with the expense of the Health of Towns Act, administered as it would be, by a different authority, who whilst they took the place of the Commissioners would not be able to relieve the town of its financial liabilities. The sympathy thus felt by a few rapidly extended to the many until Mr. Piggott declared in Parliament that he had a petition signed by a majority of the inhabitants in favour of the private Bill. Although this sympathy was evoked by the East-Ward Councillors and one of the West Ward being determined by every possible means to carry their point, it was not the only motive for supporting the private Bill. I have mentioned the names of Mr. Robertson and Mr. Mace as two of those proposed as commissioners in the local Act. These gentleman being the lessees of the Government ground from the Woods and Forests Commissioners, they, doubtless, would be able to gain the interest of Lord Seymour, who was the chief commissioner of that Board. Hence the action of his lordship as seen in what follows: —

On the 28th of March, the Public Health Act for several towns appeared before Parliament, with Hastings struck out by Lord Seymour, and to remedy which, Mr. Fuller, Member for East Sussex, gave notice of a motion for the following Wednesday. This he withdrew on the promise of Lord Seymour to insert Hastings in the next Bill introduced on behalf of the Board of Health. On the 10th of April, in answer to a question by Mr. Frewen, Lord Seymour said why Hastings was omitted from the list was because several deputations had waited on him — some in favour of the Bill being applied to Hastings and some against, and as he could not make out which was right, he had a omitted Hastings for the present, that they might come to some decision among themselves. A few days later, Mr. Hollond presented a petition for the re-insertion of Hastings in the schedule then before the House. This was to include St. Leonards — as well within the Archway as without — whereupon, on the 24th of April, a public meeting was held in the St. Leonards Assembly Rooms, for the purpose of petitioning Parliament for the exclusion of St. Leonards from the Act in contemplation for both the town and borough of Hastings.

The Rev. G. D. St. Quinton presided, and on Pg.89 the platform were G. H. M. Wagner, Esq., Capt. Hull, Alfred Burton, Esq., C. H. Southall, J. Carey, H. Hughes, J. Mann, W. Hunter, G. Roberts, E. Groslob, C. Neve, & S. Turner. The Chairman, in opening the meeting, recommended the exercise of a spirit of charity, fairness and justice. He said those who had called the present meeting did not oppose the application of the Act to the town of Hastings, with its population of 17,000, but desired to obtain the exclusion of St. Leonards, with its population of only 2,015. It was quite competent for St. Leonards to seek for a retention of a separate jurisdiction, since it formed but a small portion of the borough, had already a local government, and was in a remarkably healthy state. — Mr. Chamberlin, jun., moved the adjournment of the meeting, with the view to obtaining medical testimony from two medical gentlemen in the neighbourhood who were unable to attend, as they were not owners or ratepayers within the township. These two gentlemen, I happen to know were Dr. Duke, of Grand parade, and Dr. Blakiston, of Warrior square, both of whom were in favour of the Public Health Act being applied to their own district, as against the proposed local Act, but had not advocated the Act being applied to St. Leonards township within the Archway. — The Chairman said he could not put Mr. Chamberlin’s irregular motion to the meeting. — Capt. Hull moved “That the introduction of the Health of Towns Act into St. Leonards is unnecessary, not only because we have an efficient Government of our own, but also because under the proposed Act St. Leonards would have to pay the principal and interest of her own debt of £14,300, as well as to bear a portion of the general burden of the borough expenditure”. — Mr. Hughes seconded. Mr. Chamberlin, sen., then moved as an amendment “That St. Leonards be included with Hastings under the Health of Towns Act”. The Commissioners, he said, had neglected their duty, and he had no confidence in them. They were under the rule of one man, who had only to drop his pen or move his eye, and they all voted accordingly [Loud cries of No, no!]. He believed the Act would be do good. Mr. Putland seconded. The original motion was carried by an immense majority. Mr. A. Burton next produced a long petition to the House of Commons and moved its adoption. It included a prayer that if the application of the Act to St. Leonards were pressed, the petitioners might be heard by Counsel or otherwise. The Chairman remarked that they could at any time afterwards have the Act applied if they really found it desirable. — The motion was carried, with only a very few dissentients.

Mr. Chamberlin’s remarks as to the St. Leonards Commissioners having neglected their duty and being entirely under the rule of one man (meaning Mr. A. Burton) were regarded as being not only insulting, but also libellous. They were much commented on in outdoor gossip, and the question was asked if the Commissioners had failed in their duty, why had he not taken an earlier opportunity of publicly reproving them? It may have been Pg.90  that as a very large ratepayer and yet as an hotel-keeper excluded by the Act from serving on the Commission, the latter circumstance strengthened his prejudice against its members. The fact was that both he and his son William were good men and highly respected — particularly the latter, who like another good man (Mr. Hatchard) was of an extremely sanguine temperament which could brook no delay. As the lessee of the Victoria Hotel, Mr. Chamberlin, senr., was one of the largest ratepayers, and by the advice of his energetic son (an educationist, a philanthropist, a mesmerist, a phrenologist and a Liberal politician) he urged Mr. Burton, or the Burton family, or the Commissioners, to remove the Baths and to effect other improvements, as he called them, within and without the Hotel, which other parties concerned believed if everso (sic) desirable could not be accomplished in the manner suggested, or not in the specified time. That Mr. A. Burton was very reluctant to alter the designs of his father, for whom and for whose plans he entertained a great veneration, was well known to the inhabitants; but that he was so dictatorial or so all-commanding that he had “only to drop his pen or move his eye” to command the votes of the Commissioners, I as a note-taker at the meetings, can conscientiously deny. Instead of being an autocrat, Mr. Burton possessed the attribute of anti-imperiousness even to timidity; and this disposition, although in one sense a virtue, was in his own sphere of influence, regarded as a misfortune. If Mr. Chamberln’s ceaseless activity and Mr. Burton’s want of energy could have been mixed and equally divided it is probable that both themselves and the town would have been benefited. It was thought that during the visit of Mr. Cresy, the Government Inspector, he obtained from Mr. Chamberlin some erroneous information which helped to fill the Inspector’s Report which was condemned by all the public bodies in both towns as being full of damaging misstatements. It was thus that the well-meant but unfortunate statement of the Chamberlins occasioned less friendly relations between themselves and some other inhabitants — and particularly the Burtons which ultimately led to the Messrs. Chamberlin leaving the hotel and the town amidst general regret. Mr. Chamberlin quitted the premises at the Midsummer and advertised his removal thus: —

“William Chamberlin returns his grateful thanks to the Nobility, Clergy and Gentry for their liberal patronage during the lengthened period of twelve years, and begs to acquaint them that being prevented making certain improvements to the above hotel by failing to obtain a renewal of the lease, he has taken the commodious premises 6 & 7 Eversfield place, delightfully situated between the hotel and Hastings until the new house which will be built forthwith contiguous to the above, and which W. C. is determined and shall possess and advantages which it was impossible to impart to the one he has just left.”

The Bill again Delayed. On June 20th if the House went into Committee on the general Bill, when Mr. Hollond asked why Hastings was excluded? Lord Seymour again replied that it was in consequence of the local Pg.91  dispute, but he felt himself at liberty to introduce Hastings into another bill in a few days. Mr. Hollond moved that Hastings be added to the schedule. The Committee divided and Mr. Hollond’s motion or amendment was lost by a majority of 39. In again stating his reasons for the omission of Hastings, Lord Seymour said a deputation from St. Leonards waited on him and said, although it was fair for Hastings, it was unfair for St. Leonards. He therefore decided to give them a few weeks to settle the dispute among themselves. On the following Monday, on the order of the day for considering the Bill as amended, Mr. Brisco moved that Hastings be inserted. Lord Hotham said that while Hastings required sanitary regulations, St. Leonards — built only some twenty years since — did not require a twentieth part of the same sanitary precautions; also that the people of the latter town protested against being included, and against having their money applied to purposes in which they were not interested. He considered Lord Seymour did only what justice required. Mr. Brisco’s motion was lost by 48 to 46.

As Mr. Hollond was absent on the latter day, he was severely taken to task by “An Elector” in a letter to the Hastings News. The writer asked — “Can it be possible that the men of Hastings will much longer remain quiet or reconcile themselves to such unjustifiable dereliction of duty? . . . The sooner Mr. Hollond ceases to be our representative the better for us all”. I, who am now writing was one of those who signed the memorial for the Health of Towns Act to be applied to the district between Hastings proper and St. Leonards proper, but I demurred to the criticism of the correspondent of the News. Mr. Hollond was a representative not merely of the town of Hastings, but of the borough of Hastings, which included St. Leonards. He had at first done what he could to get Hastings inserted in the Bill, and on his own motion to that effect was defeated by a majority of 39. He at that time held considerable property in St. Leonards, resided at St. Leonards when at home from his parliamentary duties, was a member of the St. Leonards board of Commissioners, and it fell to his lot to have to present a lengthy petition from that body against the inclusion of St. Leonards. This he did, without supporting its prayer. I ask what more could be expected of Mr. Hollond under such circumstances?

The Third Reading. — When the order came on for the third reading of the Bill, on the 30th of June, Mr. Hollond was present, and Mr. Fuller moved the insertion of Hastings in the schedule, on which Lord Seymour remarked that he did not deny that Hastings was one of the dirtiest towns in England, and the only question was whether St. Leonards, which had drained Pg.92 itself should be saddled with the expense of draining Hastings [Hear, hear!] Mr. Hollond said it was not the dirty, but the clean parts that created the difficulty, and the question had now been under discussion for three months. Mr. Piggott said the people of Hastings were not at all unanimous for the Bill, whilst nearly all of St. Leonards were decidedly opposed to it. The House divided, and the third reading, with Hastings included, was carried by in 95 to 77 this, as before stated, was on the 30th of June; and, ten days later, a petition was presented to the House of Lords, against the inclusion of St. Leonards; and praying that the petitioners might be heard by counsel. The latter prayer was granted, and on the 18th of July, the case was argued on one side by Mr. Taylor, assistant-secretary to the General Board of Health, and for the Commissioners of St. Leonards by Mr. Talbott and Mr. Johnson.

Before a Committee of the House of Lords[edit]

A Select Committee of the House of Lords heard the case, and the following is a summary of the proceedings: — Mr. Taylor first addressed their lordships in opposition to the petition to the St. Leonards, and explained that the bill before the committee was a public one, which embraced an order of the Board of Health, applying the Public Health Act to the whole borough of Hastings, which included the town of St. Leonards. The order for applying it to Hastings did not appear in the bill originally introduced by Lord Seymour, the noble lord having struck out the name to give the petitioners against the bill time to further consider the matter. At the third reading a motion was carried for the re-insertion of Hastings. The first step in the proceedings was a petition from Hastings for applying the Act to the whole borough. Mr. Cresy was then sent down to inspect the locality, and in his report strongly recommended the application of the Act not only to Hastings, but also to St. Leonards and the intermediate district. The reason assigned in the petition as constituting a hardship if the Act were applied to St. Leonards were to the effect that, however desirable the application of the Act to Hastings might be, the same necessity did not exist in St. Leonards, since the latter was of recent erection, and consisted principally of first-class houses. It was clean and well ventilated and every house was provided with a water-closet, etc. It had a southern aspect, was situated by the sea-shore, and had excellent natural facilities for drainage. It was already provided with an Improvement Act, efficiently administered by a board of commissioners acting gratuitously. Altogether it did not require the application of the Public Health Act. Such were the allegations in the petition. Now, the borough of Hastings contained two bodies of Commissioners, one for each town, and each having a distinct Act of Parliament. The Public Health contemplated the extinction of both these bodies and vesting the Town Council with power to act in their room. It was a fact that the drainage of the borough could not be carried out in except by one general system [afterwards disproved by there being two separate systems]. It was a general principle that local boards should be consolidated, and it remained to be considered Pg.93 whether St. Leonards presented any peculiar features to warrant a departure from the general rule. He would call witnesses to show that the allegations in the petition were not supported by facts. When opposition originally appeared in St. Leonards against the introduction of the Act one reason alleged for it was that out of 24 members of the Town Council, only six could be elected from St. Leonards. The General Board took this into consideration that whenever the Town Council sat as a Board of Health, it should be accompanied by two assessors on behalf of the ward in which the St. Leonards is situated. It was said that the Board of Health had no power to make this provision. He hoped their lordships would be able to decide upon the point thus raised.

The Chairman expressed an opinion that the Committee could not go into an enquiry as to the legality of the provisional order. The question before them was whether the Act was to be applied; not as to the manner of its application.

Mr. James Emary, as the first witness, said he was Mayor of the borough of Hastings, the Town Council of which consisted of 24 members, of whom 21 were in favour of the Health of Towns Bill. It was important that it should be applied to the whole borough. St. Leonards required it as much as Hastings. The borough comprised two wards. The East Ward returned 12 members, and the West Ward six members. Hastings and St. Leonards were a mile apart, and the intervening space was nearly filled with houses. He was Mayor and an hotel-keeper; but he was no party to getting the Borough Members to move in Parliament with reference to the Bill. He knew nothing of it. The oldest houses in St. Leonards were about 25 or 26 years, but Hastings had been going on for hundreds of years.

Mr. Frederick Ticehurst, a magistrate and an alderman, had practised in Hastings as a surgeon for nearly 20 years. He was medical officer to the Board of Guardians under the Nuisance Removal Act, and had certified a great many nuisances. As magistrate he had witnessed prosecutions under the Commissioners bye-laws with reference to vehicles applying for hire, and he considered it would be a benefit to have the various jurisdictions consolidated into one.

Mr. Cresy, civil engineer and inspector to the General Board of Health, had inspected the borough in Feb. 1850 [17 months before]. He should not call St. Leonards one of the cleanest and best ventilated towns in the kingdom. The water supply was deficient at that time. He was paid three guineas a day and his expenses when on such duty, and if the borough is brought under the Act it will have to pay the cost of inspection. He had reported in favour of the Act for every town he had visited, except that of Stonehouse in Gloucestershire. His report respecting the drainage of St. Leonards was correct at the time, but he could not answer for its present condition. There was plenty of water available at the back of St. Leonards. The extremities of the two towns were about 2½ miles apart. He did not contend for having his own plan of drainage carried out, and did not know that he should recommend that plan now. When he first proposed it he was not aware that it was generally objected to.  Pg.94 Dr. Peyton Blakiston, was living in the immediate neighbourhood of St. Leonards, and was of opinion that the town required sanitary improvement. It might be one of the cleanest and best ventilated towns in the Kingdom, but it was not so.

Mr. Stephen Putland, surveyor and merchant, resided a short distance eastward of St. Leonards proper; was a member of the Town Council and Board of Guardians. He could corroborate the statement of Mr. Cresy as to the action of the tides on some of the drains. The intermediate district comprised upwards of 100 houses and more were being erected. That portion of the borough had no act of parliament. The St. Leonards Commissioners, he believed, were lengthening the outlets on the beach, and were building a tank to improve the water supply. There was no general system of drainage at Hastings, and it was not so well drained as St. Leonards. Hastings was thickly populated, and a sanitary remedy was required. The greater portion of St. Leonards was in the Magdalen parish. There were three turnpike acts in the borough and two railway acts, but still a deficiency of power.

Mr. Thomas Ross lived in the intermediate district — namely, Claremont, in the Holy Trinity parish; was a member of the Town Council and the Board of Guardians. He acted as Secretary to the Sanitary committee in 1849. Several houses at the western extremity of St. Leonards were then in a bad state, but he could not certify to the existence of those nuisances at the present time.

Mr. John Peerless was also a member of the Town Council and the Board of Guardians. He had lived in St. Leonards twenty years. He had served with Mr. Ross on the sanitary committee in 1849, and believed that some of the houses referred to, up to three months back were in the same condition.

Mr. John Goldsworthy Shorter, Town Clerk at Hastings, said the length of the borough along the front was about 4¼ miles. It was divided into two wards. The East Ward contained 11,853 inhabitants, of whom 968 were burgesses. The West Ward contained 5,680 inhabitants, of whom 253 were burgesses. The value of the borough assessment was £38,760 in the East Ward, and £17,371 in the West Ward. Twelve councillors were elected by the East Ward and six by the West. Did not consider it any opposition to the Government to oppose the General Board of Health as it first appeared with Hastings excluded. When he took steps to oppose the Bill he communicated with the Mayor, and he did not think the Mayor had sworn to the contrary. This terminated the case for the Bill.

Mr. Talbott , on behalf of the petitioners, then addressed their lordships. He would not now consider the legality of the provisional order, nor whether the town of Hastings ought to receive the application of the Health of Towns Act, but whether it was proper and expedient that St. Leonards should be included in the provisional order contrary to its expressed will. In its present form the Bill was conducted by one of the officers of the Board of Health, and he had told them that he was promoting that Bill contrary to the views of Lord Seymour. Their lordships would take that as a sign of Pg.95 the risk and peril which the country suffered at the hands of the Board of Health, the latter being determined to get all it could into its own hands. It was originally proposed to ratify the whole of the provisional orders. Circumstances were afterward brought to the knowledge of Lord Seymour, who concluded that the borough of Hastings ought not to be included in its full extent. The great majority of the electors resided in the East Ward; it was therefore evident which party would have the greatest pull upon the representatives. The decision was ratified by two Divisions, but on the third reading the county members were in the field and succeeded in beating the Government. Hastings then triumphed, but in what? — in obtaining an engine to oppress St. Leonards. On the part of St. Leonards there was an antipathy to the Bill as strong as any love which could exist for it in Hastings. Nothing could be more dissimilar than the aspect of the two towns. Hastings was confined within surrounding cliffs, was of great antiquity and abounded in narrow thoroughfares. Many of its houses were very old and of an inferior description. It was quite true that it had large houses in the front, but these might be deficient of drainage. St. Leonards had wide roads and most of its houses were first-class. It was built in 1828, and in 1832 it obtained its present Improvement Act. Under this Act gratuitous Commissioners were elected, and there were employed a clerk and surveyor at a total cost of £55. This organization had drained the town, supplied it with water, and worked to the satisfaction of the ratepayers. He would show their lordships that the reports of the bad state of St. Leonards were not founded on fact. When the Local Act was obtained for St. Leonards, it was as patent as now that there was a another Local Act in the borough, yet no opposition arose on this ground [Both Acts were passed in the same session — 2nd of William IV., 1832. See Local History for that year, chapters VII & VIII.] But now it was asked that St. Leonards should be handed over to the Board of Health because Hastings wished it to be so. The six councillors to be elected in the West Ward might be chosen without the limits of St. Leonards; therefore not only were the inhabitants of that town to be governed by the twelve gentleman who appeared in the plan of the district to ride in pink, but there was also a possibility for every one of the Council to be elected from parts of the borough exclusive of St. Leonards. Be the case as it might, St. Leonards was left in an inevitable and miserable minority. The gentleman who opened this case had implied that Mr. James Burton had consulted his own private interest to the injury of the public. This was a most unfounded misrepresentation. The Board of Health did not pretend to repeal the St. Leonards Improvement Act, but kept it alive with exceptions. If their lordships will examine that the Act they would find that the exceptions formed a very large part of it, and that nearly every clause was struck out. In this way the Board of Health Pg.96 might repeal dozens of Acts of Parliament, and actually make use of the authority of Parliament for that purpose under cover of getting their provisional order ratified. He did not wonder Mr. Greenough petitioned against the Bill. Mr. Greenough was a creditor to the Commission, and it was one thing for him to lend money to the St. Leonards Commissioners, with whom he was acquainted and who lived in the town [where he himself had considerable property], and quite another thing to advance money to the Town Council of Hastings, of whom the bondholder might know nothing, and, for aught he knew, might have an interest directly opposed to that of St. Leonards. Contrary to the opinion expressed on the other side, he was prepared to argue that the Bill was uneconomical. The Board of Health were remarkable for the extravagantly philosophical character of their views, which were not very practical. Though there might be eight surveyors of highways in the borough, as stated, yet they were no tax upon the town. They had heard much of the principle of consolidation, but he would remind them that the plan of summary condensation and combination was an expensive process. He protested in the name of St. Leonards against making that town succumbed to the grasp of the Board of Health. There was to be condensation and concentration of manure. Mr. Cresy had planned it, but now he would not say that he would recommend it; neither did he say it was the best plan. Mr. Cresy had published statements, carrying with them all the weight of a Government inquiry, and now he admitted he was not prepared to recommend them, or even to support them with facts. What could be more wretchedly fanciful than his plan to manufacture in close proximity to the town, liquid manure into dry manure? Could anyone doubt that Hastings seemed to be bent on seeing St. Leonards sacrificed? Lord Seymour had protected them, but his officials appeared to exercise a power superior to his own. It was evident that if St. Leonards ever came under the control of the Hastings Town Council there was no power to protect them but such as came from above. But the inhabitants were prepared to pay for counsel to oppose the recommendation of the inspector; they were prepared to show that there drainage was improving, and that that part of the town against which complaints had been made was to have been drained into the haven, but an unavoidable delay with the Commissioners of Levels had retarded the work.He had heard no shadow of an argument for the inclusion of St. Leonards in the Bill except that of consolidation to which he had already referred. He only appeared on the present occasion for St. Leonards — not even for the intermediate district. Whatever their lordships might do with the rest of the borough, they would allow St. Leonards the privilege — not merely to vegetate, but to improve; and St. Leonards would promise that if Mr. Cresy should pay another visit he would find a town admirably drained and well supplied with all the means of sanitary reform. Witnesses were then examined by Mr. Johnson. Pg.97  Mr. John Dainter had lived in St. Leonards sixteen years. The town contained 230 houses, the annual rateable property was £12,050, and at the present rate it yielded £1,200 a year to the Commission. The qualification for a Commissioner was to be a resident and to have £50 a year freehold. The limit of the rate was 2s. in the pound per year. The Commissioners possessed ample powers for the construction of gas-works, waterworks, etc. The population was about 2,000. The Commissioners could borrow £16,000, and they had already borrowed £14,300. He was collector of rates for the Commissioners. £7.026 had been repaid to Mr. Burton for the town improvements. [See chapter IX for the manner in which the sum was applied]. The remainder of the debt was for the general improvement of the town. St. Leonards was opposed to the Health of Towns Bill and so was he. As collector he had £40 a year by percentage. Hotel-keepers were precluded from serving on the Commission. Out of the 230 houses 176 were first class.

Mr. Henry Hughes had lived in the town from the commencement. He was a builder and had been engaged in the construction of some parts of the town. The drains were very good. The main drains had a fall of one in twenty and had their outlets 100 feet from the sea-wall. Was not aware that of any of the houses having bad smells from the drains. Their intention was to put St. Leonards into such a state as should make it attractive to visitors. He thought the town did very well under its present management.

Mr. Samuel Woodgate, builder and house-agent, had never heard any complaints from visitors about bad smells more than at other watering places. Cesspools which once existed at the west end of the town had all been removed. No town in the kingdom was better supplied with water.

Mr. Louis Gordon, civil engineer, had been engaged to take the levels of the houses along the Marina and examine the drainage. He found the facilities for draining perfect. Drainage into the sea was the best plan. There was a fall towards the sea sufficient for all the houses except a few at the west end.

Mr. Alfred Burton was deeply interested in the prosperity of the town. With few exceptions, the inhabitants were most anxious not to be included with Hastings under the Health of Towns Act. One main drain went down the valley and another down the road which led round it. They discharged by means of iron pipes on the beach, from 100 to 150 feet from the sea-wall. Never knew the sewerage to be pent up by the tide. He had lived at St. Leonards more or less ever since its commencement, and never had known, except in one instance, when by a great and sudden upflow, the water to rise through the pipes. Tenders were now being received for lengthening the outlets. It had been intended to drain the west end into the Haven, but as the sluice-gates were to be taken away by the Commissioners of Levels, it had been now decided to drain the west end into the sea, with proper valves, etc. All Pg.98  the houses were well supplied with water except Lavatoria, where there was a well. There was also water in the Market, procurable by means of a pump. The six cottages behind the Market had water close at hand in the Caves, and by means of a service-pipe they could be supplied from the engine at the waterworks. Within the last-few weeks an additional supply had been obtained from the South-Eastern Railway Company. He was owner of 75 houses. £7,000 had been paid to the estate of the late Jas. Burton in respect to local improvements. Personally, he had received nothing worth mentioning, and he had never exerted more influence in the town than was right and proper. — This concluded the case for the petition, and Mr. Taylor having briefly replied, the committee-room was cleared. After a few minutes, the parties were re-admitted to hear it declared that an amendment clause would be prepared, to omit St. Leonards from the operations of the Bill. The Committee expressed a hope that the arrangement would tend to produce a feeling of unanimity in the borough and foster a spirit of self-government. — Mr. Taylor remarked that however energetically the St. Leonards Commissioners might carry out their Improvement Act, the authorities at Hastings were resolved that Hastings should be fully as irreproachable as St. Leonards. The case occupied nearly five hours.

The animated discussions on the same subject by the Hastings Commissioners and Town Councillors will be found in the next chapter.

St. Leonards Mechanics’ Institution[edit]

“On the Progress of Knowledge” was the theme on which Mr. S. A. Bacon of the Saxon Hotel lectured at the above named Institution on the 9th of February.

“Atmospheric Electricity” was the title of a lecture delivered in the Institution rooms, by Mr. John Banks, on the Feby 15th. The lecture was illustrated by experiments.

A lecture on “The Sights of London”, was delivered by T. B. Brett on the 12th of March to a full room. Referring to the said lecture, the ‹i›Hastings News‹/i›, of the 21st of March observed — “A lecture was delivered last week by Mr. T. B. Brett on the engaging subject of ‘Metropolitan Sights, or a Week in London’. The lecturer set out with observing that one object he had in view was to provide those who intended visiting London during the Exhibition season with some information which might be useful to them. He then proceeded to give a general view of the great metropolis, remarking forcibly on some of its social characteristics. — After some statistical details the lecturer, enumerated some of the calamities that had befallen the great emporium. He next proceeded to treat of the public edifices of London. The dearest Pg.99 sight in the modern Babylon was described as St. Paul’s. The numerous objects of interest were treated of in a very graphic, and occasionally very amusing manner. The lecture was well got up and gave great satisfaction”.

“On Wednesday, March 26th,” said the same journal, “Mr. T. B. Brett gave a second lecture on ‘Metropolitan Sights’. We are glad to find this amusing and instructive lecturer prolonging his ‘Week in London’”.

“On Monday evening,” to again quote the Hastings News, (April 11th) “Mr. Brett, of St. Leonards, instructed and amused an attentive auditory with another portion of Metropolitan Sights or A Week in London. The lecture was well received.”

“On Wednesday evening,” said the same journal, “Mr. T. B. Brett resumed his agreeable lecture on ‘Metropolitan Sights’, and carried his audience as far as ‘Thursday Night’. His observations on this occasion, were in the vicinity of the Tower, Billingsgate, and the Docks. The subject was handled in a very entertaining style (with musical illustrations) and the rambles proved by no means fatiguing.”

On April 23 Mr. John Banks delivered a lecture in the same rooms, his subject being “Optics”.

At the quarterly meeting on the 15th of May (Mr. Chamberlin in the chair), it was shewn that the number of members was 239 and that the treasurer had a balance in hand of £1 17s 3d. The retiring committee were re-elected — viz. T. B. Brett, J. Beck, R. Coleman, W. Beck, J. Banks, S. Putland, W. Gilbert, J. S. Cooper, & T. Elworthy. The Chairman sympathised with Mr. F. Gausden (the Treasurer) in his illness, and passed a high commendation on his worth, both in public and private life.

The next quarterly meeting was held on Aug. 28th, when S. Putland, jun., was elected honorary treasurer in the place of F. R. Gausden, deceased. The meeting had been deferred through the illness of several officers.

The third annual soirée was held in the Assembly Rooms on the 28th of October, with the President, A. Burton, Esq. in the chair. The rooms were crowded, both at the tea and at the after proceedings. This enjoyable meeting was severally addressed by the Chairman and by Messrs. Chamberlin, Passmore, Edwards, J. Banks, _ Selway and J. Smith. Mr. Edwards’s address, of an hour’s duration, was a splendid oration. The sub-committee for managing the soirée were W. Walter, T. B. Brett, J. Smith, S. Putland & J. Beck. — Mr. Brett sold 52 tickets, Mr. Beck 27 and Mr. Walter 26. Mr. Elford and his son supplied the vocal music at a cost of 15/6. Mr. Brett provided a band of 8 performers for its 25/- and gave his own services gratuitously. Mr. Edwards’s expenses were 25/-. These and other items, left a deficiency of £1. 5 .1. But the soirée was a most enjoyable affair and brought a considerable accession of new members.

During the summer however, in consequence of many persons leaving the town and other causes, the number of members again declined, but at Pg.100  the annual and quarterly meeting on the 13th of Nov. the treasurer showed a favourable balance of over four guineas. A. Burton, Esq., was re-elected president; Messrs. Hollond, M P., D. Burton, Esq., W. Chamberlin, S. Putland, J. S. Cooper, & J. Beck, were elected vice-presidents; S. Putland, jun., Treasurer; C. T. How, and R. Coleman, secretaries; T. B. Brett, J. Banks, _ Bennett, W. Beck, J. Smith, W. Walter, S. Woodgate, A. Parks and J. Davis, committeemen. — The names are here placed agreeably to the number of votes.

A Furious Bullock[edit]

On the 24th of February an extraordinary scene was presented between Bopeep and the Fountain Inn. Two bullocks were being driven from Bexhill to Hastings by Henry Tindall and his brother, when one of them went astray, and the other made a rush at Tindall and knocked him down. To prevent being gored, Tindall held the animal hard by the horns, and after two or three unavailing plunges the bullock galloped off to a railway plate-layer named Clark, whom he knocked down & gored in a frightful manner. The injured man was taken up insensible, bleeding profusely from a severe wound in the leg and thigh. The bullock then ran against a mounted horse, and with one horn tore off the saddle and threw the rider over the roadside rails almost into the Haven. The reckless beast then ran at a man who laid hold of the unsaddled horse and threw him also to the ground. It then ran to a dray-man who took refuge behind a brewer’s vehicle. Being now opposed by a man with a pitchfork, the bullock speedily threw his antagonist, and after treading on his shoulder, got into collision with a horse and cart driven by Mr. Godden, a backer at the South Colonnade. The bullock’s head struck the horse’s breast and caused the horse to rear upon its hind legs. A female was also knocked down but not greatly hurt. Having remained master of the highway for about an hour the restless being galloped off under the railway arch at Bopeep, and on the following morning was found near its old quarters at Bexhill, where it ran at a fish-dealer and knocked him down. The animal was ultimately secured and placed from whence it had been taken the day before, and where its strayed companion, had also arrived.

New Buildings[edit]

To the east and the west, as well as to the north of the Archway, additional buildings continued to arise, and among them were three fist-class mansions contiguous to 79 Marina. Unlike others in that direction these were being built on freehold ground. There were also two houses being built by Mr. Robt. Ransom, west of Verulam place, which he named Helmington place — now 62 and 63 Eversfield place. Mr. Thos. Woodford has purchased 1 and 2 Cliff Cottages, and changed the name to “Lossenham”. He was also having built for him four other attached houses to which he gave the general appellation of Agincourt Terrace, in consequence of an ancestor Pg.101 of his being knighted for valorous deeds at the battle of Agincourt. The same new houses were also separately named Glenstone, Alma, Rockbourn, etc. These houses are now 5 to 10 Eversfield place. I am here reminded that in the same year (1851) Mr. Woodford was slowly recovering from an attack of brain fever, from what cause I do not know, but perhaps from overwrought anxiety in the building of his property. But a still greater undertaking in the same year was that of Mr. Benjamin Tree and his son, Henry Went Tree, in the erection of nine large houses next to Mr. Woodford’s, and to which they gave the names of Eversfield House and 1 to 8 Eversfield place. At a later period these numbers were altered to Nos. 12 to 20, and five of the said houses now comprise the elegant Eversfield Hotel. There was then a long stretch of unoccupied land until were reached the house, to be called Yverdon, just built by Mr. Voysey and the adjoining four houses also being erected by Mr. William Winter, which, ere completion were partly consumed by fire (See “Fires” further on in the same chapter). Then, further eastward were Mr. Ransom’s two “Helmington place” houses, already noticed, with vacant spaces of ground on each side. Thus the front line between Warrior square and Verulam place became a scene of active building operations in 1851; but, even then there remained spaces to be covered by 41 houses out of the 67 now existing as Eversfield place.

A Question of Bands[edit]

On the 21st of May “A Tradesman” wrote to the Hastings News thus: —

“In the Sussex Advertiser of Tuesday last was inserted a letter which began with ‘It is a question which arises from year to year as to how the parades of Hastings and St. Leonards shall be supplied with music for the season?’ Now, Sir, this is the very question that for several months agitated the minds of a few energetic individuals having the welfare of the town or towns at heart, and caused them to institute an enquiry as to the practicability of forming such a band as would better meet the requirements of the place than the then existing local band or bands. The result of this enquiry was the speedy organization of a new brass band [the first of its kind in the borough], composed of eleven performers, of steady and temperate habits, and provided, at a great expense with instruments of modern and improved construction. This band has now been six months in good practice, and should it meet with suitable encouragement, it is not difficult to foresee the advantages likely to be derived therefrom. There are many occasions, both in summer and winter when the services of a band are Pg.102  required at a very short notice, and when a foreign band is not to be had even if desired; and it is at such times when a good local band gives evidence of its utility.”

On June 4th “Another Tradesman” — this time a St. Leonards man — wrote to the same local journal as follows: —

“Hastings and St. Leonards are almost destitute of public amusements. Standing as they do, second to none as watering places, some further attractions should be presented to those from whom we, as tradesmen, receive our support. There is now here a band of foreign musicians who give us selections from first-rate composers in a creditable manner. We have also another band, who have been labouring hard for a considerable time to be in a position to offer their services. Native talent ought at all times to receive due encouragement. If Hastings secures the services of a good band, St. Leonards must follow her example; but can there not be in this case a union of interests? Let both bands be engaged. They could then perform at Hastings and St. Leonards alternately. The St. Leonards people came forward liberally last year, and will again do so. Allow me, therefore, to suggest to the Hastings Committee the propriety of inviting the co-operation of the St. Leonards residents; and I have not the slightest doubt the invitation will be responded to.”

The writer of the foregoing letter was too sanguine. The Hastings Band Committee could not condescend to invite the co-operation of St. Leonards while St. Leonards declined to co-operate with Hastings in the application of the Health of Towns Act. Perhaps where there ought to be harmony there might be discord; besides which they were already subjected to jarring notes in a feud with the Hastings old Band. The self-appointed committee has engaged a German band, or were intending to do so, when someone, in remonstrance, sent a long letter to the Hastings News, of which the following is an extract: —

the Town Band have borne the heat and burden of the day — have supplied us with music on every case of emergency — have struggled on for a number of years, and, without remuneration have played for whole seasons for the amusement of ourselves and visitors — and shall strangers be brought to enter into their labours now that pecuniary means can be found? Fellow subscribers! Shall persons, in their desire for notoriety, call a select meeting, appoint themselves a committee, and dictate to the town what band shall be had? Can you now afford — as that committee says you must — £10 a week for a band of eight Germans, when during the few seasons in which you collected subscriptions, you paid the Town Band only £5 a Pg.103  week for twelve performers? Consider these questions before you be made the dupes of any plausibility, or suffer a band of respectable fellow townsmen to be cast aside by Messrs. Clift, Grenside, etc., to make place for a band of itinerant Germans. [Mr. Grenside had German relations, and Mr. Clift, as a member of the imperious society of H.I.P.S.,[5] two years later, was anything than the best of Mayors or even one of the best].”

As an illustration of the aphorism that “a prophet has no honour in his own country”, this patronage of German bands tended to break up one of the best local bands in Sussex. The new Brass Band, however, could not be put down by any combination. Conscious of its own strength and favoured by the public for its rehearsals of popular music, it had the gratification of seeing the Germans give it a wide berth. It had the further pleasure in a test of ability at Eastbourne with a German band, of carrying off the honours. And here it may be remarked that the said Brass Band could only get paid two guineas for a musical advertisement in a march round both towns and playing all the afternoon at a flower show, whilst by simply playing at the Rye Cottagers’ Show and the Eastbourne and Hailsham Shows it could readily obtain five guineas and all expenses; its pride being further gratified by the posted notices that “The Celebrated Hastings and St. Leonards Brass Band” would be in attendance.

Turning again to the Hastings contention, it is not unlikely that the favour shown to the St. Leonards Brass Band in preference to the German Band, helped to put the Hastings Town Band upon its mettle, the members of which, in the early part of July, challenged the Germans to a musical combat, the conditions being that both bands should use the same sort of instruments, and the judges to be competent, but disinterested persons. The challenge was held to be a fair proposition as a test of skill, but it was not accepted by the Germans themselves nor by the committee on their behalf.

Fires at St. Leonards[edit]

In 1851, on the 2nd of February, there was a serious conflagration at where are now 42 to 46, Eversfield Place. These houses were in course of erection and nearly finished. They formed a block by themselves, four of them belonging to Mr. William Winter, a shipwright, of Hastings, and the other —a larger one — to Mr. Voysey, architect and builder, of St. Leonards. The houses were already roofed in and floored, and whilst some of the workmen were on the premises at dinner, a fire that had been lighted and supposed to have been out, was re-kindled by the strong draught from an open window, which scattered the sparks among shavings and thus ignited them into a flame. In a few minutes the fire was communicated to the timbers, which in turn were quickly ablaze, and the roof being as quickly attacked by the flames, afforded only sufficient resistance to send a large volume of smoke and flame through the window openings, thus setting alight also the wooden frames. The roof, too, was soon burnt through, and the immense volume of black smoke which arose therefrom attracted a crowd even as far off as Norman Road. The present writer, with several other persons, hesitated not to rush to the scene, where he found a large number of willing hands exerting themselves to annihilate a fire from which the heat was almost unendurable even in the road. Two engines were already hastening to the conflagration, one belonging to the Hastings Commissioners, which was kept in the Castle parish, and the other belonging to the St. Leonards Commissioners, which was kept in the Victoria Mews. Owing to the want of water, however, they could only be worked by that which was brought up in buckets from the sea, and here a mistake was made by pouring it, unfiltered of its sand and grit, into the engines direct, thus choking the pipes. Next came the three engines that were kept in the late market-place under the Town Hall, the whole five being then assembled within 45 minutes from the time of the discovery. But the fire was then raging fiercely from top to bottom of what we will call No. 2, where it had originated, and had leapt over on each side to Nos. 1 and 3, the party walls not being carried above the roof, so that three out of the four houses belonging to Mr. Winter were now being consumed. Renewed efforts were made to prevent the fire spreading, but the want of water was still the hindrance. Seeing the dilemma, Mr. Clark, proprietor of the new water-works, took a pickaxe and broke into the main, thus affording a sufficient supply for most of the engines to be worked. The Castle engine was the most effective, it having the first pull at the water. The St. Leonards engine was the second in good effects, while the other three, being less powerful, played upon the lower portions of the buildings. After a time a couple of hose did good service by being carried round to the back, and by three o’clock the further spread of the fire was felt to have been stayed. By that time three of Mr. Winter’s houses were roofless, and the fourth nearly so, whilst all the timber was burnt out of one and a good deal of it out of two houses immediately adjoining. But Mr. Voysey’s house was fortunately saved. The damage was estimated at from £900 to £1,000, but the five houses, as a block, were insured for £1,600. Some of the workmen failed to recover their tools, whilst others succeeded in removing them to safer quarters.  Pg.104 Fears were entertained that the gable wall of the westernmost house would fall, and policemen were stationed at the spot to warn people of the danger. The wall, however, preserved its perpendicular until two days later, when it tottered under the force of a westerly gale, and at last the upper portion fell inwards with a loud crash, and carried away such of the flooring and joists as had been spared by the fire. The coast-guard men rendered good service, and several other helpers ran great risk by getting on to the roofs tor the purpose of pouring down water. The firemen also worked excessively, those from High Street having to drag their engines by hand over the heavy shingle in Robertson Street.

The Hastings Commissioners having held a monthly meeting on the evening of the same day, it was very natural for the fire here described to be a topic of discussion. The chairman (Mr. Dunk) remarked that it was evidenced by the conflagration that had occurred that afternoon that some more effective agency was required to defend the town against the hazard of fire. It was grievous to see the futile attempts of an engine to convey water even up to the first floor. Mr. Wrenn contended that the Castle engine — the only one belonging to the Commissioners — threw the water over the very top of the buildings. Nothing, we believe, was wrong with the men or the said engine, but the old engines were certainly defective. Mr. Vidler thought, however, a master-hand was wanted to make the staff more perfect. The Commissioners engine was first at the fire, but two or three pipes burst through the stopping up of the muzzle by the beach contained in the sea-water. The St. Leonards engine appeared to be a very good one for power, but the case of the inefficient ones rested with the Town Council. Mr. Wellerd, the superintendent of the Commissioners’ engine, having been called, stated that a party obtained the engine-house key of Mr. Vidler and took the engine to the fire before the brigade knew anything about it. The consequence was that as the party were unacquainted with it they soon put it out of order. All parties, however, concurred in praising the firemen for their energy and hard work, but the opinion was general that an efficient leader was required.

On the 20th of the same month in the same year, at about seven o'clock in the evening, a fire occurred at the West Marina in a shop occupied by Mr. Cope, stationer, tea-dealer, and tobacconist. Mrs. Cope received the first alarm, while descending the stairs from an upper floor, by her four-year-old son running to her from the shop, saying there was at fire. (The said son, when grown to manhood, was a violinist, also organist at St. Mary Magdalen Church, but since dead). On going to the shop Mrs. Cope saw flames rising over the counter. She immediately rushed out for assistance and obtained the help of Mr. Bray, a neighbouring baker, and two other persons. Water was thrown on the flames, and the fire was ultimately extinguished, but not till nearly the whole of the stock was destroyed or damaged. The shop windows were broken, and much of the plaster fell from the ceiling. The fire, which arose from the child playing with matches, resulted in a serious loss to his father.

0n the 9th of July in the same year, a fire was discovered at the house in London Road, St. Leonards, tenanted by Mr. Joseph Beck, a baker, and a relative of Councillor Beck above mentioned. A bond timber had got ignited in the chimney of the adjoining house (Mr. Stubberfield's) and had communicated with a bedroom in Mr. Beck’s house. Fortunately the smell of fire induced a search, which resulted in the discovery of some bandboxes being consumed. These were near to some curtains, and had not prompt measures been taken to extinguish the work of destruction thus commenced the result might have been serious.

Nine days later an alarm of fire was shouted by a female, the only inmate at the time of 11, Grand Parade. A violent thunderstorm was in progress, and the house having been struck by lightning, and the person in charge being enveloped by darkness, imagined, in her fright, that some part of the house was on fire, she hastened to alarm her neighbours. That her suspicion was natural may be learnt from the following abbreviated details. At about two o'clock in the afternoon the lightning struck the house with a terrific report, attracted apparently by a zinc chimney shaft raised high above the brickwork stack. The combined metal and masonry was shattered, the roof entered, the bell-wires twisted and separated, the bells made to ring, the wall-papers discoloured, some of the windows broken, the kitchen fire extinguished by falling materials, and the kitchen in darkness. No. 12, was also visited by the electric current, its chimney-stack damaged thereby, whilst a clock was stopped, a ceiling cracked, and an umbrella dashed out of a servant’s hands just as she was opening it. The concussion was most alarming, and was felt also in No. 10, where the cook lost her sense of hearing for fully two hours. The telegraph wires at the Bopeep railway station were affected and the bells set ringing.

The same storm also set fire to a stack of wheat in the Kiln Field, St. Leonards Green, belonging to Mr. Robert Deudney. A column of smoke ascended from the centre of the stack as if from a funnel, and, notwithstanding a copious fall of rain and hail, the flames of fire quickly followed the smoke, and the entire destruction of eighty or ninety pounds worth of grain appeared to be imminent. The present writer, with a crowd of other persons, witnessed the great exertions which were made to remove as many sheaves as possible from the burning mass, whilst a number of rats hied them to safer quarters. The fire was not finally subdued till after midnight, and only a comparatively small portion of the stack was saved. Mr. Deudney had, however, prudently insured it.

Another fire in 1851 was a very destructive one, which occurred near Bexhill and which was plainly visible on the high ground at St. Leonards. At about nine o'clock on the eventing of September l9th an immense glare was observed from St. Leonards Green which proved to be that which was caused by large fire at the Lower Barnhorn Farm between Bexhill and Hooe, occupied by Mr. Thomas Christmas. The conflagration — which was believed to be the work of an incendiary — broke out in a barn; and, owing to a scarcity of water, consumed a stack of thrashed pea-haulm, a stack containing 20 tons of hay, a barn, a lodge, a granary, 30 loads of peas in haulm, five loads of wheat-sheaves, a quantity of potatoes, some threshed tares, and several fowls. The entire loss was estimated at £500. In this case had it been possible for the Hastings and St. Leonards firemen, with their engines, to be present in ever so short a time, the want of water would have made their energies of little avail.

A fire also occurred at St. Leonards, on the 3lst of August, but it turned out to be only a bonfire on the beach. Being, however, on a Sunday evening, a great crowd of people proceeded to the spot from both towns, those, from Hastings imagining that at house or houses at the South Colonnade had caught fire, and those from westward of the St. Leonards Archway supposing it to be one of the new houses which now form a portion of Eversfield Place. A party of boys had managed to get a large quantity of shavings together, with small pieces of wood, close to the wall in front of “Lossenham,” which they kindled and raised an immense bonfire. The whole place was lit up by the flames, thus causing a consternation and the hastening of people to the spot. Such a foolish freak on a Sunday evening was very reprehensible, but it was understood, even by juveniles, that the police had no authority to interfere with anything that took place on the beach.

Though not strictly coming within the limits first contemplated by the writer under this heading, yet, as the effects of Nature’s fireworks have sometimes invoked the aid of firemen to arrest the progress of destruction, there can be no incongruity in associating with the present theme some of the cases of local damage caused by electrical storms. The lightning-struck houses at Ground Parade have been already referred to, and I will now add that a thunderstorm occurred on the 27th of September, during which two sheep belonging to Mr. Edward Farncomb, at Filsham Farm, were killed by lightning.

On the 4th of the following October, not by storm, but by the dangerous practice of letting off fireworks in the public roads, a valuable animal of a team of horses was so affrighted as to rear and to fracture a thigh bone, thus necessitating his being deprived of life by shooting.

Natural and other Phenomena[edit]

During squally weather on the 19th of November (1850), a very clearly defined ‹u›lunar rainbow‹/u› appeared in the south-west. Rather more than a quadrate of prismatic hues stood out vividly on a dark cloud, the lower extremities of the bow dipping into the sea.

On the 17th of April, a large shoal of porpoises passed St. Leonards, unusually close to the shore. On the following morning a solar halo, with brilliant prismatic colours, was observed, and on the evening of the same day nightingale notes were heard in the neighbourhood. On the 23rd, vivid light was seen in the north.

A beautifully marked turtle, with lively motion was seen at the Marine Hotel in the month of July; and a turtle, weighing 84 pounds, was the creature which terrified a man in the sea at Bulverhithe on the 13th of August. On closer acquaintance the nature of the strange visitor was discovered, and, after a hard struggle was captured and sold to two men who were fishing for prawns, for the sum of 10 shillings.

Three white spoonbills were shot on the Pevensey Levels on the 2nd of October, out of a flight of six. Such birds are so rare in this locality as not to be seen Pg.105 more than twice or thrice in 50 years.

A hare was chased by a dog down into the sea on the night of October 16th. After swimming out and performing a circle in full moonlight, it came again to land and was captured by its pursuer.

Another large shoal of porpoises passed up Channel on the 12th of November, probably in pursuit of herrings, large quantities of which, were caught by the fishermen during the night.

Two beautiful meteors. Were observed on a Friday night in December — the first at about 7 o’clock, and the other at 10.30.

Accidents and Incidents[edit]

An accident occurred on the railway works, to a man named Hawkins, who got jammed between two waggons, and had to be taken to the Infirmary. Also, on the 10th of February, a man named Laurence, serving on the line as a breaks-man, (sic) had his left foot completely crushed by a wheel of the engine passing over it. He bore, with great fortitude the amputation of his leg below the knee, the operation being performed at the Infirmary.

A fall of cliff occurred on the night of February 9th at Caves road, when a portion of what was known as the St. Leonards Caves fell in. This subterranean region was the residence of Mr. William Smith and his family. It was comfortably fitted up and was shewn to visitors. It also comprised a coach house, a stable, a chicken-house, etc. A portion of the cliff fell at 10.00 p.m. when Smith took the precaution of removing his horse from the stable. A greater fall took place towards morning, which destroyed both the stable and the kitchen. It also crushed to death 27 unfortunate chickens.

A railway accident occurred on the 27th of February, when a man named Frederick Leeves had a thigh broken by a fall of earth on the line between St. Leonards and Battle.

A strong gale on the night of March 22nd sent the sea across the road at West Marina, flooding the basements of the houses, breaking windows and doing other damage.

A frightful railway smash on the Brighton and Hastings line occurred on the 6th of June. The accident occurred near Falmer, and was caused by a sleeper being placed across the metals. Five persons were killed and several injured.

Five days later, George Easton and was killed by an express train from St. Leonards and Hastings on the Ashford line as the train was nearing the Rye station. He jumped off from a ballast waggon just as the train was near.

Two days before the last-named accident, another accident happened to a workman on the railway, but the injuries was slight and the man soon recovered — On July 22nd, a child rolled down the face of the cliff near the St. Leonards Caves, a distance of 80 feet, and fell into the road, with no other injury than a few bruises, to the surprise of all.

 Pg.106 An accident of a far more serious form occurred at the houses already referred to as being built in Eversfield place. This was on the 9th of July, when a young man named Henry Tapp, slipped from his position whilst hauling up a piece of timber, and fell between the joists, a distance of 16 feet, thus receiving a severe fracture of the ulna and ribs, and injuring the scapula. His case at first was thought to be all but hopeless, and although he recovered and was able to work, he did so under crippled difficulties.

Another personal mishap occurred on the 27th of August, when a man named Coot was severely injured by a mass of earth falling on him, & hurling him down a distance of 9 or 10 feet. He was standing near the railway line at Bopeep when the earth was sent adrift by an explosion of gunpowder by which the workmen were separating some rock. On the same day an accident occurred at Hastings, but which is described under a similar heading in the next chapter.

Injury to two workmen occurred on the first of September, by a large fall of earth at a cutting of the still unfinished line between St. Leonards and Battle.

A perilous position was that which was experienced on the following day (Sept. 2nd) by a young man who had rowed out from land with a stiff N.E. breeze, and was unable to return against wind and tide. Seeing that he was being carried away in a S.W. direction, two boatmen rowed to his assistance and overtook him after a chase of several miles. The incident should be an object lesson to inexperienced rowers.

Through getting jammed between two waggons at the Bopeep cutting of the South-Eastern Railway, Charles Morris, aged 28, was obliged to undergo the amputation of one arm.

More railway accidents occurred near the same place in December. On the 14th, when James Chapman, aged 30, sustained a fractured thigh while at work on the South-Eastern line; and, four days later, James Turner, and aged 50, was buried by a fall of earth, and when dug out, one leg was so crushed as to require amputation.

A severe accident occurred on the 17th of December to a young gentleman named Pepys, son of the Countess Cottenham. A horse on which he was mounted started off from the Marina, and on reaching Warrior square threw its rider and kicked him with his hind legs. Bleeding and insensible, the sufferer was carried into the corner house (now the East-Sussex Club) which had just had then been purchased by the Rev. G. G. Stonestreet. Two doctors were sent for, who after dressing the young man’s wounds, had him taken to his residence.

A railway labourer, named William Martin, fell over a cliff on the railway line, north of St. Leonards, on Sunday evening, Dec. 21st, and broke his thigh. His cries attracted the inmates of a neighbouring hut, who came to his assistance. He was taken to the Infirmary, where the fracture was restored by Mr. Savory.

The Queen’s St. Leonards Archers[edit]

 Pg.107 At the opening of the Archery fêtes for the season on the Queen’s birthday anniversary, the winners of the Victoria prizes were Miss Bramley, C. Marrable, Esq., Miss Yeoman and R. Cumming, Esq. The winners of her Majesty’s annual prize and the gold bracelet and silver cup were Miss. Fenton and F. Marrable, Esq.

Of the minor meetings between Her Majesty’s birthday and that of the Duchess of Kent I have no reliable account, but on the latter occasion, which was always regarded as the grand day of the season, the attendance was brilliant and numerous, the company consisting of between five hundred and six hundred persons. The competition was keen, and lasted till the shades of evening rendered further shooting impossible. It commenced at midday and consisted of two matches. The Ladies’ prize, a handsome gold necklet was won by Miss Fenton. The gentleman’s prize, a silver inkstand, was borne off by Mr. Marrable. In the second match for the Royal Victoria Challenge prizes presented by the Duchess of Kent, the winners were Miss Bramley, Mr. Cumming, Miss Yeoman and Mr. Willis. The Society’s Honorary Stars were awarded to Miss Bramley and Mr. Cumming. The Society’s prizes for members were won by Miss R. Yeoman and Mr. Willis. The Society’s prizes for subscribers were won by Miss Brander and Mr. Hutchons. The prizes for the most central hit were obtained by Miss Bramley and Mr. Day.

At a meeting on the 30th of August, when the Prince and Princess of Wied were present, prizes were won by Miss Bramley, Rev. J. H. Bramley, and Mr. A. Burton.

Another meeting was held on the 13th of September, when the prizes for ladies and gentlemen were carried off by Miss Bramley and Mr. Cumming, respectively. The same lady and gentleman were the successful competitors at the last of the season’s meeting on the 27th of September.

Horticultural Shows[edit]

The first horticultural show of the year was held on the 26th of June in the St. Leonards Gardens, the use of which was gratuitously granted by Mr. Alfred Burton. The day was fine and favourable, the show was good and the exhibits were greatly admired. Among the presentations were a basket of beautiful geraniums by the Rev. W. W. Hume, an elegant bouquet by Mr. Wood, and a five-pound note by J. C. Strode towards the cottage-garden prizes. The St. Leonards Brass Band played during the afternoon and tended to enliven the scene. The St. Leonards Gardens were always regarded as the prettiest place for these bi-yearly exhibitions.

Sundry Events[edit]

Diverting the Haven[edit]

{{Page|04|108}The Commissioners of Levels held an adjourned meeting on the 15th of March, Earl Waldegrave being present with other Gentlemen on the Commission. The paper was read by Mr. Ellman, by which Mr. Eversfield and Mr. Brisco engaged to contribute £1,000 towards the expense of shortening the Haven and removing the hutch or outlet from Bopeep to westward of the Railway Arch. Mr. Brisco, as lord of the manor, consented to give the land or beach for that purpose, on condition of the land forming the bed of the existing sewer being conveyed to the owners of the adjoining lands. The annual saving by the proposed alteration was represented to be very considerable. The Commissioners, therefore, having obtained the signatures of the principal persons rated to the sewage, gave orders to Mr. Major Vidler, their expenditor, to take the necessary steps for immediately making the alterations. The original hutch and outlet of the haven were where the Grosvenor Gardens are now.

Amusements, etc.[edit]

A band played on the parade & other places during the fashionable season.

A ball was given on the 11th of February to one hundred of the elite of the town and neighborhood, by a Mrs. Denne, of 66 Marina.

In the week ending May 10 there was an overflowing audience at its St. Leonards Mechanics’ Institution, to listen to a musical entertainment given by members, assisted by professionals Wood and Elford.

The Archery fêtes have been already described, and the amusements at Hastings are recorded in the next chapter.

The St. Leonards Brass Band on Sept. 10th accompanied 114 boys & about 50 teachers and friends of the British School to Battle in six vans and six flys.


After a pigeon-shooting match, a party connected with the railway works on the St. Leonards contract were entertained, at Mr. Paine’s Railway Terminus Inn, by the contractors, Messrs. Newton, Smith & Co.

On Christmas Day, the 14 houses erected by Mr. Smith (one of the railway contractors, at Stanhope place) having been covered in, a dinner was given by the proprietor to 54 tradesmen and workmen engaged in the work. This “rearing feast” was provided at the Mason’s Arms.

Chapter LVI Hastings. — 1851[edit]

Transcriber’s note[edit]

This is a verbatim transcription of Brett’s work, which comprised both manuscript and typescript cuttings, and therefore reproduces Brett’s variations in style, capitalisation, punctuation and spelling. Where possible, personal names have been checked against the 1851 census, parish records and the Central Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths. Any footnotes have been inserted by the transcriber when this has been thought to be useful. Readers should be aware that Brett’s narrative was written some forty to fifty years after these events and his memory has occasionally been found to be at fault by later historians.


 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]

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. Rresolutions 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]

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]

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]

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,[6] 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]

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]

 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]

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]

 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]

 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]

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]

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.


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]

 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,[7] 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[8].

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 ,[9] 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]

 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]

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]

 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!
 Pg.147 We grieve no more, but with unshaken trust,
  Would look beyond this narrow earth-bound view.
God summoned thee, and now His love has given
  The rest and the activities of Heaven.

Dorking, Feb. 25, 1851.

James Roper. There have been several occasions in this History in which the name of James Roper has been mentioned, both in smuggling ventures and in racing matches, the latter whilst master of the pleasure yacht British Fair, successively owned by Sir Joseph Planta and Wastel Brisco, Esq. I first knew “Captain Jemmy Roper” when he resided in a cottage leading from the Priory bridge to the Rope Walk near where is now the Queen’s Hotel; afterwards at 12 East parade, and lastly in a shanty on the cliff, immediately behind what is now the Palace Hotel. This was on a site belonging to Mr. Brisco, of Bohemia House — a gentleman who in other ways also took care of his old sailing master. Here might Jemmy Roper be seen smoking his pipe in peace and tending his miniature poultry farm. But on Monday, the 28th of June, this hardy son of the ocean was consigned to a tomb in St. Clement’s churchyard, there being no burying-ground in St. Mary Magdalen parish, at the eastern extremity of which was Roper’s humble abode. His remains were conveyed into the town with public honours, a procession being formed with a sailor bearing the Union Jack, surmounted with crape, followed by the Hastings Band, with additional musicians from Rye, playing the “Dead March”. Wastel Brisco, Esq., his son and the Rev. T. Sproule (first incumbent of St. Mary Magdalen), about thirty of the deceased man’s friends, the hearse and the chief mourners. The burial service was read by the Rev. W. W. Hume (then curate at St. Clement’s and afterwards Incumbent of St. Mary Magdalen). The scene was altogether an impressive one. The band returned from the church about 6 p.m., playing, as is the custom on such occasions, a lively quickstep. The deceased was stated to be 67 years of age, but as he was baptized at St. Clement’s on Dec. 28th, 1782, he must have been in his 69th year.


Mary Whiting. The first inquest of the year was on the body of Miss Mary Whiting, who was found dead in bed on the morning of the 8th of March. She was 73 years of age and had lived many years in the service of the Misses Milward. She had suffered for a long time from heart disease, and had been lately living in a dwelling on premises belonging to Miss Milward.

 Pg.148  Ann Foster. On Tuesday, the 25th of July, a tragical termination of life occurred at Guestling, a village which had lately earned an unenviable notoriety for its scenes of crime, the wholesale poisonings by Mrs. Geary[10] being the worst case of all. The circumstances of the event now to be described were as follows: — A gardener of the name of Daniel Foster, in the employ of Mr. Mouck, of Guestling Cottage, and himself living at Friars Hill, became a widower with 7 children, in 1843, and was soon afterwards married again, but had no family by his second wife. On the 18th of February, 1848, one of Foster’s boys hanged himself in Mr. Rollason’s barn at Rock farm. On the day of this later sad affair, two of the girls (Ann and Charlotte) were sent by their step-mother for a pail of water from a spring, nearly half a mile distant. This was a repetition of previous errands, but on the day before, to save toiling up the hill, the girls filled the pail from a nearer pond, for which the elder one got a beating, and was threatened, with more punishment if she did it again. The two girls were respectively, 14 and 11 years of age. On the present occasion they obeyed the mother’s behest by going to the spring, and on their return, rested at a spot near to the said pond. The elder sister then asked Charlotte to mind the pail a few minutes, soon after which the latter heard a splash in the water, and on going to the pond saw her sister’s bonnet on the ground. She immediately ran home and gave an alarm. The elder girl could not be found, and the pond on the side of the road was dragged without effect. All search and enquiries proving of no avail, on the following morning, George Jeffery, of the East-Sussex Constabulary, dragged the opposite side of the pond, overhung by trees, and there discovered the girl’s lifeless body. At the inquest several witnesses deposed to the heavy loads of wood and water that the girls were made to carry, and to the complaint of the deceased of being beaten by her mother; also that she had threatened to destroy herself, the mother having said that if they were tired of it they might go and drown themselves, and that would be the way to get out of it. The jury, while recording a verdict that the deceased committed suicide, expressed an opinion that extreme severity had been used by the father and step-mother towards the two girls.

Martha Walder. On the 18th of July, an inquest was held on the body, of this woman nearly 70 years of age, who died suddenly on the preceding day. She had occupied a room in All Saints’ street for seven years, was of very regular and temperate habits, and got her living by cleaning gentlemen’s coats and making trousers. She had not been known to be ill for three years, except the last few days, when she complained of pains in her head. Finding that she was not about that morning and her door fastened, Mr. Reeves, the landlord was sent for and the door was forced open, when the poor woman  Pg.149 was found lying on the floor. A surgeon was sent for, who administered some brandy and water. She was, however, insensible, and died at about 4 o’clock. The jury recorded a verdict of “Natural Death”. As showing that the deceased was of temperate and thrifty habits, on searching her room there were found eight sovereigns, two shillings, two watches, and three gold rings.

James Beaney. On Sunday, the 12th of October, James Beaney, a cripple, and subject to fits, fell, lifeless, in the Fishmarket. He was 55 years of age, and his death was attributed to natural causes.

Maria Wenham’s Child. The first inquest, under the Town Council’s new regulations, whereby the shilling to each juryman was suppressed and 5/- paid to a landlord for the use of his room, took place on the 13th of November. It was held on the third child of Maria Wenham, a single woman, and as there was no evidence of unfair treatment, “Natural Death” was the verdict.

William Felsted. On Sunday, the 16th of November, Mr. William Felsted, who for several years had been in business as a baker and confectioner at 5 Castle road, destroyed himself by cutting his throat. His age was 49, and he was addicted to drinking. He and Mrs. Felsted were previously at 17 George street, some particulars of whom and of which will be found in Brett’s rhymed “Reminiscences of Hastings”.

Hannah Moore’s child. The murder of an infant was the cause of an inquest held at the Saxon Hotel on the 21st of November. The body was found at the back of No. 6 North street and the mother of it was traced to Hannah Moore, a single woman, 23 years of age, a native of Norfolk, and then living as servant at the Rev. Mr. Gordon’s, on the West hill. The accused at first strongly denied any knowledge of the affair, but afterwards confessed to having strangled her child at its birth and placed it where it was found. The jury, of course, could do no other than to find a verdict of wilful murder, against the accused, who was conveyed to Lewes prison, attended by a nurse.

Benjamin Coffrett. The suicide of this old townsman and retired sadler, at 83 years of age, occasioned another inquest to be held, and from the evidence there given, the following particulars were gleaned: — His body was discovered on the 2nd of December at his dwelling, “Laburnham Cottage” on the Light Steps. He had been missed for several weeks, but as he was somewhat eccentric and lived alone, it was thought that he had gone on a visit to one of his daughters (Mrs. Boffi) in France, or to another relation at Maidstone. He was last seen alive on the 11th of November, when he was depressed in consequence of Mr. Philcox, who owed him  Pg.150 forty pounds, having become a bankrupt. In addition to this amount of borrowed money, there was £53 rent due to Coffrett. His long disappearance gave rise to suspicion, when an entrance to his locked-up dwelling was effected and his lifeless body was found suspended by the neck. The house was in good order, and contained plenty of provisions. “Temporary Insanity” was the verdict. Mr. Coffrett’s. property is referred to in “The Postman’s Reminiscences” of 68 George street, and some interesting jottings in the life of this industrious but somewhat eccentric townsman are given in connection with the life and letters of Mrs. Maria Baker, one of his daughters, constituting chapter XLIV., Vol. I, Historico-Biographies.

Lucy Lewer. On the 6th of December, Mrs. Lewer, living with her husband in a cottage on Fairlight Down, was discovered dead in bed. Her age was 54 years, and at an inquest that was held, it was concluded that she had died in a fit, she having been subject to such ailments.


On the 12th of February, a butcher’s cart ran over the legs of a child in All Saints’ street, and as the cart was backed it passed over the child’s legs a second time; but to the surprise of those who witnessed it, without fracturing a bone.

A Lady in a Fit fell down in George street, on the 10th of April, and with a seriously injured head, was conveyed to her residence at Reculver Cottages.

A Crash and Smash occurred on the 5th of April in the following manner: — A waggon, laden with straw, while passing down High street, got its overhanging portion in contact with butcher Pankhurst’s cart, which started the attached horse down the street at a furious pace, and after descending Oak Hill, dashed into the Messrs. Burfield’s counting-house with an alarming crash; shattering the glass, breaking the woodwork, and greatly damaging the cart and harness. The horse, though considerably cut, was not seriously injured.

A Bad Drive was that of Sunday night, the 18th of May, when two men on their return journey to Hastings, drove into the dike between Rye and Winchelsea, and, with their horse and trap were suddenly immersed in water. One of the travellers lost a sovereign, smashed his watch, and was made too unwell to proceed. He was therefore sent back to Rye, where he received medical assistance, and returned to Hastings on the following day, to get both his watch and health repaired, with a good-bye to his sovereign.

A Runaway. On the 16th of May, one of the animals of a pair-horse omnibus that was waiting at the Swan to convey passengers to the railway, being frightened, started off at great pace with its companion, Pg.151 all through George street, Castle street, and up to the station, where the horses and ’bus came to a stand at the usual place. The driver, who was on the box, managed to get over the vehicle and dropped down behind without injury, and the only damage inflicted in this headlong race was the upsetting of a truck of furniture.

Another Runaway ’Bus. On the 14th of June, as an omnibus was descending High street, it went over a stone near the Roebuck Inn, the shock of which threw the driver off his seat, and sent the horses galloping down the street, with the owner and his son still on it. It collided with a van, breaking one of its axles, and driving the horse’s head into the window of Mr. Ginner’s office, opposite the Town Hall. At the same time, the omnibus fell over to the other side, knocked-in some shutters and did some other damage. The vehicle was much broken, and the owner’s son, being thrown to the ground, was considerably hurt.

Robertson-street Accidents. On the 1st of June, a lad named Spencer Kent, was taken to the Infirmary with an injured head by falling from one of the houses then being erected in Robertson street. Four days later, a man named Alfred Brazier was also conveyed to the Infirmary, with an injured hand, from the same cause and at the same place.

Mishap at Sea. On the 2nd of June, whilst Thomas Page, master of Kent’s fishing lugger, the “John Whitetman”, was engaged on deck at sea, he fell down the hatchway, and broke the small bone of one leg, besides being otherwise injured.

A Race. On the 4th of October, a horse bolted, with a young gentleman, from St. Leonards, knocked down a man at White-rock place, and continued its pace a la Gilpin[11] to the Anchor, in George street, where the rider fell off, but was not greatly injured.

Another Lucky Escape. On the 28th of July, a party drove a chaise or gig from Hastings on the road to Battle at a rather rapid pace; and, being dazzled by lightning in an otherwise dark night, they dashed into the Magdalen toll-gate and severed it into two parts. The driver kept his seat, but a gentleman by his side, was pitched over the horse’s head, happily, with but slight injury. The horse also appeared to be unhurt.

A Worse Accident. — On the 3rd of August, a fly man named Grant, while driving a lady and gentlemen down the Hastings turnpike road, perceived a donkey and cart to be in danger of falling over a bank from the higher road leading to Halton. Grant got down to render assistance, and gave the reins into the gentleman’s hands during his absence. By some means — perhaps by the tightening of one of the reins — the horse swerved and the chaise fell over. The lady fell out and the chaise fell on her. The gentleman also fell and sprained an ankle. The vehicle was much damaged, and  Pg.152 the horse was also injured; but, after being taken in a fly to their lodgings, the lady and gentleman were found to be not greatly suffering.

A Down-road Gallop. — On the 8th of August, as a pony and cart, with two occupants (Walter and Foster) were proceeding from Fairlight to the steep road at Castle hill, the pony descended at full gallop to the bottom, when one of the wheels came off and threw the driver and his companion, one of them being severely cut about the head and the other a good deal bruised and shaken.

A Window Smash. Five days after the foregoing accident, a van of the London Brighton and South-coast Railway collided with Mr. Strickland’s horse and cart in George street, and drove the animal’s head into Mr. Tassell’s shop window and smashed it.

Stone Throwing. — On the 19th of August, Mrs. William Amoore had been sitting on the beach under the East cliff with her child and a servant, and on rising, received a severe blow on the head by a stone thrown from the cliff. She ran a short distance and fell. A clergyman was near the spot, and hastened to Mrs. Amoore’s assistance. He conveyed her to the nearest house, in doing which his right arm became soaked in blood. Mr. Ticehurst and the husband were sent for, when she was removed to her home in a fly. The blow had caused a severe scalp wound, but under medical treatment the lady recovered.

Accidentally Drowned. — On Sunday morning the 17th of August, Mr. W. R. Quarry, superintendent-chemist to Mr. Hatton, of All Saints’ street, went to bathe in company with Mr. J. Fielder, a draper’s assistant, in the same street. Having given his watch and clothes into the charge of his companion, Mr. Quarry entered the water (at Carlisle parade) which was nearly at low ebb, where some other persons were also bathing. The latter came out of the water in about ten minutes, one of them with a severe wound in his leg. This circumstance diverted Mr. Fielder’s attention from his friend for a few minutes, but turning again to where he had seen Mr. Quarry still in the water, he at once missed him and gave an alarm. Boats and drags were quickly used, but no trace of the missing man could be found. It was evident that he was drowned; and it is supposed that he got into some mud or quicksand, that spot being part of a submarine forest.

A Rescue from Drowning. On the 23rd of August, a boy about 12 years old, while bathing at the groyne, under the East cliff, was carried out of his depth by the tide; and was just sinking, when a coastguard, named Knight, laid down his telescope, and, putting his watch in his mouth, plunged into the water with all his clothes on and brought the boy to the beach in a very exhausted condition.

Another Runaway. On the 27th of August a horse attached to a fly ran away from Mr. Akehurst’s house, in George street, and after tearing through  Pg.153 John street, got out to the sea-front, and was capsized, resulting in damage to the carriage and injury to the horse.

A Broken Leg. — On the 17th of October, as Joseph Diprose (several years in the employ of the Gas Company), was descending the hill at Cackle street, with a van of coke, the horse kicked and broke his leg.

A Fractured Thigh was sustained by a young man named George Ellis in consequence of his falling from one of the houses now being erected by Mr. Tree in Robertson street.

Cut to pieces. — On Sunday evening, Dec. 14th, the railway train which left Hastings at 5.35, knocked down and killed a farm labourer named Burwash, (nearly 60 years of age) while returning to Udimore from Winchelsea church. The poor man was cut to pieces, the accident occurring at a crossing which the public were warned as dangerous.

Riderless and Driverless. — On the 7th of December, a horse, with an empty fly and without a driver, galloped away from St. Leonards into Hastings, where it broke a lamp-post by collision at York buildings, and knocked off the hind wheels of the carriage.

A Narrow Escape. On the following day to the one last named, a lady had just alighted from a donkey chaise near the Marine parade, when it was knocked to pieces by being run in to by an Icklesham Van at the heels of a frightened horse.

Another Runaway. — On the 13th of December, during a foggy evening, while descending the steep “Barley Lane” from Rocklands, Mr. Hutchings’s pony-cart received a shock which threw out the occupants — two men and a female — but did not seriously hurt them. The pony then started off at full speed down into the town, first colliding with a cart, which it upset, and next dashing against Messrs. Burfield’s office, No. 1 George street. This was a second time the said office was attacked by a runaway, but on this occasion the carriage, and not the office, got wrecked.

And Yet another! — Yes, another pony and cart — this time, Mr. Streeter’s — ran away from the railway station and collided with a horse and fly, breaking the shafts of the latter, while the shaft of the pony-cart entered the breast of the horse. This was the last of the year’s numerous accidents from runaway horses and vehicles.

A Dangerous Fall. To the several falls from the new buildings in Robertson street, has to be added another. On the 22nd of December, Mr. George Tutt, a carpenter, fell through the joists of the top storey at the end of Robertson street to the joists below, and was severely bruised and shaken. He was at once conveyed to his home on the East Hill, where it was found no bones were broken. But he had a narrow escape from falling further, which might have been fatal.

 Pg.154 A Baker’s Loss. — On the 4th of February, a large drawer, containing a/c books and about £4 in copper, was taken from the shop of Mr. White, a baker, in Bourne street, during the temporary absence of the owner. The theft was discovered shortly after 8.p.m., and it turned out that a man had been seen walking up the Crown Lane towards the East hill with just such a drawer on his head. The next morning the drawer and books were found concealed among the East-hill furze, but the money was missing, as might be supposed.

A Burglary was committed on the 14th of February at a lapidary’s shop in Commercial road, and a valuable quantity of agates, broaches, coat-links, buttons, studs and other articles, were carried off.

Robbery of £40. — On the 15th of May, a man who said his name was George Fielding, was temporarily employed by Mr. Tassell, of George street, in painting a house for Philip Kent, in All Saints parish; at the same time a sum of about £40 was missed from the premises. The loss was discovered at about half-past two, and as the man had absconded, he was, of course, suspected of being the thief. Scouts were therefore sent in search, of whom P.C. Waters was one, who, having got on his trail, overtook him at Westfield. Waters saw him go into a beer-shop, where he ordered a pint of ale and paid for it with a half sovereign. Waters, feeling sure of his man, immediately handcuffed him, and on him were found 16 sovereigns and a half-sovereign. He was indicted for stealing a pocket-book containing £20 in notes, 19 sovereigns and two half sovereigns from a bed-room drawer in Mr. Kent’s house at Mercer’s Bank. The conduct of the prisoner was very peculiar. He admitted the charge, and said how we came to know that the drawer was open was in moving the drawers to place a chair to paint a beam he had to do. The most important witness against the man was the Rev. Michael Gibbs, a visitor, whose evidence is here summarised. This gentleman said, I was coming to Hastings from Fairlight, when prisoner met me and showed me an old-fashioned pocket-book, containing four five-pound Hastings Bank notes, saying he had picked it up about 200 yards off. He asked me what he had better do with it. I told him he had better take the notes to the Bank, where, perhaps, the owner might be known, and he would get rewarded. He asked if I would take them, as he was sent on an errand. I declined, but thinking the affair curious, I took the numbers of the notes, and recommended him to take them to the Bank as soon as possible. On reaching Hastings I heard of the robbery, and hastened to tell Mrs. Kent of the occurrence. When Waters took the man in custody, he told him he had thrown the pocket-book away, and whilst being brought to Hastings, he pointed to the spot, but it could Pg.155 not be found. After the examination, however, they, the book and notes, were produced by a labouring man named Kennard, who discovered them at the place indicated. Mr. Kent gave him £1 for his honesty and trouble, as did also Mr. Tassell, the master-painter. Prisoner was committed for trial.

Robbery of Watches. — On the 7th of November an adroit thief stole from the pawnbroker’s shop of Mr. Bourner, 65 George street, ten watches which were hanging in the window. A strange man entered the back premises and engaged Mr. Bourner’s son in conversation, and when the man was gone, Young Bourner hastened into the shop to light the gas, and then missed the watches. The property was difficult to get at by any stranger, but there could be no doubt that the daring theft was perpetrated during the man’s conversation in the back premises.

Robbery of Pork. — On the 14th of November, about 70 pounds of pork was stolen from the Market, the said pork being the property of a butcher named William Crouch. The cask containing it was, by some contrivance, moved to close to up to the iron gates, and the contents taken through the bars, piece by piece.

A Burglary was effected in the earlier part of the year (one night in January), by the removal of a newly inserted pane of glass from a beer-shop kept by Mrs. Brazier, near the Wellington News, by which means an entrance was gained and about 30s. extracted from the till.

Public Dinners and Private Hospitalities[edit]

The annual Tradesmen’s Dinner at the Royal Oak Hotel took place on the 7th of January, the company numbering thirty, with Mr. John Austin in the chair and Mr. A. Amoore in the vice-chair. Mr. Elford was pianist and vocalist.

A magnificent entertainment to Lord Stanley, as leader of the Conservatives was given in the Merchant-Tailor s’ Hall on the 2nd of April, but not being a local event it is here only noticed because Mr. Brisco, M. P. for Hastings, was one of the 300 persons present.

The Trade-Protection Society’s Annual Dinner, took place at the King’s Head on the 13th of March, attended by 40 persons.

A Dinner to the Corporation was given by the Mayor (Mr. James Emary) at his own house, the Castle Hotel, on the 21st of March.

A Marriage Feast to about 40 persons, including the employees of Messrs. Alderton and Shrewsbury, was given on the 14th of May, at the Anchor Inn, on the occasion of Mr. Shrewsbury’s marriage, at Greenwich. Mr. Alderton was chairman and Mr. J. Amoore vice-chairman.

The Feasts and Festivities of Whit-Monday, on the 9th of June, were considerably marred by the rain which descended in frequent showers.

 Pg.156 Another Marriage Celebration. On the 17th of September, the marriage of William Drew Lucas-Shadwell, Esq., to Florentia, the only child of the Rev. Henry Wynch, rector of Pett, took place, on which occasion the rector entertained all his parishioners at a village fete, and Mr. Shadwell gave his farm labourers and their families a supper at his new mansion, offering them also a two-days’ visit to the Great Exhibition, he paying all expenses.

The Wedding-day Festivities at Coghurst, on the 8th of October, annually observed by Mr. and Mrs. Musgrave Brisco, were less demonstrative than usual this year, in consequence of the death of Mrs. West.

A Testimonial Dinner to Mr. W. Chamberlin, jun., on the occasion of himself and his father leaving St. Leonards, was given at the Swan Hotel, on Tuesday, Oct. 21st, at which about 40 persons were present, principally members of the Hastings and St. Leonards Mechanics’ Institutions, of which he had been an active member and a generous friend.

The Annual Supper to the All Saints’ Choir, given by the parishioners, took place at the Lord Nelson inn, on the 3rd of December.

A Commemorative Dinner was held in the new assembly-room over the meat and fruit market, in George street on Saturday, Dec. 6th, and thus inaugurated the room as an enlarged corn market. The dinner was attended by farmers and corn-dealers in great number.

Balls and Concerts[edit]

A ball at the King’s Head, Bourne street, under the auspices of the Manchester Unity of Oddfellows, took place on the 8th of January, Brett’s Quadrille Band being engaged for the occasion.

A Subscription Concert, on the following evening (Jan. 9th) took place at the Swan Hotel, to the enjoyment of a numerous company. This was the second of an arranged series.

The Third Subscription Concert was held in the same room on the 6th of February. Mr. Acraman was the conductor, whilst Miss Birch, Mr. Elliott-Norman and Mr. Durand were the vocalists.

An Evening Party, with music, etc., to the number of 90 persons assembled at Earl Waldegrave’s on the 14th of January.

A Concert was given to a crowded audience at the Royal Oak Hotel on the 3rd of February, when the singing of Master Elford evoked enthusiastic applause.

The last Subscription Concert took place at the Swan Assembly Room on the 26th of February, when, as usual, the room was completely filled. The performances were of a brilliant character. The  Pg.157 artists were Mr. Frank Bodda, Mr. Richardson (the celebrated flautist), Miss Poole and Miss Ransford. Mr. Acraman presided at the piano. The concert gave unbounded satisfaction.

Master Wise’s Concert at the Swan Hotel on the 18th of March, gave full satisfaction to a numerous audience. It was under the patronage of F. Smith, Esq. Poor Stanley! He became an excellent violinist, and had he imbibed less of that which is often too freely given to musicians, he might have lived to have read these lines.

Training to Sing. Mr. Edmund Elford was at this time organist at St. Clement’s Church, and it was said of him that in three months he had taught the children of the Guestling National School to sing at sight any music that was put before them, without the aid of an instrument.

An Annual Concert by the same Mr. Elford was given in the Swan Assembly Room on the 24th of November, the vocalists being the church choirs of St. Clements and All Saints’, and the instrumentalists a number of local professors and amateurs.

The Collins Family gave an excellent vocal and instrumental entertainment in the new Market Hall on the 11th of December, and so delighted a large audience as to induce them to give another in the same room a week later, under an engagement by Mr. Lindridge.

More Concerts. — On the 15th and 16th of December, the new Market room was again utilised — this time by Mr. Shapcott and his seven sons, with Sax-horns, the first performance being under the patronage of the Mayor and Corporation. In one of the pieces, a boy, said to be only six years of age, took a prominent part on the cornopian.


Mr. J. Rock, jun, on the 28th of January gave a second lecture at the Hastings Mechanics’ Institution, on “The Material Evidences of Civilisation”. After recapitulating the heads of his first lecture, Mr. Rock remarked that as his present lecture was intended to be chiefly illustrative, he felt at liberty to be more discursive than when he had to do with argument. One object he had in view was to encourage the study of archaeology — not as a final good, but in reference to other subjects. He would not have his hearers poring over an old coin, or a piece of pottery, and doting over it as a miser over his gold; but to reason upon them and apply the lessons which they Pg.158 conveyed to the mind; to trace in them the object and skill of their authors, and the social requirement in which they had their birth; to apply all this by the aid of History, and to compare the state of society which they revealed with that which now exists. Thus we might learn in what we surpass, and in what we fall short of, our ancestors. We should learn to respect the past, because we should find that all knowledge and practical skill are by no means confined to our own age; and that, notwithstanding the immense advances which we have recently witnessed, we must not be sure that we see the greatest development of intellect hitherto unseen by the world. Proceeding with his subject, Mr. Rock said it was his wish rather to suggest ideas than to satisfy curiosity — to stimulate the spirit of enquiry rather than to arrive at definite conclusions. The recent researches of Mr. Layard on the site of Ancient Nineveh were noticed at some length, and the inferences to be drawn from the results were dwelt upon, occasional comparisons being made between the civilisation of the Assyrians as thus revealed and that of our own times. Passing from distinct lands and remote epochs to our own country and our own times, we might ask ourselves what testimony will they bear to posterity? Perhaps the most striking feature was a development of intellectual activity and capacity with constructive skill; and as those things which have most contributed to social progress appear to have had their origin in this development of mental faculties, it might seem that it is the prime mover of social progress. It was necessary to consider the motive in order to guard against a fallacious inference. Mr. Rock then adduced arguments to show that these mental faculties are only the media, and not the conclusive evidences of civilisation, except as they may be applied in a manner tending to that end. The real source in which most of the material evidences have had their origin, so far as man is concerned has been that of want or the perception of deficiency — not the want that man feels because he is a man, but that which he feels because he is a member of society. In proportion to the clearness with which the nature of the want and the means of supplying it are pierced, so is the degree of advancement in any given case. The lecturer then gave a review of our present social condition, judging it according to the rules laid down. He noticed favourably the attempt to establish baths, wash houses, artizans’ homes and model lodging-houses on self-supporting principles, as well as other endeavours to elevate the compound creature man by providing for his grosser elements as well as his moral elements. He could not avoid noticing the darker side of the picture. What could be said of the people who buried their  Pg.159 dead in the midst of the living, and who drew their chief supply of water from the polluted streams of tidal rivers into which their sewers were drained, even though that supply might be pumped up by high-pressure steam-engines of beautiful mechanism? In conclusion, the lecture took the opportunity of making some remarks on the grand exhibition of art and industry which was to take place in London. If it could be preserved free from decay, posterity would learn from it facts concerning ourselves which we gleaned with difficulty as to our ancestors from those remains which had found their way into museums. — That Mr. Rock practically carried out the teachings of his own lecture has been shewn by his novel and valuable inventions among the collection of exhibits intended for the great exhibition in Hyde Park — exhibits from which he hoped the town would derive that material prosperity which had always accompanied the evidences of civilisation.

“External Nature viewed in relation to Man” was the title of an excellent lecture delivered in the Mechanics’ Institution on the 17th of February, by Mr. R. Cooper, of Eastbourne.

In the same Institution on the 3rd of March, Mr. R. Elliott delivered a lecture on the “The Manners and Customs of the Ancient Greeks”.

A Lecture on Temperance to about 300 persons was given in the Wellington-Square Lecture Room on the 18th of March, by the Rev. J. Miles, of Albany, New York, formerly of Hastings.

“England, past and present”, was the title of a lecture delivered at the Mechanics’ Institution on the 17th of March, by Mr. W. J. Mantle, of Eastbourne. The lecture was both entertaining and instructive.

“Egyptian Architecture” was the topic of an interesting lecture, delivered in the same room on the 10th of March, by Mr. W. J. Gant.

Organic Remains was a subject dealt with in an interesting manner in the rooms of the Institution on the 31st of March by Mr. E. W. Holland, of Battle.

A rich Lecture on “Astronomy” at the Swan Hotel, on behalf of the Mechanics’ Institution, was delivered on the 7th of October by Professor Nichol, but sparsely attended.

“The English Commonwealth” was ably discounted upon in the new Market Hall on the 13th and 14th of November in an “oration” by Mr. Thomas Cooper, author of the “Purgatory of Suicides”.

A Lecture on “Bloomerism” was treated in a most amusing and, to some extent, instructive manner, at the Swan Assembly Room on the same 12th and 13th of November by Miss Atkins, who was herself attired in Bloomer fashion.

A Third Lecture on “Astronomy”, was delivered by Mr. Banks in his Schoolroom, on the 6th of December, illustrated by views.


  •  Pg.160 
  • A small fire at Mr. Hill’s drapery in Castle road, Feb 1st.
  • A serious fire at Mr. Cope’s, stationer, West Marina, Feb 20th.
  • Alarm of Fire at a fisherman’s, in East street, July 27th.

These are all described in “Fires and Firemen”.

A proposed Public Hall[edit]

On Friday, the 21st of February, a meeting, convened by circular, was held at the Castle Hotel, with F. North, Esq., in the chair. Mr. Henry Simmons, who issued the circular, stated that the subject of a public hall had often been present to his own mind, and had also been brought before him by several inhabitants. Having been once before engaged in a similar undertaking in another town, he had been solicited to take some steps for obtaining that which Hastings so much needed, and he had succeeded in obtaining offers of two plots of ground — one on the Crown Estate, and the other on Mr. Clement’s land, opposite. He had drawn up a calculation of the probable income and expenditure, which he would lay before the meeting. He was sorry the project had not emanated from an older man. He had only been in the neighborhood about three years, though he had known Hastings for a considerable time. — Mr. Abel Shirley moved, and Mr. Newman Ward seconded a general resolution that it was desirable to erect a building for a public hall, corn market and assembly-room. — The offer of Mr. Philip Barnes of a plot of ground on the Crown Estate was rejected, because it was leasehold and the price too high. — Mr. A. Paine moved that a committee be formed to confer with a similar committee already existing in the Town Council. The committee appointed consisted of Mr. Gant, Mr. North, Mr. Paine, Mr. Simmons, Mr. T. Smith and Mr. W. B. Young. — On the following Tuesday the committee conferred with the Town Council, and the Town Clerk was instructed to enquire of the South-Eastern Railway Company, if they had any ground to dispose of in the vicinity of the Railway Station.

A Deserved Memorial[edit]

Mr. E. Pepys, who had been residing at Hastings Lodge, had liberally contributed to the schools and other institutions, and among his more recent acts of liberality had given £20 towards fitting up the Infirmary with gas, and offered to pay four guineas a year for several years towards the current expense of lighting. He was about to leave Hastings, and on the 10th of March, the Mayor, with Mr. G. Scrivens, Rev. H. S. Foyster, Rev. J. Parkin, Rev. H. G. C. Smith, Rev. W. W. Hume, Messrs. W. B. Young, J. Amoore, C. Duke, C. Burfield and F. Hoad, went to Hastings Lodge, as a deputation and presented  Pg.161 a memorial (signed by 42 persons) as follows: —

“Sir — We the undersigned inhabitants of Hastings have learnt, with deep regret that you are about to take your departure from amongst us, after a residence of nearly five years, during which time your name has become endeared to us by many acts of charity to the poor, and by the exercise of real kindness towards all. We cannot allow the occasion to pass without conveying to you the expression of our unaffected regard, as well as the sentiment of true respect generally felt by our fellow-townsmen. In bidding you, most reluctantly, farewell, we beg respectfully and fervently to offer our heartfelt wishes for the future welfare and happiness of yourself and family, and to hope that circumstances may hereafter induce you to restore the happy relations between you and the town of Hastings.”

In replying to the address, Mr. Pepys expressed the great pleasure it afforded him to receive such an unexpected mark of esteem on the part of his fellow-townsmen. With regard to anything he had done for the benefit of the town, he was sure that in such actions he had only followed the good example which the inhabitants themselves had shown. He regretted that he was about to leave Hastings, and should be very happy to renew his connection with the town. So much had he experienced the kindness of the inhabitants that he would wish to live and die with them. That this gentleman or some of his family afterwards revisited the borough is shewn by the fact that on the 7th of October, 1864, the death of Maria Caroline, daughter of Edmund Pepys, Esq., occurred at Warrior Square, aged 33 years.

Vestry Meetings[edit]

At the St. Clements annual meeting for choosing parish officers (the Rev. W. W. Hume presiding) J. Amoore and W. Ginner were re-appointed churchwardens, and J. Duke and Mr. Spencer, overseers.

A vestry meeting for All Saints was held on the 26th of December, when the accounts showed a balance of £52 in favour of the parish; and as extensive repairs to the church were necessary, a fourpenny rate for the year was agreed to.

Missionary Meeting[edit]

A Church Missionary meeting was held on the 24th of March, with Earl Waldegrave presiding. The Rev. J. Parkin read the report of the local association. There were also present the Revs. W. W. Hume, T. Auriol, T. Vores, and G. D. St. Quinton.

The Census. 1851, 1841, 1831, & 1821[edit]

 Pg.162 The Census returns by the Superintendent-Registrar (Mr. Anthony Harvey) show the population in 1851 to be as follows: —

St. Clement’s 4,086
All Saints 3,409
St. Mary’s-in-the-Castle 4,365 17,553
St. Mary Magdalen 3,803 Ore 1,745
St. Leonards 1,340 Fairlight 625
Holy Trinity 183 Pett 364
St. Michael’s 269 Guestling 860
St. Andrew’s 8 Total of Union 21,147
St. Mary, Bulverhithe 77
Borough gaol 8
Watchhouse 5
Total of the Borough 17,553
Population in 1841
St. Clement’s 3,189
All Saints 2,835
St. Mary-in-Castle 1,917 11,789
St. Leonards 758 Ore 1,076
Holy Trinity 116 Fairlight 631
St. Michael’s 8 Pett 385
St. Mary’s, Bulverhithe 37 Guestling 803
Boro' gaol 3 Union House 152
Total of the Borough 11,789 Total of Union 14,836
Population in 1831
St. Clement’s 2,981
All Saints 3,111
St. Mary-in-Castle 1,890
St. Mary Magdalen 1,100 No Union at this date
St. Leonards 500
Holy Trinity 1,074
St. Michael’s 7
St. Andrew’s 3
Population in 1821
All Saints )
St. Clement’s ) 6,020
Castle )
Trinity )

 Pg.163 Between 1821 and 1831 the population increased largely, but during the next decade the increase of the borough population was proportionately much less. During that time Hastings laboured under a commercial depression, with many houses unlet, and partly in the absence of railway communication in comparison with some other places. From 1841 to 1851 the population (as shewn by the numbers in the census returns) was greatly augmented. The preponderance of females is a remarkable feature. In 1841 the borough contained 1417 more females than males; and in 1851 the disparity was still greater, the excess of females being 1717.

The births and deaths for the quarter which ended on the 30th of September, as given in Mr. Harvey’s returns for the parishes of All Saints, St. Clement’s and St. Mary’s, were 147 of the former and 94 of the latter, thus showing the births to be 53 in excess of the deaths.

Items for the Curious[edit]

A Temperance Inebriate. — On the 31st of July, a drunkard named Norbury, with a Hastings Temperance pledge-card in his pocket, hanged himself in the Folkestone police-station, while in custody for drunkenness.

Going the whole Hog. A member of the porcine family, 10 weeks old, cured into bacon, and looking as though it had been roasted, was exhibited at pork-butcher Sinden’s shop, in Castle street.

The Crystal Palace, being 1448 feet in length, would have reached from the bottom of High street to above Lady Waldegrave’s mansion at the top of the town, or from the east end of the Marine parade to the centre of York Buildings.

Guy Fawkes. This year’s celebration of Gunpowder plot was of an improved character. The morning opened with several salvos from a park of lilliputian artillery on the West hill, and the evening carnival included not only an effigy of “Poor Old Guy”, but also one of King James, the latter seated in a canopied car.

Rock Fair — at one time a great annual event, like the Races, before the Railways usurped the sites of both — was this year, held in Mr. Brisco’s Field on the White-rock hill, and in a manner that did not redown to its credit. The said fair was usually noted for its devices in gilt ginger-bread, but  Pg.164 perhaps — allegorically at least — some of the gilt had been taken off, a fortnight previously by the arrival of

Wombwell’s far-famed Menagerie. But even this was not allowed to have it all its own way; for on the day of its arrival, notwithstanding the wind-force of its powerful brass and copper band, there was a counter-blast from Old Notus[12], commonly called a gale, whose roar was equal to that of the lions and tigers, and made them shut up the exhibition for the first day, at least.

A Reminiscence. In a letter to the Hastings News, of August 4th, Mr. John Banks wrote “By reference to a memorandum, I find that on Saturday, Sept. 28th, 1844, about 6 a.m., the sun just above the horizon, I was walking on the mound on the northern side of the Lady’s Parlour on the West hill; a smart breeze was blowing from the north and bringing a dense fog down the valley to the west of the hill. The eastern boundary of the fog was tolerably well defined, and illuminated by the rays of the rising sun. My shadow and that of the elevated ground on which I stood were strongly depicted on the fog. In addition to the beauty and singularity of the appearance, there was something ludicrous in seeing the figure of a human being suspended as it were, in the mist, varying from 50 to 80 feet in height, as the fog oscillated to the east or the west, imitating, with the utmost precision the motions I made. The phenomenon lasted eight or ten minutes, and disappeared in consequence of the fog enveloping the place where I stood. I noticed nothing like the frame-work, said to have been seen in the North, but as I descended the hill and became slightly enveloped in the fog, the upper part of the shadow then diminished in size, was surrounded by a circle, coloured red; outside of this was a light circle without colour, and surrounding this was another circle, exhibiting the colours of the solar spectrum, blue being innermost and red outermost. — This phenomenon, as witnessed by Mr. Banks, was a local “Spectre of the Brocken”[13].

A Rare condition. Almost as phenomenal, if not so curious, were the circumstances in connection with the Union Workhouse. This asylum, with its 115 inmates had not been so little occupied during a period of five years. There was but one pauper from St. Leonards, and the same from Fairlight. Guestling and All Saints never had such low rates. St. Clements also was as low as 4d., and Trinity, whose rates had sometimes been the 1/9, had only a sixpenny rate. That such a condition might be less rare is, doubtless, the devout wish of many a ratepayer.


Footnotes (including sources)[edit]

  1. abcdefghijk Brett's spelling varies, correctly Edward Cresy, F.S.A., C.E., Superintending Inspector for the General Board of Health for the purposes of the Public Health Act, 1848
  2. Transcriber's note: Brett is partially quoting the “Woodford Chartulary”, Woodforde of Ansford House, pp 762, Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry, Volume 4, 1888. Pub. Henry Colburn.
  3. Laches refers to a lack of diligence and activity in making a legal claim, or moving forward with legal enforcement of a right.
  4. abc Brett quoted this passage earlier in this chapter under 2.1 Hastings Commissioners by using press cuttings. Here he is using long-hand manuscript and has made a few errors. The correct wording is within the square brackets.
  5. Hastings Independent Political Society, which was established in 1851 by a Radical section of the Liberal party, who had got disgusted with the Whiggism of their older colleagues. Hastings and St Leonards Observer - Saturday 11 February 1888, page 6, PEN PORTRAITS OF LOCAL MEN.
  6. Coal dust, usually anthracite.
  7. An upholstery fabric of alternate satin and plain stripes.
  8. Throughout the World
  9. Louis-Eugène Cavaignac was a French general who put down a massive rebellion in Paris in 1848.
  10. Mary Ann Gearing, convicted at Lewes of poisoning her husband at Guestling, was hanged in 1849. Before her death, she confessed that she had murdered two of her sons and attempted to murder a third.
  11. The Diverting History of John Gilpin, W.Cowper (1782)
  12. Notus was the Greek god of the south wind and bringer of the storms of late summer and autumn.
  13. A Brocken spectre (German: Brockengespenst), also called Brocken bow or mountain spectre, is the magnified (and apparently enormous) shadow of an observer cast upon clouds opposite the Sun's direction. The figure's head is often surrounded by the halo-like rings of coloured light forming a glory, which appears opposite the Sun's direction when uniformly-sized water droplets in clouds refract and backscatter sunlight.