Brett Volume 7: Chapter LX - Hastings 1858
| 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. The only alterations made have been to the pagination and images whereby both page titles and images have been moved to the most appropriate paragraph as opposed to where they were pasted into the texts by the author. Where possible, personal names have been checked against census, parish records, contemporary newspaper reporting and the Central Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths. A number of footnotes have been inserted by the transcriber when this has been thought to be useful.
Generally the transcription follows the guidelines set out by the National Archives. Work is in hand to identify and annotate hand-written sections and other annotations within the transcriptions, the main difference being that hand-written sections are indicated by a Cursive font on screen. If any portions are
Volume 7 - Chapter LX - Hastings 1858
Town Council meetings
The Postal Question
A Possessory Title
No proof of Foreshore Rights
The Corporation & the Woods & Forests Commissioners
"No animus" but very much like it
"No animus against Hastings"
The Eversfield Waterworks
No reply to articles in the St. Leonards Gazette
Greater Municipal Independence
Town Council meetings etc. (Waterworks)
Town Council, Board of Guardians
The Bank Failure Affairs
New Churches & other Buildings
Schools and special Appeals
A Smuggler's submission
Proposed Net manufactory
Launch of the Life boat
Church Funds Bazaar
Royalty at Hastings
Various occurrences – The Local Government Act
[ 27 ]
Town Council Meetings
The Postal Question. At the Council Meeting on the 1st of January, the following communication was read: “General Post Office, Dec 30th, 1857. Sir, the Postmaster General, having had under consideration the letter from the Town Clerk of Hastings and also your letter of the 18th instant, I am directed to inform you in reply that the question of establishing one chief Post Office for the towns of Hastings and St Leonards was carefully considered and discussed some years since, when it was decided that the present plan of having a separate and distinct chief Office for each place was the best arrangement, having regard to the postal accommodation of the inhabitants of both places generally. His Grace directs me to add that there does not appear to be any new circumstance in the case which would justify a compliance with the request of the Town Council of Hastings. I am, Sir, your obedient servant J. Tilley.”
The foregoing letter was addressed to the Mayor (Mr. J. Rock jun), who remarked that the matter still remained open.Ald. Ross wished it to be understood that the Council did not intend to let the matter drop. The Postmaster’s reply was hardly courteous. Most persons who read that official’s communication, and the Town Clerk’s letter to which it was a reply, will be of opinion that the latter whilst being even less courteous, also exhibited a commanding and imperious attitude of the Town Council. That letter of the Town Clerk’s was as follows:
“My Lord Duke: At a meeting of the Council of the Borough of Hastings held on the 4th day of December the following resolutions were passed: Resolved that the calling of the town of Hastings by any other than its proper name is injurious to its best interest as a watering place and that this Council do agree that all that portion of the Borough of Hastings which lies to the east of the Archway, which is the boundary of the township of St Leonards, shall henceforth be styled Hastings, and the names streets and places written up accordingly; Resolved that the foregoing resolution be forwarded to the Postmaster General, requesting his lordship to take into his consideration the necessity of making an alteration in the postal regulations of this borough, and that there should be only one post office for the whole borough.
The Postal Question
“The reason of the last resolution being passed is because there is great confusion in the delivery of letters owing to a certain proportion of the Borough being styled St. Leonards, which is quite wrong, as all the property on the east side of the St. Leonards Archway is strictly Hastings, and nothing can be legally shewn to the contrary. Therefore the Council[ 28 ] intend for the future to leave all that portion of the borough on the east side of the archway and which is not included in the township of St. Leonards by act of Parliament, called “Hastings”. The Council therefore desired me to ask your lordship to make an alteration in the postal regulations, and to make only one general post office for the whole borough, and so to regulate the delivery of letters that all those directed to any houses on the east side of the archway to be directed to Hastings. Robert Grouse, Town Clerk”.
In the above quoted resolutions the assumption of the Town Council appeared to be on a par with its errors; for, in the first place, the town of Hastings was not called nor wanted to be called by any other than its proper name. Secondly, to call a certain portion of the borough St. Leonards was not “wrong”, seeing that it was not in the town of Hastings but only in the borough, and had been named St. Leonards for between twenty and thirty years. Thirdly, it was untrue that “all the property east side of the archway is Hastings and nothing can be shewn to the contrary”. Every legal opinion that was obtained did shew it to the contrary; and notwithstanding that “the Council intend for the future to have it called Hastings” it has retained its name of St. Leonards to this day, which would not have been the case if the Council’s “nothing to the contrary” could have been substantiated.
After the decision of the Postmaster General not to alter the existing arrangements, he was asked if he would receive a deputation. To this he replied in the negative, in a letter which was read at the February Council meeting. Coun. Putland asked if the letter could be read which called forth that reply, and was told by the Mayor that it was his own private letter. Ald. Ross did not think the matter was yet settled to the satisfaction of the Council, as there were certain persons [the inhabitants within and without the archway] who were not responsible, who were being listened to, whilst the Council received no attention. He had no doubt that eventually the postal district would be extended down to the archway; for he was sure that the town of Hastings would never allow things to remain as they were. Coun. Putland had hoped that the affair was dead and buried. He was himself, as a representative of the West Ward, as much as any other one person in the East Ward, and he only asked for equal responsibilities. They would accord everything to Hastings that really belonged to her by way of rates etc., and he did not think that the Hastings gentry and visitors would thanks them for again agitating this question. He believed the dispute was an evil, politically, [ 29 ]socially, commercially and religiously. It was one of the greatest curses ever brought into the Council since he had been a member. Their time could be far better spent than in promoting dissension and ill-feeling. If ever he regretted having a seat in the Council, it was during the last two months. Many persons regarded the status of the Council as being 75 degrees lower than before. [Hisses]. He was speaking the truth; as regarded the Postmaster General, he could not change the name of a place any more than he could change the name of his (the speaker’s) own house. He would still call it St. Leonards. As the oldest councillor present, he would advise the Council not to keep the quarrel open; for the sooner they healed the sore the better it would be for all concerned. Councillor Vidler hoped they would not give it up until they had been defeated in the House of Commons. Ald. Ross said that it [the debateable district] was the finest watering place in the kingdom, and they were determined it should be called Hastings, and not St. Leonards. He would move that the Mayor call a public meeting.
Town Council Meetings (Postal Matters)
The above stated debate on the postal and boundary dispute was at the Council meeting of Feb 5th, and, on the 20th of the same month, a further communication was received from the Postmaster General which was evidently intended as an ultimatum. It was not addressed to the Mayor or the Council, but to the chairman of the St. Leonards public meeting held two months previously, and was worded as follows:
“Sir: I am directed to inform you that the Postmaster General has again had under his consideration the subject of the postal arrangements at Hastings and St Leonards. His grace has duly weighed the statements contained in the several letters that have been addressed to him upon this subject; and he has felt bound to pay special regard to two considerations; first, that it is the duty of the Post Office in a question of this kind, primarily to consult the wishes of the persons most directly interested – namely the owners and inhabitants of the houses in the district to be served, and, secondly, that it is also its duty, so far as it may be practical and consistent with the general arrangements of the service, to forward and deliver letters in conformity with their direction. Applying these rules to the case now before him, His Grace has determined that the proper course for this department is to leave undisturbed the existing arrangements for Eversfield Place and adjacent localities [ 30 ]unless it can be shown that the persons indicated above as being most nearly concerned in the matter, or such of them as receive a clear majority of the correspondence desire that the letters should be forwarded to and delivered from Hastings accordingly. I am, Sir, your obedient humble servant, J. Tilley.”
A similar letter was received by the Mayor, which on being read at the Council meeting on the 5th March, Ald. Ross said that the communication was quite what he expected after the way in which the chief officer in Hastings had been treated by the Postmaster General in refusing to meet him and a deputation from the Council. He considered that refusal was a decided insult, both to the Mayor and to the borough at large. It wasn’t at all likely that the town of Hastings would give way to the 2000 at the western end, and that quite a modern portion of the borough. The Postmaster General said that he did not intend to alter the present arrangements. It was a most inconsistent thing to suppose that the Postmaster general had the power of changing a name. [Certainly! Hence his unwillingness to be instrumental in changing the name of St. Leonards to that of Hastings]. It was a curious position to be in to ask leave to post letters in their own town. [Curious, indeed if such had been the position, but such was not the case]. It was right now to go to a higher authority. He knew why the borough of Hastings wanted two post offices. It was on account of private influence; but he knew the House of Commons would not allow private influence to ride over the borough. It was well known to be back-door influence. They ought to take shame to themselves that they ever allowed for one moment for such a thing to pass current. He was determined not to rest till the matter was thoroughly sifted. The Council had not hitherto wished to interfere with St. Leonards [Strange statement in the face of facts!]. All they asked for was to deliver letters in their own town. [And they were not debarred from so doing]. But if they had only one post office in the borough he did not see what inconvenience it would occasion. They put a boundary and erected a wall from the Arch to Lavatoria Square, and at first allowed only one tradesman of a sort in St Leonards. But Mr. Burton found that this exclusiveness did not suit the prosperity of St Leonards, and so the wall was knocked down. But this was done to suit his own benefit. He (Mr. Ross) did not see what right the St. Leonards people had to come out [ 31 ]of their own boundary. [And, by the same mode of reasoning, St. Leonards might have retorted that she did not see why Hastings should come out of her own boundary, the western portion of which at the time referred to by Ald. Ross was at the Priory Bridge (now the Memorial). The truth was that Ald. Ross and those who sided with him, being foiled at every point in their unfortunate scheme, allowed their zeal to overrun their discretion, and to give utterance to many inaccuracies. They also mixed up in indiscriminate confusion the town of Hastings with the borough of Hastings and the town of St. Leonards within the archway (by Act of Parliament), with the St. Leonards east and north of the same (by right of unpreventable prescription). Hence, they were curiously contending with Mr. Burton’s St. Leonards, not only for the abolition of its post office, but also for changing the name of the people’s St. Leonards. They were, of course, sturdily met by the former for the retention of postal facilities, and by the latter (which they ignored) in defence of their long-cherished name. Ald. Ross’s accusation of “back-door influence” was as erroneous as it was uncharitable, and equally so was the statement that “St Leonards only allowed one tradesman of a sort”. At the time referred to there were at least three bakers (Beck, Vine and Hubbard), two butchers (Parker’s predecessor and Waghorne), two drapers (Pearce and H. Beck), two grocers (Lempriere & Jolly and Viner), two confectioners (Vickery and Williams), three tailors (R. Gausden, Minister senr. and Minister jun.), two fishmongers (Stapleton and Price), two chemists (B.P. Smith and G.A. Murton), two upholsterers (Honiss and Mitchell), two greengrocers (Walter and Beaney), and so with other shopkeepers – hatters, to wit (Gausden and Phillips), and shoesellers (Knight and Philpott). So, largely, however, did the St. Leonards visitors, and especially mechanics and other workmen, many of whom resided at Hastings, spend their money in the Old Town, that, with few exceptions, the tradesmen of St. Leonards were unsuccessful, and bankruptcies were frequent. Seeing this, and knowing how the welfare of the town was thus injuriously affected, it may be admitted that, although Ald. Ross’s statement of only one trade of a sort being permitted was untrue, yet to their credit, rather than otherwise be it said, both the Burton family and the St. Leonards commissioners did what they could to prevent strangers from turning private houses into shops for the purpose of competing with the already struggling tradesmen.
Erroneous Statements Corrected
It is somewhat painful to have to make these correctional interpolations and annotations, yet it is the more immediate if not the better way of putting facts in the place of fiction which has too long remained unmolested. In this case, as in many others, to a writer who endeavours to be impartial has fallen the duty of emending that which, by tradition and other means has hitherto passed for correct history. [ 32 ]Another error into which Ald. Ross was incautiously led was that of stating that to suit his own benefit, Mr. Burton knocked down the wall which he first erected from the Archway to Lavatoria. Mr. Burton did nothing of the sort. The communities inside and outside of that wall had become so commercially and socially interwoven that Mr. Burton was appealed to by the “outsiders” to throw open to vehicular traffic that which before was only a narrow thoroughfare for humanity. His consent having been obtained in 1841 (17 years before Mr. Ross started his boundary campaign), Mr. Putland, Mr. Voysey, the present writer and several other persons, subscribed the necessary funds, and by that means was the work of demolition accomplished]. Alderman Ross concluded with moving that a committee of five be appointed to draw up a petition to both Houses of Parliament for only one post office in the borough, and to take the necessary steps for presenting the petition. Coun. Picknell seconded the motion, and hoped that the Council would not let the matter drop until they had carried their object. Coun. Putland said that he must enter his protest once more. He had hoped that the last letter from the Postmaster General, being so truly an English letter – so constitutional and so consistent with common sense – leaving the matter to the inhabitants themselves, would have been satisfactory to the people of Hastings as well as to those of St. Leonards. If that was not satisfactory he despaired of anything being so. There was no inconvenience in the present arrangement. The mover had alluded to 2000 inhabitants; but he would tell Ald. Ross that he was entirely wrong in such an estimate. He (Mr. P.) had taken care in numbering and classifying the houses, and he believed that on a fair calculation there were 5000 persons in the district mostly concerned, and 4000 within the Archway. [What then was the meaning of his argument, nearly the whole of which was against St Leonards and Mr. Burton, its founder?] The district in question (continued Coun. Putland) would continue to be St. Leonards, and the Council could not prevent it; nor could they make the people of St. Leonards have their letters addressed Hastings. To attempt it was both an unfeeling and an unmeaning action. As soon as any Government acted contrary to the wishes of the people, down it would come. The Council were now urging their suit against 99 out of every 100 of the inhabitants concerned; and he hoped that the Mayor in his official capacity would not encourage what he (Mr. P.) believed would place him in a painful position. For a chief magistrate in a central position to be in direct opposition to another part would be [ 33 ]lamentable; and if they sent a petition to the House of Commons, where was the Borough Member who would dare to support it? [Ald. Ross, certainly not!]. Then, as neither of their members would dare to support it without the loss of his seat, who would they get to present it? And in what position would the Council stand, either in the House of Commons or the House of Lords. It was the most despotic thing introduced since he had had a seat in the Council, and he very much regretted it, because it divided the borough. The effects of it were growing far worse than he would like to express. By not yielding when they were beaten, their conduct was as childish as it was brutal. He would move as an amendment that the Postmaster’s reply be considered satisfactory. Coun. Vidler was deeply indebted to Ald. Ross. He had himself a house in the district, and was not at all afraid the proposed alteration would bring him to the workhouse. [Wonderful argument!]. Ald. Ginner had not been present since the subject was first introduced, when he advised the gentleman who brought it forward to drop his proceedings, and appeal at once to the House of Commons. He was quite satisfied that it was useless to appeal to the Postmaster General. The Council would have been willing to let the post office alone if they could only have got the Hastings district altered, but they had done wrong. The letter which they got from Mr. Tillard was what they deserved. It was uncourteous and the tenor of it showed that no Cabinet Minister dictated it. It was quite impossible that that letter could have been seen or known anything about by the Postmaster General. It struck him as strange that the Duke should not have had a gentleman for his secretary. [Not so fast, please, Ald. Ginner! The present writer’s Clerkship in the Hastings Post Office enables him to tell you and others who shout Hear, hear! To your averment, was a gentleman and knew his business, but would not have dared to use the Postmaster’s name without his sanction, especially in a matter of so much importance.] Coun. Neve seconded Putland’s amendment under the conviction that it was the wish of the inhabitants that the postal arrangements should remain as they were. Ald. Ross, in reply, said that the subject had been so well ventilated that but little more remained to be said. Hastings had fully made up its mind. He would refer Mr. Putland to Deuteronomy XXVII: "Cursed is he who removeth his neighbour’s landmark”. [Seeing that the Alderman was St. Mary Magdalen’s neighbour who was endeavouring thus to act, this reference was rather infelicitous]. The motion was, of course, carried. The six West Ward members were never at any time a match against the East Ward twelve. [ 34 ]
Town Council Meetings (annotations)
At the meeting on the 7th of May, the Clerk said that the committee appointed on the postal arrangements had no report ready. They had drawn up a petition, but in consequence of the alteration in the postmaster general it had not been sent. Coun. Putland hoped that the petition would be printed, as he wanted all the inhabitants to know what it was the committee had put in the petition. The Mayor had no doubt that the committee would make it public, but there was nothing now before the meeting. Coun. Putland asked to be allowed to copy this “secret petition”. After some humorous remarks by different members, the subject dropped. [And dropped it was, for a time at least, altogether, the Council having played its last and lost the game]. Mr. Putland’s words that “the district in question would continue to be St. Leonards, and the Council could not prevent it” were already discounted by the fact that the inhabitants – supported by the visitors - of the district in contention, were practically unanimous in their determination to retain for it the name of St. Leonards, and which they well knew could not be changed by any existing Act of Parliament. The only persons to be excepted from this all but unanimous voice of the people mostly concerned were Messrs. Vidler, Winter, Bromley and it may have been one or two others who had built houses in Eversfield Place. These were the men in the Council, who with the assistance of Mr. Ross, the prime mover – members of the H.I.P.S. – who thought they could carry all before them. As will have been seen in their Council speeches, Mr. Ross was especially severe on the defendants and Mr. Vidler – a generally crotchety and unruly member – was dogmatic beyond par. “It is Hastings”, said he, “and it shall be Hastings”. These big words from a little man illustrated the saying “Little men sometimes air their assumed importance with strong utterances”. One phase in the dispute which should not go unnoticed was that during the controversy and when the word Hastings was written on most of the corner houses, under a threat of prosecution for defacement, the inhabitants, knowing the strength of their position, not only repeatedly daubed it out or added to it so as to make it read “one mile to Hastings”, but also the printed or written word “St. Leonards” was exhibited in almost every shop window. Whilst “St. Leonards House” was written by the owners on several private dwellings].
A Possessory Title - Confirmatory Cases
Thus much by way of annotations of the Council utterances on that momentous question of postal and boundary alterations, but there still remaineth something more to be said against a lingering belief among descendants of those who commenced the strife that the proper division of Hastings and St. Leonards is not at the hospital and the opposite Pier, but at the piece of granite which marks the site of the demolished Archway. In vol VI of this Local History, the St. Leonards case was shewn to have been well and ably represented by Sir Woodbine Parish, [ 35 ]A. Burton, Esq., the Rev. W.W. Hume, Mr. S Putland, H. Harwood, Esq., H. Selmes, Esq., F.W. Staines, Esq. (a Hastings magistrate), Cooper Gardiner, Esq. (surgeon), Mr. R.F. Davis, W.P. Beecham, Esq. (of the legal profession), J. Gibbs, Esq., “Young St Leonards”, S.H. Beckles, Esq. (a barrister), “An Archeologist”, the “St Leonards Gazette” and others. And here, it may be added, while the circumstance is remembered, that at a casual meeting at the British Hotel of a few St. Leonards men and Mr. Growse the Hastings Town Clerk, the latter said that he knew that the Council has no case from the first, and he also knew that certain members had made up their minds not to listen to anything that he might say; he was their servant and must do their bidding. You have, said he, a possessing title, and that alone would have been sufficient if the case had been carried further. In justice to that gentleman it should be said that this opinion was drawn from him during a little jocularity; and, as may be supposed, after the Council has “ceased from troubling”; and the affair had been quietly buried. As regards a possessing title a few facts may be pertinent.
No Proof of Foreshore Rights
In 1851 a fisherman named Spice having obtained a freehold right to a rope-shop by undisturbed possession for a certain number of years, and its site being wanted by the Council for improvement, Spice declined to give it up, and dared anyone to remove it. He, probably, had been one of those who are different times in a long succession of years, contends that the beach did not properly belong to the Corporation, and on the strength of that contention, refused to pay rent. The Council finding they were powerless to remove the obnoxious rope-shop without purchase, gave Spice £40 for the ground and removed the building to another spot at the town’s expense. Spice first demanded £80. Mr. Ross having been in the Council at the time should have remembered this practical illustration of a possessory title when, six years later, he commenced to dispossess St. Leonards of a similarly acquired title. Also in the same year, 1851, Mr. Ross himself moved that the persons in Eversfield Place and Grand Parade who had placed seats on the parade (before Mr. Eversfield passed the parade over to the Council) be requested to remove them or else apply to the Council for permission to allow them to remain; or, said he, in the course of time, they would be able to claim the ground on which they stood as their freehold. And yet, with these conditions before him, Mr. Ross would not admit that a certain portion of St. Leonards, which included the said Eversfield Place and Grand Parade, with its undisturbed possession for over 20 years, had such a right, although for that period there had been no legal power either inside or outside of the Council which could have taken away that title. In Spice’s case respecting his rope-shop, Mr. Ross referred to the Elizabethan charter in which “all that our stonebeach” was given to the Corporation; but the Town Clerk (Mr. Shorter) said it was of no use to consult the Elizabethan charter, as there were no means of defining the limits of [ 36 ]the places there mentioned. The contention of the fishermen was that they had always used the beach from time immemorial, and that instead of paying rent as some of them had, of late years, if they had refused, as Spice had done, no demand could have been legally enforced.
In the same year the provisions of the Elizabethan charter were again questioned as affecting some recent claims of the Woods and Forest Commissioners, apparently without remembering how the Corporation and its deputation were put out of court in 1827 and 1828 by the said Commissioners, when an untenable claim was made for the Priory waste ground as belonging to Hastings. Here again, the Clerk said the charter would be of very little use in contending with the Woods and Forest Commissioners. 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 demanded an enquiry. It was, however, resolved that the Clerk obtain such information as might be necessary to determine the rights of the Corporation. The motion was seconded by Mr. Ginner, notwithstanding that at a previous meeting he asserted that the Corporation had no jurisdiction over that territory. The Town Clerk had also stated at a previous meeting of the same year, when Mr. Ross suggested the petitioning against the movement to obtain a local Act for the three parishes of Holy Trinity, St. Michael’s and St. Mary Magdalen eastward of the Archway, that the Council would not be permitted to oppose the Bill, because their interests were not immediately concerned. They might petition, but they would not get a Standing Committee of the House of Commons. Coun. Harvey also contended that it was a question for the three parishes themselves, and not one to be entertained by the Council. Mr. Ross, however, urged a petition and a resolution to that effect was carried by 7 to 5, the remaining councillors declining to vote either way.
At a later meeting (Aug 1st in the same year) the Clerk reported that he had searched the records in London as directed, and found that they only referred incidentally to the subject of enquiry. They appeared simply to embrace certain Roman Catholic charities called chantries. Coun. Ross said he was not satisfied to let the matter just rest, and would take another opportunity of calling attention to the subject. On another occasion the Clerk stated that he had not found in the local or any other records that the foreshore between the Priory Water and Bulverhythe had ever belonged to the Corporation.
The Corporation & The Woods & Forests Commissioners
And still another occasion on which the Council (this time as a Local Board) sought to enforce their suit was with respect to building operations on the Crown lands. Messrs. Reeks and Humbert objected to the Surveyor’s report which referred to their building plans, and particularly to [ 37 ]the request for the road at Claremont to be made 30 feet instead of 27 feet. This in itself was a very reasonable request; but the Crown lessee said he should not comply with such an order, and dispute the jurisdiction of the Local Board in this case, as the street was not a new one. The Town Clerk allowed the exemption thus claimed as that which he had suspected from the first. The street in question was at least 29 years old [the road was made in 1822], and the ground which the Board had ordered to be added to its width had been sold for building purposes before the Local Board existed. Several members advocated the enforcement of their demands, while others regarded a conflict with the Woods and Forest Commissioners as likely to lead to great expense without success. The road in question remains to this day only 27 feet wide, notwithstanding that legal proceedings were taken, which cost the town £36 before the case was withdrawn. To this expense Coun. Harvey drew attention as having been caused by Messrs. Ross and Putland (the latter being the surveyor) as against the Town Clerk’s advice.
Another matter in which Mr. Ross was found at fault was again in the beach question. The Town Clerk suggested the propriety of taking a lease from the Woods and Forests Commissioners between the Priory water and the St Leonards Archway, but the suggestion was strongly opposed by Coun. Ross, as an admission that the beach belonged to them, instead of, as he believed, to the Corporation. The Clerk said he could not find any trace of jurisdiction exercised by the Corporation over that portion. Subsequent necessity of purchasing a right to the foreshore proves that Mr. Ross’s contention could not be sustained.
"No Animus" but very much like it
Also, in the stone-beach case, Mace against Philcox, otherwise the Town Council, an adverse decision was given by the Court of Common Pleas on the 25th of January 1864. The substance of this decision was that the foreshore of Carlisle Parade was the property pf the Crown, and, consequently, for the time being that of the Plaintiff Mace as the lessee of the Crown land; and that the defendant had no right to place his machines there although licensed by the Town Council. This unfortunate suit also cost the town a considerable sum of money, as did the unsuccessful action at law (initiated by Mr. Ross, contrary to the advice of his friend, Ald. Ginner) against Earl Waldegrave in the case of what was called the Ellsworth’s Charity. Be it said of Mr. Ross that in none of his public movements did there appear to be any craving for personal advantages. In many he was an excellent member of the Council; as Mayor his impartial conduct was worthy of praise. His industry too, as an antiquarian and archaeologist, entitled him to [ 38 ]the highest post of honour. But every man has failings as well as virtues, and, according to Bismarck’s dictum, the greater the man the greater the mistakes he will sometimes make. A leading trait of Mr. Ross’s mind appears to have been that Hastings as a town should be co-equal with Hastings as a borough, and that the former had been surrepticiously deprived of its chartered possessions; hence his feverish activity on every opportunity for reclamation, notwithstanding that each successive effort proved the attempt to be both expensive and abortive. When discussing the postal and boundary question, Mr. Ross said he had no animus against St. Leonards, but a review of his conduct against that town for a long series of years would prove that statement to be incorrect. As early as 1837, when the large house in Seymour Place (now 23 Grand Parade) was occupied by the Dowager Queen Adelaide, Mr. Ross, as a bookseller in Castle Street, published a view of the house as “the Residence of the Queen Dowager, Hastings”. This was a source of annoyance to the Queen’s attendants, the Queen having been medically advised to take up her winter residence at St. Leonards, and the said house being professedly in St. Leonards although not within the jurisdiction of the St Leonards Commissioners. It was, however, within twenty houses of their boundary and a mile away from the town over which the Hastings Commissioners had control. Mr. Ross’s published view was equally an annoyance to Mr. Waghorne, who built his “Royal Mansion” and to all others whose property was in the same neighbourhood. In consequence of this, Mr. Southall, the librarian, was applied to to(sic) get out a view of “The Queen Dowager’s Residence, St. Leonards”, which was quickly done, and the two sets of inhabitants, east and west of the Archway became more socially united than before.
In one edition of his Hastings and St Leonards Guide Mr. Ross referred to St. Leonards as having obtained its position by “backdoor influence”, and he repeated that uncomplimentary sentence, at the Council meeting (vide page 30) when censuring the Postmaster General for declining to alter the postal arrangements. In another edition, published in 1843, there is a statement, under a line of capitals “Grand Parade Hastings”, that “the most modern part of the town consists of a splendid range of buildings between the gate of St. Leonards and the Victorian parade”, whilst, on the next leaf of the Guide says “About two miles to the westward of Hastings is situated the new town of St. Leonards”. In a later edition the Guide informs its readers that “Adjoining the west end of Hastings is the new town of St. Leonards, commenced by Mr. Burton in 1828”. These several sentences speak for themselves; but, to show that Mr. Ross was not so free from animosity as he professed to be, the following extracts are from pages 116 and 117 of the last-named edition of his Guide: “The Health [ 39 ]of Towns Bill is now applied to Hastings, and consequently, the management of the whole proceedings of the borough is now vested in the hands of the Town Council, except the small portion of it called St. Leonards – Mr. Burton having, unfortunately, for that town succeeded in getting it exempted from the sanitary measures consequent upon the introduction of that Act. The proceedings in this case and the jobbing influence apparent in all its stages, deserve, perhaps, a record in this simple history of the town; both because it will give some notion of how things are done at the Woods and Forests and how great is the fear and enmity of Mr. Burton towards Hastings”. It then goes on to describe briefly what in these pages have been given in detail, respecting the House of Commons proceedings in connection with the application by Hastings for the said Act of Parliament, and of its being referred to a committee to report. “By that committee” says the Guide, “St. Leonards was expunged, and that town now stands forth as the only part of the borough which private interests compel it to be proclaimed not subject to proper sanitary control. It may here be remarked that Mr. Burton, in trying to prevent Hastings from having a clean bill of health, because he objected to St. Leonards having one, is only paralleled by Lord Seymour who set the law at defiance at the instance of the same family”.
Mr. Burton did not object to the Health of Towns Bill except in so far as it included his own town, for which, as being more recently built and for other reasons, there was not the same necessity. He distinctly stated at the Council meeting on July 26th, 1850 “I have nothing to say against the Act being applied to Hastings, but I demur to any attempt to force it upon St. Leonards against the wish of the majority of its inhabitants”. In connection with this subject, Ald. Scrivens (a native of the Old Town and one of the most intelligent members of the Council) said although he would like to see the Health of Towns Act applied to the whole borough, if he were in the place of Mr. Burton he should most likely do as Mr. Burton did. The same gentleman, when he was Mayor, in 1850, presided at the Trade Protection Society’s dinner, and proposed “Prosperity to St. Leonards”, expressing at the same time his gratification at seeing both towns gradually advancing towards each other, and hoped that ere long the union would be complete. In the following year (1851) when the Hastings Corporation attended by invitation the solemn service of laying the foundation stone of the St. Mary Magdalen Church (see Memoirs of Rev. W. Hume) Mr. Ross and his party, instead of joining the clergy and West Ward Councillors at the Saxon Hotel, where luncheon was specially prepared, took themselves off in a body to the Castle Hotel at Hastings. Such [ 40 ]was the ascerbity engendered by the refusal of the six West Ward Councillors and five Aldermen into the acceptance of the Health of Towns Act, that even the religious aspect and other bearings of that day’s ceremonial had no effect in bringing the two parties into harmony. There were two worthy exceptions, however, in the persons of Ald. Scrivens and Coun. Hicks – one a Liberal and one a Conservative member of the East Ward who chose the more commendable part of lunching at the Saxon with the Church Committee and others.
"No Animus" but direct antagonism
The foregoing references to Mr. Ross’s published writings, speeches and actions must convince any impartial reader that the otherwise worthy alderman was not so free from animus against St. Leonards as he declared himself to be. There was really not a movement of any sort that involved the interest of the St. Leonards people, on both sides of the Archway in which he was not an opponent. It may be admitted that, with his wonted energy, he joined the majority of the West Ward inhabitants in opposing the movements of Mr. Eversfield’s party to obtain a local Act under the title of “West Hastings”, which would have included the parishes of Holy Trinity, St. Michael’s and the greater part of St. Mary Magdalen, all of which were then only governed parochially. Such an Act of Parliament, which provided for a body of Commissioners as the ruling power, would not only have done away with the name of St. Leonards between the Archway and the Infirmary, but would also have limited Hastings proper to the old boundary at the east end of Robertson Street. This would have been manifestly unfair to both east and west. By an unwritten law the said Infirmary had become the dividing object of the two towns, St. Leonards having extended its buildings from the Archway eastwards to Verulam Place, and Hastings having extended its area of architecture westward from where is now the Memorial to White Rock Place. By united action the object of this proposed Act was defeated (see pp 85 to 87 Vol. IV), and such inhabitants westwards of the Infirmary as were not within the jurisdiction of the St. Leonards Commissioners, immediately assisted Hastings in its application for the Health of Towns Act. This was important; for, without this help of the “Via Media” the prospect of getting that Act applied even to the Old Town itself (which most required it) would have been more remote. Little did [ 41 ]the St. Leonards people between the Archway and Infirmary imagine that the very party with whom they co-operated for sanitary purposes would turn against them in an attempt to abolish their post-office and their long acquired name; but so it came about; and Mr. Ross, who strongly objected to the “West-Hastings” Bill when promoted by Mr. Eversfield’s party, and even formed one of the deputations to London to oppose it, was afterwards imperatively energetic in the endeavour to change the district from St. Leonards to his then own definition of “West Hastings”. He would not object to the front line being called “St. Leonards Road, Hastings” but he and his part would not hear of its being called “St. Leonards, Borough of Hastings” – its real topographical position – which the St. Leonards Committee very generously suggested as a compromise.
No animus against Hastings
Another matter in which Mr. Ross’s “no animus to St. Leonards” did not come out with clear proof was when, at a Council Meeting in 1853, Mr. Deudney suggested that the separately named clusters of houses between Warrior Square and Verulam Buildings should be known and numbered under one designation. He had, he said, seen the several owners, all of whom were willing to adopt the title of Eversfield Place, the name which Mr. Tree had given to his nine or ten new houses. This Mr. Ross strongly opposed, and characterised any desire that Mr. Eversfield might have for his name to be associated with the property as lowering him in his (Mr. Ross’s) estimation at least fifty per cent. This, perhaps, would seem to be an indication of a personal rather than a general animus – a dislike to the gentleman who had given the site for the Infirmary, the site for the St. Mary Magdalen Church, and the Corporation the Eversfield Parade; but the said gentleman was a St. Leonards man, and the seconder of the same was a St. Leonards man. To an impartial observer, there would seem to be no valid objection to the name; and even Mr. Ross’s own party voted in sufficient number to carry the motion, as against the objector.
The Eversfield Waterworks
Another St. Leonards or Eversfield man who did not find favour with Mr. Ross was Mr. Charles Clark. The former gentleman appeared to have at least something that did duty for an animus against the latter and all his works, or in other words, his waterworks. Hastings was spending thousands of pounds in the vain endeavour to obtain an adequate supply of water, and at a Council [ 42 ]meeting Mr. Ginner expressed his belief that it would be best to come to terms with Mr. Clark and Mr. Eversfield respecting the waterworks which those gentlemen had established; but Mr. Ross did not think they were worth treating for. In reply to the remarks made at the Council Board, Mr. Clark published a statement in which it was positively asserted that he could supply throughout the year an abundant quantity of water which for pureness and softness he was permitted to refer to Dr Blakiston and Dr Duke, the two most eminent physicians in the borough. It was also stated that use was wanted for the thousands of gallons that daily ran to waste. At a later meeting, however, whilst the water consumers in the district supplied by Mr. Clark were satisfied with the supply, Mr. Ross still spoke against it and said it was quite a farce to dignify Clark’s reservoirs by the name of waterworks. In a few months’ time, however, the Council were glad to accept Mr. Clark’s offer to supply Hastings with water daily from 6 to 12 a.m., at the small sum of £3 per week, and an order was given for the purchase of iron pipes to connect the Eversfield mains with those at York Buildings. Even Mr. Vidler, who usually sided and voted with Mr. Ross, at a later meeting expressed his belief that Mr. Clark had got the best supply of water. After that another offer was accepted from Mr. Clark to supply water for the roads at the moderate price of 2d per budge. Mr. Clark might not have been the most amiable man in the world, and the fact of his being a water provider did not make him personally a great water consumer, at least not in its primitive state; but as this History proceeds it will show that there came a time when Mr. Clark and his Eversfield waterworks had to be in other ways reckoned with.
"No animus against St. Leonards"
Then there was the Cemetery question, the Burial Board for which was composed of an equal number of representatives of each parish, and who, after an immense difficulty in the search for a site, selected a portion of the Magdalen charity estate as being the best and most convenient for all the parishes. The whole of the members, both of the eastern and western parishes were in favour of this site except Mr. Ross and Mr. Vidler, who exerted themselves to the utmost for a less suitable site at Blacklands instead of that, the purchase of which would have enriched the funds of a charity which Mr. Ross had previously professed to see benefitted. But it was too near to St. [ 43 ]Leonards, although equally near to Hastings, whilst the Blacklands site could not be approached from St. Leonards except by going first to Hastings. But of course Mr. Ross had in this, as in all others of his contentions, “no animosity towards St. Leonards”. It must have been St. Leonards that was continually naughty-naughty even in the long contention to avoid paying its share of £150 for a map that was not ordered by or for itself, but exclusively for the Local Board district. It must have been by “back-door influence” that barristers and arbitrators all gave their decision in favour of St. Leonards. It was such “back-door influence” – so stated by Mr. Ross – that got St. Leonards exempted from the Health of Towns Act, albeit, that although as a modern and particularly healthy town, its sanitary appliances were also much more modern than those of Hastings; yet even without the said Act, its Commissioners continued to improve its drainage as requirements arose, whilst the Town Council at Hastings were wrangling among themselves over drainage matters for three years after obtaining the necessary powers before anything was effectively done.
No animus against Hastings
The successful resistance of the inhabitants west of the Archway to their inclusion in the Health of Towns Act, the equally successful resistance of the residents east of that landmark to the demand for a change of name, and the no less successful efforts of both west and east St. Leonards to retain their post office facilities, bring to one’s mind another phase of Mr. Ross’s profession of “no animus against St. Leonards”. The Rev. W. W. Hume, at the request of members of his congregation and other persons attended the public meeting to protest at the action of the Town Council re the post office and boundary question; and speaking of that action having been taken without consulting the St. Leonards people he said was like treating them “as children, and very scrubby children too”. At subsequent meetings of the Council, Ald. Ross asked “Why should to Council go to such men as Mr. Hume to ask what they should do? Mr. Hume had an animus against the Council, and was at all times very anxious to depreciate it, and had done everything he could against it”. Mr. Ross had a perfect right to criticise Mr. Hume’s speech, but he had no right to stigmatise the character of one of the [ 44 ]best and most useful men that ever came into the borough. As a curate at Hastings for three years, he laboured constantly and indefatigably for the temporal as well as the spiritual welfare of the town. He assisted in establishing night schools for young people of the fishing industry; he worked with the Mayor in a movement for the mitigation of Sunday Post-office labour; he was president of the Early Closing Association; he gave encouraging advice at the local meetings in connection with the Great Exhibition; he was one of the helpers of the Mechanics’ Institution; he supported, as chairman at a vestry meeting the counter position at a Court of Equity, to one whose aim was for other parishes than St. Clements and All Saints to share the revenue of the Magdalen Charity; and, as a preacher, his popularity was great. His constant labours for the public good when he became the Incumbent of St. Mary Magdalen are fully described in the memoirs of the reverend gentleman on pages 21 to 87 Historico Biographies, vol. 3; and, consequently, what is here set forth is a mere enumeration of some of his labours for the benefit of Hastings, both before and after his removal therefrom. A few months before Mr. Ross’s action to deprive St. Leonards of its name and its postal privileges, Mr. Hume spoke at a Hastings meeting for getting better railway accommodation; also at a meeting (presided over by Mr. Rock as Mayor) when he seconded Mr. Ross’s own motion for establishing a net manufactory, remarking that having had three years’ experience in Hastings and among the fishery, he had some knowledge of the importance of the proposition, and was willing to assist in any scheme that would ameliorate the condition of that class of people. If they could connect with the proposal some educational plan that would arrest the laziness of boys about the beach it would be an immense benefit, even if done at a loss. Also immediately before the outburst of the contention, in consequence of a sad wreck and loss of life eastward of Hastings, Messrs. A. Burton, Cooper Gardiner G.H.M. Wagner and Capt. Parish all St Leonards gentlemen) with the Rev. W. W. Hume at their head, raised a sum of about £300, to begin with, for the purchase of a life-boat for Hastings. How this Lifeboat Committee, with Mr. Hume as spokesman, attended a special meeting of the Town Council, and were complimented for their generous offer of money and services in co-operation with the Stonebeach Committee of the said Council, together with other arrangements, are all described on pages 86 and 87 of Local History vol. VI. Mr. Hume afterwards became the local President of the Lifeboat Institution and Royal [ 45 ]Humane Society, which position he held until his death. How then, after all the foregoing examples of Mr. Hume’s active good will and benevolence towards the Old Town, Mr. Ross could accuse him of having an animus against the Council and of always doing what he could against Hastings, is only conceivable on the hypothesis that the immense array of intelligent opposition to his designs had made him oblivious to facts.
No reply to articles in the St Leonards Gazette
That the proprietor of the St Leonards Gazette, who vigorously supported the opposition, albeit with reasonable argument and sentiments of amity, should have escaped the invective of Mr. Ross and his party, was a little surprising. True, his newspaper was debased the town’s advertisements, and for ten years Mr. Ross passed him by without the slightest recognition. But this kind of contempt had been going on for some years previously – in fact ever since at Mr. Ross’s solicitation, he had joined the “Hastings Independent Liberal Society”, - and left it after his first attendance, at which the Society’s proceedings were repugnant to his own ideas of fair liberalism. In 1866, however, after the said proprietor of the Gazette had rambled for five or six days with the British Archeological Association and reported their proceedings in detail, he was approached by Ald. Ross in the most friendly spirit. That ten years had helped to soften the asperities between east and west, notwithstanding that during the interval the post-office question had once more come to the front, more to the discomfiture of Ald. Ginner than anyone else; for, although usually an astute man, and a good councillor, on that occasion he was proved to have greatly blundered. This will be shown in later chapters. Also, it is intended to deal with the brighter side of Mr. Ross’s character in a later portion of this History, as manifested in his sayings and doings when freed by experience from certain prejudices, and especially when out of the trammels of the H.I.P.S, which as a political engine had been worn out by the frictional overbearings of its own machinery. The condemnation of this society by both moderate and advanced Liberals was shown on pages 48 and 49 of Local History, vol. 6, a volume which treated of the two years preceding the one now under review. Before even the present year (1858) had come to a close a political change in the Town Council was being effected – a change than cannot better be told than by the Liberal editor of the Hastings News.
On Nov. 5th, under the heading of “Returning Reason” appeared the following:
Hastings is coming to its senses, and has shewn the first sign for many a year of municipal independence and common sense. Taken as a whole the East Ward contest last [ 46 ]Monday may be considered a satisfactory evidence that the good people of this part of the borough are shaking off the incubus of club dictation, and are beginning to choose their Councillors for what they are municipally worth, and not at the bidding of the H.I.P.S. The reasons why the elections should be deemed satisfactory are these: - first, because a man chosen by independent suffrages is placed at the head of the poll; and next, because the other successful candidates, all of whom were in before, have been returned in those positions on the poll which correspond with which they have attended to the business of the town. Mr. T. B. Williams, who had attended but two Council meetings during the whole of the past year, is excluded altogether, a fate, which certain infallibles laughed at us for foretelling. In regard to what is called in election slang the ‘proud position of Mr. Wingfield at the top of the list’, we have two things to say. The first is that we believe he is deserving the place which on the first trial for the honour, he has been able to get. He is a man well acquainted with the town; has plenty of leisure time; is well up in public business; and is not likely to be under party control. For these reasons we have supported him, and for these - reasons we rejoice at his success. The other thing we have to say is this – Mr. Wingfield does not owe his position to the fact of his being a Conservative. There are politicians in the town of a different class from the H.I.P.S., who are crowing at this success as a victory over the Liberal Party in the borough. They have loudly censured, as we have done, but on different grounds, the mixing up of politics with municipal contests, and yet they are the first to imitate their opponents by vaunting this event as a Conservative triumph. We can assure them it is no such thing. It is a victory gained by the independency of Hastings over the despotism of an extreme section of the Radicals; a victory which the voting papers will prove has been gained quite as much by the liberal Liberals as by their political antagonists. We know that very many of the Liberal section of politicians, wearied of the long despotism of their noisy and self-elected representatives, to whose unscrupulous dictation they had submitted too tamely, have now resolved on asserting their freedom and maintaining their right to unfettered action. All the while nearly the whole of the Liberals put their necks under the feet of the indomitable H.I.P.S, every isolated freeman [ 47 ]might, with impunity (and with impudence also) be branded as a renegade. But it is not so now. Popular feeling has been quietly rising, and we see unmistakably the result of it in having a new candidate and a Conservative put at the top of the poll; and put there, too, partly by Liberal voters. Let the H.I.P.S. be warned. If they limit their operations to objects purely political, and abstain from applying their test of faction to all offices and men in the borough, they will have a legitimate power, and may be respected and helped by many who now despise their practices and shun their alliance. Political club-ism is a fair thing enough if kept to its own work, and not made a thing of terror and of scandal in things not political. It is legitimate enough when used to forward political ends, and not employed to elect mere tools to municipal offices for which local knowledge and business habits are fitter qualifications than a political creed or a party badge. We hope the future will witness a more decided advance in the direction of municipal freedom than the late election has given us, and that the day may yet come which we have long laboured to hasten - when the right men shall be put in their right places in offices of local trust without reference to their political designation, and when an honest man shall not be called a traitor to his Liberal profession by every pot-house time-server who envies the freedom and scoffs at the honour which he himself has long since sacrificed at the shrine of a blind and reckless partisanship. If the election of Mr. Wingfield be an indication of a ‘good time coming’ in this sense of returning reason to our borough we may well rejoice. Mr. Vidler’s position on the poll in the second place of honour is also a proof of the existence of some rational ground of choice being at last acted upon by the burgesses in general. We are no special favourites of Mr. Vidler, nor has he always done justice to our motives or cared to understand our remarks upon him and his party. We have a decided conviction that he and his friends have said more evil of our journalistic labours than we have deserved. But we can better afford to be wrongly judged and to be evilly spoken of than to speak evil ourselves of any man. We have done Mr. Vidler the justice to notice his assiduous attention to the duties of his office, and we know that it is on this ground alone that many have been induced to support him. We have supported Mr. Vidler in a spirit of [ 48 ]fairness with this principle of action, irrespective of editorial wrongs or H.I.P. malevolence; and doing this as a public duty and nothing more, we neither expect thanksgiving nor ask for it. . . . . . . Mr. T.B. Williams lost the day by a considerable number - a proof of one of two things; either that H.I.P influence is much less powerful than it was or that H.I.P. wisdom is prevailing over its intolerance; or it may be a proof of both. The poll showed the following results: Wingfield, 393; Vidler, 302; Gutsell, 281; and Emary, 242; Williams (the unsuccessful candidate), 169” }}
The publisher of the News at this time was Mr. John Ransom, and the editor was his brother, Mr. William Ransom.
Town Council Meetings
Although as shewn in the above quoted article, a modicum of check had been given to the sway of the H.I.P.S. it had not altogether destroyed the power of that dominant clique. They had succeeded in returning Mr. Vidler, one of their most active members as the second-best man on the poll, and although the election of a Tory at the top by so large a majority was a surprise, his sturdy independence, as it was called, they thought might be of service to them in the matter of voting. In any case, the energetic spirit of Ald. Ross had not been greatly subdued, if his own words might be taken as an index. At the time when he objected to Eversfield Place being named after the lord of the manor and owner of the ground, he likened what he called the “petty pride” of Mr. Eversfield to that of Mr. Robertson, who had been instrumental in the erection of Robertson Street. The success of this “petty pride” was all the more obnoxious as being the means of perpetuating the names of Tories. An early settler in Robertson Street, in a facetious strain that was peculiarly his own, declared the condition to be “well-balanced”; for whilst there was petty pride on one side there was petty spite on the other”.
In addition to the movement against St Leonards, Mr. Ross’s proposition (contrary to the advice of the Town Clerk and others) for a legal tilt at the Woods and Forest Commissioners, re the Claremont road was also a failure; and the Council’s case as defendants in the bathing license case – (Mace against Philcox) shared the same expensive fate. Under such conditions it was, perhaps, not unnatural for a feeling of irritation in Mr. Ross’s active [ 49 ]mind to find vent at the December meeting of the Council. The question of paving the north side of Robertson Street having been broached, the Clerk said that Mr. Mace (the lessee of the Crown property) would give up the ground where the posts were erected if the Board would pave it; he would also give a right of road into Bohemia Road if he were permitted to put up an archway. This called up Ald. Ross, who, in an energetic strain, said he was determined to oppose any encroachment, by whomsoever made.
District Rates. At the January meeting, a district rate at 9d was levied for the half year ensuing, and at 3d for the Late Improvement Act district. On the 4th of June a fourpenny district rate was passed, leaving £238 unprovided for. On the 1st of October it was resolved that the collection of the borough rate by the sergeants-at-mace be discontinued and that the precepts in future be directed to the several overpeers and churchwardens. On January 3rd a district rate at 2d was agreed upon for the parishes of St. Clement’s, St. Mary-in-the-Castle and All Saints.
Borough Boundaries. On the 1st of October, the Town Clerk reported that at a recent perambulation of the Pevensey portion of the borough, nearly all the posts were found to be missing. It was therefore resolved that new ones of iron, with the borough arms be provided, and that the perambulations in future be at intervals of not more than seven years. On the 13th of the same month the home boundaries were perambulated, in anything but pleasant weather, by the Mayor (Ald. Rock) and Reprs. Ross, Picknell, Gutsell, Winter, Putland, John and James Reeves, Wrenn, Tree and Austin together with a few other persons, not of the Council. On the 23rd of September, the Clerk reported that several members had walked the borough boundary of St. Leonards, Winchelsea, and had found it clearly defined by posts. The closing scene in the act of boundary perambulations was on the 19th of October, when an inspection of the hamlet of Grange, near Chatham, took place, after the lapse of a century.
The New Outlet. At the Council meeting of the 6th of Aug. the Stonebeach Committee’s recommendation was adopted that a complaint be made to the Pevensey-rape Commissioners of Levels that their recent new outlet to the[sea](on the west side of the railway arch) had left an old water-course of stagnant water opposite the Fountain Inn, St. Leonards, in the borough of Hastings. [ 50 ]The said Commissioners of Levels held their water-court at Eastbourne on the 20th of May, and on that occasion the Hastings Mayor (J. Rock, Esq.) attended as an ex-officio to take the oath and inscribe his name on the roll. So many years had passed since any mayor of Hastings had attended the water-court of the Commissioners of the Pevensey Levels, that very few persons knew that the right existed, and that the representation of Hastings became of some importance, in consequence of its boundaries including portions of Pevensey and Bulverhithe, over which the Pevensey Rape Commissioners had jurisdiction. On this occasion, the Duke of Devonshire, as Water-Bailiff, presided, and no exception was taken to the claim that the chief officer of Hastings should have a share in the management of the levels.
Water Extension. Of whatsoever importance may have been the representation of Hastings at the water-court of the Pevensey Levels, the good management of its own waterworks was of far greater consequence. It was well known that the supply of water was inadequate for the town, although at the June Council meeting Mr. Vidler contended that the Water Committee had never shown a want of water. This assertion gave rise to much discussion, in which Ald. Ginner stated the daily supply to be 52,000 gallons from all the old works, and 48,000 from the new. This, he said, was insufficient for current consumption without drawing from stock, which was greatly decreasing. As one means of saving water it was ordered that a penstock be placed in the Priory stream to flush the drain. It was further resolved that Mr. Spiller be requested to send a man, with tools, for 8s a day, to bore for water. At the June meeting, it was resolved that all money expended for water-extension works, be borrowed and charged to the rates. At the October meeting, an application from the South-Eastern Railway Company for a daily supply of 16,000 gallons of water could not be entertained; and, as it had been discovered that many houses had leaky taps, an order was issued for them to be replaced with Lambert’s patent, and for all houses to be provided with cisterns. At the September meeting, the Water Committee reported that the boring experiments had reached water at a depth of 127 feet. The boring was ordered to be continued.
Carriage Stands. At the June meeting it was reported that 121 carriages had been licensed, for which there were only 87 stands. It was consequently resolved that the requisite number of stands should be provided.
A New Fishmarket was said to be wanted, and at the June meeting of the Council, a committee was formed to take the matter into consideration. [ 51 ]Ashes for Sale. At one time the Hastings Council and the St. Leonards Commissioners had no difficulty in disposing of the collected ashes for a profit, but as both towns increased in size, the refuse proportionately increased until the supply was more than equal to the demand; hence, at the January meeting of the Council, it was resolved, on the motion of Ald. Ross that as no tenders had been received for ashes, they be screened and the cinders be sold to the water committee, to be burnt at the engine house, with small coal. It afterwards turned out that there had been great remissness in the collection of money for ashes that had been previously sold. The discovery was made on July 2nd that as much as £500 had been due for ashes and sweepings, and that after the purchasers had been written to on the subject, the charge had been reduced to £300. It was therefore resolved that in the future such material should be paid for when taken away.
Missing Cheques. The discussion on the matter of ashes gave rise to a question by Coun. Harvey as to what had become of a cheque for £19.16s from Mr. Frewen, and one for £5 from Mr. Solman. The Street-surveyor said the cheques having come to him, he had kept them until he had enough to pay into the Bank, and in the meantime the Bank had failed.
The Royal Wedding. Although the public rejoicing on this occasion was confined to St. Leonards (see pages 15 to 18) the Hastings Town Council prepared an address to Her Majesty, and at their meeting on the 31st of March, the Mayor (J. Rock) stated that he presented the address to Her Majesty on the subject of the Princess Royal’s marriage and that he was accompanied by the two Borough Members.
Another Loyal Address was the one to the King of the Belgians, which was presented as described on page 21. As the presentation took place at St. Leonards, the proceedings were related under the heading of that town, and the event is again referred to under the heading of Hastings in consequence of the animated discussion to which it gave rise. At the Council meeting on July 5th, Alderman Ginner, in moving that a loyal address be presented to the King of the Belgians, remarked that that illustrious personage had filled his high position in such a creditable manner as to set an example to other sovereigns. Councillor Harvey questioned the necessity for such an address, as it was not the first time by several that he had been at Hastings; he was here a few days ago [“Yes, on a Sunday!”] [“Well, the better the day the better the deed!”] [“We differ about that!”] “What if we do?”, continued Harvey. “I come here to speak my mind, and not to please you. [ 52 ]We ought not to encourage this man, as the country does. I cannot see why we should be taxed to support him and be called upon to honour him, if it is an honour”. The Mayor thought they could do no less than show him the proposed respect. Coun. Winter also differed from Harvey; for, with the exception of Sardinia, his country was almost the only free country in Europe! Coun. Vidler would certainly vote against the proposition. The motion was, however carried, the only dissentient votes being those of Harvey and Vidler – two utterly political opponents.
Salaries of Officials. Coun. Vidler again voted against his own political party and was again in a minority, when, on the motion of Ald. Ross, it was proposed to fix the salary of Mr. Carpenter (registrar of the Burial Board) at £35, he having to find a room and to be in attendance from a certain hour in the morning until a certain hour in the afternoon. But consistency was not one of Mr. Vidler’s prominent virtues; and so, whilst voting against most of his own political party for one official receiving as much as £35, he further acted against many if not most of the same party by advocating (unasked for) for £15 to be added to the salary of £120 of another official. Perhaps he had a mind to show that he was a more independent member than he had been given credit for; or, on the other hand, perhaps by voting in the second case for a motion seconded by Mr. Ross, he was right, and his other political confreres were wrong. The argument for the motion was that in the person of Mr. Glenister, the Superintendent of the Police, they had a good officer, and the Watch Committee thought they had better order an increase in salary than for the Superintendent to ask for it. Councillors Duke, Winter, Bromley and others were of opinion that to raise the salary in the first year of service was premature, but that the time might come when an increase would be necessary. Councillor Duke would recommend a gratuity of £10 instead. Coun. Winter contended that there was a tendency in the Council to unnecessarily increase the salaries of their servants. He protested against the efficient discharge of duty bring made the only reason for the increase of salary. It was not long ago that they had a Superintendent at £60, but they discharged him because he was not efficient. They then doubled the salary and got an efficient one. No one respected Spt. Glenister more than he did, but he thought it preposterous to increase his salary merely because he properly discharged those duties for which he was engaged. He (Mr. W.) thought Mr. Duke’s suggestion of a gratuity of £10 would meet the case. The original motion was carried by 9 to 6. [ 53 ]The Street-driver’s salary was the next to be grappled with, although it was a serious item of two pounds a year, the question was settled with but little discussion, so unanimous in this case were the able debaters. The said salary of £2 was enjoyed by Mr. John Duly, an ex-policeman, but as the work of a streetward was then being discharged by the police themselves, it was decided to discontinue the salary, although they could not abolish the office. The foregoing arrangements of salaries were enough for one sitting; but later in the year (Dec. 3rd), Mr. Foster, as Inspector of Weights and Measures, having applied for an increase in salary from £30 to £45, in consequence of increased duties, the application was not complied with, the general opinion being that the money was quite sufficient. Mr. Foster, as well as Mr. Duley, had evidently fallen on unlucky times.
Cemetery Matters. At the June monthly meeting, Ald. Ross said he had heard that they were getting up an opposition burial ground in the western part of the borough. To this remark, Coun. Putland replied that it was not they who were doing it, but the owner of St. Leonards Church, he being desirous of closing the one under his own Act of Parliament that was still open. As connected with the Borough Cemetery, at the December meeting a vote of thanks was passed to Miss North, of Croft House, for the gift of 1000 seedling green oaks and 500 seedling evergreen sweet bays.
A House in Difficulties. The owner of No. 4 Kentish Buildings, a house built on the waste beach land claimed by the Corporation – having had notice to quit, Mr. Barham, as purchaser of the said house under misleading conditions, now applied to the Corporation for a lease of the property at a moderate rent. Mrs. Nash (the widow of Samuel Nash, the original owner) having died, the house had fallen into the hands of Mr. Barham, who had advanced several sums of money, under the assurance that the house was freehold, and which money by the terms of the will, was to be paid by the house. At the Council meeting of the 7th May Mr. Barham’s application was deferred for further consideration. In 1830 (see Vol. 1, chapter IV) Samuel Nash, having built a small house between the Priory water and his other houses at Kentish Place and without permission on land which he was allowed to enclose in 1822, the Corporation exacted a ground rent of 20s a year, which was to commence from the 1st of June 1830. At the June meeting of the Council, it may be supposed, these conditions were made clear, and therefore a long discussion ensued, with curious [ 54 ]results. Coun. Vidler moved that the house be let to Mr. Barham at £5.10s a year. Coun. Winter moved that the rent be £10, but afterwards consented to £8.10s. Coun. Bromley moved that it be £7; remarking that the property was not now in the hands of its original possessor; that the present owner was ignorant of the terms on which it had been held, and had already paid money on consideration of which he was to come into possession. Coun. Vidler moralised and hoped that every man would do as he would be done by. Ald. Ginner regarded it as a peculiar case, the ground having been wrongly appropriated by Nash, who thus ran his own risk; and perhaps from the loose way in which the Corporation formerly transacted their business as to plots of ground, Nash had thought himself perfectly safe. Ald. Clement remembered that in former days people took land and afterwards went to the Corporation and got it made freehold for a trifling amount. He knew an instance in which a man had paid the Corporation £100 for a piece of ground, and he (Ald. C.) bought the next day for £500. He would second the rent to be £7 to Mr. Barham. Coun. Picknell, in spite of remonstrances from the chair endeavoured to continue the debate in an irregular manner. The motions were then put, with the curious results at first intimated. Bromley’s £7 negatived by 8 to 5; Winter’s £8.10s negatived by 8 to 7; and Vidler’s £5.10s by 8 to 8. The Mayor gave the casting vote and declared the motion lost. It was then decided to refer the question back to the Committee. At the next meeting the Committee having recommended a rental of £5.10s, Ald. Ross moved that it be £7.10s. Coun. Putland considered that a rent of £10 per foot was certainly too high; and Coun. Vidler said that although the house was an encroachment, it was only a lean-to building, and if they were going to charge so much, they ought to look eastward for there was occupied ground that they no rent all from. The £7.10s motion was, however, carried. As relative matters it was also resolved that Mr. Gallop pay 2/6 a year for his encroachment; and that Bridgett Barton be not allowed to take beach without charge. Conditions have greatly altered since then, the Council themselves not being allowed to take beach without permission of the Board of Trade from the same quarter, if the fishermen protest.
Vessels on the Stade. Time was, and in the memory of the writer, when vessels were not only built where now are Wellington Place and the Russian trophy gun, but also when chalk sloops were regularly laid up during the winter months in front of Caroline Place and Warrior Square, there being then built only a portion of the former and not any of the latter; also when repairs to vessels were executed in the Fishmarket or else[ 55 ]where on the Stade that might be most convenient, without any authoritative molestation; but as the borough became more and more fashionable such operations were regarded as a nuisance. At the Council meeting of July 2nd, therefore, it having been resolved that Mr. Winter be requested to remove his wrecked vessel from before Kentish Buildings and Denmark Place, Coun. Vidler wished to know why Kent’s vessel was not also to be removed. This question started Mr. Neve, of the West Ward, on his feet, who also desired to know why the old fishing-boat was not to be removed from before the Saxon Hotel? The three objects were then all embraced in an order for them to be removed from the Stade. As Mr. Winter and Mr. Kent failed to comply with the order, it was resolved at the next Council meeting that they be charged a rent of £1per week each until the removals were effected.
A Launch. The cropping up of Mr. Winter’s name is a reminder that on the 10th of August a new fishing-lugger of 47 feet in length and 14½ feet in breadth, built for Mr. Masters, of Lydd, was launched from Winter and Sons yard, now the sites of the Brassey Institute and the Observer office.
Capstans. At the March monthly meeting the Stonebeach Committee having recommended the grant of an application by Messrs. Tutt, Wenman, Curtis and Tutt to place a capstan at the Marine Parade, Coun. Harvey objected on the ground that, some years before, the Council had purchased the capstans from some of those men for the purpose of removing them from under the parade wall. Ald. Ginner supported the objection; but Councillors Vidler and Picknell were strongly in favour of granting the application for permission. Those two gentlemen had each a son associated with the boating applicants, but their strenuous advocacy of the grant was of course not in consequence of their having any personal interest therein. It must have been something else that prompted their eagerness to replace that which the town had previously spent money to remove. The application was granted.
Yacht and Shop. The famous boat-builder, Mr. George Tutt, having applied for permission to build a yacht on the stonebeach, next to his shop a Rock-a-Nore Road, the application was granted on condition of his paying 10s. Mr. Thomas Smith also applied for a piece of stonebeach for his shop, which he was obliged to remove when the lifeboat house was removed. The space required was 16 feet by 6½ ft. and this was granted at a rent of 4s. per year, with an understanding that the Stade was for the use of fishermen, and not for shops of his description. [ 56 ]Purchase of land. At the October meeting it was resolved that £100 be offered for the strip of land next the Ash Yard. The matter had been discussed at the September meeting, on the recommendation of the Committee that the said strip of land be purchased of the Railway company if it could be had at a reasonable price. To this Coun. Vidler strongly objected, urging that when they levied a sixpenny rate, that was never to be exceeded, but if they kept on purchasing land in that manner there was no knowing where the rates would stop. Presumably, this economist would have stood aghast if he had lived to the times when the same description of rates had doubled, tripled and quadrupled. It was Coun. Putland who had previously stated that a sixpenny rate ought never to be exceeded, but it was he also that in this advised the purchase of the said slip of ground, advancing as a reason that Ore Lane would become more important every year, and that the further they kept the ash-yard away from the road the better it would be. If they could get that slip of land – about half an acre – they could turn it to a useful purpose, and if not, they could again sell it. He had no hesitation in saying that all their recent purchases if again sold would realize more than their cost. Mr. Putland’s view of Ore Lane becoming more important every year has been fully proved to be correct.
Pleasure Grounds. At the September meeting, a memorial was received, with a plan, from 403 ratepayers, for establishing pleasure-grounds at the Priory. Coun. Putland, in supporting the memorial, said “let us have this only available piece of ground, if possible, which in a few years will double its present value”. Coun. Winter thought Putland’s pleasing picture would be over-clouded with the want of money. Coun. Vidler and Coun. Harvey dreaded the expense, which would perhaps be one or two thousand pounds to come out of the rates. Ald. Ross strongly advocated the proposal, and thought they should stretch a point on such a matter. They would not be purchasing of hard taskmasters, but would be dealing with parties who would do what they could for the benefit of the town. Coun. Bromley could not see how the project could be carried out, but he would move that it be referred to committee. This was carried. At the next meeting (Oct. 1st) the Clerk (Mr. Growse) reported that Miss Sayer had named £1200 for the larger piece, about six acres of ground, and £250 for a smaller piece, but stipulated that only such buildings should be erected as were necessary for a pleasure ground. The Countess of Waldegrave was quite willing [ 57 ]to favour their plans as far as her consent to the sale of the land went, and would recommend it to the other proprietors. She could not enter into the question of price, as that would require a consultation with her trustees and the future heir of the property. A considerable discussion followed, in which Ald. Ross expressed his thanks to Miss Sayer and the Countess of Waldegrave, and moved that the subject be re-referred to the committee till they were able to report fully on it. This was carried.
The West-hill Path. At the September meeting, Ald. Ross moved and Coun. Putland seconded that the stopping up with a wire fence the footpath over the West Hill[Notes 1] to Bo-Peep, be referred to Committee, with power to act. It was proved in 1835 that it had been a public footpath for sixty years. The motion was carried, although one Councillor thought it was out of their jurisdiction, and another, that the path was Mr. Eversfield’s. At the next meeting it was ordered that some new fencing, some new gates and some steps be put on the said path.
The Drainage a/c. At the December meeting the Finance Committee recommended the payment of £778 balance due to Hughes and Hunter, and £149 for extra work in the drainage contracts B & C. Coun. Vidler, who had said some hard things of the contractors and had been unable to prove them, now said he had voted for the payment of the a/c in committee, but reserved his comments to that day. He then enumerated several items charged which he did not agree with, amounting together to £127. The Mayor could not see that the extras were more than they could reasonably expect in such heavy work. Ald. Ross, in proposing that the recommendation be adopted, was very pleased that they had come through the matter so well. Coun. Putland, in seconding, explained, seriatim, the various points at issue, in Coun. Vidler’s objections, and bore testimony to the beautiful and accurate manner in which the a/c was made out, which enabled the committee to thoroughly examine and test the items. Considering that in a contract of £7,787, there were extras of only £149, he believed that the whole borough would be satisfied with the result. Coun. Wrenn quite agreed with Putland’s remarks. He found the extras were charged at contract price. Coun. Winter thought the town had reason to congratulate itself that a body corporate should have been able [ 58 ]to carry out such a work with so small amount of extras. Messrs. Picknell, Harvey and Putland all rose at the same moment to propose a vote of thanks to the surveyor and contractors, pleasure being expressed that the borough had townsmen who could carry out so great a work in so satisfactory a manner. To the contractors themselves it must have been doubly gratifying, as St. Leonards men (having property on both sides of the Archway, to receive such a chorus of praise from those who in the early part of the year had said many uncharitable things against the St. Leonards people during the postal and boundary controversy. Mr. Vidler, the only one who dissented from commendation, should have felt himself smaller than usual when Ald. Ross, Coun. Winter, Coun. Picknell and others of his political party were among the first to sound the contractors’ praise.
The New Board of Guardians
All Saints – Anthony Harvey, John Wrenn and Walter Adams.
St. Clement’s – J.R.B. Bromley, W. Wood and J. Brown.
Castle – T. Ross, S. Gutsell and A. Vidler.
Trinity – Paul Hugh (succeeding W. Picknell, jun.).
St. Michael’s – George Winter.
Magdalen – S. Putland and F. Tree.
St. Leonards - John Peerless.
Bulverhithe – George Clement.
Ore – Richard Selden, jun.
Fairlight – Henry Waters.
Guestling – T.H. Woodhams (succeeding J. J. Thorpe).
Pett – Abraham G. Thorpe
The Bank Failure Concerns
In the month of March, at the Bankruptcy Court the case of Tilden Smith (who was paralyzed) and James Hilder (aged 87) was again gone into, and much doubt was expressed on the genuineness of Smith’s transaction, and Hilder’s examination was again adjourned. The adjourned examination took place on April 13th, when Mr. Smith admitted that he married his daughter the day before the stoppage of the Bank, and gave Mr. Verral a promisory note for £500. He gave Mrs. Underwood, another daughter, a similar sum on her marriage. He promised the sum 18 months before when the parties were engaged. His Honour thought that such a promise was not likely to be made, and said the creditors had a right to complain of a man on the eve of bankcruptcy, unable to pay his debts, who gave their money [ 59 ]away. Mr. Lawrence said the Bank stopped immediately after the failure of Richard Smith (a brother) who was indebted to it to the sum of £18,000. The publicity of his failure caused a run upon the Bank. There was not so much discrepancy between the debts and assets as to justify a suspicion of insolvency. As regarded the gift of £500, it was a moderate sum for a man in Mr. Smith’s position. In reply to further questions, Mr. Smith said when he mortgaged his property to the Bank (in 1849) for £10,000, it was valued at £30,900, and although it had been decreasing, he was not aware that it was not now worth £10,000. The official assignee’s report on Mr. Smith’s case was that the balance sheet commenced in 1852, with a deficiency of £3,500, and that the deficiency was now about £10,000; which arose principally from payments of interest on borrowed money and from expenditure exceeding the profits. Mr. Hilder was unfortunately the occupier of a larger house than his means warranted, but he never could have dispossessed himself of his property without injury to the Bank, of which he was the senior partner. The Commissioner said he would take time to consider whether a first or second class certificate should be granted. [He who writes this record little thought, in 1849 or ’50, when, with other musicians, he played at Mr. Smith’s grand house at Vinehall, that the owner of such house would come to bankruptcy]. Mr. Hilder’s case was again adjourned.
A dividend of 2/6 on the Bank failure was paid on the 1st of May, thus making with the first dividend, 12/6.
At a later meeting of the court, Commissioner Fane said, after reflecting on the circumstances and on the fact that Mr. Tilden Smith’s private estate probably would not realise more than 4s. or 5s. in the pound, he was sorry he could not give the bankrupt a first class certificate which it had afforded him the pleasure to give to two of his late partners [Geo. Scrivens and Francis Smith]. A second class certificate was then granted.
Another dividend of 2/6 was afterwards declared, making the amount received by the creditors up to that time 15s. Other particulars are given on pages 206-210, vol. 6.
A New Assembly Room
In the last month of the year, 1858, was commenced a new concert and assembly room attached to the Castle Hotel, its size being 55 by 25 ft., with a pitch of 20 feet. Mr. Emary had also determined to alter the front by changing the bow windows to cant windows. Mr. Henry Carpenter was the architect.
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The New Central Hall
In the spring of 1858 shares were being taken up for the projected central assembly room and arcade, which was afterwards called the Music Hall, and now known as the Public Hall. The building was erected by the end of the year, and was leased to Messrs. Lockey and Lindridge for 21 years, at a rental of £180 for the first ten years, and £210 after. The projectors of the new assembly room and arcade met on the 24th of June, under the presidency of the Mayor (Mr. Rock), when an enlarged plan by Mr. Carpenter was decided on, which would increase the estimate by £500, thus making the amount £600. Half of the shares were taken up, and the work was to be commenced at once by Mr. Howell. The Mechanics Institution were to have two rooms, and the occasional use of the assembly room for £30 a year.
The Queen’s Hotel
In August of the same year, tenders were received for the erection of this building (designed by Mr. F. H. Fowler), as follows: J. Howell, £28,269; Kirk and Parry, £28,257; Holland and Hannen (accepted), £27,900; Dove Brothers, £27,500; Hughes and Hunter, £25,738; Moxon, £25,612. That the directors should have accepted a tender that was £2,162 higher than that of Hughes and Hunter the well known local builders, and £2,218 higher than that of Moxon’s, was commented on at the time as being for reasons only known to the directors themselves. The work, however, remained in abeyance until quite the end of the year.
The new church dedicated to the Holy Trinity, although not quite completed, was opened on Wednesday, the 29th of September. Among the large congregation were the Mayor, mace-bearers and several members of the Corporation. The Rev. Dr. Crosse (incumbent) read prayers, assisted by the Revs. G. D. St. Quintin and H. B. W. Churton. The sermon was preached by the Ven. Archdeacon Otter. There was also an evening service. The collections were respectively about £73 and £6.
Another New Church
At the same time the tender of Messrs. Dove Brothers at a little over £3,100 had been accepted for the erection of Christ Church Ore, towards which the Rev. W. Twiss Turner had offered a handsome sum. The site was nearly opposite the Hare and Hounds, and consequently in the thickest part of the population. The [ 61 ]foundation stone was laid on Tuesday Nov. 3rd during brilliant weather, by the Countess Waldegrave, who was accompanied by her relatives, Viscount Chewton, Lady Elizabeth Waldegrave and the Rev. Samuel Waldegrave (Canon of Salisbury).
A New Chapel
On Sunday the 19th of December a new chapel was opened at Coghurst for divine service, when the Rev. George Palmer preached and appropriate sermon from 1 Kings, VIII, 13 – “I have surely built thee a house to dwell in a settled place, for thee to abide in for ever”.
As the subscriptions for the proposed new bells for St. Clement’s Church were not at all sufficient for the purpose, it was decided at a meeting on the 24th of October to return the money to the subscribers.
After sermons on the 11th of April, over £54 was collected for St. Mary’s schools. On the 24th of April, the St. Clement’s and All Saints schools were benefited by a collection of £46. On the 12th of Nov. a sermon by the Rev. J. Nightingale realised 17 guineas for the same schools.
The Croft Sunday School (said to be the oldest, but disputed) had its annual treat on Whit-Monday. The number of children on the books was 150 and that of the teachers 16. On the 29th August £13 was collected at the Robertson-street chapel for the British Schools. The boys of this school were treated to a tea and entertainment on the 22nd of October. The same schools benefited to the extent of only three guineas, collected at the Croft Chapel on Nov. 28. A similarly small success attended the two services on behalf of the said British Schools on the 19th of December, when only £4.10s. was collected at the Wellington-square chapel after sermons by the Rev. Dr. Burder and the Rev. C. Fishborne.
A sermon by the Rev. W. W. Hume on June 27th realised £27.12.9 for the Trinity-church fund. At the St. Leonards Church on July 18th £16 was collected for the Jews Society. On the same day the offertory for Irish Church-Missions at St. Mary’s Church was £39.6s.7d. At the same church on Sept. 12th a sermon by the Rev. T. Vores realised £53.13s. for the Auxiliary Bible Society.
At St Clement’s Church on Oct. 3rd, was collected £17.9s.7d. for the Pastoral Aid Society, and at the Fishermen’s Church, £2.10s1d. For the same object on Aug. 29th, was collected (in round numbers) £13 at All Saints, £59 at St Mary’s, £7 at Halton, and £8 at Fairlight.
On the same day at St. Clement’s, £28 was collected for the fund in lieu of church-rates. (For further special sermons see next page) [ 62 ]The Tercentenary anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth was made the occasion on the 17th of November, for sermons to be preached at St. Mary’s by the Rev. T. Vores and at St. Leonards by the Rev. W. N. Tilson Marsh.
For the Christian Knowledge Society, £19 was collected on the 7th of December at the Trinity Church, after a sermon by the Rev. Dr. Crosse.
At the St. Leonards Church on Dec. 12th a sermon realised £17 for the Irish-Church Missions. For the Infirmary and Dispensary collections were made on Dec. 17th, at St. Clement's £18; at All Saints £18; at St Mary's £56 = total £92.
At the October quarterly meeting of the Hastings Mechanics’ Institution, the report showed a declination of members to 339; that the profits of the late fête were £37.9s.; that £30 had been invested in the Savings Bank; and that £8.10s. remained in hand. The Institution was still located in High Street, but in a few months’ time would be moving to new rooms under the music hall.
The Literary and Scientific Institution
At the annual meeting held on the 29th of January, the application was granted for the Town Council to place on the library shelves of the Institution 150 volumes of the records of the Houses of Commons and Lords of Great Britain (presented to the Council by P. F. Robertson, Esq.) on condition that any inhabitant have permission to inspect them upon a written application being made to the Secretary of the Institution.
The officers elected for the year included, as President, F. North, Esq., as Vice Presidents, W. T. Agar, Esq., G. Batley, Esq., P. F. Robertson, Esq., M.P., W. B. Young, Esq.; and as Secretary, the Rev. J. Parkin, M.A.
The number of annual members was sixty; the disbursements for the past year included £20.10s. for the purchase of Mr. Smith’s share and £25 for the purchase of Mr. Scrivens’s share (those gentlemen having been involved in the bank failure); and the balance in the hands of the Treasurer was £20.16s.6d. The title deeds of the property were in the hands of Mr. Phillips, as solicitor to Mrs. Holmes.
At a meeting on the 25th of June, Mr. Arthur Ransom [ 63 ]having resigned the office of Librarian, a vote of thanks was passed to that gentleman for the manner in which he had discharged the duties, and the committee requested to find a successor, at an expense not to exceed £20. The successor was found in the person of J. M. Griffiths at the first year’s salary of £12, and a yearly increase of £1 up to £15; his duties to be an attendance in the Library from 8.30 to 12 and from 2 to 5, to carry out books, and to attend committees.
The new members elected during 1858 were as follows: Mr. McMahon, Halloway Place; Mrs. Shorter, 86 High Street; Dr. James Hunt, Exmouth House; Mr. John Murray, Castle Street; Mr. geo. Meadows, 3 Portland Place; Mr. H. S. Middleton, 47 George Street; Mr. Chas. Pilcher, 11 White Rock Place; Edmund Field, Esq., 5 High Wickham; Rev. Henry Geldart, 3 Belle Vue; Mrs Samworth, Halloway Place; G. W. Dennis, Esq., 5 Cavendish Place; Dr. Macleabe, Mill Hill Lodge, Dr. Crosse, 2 Linton Terrace; Mr. G. Clement, Silverhill; Mr. Attwood, 36 All Saints Street; Mr. Roger Duke, 99 High Street.
The Philosophical Society
This society had its formation on the 23rd of November, at a meeting held at Mr. Cole’s, a gentleman who even up to the time of writing (1899) has ever taken an active interest in the local institutions for the furtherance of education, art, literature, philosophy, science, history etc. The first general meeting of this society took place in the temporary room of the Castle Hotel on Dec. 10th, when Dr. Hunt read a paper on “The Origin and Development of the English Language”. At a later meeting, Mr. Cole, the Secretary, read a paper by Dr. Greenhow on “Oude and its Inhabitants who were stationed in the country at the time of the outbreak”.
The Christian Association
Nearly 80 members and friends of the Church of England Christian Association were present at the annual tea meeting, in the St. Mary’s Girls’ schoolroom on the 29th of September, and after tea, with W. D. Lucas-Shadwell Esq. presiding, the report was read and adopted, and the Rev. W. N. Tilson-Marsh gave an appropriate address.
The Horticultural Society
The first of the season’s exhibitions of the society was held in the Castle gardens on June 25th, accompanied by fine weather and a band of music. The flowers were said to be the finest ever shown. The second show was held as usual at St. Leonards, as described in Chapter LIX.
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The Royal Humane Society
The local branch of the Royal Humane Society “for providing a lifeboat and all necessary apparatus for saving life” etc. was established in the early part of the year. When the rules were published an appeal was made to the public in which it was said: “The loss of the sloop Draper on the night of the 7th October, roused us by the cries of drowning men for help to a sense of our carelessness in being so unprovided for such an emergency. The gale was terrific and the sea running so high as to make it impossible to launch an ordinary boat or to reach the vessel by swimming. There were brave hearts and willing hands on the beach, but quite powerless to render help. None of the appliances for rescuing men in such circumstances were at hand, and before they could be brought from a distance, the vessel heeled over and the crew perished. Immediately after this sad occurrence a committee was formed for the purpose of organising a society which should have for its object, the saving of life from shipwreck, and restoring animation produced by immersion in water or other accidental cause”.
The Benefit Societies
As the Whit Monday of 1858 fell upon the Queen’s birthday anniversary, it occasioned a sort of double holiday, in which most of the places of business were closed. The town guns fired a salute, the church bells were rung, booths were erected on the East Hill for members of the benefit societies and other people on pleasure bent, and the chartered fair in the Fishmarket was held on Monday, as well as on its proper days, Tuesday and Wednesday. The Benefit Societies paraded the town as usual with their bands and banners in grand processional order. The Friendly Society established in 1815 afterwards dined at the Swan Hotel, the Victorian Lodge of Oddfellows dined at the Market Hall, and the Benevolent Society dined in a booth in front of the Royal Oak. The Friendly Society went to church, as was its annual custom, but the Victoria and Benevolent did not. The St. Leonards Oddfellows (the Adelaide Lodge) went to the St. Leonards Church, and while parading the town, a halt was made at the house where a member was lying dead, and the band played the “Dead March”. They proceeded into Hastings as far as Robertson Street; but the Hastings societies did not go so far west as the district which the Council-men of the East Ward had previously declared as Hastings. The “Adelaide” dined as usual at the Warriors’ Gate, to the number of nearly 240. The annual state[ 65 ]ments of the societies were not of a roseate hue, particularly those of the Friendly and Benefit societies, there being of both a decrease of stock, thus indicating the necessity for a revision of their rules.
Trade Protection Society
On the 18th March, this association elected George Scrivens Esq., of the Hastings Old Bank, as President; and for greater efficiency in the general management, at a later meeting, a permanent manager was elected in the person of Mr. George Curling Hope, at a salary of £20 per annum. The office was to be at his (Trinity) House, Robertson Street.
Cottage Improvement Society
This society, in which the late Dr. Greenhill took an active interest, was formed for the purpose of improving the dwellings of the so-called working classes, and with the prospect of a moderate return on the outlay. The transaction for the year 1858 afforded a dividend of 6 per cent to the shareholders, whilst in other ways benefitting the homes of the poor.
Special Relief Fund
There was much distress among the poor during the early part of the year, mainly through enforced idleness by the want of employment. A committee was formed and funds were raised for supplying the needy inhabitants with bread and soup. Up to the 30th of March the sum collected for this relief was £387, whilst the bread and soup already distributed in the east ward, alone, was 2,800 gallons of the former and 4,700 quarts of the latter. The Committee held their winding up meeting on the 21st of April, when it was decided to hold over a surplus of £111 for future emergencies.
An Easter Offering
Apart from the special relief fund, a sum of five pounds was sent to the Rev. H. S. Foyster by an anonymous donor, as “An Easter Offering for the Poor of All Saints”.
All Saints Appointments: George Jackson and Anthony Harvey, churchwardens; W. Reeves and (illegible text) Tutt, overseers; Geo. Meadows, clerk; (illegible text) Lettine, parish clerk; W. Giles, organist; J. White, sexton, Mrs. Eastland, pew-opener.
St. Clement’s: Jos. Amoore & J. R. Bromley, churchwardens; Jas Dowsett & Henry Winter, overseers; John Phillips, vestry-clerk; Jas. Cox, parish clerk; John Hide, jun. sexton. [ 66 ]Ore: S. Selden and H. E. Wyalt, churchwardens; John Stace and Thomas Henbrey, overseers. Trinity: H. Polhill and L. Defries, overseers; G. C. Hope and Jos. Golding, assessors (1st time assessors nominated for the parish, it having before included with Castle parish), T. P. Langham, clerk and solicitor.
St Michael’s: E Strickland and E. Collens, overseers.
St Mary Magdalens’s: John Kenwood and J. B. Brett, overseers; J. Yarroll and C. N. Levett, assessors; W. ? Beecham, jun. vestry-clerk.
St. Leonards: John Peerless and Jas. Mann, overseers; W. Yarroll and J. Carey, assessors; John Phillips, vestry-clerk.
Overseers Appointed by County Bench
Guestling: Edward Hunter and John Cane.
Pett: John Skinner and Thomas Hills.
Fairlight: John Cooke and Godfrey Philcox
Bexhill: A. S. Brook and Thomas Wood
Castle: Robert Burchell and Richard E. Chandler
At the Quarter Sessions held on the last day of the year there was not one prisoner for trial. In congratulating the Grant Jury on the fact, the Recorder (W. W. Attree, Esq.) said that the circumstance of there being no calendar in a population of over 20,000 was most gratifying.
A Trial Elsewhere
At the Queen’s Bench on the 6th of July, £2,000 damages was the award to Messrs. Whitfield and others, in an action against the Railway Company for having set the telegraph in motion to all stations not to cash Lewes notes, on account of the Lewes Bank having stopped payment. This notice was posted up at all stations, the result being a run upon the Bank, which the bankers were able to withstand, but only by selling out accounts at a loss.
A Smuggling Affair
A smuggler was discharged from the Queen’s prison on the 17th of November, whose name was George Beard, and who, according to a statement in the Daily Telegraph, had been in prison nine months, he having been exchequered in the sum of £16,000 upon his conviction of fraud on the Customs. Beard had lived in the neighbourhood of Hastings, where he was tried and convicted. He did not, however, surrender, but journeyed to London and gave himself up at Judge’s Chambers, and the judge committed him to prison. [ 67 ]He thus escaped incarceration in a county gaol and the discomforts attending the same. This dodge, continued the Telegraph, is much in vogue with persons in the provinces. Unfortunately for the veracity of the London journal in this instance, it contained several important errors, as pointed out in a published letter from Messrs. J. & S. Langham, of Hastings, as follows: “The writer, in his indignation against smugglers in general and George Beard in particular, has displayed much ignorance in the matter. First, it is not true that Beard was convicted at or even in the neighbourhood of Hastings, but in the Court of Exchequer at Westminster. Second, as to his surrendering into custody in London instead of in the country (which he could not do) the facts are: At the commencement of the prosecution, he, with two sureties, entered into a recognizance that he would pay the penalties or surrender himself to prison - that is the Queen’s prison (the legitimate prison for Crown debtors), and the proper mode of satisfying that recognizance was for the defendant to go before one of the Barons of the Exchequer and be by him committed to such prison. This Beard did in due time, and thus satisfied the exigency of the recognizance, exonerated his bail, and saved the Crown the trouble and expense of taking him in execution and conveying him to a county gaol.”
The western mackerel voyage, for which the boats set out soon after Christmas, proved itself a failure, and the men were nearly all in debt. Of the 50 or 60 boats, which at home or away had been seven months in pursuit of mackerel not more than 4 or 5 could pay their expenses. Never to the oldest man on the beach had there been known such an unfortunate season. There was also very little of other fish caught all along the coast. The weather had been too fine and quiet. The boats had lain beached in the roadstead for two and three weeks at a stretch.
The herring season was, however, as greatly successful as that of mackerel had been the reverse. This turn of good fortune happened on Sunday Oct. 31st, when the fishermen netted in each boat from 8,000 to 18,000, and continued similarly successful for several days. The fish were sold at about £15 per last of 10,000. Many were sent off to Brighton, London and other towns, involving the several processes of counting (with its sing-song of “four-and-twenty”, “five-and-twenty” etc.), salting, washing, packing and forwarding. On the following Wednesday the sight was [ 68 ]still more interesting to lookers on. The sun shone brilliantly and added much to the artistic effect of about thirty luggers which were scattered over the waters and numerous ferry-boats loading and unloading their finny cargoes. On Thursday the animated scene was further enlarged, nearly 50 fishing-boats being in view at the time of high water, all of which had been successful in varied degrees, the quantity of fish differing between four thousand and twenty thousand and realising at the least £13.10s. per last. This kind of fishing was prosecuted with somewhat diminished success until November 14th, which was also a Sunday, when large quantities of herring were again landed. Then on the 17th, catches ranged from ten thousand to sixty thousand, which being sold at from £7 to £10 per last, realised for th heaviest boat-load £70. Two days later the numbers landed ranged from a few thousand to 2½ last; but none of the boats came to shore entirely empty.
One of the most successful fishermen along the coast during the season was Henry Blacklock, of Lydd, he having landed no fewer than 72 lasts, which were sold at over £10 per last, and thus enabled his crew to share £40 each.
In the meantime some “bewleys”, weighing upwards of £60 lbs were brought ashore; also a fish of the grampus species, about half grown. A third curiosity of the deep was a gigantic skate, which weighed 180 lbs.
Proposed Net Manufactory
At a meeting on the 22nd of February, Mr. Ross, in moving that it is desirable to establish a net manufactory, said that it had struck him that Hastings, one of the largest fishing towns, ought not to go to Bridport for its nets, especially when they considered that £3000 left the town annually for that purpose, at that at times there was a difficulty in getting the nets. A statement drawn up by himself showed that twenty large boats used sixty dozen of nets each year at 28s. a dozen; 30 second class boats used thirty dozen each; and 40 trawl-boats, two trawls each; the total value of which was £3,300. The Rev. W. W. Hume, in seconding the motion, said that having had three years’ experience in Hastings, among the fishing people, he had some knowledge of the importance of the proposition. Finding them frequently in poverty, he used to ask them why they did not make nets; and the invariable answer was because they could buy them at Bridport much cheaper than they could [ 69 ]make them. He found that there was a great difference in the price of labour here and at Bridport. A person here would not earn more than 3/6 a weeks at net braiding. But if education was connected with it and contributions raised for its support, he thought it might succeed, and he would do what he could to promote the object. Mr. Ross said he entirely fell in with Mr. Hume’s plan. Mr. Witham, from Bridport, said he had served Hastings for years, and he would as soon sell twine as nets. In towns the labour was too expensive for net braiding. Even at Bridport they wwere obliged to get it done ten or twelve miles in the country by the rural population. He rather liked the idea of a school in connection, but they would want capital. Mr. G. Scrivens said there was a time when all the net braiding was done at Hastings, and the twine also made at home. Why it was discontinued was because the nets could be purchased cheaper elsewhere. Theirs were the best fishermen round the coast. There were none to equal, much less to surpass them in expertness of their business, and if it paid them to do it more could make better nets. A committee was then formed, and at a later meeting recommended that by way of experiment, £150 be raised by subscription to purchase twine and pay for the braiding of nets; that application be made to the managers of the Fishermen’s Club for the use of their room at Mercer's Bank, and to the managers of the several schools in Hastings and St. Leonards for their co-operation in the introduction of teaching and braiding. The Rev. W. W. Hume proposed the adoption of the report and the Rev. W. N. Tilson-Marsh promised his assistance.
The Launch of the Lifeboat
In years gone by the principal holidays at Hastings, in addition to those of Christmas, were Easter Monday, Whit-Monday, Rock Fair days in July and the Race-days in September. As time went on the Easter holiday gave place in importance to the Whitsuntide festivities, at which time the gay procession of the several Benefit Societies, their annual dinners and their al fresco amusements on the East Hill made Whit Monday the most generally observed holiday of the year. The Easter Monday of 1858, however, was a record one in consequence of a new lifeboat having arrived at Hastings, there to be exhibited and launched for the first time. After having been brought by rail to the West Marina Station, the boat was mounted on its carriage of novel construction and drawn by six horses through the two towns. A band of
music headed the procession, followed by a number of seamen with banners and flags. Then came the boat, manned by its crew, in their cork jackets, holding an oar erect. Following them were the members of the committee, the Borough M.P.s, a reserve crew of coastguards, and nearly a score of carriages. The whole procession moved on from Bo-peep to the Fishmarket, and back to the east end of Carlisle Parade. The number of sightseers was immensely great, the parades and the beach being densely thronged. Previously to the launch, the Mayor (J. Rock, Esq.) and the Rev. T. Vores got on board, and the latter gentleman, after a short prayer, gave an address in which he remarked that he had never before had the pleasure of looking upon so vast a congregation. He was glad that the boat was called the Hastings and St. Leonards Lifeboat, for in such works the two towns should be united. If there was one thing more than another that would unite them in heart it was the blessed work of trying to do good. The Mayor then said he was deputed by the Lifeboat Committee to give the boat the name of our good and gracious queen “Victoria”. [Cheers]. Might she ever be successful in her missions of humanity for which she was destined. He then called for three cheers for the Queen, which was warmly responded to. The boat was then launched successfully, and, after half an hour’s exercise, was run ashore to the boat house at the East Well. In the evening a dinner at the Swan hotel was given to the crew (23 in number) and 14 of the Coastguard volunteers. The Mayor, the Borough Members and the Committee were also present, together with Mr. Shorter and Mr. T. S. Hide (Secretary), Supt. Glenister, Mr. Laing (Borough Surveyor), etc. Instrumental and vocal music varied and enlivened the scene, toasts were given and responded to by the Mayor, the Rev. W. W. Hume, Mr. North, M.P., Mr. Robertson, M.P. and other gentlemen. After the departure of the principal guests the evening’s amusements were prolonged by the remainder of the company, which included Messrs. Laing, Shorter, Glenister, Hide and Brett. Appropriate songs were sung by several of the party, including “The Minute Gun at Sea” and “Man the Lifeboat” by the last named person, with guitar accompaniments to himself and the rest of the singers. This finish to the Easter holiday of 1858, closed with “Auld Lang Sine” in Scotch fashion and the evening was afterwards referred to as an intensely enjoyable one.
An Appropriate Contribution On the 16th April the following was contributed to the Hastings News by “L. F.” “The Launch of the Lifeboat”: “What pages of human feeling and deepest meaning is contained in these few words! What pictures do they not call up in the reflective mind! Today a gay procession passed along the streets of this ancient Cinque Port to bring the boat home as a bride home to the scene of her future duties, labours and delights. There were the flags of old England and of many other land of progress upborne by stalwart, noble-looking fellows – members of God’s aristocracy – men whose hard-earned medals told plainly enough of past service, and whose calm, steadfast look told also of stuff being there to do good service again, if need there should be for it. And so they brought the boat home to the town where she is to abide, and good men waited beside her – men whose moral worth is a rock of strength to the place to which they belong; and the whole town had seen her; she is brought down to the beach and blessed with holy words of solemn prayer, and named with a good name. And then “Launch her out” is the cry. Forth she goes dancing over the waves as if glad to be on them. May she last long, strong and firm, to bear the buffeting of many rougher waves! Launched on a bright spring day amidst the hearty cheers of many thousands, we must remember that her launch for real work will be very different. Then eager eyes will be straining towards a scene of human agony, and every voice will be hushed in the excitement of anticipation. Then the true meaning of her name will be realised, when in the struggle for dear life she shall become the ark of refuge – the Lifeboat to those who without her aid must have gone down to the cold graves in the ocean depth. Three cheers then for the Lifeboat, and may her gallant crew go forth successfully on their errands of mercy!”
“They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in the great waters; these see the works of the Lord and his wonders in the deep” Psalm cvii, 23, 24.
“Upon the beach that dreary night, Men wandered up and down. For they had seen an awful sight, Hard by their ancient town.
Hard by the shore had perished All souls upon the deck – Souls whom they might have rescued When first they saw the wreck.
No rocket and no lifeboat This goodly town could boast Though treach’rous rocks lie hidden Along the Hastings coast.
No help for storm toss’d sailors, In such a town as yours, No lifeboat to the rescue From Hastings happy shores.
But now the town is all astir, The boat is on her way; They bring her in procession To launch her from the bay.
With banners and with music, With clergy and with May’r; With noble men to man her, They give her greeting fair.
They call her the Victoria, And send her on her way Rejoicing as she ploughs the waves Of Hastings noble bay.
God speed her now and ever! And may she gladly save Full many a human creature From out a watery grave.
God speed the gallant lifeboat! God speed her noble crew! In storms that yet await her In work she has to do!
And may the towns be prospered That launch her out today, With many a fervent blessing As speeds she on her way!
May perfect concord bind them In unity and peace! And from this day henceforward All civic tempests cease!
Please check the order I have put these verses into!! I also omitted some of the lines between verses
The first four verses of the foregoing lines, evidently refer to the fatal wreck, eastwards of Hastings which set the St. Leonards gentlemen to the work of procuring a life-boat and collecting subscriptions for that object. The last verse also plainly refers to the unfortunate revival of the postal contention.
A Grand Bazaar On Easter Tuesday, the day after the reception and launch of the life-boat, another great effort of usefulness was demonstrated in the holding of a bazaar in aid of the building fund of the Holy Trinity Church. The St. Leonards Assembly Rooms were fitted up for the occasion, and the sale of articles - which were mostly of an elegant and recherché character – continued for three days, during which it was visited by about twelve hundred persons. The bazaar was remarkable for the aristocratic bearing and high character both of those who assisted and those who visited it. The attendance at the stalls were the Countess Waldegrave, the Countess Sheffield, the Countess Cathcart, Viscountess Chewton, Viscountess Jocelyn, Lady Susan Vernon-Harcourt, Lady Elizabeth Douglas, Lady Henrietta Cathcart, Lady Elizabeth Waldegrave, the Hon. Mrs. Somerset, the Hon. Mrs. Hussey, Lady Micklethwaite, Lady Edith Ashley, Lady Selina Needham, Hon. Miss Waldegrave, and the Hon. Misses Jocelyn. Also among the company were the Earl and Countess of Fife, Viscount and Viscountess Stratford de Redcliffe, Earl Jermyn, Viscount Pevensey, Viscountess Chelsea, Hon. Mrs. Canning, Viscountess Frankfort de Montmorency, Lady St. John, Lady Elphinstone, Lady Parish, Lord and Lady James Stuart, Lady Webster, Baroness de Tessier & party, Lady Lamb & party, etc., etc. The receipts were £900. Of the stall-holders there were seven whose residence was east of the Infirmary and eight, who resided west of the same (including White-rock Villa); whilst of the noble and aristocratic visitors, eight-tenths were those of St. Leonards. Here, as in all other public matters where money was wanted for a good purpose, St. Leonards was the chief contributor, notwithstanding that there were three separate attempts to deprive her of postal and other privileges which she enjoyed in the same manner as did Hastings. At a Holy Trinity Vestry meeting on May 12th a vote of thanks was passed to the ladies who held the fancy bazaar at St. Leonards; also to Mr. Burton for the several days’ free use of the Assembly Rooms; and to the members of the Gentlemen’s Club for the use of their rooms. The £900, it was said, would enable the church to be opened free of debt.
Presentations To Bartlett Tomsett, (son of Henry Tomsett, the many years’ Hastings letter carrier) has been presented by the Board of Trade, a handsome medal, for his gallant attempt at saving life on the occasion of the wreck of a vessel near Calais. The French Government had already awarded 75 franks to Tomsett. To Superintendent Glenister was presented a twenty-guinea (cost price) gold watch, in recognition of his clever capture of a gang of thieves and of his general efficiency.
Special Dinners A dinner to the Recorder and Magistrates was given by Mr. Alderman Ginner on the 19th of March. The East Sussex Fox Hounds dinner took place at the Swan Hotel on the 8th of April, when Mr. and Mrs. Carswell catered for 50 gentlemen, tradesmen and farmers. An Evening Meal, called a supper was given on the 27th of April by the Rev. H.S. Foyster to the organist and choir of All Saints, and the choir, in return, gave an excellent concert. The Whit-Monday dinners were at the Swan for the “Old Friendly”, at the Anchor for the “Victoria Lodge, M. N.”, at the Royal Oak for the “Benevolent” and at the Warriors’ Gate for the “Adelaide Lodge, M.N.” P.F. Robertson Esq., M.P. gave a dinner to the Recorder and Corporation on the 29th of October. The Mayor (W. Ginner Esq.) gave a dinner to the Corporation on the third of December. Frederick North Esq., M.P. gave a dinner to the Town Council and Borough officials on the 23rd of December. The Same Gentleman gave a dinner to the Recorder, Mayor and other persons on the 31st of December. Not a dinner, but tea, cakes and fruit, as an annual treat, were given on March 24th to the boys of St. Mary’s Night School.
Public Amusements Marshall’s Panorama of India, with singing and a sax-horn band, attracted great crowds at the Market Hall during the week ending April 3rd. Brown’s Circus was here of Aug. 17th and 18th, and Cooke’s Circus on the 19th. Great novelties were exhibited by each. A Fête Champetre in Mr. Robertson’s grounds at Halton House on the 30th of August, realised nearly £40 for the funds of the Hastings Mechanics’ Institution, in addition to £5 given by Mr. Robertson. The Quadrille Party which had been meeting in the attached long room of the Royal Oak hotel (formerly a boat building loft) was in the autumn of this year adjourned to the old room of the Swan, in consequence of the Oak room being taken down to make room for new houses.
Lectures “The Giant Killer” was the title of a lecture given in the Swan Assembly Room on the 16th of March, by Rev. J. Blake, of Sandhurst. A lecture on “Cowper” was given in the same room on March 12th by the Rev. C. D. Bell, of the C.E.C.A. A lecture on “Hugh Miller” was delivered for the Mechanics’ Institution on the 14th of April, by the Rev. H.J. Piggott. Lecture by the Rev. Dr. Cumming were delivered in the St Leonards Assembly Rooms, in aid of special missions to Roman Catholics. Collection £25. “Self Advancement” was the subject of a lecture delivered in the All Saints Girls Schoolroom, on the 13th of April, by W. D. Lucas-Shadwell, Esq. Brougham’s Genius and Oratory were lectured upon at the Mechanics’ Institution on the 20th of April. A lecture on “The Maker of the World” was delivered by the Rev. E. Sydney, for the C.E.C.A on the 22nd of April. “Respiration and Combustion” formed the title of a lecture delivered at the Mechanics’ Institution by Mr. John Banks on the 2nd of Nov. “The Mind and the Eye” were the objects lectured on by the Rev. E. Sydney in connection with the Young Men’s Christian Association on the 18th of Nov. “Life in the East” (illustrated) was the title of a course of three lectures delivered by Mr. Gadsby (traveller, lecturer and author), the first of which, on Dec. 1st was listened to by a crowded audience. “Thought, Thinkers and How to Think” formed the title of an excellent lecture by the Rev. Samuel Coley, Wesleyan minister on the 6th of Dec. “Home, Sweet Home” was ably treated in a lecture by the Rev. J. E. Blake, of Sandhurst, at the Mechanics’ Institution on Dec. 21st. A lecture “On Conversation” was delivered by the Rev. F. Trench, of Islip, in connection with the Y.M.C.A., on the 15th of December. A lecture on “Why” was delivered to the members of the Mechanics’ Institution on the 9th of December by J. C. Savery, Esq. “Charles Dickens’ Writings” were discoursed upon in a lecture by Mr. John Banks at the Mechanics’ Institution on January 18th, and again on Feb 1st. Lady Jane Grey was the subject of a lecture, on Jan. 20th, by the Rev. W. Acworth, for the Church of England Christian Association. Dr. Cummings Lecture on “The Atonement; its Protestant and Romish Aspects” was delivered on the 16th of Feby.; and another, on “Immortality – the Resurrection and Recognition in the Age to Come” was delivered, two days later. A Lecture on Insurance Companies was delivered by Mr. Jabez Inwards, a well-known Temperance lecturer, at the Swan Hotel on the 11th of March. A Second Astronomical Lecture was delivered was delivered by Mr. J. Banks, on the morning of March the 9th, at the Market Hall.
Accidents A Broken Ankle was sustained by a man named Norman, by falling down 10 or 12 feet into the basement of the Queen’s Hotel, on the 14th of March. The hotel was then being built. An Accident to the Misses Loft occurred on April 15 by the turning over of their carriage in descending the Castle Hill road, resulting in a cut forehead to one of the ladies. Much Injury befell William Norman on the 24th April by a gust of wind blowing a ladder from under him and throwing him down while cleaning a window at Halloway Place. Mr Harvey, a milkman, 71 years old, was kicked by a cow on the 23rd of April, by which his thigh was broken, and no hope given of his recovery. Concussion of the brain and a distreated wrist was the result of a fall from a brewer’s dray by “Aux” Breeds, a beach labourer, on the 19th of Aug. Loss of Life. On Sunday morning, Sept. 26th, Catherine Shoesmith, aged 15, and Frances Golding, about the same age, together with Mary Jane Christmas, a visitor from London, while bathing from one of Mr. Dunn’s machines, joined hands and walked into the water as far as they could, and getting near the rocks, where there was a strong current, they all three sank. Seeing this, Mr. Dunn galloped his horse into the sea and saved Golding and Christmas. Shoesmith, Dunn’s assistant, also rushed in with his horse, but could not find his daughter, who was consequently drowned. An Injured Hip occurred to Henry Bumsted, an old fisherman, on the 6th of Oct. by being struck by a capstan bar while assisting to wind up a boat. A Flyman named Fletcher and his carriage were injured through the running away of the horse, but a female passenger who was being driven to the railway station was unhurt. A Miller’s Horse, while feeding in the “Mill Platt” on the West hill, got on the top of an old well, broke in, and by its struggle to free itself, was greatly injured. The said horse was the property of Horatio Nelson Williams.
Maritime Disaster The Brothers Kent had their fishing smack “Fanny” run into on the night of April 19th, by a barque-rigged ship, which carried away her after-bulwarks, stanchions, rails and two shrouds; also tearing her mainsail into ribbons. The ship passed on without stopping to see the result of her bad look-out.
Particular Deaths The Dowager Lady Elphinstone died on Tuesday, August 24th. She met with an accident a short time before, being then thrown from a pony-chaise while driving out with her daughter, Mrs. W. Twiss Turner, of Ore Rectory. The injuries received by the accident had a fatal result. Mrs. Turner and her child were not hurt. Her ladyship, Frances, widow of Major-Gen. Sir Hard Elphinstone, was 74 years of age, and was greatly esteemed. Sir Howard, who died on the 28th April, 1846, was 73 years of age. William Ades, Esq., died on the 7th of May, at Oakham, in the County of Rutland. He was formerly a Brede and Battle man, and was well known to many persons in Hastings. He was born at Brede Place, where his forefathers had been tenants for many generations, under the Frewen family. He was articled to the late Mr. Martin of Battle, and, later in life, was placed by the late John Frewen-Turner, Esq. at Oakham, where he established a large business, and became Clerk-of-the-Peace. He was 86 years of age, and left a considerable fortune. Mr. J. B. Moor, and old and respected townsman, died of paralysis on the 28th of July, aged 66. He was many years lessee of the Pelham Arcade, at a time when evening promenade concerts were carried on during the season, political and other meetings were held, and where Mr. Moor himself carried on a jewellery and fancy trade. It is there that a descendant is still engaged in a similar business. Edwin Richardson’s death was a melancholy one. He was a compositor in Mr. Stutchbery’s printing office in High Street. He had been missing from Sunday evening, Oct. 3rd, until Friday 8th, when his body was found immediately under a dangerous path close to the edge of the cliff at Fairlight. He was a very quiet young man and was regarded as a religious monomanic. He had frequently gone to the office before working hours to read the Bible, and had expressed an opinion that the Lord would soon come; that he would come through or over the East Hill, and would say “Ah, poor Kylong (a nickname he was known by) “come up hither”. He went out on the said Sunday evening to the “Look-out” on the East Hill, as he said, to see the comet, and there seemed no doubt at the inquest that he had wandered to the dangerous spot and fallen over. The drowned body of Mr. Edward B. Watson was discovered on the beach in the parish of Fairlight. He was a retired draper, of London, about 60 years of age. Mr. Manser Thorpe, farmer at Bexhill had known him as a visitor there; John Burgess, of Bexhill had seen him at that place on the preceding Sunday morning; and Miss Elizabeth Daniel, residing at Bexhill, also saw him alive on the same Sunday morning when coming from church. He then asked her to marry him, but she declined. She last saw him on the Sunday evening, when he appeared very strange and left her in an excited state. This lady – a Hastings woman – was greatly affected at the inquest and was obliged to leave the room. The Rev. Dr. Totty’s Death ( which should have been noticed in the preceding volume) took place at Bath on the 21st of December, 1857, at the age of 101. He held the livings of Fairlight and Etchingham. He was succeeded at Fairlight by the Rev. H. Stent, and at Etchingham by the Rev. R. G. Barton, several years curate at. The centenarian’s somewhat uncommon name has been associated for centuries with that portion of Clive Vale known as the Tottye land. John and Margerie Avery, man and wife, lived on the “Tottye” Land in the 16th century, and when they died were buried in 1560 at All Saints within twelve days of each other.
A Few Marriages The bells of St. Clement’s rang out merrily on Tuesday, the 14th of December, when Miss Augusta Caroline Langham, daughter of J.G. Langham, Esq., solicitor, of Hastings, was married to William John Gant, architect and surveyor. On the same day, Miss Emily Wagner, daughter of G.H.M.Wagner, Esq., of 77, Marina, St. Leonards, was married to F.G. Simpkinson, Esq. Much rejoicing was betokened by outward as well as by private manifestations. Also on the same day, the Rev. Charles Pavey, Minister at the Tabernacle, Hastings, was married to Elizabeth Fenner Mosely, daughter of W. Rowland, Esq.
Our Champion Rowers At this time Hastings and St. Leonards could boast of a greater number of successful oarsmen than, perhaps, any other town along the coast. The Hastings Regatta, which had been postponed in consequence of rough weather, came off on Sept. 13th, under favourable conditions of wind and water, and was witnessed by an immense concourse of people. The “Black Bess” was again victorious in the principal race; the Anne, of Brighton (also a Hastings-built boat) won a second prize in both of the principal races. The skiff “Outlaw”, in which Mr. Mills of Brighton won a cup for gentlemen amateurs, was a beautiful life-craft. The “Panther” which came in first in the skiff match was also a fast boat. The whole of these boats were built by Mr. George Tutt, of Hastings. The watermen crew of the Black Bess (Wenman, Curtis, Buxted, Kent and Waters), undoubtedly bore away the palm as rowers. Then, as amateurs, beyond all controversy, the first crew was that which brought in the Unity ahead of the Black Bess when also rowed by amateurs; and which crew also made the Surprise beat the favourite Panther. This amateur crew which won in both cases in inferior boats was composed of four young men of Hastings – three brothers Edward, Robert and Archibald Hutchinson, and Frank Philcox. Four young men of greater promise and steadier conduct could hardly be found. The two eldest (twins) were a little over 20, and the younger brother about 19. Philcox was under 17, and the coxswain was Henry Roberts, of St. Leonards.
The Amateur Scullers’ Cup was presented to the winner, Mr. H. Roberts of St. Leonards, on the 22nd of September. It had been sent to London to have engraved upon it “The first Hastings Amateur Scullers’ Cup, won by Henry Roberts, Sept. 15th 1858.” On the opposite side was a decorated shield enclosing a beautiful representation of the Hastings Arms (see also Page 78).
A New Yacht. As Mr. George Tutt has been referred to as the builder of the successful boats in connection with the regatta, it may here be stated that by that noted boat-builder, a third new yacht for Lord Willoughby d’Ersby was commenced in the autumn. This one was to be even more peculiar. In length it was to be 138 feet, and in extreme width 19 feet only, and that extreme width three-fifths from the bow. It was to have an elliptic stern and to be fitted with auxiliary steam. The main mast was to be 85 feet long, and the mainsail to contain 1000 yards of canvas.
Royalty at Hastings The Queen and Prince Albert and suite stayed at the Hastings Station of the 31st of August, only a few minutes, during a change of engines, on their way from Dover to the Isle of Wight.
The Prince of Wales made a hasty visit to Hastings in the week which ended on Saturday Dec.17th. His Royal Highness was travelling from Dover to Portsmouth, and while waiting for the South-Coast train – which did not start immediately on the arrival of the South-Eastern train, the Prince came into the town and made a small purchase at Mr. F. S. Mann’s shop in Wellington Place. His Royal Highness travelled in one of the South-Eastern Company’s state carriages, which was transferred to the South Coast Company’s lines.
Magistrates with Little to Do At the Quarter Sessions held on the 31st of December, there was not a single prisoner for trial; and before that, so few had there been of cases before the Borough Bench, that on one occasion Dr. MacCabe facetiously suggested to his brother magistrates that they should forego half their emoluments.
The County Magistrates, however, were not quite so much in want of work as their brethren of the Borough Bench. They had at least one case which they wanted to be remembered. An unprovoked assault having been committed on a constable by two brothers at Bexhill, the assailants were placed before the Bench on the 4th of December, and fines of £15 and £5, respectively, were inflicted upon them.
Concealment of Birth. Earlier in the year, namely at the Lewes Summer Assizes, Emma Sutton was sentenced to six months’ hard labour. She had been a considerable time in prison, a memorial from Hastings had been received, and in the prosecutor’s address reference was made to her extreme youth, and her having been deprived of the care of a mother. The prisoner was too much overcome with tears to offer any defence; and although the judge said he would take the memorial and the recommendation of the jury into account and temper justice with mercy, his sentence seemed to take the court by surprise.
Success of Hastings Men & Boats at Other Regattas At Dover Regatta on Sept. 10th, the “Black Bess”, manned by Wenman, Buxted, Curtis & Kent, the crew that were so successful at home, won the first prize of £16 in the chief race; and the same galley, rowed by Dover men, won £10.10s. in the Amateur race. The Unity, another Hastings galley, manned by Philcox and the three Hutchinges (as at Hastings), took a second prize at Dover. On the following evening the Black Bess and crew were brought from the railway station on wheels, headed by a band of music. At Folkestone regatta, the Hastings boat Unity, manned by a Margate crew, came in second, and the Black Bess, which had the worst position, came in third. Another of the galleys, built by George Tutt, of Hastings, named the Violet, added fresh laurels to his already well-known reputation. The boat at the Newhaven regatta was victorious in two of the races.
Marine Phenomena On the 13th, 14th & 16th of June the sea at Hastings, as well as at St. St Leonards, was respendent with phosphorescence.
Rock Fair It was hoped that this degenerated fair had died out for want of a place to hold it in. Driven from the field at the top of White Rock by Mr. Brisco, who wanted the ground for building on, it took refuge on Mr. Wyatt’s ground at Mount Pleasant. The fair had gotten to be neither useful not ornamental, but simply a rendez-vous for the dissipated and vicious.
A Violent Wind A gale of a tempestuous character and of wide range occurred on the night of July 24th, blowing down chimneys, wrecking parks and gardens and damaging fences, both locally and provincially, as well as in the Metropolis. In a Kentish orchard 500 bushels of apples were blown down, and in our own towns “windfalls” were sold at 2d. per gallon. The violent wind and peculiar thunder-storm of June 5th are described on page 26. Also on page 25 the remarkable rain and hail of the 25th of August.
A Magnificent Carriage Messrs. Rock and Son, the celebrated coach-builders, of Hastings, who built to order, a beautiful state-carriage for the Lord Mayor of London, also executed, in this year of grace, 1858, a splendid band-carriage, to be drawn by 40 horses, for Mr. William Cook, of Astley’s Royal Amphitheatre. The carriage was designed by Mr. James Rock, jun., and was about 15 feet long. The larger wheels were six feet in diameter, and the height of the carriage about eleven feet. The ornamentation was very elaborate and in good taste.
Inquests (other than those on pp. 24, 25, 75, 76) An inquest on May 28th by Coroner Growse, revealed the fact that James Snashall, a labourer, 50 years of age, living in Bourne Street, died suddenly by a rupture on the brain. Another inquest by the same coroner on the 11th of June resulted in the verdict that Elizabeth Ball, housekeeper to Mr. Clitheroe at 3 East Ascent died by internal haemorrhage from not having medical assistance in child-birth. She had told persons that she was 47 years of age. A Coroner’s Inquest on John Sinden, 34 (son of Henry Sinden, a sawyer) who died at Lavatoria, March 15th, showed that he had died falling down stairs while being intoxicated. Left a widow & 3 children. Also an Inquest on John Bristow, aged 52, was held on March 22nd at the Commercial Inn, East Ascent. The deceased had been in a strange way for several weeks, and on Saturday night, March 20th, was found suspended by a cord to the bannister rail at 2, St. Clement’s Place while his wife was out at cooking. I knew John Bristow as a brother Oddfellow, and remember that on one occasion when accused of having made some misstatement, he admitted its probability in consequence of his having at the time so bad a cold as hardly to be able to speak the truth. This witticism saved him from what might have been unpleasant proceedings.
The Local Government Act The General Board of Health issued the following information respecting the provisions of the Local Government Act of 1858. This Act came into force from the 1st of Sept., 1858 in districts under the Public Health Act; and in other places it came into operation at the expiration of two months from the date of its adoption. By the adoption of this Act, any borough, town or place possessing known and defined boundaries might obtain powers for their own Government and improvement without recourse to the Central Executive or to Parliament; and places not having defined boundaries might acquire them for the purposes of the Act as hereunder described.
Adoption of the Act The Act may be adopted in corporate boroughs after the 1st of November, 1858, by a resolution of the Town Council. In places, not boroughs, under a board of elected improvement commissioners, by resolution; but in both, a month’s previous notice must be given of the meeting at which the resolution for adoption is proposed, and two-thirds of the number present must concur on the resolution. In other places the Act may be adopted by a resolution of a majority of owners and ratepayers, at a public meeting, or by a poll if demanded by any owner or ratepayer present at the meeting. Meetings for the adoption of the Act are to be summoned, on written requisition of 20 owners or ratepayers in boroughs by the Mayor; in places not boroughs, under elected improvement commissioners, by the chairman of the same. In other places by the churchwardens or overseers, or where neither exists, by any person appointed by one of Her Majesty’s principal Secretaries of State. In case of a poll, the voting is by papers and rating or ownership of up to £50, one vote; between £50 and £100, two votes; between £100 and £150, three votes; between £150 and £200, four votes; between £200 and £250, five; and above £250, six votes. Ownership and bona fide occupation by same owner give a right to vote as both owner and occupier. But owners must deliver to the summoning officer a statement of their claim to vote 14 days before the day of tendering the vote.
Settlement of Boundaries. Places not having a known or defined boundary may set out one in a petition to one of Her Majesty’s principal Secretaries of State, signed by one-tenth of the ratepayers within the boundary so set out. The Secretary of State may settle the boundary on such petition, and the owners and ratepayers within the boundary so settled may then proceed as aforesaid.
Appeal against Adoption. One twentieth of the owners and ratepayers in number or value, may, within 21 days from the passing of a resolution for the adoption of the Act, petition the Secretary of State for the exclusion from the operation of the whole or part of any place where such resolution has been passed as aforesaid, and the Secretary of State may make order on such petition. Any owner or ratepayer who disputes the validity of the vote of adoption, may, within 14 days, appeal against such adoption to the Secretary of State. When the Act is adopted notice is to be given to the Secretary of State by the person who summoned the meeting, and a copy of the notice is to be published for 3 weeks in a newspaper circulated in the district, and affixed on the places used to affix public notices. The act is to be in force at the end of two months after its adoption; or, in the event of an appeal, from the time appointed in the order made by the Secretary of State. But powers under the Act for purposes already provided for by local Acts do not come into force until the local acts have been dealt with by provisional order as hereinafter described.
Constitution of Local Boards. The Act is to be carried into execution by local boards, such local boards will be in Corporate boroughs, the Town Council; in other places the elected Improvement Commissioners, where such Commissioners exist; and where they do not, Local Board qualified as described in the Act, and elected by owners and ratepayers, by voting papers according to the scale of voting already described (which is the Public Health Act 1848). The Secretary of State may divide districts into wards for the election of local boards when petitioned on resolution of owners and ratepayers. Adjoining districts may unite on such conditions as their local boards may determine upon, with the sanction of one of Her Majesty’s Secretaries of State. Local boards may, with the consent of adjacent local boards, or of the owners and ratepayers of adjacent places, execute in adjacent districts or places all the works they are empowered to execute in their own district on such terms as may be agreed upon by them with the adjacent local board or adjacent local authority for purposes of the Nuisances Removal Act of 1835.
Powers of Local Boards. Local Boards will have all the powers of local boards of health, under the Public Health Act of 1848, as modified or altered by the Local Government Act, with the additional powers of the Local Government Act. These include those relating to sewage, drainage, lighting and water supply, scavenging and cleansing; for the regulation of new streets and roads, the laying out of new streets and widening and improving old ones; powers given by the Towns Police Clauses Act with respect to obstructions; to dangerous and ruinous buildings; to precautions to the construction and repairs of sewers, streets and houses; to the supply of water; to the prevention of smoke, subject to the qualifications in the cases of certain enumerated processes; to slaughter houses and docks; powers for the provisions and management of public pleasure grounds. If the Baths and Wash-houses Act be adopted, or if the Burials Act be in force for part of a district, the Local Board may, with the consent of the vestry, be the commissioners for the baths and wash-houses or the burial board, respectively. With consent of the owners and ratepayers, the local board may provide new markets. The adoption of this Act supersedes the Watching and Lighting Act.
Expenses of Executing the Act. In execution of their powers the local board may rate their district and may, for permanent works, mortgage their rates, with the sanction of the Secretary of State for thirty years, and to the amount of one year’s assessable value of the district. When they wish to raise more than this amount, up to two years’ assessive value, they must obtain powers by provisional order, as hereinafter stated.
Powers for the Purchase of Land. The Local Board may, by provisional order, exercise the powers of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act, for the compulsory purchase of lands required for the purposes of this Act after full notice to all parties interested and local enquiry, as prescribed in the Act.
Rights Preserved. Existing water and other rights are guarded by saving clauses.
Audit. The accounts of local boards are subject to audit: in boroughs by the borough auditors, and in other places by the nearest poor-law auditor, who has the same powers of allowance, dis-allowance and surcharge as he has in the case of poor-law accounts, subject to appeal to one of Her Majesty’s Secretaries of State or to the Queen’s Bench by certiorari.
Provisional Orders. When a local board wishes to provide for the future execution, repeal or alteration of public local Acts, for the alteration of provisional orders or orders in council, or of Acts confirming provisional orders or of provisions conferring exemption from local rating, or when a local board or a majority of the owners and ratepayers of any place maintaining its own roads or its own poor, adjacent to any district, are anxious to incorporate the place with the district, or where the majority of the owners and ratepayers in any part of a district are desirous that the part be separated from the district, or where the local board wish to take land compulsorily, or to borrow more than one year’s assessable value of their district, they may petition to the Secretary of State, who may therefore direct local enquiry, and on such enquiry prepare a provisional order, to be confirmed by a public and general Act of Parliament. Petitioners against such orders may be heard before select committees, as in the case of private bills. But when the order provides for incorporation with a district of any place as herein described, the consent of the local board and of the place which it is proposed to incorporate must be obtained before any steps can be taken for confirmation of the provisional order. The local board will, also, within their district, be the local authority for the execution of the Nuisances Removal Act, 1855, the Burial Acts, and the Common Lodging Houses Acts. – By order of Her Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for the Home Department. (Signed) T. Taylor. (Digests of the Hastings Commissioners’ local Act and the St. Leonards Commissioners’ local Act will be found in vol. 1 “Local History”.)
Miscellaneous Under the superintendence of F. North, Esq., on the 8th of April, an excavation was made on the West Hill in front of the Castle for the discovery of coins or other antiquities, but only one ancient coin was found, the date etc. not being then revealed. A beautiful specimen of the Hoopoe – a bird common in Egypt, but a great rarity in England – was shot at Hastings on the 8th of May. Mr. W. M. Eldridge obtained a license for the “New England Tavern”, St. Leonards, for Mr. Porter of Stepney; and on April 3rd, the license of the Tivoli Tavern was transferred from J.W. Smith to James Barnett. For legalising marriage with a deceased wife’s sister, a petition to Parliament was presented by P.F. Robertson. The license of the Globe Inn was transferred from J.G. Beaton to J. W. Mitchell. The Castle Club had its annual excursion – this time to Hawkhurst – on the 30th of June and dined at the Queens Hotel. Messrs. Rock’s workmen and friends (nearly 70) were, on June 29th, treated to a day at the Crystal Palace. The total of Union-house outdoor and indoor reliefees in June was 889. The lifeboat was launched for exercise on July 6th, and was witnessed by a great crowd of people. Mr H. Thwaites’s annual show of 52 killed and dressed lambs took place in his shop at Commercial Road on the 24th of July. St. Mary’s school treat to 170 boys and 220 girls was given in and out of the schoolroom on the 30th of July. The question as to right of way at the back of Mount Pleasant, which was the subject of an action at the Sussex Assizes, was again opened. Mr. Wyatt having again enclosed it, several waggons belonging to famers and others forcibly opened the way. (Much more concerning this road will be found on pages 170 to 177) The Aztec Lilliputians attracted crowds of sightseers in the Market Hall for several days. Although the smallest type of humanity in the world, they were well formed and had been trained to play the piano, dance polkas, speak English, etc. Their facial lineaments would not indicate a high degree of intelligence, yet they were pleasing to the eye. An Earthman and Corana from South Africa also accompanied the exhibition. In their native region they were said to burrow under the earth, and had no language. Waterlow and Sons’ printing staff came to Hastings on July 4th for a two days’ holiday, it being their 5th annual visit, and proved by their rollicking noise that they were odd fellows in more ways than one. 500 excursionists from Reading came to Hastings on June 20th; and on the next day came a large party from the South Coast Railway works. The autumn season at Hastings and St. Leonards began briskly, with every indication of “a good time coming”. The autumn poor-rates were for the Castle parish 4d., Trinity, 4d., All Saints’, 4d., and St. Clement’s 10d. The preceding rate for All Saints was also 10d, and the vestry suggested a Mayor’s meeting to petition for an equalisation of the poor-rates. The Castle parish had a poor-rate of 2d. only for its outbounds, and Fairlight had a 10d. rate.
The St. Leonards Commissioners
At the Commissioners’ meeting of March 25th, the committee reported that the fire-engine had been exercised and found to be in good order. It was suggested that the subject of the Fire Brigade be taken into consideration at every quarterly meeting. Mitchell’s tender for ashes, £18, was again accepted. Half a year’s interest, £272, less income tax, had been paid to the Royal Exchange Corporation. Bills to be paid were £22 to Mr. Decimus Burton, balance of cost of drain proposed to be put in by him, the total cost being £60.16s., and £10.2s.8d having been paid by the late Dr. Harwood, as per minutes of Sept. 30th,1850. Brick footpath at back of 57 to 64 Marina to be repaired, and a new iron drain pipe at a cost of £16, to be put down opposite to 57 Marina. York-stone pavement to be put down before No. 1 Mercatoria, by Mr. Burton paying half the cost. The out-let pipe, three feet west of the western extremity of the sea-wall to be repaired, the said pipe having been damaged by the “Perseverence” sloop on the 26th of February, and notice to be given to ship-owners of the existence of such pipe. A Liberal Offer from Mr. Decimus Burton at the meeting on June 28th was to the effect that as the road and footpath on Maze Hill, leading to the North Lodge was in a bad state, he would contribute 50 guineas towards the expense of stoning the road and re-graveling the footpath. The offer was accepted, and a vote of thanks passed to Mr. Burton for so liberal an offer. On account of Mr. Painter’s long service and advanced age, it was recommended that someone be appointed to assist him in his now increased duties. It was therefore resolved that Mr. Joseph Yarroll be appointed assistant-collector, and that Mr. Painter allow £10 per annum out of his commission; also that Yarroll enter into a bond of £200 and find four securities of £50 each. The said securities were offered by H.M. Wagner, Esq., Arthur Ogle, Esq., Mr. Newton Parks and W.B. Young. Other Recommendations of the Committee were adopted as follows: That the rating of 1, St Clement’s Place be reduced from £30 to £25; that the salt-water well be lowered 5 feet and pump lengthened to correspond; that tradesmens trucks and baskets be removed from the front of South Colonnade; that the sea-wall be repaired at the cost of £5; that the pavement near the East Archway be relaid; that brick pavement east of 48 Marina be repaired; that Mr. Young write to the Local Board of Health, stating that the expense incurred in laying down the sewer to Quarry-hill Road to meet the requirement of the Local Board in the drainage of property out of the Commissioners’ district amounted to £23.15s., and that the Commissioners would allow the Local Board to make use of the sewer on paying two-thirds of the expense and the Commissioners’ annual rate; that Mr. Gant’s offer be accepted to complete the map of St. Leonards for £7, in addition to making a tracing of the whole previously arranged for, altogether £10. Withdrawal of Letter. Mr. Young reported that he had had an interview with the Clerk of the Local Board since his letter was sent, and was authorised to withdraw the letter. At the September meeting the business transacted was to pay Mr. Willard £58 for ironmongery, and Hughes and Hunter £83 for paving at the Library and at Maze Hill; to pay £149.12s.6d. for one year’s gas; to order 100 yards of stone for Maze-hill road; and to order the parapet wall at Mount Pleasant to be reduced at an expense of £7. Commissioners present at the December meeting were Sir Woodbine Parish, A. Burton, Esq., J.H. Cancellor, Esq., G.H.M. Wagner, Esq., Thos. Hunt, Esq., Arthur Burton, Esq. and Mr. John Carey. Gully gratings were ordered to be put in by the owners of land about the Archery Ground to prevent water running from the local Board district into the town. Mr. A. Burton promised to put one down on his part of the ground, and Mr. Laing also promised to put one down on behalf of the local Board of Health. Mr. Young’s salary was to be increased to £50 per. an., his services for the past 8 years having been so liberally and faithfully rendered for £30. John Gammon was appointed parade-keeper in place of Henry Phillips, who was disabled by illness. The half-yearly Improvement rate at a shilling, was ordered to be levied, as usual. No more boulders to be taken from the sea-front by Mr. Rodda, not by anyone else, except by payment of 2/6d per waggon-load and 1s. per cart-load. Sussex House, kept by Ballard, to be assessed at £180, and Sussex Place, also tenanted by Ballard, to be rated at £40. Weststowe House Stables to be rated at £20 until the road had been taken and properly made by the Commissioners. Dr. Toulmin’s house, 10 Undercliff, to be rated at £45. Garden Ground attached to Upland Villas, nos. 1 to 5, to be rated at £4 each, and no. 6 at £10. Chas. Hall and Hy. French’s houses (19 and 23 East Ascent) to be assessed at £35 each. Waterworks Bill. The Clerk reported that according to the opinion of the Commissioners expressed at the meeting on the 5th of December he had returned “Dissentient” to the notice served on him by the promoters of a Bill in Parliament for taking powers within the St. Leonards Commissioners’ jurisdiction for the purpose of water works, and he now produced a printed copy of the Act by the promoters, by which it appeared that the parties named as constituting the company were John Banks, John Bishop, Charles Clark, Walter Pell Errington and George Medhurst. It was resolved that the Commissioners do ratify such return of “Dissent” and that Sir Woodbine Parish, Mr. Burton, Mr. Hunt, Mr. Cancellor and Mr. Carey be appointed a committee to recommend to the Commissioners what steps and when to take in reference to the proposed Bill, and that the Clerk be authorised to communicate with a Parliamentary Agent, and to instruct such agent to report from time to time the progress of the Bill, and advise with such agent thereon.
Vestry Meetings – St. Leonards parish At the meeting of the 29th of March, the overseers nominated were John Peerless, William Hatchman, Emile Grosslob and John Starkie. The Assistant-overseer was William Payne. The Vestry Clerk was John Phillips. The assessors for the Boro’ part were Joseph Yarroll and John Carey; and for the County part, Richard Lamb and John Eldridge. The Surveyors of Highways were William Draper and William Payne. Resolved that the tender of John and Chas. Laing be accepted to map the parish at 4d. per acre, inbounds, and 5d., outbounds; and a duplicate of the maps at 2d. per acre. Eleven parishioners attended the meeting. A sixpenny rate for the Boro’ part was figured at the vestry meeting on April 9th, as the only business. A poor-rate for the whole parish at 6d., and a highway rate at 3d. was agreed upon at the October meeting. It was also Resolved that the surveyors take the West-hill extension under their management.
St. Mary Magdalen parish A poor-rate at 6d. was the only business transacted at the meeting of January 20th, by the two overseers (Messrs. John Henwood and J.B. Brett) and seven other persons. The meeting was held at the Warriors’ Gate inn, J.H. Job being chairman. The Vestry meeting on March 25th was held at the Albert Tavern, with Jos. Boston as chairman. The persons named for overseers were John Howell, Chas. Hollebone, Geo. Cuthbert, Wm Callaway and Robt. Hempsted. The assessors for property and income were J Yarroll and C. N. Levett. The Vestry clerk was W.P. Beecham, jun. A poor-rate at 6d.was agreed to at the meeting held at the Norman hotel on Aug. 11th, the parishioners present being the overseers (John Howell and Chas. Hollebone) and 5 other persons.
The Mechanics’ Institution At the February quarterly meeting the committee was able to show a more encouraging report, there being 30 additional members, thus bringing the number up to 139. The cash balance due to the Treasurer was about the same, but the outstanding liabilities had been reduced from £15 to about £11. A reading had been given by the Rev. J. A. Hatchard, producing a profit of 47s/6, and a musical entertainment by Messrs. John Skinner, F. Thomson, Baldwin and others, yielding profit of £3 10s. 6d. The Rev. J. H. Blake had delivered a lecture on “Scenes in Foreign Lands” and Mr. Banks had delivered one on Electricity. At the May quarterly meeting the Report showed the Institution to be much the same, both in the number of members and the financial position. The Rev. J.A Hatchland had presented 24 volumes of valuable books, and J. Rock, jun. had presented Mr. Laing’s new map of the borough. The following lectures had also been gratuitously delivered: “Printed Books” by the Rev. W.T. Marsh; “The Rise and Progress of the British Navy” by Mr. Cheal; the “Literary History of the Bible” by the Rev. J. H. Blake; and “Public Speaking” by J. Inwards, Esq. The August General meeting showed the financial condition to be pretty much the same as at the preceding meeting, notwithstanding a diminished number of members, which was always the case during the summer. The number fewer in this instance was 13. At the Annual meeting on the 24th of November, the committee reported an increase of 6 members and a balance due to the Treasurer of £16 10s. After a period of two years, the annual soiree had been renewed, but the weather on that occasion was so extremely boisterous and rainy, that although about 150 persons were present, many others were thus prevented, and there was a loss of £2 13s.9d. To make good this loss, however, G. Scrivens, Esq. of Hastings gave a guinea, and Messrs. J.S. Cooper and R. Coleman of St. Leonards, contributed £1 each. In consequence of Mr. Nabbs relinquishing the charge of the premises, the committee had decided to let the upper part of the house, the rent of which, with some contemplated curtailment of expenses, it was thought would meet the mortgage interest of £6 per quarter. The Institution would retain the whole of the ground floor, a portion of which would serve for committees and classes, by means of folding doors. Alfred Burton, Esq., was re-elected president for the following year, and the vice-presidents elected were the Rev. A. Hatchard, G.H.M. Wagner, Esq., H. Selmes, Esq., J. Rock, jun., Esq., and Messrs. S. Putland, W.G. Stoneman, R.F. Davis, B. Bickle and W. Hatchman. Mr. T. B. Brett was re-elected treasurer. Mr. S. Putland, jun. and Mr J. Davis were elected secretaries; and Messrs. Gibson and Hatchman auditors.
Archery Meetings The first meeting of the season was held on Her Majesty’s birthday anniversary and in the proverbial Queen’s weather. It was the 27th year of the Society, and the President, P.F. Robertson, Esq., presented some valuable prizes. The winners were Mdelle D. Szeliski, Mr. Norris and the Rev. W. Parish. At the second meeting prizes were awarded to Miss Brown and Mr. George Gipps. The date was June 25th. The Grand Annual Meeting, on the 17th August, was attended by about 500 persons. The competitors who secured prizes were Miss Bramley, Dr. Drozier, Miss Bartleet, Miss Trower, Mr. Burrard, Miss H. Willan and Mr. Maitland. At the meeting on Sept. 3rd, prizes were won by Miss Ellen Macgregor, Dr. Drozier, Miss Trower, Mr. Norris and Miss Wood. A bye meeting was held on the 10th of Sept., to shoot for prizes presented by Claude Norris, Esq. The winners were Miss Brown, Miss Parish and Miss Julia Brown. The last meeting of the season took place on the 1st of October, when prizes were carried off by Miss Brown, Mr. Norris, Miss Pennethorne and Miss Julia Brown.
Horticultural Society The first exhibition of the year was held in the Subscription Garden, kindly lent, as usual, by Mr. Burton. Kluckner’s Band was in attendance, but the show was not considered to be quite on an average of excellence. The date was June 16th.
Celestial and Atmospheric Phenomena An auroral display was witnesses at about midnight of February 23rd, by several persons at Hastings, St. Leonards, Pevensey and other places. The position in the firmament was north-west. A Magnificent Aurora was observed on the 21st of April, at from 8.30 till a little after 9 p.m. It extended from N.E. to N.W. At the lower part appeared the crown of a white arch, from which shot upwards bright rays of red and yellow, intermingled with streaks of white. The changes were very rapid and almost dazzling. By 10 o’clock all traces of it were lost; but another display occurred a few evenings later, of a less brilliant character. Another Curious Phenomenon. On the morning of the 19th of April, Mr. Edward Holt observed at 20 minutes past seven an illuminated column in the north-east heavens, of an upright form and advancing towards the sun. At half past seven it had reached the centre of the solar orb, the upper end being above and the lower end below. It was then due east and presented the appearance of a shepherd’s crook. After passing the sun it divided, and took a south-eastern direction, increasing in size, until forming a double curved line, it disappeared at a quarter to eight. Mr. Holt called the attention of several persons to this phenomenon, who said they had never seen anything like it before. Remarkable Atmospheric Changes and disastrous results. For several days prior to the 28th of October the daily press teemed with notices of the extremely rapid changes in the barometer and thermometer, and the remarkably immediate succession of frost, snow, hail, rain, lightning and thunder. Our own atmospheric variations exhibited quite as diversified circumstances as any observed elsewhere. We had, within three days, the same succession of frost, lightning, thunder, rain, hail and snow, a waterspout and a whirlwind, more snow and rain, and a hurricane in rapid succession. The first marked change in the weather was noticed on Friday morning, Oct. 21st, when a cold, nipping north wind prevailed, and the thermometer during the night on Fairlight Down registered 24 degs (8 degrees of frost), and in the morning stood at 28 degrees from the maximum of the preceding morning. The day was beautifully bright, but on Saturday morning, with a change of wind, with a hoar and hard frost. Another bright day followed, succeeded by a thunderstorm of three hours’ duration. On Saturday night, some of the Hastings fishing-boats were in a position of extreme danger, as being in close proximity of a large water-spout. Sunday morning came with pelting showers of rain and snow, the latter accumulating in a thick layer during the afternoon. Monday morning brought another rime frost, followed by heavy rain, hail and snow, and, at 3 p.m., a whirlwind which, at Caroline Place and Denmark Place, scattered some pleasure skiffs in different directions, one of them being blown over a capstan. The boats belonging to Richard Nash, Henry Curtis, George Dunn and others, were all more or less damaged. The wind also took up a large pool of water on the sands and carried it completely away. Lightning and thunder occurred again in the afternoon, and the wind twice boxed the compass. It was said that no such extraordinary vagaries had been witnessed since 1836. The gale on Tuesday night increased from the S.E. to hurricane strength, and its equal, it was thought, had not been experienced for at least 17 years. The sea in all directions was in a seething commotion. With the flow of the tide the water rolled in with irresistible force, and some time before high-water, the waves dashed over the parades, beach-embankments and every other barrier. The western ends of Pelham street and Harold-place, were submerged after ten o’clock, the water reaching within twenty feet the roadway at York Buildings. The Queen’s Hotel works were also inundated, and for three hours the houses at Caroline place, Beach Cottages, Denmark place and East parade were unapproachable. George street and West street were flooded by the water pouring through the several inlets from the front, and an indescribably grant sight presented itself in the mountainous waves which fell against and upon the whole range of the parade walls from the western end of St. Leonards to the East parade at Hastings. Any personal approach thereto was extremely dangerous, the shingle and pieces of rock conveyed by the waves bidding defiance to such an attempt. On some parts of the parades and roads the beach accumulated to a height of two or three feet. The basements of the West-Marina houses were flooded, and at the Colonnade one or two supper tables were cleared of their contents. At the eastern end of the old town there was great excitement and bustle in getting the fishing-boats to the highest point possible from the sea, whilst gangs of labourers were engaged in removing every portable article to places of safety. A deplorable state of ruin presented itself on Wednesday morning. Boats had been blown over and stove in, the works for the new drain at East parade had been much damaged, the parade walls at Stratford-place and Eversfield-place were broken down, hoardings and fences blown over, and chimney-stacks displaced. The unsightly hoarding at the Convent was levelled to the ground, and the Ecclesbourne Coastguard station was no longer tenantable. The Pett Levels were inundated, and the families at 36 Martello Tower had to be taken away in carts. The sluice at Bopeep was also overrun, the embankment leading to 39 Tower broken down, and communication cut off. Also at Bopeep, the family living in a little cottage on the land side of the haven had to be taken off by means of a boat, and a loss sustained by the drowning of their pigs. Two vessels were wrecked eastward of Rye, and somewhere near Pevensey, the sea flooded the sluice stream in such a manner as to break down about 300 yards of the South-coast railway. But the greatest calamity of that memorable gale was the wreck of the Royal Charter at Bangor and the loss of more than 400 persons. A severe Gale and High-tide also visited Hastings and St. Leonards on the 23rd of January of the same year. It occurred, as many others have done on a Sunday. Many persons were blown down at St. Leonards, whilst at Hastings, the streets in the vicinity of East parade and the Fishmarket were impassable. Fishing-boats and ferry-boats were drawn up into the pathways and inlets, and the Jane, a dandy-rigged vessel, belonging to the Messrs. Kent of Hastings, was driven ashore at Romney. Other Maritime Casualties. Another of the Messrs. Kent’s vessels – a collier, named the “William”, having been detained several days by adverse winds, collided, on the 4th of February with the “Rock Scorpion” off St. Leonards, breaking her jibboom and tearing her mainsail. The Peseverence, also a collier, while getting off at St. Leonards, after discharging her cargo, broke her hawser, and was driven broadside onto the beach, but sustained comparatively slight damage. This was on the 30th of January, just a week after the severe gale. Four Men Drowned. On the 17th of January, five men having been sent off from the coastguard station at Pevensey with condemned stores to the tender Active, returned for the shore in broken water, and were drowned through the capsizing of the boat, all except one, who was heroically saved with great difficulty by Lieut. Mansel, who stripped and waded a quarter of a mile in the surf. The bodies of three of the men were afterwards recovered, and were interred in the churchyard at Little Common. The remains of the fourth man, some weeks later, were found by a shrimper at Hastings. The name of the unfortunate man was William Brickell and, curious to say he was born at the Hastings Coastguard station opposite to where the body was found, his father at the time of the accident being chief-boatman at the Bridport station in Dorsetshire. The Perseverence was another vessel which got stranded in St. Leonards in the same manner as the one above. This was a vessel belonging to the Messrs. Hoad, of Rye, and on the 26th of March, after discharging 50 tons of coal at the West Marina for Mr. John Austin, the wind freshened, and after heaving off the vessel, the hawser snapped, as in the previous case, and the rudder got unshipped. The sloop was then carried broadside on to the beach, and her arboard side broke away. About ten tons of coal still left in the hold washed along the beach. The crew were saved, but not their clothes.
References & Notes
- This refers to West Hill Road not the public space known as the West Hill - editor
Transcribed by Jenny Pain