Brett Volume 10: Chapter LXVIII - Hastings 1862
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Chapter LXVIII Hastings 1862
Accidents and Fatalities (pg. 1)
Town Council meetings (The harbour contention)
Town council Transactions
Concerts-and Public Entertainments – Special Dinners, Suppers, etc.
The Lancashire Distress (For the relief of Lancashire)
The Local Collections
Schools and School Treats
A new Ragged School Building proposed
The Ragged School
The Ragged School Bazaar
The Drowning of Nine Fishermen
The Fishery Vicissitudes
"Sympathy for the Afflicted”
The Autumn Flower Show
Hastings at the Exhibition
Sudden deaths and Inquests
Lectures at Hastings – “The Millennial Rest" by Rev. Dr. Cumming
Dr. Cumming's Lectures
Lectures at Hastings
The Town Council not what it ought to be
Our Volunteer Soldiers
The Regatta and other events
The Queens Hotel
Hastings Mechanics' Institution.
[ 1 ]
Accidents and Fatalities
A child killed On the 29th of December (1861), Robert Kent, a child about 7 years of age was seen to have fallen upon him a pole from a timber-tug, just by the Watch-house Bank, and when picked up, he neither cried or spoke. A surgeon was quickly in attendance, but the child died within quite a short time.
Smash and Death. The loss of a pony and the smashing of a plate-glass front was the result of an accident which occurred on Friday, Feb. 28th, in George street. A runaway pony, together with a cart, belonging to a young man of the name of Barnes, got into contact with a shop front lately in the occupation of Mr. John Bevins, whereby the glass and several articles in the window were broken, and the animal so seriously injured as render it necessary to deprive it of life. The damage and loss was estimated at about £40.
A Serious Accident occurred to John Rollinson, a carter to Mr. Neve, of Ore, on the 15th of March. He had mounted a horse's back, side-saddle fashion, and when near Salter's Lane, fell backwards upon his head. He was removed to a house in a senseless state. He was afterwards conveyed to his home, and ultimately recovered.
Another Pony and Cart Accident. On Tuesday, March 18th, 1933-1935a pony took fright in Eversfield place, and ran towards Claremont at a rapid pace. Its career was stopped by the contact of the vehicle to which is was attached to a house in Trinity street. The gentleman in charge was thrown out, but was comparatively unhurt, whilst his carriage was smashed and the pony greatly injured.
A Gentleman named Ware, on the evening of March 24th, had a serious fall, on leaving the Music Hall, after Mr. Butler's reading, which rendered him for a time unconscious. He was immediately attended by Mr. J. C. Savery, but his advanced age and shock to the system were likely to retard his recovery.
Fortunate Escapes.-On the 24th of April, some lady-visitors were being conveyed in a hired carriage to Hollington, when the fore part of the vehicle separated from the other portion, but the ladies were more frightened than hurt. On the 26th, two days later, as a gentleman's carriage was descending the Old London road, near Halton House, the horse ran away, and getting in contact with another carriage, both vehicles were upset and broken; yet, strange to say, although there were eleven persons in and upon the two carriages, no one was seriously hurt. Another two days passed, when a horse-truck laden with timber, was drawn at a rapid pace by a run-a-way animal down High street, through the Fishmarket (dispersing a crowd of fighting men) and up through Bourn street, where, at length, the horse was stopped without having sustained any damage.
The Evil Effects of Drink were exhibited on the 9th of May, when a young man, while walking through Robertson street, was accosted by another young man who had just emerged in a state of intoxication from a public house. Some scuffling took place, and the drunken man fell backwards, his head coming in contact with the pavement with sufficient force to cause an immense hemorrhage(sic).[ 2 ]The poor fellow was taken to the Infirmary where he continued for a considerable time in a precarious and almost hopeless state.
Fatal Accident On the 24th of June, a man of the name of Burt, while assisting in gathering up the last load of hay on the West Hill, was thrown off the waggon by a sudden movement of the horse. A serious injury was inflicted on the head and spine of the unfortunate man, who was taken to the Infirmary, but died on the following day.
A Gun Accident of a serious nature occurred at Battle on the evening of the 11th of July, by which an alarming injury was inflicted on a little girl, 8 years of age. The child thus injured was the daughter of Mr. T. S. Hide, assistant Town Clerk of Hastings. A son of Mr. Matthis, about 7 years of age, having been enquired for the little girl bounded out of the room, saying "I'll find Freddy for you" and immediately encountered the charge of a gun by the undesigning "Freddy", who it was supposed had taken up the weapon from some place, where an older member had inadvertently left it. On rushing to the spot, Mr. Mathis found the poor child on the ground with her neck, chest and face blackened with powder and covered with blood. The cuticle of the face had been penetrated by the grains of powder and on the left side of the neck were two frightful wounds of almost a finger's length. Two Battle surgeons were quickly in attendance, and soon after another surgeon from Hastings, together with the child's father appeared on the scene. The child's sufferings were great, and for two or three days, her life was despaired of.
Numerous Accidents occurred during the week which ended on the 23rd of August. Besides the case of poor Hilder, the flyman, described in the preceding chapter, there were the following:- A gentleman fractured a leg by slipping down a bank at the Dripping Well. A carter of the name of Horace Quaife, whilst endeavouring to stop a run-away horse, was thrown down, and so much injured, that he afterwards died in the Infirmary. Mr. Sparks, of Mercatoria, was seriously injured by falling from a window, and a lad named Page, fell out of a boat off Hastings, and was rescued from drowning by two fishermen.
Horse Accidents would make up a tolerably long catalogue of casualties during a year; yet, are they thought but little of in comparison of railway accidents. Two of such casualties are described above, one of them having proved fatal to human life. Three others took place within a few days afterwards. A horse belonging to Mr. West, received a fright in Havelock road on the 27th of August, and after galloping at full speed into Castle street, overturned the van to which it was harnessed, and caused considerable damage to both the van and a carriage with which it collided. The latter having been changed by the owner for another, the substituted carriage was also run away with by the horse to which it was attached. The third horse accident was of a more serious character, but as occurring in St. Leonards, is [ 3 ]described in the preceding chapter (Vol. 9).
Guestling Fatalities In the second or third week of September, Edward Woodhams, a youth of 14 years, was accidentally injured by a cart-wheel, and died in consequence. The accident occurred at Guestling, where, also a huckster, named Harry Roberts died through the upsetting of a cart.
Julia Brazier, a girl of two years living at Waterloo Passage, Hastings, caught fire through her crinoline while lacing up her brother's boots, and was so burnt that she died on the following day.
Two Horses, going in different directions on Monday, the 6th of October, carried each a lady more swift that was their duty, the consequence of which was that one of the fair equestrians was thrown and considerably hurt.
Mr. Anthony Bishop, a Hastings gentleman, living at Guestling was thrown out of his chaise through a collision in High street, with a four-horse waggon, carelessly driven. Mr. Bishop was injured and his chaise was damaged. This occurred on Monday, October 20th.
A Novel Jubilee
On the 22nd of June, Mr. John Brice, a well-known denizen of Hastings completed his 50th yar of servitude as butler to Mrs. Bruce, of Wellington square, and on the following (Monday) morning, the bells of St. Clement's church rang out a merry peal in celebration of the event.
The new coinage, to the extent of £50, in exchange for the old copper pence and halfpence was obtained at the Custom House on Monday, the 10th of February. The supply of the new money being somewhat limited, it was announced that the money-changer would be in attendance only twice a week, instead of thrice, as first intended.
On Sunday, July 20th, a bottle, containing a leaf, apparently torn from a pocket-book was picked up on the Hastings beach by a fish-monger of the name of Jennings. The leaf had a printed date, Sept. 9th, 1861, and upon it was written..."I am Ann Hook, who threw this bottle in the sea, in hopes of it being found sooner or later. I did it when I was in trouble and my body is in the briny ocean."
Union House Matters
At their meeting, on July 10th, the Board of Guardians, received a communication from the poor law Board, authorising the election of an additional guardian for the parish of St. Mary Magdalen; thus in compliance with the request of the parishioners at a vestry meeting f March-20th, and as against the opposition of the guardians of some of the other parishes.
At the same meeting was received a sanction for the erection of sick and fever Wards agreeably to plan, and an intimation that the poor law Inspector, in his recent visit had found the Union house kept in a satisfactory [ 4 ]state. Another associative item is that the Union-house girls, accompanied by their matron and school-mistress, were treated to an excursion to Icklesham and Winchelsea, refreshments being amply provided for them.
Town Council Meetings
Police Matters. At the Council's first meeting of the year (Jan. 3rd), a communication was received from Sir George Grey, the Secretary of State certifying the efficiency of the Police force.
A New Station. At the May monthly meeting, Mr. Gausden said it was nearly a year since the necessity of a police station in the western part of the borough was brought under notice by the Government Inspector, and it was eight months since an order was made that the ground should be purchased from Mr. Burton. The whole expense, putting the estimate of land and building together would require only a twopenny rate, and he would move that the Surveyor be instructed to get out plans, sections and estimates for the new police stations. Coun. Bromley questioned if the same neccessity existed as when the Council passed the vote. His own impresion was that the borough was going on remarkably well, and when he heard so much about the efficiency of the police and the absence of business at the Quarter Sessions, it appeared to him that there was no necessity for going into the proposed expense. The Town Clerk remrked that when the Government Inspector was here, he asked how soon the west police station was going to be built, and wanted to know the cause of delay, as he had reported to the Government that such was wanted, and that the Council were about to build it. Coun. Putland observed that the whole subject had been gone into at the Council meeting when it was discussed, and he thought that they were fully convinced that from the increasing population and value of property westward there was really want of a police station there. Coun. Howell said that even if the new station were useless, it must be had if only on account of the opposition to the town having more central offices and a more central police station. While members of the Council insisted on the business being conducted at the extreme end of the town they must expect a waste of the ratepayer's money. Coun. Gausden was sorry Mr. Bromley had questioned the necessity of the building, and submitted that gentlemen residing in the west were the best judges of the wants of the west. It was not likely they would ask the borough to spend £900, two-thirds of which the West Ward would have to pay, unless they were thoroughly convinced there was a necessity for it. The Mayor observed that, as a magistrate, he could bear witness to how much the new station was wanted. Ald. Ticehurst could also offer similar testimony. Mr. Gausden's motion was carried by 9 to 5.
Alteration of Gaol. At the same meeting (May 2nd), an alteration of the old gaol, according to plans drawn by the Surveyor, received the attention of the Council, and, upon the motion of Mr. Winter, seconded by Mr. Bromley it was re[ 5 ]solved to apply to the Secretary of State for permission to carry out the plan, so that the gaol (then only used as a lockup) might be again used for the detention of prisoners, whereby a saving of from two to three hundred pounds a year might be effected.The Harbour Question was discussed at the January meeting, and somewhat warmly. The Clerk intimated that although it was a private matter, promoted by those who signed the memorial to the Board of Trade, he thought the Council might wish to appoint a committee to watch the proceedings in the interest of the town. The schedule of tolls had been advertised, and it there were any objections to the provisional order, they must be made before the 31st of January. His own name appeared as solicitor to the promoters, but if it was thought he could not thus act and be their solicitor too, he would withdraw. Messrs. Gausden, Poole and Bromley expressed themselves opposed to the project; but Mr. Putland was in favour of the schoeme, and said he looked upon it as likely to keep up the trade in the old part of Hastings. Messrs. Duke and Vidler were also in favour of the project. Ultimately, on the motion of Mr. Gausden, a committee was appointed, consisting of Messrs Jenner, Clement, How, Duke, Picknell, Gausden, Winter, Vidler and Neve. This committee met on the 14th, 17th and 20th of January, and at a special Council meeting on the 24th the committee recommended to forward in writing a statement bearing the Corporation seal the following suggested alterations:-
1st. - That no power be given to the company to levy tolls and dues until the works are made available as a Harbour.
2nd. - That in the 4th clause of the Order, being the "limits of the Order", the parish of St. Leonards be inserted with the other parishes.
3rd. - That in the 32nd clause, giving the company power to appoint meters and weighers. "Coal Meters" shall be excepted, as they now are, and always should be appointed by the Hastings Local Board.
In the schedule of Tolls, the Committee recommended the following alterations and additions:- Schedule i.- Instead of charging for every vessel using the harbour according to the respective burdens, a toll should be levied upon every vessel using the Pier or Harbour for refuge according to registered tonnage at 6d. per ton., and for every vessel loading or unloading, 9d per ton. That the toll for slates should be 6d per ton, instead of a toll at per thousand. - Coun. Winter proposed the adoption of the report, remarking that after what had taken place at the meeting last week, it would, he thought, be useless to repeat any argument in opposition to the scheme. It had been attempted to prove in committee that those arguments were sound, but they were overridden, and a [ 6 ]resolution was carried to the effect that the harbour would be a benefit to the town. It might be the last time he should oppose the scheme in his public capacity, although he should feel quite at liberty to oppose it as a private individual. He thought it had not been properly considered by the town. He had made a calculation to show what bases the proposed harbour had got as a paying speculation. Last year 272 vessels landed on our beach, having a registered tonnage of about 24,000 tons, and a burden of 31,000 tons. According to the average of 9d. per ton, that would realize £1,180. The next source of revenue was a duty on coals of 3d. per ton. He found that last year, only 28,000 tons of coal were landed on the beach, and a revenue of £350 would be obtained from that quantity. It left 3,000 tons unaccounted for, and that quantity would be made up by timber, stone and other articles which were subject to dues. Putting that at the same rate as the coals, it would realise £37 10., and the gross total would be about £1,570; and yet in clause 10 of the provisional order, there was power to raise upon the credit of the dues of the harbour a sum of £40,000 at 5 per cent. This interest, Coun. Winter endeavoured to show could not be realized either by the present or prospective amount of receipts. He then referred to Hastings as a fishing town in 1730, with 1,636 inhabitants and its then population of 23,000 as a fashionable watering place. But, supposing the harbour were constructed and the town became changed from a fashionable resort to a commercial port? Such had been the case at Southampton, where the value of the property in the fashionable part had decreased 30 per cent. If they considered the value of property in this town were depreciated even 25 per cent, what would be the effect of the owners? There was property in Pelham place and its neighbourhood expressly built for lodging-houses, and if the prognostications of those, who were opposed to the harbour were realised, the matter would be a most serious one to the owners of that property, for their interest would be entirely seized before the mortgage or the ground rent was affected. in 1821 the building of the large houses to which he alluded commenced, and from that time they might date the commencement of their prosperity; and therefore he would adjure the Council in its private capacity- for he thought it was out of their hands as a public body to consider the interest and welfare of the town, and endeavour to prevent anything injuring it. In conclusion, Mr. Winter thanked the meeting for the attention that had been given him and moved the adoption of the report. [Mr. Winter might have added that a thousand pounds had been subscribed by the owners of Pelham place and Pelham crescent for the removal of the ship-building premises on which is now the site of the Russian Gun ]. Coun. Gausden, in seconding the resolution, said he wished it to be distinctly understood that although the committee had adopted the report, other resolutions were brought forward; [ 7 ]but the gentlemen opposing the harbour felt themselves placed in a delicate position, and therefore had no wish to do what might be considered unfair and ungentlemanly towards the other members of the committee. It was the view of the committee that one clause should be struck out, because although Mr. Winter felt thy were bound to adhere to a resolution passed a short time since giving their moral support to the scheme, he had yet to learn what that moral support meant. He took it that they could give their moral support while they had no figures to show that it was a paying concern. It had been asserted that three fourths of the inhabitants were in favour of a harbour. It was much easier to make an assertion than to substantiate it; and upon such an important occasion he hoped that those who opposed the harbour would not rest on that statement.He was sure that if they were in a minority they would bow the the majority; but he would ask that they might have an opportunity of discussing the question out of doors. While on that part of the question he would allude to a memorial which he had to present from a great number of the ladies of Hastings [Laughter]. In the present day they heard a great deal about morality; and the ladies who presented the memorial had regarded the matter from a moral point of view. Although the ladies might be smiled at, he could say that those who signed the memorial were well known and highly respected inhabitants and who had very much favoured the town. After condemning the 34th clause of the provisional order, Mr. Gausden expressed his concurrence with Mr. Winter's views as to the injury the town was likely to sustain by the construction of a harbour. In the provisional order power was taken to construct the harbour, but there was nothing to compel the parties to keep it in a proper condition. He thought they should look very carefully at that clause; for, supposing that it was not a paying concern, Hastings would not allow the town to get into dilapidation, and would therefore have to pay to keep the harbour up.
Ald. Ginner observed that there were somethings connected with the scheme which appeared to him of a very novel character. In the first place, it had been very unseemly carried forward. They might say his judgment was a very harsh one, but no man had attempted to show that the harour, when built, would have any mercantile value. Mr. Winter had gone into that question and had shown that there could be no interest to the shareholders. He, himself, had a very important matter to bring before the meeting. It was a somewhat personal one, and he therefore wished to introduce it with the greatest delicacy. It was said that six of the gentlemen whose names appeared as promoters had no real interest in the affair and were mere myths. He would ask the Mayor [Mr. Ross] as one of the six gentlemen, whether he had any responsibility in [ 8 ]connection with the scheme? [The Mayor "I think that a most bold question, and I shall not think of answering it".] Mr. Ginner put the same question to Mr. Rook, who replied that it was a most improper question, and he should also decline to answer it. Ald. Ginner, continuing, said he thought that gentlemen who advocated new schemes generally put forth their names and announced that the work would cost so much, and that so many thousand shares had been taken up. And therefore, as those gentlemen would not answer his question, he concluded that the first six names - four Aldermen and two Councillors were myths, so far as the harbour was concerned. Ald Rock said he could not see what the names had to do with the question before the meeting, which was whether they should adopt the report of the Committee. In resuming, Ald. Ginner said he thought they were not all bound by that meeting. He remembered that at the meeting when Capt. Sleigh came down, a non-ratepayer seconded the motion in favour of a scheme which was as wild a one as could possibly be. That scheme was taken up by the same gentlemen whose names they saw before them; and he was very sorry that they should think fit to lend their names to two gentlemen who were strangers to them. He should take every opportunity to oppose the scheme both in his public and private capacity.
Coun. Vidler explained the grounds on which he advocated the harbour. He had a house in Eversfield place and two houses in St. Mary-in-the-Castle, and he was perfectly satisfied in his own mind that his property would not be injured by a harbour. It would benefit the parishes of St. Clement's and All Saints, and it would place those houses which Mr. Winter had spoken of in a much better situation. [Like Mr. Vidler, MR. Bromley had a house in Eversfield place, but unlike Mr. Vidler, he did not believe the town would be benefited by a harbour, and he would oppose it with all his might.] Coun. Picknell, as an old inhabitant, had always been in favour of a harbour. They had one of the finest fishing grounds, but three fourths of the boats were unable to put to sea in the winter-time, which would not be the case if they had a harbour. The coal vessels would also be protected, and coals would be half a crown cheaper. [As an "old inhabitant" (like the writer), Mr. Picknell should have known that the fishermen's difficulty during the winter gales was not so much getting to sea as the keeping at sea, and in which latter trouble a harbour would be of no assistance. He should also have recollected that coal vessels, with their freight from the north had been many times been kept back by adverse winds for several weeks in succession, and in which condition also a harbour could have afforded no relief.] Coun. Kenwood said he was one of those to whom Mr. Picknell had alluded as a piler up of bricks and mortar, and [ 9 ]he wanted to continue doing so; but he did not think a harbour would assist him. Seeing, however, influential names connected with the scheme, he would ask them if they thought it would pay? The Mayor said that question could not be gone into. Coun. Kenwood contended that he had a right to ask that question, as his vote might be influenced by the answer. He had, that day, come from London with a gentleman who told him that the harbour had ruined Dover by driving away its regular visitors, and that he was sure it would be an unfortunate thing for Hastings to have a harbour constructed. He (Mr. K.) should feel it his duty to oppose what he believed to be a mad scheme, and one which he believed was not intended to be carried by the originators themselves. It appeared to him to be brought forward to make office work (Hear, hear!). Ald. Rock said the question as to whether the harbour would be a paying concern was not for the consideration of the Council. [Yes, yes! No, no! and great confusion]. The subject had been discussed and the Council had agreed to give it its moral support. The promoters expected to receive that moral support; but he must say that the moral support of that Council was a strange thing [Laughter]. He could only say for himself that he did not intend it to be a mere myth in connection with the scheme. He hoped that it would be looked at as a matter of business; and if they did so, he thought they would be doing great service to the town. Coun. Putland also did not consider himself a myth in the matter. If the project was supported as he hoped it would be, he was prepared to run the risk whether there was any return or not. Whether it paid one per cent. or five per cent. could only concern the subscribers. Alluding to some remarks that were made at the public meeting, and after combatting some of the objections, Mr. Putland said he considered that when anything of so much importance as the present object was brought before that council there ought to be a most searching investigation; but he thought that the impertinent questions that had been put that day were beside the mark. [Some other members regarded Mr. Putland's last two sentences as anomalous and contradictory] Coun. Howell believed a harbour would benefit the town to more than three times its income. At present the freight of coals was 9s. at Hastings and only 7/- at Newhaven; and after making some other comparisons, concluded by saying that the scheme under consideration would benefit without doing harm, and therefore deserved the support of the town. - Coun. Bromley said he was determined to give all the opposition he could to a harbour; for, as an inhabitant of 20 years standing, he could say unhesitatingly that he believed nothing would inflict so great an injury even on the old town than a harbour. He denied that the expression of opinion at the public meeting [where many persons were non-ratepayers] could be taken [ 10 ]as the general opinion of the town. It was like what they sometimes observed at elections, where there was a large show of hands on one side and a majority on the other at the polling. He maintained that even if he did not spend one halfpenny upon the scheme, he had a perfect right to oppose it if he believed it would be a nuisance to the place, notwithstanding Mr. Putland's assertion that it only concerned the subscribers. Ald. Clement said it appeared that a great many persons were dissatisfied with the 34th clause, and he should be glad to see it erased; for he felt certain there would be no profit arising out of the scheme, but only a loss. - Coun. Winter replied to the remarks of previous speakers, and his motion being put to the vote was carried by 11 to 6 [A noticeable circumstance of this debate was that all the speakers were Liberals, and that although on most questions they voted together as one man, yet on this harbour proposal they were strongly opposed to each other. Mr. Kenwood, a successful builder was opposed to a harbour, whilst Mr. Howell, also a successful builder, was as strongly in favour of it, notwithstanding that he had also for an opponent, MR. Clement, who had many times supplied him with the "ways and means" for his commercial speculations, with probably mutual advantages. Mr. Vidler, who had a house in Eversfield place, was not afraid of the depreciation by the construction of a harbour, whilst Mr. Bromley, who had a house at the same place, was certain of a contrary effect. Mr. Putland, a coal merchant was a strenuous advocate of the harbour, and Mr. Ginner, also a coal merchant was a determined opponent of it. Messrs. Vidler, Ross, Howell and Picknell, whose personal and commercial interests lay in the western parishes, stated that their belief that the harbour would especially benefit the old parishes of St. Clement's and All Saints, whilst Messrs. Winter, Bromley and Ginner, whose residences and commercial interest lay in those parishes, were the most effective speakers against the project. There were some other peculiarities of the debate, one of which was that of the promoters voting, contrary to the Local Act, for a scheme in which they did not intend to be mere myths. But we must proceed.] The Town Clerk read a letter from Messrs. Manning and Walker applying for a lease of land, together with the rights of the Corporation thereon for 999 years whereon to construct a pier and harbour. - Ald. Ginner said he did not wish to be again called impertinent; but he presumed those gentlemen required the ground extending from the Pier Rocks to the East Groyne, and he should like to know if the Corporation Act gave them power to let it. The Town Clerk said they had only power to lease the Corporation land for a period of 30 years. If they wished to exceed that term they must apply to her Majesty's Commissioners. Ald Ginner the protested against the application being entertained, and said the promoters ought to proceed in a straight-forward way by getting an Act [ 11 ]of Parliament before they came to them for the land. Mr. Beecham, who attended on behalf of the applications, explained that the Board of Trade would not entertain their application unless before the 31st of the month they could show that they could acquire the necessary land. Mr. Powell moved that the promoters be informed that the Council would let the land at a fair rental, which motion being seconded by Coun. Picknell. Mr. Gausden, moved as an amendment that the application be defended till the next monthly meeting. This was seconded by Coun. Kenwood; but was lost by a majority of one. Coun. Gausden, then presented a petition against the harbour, numerously signed by ladies and stated that there would have been many more signatures, but for the shortness of time. Resolutions were passed that the memorial be entered on the minutes and advertised in all the local papers.
The latter was not done, the St. Leonards & Hastings Gazette, which (as shewn by its leading articles), laboured equally for the good of both towns, being in this instance, as in all others, unrecognised.
At the next meeting (Feby. 7th) a motion was made and carried that the promoters having agreed to the alterations proposed at the last meeting, the Council certify in writing under the common seals, that the objections offered by them, had been explained and ratified.
"To be or not to be; that is the question?" said the Town Crier, as he announced a proposed decision on the harbour question by the Town Council. Such an unusual proclamation naturally attracted a considerable number of persons to witness the proceedings of the municipal body on that occasion, and who, no doubt, were interested, if not amused by the animated session which then and there took place. The following is a condensed report:-
Coun. Gausden, having requested the Town Clerk to read over the resolutions passed at a previous meeting, said if he was right in his conception, the point on which he brought the subject forward affected the business and transactions of the Council, and therefore he wished to say that he had no intention of impugning the motives of The Mayor, the Town-Clerk, or any other official. He had to treat it as a matter of business, and as such he brought it before them. Mr. G. then, in a temperate address, entered his protest against the resolutions in question as being opposed to the spirit and letter of an Act of Parliament which he cited. In the course of that address, he observed that they all knew how necessary it wsa that resolutions passed at their meetings should be properly done. He took it that if any resolution was passed in that Council contrary to Act of Parliament, such resolution was passed illegally and could not be in force. The Act [ 12 ]of Parliament to which he referred was "The Municipal Act further Ammendment(sic) Act" 5 to 6 Vict.cap. 104, 10th of Aug, 1842. . . "And be it enacted that it shall not be lawful for any member of the Council of any borough to vote or take part in the discussion of any matter before the Council in which such member shall, directly or indirectly, by himself or his partner or partners, have any pecuniary interest". Mr. Gausden had reason to believe the Act was still in force, and therefore each resolution which had been passed and any discussion by those members of the Council who were interested in the scheme were illegal; he protested against any further act being done in the matter by the Council. He might have allowed it to go on till the house met on the subject, and, no doubt, parties could have taken a legal objection; but he had thought it only fair to bring it before the Council for them to discuss the matter. The Mayor (Mr. Ross) said that so far as he was concerned, rather than Mr. Gausden should carry out his plan he would give up office altogether. He was determined that he would not hold office, if by doing so, he placed an obstacle in the way of the harbour. Coun. Howell would assume those gentlemen who opposed what was carried at a town's meeting that if that was the course they intended to pursue, they would know what to do with them the next time they asked to be returned the Council. He should like to know whether they meant to accuse the six gentlemen of coming there with mercenary motives. If they meant to bring forward such accusations they should do it as the ought to do; he protested against the attempt to thwart the decision of a town meeting by a side wind. Coun. Kenwood reminded the Council that Mr. Gausden had brought the subject forward to give them time to consider it. Coun. Duke said there was no motion before the meeting. Coun. Gausden asked a question and was impetuously told by the Mayor that he had spoken since. Coun. Bromley contended for Mr. Gausden's right to ask a question or to give an explanation. Coun Picknell thought they had better proceed to the next business. Ald. Ginner, amidst the wildest confusion, expressed his desire to speak temperately on the subject, but, being interrupted by Coun. Putland, said he would conclude with a motion. He was not aware that there was such an important clause s that which hd been read, and he considered it to be a very serious matter for the Council. He regretted that the Town Clerk had not sufficiently read up the Municipal Act, so as to prevent an illegal course being adopted. Mr. Howell might call it a side wind or anything else he pleased, but there was a possitive(sic) clause in the Act of Parliament, and gentlemen who came there to carry out that Act must do so, and not simply act upon their own view. He would move that an explanation under the seal of that Council as to how the resolution was passed be sent to the Board of [ 13 ]Trade. Councillor Kenwood seconded. Coun. Howell said the project was progressing better than the objectors thought it would, and finding that they could not defeat it publicly, they endeavoured to do it by a side wind, and had raked up the Act of Parliament for that purpose. He hoped the Council would have the moral courage to sustain their former acts. [This speaker was not told by the Mayor that he had spoken before] Coun. Winter said there was something much larger at stake than the harbour question, howsoever important that might be; and if two or three gentlemen had done wrong, they ought to take kindly any effort intended to put them right, and cause them to act as the law directed. He did not think Mr. Gausden deserved the severe animadversions which Mr. Howell threw upon him. Coun. Gausden, in reply, said it was not the first time Mr. Howell had endeavoured to put him down by bullying [Hear, hear!], but he was one of the last men in the town to be put down in that way. He maintained that he had a perfect right to bring the subject forward, and as to the "side wind" accusation, he considered it an absurdity. Then as to the threat that some day, when he came before the town he should be thrown out of office, he was willing to stand up on his own acts, and if what he did was not satifactory to the town, he should also be willing that another person should be put in his place; but he was not going to be ruled by Mr. Howell. He came there to do his duty, and so long as he saw anything which he thought was not in accordance with the Act of Parliament, he should take an objection to it. Ald. Ticehurst observed that if they had done an illegal act, let them suffer for it, and let the town know who the gentlemen were who tried to upset the harbour project. The ladies, too had taken up the subject, and appeared to be afraid that the morality of the town was to suffer. He thought the ladies had better keep in their own places. Ald. Rock was sory that such an acrimonious discussion had taken place, and he must say that the manner in which Mr. Gausden had introduced it did not call for such a display. But, at the same time, it was the result of his act, and therefore, so far, it rested with him. Ald. Ginner presumed that those gentlemen who had already done what was considered to be an illegal act woud not seek to confirm that act by further illegality. [Hear, hear! and derisive laughter]. He merely wished to bring out the broad facts of the case. No doubt they would attempt to shield themselves by putting on two cloaks instead of one. As they urged him to bring forward a motion, he should test the Council upon the subject. Coun. Gausden again protested against the illegal voting of certain members, but they nevertheless persisted in voting against Mr. Ginner's motion, with a result of 11 against 9. This was followed by the exclamation of "Bravo, Rouse!" from Coun. Picknell, and loud cheers from the harbour promoters generally. [For a poetic effusion on this meeting [ 14 ]see "Wars of the Gods" pp. 169 to 173, Vol. 9
Purchase of a Rope Shop. A rope-shop having been purchased by the Town Clerk for £38, agreeably to the instructions of the Stonebeach Committee, for the purpose of widening the thoroughfare, the act was demurred to the January meeting by Coun. Wingfield, but approved by all the other members, and the Clerk's report adopted.
General District Rate. At the same meeting (Jan 3rd) a general district rate at 9d. in the £, to realize £3,300, was agreed to, and confirmed at the next meeting.
Borough Rate. At the meeting on the 7th of March, a Borough rate at four pence in the pound, to realize £1,754, was proposed and consented to.
Building Plans. At the January meeting the following plans were approved of:- Two houses in Church road for Mr. Picknell; four houses in Magdalen road for Mr. Wood; house and cottage in Priory street for Mr. Pollington; and six cottages in the Tackle Way for the Cottage Improvement Society. Alteration of the 28th Bye Law. At the February meeting, it was moved and carried, agreeably to the recommendation of the Committee, that the Board make application to the Secretary of State for his sanction in the 28th bye-law relative to the deposit of plans for new buildings, giving the Board discretionary powers as to the details to be given instead of it being compulsory as theretofore. Conditionally upon such sanction being obtained, approval was given to plans for three new houses at Spittleman's Down and 11 houses in Warrior square. At the May monthly meeting plans were approved for an Industrial and Invalid's Kitchen to be founded by F. Montgomerie, Esq., in Cross street; and for the premises of the London and County Bank, in Havelock road.
Lamps At the January meeting it was ordered that lamps be placed between Cross street and Norman-road east, and that the one at Norman hotel be removed so as to throw light into the street. At the February meeting it was resolved that the position of the lamp at Mr. Breet's corner at the bottom of High street be changed so as to give a light into John street; that the lamp in the middle of John street be shifted to the corner of Mr. Stace's blacksmith's shop and be provided with a reflector; that the lamp at the Royal Standard be raised 1 foot and inclined 6 feet farther out towards East Beach street; that the lamp at Prince Albert Inn have an iron pillar; and that a new lamp be placed 36 feet below the end of Trinity terrace on the opposite side of the road.
Drainage At the meeting in January, the drainage improvement in Warrior squre were postponed till the next meeting, a sub-committee in the mean time to visit the spot and make a report. The drainage at Upper Maze hil was referred back to the committee. Drainage contracts were accepted on May 2nd as follows:- Mr. Grisbrook's at 8s. 10d per yard, lined, for connecting the drains at Verulam place and White rock; Mr. Ashton's at £25 10s. for Magdalen road; and Mr. Andrews for extra work in London road [See also next page]
The Purchase of Ashes having been recommended by the Committee [ 15 ]to receive tenders for, it was resolved at the January meeting, on the motion of Coun. Gausden, to issue notice to that effect. It was calculated that there would result from such a plan, a clear gain of £150 a year. At the February meeting this question occupied the Council a considerable time, and during a rather warm discussion, it was shewn that through a complication of accounts and erroneous data supplied to Mr. Gausden, by the Inspector of Nuisances, the former person had underestimated, by about £200, the income derived from the sale of ashes and street sweepings, and had based thereon certain gains to be effected by a different mode of collection. On the motion of Mr. Hailes, it was resolved to postpone the consideration of the tenders until the next meeting.
More Drainage Contracts. At the February meeting it was resolved that a new drain be laid down in front of Warrior square; that the Surveyor be instructed to prepare a section of the main drain, the exact fall, &c., and that the Roads Committee have power to advertise for and receive tenders for the work, the same to be submitted at the next monthly meeting. At the April meeting Mr. Grisbrook's tender of £224 for the work at Maze Hill, and Mr. Hughes's tender for that at Warrrior square, were accepted. Some drainage works at London road and Priory road were also agreed to be done.
Purchase of Land. At the January meeting it was resolved to purchase of Mr. G. Clement a piece of land from 1½ to 2½ acres in extent at the rate of £160 per acre, for the purpose of improving the Old Roar reservoir.
Fire Insurances. At the Council meeting on the 7th of February, a petition to the House of Commons was read and the Corporation seal was ordered to be affixed thereto. It set forth that the duty on Fire Insurances to the mercantile inhabitants was oppressive, and that it prevented many persons effecting insurances, and caused others to insure for only a minimum amount. It further stated that only a third of insurable property in the country was protected from loss of fire.
The Recorder's Death was officially made known to the Council at the same meeting by a letter received from the Clerk of the peace, and after a befitting eulogium to his memory, Coun. Winter moved, and Ald. Clement seconded that a vote of condolence should be sent to Mr. Thomas Attree, the late Recorder's surviving parent. At a meeting in March, the new Recorder, appointed by the Secretary of State was declared to be Robert Henry Hurst, Esq. As pertaining to this appointment a letter having been previously received from Mr. Turner, the County Court Judge, soliciting the support of the Council to his application to the Secretary of State, it was resolved that as Mr. Turner had already a very good office, it would be better if some young barrister of note to be appointed, and that in any case it had better be left with the Home Secretary to make the appointment.