From Historical Hastings

With the rapid growth of Hastings during the 19th century in two adjacent valleys - the Priory Stream valley and the valley which opened onto Warrior Square, with Burton's new town slightly to the west, the town required a coherent drainage scheme.

In typical Victorian style grand plans were drawn up by the newly appointed town surveyor William Gant, although there were a number of disputes arising from this - mainly to do with remuneration, and the plan swung into action.

The Plans

Arriving in Hastings during 1850[1], in 1851, a certain Mr. William J. Gant produced a detailed plan of Hastings at a scale of two feet to a mile and covered everything from the Toll gate on Old London Road to the Priory Stream. This consisted of ten sheets and covered a space of sixty square feet. These plans were delivered and published on the 1st of April 1853[2]. Due to the impressive detail on the plan, Gant was further contracted to produce plans covering the ​building​s then erected towards and in St. Leonards and employed as the Borough Surveyor[3] for a cost of £40 extra. As the Borough Surveyor, Gant was also requested to produce proposals to solve the drainage issues then facing the town.

Laying of first stone

On Saturday, the 13th of September 1856, when the Mayor, Town Clerk, Surveyor, contractor, most of the Town Council and a large number of townspeople collected at the East Well, where the ceremony was performed amidst the flaunting of flags and the booming of cannon. Refreshments were provided in a ​building​ close by which was originally intended for a steam mill. Some current coins were placed in a bottle which was put into the stone, there to be laid, together with a scroll bearing the words[4]:-

The first stone of the drainage of Hastings was laid by Frederick Ticehurst, Esq., Mayor, on the 13th of September, 1856; John Laing, C. E. surveyor, George Munday, contractor, William Winter, Inspector.

Legal Problems

In 1856, under some provocation from the Council, in spite of his plans for drainage systems being generally approved albeit incomplete and in some dis-array, Mr Gant made public statements belittling the council resulting in his dismissal and replacement by Mr. Putland - who Gant had originally displaced from the role of Surveyor[5]. This then led to a series of public and private letters and demands being issued by both the Local Board and Mr. Gant and his solicitor brother (J. Castle Gant), resulting in Gant being summonsed in front of the local magistrates bench on the 3rd of April to answer charges that certain of the plans he had been instructed to deliver, he had not in fact delivered. After a hearing lasting five hours, the magistrates found in favour of the Board and Gant was convicted to be committed into custody unless the plans were delivered, Gant's brother giving the bench an assurance that Gant would present himself.

References & Notes