Life in 18th and 19th Century Shoreham

Newspaper Reports continued 15:-

The first ever Shoreham regatta took place in 1854 but only the second one seems to have been reported (August 1855).  An occasion involving sailing and rowing boat races only (the associated carnivals didn’t happen until later) the events starting at the Custom House quay then down to Kingston and back. The occasion drew 3,000 spectators and was followed by a fancy dress ball at Swiss Gardens. 

Wartime Eastern Avenue

Having read about the V1 flying bomb that detonated near the top of Eastern Avenue (Bombing and Other Incidents  ) Gail Underhill has asked for any wartime photos of Eastern Avenue. This one comes courtesy of Sue Vincent that shows VE Day celebrations with Eastern Avenue houses in the background and perhaps one of them showing repaired roof tile damage. Due to restrictions then wartime photos are difficult to find – does anyone have any others?

Life in 18th and 19th Century Shoreham

Newspaper Reports continued 14:-

21st June 1858 two travelling showmen exhibiting a fat woman and a peep show were prosecuted for erecting their booths in the High Street thereby obstructing the footway. In 1854 on the Ham a portable theatre was put up for sale consisting of three carriages, a wardrobe, raised stage and scenery – £30!


Life in 18th and 19th Century Shoreham

Newspaper Reports continued 12:-

The Morning Post of 12th May 1856 reported that at the Court of the Exchequer a local farmer named Akehurst amongst others was prosecuted for smuggling seven tons of tobacco totaling in value £2,686. The schooner ‘Navigator’ had arrived in Shoreham during August of the previous year with a supposed cargo of cement stone and tied up at the Custom House quay. Bales of tobacco had also been secreted amongst the stones, offloaded into a barge and taken up river to the chalk pit at Beeding where the cement works are now and dispersed onwards up country. You have to wonder how all this was possible under the noses of the twenty or so customs men in Shoreham until you realise this was the very occasion that historian Henry Cheal described when complimentary tickets for a visiting circus had been given to the customs men to ensure their attention was occupied elsewhere!

(photo – visiting circus elephants at Star Gap circa 1900, courtesy Michael J Fox)

Life in 18th and 19th Century Shoreham

Newspaper Reports continued 11:-

Don’t go in the water …. in April of 1856 Captain Guy of the ‘Imogen’ arrived at Shoreham from a voyage that took them through the Azores where, he stated, he and his crew saw a large sea serpent – “The creature was in view for a full 35 minutes …. and had the same appearance that I have before seen represented in drawings but without the hairy mane and more like a large conger eel. It was a full forty feet long above water and from the wake it left I would say sixty feet would not be an exaggeration.”

Continue reading “Life in 18th and 19th Century Shoreham”

Life in 18th and 19th Century Shoreham

Newspaper Reports continued 10:-

The fort was later to be manned by Shoreham’s Artillery Volunteers, local men who also had full time jobs. One of the ways that Volunteers were encouraged to drill and practice was through the annual competitions run by the National Artillery Association at Shoeburyness. These involved timed exercises to put together a dismantled gun culminating in a series of shots at targets. Shoreham was to achieve success in this competition when Sergeant Major William.T. Streader’s detachment from the Shoreham Battery took the Prince of Wales prize at Shoeburyness in 1879 ‘the prize consisting of ten silver cups all taken by Major Streader’s detachment’.

Life in 18th and 19th Century Shoreham

Newspaper Reports continued 9:-

October 1855 Tenders were invited for the building of a fort to house ‘six heavy guns and defensible barracks for the lodgment of troops.’ The project was to be completed by November the following year under penalty of £35 for every week’s delay and forfeiture of £1,000 for non-completion. Whether or not the construction conditions were met is unclear but in February 1858 artillerymen were reported as being still ‘engaged mounting six 68 pound guns on slide and traversing carriages.’

Three guns covered the sea and three were to perform nearly a complete circle over both sea and land (although later reports suggest that the actual extent of the arc of fire was rather more limited). It had a ditch, walls with loopholes for musketry, subterranean passages, magazines and barracks for 70 men but to begin with was maintained by just ‘a few invalids of the late war.’ By November that year Lord Vivian and men of the Royal Artillery delivered shot, shell and ammunition – each gun received 130 rounds and for each shot 16 pounds of powder were required to propel missiles 3,000 to 4,000 yards.

(Image of the fort by courtesy of the artist, Mike Codd)

Life in 18th and 19th Century Shoreham

Newspaper Reports continued 8:-

The opening of the Swiss Gardens (1838) is well reported and an 1850 article of a balloon flight describes one particularly adventurous event when 56 year old Lieut. George Burcher Gale RN arose from Swiss Gardens, was blown across to France where he landed, was thought by the French to have been a spy (it was at the time of the invasion scares, the building of Shoreham fort etc.,) and imprisoned for a while.

Another report (1857) also concerning Swiss Gardens revealed the existence of a passage way through it. This was a right of way that ran from alongside the Victoria Road entrance through to the path that later became Connaught Avenue and actually went under some of the Garden buildings. It must have been a somewhat claustrophobic experience to walk through as the parish surveyors had inspected the passage and called upon the owner to ‘increase the depth to 6 feet 6 inches, widen it under the cosmoramic views pavilion and prevent the water fountain from leaking into the passage.’

(Images show balloons at Swiss Gardens and a blurred but rare photo of the passage way there).