Rule by the Margate Local Board of Health 1851 - 1858
The New Jetty.
The relationship between the Margate Pier and Harbour Company and the town of Margate was odd, complex, and not always friendly. As already described, the Pier and Harbour at Margate were originally managed by the Improvement Commissioners, repairs and improvements to the Pier being paid for by the droits and dues charged on the users of the Harbour. In 1808 a violent storm caused serious damage to the Pier and the Commissioners were unable to obtain sufficient loans to pay for the necessary repairs, not least because there was already a debt of £37,200 for earlier repairs to the Pier.1 A Joint Stock Company was therefore formed which would raise the £30,000 needed to pay for the necessary work on the Pier, by issuing shares, but on the condition that the Pier was assigned to the company by Act of Parliament. The financial arrangements were set out in the Act.2 The droits and dues would be used to pay interest to the bond holders of the old debt of £37,200, at 5 % and then to pay interest on the £30,000 worth of shares in the Company, up to a maximum of 10 %.3 Any money remaining after the costs of normal repairs would then be used to form a ‘sinking fund’, in effect a reserve fund that could be used to pay for major repairs to the pier. The size of the sinking fund was limited to £20,000 and, once the sinking fund had reached this figure, any surplus revenue was to be used to pay off the original debt of £37,200 and, when that original debt had been paid off, to repay the £30,000 advanced by the joint stock company; when that had also been repaid the Pier would revert to the Improvement Commissioners and the droits and dues would then go to the town.
Landing Passengers from the Steam Boats
[Picture of Margate and its Vicinity, W. C. Oulton, 1820]
One problem with the harbour at Margate was that ships could not enter at low water and passengers had to be ferried ashore in small rowing boats. This became more and more of an issue as the number of passengers increased, particularly after the introduction of steamships. In 1823 work started on a new low-level landing place, known as Jarvis’s Jetty, to the east of the Pier, where ships could unload their passengers at low tide; construction was completed by July 1824.4,5 The Jetty was built of English oak, and was eleven hundred and twenty feet in length. Unfortunately, over a period of some thirty years, with constant damage from storms, it had become a ‘rickety structure’ and the Pier and Harbour Company decided that rather than ‘frittering away’ money on ‘useless repairs’ to ‘a rattletrap and fast decaying jetty’ it would be better to build a totally new structure.6
Landing at Margate 1829
FRom 'A Trip to Margate' by Paul Pry
Jarvis's Landing Place 1839
Detail from a plan by William Edmunds for a Harbour of REfuge at Margate
To fund the new Jetty the Pier and Harbour Company had a section, section 21, added to the Provisional Order establishing the Local Board of Health at Margate. This section allowed the directors of the Pier and Harbour Company to reduce their sinking fund from £20,000 to £10,000 and use the surplus to improve the pier and harbour, as long as they had first obtained the approval of the Local Board. The Provisional Order also specified that ‘from and after the reduction of the said sinking fund as aforesaid, it shall not be lawful for the said Court of Directors further to reduce such sinking fund of £10,000 for any purpose whatever, without the consent of the said Local Board, and also of the said General Board [in London]’.7
In 1852 the Pier and Harbour Company advertised for plans for a new Jetty, to be either the length of the existing Jetty and to cost no more than £10,000, or to be 200 feet longer than the existing Jetty and to cost no more than £15,000.8 By the closing date of 31 January 18528 they had received plans from Messrs. J. D. Crampton, Fox and Henderson, Capt. Moorsom, Mr. J. B. Redman, Mr. A. Giles, Mr. Tress, Messrs. Birch, Mr. Law, Mr. Scott, ‘and others’.9 The Directors together with their surveyor, William Caveler, ‘met three successive days to consider these plans, and ultimately decided upon adopting the design of Messrs. Birch. The proposed structure is to be a high water pier, twenty-five feet in width, and constructed entirely of iron, except the roadway planking. The directors have it in contemplation to extend the pier further seaward than the present low water jetty, which is nearly 1,200 feet in length. The pier will be approached from either side of the Droit-office. There will be a spacious head for vessels to come alongside, with a light house, and the requisite landing places, inclined planes, cranes for the landing of passengers, goods, cattle, &c.’.9 The Company sent their chosen plan to Mr. Rendal, civil engineer to the Admiralty and chairman of the Society of Civil Engineers, for his examination and approval. They also sent the plans to the Local Board of Health for approval, because the intention was to pay for the new Jetty by decreasing the sinking fund, and this could only be done with the approval of the Local Board, as set out in the Provisional Order.
In February 1852 a deputation from the Pier and Harbour Company consisting of G. Y. Hunter, R. Jenkins and J. W. Price presented the plans for the new Jetty to the Local Board of Health.10 Hunter told the Board that he was satisfied that the plan ‘was within the means of the Pier Directors to carry out’, a view that was to prove over optimistic. He thought that ‘the proposed jetty would be a great ornament and advantage to the town’ and the Directors wished ‘to ascertain the feeling of the Board before they went to any further expense’. 10 The Board was ‘nearly unanimous’ in its support (17 for and 3 against) and Hunter declared that ‘he was satisfied.’ Unfortunately, not everyone was as satisfied as Hunter. A memorial from the local boatmen was presented to the Local Board complaining that ‘if the new jetty was erected upon the plan proposed it would prevent them from taking off anchors and cables, and going out to ships in distress, and that it would interfere with the pleasure boats, which were a great attraction to visitors in the season’.11 These problems, however, seem to have been answered by the modifications to the original plan suggested by Rendell who proposed ‘extra piling of the new head of 180 feet in length, which will give great shelter for steam boat luggers’ and the erection of a crane on the new jetty to help ‘taking off anchors and cables’.11
This just left the question of how the plan would be funded. The Kent Herald was markedly unsympathetic to the Pier and Harbour Company.11 They referred to the way the pier directors, ‘ever alive to their own interests’ had ‘very ingeniously got inserted in the provisional orders of the Public Health Act, power, with the consent of the Local Board (i.e.pier directors and shareholders), to reduce the company's sinking fund, now profitless to them, and in amount £19,444 to £10,000’. The paper also raised the question of whether or not the Company would start to charge the public a toll to go on to the new Jetty. The public had not yet had an opportunity to comment on the plans and, said the newspaper:11
the inhabitants had better do so at once, and not be sleeping, as heretofore; but arouse themselves and demand of the Local Board a vigilant supervision of this question, involving, as it does, the interests of the town, the expenditure of a large sum of public money, and the promises (always fragile) of the pier company to effect this, as they call it, great accommodation to the town and visitors. According to the plan adopted, which looks very pretty as a drawing, it will be ornamental and perhaps attractive, its usefulness is questionable, but its injury is certain if a toll be charged for pedestrians to go on it . . . what the public have enjoyed free for many years past, as they have done at Margate, they will not feel disposed to pay for now. And be it observed this augmentation of the property and income of the pier company does not actually cost them one farthing, because it is the application of money not theirs, but belonging to the public; and the town has a right to ask that their customers (the visitors) coming to them should use it free (landing and embarking from or to vessels excepted). The living of hundreds of persons in Margate depends on the fair adjustment of this question, and they may rest assured that if apathy on their part is allowed to prevail they will some fine morning have cause to regret it. Mismanagement on former matters is charged to the pier company and also to the town authorities; now let the people look out for the future, because, if the pier company can, they mean to maintain their position, and to put a toll on the new jetty if they like. Therefore if this is not protested against the town may very politely say “good-bye visitors, good-bye watermen;" and last but not least “good-bye to the prosperity of Margate."
By June the revised plans for the Jetty had been received from Rendal, together with estimates for the costs of the work and these were sent to the Local Board to be discussed at their June meeting, it depending ‘entirely on that body whether this great improvement be carried into effect, or abandoned’.12 The issue discussed by the Local Board at their meeting on 15 June was ‘The propriety of altering the Sinking Fund of the Margate Pier & Harbour Company to £10,000, and also of approving of the proposed new jetty’ and given the importance of the outcome to the future development of Margate it is worth quoting the discussion at length:13
Mr. J. Wright, Clerk [to the Local Board], read a letter from Mr. Caveler, the surveyor of the Pier Company, stating that the plan and estimates were sent by the Pier directors to lie on the table, but that the cost of construction considerably exceeded the original estimate, and altogether would amount to about £15,000. The directors must, therefore, open the erection of the intended jetty to public competition. He [J. E. Wright] said that it was his duty to recommend that a committee be formed to consider the plans and estimates, and that such committee be formed of members of the Board, not shareholders nor bondholders, and that they be instructed to inquire into the intention of levying a toll upon the public using the new jetty and landing, and the state of the bonded debt, and every question connected with the plan and estimates.
G. Y. Hunter, Esq., Chairman of the Pier Company, then rose and said that he attended there as the representative of the Pier Company, and he should most emphatically state that he and the directors had not the most remote intention of levying a toll; that he believed that they had not the power to do so. It was remote from their intention or wishes; but he should consider the instructions to the committee so discourteous, so over-passing the duties of the board, that he should at once say that the plans and specification would be withdrawn, and that the great plan for the ornament and improvement of the town be abandoned — they would not be restricted.
Mr. J. Wright said that Mr. Hunter and the present directors might be replaced by others of different views. It was his duty to advise the board to name a committee, to instruct them as to the nature of this inquiry.
Messrs. Hunter and J. Wright, the clerk, with some warmth expounded their different views of the subject.
Mr. Mottley said that to avoid losing so important a measure as a new and ornamental improvement to the town, he should move a general resolution that would be as effective as the one objected to — “That a Committee be formed to examine the plans and specification of the intended landing place now laid before the Board of Health by the Pier Directors." — Seconded by Mr. Relph.
Mr. Wright urgently pressed upon the Board the necessity of supporting the original motion, with instructions to the Committee, particularly as to a guarantee from the Pier Directors not to levy a toll upon the new jetty. It might turn out on enquiry that the very idea of taking a toll might be preposterous and absurd.
Mr. Pickering said that as Mr. Mottley's proposition would leave the Committee unrestricted, and that it would have ample power to make every essential enquiry and prevent any delay or unpleasant feeling, he should support it.
Mr. G. Y. Hunter said that he did not believe that the Directors had the power to give any such guarantee. He did not consider they could legally demand a toll, and he was satisfied that they had no desire to attempt its imposition. But he would not consent to surrender any of the rights and privileges of the Pier Company, which as their Chairman he was bound to protect; he further said that the Directors of an important company ought not to be asked for such a guarantee. It would be disrespectful for them to do so and if it were pressed it should never be given with his consent, and so far as he was concerned if that instruction was persisted in he should consider the matter at an end, and deeply regret that the progress of a measure had been obstructed which he believed of vital importance to the best interests of the town of Margate and the Pier Company. The Local Board had a ministerial duty to perform, they ought to examine plans and suggest improvements, but not impose restrictions.
Mr. Boys, (Chairman,) said that he thought they could not enforce the restrictions.
Mr. R. Croft thought the interests of the bond-holders ought to be consulted, and that they ought not to have their interest reduced.
Mr. G. Ovenden thought that the inhabitants, the bondholders, and the proprietors ought to be consulted, and that looking at the estimates they ought not to be asked to give permission to expend £15,000 (no, no.)
The original motion was then put from the chair to instruct the committee as to the guarantee, and carried.
Mr. Hunter then said the matter might be considered at an end. — Committee however was named — J. Boys, Esq., S. Mercer, E. Mottley, R. C. Osborn, R. Wood, W. Mercer, and J. B. Flint.
The Kent Herald ended its report: ‘Thus upon the mere wording of a resolution is the completion of a great work delayed’.13
It now seemed a matter of who would blink first, the Local Board or the Company directors. At their next meeting, the Local Board appeared to wobble.14 J. E. Wright, the Clerk to the Board, reported that the committee appointed to consider the plans of the new jetty had not yet made their report. Edward Mottley took this as an opportunity to propose that the resolution appointing the committee be rescinded; he wished a committee to be formed ‘that would have ample power of enquiry’ but wished ‘to rescind the offensive expression that encumbered the previous resolution.’ Wright then reminded the meeting that there were 23 members present when the motion was passed, and as there were only 21 members present at the present meeting, there were not sufficient members present to rescind the motion of the former meeting. John Woodward then complained that “Mr. Thingumbob”, believed to be a reference to G. Y. Hunter, had no right to speak at the present meeting. This led to a ‘long debate . . . during which the Chairman, with much ability, preserved something like order.’
The issue came up again at the August meeting of the Local Board when J. E. Wright announced that he was resigning as Clerk to the Board as he felt ‘he no longer possessed the respect and confidence of the members on certain points’;15 more details are given in Section 8 The Margate Board of Health. John Harvey Boys was appointed as the new Clerk to the Board
The committee report was finally ready for the September meeting of the Local Board.16 They had considered three questions:
lst. — The eligibility of the proposed structure.
2nd. — To the alteration of the law affecting the ultimate reversion of the Pier and Harbour to the town of Margate.
3rd. — To the right of the public to free entrance and departure to and from the jetty, (except under specified restrictions).
As to the first question, the committee concluded that the approval given to the plans by Mr. Rendal was sufficient.
As to the second question, the committee concluded that the chance of the Pier and Harbour company debt of £67,200 ever being paid off was ‘too remote a contingency to occupy the serious attention of the Local Board’ and that the power given to the Local Board and the General Board in London ‘to prohibit improvident expenditure of the sinking fund of £10,000 is an important feature in the new arrangement.’
As to the third question, although the Provisional Order said nothing about the right of the public to free use of the jetty, the committee felt that the ‘legal identity’ of the old and new structures would ensure that the public’s right of access would be maintained.
The committee recommend the Local Board to approve the plans and to allow the directors to reduce their sinking fund to £10,000.
A special meeting of the Local Board was then called for 28 September to ‘approve or disapprove of the plans and estimates of the intended new high-water landing place, proposed to be erected by the Directors of the Margate Pier and Harbour Company, and to assent to the Court of Directors of the said Company reducing their sinking fund to £10,000, the minimum presented by the 21st section of the provisional order, and expending the surplus in erecting such jetty or new high-water landing place’.17 This time proceedings were largely harmonious, fifteen voting for approval and only one, Mr. R. Crofts, voting against. Crofts gave his reason for voting against approval as that ‘he, as a bond-holder, would be a sufferer’ – of course, as a member of the Local Board with a financial interest in the Pier and Harbour Company, he should not have been voting at all. At the end of the meeting, ‘the plan and specification were sealed and signed by the chairman, amidst the applause of the members’.17
One local resident, however, continued to fight on against the decision, Frederick Boyce. Boyce was a tailor in Hawley Street, ‘a person in humble life’ who had ‘for seven years past taken . . . an active part in public life’ and was ‘the representative of an association of rate-payers’.18 He saw that two of the members of the Local Board, R. G. Higgins and John Baker, were share-holders and Directors of the Pier Company and, as such, he thought they should not have voted in favour of the motion.19 He thought that their voting was against section 19 of the Public Health Act, under which the Local Board operated. This specified that shareholders in public companies could be members of a Local Board but should not vote ‘upon any question in which such company or concern is interested. Boyce took Barker to the Margate County Court, suing him for the penalty of £50 allowed under the Public Health Act for voting on an issue where he had a personal financial interest.18 Boyce lost the case, on the legal point that in order to sue he had to be ‘a party grieved’, which the court judged he was not, or to have the express permission of the Attorney General to bring a case, which he did not have.18,20 Boyce also sued Higgins, but in the Court of Common Pleas, and again lost on the same grounds.21,22 Unfortunately for Boyce, the legal costs of these cases bankrupted him.23,24
* * *
By December 1852 it was reported that the contract for the new jetty had been taken by Samuel Bastow of Hartlepool,21,25 but all was not to go well. In January 1853 the contractor claimed that ‘he was out in his calculations of the costs of erection’ and asked for ‘£1000 to be added [to his contract], or space given him whereon to erect workshops’.26 A few weeks later it was reported that the Pier Company had agreed ‘to assist the contractor out of his difficulty by raising the price of the tender’,27 and the contract, for £11,000 or £11,750 [the newspaper reports differ as to the sum] was finally signed at the end of February.28-30
The proposed new High Water Landing Pier
as shown in The Illustrated London News, May 1853
By March, the contractor ‘had begun in right earnest to prepare for his task’.31 Vessels arrived in the harbour with materials, workshops were got ready, and a steam engine was erected.31 On 3 May the first pile of the new jetty was driven, in a ceremony spoilt by heavy rain.32 G. Y. Hunter placed some documents in a box ‘which was cemented up and placed in the interior of the iron pile’. He then ‘with the assistance of the contractor, pulled the rope attached to the monkey, and the initiative blow was given to the first pile of the new pier, amidst the applause of the assembly and the firing of the cannon from the cliff above, the union jack flying conspicuously in the breeze. This was repeated, until the pile had descended some 6 or 7 inches, when the ceremony concluded, and the officials and inhabitants retired to their respective residences.’ The event was followed by dinner in the Town Hall at 5 p.m., attended by about 100. A fuller description of the ceremony is given in Appendix I below.
Work on building the jetty proceeded, but at rather a slow pace; the South Eastern Gazette suggested that this could have been deliberate, so as not to disrupt the use of the old jetty during the summer season.33 Nevertheless, in August 1853 it was reported that the iron archway leading to the old jetty had been removed,34 and that the new jetty was being built ‘immediately over the older one, at an elevation of 10 or 12 feet above it’.35 The iron piles were delivered by ship and made ready in the workshops near the Gas Works.36-38 They then had to be moved to the jetty: ‘The town of Margate was on Thursday greatly enlivened in witnessing the removal of one of the iron girders, measuring about 72 feet, and weighing about 7 tons 15 cwt., from the factory near the Gas House, to the new Landing Pier’.38
In January 1854 the sea washed away parts of the old jetty and worries were expressed that ‘the delay which has taken place in building the new one’ would mean that the old jetty would become unusable before for the new one was complete.39 This was not all the fault of the contractor: ‘It must be remembered how everything has been against the contractor proceeding more rapidly. The year has been an unprecedently unfavourable one, and the strikes in the North, and the consequent increase in the price of labour, have told against him, but we have sufficient faith in him to believe that he will complete his contract in every way satisfactorily to the town’.40 By March 1854 one girder was up and two others were expected to be in place by the middle of April,41 and, by the middle of April, it was reported that ‘the new landing place begins to assume an important aspect, and a good idea can be formed of the appearance which the structure will present when completed’.74 In May rapid progress was being made with the workmen working ‘early and late’; the hope was being expressed that ‘with fine weather’ the new jetty would be largely completed by the summer.42 This was not to be. In August ‘the works of the new jetty are silently and slowly being pushed out seaward, and now reach out nearly 700 feet’, and were causing ‘great inconvenience’.43 During rough weather, it was hard for ships to land their passengers at Margate and ‘one of the Tilbury boats was obliged to go round to Ramsgate’.43
By October most of the piles had been driven in and the Directors of the Pier and Harbour Company decided to mark ‘their sense of the good conduct of the men’ with a supper at the Queen’s Arms Inn for ‘the skilled workmen who had been engaged in the making of the girders for the new structure’.44 At the supper, ‘the chair was taken by Mr. Caveler; and Mr. Hunter (chairman of the company,) with Mr. J. M. Cobb (deputy chairman) and also Mr. Bastow, the contractor, were present. The evening was passed in a cheerful and proper manner. It is hardly necessary to say that the supper provided by Mr. Walker was everything that could be desired. On Saturday the 21st, the workmen again met at the Queen’s Arms, and on this occasion they begged to be favoured with the company of the gentlemen connected with the Pier Company. In the course of the evening Mr. Caveler (on the part of the pier directors) presented Joseph Russell, the foreman of the works, with a gold pen and pencil case, as a small acknowledgement from them of the energy and industry he had displayed in his part of the work.’
Meanwhile, the old jetty was ‘so knocked about as to become utterly useless to the steamers, which are obliged to land their Margate passengers at our sister town [Ramsgate];45 in November a storm had caused the old jetty ‘to give way in one place to the extent of 200 feet, and many piles are gone’ and it was thought ‘this damage will probably prevent any efforts being made to patch up the crazy concern’.46 It was now more important than ever that the new jetty was completed before the start of the summer season. The South Eastern Gazette reported in January 1855 that: ‘Mr. Bastow is now pushing on very rapidly the works of the new high-water landing pier. There remain but five columns to drive and a few girders to raise, and it is confidently expected that it will be completed in all its details, and fit for the reception of passengers, by the time that the steam-boats commence their season. Great credit is due to the contractor, who has had unparalleled difficulties to surmount in the work’.47 By March the South Eastern Gazette reported that work was so far advanced on the jetty that it would be available at the end of the month for embarking and disembarking passengers.48
At the end of March the Pier and Harbour Company advertised the old jetty for sale:49
HARBOURS, SEA DEFENCES, AND WHARFS.
TO CONTRACTORS AND OTHERS.
THE DIRECTORS of the MARGATE PIER and HARBOUR COMPANY have to offer for SALE by TENDER, the JETTY known as “Jarvis’s Landing- place”, which consists of a large number of iron piles in good condition and fit for use in works of the above description, together with a large quantity of English oak of various dimensions.
A specification may be seen and full particulars obtained of Mr. Caveler, Surveyor to the Company, Margate, or of Messrs. J. B. and E. Birch, 3, Cannon-row, Westminster, on and after Tuesday, the 20th March. Sealed tenders, addressed, to the Directors, and endorsed “Tender for Purchase of Jarvis’s Landing-place,” to be delivered at the Droit Office, Margate, on or before Saturday, the 14th of April, 1855.
The Directors do not bind themselves to accept the highest or any other tender.
By order of the Court of Directors,
STEPHEN SACKETT CHANCELLOR, Clerk.
Margate, March 15th, 1855.
Unfortunately, the Company received no offers for the jetty and so they decided to break it up and sell it for scrap.50 Even this proved difficult: ‘with great exertion, the gang [of breakers-up] can only remove a pile a-day. At this rate, it will take more than two years to clear the work, and the expense will be far beyond the value of the materials, recently valued at £1,000’.51 In October a new method was tried: ‘The process of taking out the piles of the old jetty is now managed with much greater ease and celerity. The old plan of digging away the foundation was found far too laborious, so the principle of the battering ram was brought to bear. A beam is slung horizontally, by means of an iron chain from the top of the new jetty — which, being driven with some force by three men against the firmly-embedded pile, shakes it to its foundation; and, the blows being repeated, in the course of ten minutes it is sufficiently loosened to be drawn out, after the manner of tooth extraction, by means of a chain from the new jetty’.52
The failure to sell the old Jetty was a blow to the Pier and Harbour Company, who were now running out of money; the Company estimated that they needed a further £2,000 to complete the Jetty. Their original idea was to borrow this from Messrs. Cobb and Co. Unfortunately, although Cobb’s bank were willing to lend the £2000, at four per cent, to be repaid in four years at £500 per year, this was only on the joint security of all the Pier proprietors.53 As there were 300 shares in the Company, each share would then be ‘saddled’ with a debt of £7 6s. 8d. A further problem was that the arrangement would have to be optional as neither the original Pier Act nor the Provisional Order gave the Company power to raise money in this way. These financial problems had already had a disastrous effect on the value of the Company’s shares, each £100 share having fallen in value from about £185 to £107; there were also now real worries that the Jetty would not be ready for the start of the holiday season.53 All these problems were discussed at a meeting of the Directors and share holders of the Company in early April when it was proposed that the Directors should borrow the £2,000 needed to complete the Jetty, with a guarantee from the share holders ‘indemnifying the directors against any individual responsibility they may incur in carrying out the resolution of the proprietors to borrow the sum of £2000’. It was also decided to postpone any decision on the dividend to be paid on the shares that year until an answer had been obtained about the guarantee of indemnity.54 A circular was sent to the shareholders asking their views and, perhaps not surprisingly, the replies were generally negative.55 At the annual meeting of the Proprietors of the Pier and Harbour Company at the end of April, Hunter announced that the ‘project for raising £2,000 upon a guarantee had failed’.56 Then ‘after much discussion of a painful nature, and some personalities’ it was agreed that the ‘balance in hand, about £1,500’, should be devoted to the completion of the Jetty and that no dividend would be paid that year on the Pier shares. This caused ‘much consternation among the shareholders, many of whom are in reduced circumstances’. The situation was so serious ‘that after the meeting, the dejected Directors and their friends partook of a luncheon at the York Hotel, instead of the usual “champagne dinner”’.57
Meanwhile, the new Jetty, although not actually finished, had opened for business and was being used by the passengers of the London boats. The contractor, Bastow, had, however, not been paid and his contract was due to end at the end of June,58 and so he claimed his right to charge a penny toll on all passengers using the Jetty, until he had received payment. He quickly showed he was prepared to enforce his rights: the Kent Herald reported a ‘row royal’ in early June:59,60
It appears, that on Saturday last, upon the steam boat approaching the landing place, Mr. Bastow and his assistant, stationed themselves at the entrance, and demanded one penny from each person going out. A crowd quickly assembled; some paid, — among the rest, Mr. Caveler, the architect to the pier company, while others, backed up by the "jackets & blue," hissed and hooted. Mr. J. M. Cobb, the deputy chairman of the company, tendered his penny, which Mr. Bastow politely declined taking, and Mr. J. M. Cobb walked from the pier. At this time, Mr. Alfred White attempted to pass without paying, when Mr. Bastow, who is a very powerful and resolute gentleman, collared him, upon which Mr. Alfred White, asked for change for a sovereign, which was refused, and another affray took place. At this crisis, Mr. Edward Wright called in the aid of policeman Shelvey, who declined to interfere. The pier directors were summoned to a special meeting on Monday last, to consider what steps they had best take. These ugly matters have caused a great sensation, joined with the report that Mr. Bastow claims the sum of £3400, in addition to £12,200 paid on account.
The Pier Directors decided ‘to let Mr. Bastow take his own course until the 30th June, when the contract would end’, but all further work on the Jetty ceased.61 Although Alfred White declined to take Bastow before the magistrates for the alleged assault,61 Bastow was taken to court by Frederick Boyce.62 The Kent Herald reported the case:62
Plaintiff [Boyce] stated that on the 8th [July] he went to the jetty in the company of his wife to see a steam-boat land its passengers. A man demanded a penny each, which he was aware would be done, but which he refused to pay, and Mr. Bastow forced him from the pier for his obstinacy; hence the charge of assault. Mr. Bastow admitted that he pushed defendant off, but with as little violence as possible. The contract was put in, and a paragraph in that document provided that till the contract was complete, Mr. Bastow had the entire possession of the new pier, he having no other security for the safety of his property. The Bench dismissed the case, and told the plaintiff [Boyce] that if he was not satisfied with their decision, he might take the matter before one of the superior Courts. The judgment appeared to give much satisfaction.
Now it was the turn of the Directors to take up arms. At the end of July, ‘by coup de main, possession [of the Jetty] was obtained, the assailants consisting of Mr. Caveler, the surveyor; Messrs. Birch, engineers; Chancellor, clerk; Draper, collector [of Pier dues]; Stranach, harbour master; Inspector Marchant; police-constables, Gibbs and Young; parish constables Sturges, Goodban, Adams, and Philpots. The solitary occupant of the contractor being ejected, the barricade was removed. Mr. Bastow did not offer any opposition but the question is likely to afford employment for the gentlemen of the long robe. The directors of the pier intend to complete the landing-place with all despatch and until it is completed no one will be allowed to go to and fro, but those whose business calls them to the boats; afterwards it will be free to the public’.63
The only way out for the Pier Company was now to go the Local Board and ask for permission to raise £2,000 by reducing the Sinking Fund even further. A special meeting of the Local Board was held to decide whether or not to give the Directors the required permission.64 The Local Board felt that, before making a decision, they should be given a full statement by the Company explaining how all the money had been spent and the Board appointed a Committee of five (Messrs. Ovenden, Jenkins, Bath, Chambers, and Abbott) to meet with the Directors of the Pier Company. A full account of the meeting is given in Appendix II below.
The Pier Company presented the requested statement of accounts, as follows:65
|Cost of Pier Contract||11,750|
|Alleged extra and paid to Mr. Bastow||459||4||5|
|Messrs. Birch expenses, commision||600|
|Messrs. Birch travelling expenses||200|
|Estimated for furnishing the Landing Place||1500|
|Messrs. Brooke law expenses||60||9|
|£10,000 produced cash||9450||7||10|
|Sale of stone||430|
|Interest from Messrs. Cobb and Co.||242||16||2|
|Estimated value of old Jetty||625|
|Advanced by the Directors from their own funds||1661||2||11|
The Committee was unanimously in favour of granting the wishes of the Pier Company, but only on the receipt of two ‘guarantees’. The Committee proposed: ‘that the application of the directors of the Company to the Local Board, to authorise them to reduce their sinking fund by selling stock to the amount of £2,000, in order to finish the works of the jetty, now proceeding, be granted, on their furnishing the Board with a written guarantee from their chairman and engineers that the works shall be completed within nine months from the 1st of September; and upon the Directors also giving the Board a guarantee that they will within a period of eight years again raise the sinking fund to the original sum of £10,000’.66 The Local Board was, however, very split over the matter. George Ovenden and Frederick Chambers spoke in favour, but Joshua Towne spoke against, raising a point of law, that once the Board agreed to allow the Pier Company to reduce the Sinking Fund below the level of £10,000 specified in the Provisional Order, they lost all control over the Sinking Fund and the Directors of the Company ‘would of themselves then have the power of reducing it to any amount they liked next day, without the consent of the board.’ Francis Abbott condemned the application ‘in any and every view’. John Edwards thought that the Directors had spent their money ‘most injudiciously’ and he preferred the old jetty to the new one. John Woodward thought it ‘most unfair’ to have stopped the dividend on the Company’s shares and also thought that William Caveler, although a member of the Local Board, should not vote on the issue ‘as he was a permanent officer of the pier’, but William Caveler maintained his right to vote. This turned out to be vital. Voting on the two amendments, either of which would have killed the proposal, was six for the amendments and seven against, and voting on the original proposal allowing the Company to reduce the sinking fund by £2,000 was carried by just one vote, seven for, including William Caveler, and six against. A full account of the meeting is given in Appendix III below.
There was still one final step before the Company could get its money, and that was to obtain the sanction of the General Board in London. The General Board sent an inspector to Margate to report on the new Jetty:67
The General Board of Health
Sept. 19th 1855
To the Rt. Honble. Wm. Cowper
President of the General Board of Health
On the 10th of September application was made by Mr. Brooke on behalf of the Directors of the Margate Pier Company for the sanction of the General Board of Health to their reducing their sinking fund to the extent of £2000.
I received instructions to visit Margate on Saturday last for the purpose of making some inquiry into the circumstances attending this application and I have now the honour of reporting to you thereon.
By the 25th section of the provisional order for the application of the Public Health Act in Margate, power was given to the Directors of the Margate Pier and Harbour Company with the consent of the Local Board of Health incorporated under that order, to reduce the sinking fund of the pier company from £20,000 to £10,000. This reduction was sanctioned by the Local Board of Health on application by the Pier Directors on the 28th day of Sept. 1852. The provisional order further provided that after such reduction no further reduction should be made in such sinking fund without the consent of the Local Board, and that of the General Board also being first had and obtained.
The Directors of the Pier Company being desirous to reduce the sinking fund by a further sum of £2000, in order to pay for the completion of a new pier and landing place now erecting at Margate, applied to the Local Board of Health for their sanction for such reduction. On the 21st of August 1855 the Local Board appointed a Committee of their body for the purpose of inquiring into the circumstances attending such application with instructions for them to report the result to the general body on a future occasion. On the 4th of September 1855 the Committee presented their report, when it appeared that they had carried the following resolution
‘That the Committee recommend the Board to grant the application of the Directors to reduce the sinking fund by selling stock to the amount of £2000 sterling for the purpose of completing the new landing place, upon their furnishing the Board with a written guarantee from the Chairman and Engineers that the works shall be completely finished in nine months from the 1st of Sept. 1855, and that the Directors make up the original amount of £10,000 in eight years from the above date.’
This resolution was put to the general meeting of the Local Board and was eventually carried by a majority of 1. The votes being – For 7, against 6. There were several other members of the Local Board present on the occasion, but inasmuch as they were Directors of the Pier Company they refrained from voting. Two amendments were moved to the above resolution, one to the effect that a Committee should be appointed to ascertain whether a legal guarantee could be given by the Pier Company, supposing the Local Board consented to the temporary reduction of the fund to the extent asked for, and that they would restore it to the amount of £10,000 in the time named, and whether they could guarantee its subsequent continuance at that sum. This amendment was lost by a majority of one. The same number of persons voting as for the original motion. The second amendment was to the effect that the circumstances under which the Pier Company asked for the further reduction of the sinking fund, were not such as to justify the Local Board in consenting to such reduction. This amendment was lost by a majority of 1. Eleven persons voting. Thus the sanction of the Local Board was obtained for the reduction of the sinking fund, and it only remained to obtain that of the General Board according to the terms of the provisional order.
The new pier and landing place is built on the site of the old jetty and there can be, I think, but one opinion that it is a vast improvement to Margate and likely to be a great attraction to the numerous visitors to that favourite watering place. It was made matter of objection to me by Mr. Towne one of the members of the Local Board, and who was one of the dissentients to the further reduction of the sinking fund, that the pier from its construction would not prove of the service intended. That it was badly designed and constructed and that it never could be used as a place of landing in stormy weather. It was partly on these grounds he objected to the amount necessary for its completion being temporarily taken from the sinking fund. He further objected on the ground that in his opinion the Pier Company could give no legal guarantee for the restoration of the fund to the amount it now stands at, viz. £10,000.
As regards the legal question, I cannot pretend to offer an opinion, but as a question of improvement I have no hesitation in saying that the new pier is calculated to prove a very great attraction to Margate, as forming a magnificent marine promenade. Steam vessels, and other craft, it is admitted, can land at it in all ordinary weather and at all times of the tide. I was not aware that it ever was intended by the Pier Directors as a landing place on occasions of storms. As the pier company merely seek for a temporary use of their own funds and as they have obtained the sanction of a majority of the Local Board (a number of its members interested in the Pier Company not voting) to such temporary reduction of the sinking fund, no reason occurred to me why the General Board should refuse their consent to the proposition.
The main part of the Pier is completed. The sum now required is for the purpose of finishing the pier head, forming the staircases etc. The pier head and those portions of the other end above the water mark are formed on creasoted wooden piles. The intermediate supports are of iron piles driven into the chalk rock, or screwed into the sand by Mitchell’s patent screw. The flooring is of transverse wooden girders firmly bolted to the main longitudinal girders, and covered with planks. The whole of the supports are tied transversely and diagonally. The main longitudinal girders which form the parapet of the pier are of wrought iron and are each made a continuous girder from end to end. They are 948 feet long each. The openings between the supports are sixty feet, and the width of the supports from centre to centre 12 feet. The total length of the pier from end to end is 1212 feet.
View of the new Jetty
as shown in The Builder, September 1855
The piles supporting the new Jetty
as shown in The Builder, September 1855
Having obtained the sanction of the General Board, the Company finally had the funding it required to complete the Jetty, but by the narrowest of margins. The Kentish Observer reported in October that ‘the new high water landing-place, since the works have come into the hands of the Pier Directors, have been pushed forward with vigour, and their completion may now be looked forward to in the spring of 1856, just three years after the driving of the first pile. We understand that the late contractor, Mr. Bastow, has filed a bill in Chancery, which will give some employment to the gentlemen of the long robe; but as it is only a matter of account between him and the Board of Directors, it will in no wise impede the progress of the works’.68 By November the landing stages at the end of Jetty were in place,69 and by January ‘along the centre an excellent tramway has been laid down, by means of which the whole of the passengers’ luggage may in the season be carried from the head to the entrance, without the necessity of the visitors being annoyed, or their heels damaged by the porter’s barrows’.70,71
A travelling crane was put at the head of the pier, for shipping anchors and chains,70 but this was not an immediate success:72
The excellent crane which has but recently arrived for the New Landing-place, was called into active play on Saturday last, by a few employeesof the Pier Company, who had a desire to try its skill in lifting an iron pile, a portion of the old jetty. From report we hear that on account of not having sufficient ballast, the pile, on being chained to the crane, was found so heavy that all efforts to lift it were quite out of the question; indeed, the weight was so great that it immediately pulled the huge piece of machinery into the sea . . . On the following day a great number of persons went down to see the fatal spot, but nothing whatever could be seen of the crane. Some men were employed on Monday in raising it, which they have done to some extent, but find it is very much injured. Fortunately no boat was near when it fell over.
The new Jetty was described in the Canterbury Journal as follows:73
The pier commences at the Droit-office; the width at entrance is 84 feet; this part is curved and it gradually narrows to 20 feet. At a distance of 180 feet from its commencement it is supported on 23 cast-iron piles, 12 inches in diameter, driven on an average 10 feet into the chalk. On the top of three cast-iron piles are placed 7 wrought iron girders, 18 inches in depth, varying in length, being placed transversely according to the width of this part of the pier. On the top of these girders the timbers are placed, being 14 in. by 9 in., running longitudinally, and on the top of these timbers is the platform. From this point the jetty runs in a straight line for 950 feet, and this portion of it is thus constructed. Supported on iron piles 16 in. in diameter, and placed in clusters of five; each cluster is in the form of a parallelogram, being 12 ft. centres in the direction of its length and 20 ft. centres transversely, one pile being placed in the centre; each cluster is braced and tied together with wrought iron braces and rods in every direction. There are 14 clusters of piles 72 ft. between centre and centre of each. These piles are driven 10 ft. into the chalk, each pile being in three lengths, measuring on an average 40 ft. when put together; the joints of the piles are bored and turned to fit correctly, and bolted together by flanges. This part of the pier is of the uniform width of 20 ft. The upper portion of the piles are cast with a bold moulding and flange 3 ft. from the top; on this flange rests a timber cap, 3 ft. broad and 14 in. deep, connecting the two piles together. On each side on these caps are placed two logs of timber, running transversely, connecting all four piles together; on these are placed two more timber caps similar to the foregoing, and on these rest the two large girders, made entirely of wrought iron 4 ft. deep boiler plate 3/8ths of an inch thick, with large angle iron on each side, top, and bottom, 6 in. equal sided, making the top and bottom edge of these girders 12 in. broad. The length of each girder is 95 ft. The platform is supported by these girders, which also form a parapet on each side nearly 3 ft. high, on the top of which is an ornamental rail 12 in. high, running the whole length of the girder. The timber sleepers on which the planks are laid are bolted on the inside of each girder to wrought iron brackets, and rest on the bottom angle iron at every 6 ft. On these sleepers are laid the planking running in the direction of the girders. The pier head is in the form of a parallelogram, 110 ft. long by 45 ft. broad, supported on 57 screw piles, of solid wrought iron, 5 ½ in. diameter and 20 ft. long, with a screw cast on the- bottom end 30 in. diameter. The top end is turned conical, to receive a cast iron cap, which is bored out to fit and keyed on with two wrought iron keys screwed into the chalk rock 10 ft. On the top of the cast iron caps are placed timber sole pieces on sleepers, each sleeper composed of four logs bolted together and 45 ft. long, running transversely; there are 12 of these sleepers, which support the same number of timber frames 10 ft. apart, braced together by longitudinal and diagonal timbers, various sizes and lengths, the top of these frames being covered with planks corresponding with the rest of the pier. There are three landing stages at the head, so placed as to allow the steam boats to land and embark passengers at any time of the tide. The staircase is in the middle of the head, 13 ft. wide, of easy ascent and descent. The pier is 14 ft. above high water mark of ordinary spring tides. The total length is 1,240 ft. giving a promenade of upwards of 80,000 superficial feet. The first pile, it will be remembered, was driven on the 3rd of May, 1853, by G. Y. Hunter, Esq., chairman of the Pier Company, and the last pile was driven on the 3rd March, 1855.
The above are the details connected with the erection, to which we must add that the old head is left so that little boats may land and visitors enjoy their fishing. We may here turn our attention to the excellent manner in which these details have been carried out by the contractor, Mr. Bastow. He has had unparalleled difficulties to contend with; three months had scarcely elapsed after the signing of the contract, when the materials of which the pier is constructed advanced from 30 to 50 per cent, labour equally as much, and freights advanced 90 per cent, which have only been overcome by indomitable perseverance. The weather has also been adverse to the progress of the works; two winters have passed, the last a most severe one, but still the works have been pushed forward, and will we doubt not be satisfactorily completed.
The pier is much admired by all who see it, and some flattering encomiums have been passed upon it by scientific men. The proprietors and inhabitants are doubtless grateful to the chairman and directors of the Pier Company, for their exertions, and particularly those of Mr. Hunter. Notwithstanding the heavy masses of iron that have been moved and raised to a great elevation, we have not had to record a single accident to life or limb during the time the works have been in hand.
Stereoview of the new Jetty
Stereoview of the new Jetty
Stereoview of the new Jetty
showing the central tramway for visitors luggage
View towards the head of the new Jetty
View of the end of the new Jetty
showing the stairs to the lower levels and the crane
1. Anthony Lee, Margate in the Georgian Era, Droit House Press, 2012.
2. An Act for separating the Management of the Harbour of Margate in the County of Kent, from the Paving and Lighting of the Town of Margate, and for vesting the future Management of the said Harbour in a joint Stock Company of Proprietors, 52 Geo III cap. 186, 1 July 1812.
3. Parliamentary Papers, Report from the Select Committee on Ramsgate and Margate Harbours. House of Commons, 1 August 1850.
4. Kentish Gazette, November 18 1823.
5. Kentish Gazette, July 13 1824.
6. Canterbury Journal, April 19 1851.
7. National Archives MH 13/123 Board of Health Margate 1848-1871, Draft provisions for the application of the Public Health Act, 1848, to the Parish of St. John the Baptist, Margate, in the Isle of Thanet.
8. Kent Herald, January 29 1852.
9. Canterbury Journal, March 6 1852.
10. Kent Herald, February 12 1852.
11. Kent Herald, March 4 1852.
12. Kent Herald, June 3 1852.
13. Kent Herald, June 17 1852.
14. Kent Herald, July 8 1852.
15. Kent Herald, August 5 1852.
16. Kent Herald, September 16 1852.
17. Kent Herald, September 30 1852.
18. Kent Herald, December 9 1852.
19. Poster, Jobbing – The New Board, issued by F. Boyce, October 22 1852.
20. South Eastern Gazette, December 13 1853.
21. Kent Herald, December 16 1852.
22. South Eastern Gazette, November 22 1853.
23. South Eastern Gazette, March 21 1854.
24. South Eastern Gazette, May 16 1854.
25 Canterbury Journal, April 30 1853.
26. South Eastern Gazette, January 25 1853.
27. South Eastern Gazette, February 15 1853.
28. South Eastern Gazette, March 1 1853.
29. Kentish Observer, March 17 1853.
30. South Eastern Gazette, May 10 1853.
31. Kent Herald, March 31 1853.
32. Kent Herald, May 12 1853.
33. South Eastern Gazette, June 28 1853.
34. Kentish Observer, August 11 1853.
35. Kent Herald, September 15 1853.
36. South Eastern Gazette, August 9 1853.
37. South Eastern Gazette, June 28 1853.
38. Kentish Gazette, November 1 1853.
39. Kent Herald, January 12 1854.
40. South Eastern Gazette, November 15 1853.
41. Kent Herald, March 23 1854.
42. South Eastern Gazette, May 23 1854.
43. South Eastern Gazette, August 15 1854.
44. South Eastern Gazette, October 31 1854.
45. South Eastern Gazette, December 5 1854.
46. Kent Herald, November 23 1854.
47. South Eastern Gazette, January 16 1855.
48. South Eastern Gazette, March 20 1855.
49. South Eastern Gazette, March 27 1855.
50. South Eastern Gazette, May 15 1855.
51. Kentish Observer, May 10 1855.
52. Kentish Observer, October 25 1855.
53. Kent Herald, April 5 1855.
54. South Eastern Gazette, April 10 1855.
55. South Eastern Gazette, April 24 1855.
56. Kentish Observer, April 19 1855.
57. Kentish Observer, April 26 1855.
58. South Eastern Gazette, April 17 1855.
59. South Eastern Gazette, June 26 1855.
60. Kent Herald, June 7 1855.
61. Kent Herald, June 14 1855.
62. Kent Herald, July 26 1855.
63. Kent Herald, August 2 1855.
64. Kent Herald, August 30 1855.
65. Kent Archives, Minutes of the Margate Local Board of Health, 1851-1858, 4 September 1855.
66. Kentish Gazette, September 11 1855.
67. National Archives MH 13/123 Board of Health Margate 1848-1871, Inspector’s Report on the Pier plan, September 18 1855.
68. Kentish Observer, October 25 1855.
69. South Eastern Gazette, November 20 1855.
70. Kentish Observer, January 27 1856.
71. South Eastern Gazette, January 15 1856.
72. Canterbury Journal, April 5 1856.
73. Canterbury Journal, June 9 1855.
74. Kent Herald, April 20 1854.
Driving the first pile of the new Jetty, May 3 1853.
Kentish Gazette, May 10 1853.
NEW HIGH WATER LANDING PIER.
Tuesday last was a grand day at Margate — one that will be intimately associated with its future history, and its increasing importance and prosperity. The first pile of the new high water landing pier was driven, with all due solemnity, in the presence of a large concourse of the inhabitants, considering the very inauspicious state of the weather — the rain descending the whole time. Its site is on the east side of the promenade pier, and the entire cost of its construction is estimated at about £12,000, the whole of which sum is to be defrayed by the Pier and Harbour Company. The engineers are Messrs. Birch, London, and the contractor, Mr. Bastow, of Hartlepool. We believe that Mr. Geo. Y. Hunter, (chairman of the Pier Company,) suggested the construction, and its consummation is to be attributed mainly to that gentleman's untiring and indefatigable exertions. The total length of the pier will be 1,237 feet, and the width 20 feet — the head being 40 feet wide and 120 feet in length. It is to be constructed chiefly of iron, the piles forming its base are to be arranged in groups of five, a distance from each other of 72 feet from centre to centre, with a wrought iron girder 4 feet deep, forming a parapet on each side. Cross girders will be used to receive the planks, which will be laid longitudinally, north and south. At the entrance, the platform is to be 80 feet in width, gradually diminishing, until the first group of piles is reached. It will be so arranged, as to render access easy on either side of the Droit office, (which will be situated in the centre of the entrance to the platform): convenient means are also provided for the landing of passengers, cattle, &c. from steam and other vessels, and also from pleasure and fishing boats, both at high and low water, and it will enable the luggers to afford prompt assistance to vessels in distress, as it will be available at all times of tide, being about 14 feet above the high water at ordinary spring tides. This short sketch of the intended structure will enable our readers to judge of its capability to meet the requirements of the position of Margate, and have not the least doubt it will prove a great improvement and lasting benefit to the town. A resident historian in embryo, with all the ardour and warmth of residential association and attachment, thus sums up the characteristics of the spot: “It is deservedly considered one of the most inviting marine walks which fancy can imagine or experience realize." But this is a diversion: let us return to the incidents of the day.
A procession having been formed at the Duke's Head, about two o'clock it proceeded in the following order to the scene of the ceremony, the clergy dressed in their robes: —
Deputy of Margate, and Chairman of Pier Directors.
Rev. J. Lingham, and Rev. S. J. Prosser.
Revs. J. Graham, J. Wallis, and S. J. Smith.
The Directors of the Pier.
The Officers of the Pier.
The Engineers and Contractor of the New Pier.
The Sub Deputy.
The Clerk of the Local Board.
Members of the Local Board.
The Churchwardens of St. John's and Trinity Churches.
The preliminaries having been gone through, the Rev. J. F. Lingham offered up the following prayer:—
“O Almighty and most merciful God. In all our undertakings we desire Thy gracious favour. Knowing that without thee nothing is strong, nothing holy, — to Thee we owe all the mercies by which our lives are crowned. Thy hand, O God, giveth life and health, and all things. But while we would remember with grateful hearts the gifts of thy Providence, we would, above all things, praise and adore Thee, for the richer gifts of thy grace. We bless Thee that there is a fountain opened for sin and for all uncleanness; we thank Thee for the gift of thy Holy Spirit, to renew, sanctify, and fit us for our Heavenly inheritance. We thank Thee for our public blessings. Thou hast cast our lot in a favoured land, a land of light and liberty. Give us grace to profit by the light and not abuse the liberty. We implore thy grace upon all this town and neighbourhood. May thy Holy Spirit send his life-giving influence upon us, so that we may be known as those who are fearing Thee and working righteousness. Praying in the Holy Ghost, may we keep ourselves in love of Christ, and cultivate a spirit of love and forbearance one towards other. Visit, O Holy Father, with thy blessing, this work which we now begin in thy name; may it tend to the well being and comfort of the people of this place. May it be found a refuge in the hour of danger, to those who are in peril on the deep. And while we admire from this place thy wonders in the great waters, and gather from them health and strength to our bodies, enable us by thy grace to look up to Thee in admiration and praise, and seek earnestly in the name Christ, life and health to our souls. Make us more earnest in seeking the salvation of our souls through the merits of thy dear Son. — Let not the things of time hinder us in the pursuit of the things of eternity, but so enable us to live in thy faith and fear, that in the end we may reach the Haven of everlasting rest, there to be for ever with Thee, our God. Hear us, O Lord in Heaven thy dwelling place, and receive there our prayers and bless this our undertaking for Jesus Christ's sake.’ The rev. gentleman concluded with the Lord's Prayer.
Mr. Hunter then deposited the documents, &c, in a box, which was cemented up and placed in the interior of the iron pile. The whole the preliminaries having been completed, Mr. Hunter, with the assistance of the contractor, pulled the rope attached to the monkey, and the initiative blow was given to the first pile of the new pier, amidst the applause of the assembly and the firing of the cannon from the cliffe above, the union jack flying conspicuously in the breeze. This was repeated, until the pile had descended some 6 or 7 inches, when the ceremony concluded, and the officials and inhabitants retired to their respective residences.
At five o'clock, the Town Hall was the centre of attraction. Here upwards of 100 of the leading inhabitants assembled to honor the day, and to forget the rancour of party strife, in the more congenial pursuit of paying homage at the festive board. Mine host, Wright, of "The York” ever mindful of the varying tastes and peculiarities of the English character, — had made ample provision for all “shades and grades," and the tables were decked with every dainty of the season — indeed, the most fastidious admirer of the epicurean art could not have failed to have been satisfied with both the arrangement and the viands set forth — they were in perfect keeping — as were the wines — all first-rate.
G. Y. Hunter, Esq., presided, and was supported on the right by the Rev. J. F. Lingham, Rev. J. Prosser, I. M. Cobb, Esq., Wm. Cobb, Esq., W. Brook, Esq., and W. Cardler, Esq.; and on the left the Rev. J. Graham, S. J. Smith, Rev. J. Wallis, J. Harvey Boys, Esq., W. Beverley, Esq., W. H. Thornton, Esq. There were also present, W. Barker, Esq., J. Paramor, Esq., Dr. Chambers, J. B. Birch, Esq., E. Birch, Esq. (engineers), S. Bastow (contractor), and Messrs. Pickering, F. Gore, Jenkins, Hunt, Brasier, Chanceller, &c, &c.
Messrs. Wood, Vaughan, Lewis, and Abraham, enlivened the proceedings with their vocal efforts.
Grace having been said, and cloth removed,
The Chairman rose to propose the first toast, which he had no doubt would be drank with enthusiastic applause — it was the health of her Majesty “the Queen," coupled with their heart-felt prayer, that she might long live to reign over a free, happy, and loyal people.
Drank with all the honours.
Song — “God save the Queen."
The Chairman said the next toast was the health of the Prince, with whom her Majesty's happiness was inseparably connected — a Prince, who had completely identified himself with the habits and feelings of the British people — and by his attention to their wants and wishes — had won for himself their respect and esteem. He then gave "Prince Albert and the Rest of the Royal Family," and may they live long and happily.
Drunk with enthusiastic loyalty.
In proposing “The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Clergy of the Diocese," the Chairman felt confident that the company would drink the toast with very much gratification. He spoke in pleasing terms of the amiable and affable disposition of his grace the Archbishop, and viewed it as a happy circumstance in these times, that the country was favoured with such a primate. — With respect to the local clergy, he was sure he should be expressing the feeling of the town, when he thanked them for their attendance both at the ceremony in the morning, and at the present meeting. Their presence gave effect, and a tone to the proceedings of the day, — and it proved that they were ever ready to be present at and to promote the reasonable enjoyment of their parishioners. (Hear.) He would not dwell upon the merits of those gentlemen, as he knew what it was for well qualified minds to hear their eulogiums repeated in their presence.
The German band connected with the town then played several pieces.
The Rev. J. Lingham responded to the toast with great pleasure. He hoped it would always be found that the clergy were ready to assist in every object that was calculated to advance the interests of the inhabitants, whether of a local or distant character. He thought the erection of the landing pier would be productive of great good to the town. He thanked the gentlemen present for the manner in which they had received and drunk the toast.
The Chairman said he was going to ask the company to drink the health of a body of gentlemen who had very responsible duties to perform in the government of this nation — Her Majesty's Ministers. Great principles, admitted to be good, were now being carried out for the benefit of the country in general. He felt convinced that the present was a talented, energetic, and strong administration, and with these feelings he had great pleasure in proposing the health of "Her Majesty's Ministers.”
Song — Mr. Wood.
"The Army and Navy." — This toast, the Chairman was sure would find a ready echo in the bosom of every lover of his country. Happily peace now prevailed both at home and abroad: long might such a state of things continue. Still, should the services of either the army or the navy be required to defend our soil, he had no doubt that the same bravery and valour that had characterised them in passed years, would be again manifested. But he hoped that their powers would not be required either on the ocean or in the field.
The Chairman then proposed "The County Members." During the past session they had both been found at their post, except when they were prevented either by illness or county business. As political parties were now nearly banished away, he thought he might call them "our" members, as he was sure they would watch over all their interests.
Song — Mr. Chancellor.
The Chairman knew that the next toast would be responded to with feelings of pleasure. He was about to propose the health of a gentleman who, possessing great ability and great wealth, was using them for the benefit of those by whom he was surrounded. He would give therefore "The Deputy of Margate, and prosperity to the town." (Hear.) This toast was a selfish one in the proper sense of the word. It was selfish in taking that opportunity of evincing their regard for their worthy deputy, and at the same time expressing a desire that the town might be prosperous. He felt that it was due to the Deputy, who was not present, to state that he favoured them with his presence at the ceremony of the morning, and that he had expressed to a friend, that it was his age that prevented him from being present at the dinner. (Hear.) Francis William Cobb was entitled to their sincere gratitude and respect. He (the chairman,) never filled the position he then occupied, without offering that need of praise which their Deputy so richly deserved: he would not say, long might he live and continue to fill that office, as he knew there were differences of opinion as to the propriety of retaining the connection that had long existed between Margate and Dover:— but being one of three generations which had held the office of Deputy of Dover, Mr. Cobb had discharged the duties appertaining thereto with the greatest credit and honour. (Hear.) And they were always sure of his cooperation when he thought it was right to give it — and his purse was freely at their service. (Hear.) No man made a better use of the wealth he possessed than did their respected Deputy: he was the poor man's friend. He was a Christian and a gentleman. (Applause.)
Song — "Fine Old English Gentleman."
Mr. W. Cobb briefly responded.
Mr. Mottley then gave — " Success to the New Highwater Landing Pier.” He quoted the sentiment of Shakespeare :—
"There's a tide," &c,
and applied it to the town of Margate, observing that the inhabitants might look upon the event of this day, as the turning point in the tide of the town's prosperity. He should hardly have said so, if he had not been quite sure that it would be responded to by those around him. He believed that a new dawn was rising upon the town of Margate, and that great advantages would arise to all from the completion of the work which had been inaugurated this day. He spoke of the inherent advantages possessed by the town, and the certainty, sooner or later, of their being productive of much good: the external appearance, too, of a town ought not to be neglected: but it should be made as flattering as possible. The authorities had never exercised a wiser discretion than when they gave the town its present handsome appearance. Generally speaking improvements could not be effected without incurring considerable expense; but in the present instance, the erection of the pier would prove both ornamental and beneficial to the town, and that too, without costing the inhabitants hardly anything at all. (Hear.) They would all join with him then, in thanking the gentleman who first suggested it, and who had assisted in carrying it out; for the project of the pier had only been brought to its present position by the great energy of the gentleman who filled the chair, (hear) and he had encountered and overcome great difficulties in its achievement. — It was an important undertaking, and it would prove a great boon to the town. After quoting an appropriate sentiment from Cowper, he concluded with a warm eulogium on the character of the Chairman to the Pier Directors, (Mr. Hunter).
The Rev. J. Lingham then proposed the health of the chairman. It was unpleasant to speak of a person's merits in his presence, still there was a certain amount of praise that they were justified in giving expression to. He would speak of their chairman in his double capacity, as perhaps many of them in the room owed their present enjoyment of health to his attention and successful treatment: and it was through his untiring exertions and indefatigable zeal that the work had been brought to the point which they had witnessed this day, (hear): and which would, no doubt, prove of great benefit to the town. The design was one which would reflect great credit upon its author. He could not go quite so far as Mr. Mottley, and look upon it as the turning point in the prosperity of the town, although it was well known that from little causes large results often flowed: still he hoped it would tend to increase the number of their visitors, and that when they left, they might go away with a favourable impression of the place upon their minds. He hoped that Mr. Hunter would live long among them, and that when he was taken away, his memory would remain in the pleasing recollection of all who knew him.
The toast was drunk with all the honours, and three times three.
The Chairman feelingly replied. He expressed the difficulty he felt in responding to the toast so kindly proposed by their respected vicar, and so enthusiastically responded to by the meeting. He felt that he stood in an enviable position, surrounded as he was by the principal inhabitants of Margate. As chairman, on the present occasion he could have had no difficulty in shortly thanking them for the manner in which they had drank his health: but he felt that something more was required of him than mere barren thanks. (Hear.) He had no desire to praise himself, and did not intend to mar their enjoyment, by speaking of the obstacles and annoyances he had experienced in the progress of the work in connection with the pier, and of the difficulties with which he had to encounter — but he would dismiss them from his mind as a tale that had been told. He confessed that he had higher aspirations than the erection of a landing pier, — but was the humble work to be rejected because the greater work — a harbour of refuge — could not be achieved yet? Certainly not; and he was not without hope that ultimately that might be accomplished. (Hear.) Each project stood on its own place, and possessed independent merits: and neither one would interfere with the position of the other. The landing place had occupied his thoughts by day, and his dreams by night: he had laboured hard for its accomplishment, and he hoped it would prove successful. He would, however, turn to a more pleasing task. He thanked the Old Commissioners of the town for the assistance they rendered him, as well as their legal adviser, for his valuable aid. He also thanked the Local Board of Health, for the almost unanimous manner in which they had placed at the disposal of the Directors of the Pier Company almost unlimited powers. He hoped that the work which they had that day begun would go on to a happy conclusion, and remain an ornament to the town, while it conduced to its prosperity. (Hear.) After further adverting to the new pier, which he thought he saw standing before him, as an honour to the town, and the result, he might say, without any vanity, — of the successful operations of the humble individual who then addressed them. He spoke in complimentary terms of the various officials connected with the undertaking. In conclusion, he reminded those present that they all had important social duties to perform — let them then aid each other and work together in harmony in the promotion of the public good, for they must remember that all the talents they possessed should be devoted to that end, for they were all links in one large chain. Let them then so employ their time and their attainments as to possess the things appertaining to eternity, when time shall be no more. From the bottom of his heart he thanked them for that manifestation of their regard for himself, which they had exhibited in their response to the toast which they had cordially drunk, — and he assured them that they had thus fully compensated him for any labour he had bestowed in their service. (Applause.)
Glee “Happy Home."
The Rev. J. Wallis said they all knew that the room in which they were was generally employed in a much less genial manner then at the present moment — he alluded to the proceedings in connection with the administration of justice: he therefore begged to propose the health of the Local Magistrates, who filled an office of thoroughly English character; and the English country gentleman owed to that institution, for it made him feel an interest in the prosperity of the country.
Mr. J. H. Boys, in the absence of the magistrates who usually assembled in that room, responded to the toast, and thanked the chairman, in their name, for the kind invitation he had given them to be there, and he regretted very much that there were not any of them there. Mr. Gelder had been prevented by ill-health, and the distance of Mr. Blackburn's residence no doubt had kept him away: however he had been with them in the morning. His (Mr. Boy's) father's state of health, also prevented his attendance. He should not, however, fail to express to those gentlemen the very kind manner in which their healths had been proposed and drank.
The Rev. J. Prosser gave health of the deputy-chairman, which was acknowledged by Mr. R. Jenkins.
Song — Mr. Lewis.
Mr. T. Flint said it was now 25 years since he first had the happiness of meeting his fellow-townsmen on a convivial occasion like the present — when they assembled to celebrate the laying of the foundation stone of the Margate light-house, which had been a friend to the mariner in the time of danger and difficulty, and an ornament to their pier. Since that period many of the inhabitants had passed away; but one thing among the changing scenes of life had remained unchanged — that was, that they all felt thankful for anything that was advanced for the benefit of the town — and were ready to join in the sentiment “Margate, we love thee still." A number of gentlemen were connected with the town, who were discharging onerous duties and using their best endeavours to promote its interest; — he alluded to the Local Board of Health. No one had any cause to speak otherwise of those gentlemen, to whom the inhabitants were under great obligations, and they deserved their best thanks. He proposed "The Board of Health," wishing them health and prosperity.
Mr. Mottley acknowledged the toast.
Song — "Simon the Cellarman."
Mr. Boys had a duty just assigned to him, which he should have very little difficulty in performing, and which he did with a great deal of pleasure. It was to propose “the health of Mr. Cobb, the deputy chairman of the Pier and Harbour Company and the directors of that company." He felt great confidence giving that toast, from the very able manner in which the duties of deputy chairman had been discharged — (hear) — indeed, they had been performed with equal credit to those of the chairman himself. He was one of the best hearted, and good tempered creatures that ever existed. (Hear.) And with respect to the directors of the company he felt bound to say, that they had fairly borne their part in the proceedings. He congratulated them upon the successful termination of their efforts, through evil and through good report, and expressed his conviction, that no body of men were more desirous of promoting the interest of the town than were the directors of the Margate Pier and Harbour Company.
Mr. J. M. Cobb briefly returned thanks on the part of himself and his brother directors, who were always anxious to follow their chairman, and expressed hope that the time would soon arrive when they would be called upon to celebrate the consummation of the work so auspiciously began. He could not adequately convey to the meeting his feelings upon the subject; he would therefore content himself with saying — that the heart that beat the most was generally the least able to express it. (Applause.)
The Chairman, in order to show how intimately the town of Margate was interwoven with everything that was done by the Pier and Harbour Company, read the inscription that had been deposited this day in the first pile of the new landing pier, and a copy of which would be inscribed ultimately upon the exterior of the pile itself.
Glee — " Life's a Bumper."
The Deputy-Chairman proposed the health of “the Engineers, Messrs. Birch."
Mr. Birch responded, and promised to do all in his power, not only to discharge the duties devolving upon him, but also to merit the good opinion of the townspeople. — Agreeing in the remarks of Mr. Mottley, he showed that no town could receive the addition of a new pier, and follow in the onward movements of the present day, without advancing its prosperity. Landing piers were not only of local, but of general advantage, and the government of the country were not unmindful of the facilities afforded by their adoption. At the erection of the Dover pier, not only did the government of England, but also those of France and Belgium contribute towards the expense incurred. He hoped that the new pier, the first pile of which they had seen driven that day, would be a stepping stone to something better.
“The Contractor" and "Committee of Management" having been proposed and acknowledged,
The Chairman gave “The Visitors," which was suitably responded to by Mr. Frank Masters, of Canterbury, who expressed the pleasure he always experienced in visiting Margate, as he was sure on every occasion to receive the same cordial and kind reception from its inhabitants.
The chair was then vacated, and the company separated, after a day of unusual gratification and harmony.
Local Board of Health Meeting, Tuesday August 21 1855, David Price in chair.
Kentish Observer, August 23 1855.
“Ways and Means” for the Jetty
The notice was read on this subject as follows: — “To authorize the directors of the Pier and Harbour Company to reduce the sinking fund by selling stock to the amount of £2,000, for the purpose of finishing the works at the jetty, now in progress."
Mr. Chambers felt that the present question was one too important for him to take a leading character in (Hear, hear, from Mr. Howe,) while there were experienced men well conversant with the whole of the matter, so important to the vital interest of the town of Margate, both as regarded the comfort and convenience of the visitors. It was for a grant of £2,000, for the completion of the new Jetty or landing-place. He need not say it required great consideration, for while they must not lose sight of the fact that it was imperative that the works should be completed, they must also remember that the finances of the Pier Company were not in a state to bear that expense, without resorting to the means proposed. As to the manner of obtaining the money, if it was legal it certainly appeared to him a most desirable way of furnishing the Company with the necessary funds for finishing the works, but he thought it was necessary for them to know and have some guarantee, that should the application be granted, the money would be applied — not to law proceedings — not to seeing whether the directors or their contractor were legally right — but to an honest, earnest, and vigorous prosecution of the works of the Jetty. He knew nothing about the nature of their disputes with Mr. Bastow, but if having agreed to do a certain work for a certain sum, which having received, he had not done his work, but had found that he had made some great mistake in his contract, he could only say that he trusted the directors would be more careful in future in the person they should select.
Mr. Wright would like to ask the question if, when the Board in 1852 granted the sum of £10,000 for the building the new jetty, it was not expressly stated that no further money would be required?
Mr. G. Y. Hunter answered that the Board never “granted the sum of £10,000 for building the new Jetty" at all; they merely gave the directors their permission to reduce the sinking fund to £10,000 for the purpose: but nothing, he believed, was said about that being the only sum that would be required for its completion, for the cost could not be distinctly ascertained at so early a period of the undertaking. The truth was that the Pier and Harbour Company simply said to the Local Board — "Give us your consent, which you are authorised to do by the provisional laws, for reducing our sinking fund to £10,000 for the purpose of building a new jetty, admitted on all sides to be not only desirable but indispensable." That, he held, was all the Board had to do; it was not part of their duty to ask this question and that question — how it was to be expended or why wanted. The Directors made the simple application — "we want £2000 to finish the pier; we cannot raise it by loan — we must by reducing the sinking fund, and we seek your permission for doing so;" and the Board must take it for granted that it would be expended in the furtherance of the object for which it was requested. He might, however, state that the works were in the hands of their engineer — the same one who had superintended from the beginning — and that it was the opinion of the directors that so far from £2000 not being sufficient, it was probably more than would be required.
Mr. Wright though he had no doubt at all that the money applied for would be expended as stated, still thought that when the original grant of £10,000 was made, it was under the belief that no more would be required; he remembered that he stood between the town and the Directors, — and his duty was to protect the former, though at the same time none could be more unwilling to embarrass the latter than himself, and it was on this account that he considered there ought to be some guarantee given to the Board that, if they made a grant, the money should be strictly expended for the purpose of finishing the jetty.
Mr. Boys then, at the request of several members, read the Provisional Act, clause 21, relating to the question, which enacted that if the pier should ever revert to the town, the Local Board had the power, in itself, to reduce the sinking fund to £10,000; if it did not revert, the Pier Directors had the same power with the consent of the Local Board. He then read the report of the committee appointed in 1852, which entirely approved of the specifications and plans produced by the Directors, the resolution founded on that report, and the discussion which ensued on the subject; and it was shown that nothing was mentioned at that time as to the £10,000 being the only sum that would be required to complete the works.
Mr. Woodward, as an old member, wished to ask a few simple questions — first:— How was it that the finances of the Company had been allowed to fall into the state that they were in at present? Every information on this subject ought to be given by the Directors voluntarily. Secondly — How was it that, while a year had been named as the longest period the building of the new landing-place would take, twenty-seven months had already passed away, and the jetty was not yet nearly completed? Again — Why was a requisition, signed by a few shareholders, drawn up in April, stating that as the requisitionists heard that no dividend would be paid unless the jetty could be finished, they desired the Directors to convene a meeting for the purpose of devising the means of raising sufficient money to finish the works, when the Directors knew well they could not carry it out? He called attention to the word "finish," implying that at that time it was well known that more money would be required than the Company possessed in order to complete the works. Then, as regarded the Company's income, he found, upon referring to the items, that it amounted to £5,201 18s. last year which, after paying the four per cent interest on £37,000, would leave a balance quite sufficient to pay a dividend of six guineas on every share. But last year it was all swallowed up by the expense of the jetty: and he considered, upon a careful examination, that the whole amount already expended on the jetty had been very little less than £15,000; and now another £2,000 was sought. But what, he would ask, was the prospect of a Company which went upon such a plan — how would — how could they be in a prosperous state. The Board ought to know, he considered, the state of the finances of the Pier Company — their assets and liabilities — their expenditure and income — before they granted a single penny of the £2,000 then sought; for they must consider that if they gave the grant they lost all the benefit of the sinking fund for ten years, until it had again amounted to £10,000, which was a serious thing. Again, it was a strange proceeding on the part of the Directors not to have convened a special meeting of the share-holders of the Company, and to have obtained their opinion on the subject before making their present application. He was aware it was not legally necessary, but it was an act of courtesy which ought not to have been omitted. The Board could not be too careful in their proceedings in the matter, especially before they voted away £2,000 for no specific purpose — with no decisive end — and without any explanation as to the reason of its requirement, or the mode of its application.
Mr. Hunter would merely say in answer to the remarks of his friend, (Mr. Woodward) that £12,200 had been the amount spent on the new Jetty.
Mr. Wright — Have not the directors themselves spent a considerable sum?
Mr. Hunter must say that he thought the Board could have no earthly purpose with the general expenses of the Pier Company — such a discussion was perfectly irrelevant. He was willing to admit that they had found it necessary to make a pair of steps from the new Pier to the old one, while the former was in the course of construction, in order to keep up the communication, which had put them to some expense, but that had nothing whatever to do with the present question. As regarded their unfortunate misunderstanding with Mr. Bastow, he could only say that it had arisen from too great confidence having been reposed in him by the directors. (Hear, hear.) The present duty of the Board was to decide whether or not the finishing of the new Pier was a work of sufficient importance, convenience, and utility to warrant them giving their consent to reducing the sinking fund by £2,000. The directors did not come before the Board to ask a favour but to claim a right they possessed of requesting their consent to the measure they proposed, if they approved of it.
Mr. Ovenden thought that much light had already been thrown on the subject by the discussion, which he was pleased to see had been conducted in so proper and friendly a spirit. He must say, however, that he differed from Mr. Hunter’s opinions in many material respects, but agreed with the great good sense shown in the speeches of Mr. Wright and Mr. Woodward, for, undoubtedly the Board had a right to expect an explicit statement of the affairs of the Company before they acceded to their present proposition. There had been an explanation made by Mr. Hunter it was true, but they did not appear to him to be nearly so clear as the gentleman himself appeared to think them. He was most anxious to show a friendly and liberal spirit towards the Company, but he could not and he ought not to forget that he had an accountable and responsible duty to perform to the town of Margate, which he hoped he would never forget. He certainly considered that a clear and concise draft of a balance sheet ought to have been first laid before the Board, showing the exact financial state of the Company, and the amount already expended on the new Jetty; had this been done, he had no doubt that little difficulty would have been experienced in inducing the Board to grant the director's application. But they did not, he supposed, consider such a course as necessary — indeed it was evident from what had fallen from Mr. Hunter, that they had acted upon very different principles, thinking it was only necessary to say to the Board — "Do this as we request it,” and expecting that it would be immediately done. That was a mistake, for the Local Board had not power, any more than he hoped they had the inclination to vote away, indirectly perhaps, but still amounting to the same thing, the sum of £2,000 without a stated purpose. He had examined the state of the Company's affairs as far as he was able from the yearly balance sheets, and the result was that he considered that their gross income since the time when they borrowed the £37,000 had been little short of £400,000 — in some instances it had amounted to £15,000 per annum, and until a full account had been submitted to the Board of the manner in which that large sum had been expended, they ought to hold back with any intended grant. His present object was to move that a committee be appointed to consist of three gentlemen, to confer with the directors, and report upon the state of the finances of the Company, and their general prospects. For his own part he did not care whether two, three, or four thousand pounds were voted, so that they knew that it was rendered necessary, not through any extravagance on the part of the Company, but through the unavoidable expense of the undertaking and would be applied strictly to the purpose for which it was granted: and in no way could they obtain that assurance better than in the manner proposed, by three of their own Board examining for themselves and reporting accordingly. He must say one word more on that dreadful word “law," and express his firm hope that should the directors obtain the authorisation of the Board to reduce the sinking fund by £2,000, they would be most careful — and he urged the thing emphatically on their attention — not to squander one farthing of it in law expenses or dishonourable proceedings. They must remember that it was given them solely and wholly to finish the new Jetty, and they would indeed be taking on themselves a great responsibility, should they attempt to expend it in any other manner. Lastly, as regarded the Committee which he proposed to appoint, he trusted that the directors would have the good sense and the good feeling not only not to offer anything like opposition to them, but to aid them by every means in their power, as he was happy to say they had done on a previous occasion when he was Chairman of the Committee: and he warned them that if they did offer any opposition, he would say most positively they would never obtain their application. He begged to move — "that a Committee consisting of three gentlemen to be named hereafter, be appointed to confer with the directors of the Pier and Harbour Company and to consider their present application for the authorisation of the Board to reduce their sinking fund by £2,000, in order to finish the works of the new Jetty."
Mr. Hunter might just say that he believed it was the intention of the Directors, though he did not speak officially, to let the interest on the £8,000 sinking fund accumulate until it again amounted to the original £10,000; so that their application simplified itself to a request that they might be allowed to borrow £2,000 from the sinking fund with a certainty of its being repaid in a certain space of time.
Mr. Chambers begged to second the resolution.
Mr. Howe rose to move as an amendment "that in the opinion of the present meeting, it is inconvenient to reduce the sinking fund of the Margate Pier and Harbour Company below the sum of £10,000." He did this for two reasons — first, because there was nothing stated in the notice of the Directors to that Board for what the £2000 was to be expended; and secondly, because he considered, however much the Clerk might differ from him, that when in clause 21 of the provisional order, he found that the Board of Directors were compelled to convene a special meeting of the proprietors before they could apply to the Local Board to reduce their sinking fund, although it was not again and again reiterated, still it held good, and the Directors had not done so; nor would he consider that any Directors, whoever they might be, or anyBoard, of whomsoever it might consist, had the power of doing as they pleased with the money of the people of Margate, for so the £10,000 was.
Mr. Abbot seconded the amendment. He would never allow the sinking fund to be frittered away till it was all gone, as would be the case if the resolution were agreed to.
After a few remarks from Mr. Barker and Mr. Woodward,
Mr. Ovenden put it to Mr. Howe if it would not be better for him to withdraw his amendment on the present occasion, and press it when the proposed committee had made their report.
Mr. Howe declined to withdraw his amendment, which, upon a division, was lost by a majority of eight to two, there appearing for the amendment, Messrs. Abbot and Howe; and against it, Messrs. Swindford, Chambers, Edwards, Bath, Keble, Wright, Ovenden, and Caveler.
On the original motion being put, there appeared — for it, Messrs. Chambers, Swindford, Edwards, Bath, Keble, Wright, and Ovenden; and against it, Messrs. Howe and Abbot.
It was therefore declared carried.
After a short discussion, Messrs. Jenkins, Ovenden, Bath, Chambers, and Abbot were declared the committee, Mr. Ovenden having increased the number to five on the desire of Mr. Wright.
Local Board of Health Meeting, Tuesday September 4 1855, David Price in chair.
Kentish Gazette, September 11 1855.
The meeting . . . proceeded to the consideration of the Committee’s report on the Pier and Harbour. It was but short and concluded with a resolution passed unanimously "that the application of the directors of the Company to the Local Board, to authorise them to reduce their sinking fund by selling stock to the amount of £2,000, in order to finish the works of the jetty, now proceeding, be granted, on their furnishing the Board with a written guarantee from their chairman and engineers that the works shall be completed within nine months from the 1st of September; and upon the Directors also giving the Board a guarantee that they will within a period of eight years again raise the sinking fund to the original sum of £10,000."
Mr. Ovenden then went into the particulars of the sinking fund and general account furnished by the directors, by which it appeared that about £1500 more was required to finish the works of the new jetty. He wished more distinctly and emphatically to impress upon their minds that the application of the directors was not for a gift, but for a loan. The directors had tried every means in their power to avoid coming to the Board, but it had been rendered imperative on them by their inability to borrow elsewhere the sum required. He hoped the Board would not refuse to adopt the advice given in the resolution, for he felt sure that it was the most universal wish of the inhabitants of Margate that the new landing-place should be completed. Every gentleman present must of course understand that when the Board had given the authority for the £2,000 they had done all that would be required of them, and if the directors should find that instead of £2,000, £4,000 would be required, that was entirely their concern, and rested solely on their own hands. He moved "That the report of the committee be seconded and adopted."
Dr. Chambers seconded the resolution. The Board must remember that the finishing of the new jetty was of much greater importance to the town of Margate than it was to the Pier and Harbour Company. It seemed wrong to him, under the circumstances, for the Board to refuse the application of the Directors, which appeared to him just, honourable, and advantageous.
Mr. Towne felt sure that there was no good inhabitant of Margate who did not feel that the completion of the new landing-pier was absolutely necessary to the beauty and the prosperity of the town of Margate and could assure the board that no one felt that more than himself; yet, being the only lawyer present, except their friend Mr. Boys, it was, he felt, his duty to bring before them their real position in that matter — to show them how near was the precipice under their feet — how close the pit into which they might and would fall without great caution. He alluded to the application of the directors for their authorisation to reduce the sinking fund by £2,000. That fund did not belong to the town at all at present; they had no more right to it than they had to the pier and harbour. They might at once give their consent to reduce the sinking fund, and have, if it were possible, a guarantee that it should be returned; but he would tell them what would be the effect of this — that, having once given their consent, they could never retract it; and even supposing that the sinking fund were again raised to £10,000, the directors would of themselves then have the power of reducing it to any amount they liked next day, without the consent of the board. That would, he assured them, be the result, if, in the present state of the law, the application of the directors were granted. They had at present the power over the sinking fund, which was all they could boast of; but once part with that, and what guarantee could they have that it would ever come back again. The only means that he could suggest of getting out of the difficulty was an alteration in the provisional law, or the directors must, if possible, raise the money required by other means. They must remember that the sinking fund was a dernier resort — the only thing they could fly to in case of any sudden accident to the pier, harbour, or jetty — another reason why they should be cautious before they reduced that fund. He could see nothing like a quid pro quo offered by the directors, should their application be granted; and he thought it was a base and dishonest action on the part of the company to ask the board to comply with such a thing, and he trusted they never would. He moved as amendment — "That it be referred to a committee to ascertain if a legal guarantee can be given by the Pier Company to this board, for the restitution of the sinking fund to £10,000, and its subsequent continuance at that sum, subject to the consent and control of the local board at present, if the local board now consent to the temporary reduction of the said fund."
Mr. Howe seconded the amendment.
Mr. Hunter (chairman to the directors the Pier and Harbour Company) said, when the subject first came into discussion he had been opposed to the plan of going to the local board, but upon his discovering that the company had no security to offer such as men who had money to lend were willing to accept, he at once saw that the course proposed was the only one in their power to adopt. He could assure them that it had always been his earnest desire to raise the sinking fund to its maximum, and in that he had been latterly successful. In answer to Mr. Towne’s observation, that the board would be deprived of the only powers they possessed over the sinking fund, he might surely say that he at least had no desire to see such an event, for he had voluntarily been a party to first placing it in their hands. He could not, of course, venture to contend with his friend upon the legality of the application, but he was sure that, speaking for the directors, they had no desire to give a guarantee which they did not intend to fulfil. Then as to the time, he had just received a letter from their engineer, saying that he considered the new jetty would be finished in three months; so there was at least little doubt of its being completed within nine, which was the time allowed; and when they considered that the directors merely sought their authorization for a loan on their own sinking fund, with a certainty of its being repaid in eight years, he did hope they would not refuse it.
Dr. Chambers said they could not adopt Mr. Towne's amendment without upsetting the whole thing, for it amounted to a practical refusal of the application.
Mr. Abbott moved another amendment, condemnatory of the application in any and every view.
Mr. Edwards seconded it. He considered that the money of the directors had been spent most injudiciously: for instance they were told that they had a better pier, but few he thought would think so if they saw the trouble which steam vessels had to land their passengers at it, (hear, hear,) and for his own part, he preferred the old to the new jetty, and could only say that if all the money the directors possessed were wasted in a similar manner, the less they had of it the better.
Mr. Woodward thought that instead of the merit which the directors took to themselves for having stopped the dividend, they ought to be ashamed of such an act, and he felt confident that had any individual shareholder summoned the chairman to the County Court he could have recovered the dividend.
Mr. Hunter. — "Why did they not try it then." (Laughter.)
Mr. Woodward continued, that he considered it was a most unfair thing to do, and had caused to his own knowledge much distress. For his own part, he could not understand the balance-sheet of the directors, several things appeared to him very strange, and on the whole he strongly disapproved of granting the application.
A long discussion then arose upon the subject of Mr Abbott's resolution, in which Messrs. Towne, Bath, R. Woodward, and Caveler took part.
Mr. Woodward objected to Mr. Caveler's voting, as he was a permanent officer of the pier. Mr. Caveler contended for and maintained his right, which proved an important consideration in settling the question.
Mr. Ovenden replied on the original motion, and said that he had looked into the local Act very carefully to ascertain the reason why eight years was named as the time for the restitution of the sinking fund, which was, because it was shown by Mr. Bath that by adding the interest to the principal it would take that number of years to raise it to its maximum of £10,000, and he wished to have a moral guarantee that it should be so raised, and that the jetty should be completed.
The Chairman proceeded to put the second amendment, when there appeared, —, for it Messrs. J. Woodward, Towne, Howe, and Abbott, against it — Messrs. Jenkins, Bath. Wright, Ovenden, Keble, Caveler, and Dr. Chambers, upon which it was declared lost.
For the first amendment — Messrs. Edwards, J. Woodward, Towne, Howe, Abbott, and Woodruff, — against it — the same gentlemen as voted against the other one; it was therefore lost by one vote.
The original motion was then put, those gentlemen voting for and against the first amendment, the reverse for the original motion, which was therefore carried.
It was then moved and seconded, and carried unanimously that a copy of the resolution, read by the Chairman of the Pier and Harbour Company, relative to the completion of the landing-place and the restitution of the sinking fund be entered on the minutes.