Eastbourne Memories - A Victorian Perspective

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Chap. VII.]                      Societies.                                     87
I suppose that almost or quite the earliest organised Society in East-Bourne for intellectual purposes was the " Mechanics" or " Literary Institution," dating, I think, from 1844. Such Institutions were established in many parts of England by Lord Brougham and people associated with him, but they were not generally successful or long-lived, and the East-Bourne Institution was no exception. The house at the corner of South Street facing the Town Hall was its Head-quarters for many years. Its Library was stored there and lectures were given there. The only lectures I remember were 2 in 1851 : one by Dr. Hall on Electricity and one by Mr. W. Brodie on Life in the Colonies. The Library was afterwards moved to No. 14 Seaside, now the Office of the Water Company, and after a precarious existence was dispersed by sale, and so the whole affair came to an end.
Next in point in time, I think, was the "East-Bourne Coal and Clothing Society," but I possess no materials for describing its work, though it had a prolonged and useful existence under the very capable management of the Vicar, Mr. Pitman. In order to occupy ground not occupied by this Society in 1849, a Committee of ladies founded the " East-Bourne Blanket Loan Society." I have a copy of the original Prospectus, and a nearly complete file of its Annual Reports. The names of the first Office-bearers are given thus :Committee : Mrs. Pierpoint, Mrs. Graham, Mrs. Hall, Mrs. Gibson, Miss L. Brodie, Miss Washington. Treasurer: Miss G ilbert. Secretary: Miss J. Brodie. A capital sum wras subscribed to purchase at the outset 132 blankets, and the subscribers had the privilege of nominating borrowers, who had nothing to pay except Qd. for the expense of cleaning the blanket on its return at the end of the Winter. The blankets were given out in November and had to be returned in June. I was appointed Editor of the Annual Report (only 4 pages long) in 1854, at the age of 13, and continued to assist in the work until the dissolution of the Society in 1892 on the death of two aunts into whose hands the management had drifted.
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