Eastbourne Memories - A Victorian Perspective

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100                 Old Memories of East-Bourne. [Chap. VIII.
Parliament : 1868, 31 and 32 Vict., Chapter cxxvi. ; 1880, 43 and 44 Vict., Chapter xlvi.; 1907, 7 Edward VII, Chapter 5 ; 1909, 9 Edward VII., Chapter xxvii.
The first-named Act incorporated the Company with powers to supply East-Bourne and Willingdon. The Act of 1880, of which I was the draftsman, enlarged the Company's Area to include Westham and Pevensey, whilst the Act of 1909 empowered the Company to take over the powers of the Hailsham Gas Company and to supply Polegate and Hailsham.
The question of the Water Supply has also a history. I had always been in favour of towns controlling their water. This policy had been brought home to me by observation of things in other parts of England and by what I had seen when at the Local Government Board, so on December 7, 1874, at my instance, the Local Board passed a resolution that the time had come for the town to undertake its own water supply, and a Committee, of which I became Chairman, was appointed to collect information on the subject. We communicated through the Clerk with other towns circumstanced, more or less, as East-Bourne was, and the information we collected justified us, I thought, in recommending that steps should be taken by the Local Board to purchase the East-Bourne Waterworks. But when it came to the critical point, the Board shrank from the responsibility. The members of the Board who represented the Duke of Devonshire and the Water Company were hostile, or indifferent and unwilling to encourage the idea, and so the whole question disappeared for many years from the range of practical politics. It became a burning question however in 1895, when the water supply at Bedford Well became contaminated, and the whole town was for a time without wTater fit to drink. I am bound to say that the Water Company made prompt and great efforts to meet the difficulty, regardless of the cost. However the break­down gave a stimulus to the revival of the demand that the town should take the water supply into its own hands. Accordingly the Corporation went to Parliament in the Session of 1897, for a Bill for the purpose, but
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