Eastbourne Memories - A Victorian Perspective

An Account of, notable events, Persons and town history - online book

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Chap. XI.] The Opening of the Railway.                   123-
As the railway from Lewes through Polegate to Hastings was opened in 1847, the coach drive which I remember (from East-Bourne to Lewes), was probably a year earlier, because I think it was in the spring of 1846 that my grandmother was in London for the Season, and took me with her down to East-Bourne in her own carriage. She had bought in that year an additional half acre of land to enlarge The Gore lawn, and had had constructed in it an ornamental fish pond. At a later date, I developed piscatorial tastes, and acquiring rod and line considered that catching gold and silver fish would be great fun ; but that particular developement of my ambition was disapproved of by the Authorities, and I was subjected to a severe reprimand, ending probably in being sent to bed.
Railways of course have revolutionised the horse and carriage traffic of the country. Up to the middle of the 19th Century, most people of all ranks knew some­thing about horses, and distances in miles were not thought much of. For instance on the wedding day of my parents in 1840, something was wanted from Lewes-in the morning, and I do not suppose that anything was thought of sending a horse and cart of some sort from East-Bourne to Lewes to fetch it. Amongst the vehicles whose names are probably little known to the present generation, and their shapes still less, are a chariot, clarence, barouche, britzska, gig, stanhope, tilbury and others. Chariot was pronounced by old-fashioned people as Charrot (the late Mr. F. J. Howard always so pro­nounced it). It wras a sort of glorified Sedan chair with seats for only 2 persons inside, hung on C springs and drawrn by 2 horses driven by a postillion. The seat in front, usually known as the box-seat, was originally literally only a box containing the wearing apparel of the travellers inside. It was fashioned as a seat for a driver when the horses were not driven by a postillion. Sometimes a chariot contained a third seat for a child, shaped something like a milking stool. I remember once being driven thus seated in a carriage belonging to an old Aunt who was taking a drive from Worthing to
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