Eastbourne Memories - A Victorian Perspective

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Chap. XL] The Opening of the Bailway                 125
preparations were of a very complete character, and the programme lasted for fully 15 hours or more, almost from daylight till midnight. Of course, the excitement amongst the natives was very great for many of them had never travelled by train, or even seen a locomotive engine. The actual opening may be said to have taken place at about mid-day, or soon after, when a special train from Brighton brought in a number of officials of the Railway Company, and a brass band to enliven the proceedings. A luncheon took place in a large booth erected in the grounds of the Orchard Farm, the residence of Mr. Smith, Lord Burlington's steward, on or near the site of what is now Orchard Road. My father came down from London to sit at the festive table, and he wished me to accompany him, but my mother's remonstrances against my introduction into public life at the age of 7J prevailed. When the luncheon was over there were, of course, toasts and speeches ; the principal speaker being Mr. Leo Schuster, the then Deputy Chairman of the Railway Company and afterwards Chairman, who proposed the health of the Chairman of the luncheon party (Mr. Freeman Thomas, of Ratton, the grandfather of the present Lord Willing-don). The items in the programme which attracted my special attention and approval were the efforts made by certain amateur acrobats to climb a greasy pole for the sake of the leg of mutton at the top ; and the fireworks in the evening. The successful acrobat was the late Mr. William Newman who afterwards became one of the principal builders ; and whose sons carry on his business still. Amongst Newman's claims to our grateful remembrance is the fact that he undertook the duties of Schoolmaster at the first evening school ever carried on in the parish, supported by my aunt Miss Julia Brodie. The fireworks were of amateur-make, having been prepared for the occasion by two uncles of mine, Mr. F. Brodie and Dr. D. J. Hall. Those two gentlemen in their day often contributed pyrotechnic displays to enliven the public, having received their training from another amateur, Mr. Dobree, who lived
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