Eastbourne Memories - A Victorian Perspective

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Chap. XI.] Proposed Railways to East-Bourne.            135
exactly 58 miles. I was present most of the 11 days during which the hearing lasted ; indeed I was called as a witness on behalf of the Brighton Company. Whilst it is probable that the line would have done good to East-Bourne merely from the standpoint of the traveller it is absolutely certain that having regard to the lack of population along its whole length there was not the remotest possibility that, if made, it could become a paying concern. It evoked, however, a large amount of verbal support from the inhabitants of East-Bourne, but little or no financial support other than that which was, or might have been, given by the Duke of Devonshire. The tunnels constituted one objection to the Bill. There would have been 10, of an aggregate length of 11,697 yards—nearly 7 miles. One of them nearly 2 miles long, and two others—each about one mile.
The next Railway move was in the autumn of 1885 when a meeting was held at East-Bourne on October 28, in support of a scheme for a coast-line from East-Bourne to Seaford. This also was from a local point of view a popular proposal. The circular convening the meeting suggested among other advantages that the line would " greatly benefit the Town by lessening the cost of coals, building materials, and other goods coming from Newhaven. It also suggested that the landowners along the line were favourable to the scheme. This was true, Lord Chichester having sent his steward to attend the meeting whilst another important landowner, Mr. Davies Gilbert, was specially keen on the subject. I was invited to address the meeting and did so in a speech which, I am afraid, was of undue length. Mr. Gilbert's motives were avowed to be that he looked forward to developing Birling Gap as a residential marine suburb of East-Bourne. I confess that I liked the idea, and quite think that some day it may be realised. The proposal took the shape of a Bill in the next session of Parliament which soon became an Act, and it was generally hoped and expected that the line would soon be made—the promoters having come to terms with the Brighton Company as to working it. Starting from off the
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