Eastbourne Memories - A Victorian Perspective

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Chap. XII.]           Hunting and Boating.                        151
gambling tricks with a hardiness which betokened life-long experience of the betting trade. One man, smarter than his rivals, by way of showing that he was well up in the news of the day, stated that he had been sent down by Messrs. Moody and Sankey to distribute halt-sovereigns for the benefit for the poor, in exchange in each case for 5s. worth of silver—a clear gain of 5s. to every applicant. The crowd of blockheads around him was so thick that we were unable to get near enough to make it worth while to add one to it. Passing over things not fit to be mentioned to ears polite (of which there was a plenty), we would conclude by remarking that so far from being an attraction to East-Bourne, these races, if they continue and grow, will become a real curse to the town; whilst looked at from the "horsey" point of view, the gathering was a miserable sham. For instance, the cup, in respect of which the Duke of Devonshire is annually fleeced to the extent of £25, was run for by three miserable brutes, one of which was blown before his rider had galloped him half-a-mile, whilst of the other two it might be supposed that the question was, which could get last to the post. As sport, the whole entertainment was an utter failure, and as a public benefit for the good of trade, the profits were reaped only by the police, the beer retailers, and the fly-drivers, all of whom had plenty to do."
The hunting of foxes and hares has long prevailed in and around East-Bourne, and in my younger days the South Down foxhounds kennelled at Ratton, with Mr. Thomas as Master, and the Brookside Harriers kennelled near Lewes were names to conjure with. In a sense the packs now carried on in this part of Sussex have inherited some of the traditions of 1850-60, but I am not competent to go into any details. At a much later date I unearthed ^a litter of foxes in a secluded part of my gardens at Northficld Grange, and on more than one occasion (once when there was snow on the ground) a wily fox assisted in reducing my stock of ducks and chickens. The familiar notice-board' Trespassers will be prosecuted' seems to have no effect on these people. One year I lost a tame gull.
One of the occupations of my younger days on which I look back with much pleasure was boating. During several successive summers in the " Sixties " I joined in many boating trips either for the simple pleasure of a sail, or to end on shore somewhere for an evening picnic, or for sea-fishing off Langney Point. The following extracts from diaries may suffice as specimens of the programmes :—1807, August 13. " Out in sailing boat at 7.30 for 2 hours with a party of 12." 1867, August 14. " Frightfully hot day. Rowed to Beachy Head in evening : party in 3 boats."
The 26th day of August 1859 saw the first Regatta at East-Bourne. The sea-front from opposite 24 Grand Parade to the Wish was all cliff—no houses except 2 old cottages ; and the swarms of people who lined the cliff
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