Eastbourne Memories - A Victorian Perspective

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240                Old Memories of East-Bourne. [Chap. XIX.
they were obliged to put their evening letters into the post at the early hour of 7 p.m. It so happened, however,, that in the month of December 1874 there was much frost and snow, and during the week before Christmas the morning delivery of letters, instead of taking place at 8 a.m., was for several days running delayed till 12.0 or 1.0 in the day, and on December 17 did not take place till 6.0 in the afternoon, which was after the Night Mail had been closed, because, if the letters were to catch the up train at Staplehurst, an extra couple of hours had to-be placed at the disposal of the poor horse who drew them. It may naturally be supposed that great indignation prevailed in the town on the subject. As Lewes and Hastings were in the same boat with East-Bourne, arrangements were made for a deputation to the Postmaster-General on January 13, 1875, to remonstrate. I and somebody else went to speak on behalf of East-Bourne, and Lewes and Hastings each sent 2 or 3 representatives. I remember that, when we assembled in the ante-room of the Postmaster-General (Lord J. Manners), our County Member, Mr. G. B. Gregory, who introduced us, expressed great disgust at the small number of Sussex men who had arrived to put pressure on the Post Office. Mr. Gregory's actual words were:" If places in Lancashire had been treated by the Post Office in the way in which you gentlemen and your neighbours have been treated, this large room would not have held the grumblers who would have travelled 200 miles to grumble." However, if our bodily presence was contemptible, our cause was too strong to be ignored by the authorities, and in a very short time (July 1, 1875) East Sussex had the pleasure of finding that their letters arrived by rail at midnight for delivery the next morning ; and could be posted at East-Bourne as late as 9 p.m. Perhaps the obvious reform was hastened on by the following announcement in a Hastings newspaper, in one of its issues of May 1875 : " The delivery of the letters on Tuesday morning was 2 hours late. Near Sedlescombe the horse bringing the Mail cart to Hastings died on the road."
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