Eastbourne Memories - A Victorian Perspective

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Chap. VIII.] Gas at East-Bourne.                            99
The East-Bourne Gas Company was hatched in 1851, and I have a copy of its first prospectus, and of each of its annual reports during the first years of its existence. I was in fact an original shareholder, holding 2 10 shares which number I afterwards increased to 10 shares. With sad lack of financial foresight I sold them all in 1867 when I married. The formation of the Company was the outcome of a meeting held at the Literary Institution, South Street, on February 27, 1851. The provisional Committee were Messrs. J. A. Bown, R. Colgate, R. Cooper, J. Dexter, J. Gosden, A. Hurst, G. A. Jeffery, and G. Thatcher ; The Trustees were ■Dr. D. J. Hall and Mr. R. B. Stone ; The Bankers, Molineux & Co.; The Solicitor, Mr. A. Whiteman. The capital was 3000 in 10 shares. The first year's profits were 175; the second, 275; and so they increased year by year till the date of the last balance sheet in my possession, 1868, when the profits had grown to 966 ; and the capital had been raised from 3000 to 7000. What the present profits are, are known with cheerfulness to the numerous shareholders. The starting price of the gas was 7 shillings per 1000 cubic feet. It is now less by nearly two-thirds.
When I became a member of the Local Board in 1874, there were great complaints as to the inefficiency of the street lamps, which were paid for at so much per lamp, on the supposition that so many cubic feet of gas were consumed by each lamp each night. This was supposition and nothing else, as the Local Board soon discovered when they decided to measure, by means of a meter, the gas supplied: one meter to every group of lamps. This proposal was stoutly resisted by a gas director on the Local Board, Mr. Charles Simmons, a butcher, who although he had no power to vote, because he was an interested party, had great powers of tongue, but as " the proof of a pudding is in the eating," so the advocates of the meter policy were amply supported by the figures yielded by the meters ; and now all the street lamps are meter lamps. The present powers of the Gas Company are derived from the following Acts of
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