Eastbourne Memories - A Victorian Perspective

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Chap. XVI.]             Public Libraries.                            207
Museums. On the matter being looked into however, it was found that a Local Board under the " Local Govern­ment Act, 1858," was not an Urban Authority entitled to work the " Public Libraries Acts." This was a casus omissus, which I was asked by the Caldecott Trustees to take steps to get rectified. I accordingly drafted a short Bill for the purpose which was introduced into the House of Commons by my friend Mr. J. G. Talbot, M.P., and rapidly passed through all its stages and became law, under the " short " title of " The Public Libraries Act, 1855, Amendment Act, 1871." (34 and 35 Vict. c. 71.) On November 24, 1871, a meeting was called to adopt the Act, but a motion to that effect was rejected chiefly owing to the senseless opposition of certain booksellers who thought it would check the sale of books, whereas it is notorious that Public Libraries stimulate the demand for books. The Caldecott Trustees therefore had to take other steps. What they were is a matter that does not belong to this chapter.
I may however here add that at a much later date and with the inhabitants in a more enlightened frame of mind, the "Public Libraries Acts " were adopted, and the old Vestry Room fitted up as a temporary library. It was opened as such on July 7, 1896. The formal ceremonial took place at the Town Hall, and Mr. Hall Caine was the officiating minister. It fell to myself to make a speech, and I never did so in East-Bourne with greater pleasure.
In consequence of the ravages of the sea, the Local Board sought Parliamentary powers in 1879 to deal with that and other matters, and the Act (42 & 43 Vict., c. xcvii.) gave them the powers required, but the •circumstances which led to the passing of that are discussed at length in the Chapter on Sea Walls. (Chapter XVIII., post.)
In connection with the Incorporation of the town, the first Mayor, Mr. G. A. Wallis, formed the opinion that the Local Government powers conferred by the general law did not afford sufficient scope for the management of town affairs on the newest modern lines,
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