Rule by the Margate Local Board of Health 1851 - 1858

Anthony Lee

6. How the Report was received in Margate.

It is no surprise to read that Cresy’s report caused outrage amongst the anti-reformers in Margate. The Improvement Commissioners received the report on 31 January 1851 and immediately renewed their request to the General Board to see a copy of the original petition:110 ‘I am desired again by the Commissioners of Pavement earnestly to renew my application for a copy of the Petition with the 303 Signatures of Rate payers, and which I trust to receive by Tuesday next. A meeting of Inhabitants will be convened by the Commissioners and it is essential to know correctly, the amount at which the Properties occupied by the Petitioners were assessed at, and the number of such Petitioners who are owners of Property, and consequently Rate Payers.’ The reply was the same as before:111 ‘it is not the practice of the Board to furnish copies of the signatures to petitions, until it has been determined to apply the Act, and that they must therefore decline to accede to the request contained in your letter.’

The report was discussed at a meeting of the Improvement Commissioners on 7 February.112 The meeting got off to a bad start with a discussion of a plan to pull down Pump Lane and build a new road to the Fort. The Kent Herald reported that ‘the measure was very warmly debated, and led to that which  we foretold a month ago, viz., a violent altercation between Messrs. Mottley and Waddington, the former supporting, and  the latter opposing any interference with the property on the plea of waiting the issue of the report of Mr. Cresey.’ A second Kent Herald correspondent reported that ‘the sayings and doings of this extraordinary meeting beggar all description. It was a perfect bear-garden scene’. The correspondent continued, ‘we fear the forthcoming public meeting will be far from unanimous, many of the most respectable inhabitants disliking the self-elected Town Commissioners having expressed their intention of carrying out Mr. Cresy's suggestions, while others think there is something like a "job" in the proposed purchase of property in Pump-lane, and that the town will be too heavily burthened by the rates under the proposed government measure’.112

The public meeting was held the following week and ‘after a great deal of very warm discussion, the report was condemned as being grossly exaggerated and full of errors, and a vote of censure passed upon Mr. Cresy’.113 The meeting finally agreed that F. W. Cobb and J.  E. Wright, Clerk to the Commissioners, together with John Plumptre and William Deedes, the two Tory members of Parliament for East Kent, should meet the Board of Health in London to try to convince them that the present Improvement Commissioners could ‘carry out the spirit and intention of the Health of Towns Act’ without any need to actually implement the Act.113,142  Cobb and Wright duly travelled to London while, in Margate, the town began to consider the report ‘quietly and rationally’; for many, said the Kent Herald, ‘the extent of the present cesspool system was unknown, and the fearful consequences are scarcely  believed by those who are unfortunately surrounded with them’. 112

On 21 February the public meeting reconvened to hear the outcome of the discussions between Cobb and Wright and the General Board.113 Cobb reported that they had been ‘courteously received by Dr. Southwood Smith [the medical member of the General Board of Health] and Mr. Chadwick’ but that ‘the impression of the deputation, after the interview, was, that it would be impolitic to resist the interference of the General Board’. In other words, they were clear that the General Board had been convinced by Cresy’s report and that the Public Health Act was going to be applied to Margate. Cobb proposed to the meeting that the Improvement Commissioners should form a committee from amongst themselves to negotiate with the General Board and try to obtain a Provisional Order ‘as would be most advantageous to the town.’ The idea that only the Commissioners would be involved in the discussions was, however, not popular and instead it was proposed that there should be a joint committee of Commissioners and ten rate payers.113 In turn this proposal was opposed by Joshua Waddington who thought that the committee should consist just of rate payers.114 Waddington’s speech on the issue was ‘forcible and convincing’ and lasted ‘upwards of an hour,’ not, in fact, particularly long for a Waddington speech. He argued that the Commissioners had ‘on a former occasion stifled, by means of sinister influences, the wishes of a very large majority of the inhabitants.’ The Canterbury Journal suggested that Waddington’s speech had a ‘very powerful effect on the state of feeling in the town’ but nevertheless the meeting decided to form a joint committee of Commissioners and rate payers to discuss what should be in the Provisional Order.114

 It was also stressed at the meeting that individuals were free to contact the General Board in London directly, if they wished to do so,115 and one who did was Edward Mottley.116 Mottley complained of many factual errors in Cresy’s report, probably due, he suggested, to ‘imperfect data, and hasty compilation’; he hoped these would be corrected as otherwise they could ‘mislead public opinion and seriously affect the reputation of the town of Margate, “Health and Cleanliness being the staple commodities” which Margate has to sell.’ He felt that the comments about the poor, their ‘ill-drained and badly ventilated habitations’ and their miserable existence ‘was not the result of that impartial and calm enquiry that should proceed from the officer entrusted with the examination of the sanitary condition of a district’. Indeed, he stood by his previous analysis of the mortality figures for the town which, he claimed, showed that ‘Margate is not only superior to every locality hitherto surveyed [by the General Board]’ but also that Margate is ‘superior’ to the other districts that Cresy cited as examples of ‘healthy conditions.’ Mottley ended his letter by repeating his request that the Board should amend Cresy’s report and ‘will not sacrifice the reputation of the Town which owes its welfare and even existence to the purity and salubrity of its atmosphere and situation.’ 

Attacking Cresy’s report was, however, not going to do much good; the Public Health Act was certainly going to be implemented in Margate and what was important now was to obtain a favourable Provisional Order. As already described, when the General Board decided that the Public Health Act was to be applied to a town, a Provisional Order would be drafted, laying out how the Act would be implemented.6,8 This draft would then be discussed with representatives of the town, allowing for a degree of flexibility in applying the Act; although some clauses were laid down in the Act, others were open to negotiation. For example, in a non-corporate town such as Margate it was laid down that the Board of Improvement Commissioners would be replaced by a Local Board of Health, but the number of members on the Local Board was negotiable, depending on the size of the town. The board was to be elected by the rate payers, although not on the basis of one man one vote; the number of votes held by each rate payer would depend on their wealth. The scale to be used was that the owner of property of rateable value under £50 had 1 vote, between £50 and £100, two votes, and so on to a maximum of 6 votes for the owner of property of rateable value above £250. The same scale was used to calculate the number of votes of occupiers of property, and someone both owning and occupying a property would receive votes both in respect of ownership and occupation, so giving an individual a maximum number of 12 votes. It was also laid down in the Act that to be eligible for election to a place on the Local Board a candidate had both to be resident within the district and to have a minimum level of wealth, although this qualification was to be determined separately for each town, depending on the circumstances of the town.

One important body with an interest in the Provisional Order was the Margate Pier and Harbour Company. The pier and harbour at Margate had originally been managed by the Improvement Commissioners with the droits and dues (the harbour charges) being used to repair the Pier, pay the interest on the outstanding dept, and generally improve the town.117 However, a violent storm in 1808 caused great damage to the Pier, which, it was estimated, would cost £30,000 to repair. The Commissioners were unable to obtain sufficient loans to cover so large a bill, especially as there was already a debt of £37,200 on the Pier, covered by mortgage bonds. It was therefore agreed to form a Joint Stock Company which would raise the required £30,000 by issuing shares, on the condition that the Pier was assigned to the Company by Act of Parliament.118 The Company would then use the droits and dues to pay interest to the bond holders of the old debt, at 5 %,  and then to pay interest on the shares in the Company, at up to 10 %.117 Any money remaining after the costs of normal repairs would then be used to form a ‘sinking fund’, in effect a reserve fund that could be used to repair any major damage to the pier. The size of the sinking fund was limited to £20,000 and, once the sinking fund had reached that figure, any surplus income was to be used to pay off the original debt of £37,200 and, when that original debt had been paid off, to repay the £30,000 advanced by the joint stock company; when that had also been repaid, the Pier would revert to the Improvement Commissioners and the droits and dues would then go to the town. This arrangement proved to be unfortunate for Margate. Although the stated aim was that ownership of the Pier would eventually return to the town, this was obviously not in the interests of the shareholders in the Pier and Harbour Company, since once their shares were paid off they would lose their very generous 10 % rate of interest. The Pier and Harbour Company was run for the shareholders by a Board of Directors and the shareholders expected the Directors to make sure that the sinking fund never reached £20,000; this the Directors did by finding imaginative ways of spending any excess profits.

During the month of March, J. E. Wright, as Clerk to the Board of Improvement Commissioners, was in correspondence with the General Board in London relating to the Pier and Harbour Company.119 The Chairman of the Company, G. Y. Hunter, wished to reduce the Company’s sinking fund from £20,000 to £10,000, so that they could use £10,000 to improve the Jetty at Margate. Hunter also wished to obtain powers to borrow £37,200 to pay off the bond holders of the old debt, because the company was paying them 5 % interest each year, at a time when money could be borrowed on the open market at a much lower rate of interest than this. Hunter asked for two clauses to be included in the Provisional Order for these purposes and the General Board replied that they could see no objection.120 Others, though, did see an objection: as soon as Waddington heard of what was being planned he issued a poster urging the Improvement Commissioners to attend their next meeting and vote against the proposal:121


Mr. WADDINGTON ventures to hope, that every TOWN-COMMISSIONER will be present, at the TOWN-HALL, on MONDAY next, at Eleven o’Clock, when it is expected, a most unjustifiable attempt will be made, to enrich the PIER-PROPRIETORS, at the expense of the RATE-PAYERS; and, also, to swindle the PIER-BOND-HOLDERS* (many of whom are Widows, and Orphans), by paying them off contrary to the Act of Parliament, “52nd GEO III.”
Marine Terrace, April 9th, 1851
* Upwards of 90, holding Securities to the amount of, £37,200.

waddington Poster 1851
Joshua Waddington Poster 1851

Another contentious issue that needed to be clarified in the Provisional Order was the town boundary, as this determined who would have to pay the town rates. The first problem was that the town of Margate included much arable and pasture land, and such land was usually exempt from paving and lighting rates. The second problem was the distinction between the town of Margate and the Parish of St. John the Baptist. The parish was much the larger of the two, with an area of about 2,500 acres, of which about 1,000 acres formed the town of Margate.122 Wright, after ‘due consideration’ thought that the Public Health Act should apply only to the town of Margate.123 The General Board disagreed and thought that it would be more expedient for the Act to be applied to the whole parish, and this view was the one that prevailed. However, since much of the land in the parish was agricultural land, it was agreed that the rating area would be just the built-up area of the town of Margate. This had first been defined in the Act of 1813, An Act for more effectually paving, lighting, watching, and improving the Town of Margate, in the County of Kent, as follows:302

And be it further enacted, that the said Town of Margate shall, from and after the passing of this Act, be limited and bounded as follows; (to wit), from the Fort Point to the West End of the Pier, and thence to a Place called Horn Corner; thence to the West Side  or End of the New Terrace, and keeping on the East Side of the Margate Brooks to a certain Place called Frog Cottage; and thence including that Cottage in a straight line to a Stone called The Vicarage Mark Stone, which divides the North Side of the public Carriage Road leading from the Vicarage to Saint Peter’s, and from that Mark Stone  in a Direction due North, to the Footway leading from the Workhouse to Northdown; and thence turning Westward, and keeping along the North Side of the Workhouse Wall to Long Mill Lane; and from that Point turning Northward to the House and Garden of John Cowell Esquire, in the Dane, and including the same; thence to the East Side of a certain House and Garden belonging to the Reverend Richard Jeffreys, and at present in the Occupation of Mary Peacock, and in a Line thence due North to the Sea; and thence along the Cliff to the Fort Point aforesaid; and all and every Place and Places within the said Bounds and Limits shall be and be considered to be within the said Town of Margate, for the Purposes of this Act.

The boundary can be followed as the broken line (–.–.–.–) on Edmunds Margate map of 1821 By 1825 expansion of the town led to a new Act for managing the town and an expansion of the rateable area to include the area from Upper Marine Terrace to just beyond the Sea Bathing Hospital and an  extension eastwards to include Newgate.52 This newer boundary is shown by the black broken line (– – – –) on the map produced for the Cresy’s inspection and shown below. The rateable area was defined in the Act of 1825 as follows:52

And whereas since the passing of the said Act of the fifty-third year of the reign of His said late Majesty, a great increase hath been made in the number of houses and buildings as well on the East as on the West sides of the said Town, and it is therefore expedient to extend the bounds thereof, be it therefore enacted,  that the said Town of Margate shall, from and after the passing of this Act, be limited and bounded as follows; (to wit), from the Fort Point to the West End of the Pier, and thence to a Place called Horn Corner; thence along the new Stone Wall of the Bathing Rooms, and in front of the Terrace, to the west end of that wall; thence along the sea  shore, in the line of the proposed new wall to Westbrook Gateway; thence taking the line of the sea shore to the gateway next beyond and on the west side of the Infirmary; thence turning inland, in the direction south, true bearing, to the distance of 150 yards on the south side of the King’s highway there from Canterbury to Margate, and extending from the said last-mentioned point in a straight line to the green wall at the north-west end of the Margate Brooks called Bloxham’s Wall, thence continuing along the same in a straight line to the west side of the field called Rope Walk Field; thence turning towards the south and keeping along the foot of the said field and the east side of the Margate Brooks to a certain place called Frog Cottage; and thence, including that cottage, in a straight line to a stone called the Vicarage Mark Stone, which divides the north side of the public carriage road leading from the Vicarage to St Peter’s, and from that mark stone, in a direct line, to the south-easternmost angle or point of a piece of land late of the heirs of John Cowell, Esquire, and now of Charles Winch; and from thence along the hedge and boundary line which separates the land, farm yard, and buildings of Edward Taddy from the lands now or late of the said heirs of John Cowell to the King’s highway, called the Lower Road in the Dane, and thence crossing that road to and into the road on the north side thereof, which leads upwards to the upper Northdown Road, and passing up that road to and into the said upper road; thence turning eastward along the said upper road to the bar and private road of and belonging to the Right Honourable Robert Peel, and John Bell, and then returning northward along that private road to the seashore at Newgate, and thence along the cliff to the Fort point first aforesaid; and all and every Place and Places within the said Bounds and Limits shall be and be considered to be within the said Town of Margate, for the Purposes of this Act.

The proposed new rateable area was defined in Schedule B of the Provisional Order, as follows:124

the rating area of the Margate district for the purposes of the Public Health Act 1848 shall extend to and be comprised within the following boundary line, that is to say, a line com­mencing at a mark on the beach at the base of Fort Point, and proceeding thence along the sea-shore (including Jarvis's lauding place and the Pier), in a southerly direction to the gateway at the foot of Upper Marine-terrace, thence along the seashore in a westerly direction to the gateway next beyond, and on the west side of the Infirmary gateway, thence inland in a direct line in a south direction to a market stone on the south side of the Queen's highway or carriage road, leading from Margate to Canterbury, thence in a direct line in an easterly direction to a market stone on the east side of the Queen's highway or carriage road leading from Margate to Minster, thence in a direct line eastward to the market stone, called the Vicarage Mark, at the north side of the Queen's highway, or carriage road leading from Margate to St Peters, thence in a direct line northward to a market stone on the north side of the Queen's highway or carriage road leading from Margate to West Northdown, thence westward along the said last mentioned road to the west side of the private road belonging to the devisees of the late Right Hon. Sir Robert Peel, Bart., deceased, there leading to the sea shore, thence northward along the private road down Newgate gateway to the sea shore, and thence along the sea shore in a westerly direction to Fort-road aforesaid.

This definition represented an extension of the town boundary and, in particular, included additional land around Westbrook and Northdown, land that was presumably seen as ripe for development. To prevent any confusion, Wright sent a copy of the 1842 Tithe Map of Margate to the General Board with the new boundary coloured in green.

The new boundary proposed for the town is shown by the green line and the boundary of 1825 is shown by the broken black line

Having defined the rateable area, it was necessary to clarify what rates would be charged. It was agreed that any powers to raise rates given to the Local Board would only apply within the rating area but that the Local Board could ‘from time to time’ extend the rating area. The Public Health Act provided that district rates would be levied on all occupiers of property rated for the relief of the poor except ‘land used as arable or pasture land, market gardens, nursery ground, and railways, which shall be assessed in the proportion of one fourth of the annual rate.’ It was estimated that about 300 acres of land in Margate would be eligible for this reduced rate.125 However, this disagreed with the provisions of various of Margate’s existing local acts, and Wright suggested to the General Board that these local arrangements should have precedence,123 although he finally gave way on this following pressure from the Attorney General.125 There were also existing special arrangements for charging rates on properties close to the shore, to pay for the construction and maintenance of sea walls and sea defences. Wright thought that the regulations for these special rates ‘must be strictly followed’. This, as we will see, led to lengthy disagreements with Charles Taddy Hatfeild, a major local landowner.

All these negotiations took time, and when the Improvement Commissioners met on 21 March to receive the first report of the joint committee, the committee chairman, Rice Giles Higgins, had to admit that the report was not ready.126 This irritated Waddington, who did not like the way things were being decided; he thought that reports should be made to the inhabitants at a public meeting rather than to the Commissioners, ‘who were on the point of expiring’. He was also unhappy with the suggestion put forward by Cobb and Wright that the Local Board should have 30 members; he thought this was far too many and that 15 would do the job better. Wright was ‘astonished’ by this argument and said that the number had been set at 30 to prevent the Board from ‘becoming a close body’, adding that he thought that ‘every class had a right to be represented’.127 Waddington also said that he ‘hoped that no pier director had been, or would be mad enough to offer himself as a candidate for the office of [board member]’ Not surprisingly, G. Y. Hunter, the chairman of the pier company, disagreed and could see ‘no reason why a director should not offer himself.’ The company paid ‘one twelfth of the rating of the parish’ and as such he felt the directors of the Company ‘had a right to examine and watch its [the boards’] outlay.’

Over the following days the joint committee held a number of meetings. One important issue decided early on was that F. W. Cobb would be recommended to the General Board to be the officer in charge of the first election of the Local Board.126 By 14 April their report was ready and was discussed at a meeting of the Improvement Commissioners in the Town Hall, which was ‘densely crowded by rate-payers and Pier-bondholders’.128 The meeting was thought to be of sufficient importance to be reported at length in the Canterbury Journal, under the heading ‘Pier and Town Doings at Margate’.128 At the start of the meeting, J. E. Wright announced that the draft Provisional Order had been submitted to the General Board of Health and approved by them, that twenty copies of the draft order had been printed, that these were available for consultation by the rate payers, and that ‘the Committee would be grateful for any suggestions to be made to them.’

As usual, Waddington was the first to respond.  ‘Am I to understand’, he thundered, rhetorically, ‘Am I to understand that there is to be no public meeting of the inhabitants? This is but a meeting of a self-elected body. I wish to know whether the rate payers are to be excluded from having a voice in the matter? Are they to understand that the Joint Committee are unanimous in opinion?’ Apparently the joint committee were not sure, the question leading to ‘crossfire’ between Charles Kidman and Edward R. H. Wright of the Royal York Hotel. Having scored his first hit, Waddington continued. ‘Are we to rely upon that Committee, for we are afraid that they have done something unkind and unjust? Are we to appeal to them, or to the General Board of Health, who will politely acknowledge the receipt of our letters? . . . There are no means of getting rid of this iniquitous measure, but by having a public meeting of the inhabitants of the town, and for them to form a deputation to the General Board of Health. I would ask, is there any one bold enough to get up to vote for the confirming of this order — for the pier proprietors to put money into their own pockets, to the damage of the town? Nothing short of a public meeting will satisfy me. . . . I have lost all confidence in the Committees, for it is of no use appealing to them, who have already arranged and concocted this matter. I presume that, when elected, they did not think they were going to legislate upon such important matters as the Pier and Harbor Company; therefore, nothing but a public meeting can do.’

Kidman interrupted to say that he had objected to the way the Pier was being dealt with. He said that at their meeting ‘a something relative to the Pier was read over, which had been introduced by Mr. Hunter; but none of us, I can say, understood it: considering that there was something like a juggle in it, and a trying to get round the rate payers’ and so he objected to it. This view of things was contested by the other members of the committee, leading to ‘a desultory conversation between the members of the Committee and Mr. Kidman’ and finally they were ‘called to order.’ Waddington then asked again whether or not the Committee was going to ask the public their opinion. Edward R. H. Wright replied, on behalf of the Committee, ‘that they had never thought of a public  meeting, thinking that the town had sufficient confidence in them.’

G. Y. Hunter then set out to explain the section of the Provisional Order relating to the Pier and Harbour Company. An important issue was what the Company was going to do with its Sinking Fund. Hunter explained that he thought that the size of the sinking fund should be reduced from the existing £20,000 to £10,000 and ‘instead of frittering away the sinking fund in useless repairs’ they ought to use the £10,000 to ‘build a high water landing place’ to replace the existing rickety structure (Jarvis’s Landing Place).  He explained that the Pier Company had the authority to spend the whole of the sinking fund ‘and had it not been for me and my colleagues this would have been spent in keeping up a rattletrap and fast decaying jetty’. He also reminded the meeting that the Pier Company paid 5 percent interest on the pier bonds whereas the rate that the company could get on its surpluses was only 3¼ percent. It was therefore the plan for the Company to borrow money at a low rate of interest to pay off the bond holders, which would save the Company money. He then told the many shareholders of the pier company present at the meeting that he believed ‘the value of the property to be gone — (sensation)’ and that ‘we have not yet seen the worst of it; we have the railway to contend with, and steam competition.’ He went on, ‘I don't believe you will ever get the pier; and I do not think it will ever be any good to you if you do, unless you are wise enough to see that this is a grand proposition to do you good, for this will avert the ruin of the town.’ His plan was ‘to build a new jetty, two hundred yards further out, where vessels can call at any period of the tide’ and, he said, ‘The boon is now offered you — the apple is within your reach; refuse it, and it will not be offered again. Strike out a new and bold plan for improving the town, and it can only be done by the Company I belong to.’

Waddington returned to the attack, now concentrating his fire on the Pier Company, which he claimed had ‘done nothing for the last eighteen years to reduce the tolls and encourage the steam vessels’, allowing the railway to take away most of the passenger traffic. He also objected to the proposal to pay off the bondholders, many of whom were local and many of whom relied on the high returns they received on their  bonds at a time when interest rates generally were low. To prove his point he quoted the case of the widow of the late local architect William Edmunds, who relied on the income from her £1,500 worth of pier bonds. Hunter replied that ‘no argument has been advanced to refute our grand scheme’. He denied that the plan to reduce ‘the sinking fund from £20,000 to £10,000, is for the purpose of putting the money into our own pockets’ but said that it was ‘to make an ornament to the town, and to give employment to  the poor.’ Obviously irritated by Waddington he went on ‘I want the power to get it, and I will pay off the bondholders, notwithstanding what has been thrown out about defrauding widows and orphans. I am willing to take the whole of the odium of it upon myself, and of having been its originator . . .  I have no other interest in view than that of promoting the welfare of the town. If you have any regard for it give the Pier Company the powers required, and they will be used, I assure you, only for your advantage.’

Edward Mottley then launched an attack on Waddington, his former collaborator. He praised what Hunter had achieved as Chairman of the Pier and Harbour Company and contrasted this with the profligate way in which things had been done when Waddington’s uncle Dr. Jarvis had been chairman and Waddington himself had been one of the directors. At this stage things got rather out of hand. Waddington ‘rose with some degree of emotion, and amid the cheering of a crowded hall, which lasted some time, said “Mr. Mottley has behaved himself in a very unchristian-like manner”’. He called Mottley ‘a diabolical coward’ and said he had insulted him on a previous occasion. The Canterbury Journal reported that ‘here great confusion took place by the hissing of Mr. Mottley, accompanied with cries of "Turn him out"’. The meeting finally came to an end with  the Chairman, F. W. Cobb, being pressed to give his opinion, which was that he thought that  ‘the acquisition of a new Jetty will be a great advantage if it can be legally done’ and that he approved of the Provisional Order. 

By now the Provisional Order was largely agreed. Hatfeild continued to object to the extension of the boundary of the town to include his land at Westbrook and to charge him for the work on the proposed sea defences, as described in more detail later. After several letters to the General Board from Hatfeild,129 the General Board asked J. E. Wright to arrange a meeting between  himself, Hatfeild and Cresy in London.130 The meeting was duly arranged for 7 May,131 but Wright thought it was probably unnecessary as the joint committee had ‘unanimously determined to insert words in the 27th section of the provisional order to prohibit any sea defences being erected, until the consent in writing of the owners of the immediate frontage land, shall have been obtained’.132 Wright was also able to inform the General Board that Edward Mottley, who was now a member of the joint committee, was ‘anxious to expedite the provisional order through Parliament’ and had withdrawn his criticisms of Cresy’s report,133 leaving Waddington to fight on alone.

Draft copies of the Provisional Order were now printed and put on display in the Town Hall for the rate payers to read, with the joint committee sitting ‘every evening at six, until 23 April’, to receive any suggestions for change.134  The Kent Herald clearly thought that the time for haggling was now over:135

The principal objection hitherto made has been by Mr. C. T. Hatfeild, who seems unwilling that his property adjoining Westbrook should be protected from further ravage by the sea by a stone wall or embankment. The clause objected to by Mr. Hatfeild proposes to erect a sea defence, at the expense of the owners of property immediately benefited — the town of Margate paying in the proportion of one-third for the town generally, and two-thirds by the owner of the property protected. It is hoped however that this opposition may be met amicably by making the clause to be operative at the discretion of the owners, and not to be put into action without their consent and request. The clause for authorising the Pier Company to erect a new jetty, and to empower them to liquidate the present bonded debt, and borrow the money upon easier terms, meets with some opposition from some of the bond holders, and from Mr. Waddington, who considers the whole affair as intended to benefit the Pier Company at the expense of the bond holders and the inhabitants of the town. But it is difficult to see how the inhabitants of Margate can be injured by the erec­tion of a new and spacious jetty, which would not only enable pas­sengers to land at Margate from steam boats at all times of the tide and all weathers, but form a noble promenade far extending into the sea, and thus proving a source of great attraction to the visitors as the means of executing this noble work are to be furnished exclusively by the Pier Company, it is difficult to imagine that the town can be injured by its completion, and as it will coat about £15,000, a great part of which must be expended in labour to the evident benefit of the labouring classes in Margate; it is by no means easy to discover the source of the opposition, which if unfortunately successful, will deprive Margate of a great ornament and the circulation of a large sum of money. Let us hope that a project so useful to the community will be carried into effect as soon as possible.

The Commissioners met on 24 April to receive the report of the joint committee,136 and, once again, Waddington complained about the way the bondholders were to be treated, and about the failure to hold a public meeting: ‘The section relating to the pier company, the 2lst section was a monster, horrible, and ought in his (Mr. Waddington’s) opinion, to have been strangled. He was there pleading for the bond holders; it was sought to outwit them. He would ask Mr. Cobb, who was the only municipal officer except the crier, whether he could not call a public meeting. He could do so without requisition. Mr. F. W. Cobb thought that for the deputy to call a public meeting without a requisition would be to travel out of the record. Mr. Waddington only wanted a public meeting to be called: he did not care which way “the noodles and doodles” voted — he stood alone. He was sorry that Mr. Hunter was not present, though, at the last meeting, there was too much “I”, “I,” “I.” He disliked egotism, it was worse than physic’.137 He ended his speech ‘by pleading very hard, that, for the character of the town, the following resolution should be passed unanimously: — “That this meeting think, in justice to all parties concerned, a public meeting of the inhabitants of Margate ought to be convened, to consider the report of the committee appointed to superintend the framing of the Provisional Order, under the Public Health Act"’.136 Unfortunately for Waddington the Commissioners thought otherwise; no one was willing to second the resolution and the resolution was abandoned. The Provisional Order was therefore finally accepted and the meeting ended with a vote of thanks to the joint committee which was ‘carried unanimously, with the exception of Mr. Waddington, who held up his hand against it, to the evident merriment and satisfaction of  a crowded hall’.136

waddington Poster 1851
Joshua Waddington Poster 1851

Never one to give way gracefully, Waddington fought on alone. He distributed posters around the town, sending copies to the General Board of Health in London. Some were brief and pithy like his poster ‘Pier and Town/Swindling by Wholesale!’ in which he urged all Commissioners to attend the next Commissioners meeting to oppose any attempt to allow the Pier and Harbour Company to pay off the bond holders. Others were considerably longer like the poster he issued on 19 April headed ‘Margate Pier and Harbour Company’ in which he again complained that it would be illegal for the Pier and Harbour Company to pay off the bond holders. By the end of the month, Waddington was asking the rate payers to rise en masse to prevent the Provisional Order from being accepted:136

PUBLIC HEALTH ACT- Rate-payers of Margate! The labors of the 'joint committee' are at an end! The die is cast! A gross fraud upon the pier bond-holders has been engrafted upon the 'Provisional Order.' Remember! it will be a 'tenant's tax,' and will probably add two shillings in the pound to your present ratings; thus, if you are rated at fifteen, you will be called upon for thirty shillings a year. Can you afford it? Now, then, is the time to rouse from your apathy, and, at a public meeting, with a voice of thunder, cast forth the odious 'Public Health Act,' which is a Government measure, and which has, hitherto, in every instance, led to extreme perplexity, and vast expense. I have a plan which, if carried out at a public meeting, will check-mate the 'General Board of Health.' With respect to the cunning move of the Pier Directors, bear in mind that for the last eighteen years they have done nothing to relieve the town, during which period they have divided ten per cent, fifteen times, nine per cent, twice, and five per cent, once. They are now in deep water, and look to the town for relief! Without consulting either the pier proprietors, or the pier bond holders, the pier directors have introduced into the 'provisional order,' certain enactments calculated to enrich the shareholders, at the expense of the bond holders! Remember also, the Pier Directors can, if they think fit, spend every shilling of the ‘sinking fund,' upon repairs, or improvements of the pier, or landing place. Why, then, do they ask, in the 'provisional order' for power to limit the ‘sinking fund' to £10,000; to spend the surplus; and to pay off the pier bondholders at par?  Simply, because the pier shareholders will, by so doing, add nearly three and a quarter per cent to their own dividends; or, perhaps, £30 a share! Pier bonds are now presumed to be worth £110 each; will you assist the pier directors in defrauding about ninety bondholders (many of them widows and orphans), — out of three thousand, seven hundreds and twenty pounds?

Your  well wisher, Joshua Waddington
Marine  Terrace, April 28th, 1851

In fact, the public seemed less then keen ‘to rouse from their apathy’, and the Kent Herald reported that the call to arms ‘has not been responded to’.138 This prompted Waddington to circulate a final handbill, in which he estimated the cost of implementing the measures in the Provisional Order to be ‘3s. 6d. in the pound, making the total of rates payable at Margate 6s. 2d. in the pound.’ This also failed to have the desired effect and, as the Kent Herald reported, ‘it appears difficult to obtain signatures to a requisition for a  public meeting’.139 At the height of this battle, Waddington experienced a personal tragedy; on 20 May his 27 year old son, John Jarvis Waddington, died of consumption. Waddington immediately announced, in a handbill, his intention to retire from public life, ‘in compliance with the request of his late son’:140


A great affliction has, as you know, befallen me; inducing, I am sure, the sympathy even of those among you to whom I have been most strenuously opposed.

It was my late son's parting wish that I should withdraw from the turmoil of public disputes: an appeal too serious to be resisted, even had it not accorded with my own feelings. I have long been getting out of heart with municipal affairs; and this is not the season either of private comfort or of public hope.

Whether by the inefficiency of your advocate, the influence of your rulers, the supineness of yourselves, or by these several causes combined, Margate has not improved  under the long and weary conflict wherefrom I now retire. Through many years I have contended that the interests of her pier and of her town (identical as they legally are) have, most improperly, become opposed to each other — that the town, possessing by statute an ultimate right to the pier, ought to have the immediate faculty of supervising its management, and thereby securing its funds for the purpose of its acquirement; but, that this purpose can never be accomplished while a Pier-proprietor can be a Town-commissioner. It has, moreover, been my ceaseless object to argue your rulers into the expediency of promoting the accommodations and the attractions of Margate, so that she might recover her rightful position among the watering-places of England.

These objects may still be attained, under administrators less rigid, or with advocates less feeble: suffer me to add, with a little less acquiescence on your parts.

My office is now terminated. Henceforth, my opinions on your public interests will be manifested only by my votes. I now withdraw to my personal occupations, cordially wishing for your town and for yourselves that welfare which I have so long and so fruitlessly labored to revive.

Your old and faithful friend,
Joshua Waddington,
Marine Terrace, Margate. May 28th, 1851.

At this same time the Canterbury Journal reported that F. W. Cobb was about to resign the deputyship of Margate and that ‘much speculation is afloat respecting his successor’,140 although, in fact, Cobb did not actually  resign as Deputy  until 1857.141