Rule by the Margate Local Board of Health 1851 - 1858

Anthony Lee

Pump Lane.

It had long been planed to remove Pump lane, because it was an eye sore and because its removal would open up a better route to the Fort where new housing for visitors was being built. Between Pump-lane and Fountain lane was a row of eight houses known as Pump-court. The houses in Pump court had neither an area in front nor a yard behind so that the privies had to be located in the basements of the houses.1 Cresy’s report on the houses was not flattering: ‘These houses are among the most ancient in the town; for centuries occupied by fishermen and labourers, whose families have had no other means of disposing of their refuse and drainage than by either throwing it into the thoroughfare in front, or down the cesspool beneath the rooms they occupy. The foundations, which are chiefly composed of chalk, are positively saturated with the matter they have absorbed from the overflowing of the basement-floor. Chill and damp as this portion always is, the living rooms over are in a worse condi­tion; here, through very defective floors, the lighter gases are constantly rising; and it would probably be difficult to render these old habitations thoroughly wholesome or fit for families to occupy’.1

Pump Lane
Pump Lane and Pump Court [1852]

The power to improve Pump lane had been included in the 1825 Margate Improvement Act, ‘An Act to amend and render more effectual several acts relative to the paving, lighting, watching, and improving the town of Margate in the Parish of Saint John the Baptist in the County of Kent; for erecting certain defences against the sea for the protection of the said town; and for making further improvements in and about the said town and parish’.2 The Act gave the Margate Improvement Commissioners the authority ‘to widen Pump lane . . . so that the same when so widened be not less than twenty-five feet nor more than forty feet in width, and likewise to lay out, open, and make a carriage road from the north end of Pump Lane aforesaid, to communicate in nearly a direct line with the carriage road in front of Fort Crescent in the said town’. The Act also gave the commissioners the right to widen the carriage road from the east end of Fort Crescent ‘to the row of houses called Cliff Terrace’. The properties and land that would have to be purchased to make this new road were listed in a Schedule attached to the Act and reproduced in Appendix I below.

For whatever reason the Improvement Commissioners made no use of these rights until they were threatened with a Local Board of Health. The strategy adopted by Cobb and the other Improvement Commissioners to avoid the imposition of a Local Board of Health was to convince the General Board in London that any necessary changes in Margate could be carried out perfectly well by the existing board of Improvement Commissioners.3 The Kent Herald pointed out that the pro-reformers would  draw the attention of the General Board of Health to Pump lane, which the commissioners ‘have for a length of time contemplated pulling down and making a new street on to the fort’ but had failed to do so ‘from a want of firmness or party consideration’.4 A committee had been set up by the Improvement Commissioners in 1849 to report on the ‘sanitary condition’ of Pump lane but reported that ‘they had neglected to perform their duty, but would endeavour to do so by the next [meeting]’.5 In fact, it was not until December 1850 that the Improvement Committee and ‘the Committee appointed to consider the propriety of making a road from Broad Street to the Fort’ produced their joint report.6 The report was contentious:

The measure was supported by the medical gentleman on sanitary grounds, and by others as a progressive step towards a general improvement. After a long deliberation it was decided that the improvement committee be authorized to purchase the houses and grounds for a sum not exceeding £1,000. The decision is by the sanitary reformers hailed as a move in the right direction, and strong hope is now entertained that other places equally objectionable, viz., Love lane, with its numerous courts and alleys, and Meeting-house-court, will be removed or so much improved that the valley of the town no longer be the focus of disease and the receptacle of dirt, by reason of the total absence of drainage, water, and ventilation. There is, however, an impression on many minds that private interests are being consulted in this matter, and that it would have been advisable to wait for the decision pending on the Health of Towns Act’.6

Exactly what these ‘private interests’ were is not clear, but a common complaint about Commissioners was that of ‘jobbery’, the abuse of public office for private gain. Many of the Margate Commissioners were owners of property in the town and could have gained directly from the sale of houses in Pump lane, if they were the owners of these houses, or indirectly from any general improvements in this run-down area. Cobb, of course, was a major property owner, and Richard Jenkins, another of the Commissioners, was an auctioneer and builder whose brother John Jenkins was a malster with property in the Bridge street - King street area.   

The agreement to purchase the Pump lane properties was short lived. At the meeting of the Commissioners in January 1851 ‘The consideration of removing Pump Lane to make a new street on to the Fort, was postponed until the next meeting;— during the conversation on the subject some cross firing took place between Messrs. Mottley and Wadding­ton’.7 Meanwhile the Kent Herald kept up the pressure: ‘The improvement to the town in a local and sanitary point of view by the demolition of the unseemly buildings in Pump-lane, will be hailed by all disinterested persons as a step in the right direction. . . . The commissioners are only awaked from their slumbers by the loud cry for improvement, and we trust they will not fall into a lethargic repose until they complete the good work they are now only just beginning’.8

The Commissioners met on 7 February 1851 to discuss again the purchase of Pump lane. According to the Kent Herald ‘the measure was very warmly debated, and led to . . . a violent altercation between   Messrs. Mottley and Waddington’,3 whereas according to the Canterbury Journal ‘The "sayings and doings" of this extraordinary meeting beggar all description. It was a perfect bear-garden scene! in the midst of which Mr. Mottley, the youngest commissioner, in the most excited and vulgar manner, gave the "lie, direct” over and over again, to Mr. Waddington, one of the oldest commissioners, and the self-imposed champion of the town. This drew forth, from the tame Chairman [F. W. Cobb], some well-merited rebukes, and many expressions of disgust from a crowded hall. It was observed, by the lookers on, "That Mr. Mottley took his seat at the board primed to attack Mr. Waddington"’.9 Mottley supported the demolition of the Pump lane buildings whilst Waddington was against, proposing that they wait until the consequences of Cresy’s report became clear.9 It was finally decided to accept the report but delay acting on it until Cobb and Wright had met with the General Board of Health in London to determine the intentions of the General Board and see ‘if any arrangement can be come to, whereby the present authorities may be allowed to carry out the spirit and intention of the health of towns act’.3 Joshua Waddington immediately circulated a placard:9


Rate-payers of Margate! — I refused, while sitting as a Town Commissioner, on Friday last, to add my name to the requisition to the Deputy, respecting Mr. Cresy's odious ‘Report,' because I considered it ought to emanate from the town; and that the voting away of one thousand pounds from your pockets, for the ‘Pump lane Job,’ at any time, and, more particularly, at this crisis, by self-elected Commissioners, was ill judged, unjustifiable, and unfair, and calculated to disturb that union and good will now so much wanted among all classes of rate-payers. The resolution proposed by Mr. E. Mottley, seconded by Mr. W. Barker, and carried by a large majority of Town Commissioners, on Friday last, was this: — ‘That the report of the Committee be received and adopted, but not carried into effect until after the result of a public meeting on Mr. Cresy's report.' The report of the Committee was dated ‘6th Feb., 1851' (six days after the arrival of Mr. Cresy's report), and was signed by Messrs. R. G. Higgins (chairman), E. Mottley, W. Barker, S. Mercer, J. S. Swinford, G. Sturges, G. Staner jun., J. Bartlett, and G. H. Hoffman. The purchase money amounts to £1,235, viz.: — Mr. Hudson, £325; Mr. Colley, £10; Mr. Cobb, £100; Mr.Gillow, £165; Mr. Hatherden, £60; Mr. Winch, £75; Mr. J. Jenkins, £550. To be provided for (with extras) thus : — £1.000 by the Town Commissioners, and £299 from subscriptions, viz.: —  Messrs. Cobb, £200*; Mr. J. Jenkins, £50; Mr. Chancellor, £25; Mr. Rowe, £5; Mr. Mussared, £5; Mr. Bartlett, £2; Mrs. Plummer, £2; Mr. S. Lewis, £2; Mr. Mussared (Fort), £1; Mr. Colley, £5; Messrs. Flint, £2. The old materials are estimated at £100, and are sufficient to cover expenses of title, conveyances, &c. Rate-payers of Margate! — Remember, it is a matter of the greatest importance to watch any measure that may tend to the increase of local burdens; also, that the prosperity of Margate depends upon its well-established character for salubrity, cleanliness, and cheerfulness. I need scarcely add that I shall be at my post, at the public meeting, and that I shall do all in my power to crush the ’Pump-lane Job’ as well as the pernicious Government measure, which, if, carried out, as proposed by Mr. Cresy, would complete the ruin of the town, by adding about two shillings in the pound to the present oppressive rates — Your well-wisher, Joshua Waddington —

Marine Terrace, Feb. 10th, 1851.

* Why £200?   Why not £500?

The inhabitants of Margate were told the outcome of the meeting between Cobb and Wright and the General Board later in the month. The message was that the General Board had decided that it would apply the Public Health Act to Margate and establish a Local Board of Health to take over the powers of the Improvement Commissioners.10 Not surprisingly, the Improvement Commissioners were now happy to leave the problem of Pump lane to the future Local Board of Health, particularly as the purchase of Pump lane was so unpopular with the rate payers. The Kent Herald, at the time of the first election to the Local Board of Health in September 1851, reported that there was considerable prejudice against candidates for election who had been Improvement Commissioners, particularly those who had recommended the purchase of Pump lane.11 The Kent Herald reported that: 11

the unpardonable offence of the [improvement] committee was termed the "Pump Lane job." Now "Pump Lane'' . . . consists of five houses; the entire range was formerly a carpenter’s shop, those vile dwellings have their privies situate in the kitchens or cellars, without drain or outlet, without the accommodation that decency requires; it was proposed to remove them and make a road to the Fort through a piece of land now occupied by pigsties, &c.  The proposition to effect this improvement was received by a very clamorous party with as much horror as if it had been proposed to pull down the Parthenon or blow up the new palace at Westminster; one of the then commissioners poured out the vials of his wrath upon the culprits who dared to venture upon such an infringement of duty. The project was suspended by the late commissioners in consequence of the recent Local Board of Health.

Pump lane, ‘its dwellings . . .  as foul, as filthy, and unwholesome as ever’ survived a while longer.

In January 1852, just a few months after the establishment of the Local Board, Edward Mottley, now a member of the Board, proposed that a committee should be chosen ‘to examine certain decayed houses and houses without sufficient water closets and privies, prejudicial to public health, situated in Spiller's Court, Meeting Court, Love Lane, King Street, and Pump Lane, with the view to their improvement or removal’.12 The committee reported in February, but it was decided to wait until a proper map of the town had been produced before doing anything. 13 Things continued to drag on; in November 1853 Pump lane was again discussed by the Local Board and they instructed the Inspector of Nuisances to survey and report,14 which he did, finding that ‘the privies were in the interior of the houses’.15 Notices were then served on the owners ‘to make the necessary alterations’,15 although it is hard to see what could have been done apart from demolition.

Pump lane was then largely forgotten about until an advertisement appeared in the local newspapers announcing the sale of four houses in the lane:16   


At the York Hotel, on Monday, the 13th of August, 1855, at Two o’clock in the afternoon.

Lot 1.— ALL that capital FREEHOLD DWELLING-HOUSE, with old-established Grocer’s Shop, eligibly situate for trade, being 8, Bridge-street, facing the market, occupying the front site between the Fountain Inn and Pump-lane, possessing the rare advantage of three frontages, let, together with lot 2, to Mr. F. Winch, grocer, at a clear yearly rental of £25, he doing all repairs and paying all taxes.

Lot 2.— The FREEHOLD DWELLING-HOUSE, adjoining lot 1, being No, 2, Pump-lane, containing 4 rooms, with frontage also in Fountain-lane, in the occupation of Mr. Winch, as above described.

Lot 3.— A similar FREEHOLD DWELLING-HOUSE, adjoining lot 2, being No. 3, Pump-lane, in the occupation of Mr. Robert Hyde, at £5 4s. per annum.

Lot 4.— A similar FREEHOLD DWELLING-HOUSE, adjoining lot 3, being No. 4, Pump-lane, in the occupation of Mr. J. Rowe, at £6 10s. per annum.

For printed particulars and conditions of sale apply to Messrs. Brooke and Mertens, Solicitors, Cecil-square; or to the Auctioneers, Hawley-square, Margate.

The sale was raised by William Caveler at the end of the Local Board meeting on 7 August.17 He started by saying ‘he was aware that in thus proceeding he might have interested motives attributed, and all sorts of imputations cast upon him: but he thought that on certain occasions in a man's life, his sense of duty should make him disregard such things, and, therefore, he was determined to proceed.’ William Caveler was born in Canterbury in 1815, and was to become an architect in Margate, and surveyors to the Margate Pier and Harbour Company and to the Improvement Commissioners, being appointed to the posts following the death of William Edmunds, the previous surveyor.18  He contributed a number of drawings of East Kent churches to The Builder from 1845 and was the author of ‘Select Specimens of Gothic Architecture’, a much reprinted book published in 1835, when he was just 20; he was also the architect for Trinity Church Schools.19,20 Whether he owned property in the area or whether it was simply that his job with the Margate Pier and Harbour Company made him suspect is unclear.

His speech to the Board was quoted at length in the Kentish Observer and is worth reproducing, to give a flavour of the meetings of the Board:17


Mr. Caveler continued.— He merely wanted to bring the subject before them; and if he desired to say a thing, he would say it, in spite of any opposition. Years ago there had been a report made by the Commissioners that it would be very desirable for Pump-lane to come down; butthat recommendation had not, for some reason, been acted on. The gentleman then acting as Commissioner reported that it was a disgrace to the town of Margate for such a place to be still standing. He (Mr. Caveler) had endeavoured at a later period to bring the subject before their consideration, but he had not been successful. It was indeed referred, with two other subjects of a similar nature, to a Committee, but nothing had ever come of it, for the best of all reasons; the Committee had never troubled to consider it at all. He must, however, do them the justice to say that they had, as regards the three subjects, acted very impartially, for they never considered any one of them.   The great thing he desired to bring to their know­ledge, was this — that the property was now for sale; and he could not consistently allow — when he had advocated its removal for so many years — he could not allow such an opportunity to slip away without at least learning the opinion of the Board on the subject. An opportunity now offered for getting rid of a great nuisance at a reasonable price; and therefore he would put it to the gentlemen present whether they would  countenance dealing for it, or whether they desired its removal at all. That was all he wished to say. He simply desired an expression of opinion from the Board on the question: if they thought its removal desirable, it might be put in the shape of a motion; if not, let it fall to the ground.

The proposal was supported by Mr. Towne: — He for his own part, felt under great obligation to his friend, Mr. Caveler, for introducing the subject to their notice, for it was a matter of great moment. Should the present opportunity be let go another such one might and probably would never recur. He remembered perfectly well the committee of the old Commissioners before the Local Board was established. That Committee reported that the existence of Pump-lane was a positive disgrace to the town, and a perpetual nuisance; and that so long as it remained standing a certain quantity of effluvium and malaria would proceed from it and spread over the town. The most esteemed of the medical officers of their town had pronounced the same opinion, viz,, that Pump-lane was the nucleus of all descriptions of disease, and he thought it rather astonishing that the questionshould not have been brought before the Board sooner. It was now to be sold, by auction, and he would put it to the gentlemen present that, should it be found a few years hence to be their religious and conscientious duty to have Pump-lane removed, would not the present opportunity be considered as one of the best that could have possibly occurred, and their losing it as one of the greatest misses in their lives? It was the opinion of the com­missioners that it should be removed — of the most esteemed medical men that it should be removed — every thing pointed to its removal, and as clearly, that if ever there was an opportunity for doing it at a cheap and moderate rate, it was now.

A special meeting of the Board was then called on 10 August to consider ‘the propriety of buying four houses in Pump-lane, now offered for sale by public auction, in order to widen the said lane’.21 This rather shambolic meeting was also reported at length in the Kentish Observer, as follows:21

It was at first feared that there would not be a sufficient number of members present to constitute a Board, but by a quarter past eleven ten had assembled, and Mr. Ovenden having been elected chairman for the occasion, in the absence of David Price, Esq., the business of the day was commenced.

The Chairman, having read Mr. Caveler's motion, as given above, said that in consequence of his having studiously abstained from mixing himself up in their questions, or of belonging to either one party or another,  he was rather peculiarly situated in taking the chair on the present, occasion. He was, however, sure that every gentleman present would give the subject their best consideration; and he would give them two hints to help them. First, would, or would not the removal of Pump-lane, be a great improvement to the town, and, more especially to the inhabitants of the districts around and on Fort Crescent; but next they ought to consider the state of the finances of the town, and think that if it was indeed a great improvement, could any sacrifice, however large, be too great to make, or otherwise.

Mr. Caveler then rose and said that he would curtail his remarks as much as possible, consistently with clearness, not heeding any imputations, whether direct or indirect, that might be thrown out. He must, however, travel back a little, because, though  some of the gentlemen present might have belonged to the old commission, many did not.   When he was first surveyor to the Commissioners he knew as little as any­body else about Pump-lane or any other lane, but on the 6th July, 1849, it pressed itself upon the Commis­sioners' notice, owing to the unhealthy state of the town at the time, and it was felt that it must be a nucleus and a harbour for disease of every sort. He would not say that that was his opinion, but it was the opinion of the Commissioners. He could confirm this by reading some  extracts from the report then made relative to the state of Pump-lane, and he could further say that two of their most esteemed and talented medical men formed part of the committee. (The gentleman then read an extract from the report stating that, in the opinion of the committee, by the removal of Pump-lane a great improve­ment would be effected in the comfort of the visitors, and the health of the town, as well as a great convenience to have a road open to Fort Crescent, instead of the complicated and difficult way then in use; and that the Committee were of unanimous opinion that no time ought to be lost in removing the houses in Pump-lane. At the end of the report the Commissioners were strongly urged to effect an improvement of such importance to the vital interests of the town.) He could also show that according to that report, the houses were without any drains, privies, or any conveniences so necessary for health; and the report of the medical men at the time showed that in that neighbourhood alone more than fifty cases of distressing low fever had oc­curred. What more could he say — what could he add to increase the picture? Allowing that he wished to make it out as bad as possible, and to heighten and exaggerate the danger, could he say one word more than that report said? That was the first on the subject. He believed that the Commissioners themselves were astonished by the force of the language used, but they thought it might have been used in a moment of enthu­siasm, and they referred it back to a committee to reconsider it.   That was done on the 7th September, 1849, to a committee consisting of Messrs. Hunter, Boys, Swinford, Mercer, and  Barclay. They did reconsider it — they went into the   whole   matter calmly, carefully, and cautiously, and what was the substance of their report? "That they saw no reason to alter the opinions expressed in their first report, but still strongly recommended the removal of Pump-lane." The matter slumbered for a time, and as yet he had himself made no report on Pump-lane — he knew little of the town at that time — nor, had he attempted to offer an opinion on the lane, would the Committee have been guided for a moment by him. That was in 1849, but subsequently he was quite willing to confess he had used every exertion in his power for its removal, when he once saw the necessity for it, as he  soon did very clearly. In 1851 there was another Committee which went into the matter, and in the meantime Mr. Cresy had been sent down as Government inspector, previous to the establishment of a Local Board of Health. That Committee went into the subject very deeply; they saw that it was just as urgent then as it had ever been, and they referred to the report Mr. Cresy had made as to the state of the dwellings in Pump-lane. (The report was read, showing how miserable, unwholesome, and unfit for habitation the houses were in Pump-lane.) Again he would ask if he could say one word more, or if he could put it in a more forcible way to the Board. Then as regarded the sani­tary report, it must be clear to them that it was most desirable that Pump-lane should be removed; and he wished to put the question in a sanitary point of view to the Board, without any reference to the lane. But why, it might be asked, after all this recommendation, were not the houses removed — why was not the report acted upon? He would answer that though it was agreed upon at a large Board of Com­missioners and by a great majority, in the face of the influence one Member possessed at the time, which influence he exerted to his utmost to defeat the measure —though in spite of all that it was carried by an overwhelming majority, it was  not acted upon because within a month of that time the new Local Board was to be established, and the old Commissioners  shrunk from the responsibility of removing the lane, and  left its removal as a legacy to their successors. He must say, however, that in his opinion had they had the courage to do what they had the fullest powers and ability to accomplish, they would have left office with the thanks and applause of every inhabitant of Margate. They did not however: and, owing to the natural confusion ensuing on the Local Board's establishment, he had not the immediate opportunity of bringing the question before them.  He did so before long, but it was referred as he had men­tioned on Tuesday, with two other similar subjects to a most impartial Committee who never considered any one of the three: something like the Irish judge who, when a knotty case was coming on for his decision, did not want to hear both sides of the case for fear he should be puzzled, and so he heard neither. Now his present object was to see what could be done to remove Pump-lane. Why, Hastings would be laughed at for permitting such a block of houses to exist in the heart of the town — so would Brighton; and coming nearer home, he might say that Ramsgate people ridiculed them for leaving such a lane standing. He would then set Mr. Jenkins at rest as regarding the delicacy of his position, which he had expressed by assuring him that he was not going to say one word that could in any manner enhance the value of the property; nor was he about to ask the Board to rush into the market and set up the value of the houses, but he did wish that the public should get them at a fair and reasonable price, that the houses should then be pulled down, and the place widened. He would not yet put his resolution into writing, but the sense of what he meant was this — that if a private individual bought them at any price he might choose to give, and then offered the site, the houses having been pulled down, to the Board at a price not exceeding £275, would they buy it, or would they miss an opportunity which he firmly believed they would never get again? Should they accede to that reso­lution, he should then propose another to consider the best means of paying for it, and he did entreat the Board not to lose the present opportunity of effecting a large improvement at so cheap a rate. He would add one word as there appeared to be some misapprehension on his remarks. He intended to say that, should he carry the first resolution, he would then propose a second to the effect of devising the best means of paying for it. For his own part he did not think the £275 should be taken out of the rating all at once, but that it should be spread over several years, and be thus gradually paid off. (The resolution was afterwards written down, and was in the following terms: — “That if the four houses in Pump-lane now offered for sale by public auction be purchased by any private individual and then offered to the Board for a sum not exceeding £275, it would be desirable to accept such offer.”)

Dr. Chambers seconded the resolution. He thought it would be superfluous in him in a matter so important after the able, clear, and truthful statement of his friend Mr. Caveler to say anything, but he was happy to find by that statement, that their path was easier than he had anticipated. There was no doubt of one thing – that if there was any one place in the town of Margate which imperatively needed improvement, it was Pump-lane; and he might add, that if ever there was a good opportunity it was then; and when he considered all this good was to be effected at a sum not exceeding £275, he was almost astonished that there could be any opposition. The Board must of course clearly understand that it was the site, and not the property which was sought to be purchased, and though he was aware that four houses only were for sale, still they must remember that they could only go on by degrees and slowly toward the attainment of their ultimate object. Under the circumstances, he had great pleasure in seconding the resolution.

Mr. Woodward considered it very foolish to interfere with the matter at all, especially in the present meeting, when only one-third of the members were assembled. As for the report Mr. Caveler had read, got up some years ago, there was not one word of truth in them. For instance, the sanitary report said that there had been fifty cases of depressing fever in the neighbourhood, but why were no names given? He might say from his own experience, that there had been a rather less than average mortality in the neighbourhood of Pump-lane. As for that place being the worst in Margate it was absurd to talk so, with Princes’-court staring them in the face, for there were no drains or conveniences there any more than in Pump-lane. Reports of Committees were never he thought worth anything, as the members composing them were always led one particular way by two or three active persons. He never would be influenced by any report on those houses in Pump-lane, any more than by the report of Mr. Cresy, the Government inspector, which was not believed at the time, and never would be, for it was nothing but a private report and for private interests, and there was no truth in the thing.

The Chairman said that Mr. Woodward had spoken about other places being as bad as Pump-lane. There was, however, one difference which he would remind him of — namely, that whereas the Board had, by Act of Parliament, the power whenever they chose to pull down Pump-lane, they had not that power in the case of other streets or lanes.

Mr. Woodward continued that he considered it wrong to discuss the question at present, with so limited a number present; why could not Mr. Caveler adjourn the meeting till the evening to see if more members could be got to attend? Again he would ask what was the use of bringing up reports made years ago. If they wanted to improve the sanitary condition of the town, let the member who wished it buy the property needing reform himself, and then he could improve it at his pleasure. The Local Board could not reform it by such means as then proposed, for it was out of the province of their operations. He thought it was altogether wrong, for the present plan was a private and not a public work, and must, if passed, be paid for by a special Private Improvement rate. If it had come before them in an honest way he should have been glad to have met it, but he considered the present manner was underhand and dishonest, and under these circumstances he felt bound, though he was sorry to be obliged to do it, still he felt it was his duty to defeat the measure by the only means which lay in his power, viz. — that of leaving, which would break up the board and render further business illegal.

The Chairman thought that if the Board lost the present opportunity of opening a road to the Fort, the whole of the property in that neighbourhood would be unjustly depressed in value.

(Mr. Woodward and Mr. Edwards then left, with the intention, as there were but ten members present in all, of breaking up the Board, and thus defeating the measure in the only manner in their power. A little confusion occurred in consequence of the inability of the eight members remaining, of adjourning at all, or coming to any resolution. Mr. Reeves, however, was sent to see if he could induce two hitherto absent members, to attend, and subsequently induced Mr. Pickering and Mr. Woodruff to come in, upon which the business of the day was resumed.)

Mr. Mercer (in answer to a question from one of the recently arrived members) said he considered that the present measure was the first step towards an outlay of £1800.

Mr. Caveler replied that in the last resolution to which the Commissioners had come, they had pledged themselves to accomplish the whole work for £1000. Although he wished everything to be done in a fair spirit, yet, under the circumstances, he must press the question to a division. He would, however, first reply to the speech of his friend (Mr. Woodward), whom he supposed had not the courage to stand his reply, and had consequently left. His first observation had been that there was not one word of truth in the reports read. He would ask who were they to believe — Mr. Woodward or the gentlemen who formed the committee — men of well-known truth and integrity? He also observed “that he never believed such reports because one or two of the active members of the committee always led the others.” He was sure that such was not the case, and he would appeal to the gentlemen round the board and ask if it was. As regards his remark that his (Mr. Caveler’s) object was simply a private one, he could only say that he had striven many years energetically and he hoped honestly to obtain his object on account of the town; but even if it were a private interest, surely if it tended to the improvement of the town, they would not be so obtuse as to refuse a benefit to the inhabitants simply because it conferred a benefit also on an individual, which surely would not alter the circumstances of the case.

The Chairman previous to putting the resolution, wished to explain that as chairman he never voted in any question except when required to give the casting vote. But he would say what he thought of the matter and it certainly was his opinion that the removal of Pump-lane would be one of the greatest improvements to the town that could possibly be made, whether he looked at the neighbourhood immediately interested — whether in a sanitary point of view, or whether he  considered it in a general point of view as relating to the whole town.

The resolution was then put, and was carried by a majority of six to one, there appearing for it – Messrs. Chambers, Barker, Higgins, Carr, Pickering and Caveler, and against Mr. Mercer.

The meeting then broke up.

Woodward and Evans, not surprisingly, were displeased that their ploy had failed and they tried to overturn the decision at the next meeting of the Local Board, but J. H. Boys, the Clerk to the Board, replied that the resolution passed at the last meeting was perfectly legal.22 Meanwhile, at the auction the four Pump-lane houses had been bought  by F. W. Cobb for £495;23 Cobb then wrote to the Local Board offering to sell them the land on which the houses had stood.24 The offer was considered at the Local Board meeting in November and despite the opposition of Woodward and four others, it was agreed  to refer the offer to the Building Committee.24 In December the Building Committee presented their report to the Local Board, recommending the purchase of the land for £275.25 They also recommended that a road be made to the Fort, ‘of not less than twenty-five, nor more than thirty feet wide’ for the sum of £220, making a total cost of £495.25 The cost of £220 for completing the road to the Fort included the purchase of the remaining four houses in Pump Lane (one house owned by Mr. Hatherden, one by Mr. Winch, and two by Mr. Gallow), part of Mr. Cobb’s stable yard, part of the White Hart stable yard, and a portion of the property of Mr. Hudson.26. This was finally agreed.

In February 1856 the work of demolishing the houses in Pump lane started. The building materials of the first two of the demolished houses were sold for just £11 10s., a sign of their ‘rotten and decayed state’.27 By March they had all gone,28 and in April it was decided that the new road should be named Fort Road.29 In July F. W. Cobb wrote to the Board asking for payment for the land he had sold to the Board, as ‘the improvement at the former Pump lane, now the Fort Road, [have] been some time completed’.30 In September 1856 a special meeting of the Local Board was held to complete the purchase of both the Pump lane  properties and Jumble Joss Island and finally the purchase money was paid.31



1. E. Cresy, Report to the General Board of Health on a preliminary inquiry into . . . the sanitary condition of . . . the parish of St. John the Baptist, Margate, W. Clowes & Sons, London, 1850.

2. An Act to amend and render more effectual several acts relative to the paving, lighting, watching, and improving the town of Margate in the Parish of Saint John the Baptist in the County of Kent; for erecting certain defences against the sea for the protection of the said town; and for making further improvements in and about the said town and parish. 31 March 1825.

3. Kent Herald, February 13 1851.

4. Kent Herald, August 16 1849.

5. Kent Herald, September 20 1849.

6. Kent Herald, December 12 1850.

7. Kent Herald, January 9 1851.

8. Kent Herald, January 30 1851.

9. Canterbury Journal, February 15 1851.

10. Kent Herald, February 27 1851.

11. Kent Herald, September 25 1851.

12. Kent Herald, January 22 1852.

13. South Eastern Gazette, February 10 1852.

14. South Eastern Gazette, November 29 1853.

15. South Eastern Gazette, December 13 1853.

16. South Eastern Gazette, August 7 1855.

17. Kentish Observer, August 9 1855.

18. Kentish Gazette, May 11 1847.

19. The Builder, p. 259, June 1 1850.


21. Kentish Observer, August 16 1855.

22. Kentish Observer, September 6 1855. 

23. Kent Herald, August 30 1855.

24. Kentish Observer, November 29 1855.

25. Kentish Observer, December 27 1855.

26. Kent Archives, Minutes, Local Board of Health, Margate 1851-1858, December 8 1855.

27. Kent Herald, February 14 1856.

28. Kent Herald, March 27 1856.

29. Kentish Gazette, April 29 1856.

30. Kent Archives, Minutes, Local Board of Health, Margate 1851-1858, July 29 1856.

31. Kent Herald, September 18 1856.


Appendix I.


Land and Premises to be purchased for the proposed new road to the Fort

Schedule B of ‘An Act to amend and render more effectual several acts relative to the paving, lighting, watching, and improving the town of Margate in the Parish of Saint John the Baptist in the County of Kent; for erecting certain defences against the sea for the protection of the said town; and for making further improvements in and about the said town and parish’, 31 March 1825.

Description Owners Occupiers
Messuages and Premises Thomas Gore Thomas Gore
Messuages and Premises same Widow Kirby
Messuages and Premises same John Long
Messuages and Premises same Willm. Jones
Messuages and Premises John Hedgecock's Heirs Philip Birkett
Messuages and Premises Walton's Heirs William Rete
Messuages and Premises John Foat William Fuller
Messuages and Premises same William Robins
Vacant Piece of Land Stranack and Mummery's Heirs George Creed
Messuage and Premises Lavinia Mummery Lavinia Mummery
Kitchen Garden and Premises Nathaniel Burslem Edmd. Gibbs
Stables and Coach house Lavinia Mummery George Creed
Coach House and Stables same Jno. Miles
Piece of land and Sawpit Nathaniel Burslem Robert Grant
Part of land used as drying Ground Lavinia Mummery Messrs Wm. Edmunds and Wm. Jones
Part of a messuage leading to the Fort Edw. White Edw. White
Messuage and premises west side of Brewhouse Nathaniel Burslem William Gore
Messuage and premises near the last same Wm. Rowe
Messuage and premises near the last same Hannah Hubbard
Messuage and premises near the last same Edward Woodward
Piece of land on the west side of four cottages occupied by Gore, Rowe, Hubbard and Woodward same John Hubbard