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‘Amazing’ discovery is vital link to port past

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AN amazing historical find, uncovering detailed Shoreham Port documents, has been warmly welcomed.

Shoreham Port was delighted to hear about research by carpenter Andy Ramus, featured in the Herald on December 26.

Mr Ramus was working on a property in Southdown Road, Southwick, when he discovered paperwork from John Jabez Edwin Mayall, a well-known photographer who had the house built.

Among the documents was a pamphlet proving Mr Mayall played a huge part in saving Shoreham Harbour in the 1870s.

Tony Parker, director of engineering at Shoreham Port, said: “The information Mr Ramus has unearthed is absolutely fascinating.

“We already knew that the great romantic landscape artist, J.M.W. Turner, painted in Shoreham and Brighton, but to find such a strong connection with J.J.E. Mayall as well is utterly amazing.

“Mayall was one of the top photographers of the Victorian period and was world famous at the time.

“In view of his interest in the harbour, I think John Mayall would have been proud of what the port has achieved in recent times.”

Mr Ramus did a lot of research himself after finding the documents while he was converting the loft.

He then launched an online blog at www.wolf-e-boy.com/John-Jabez-Edwin-Mayall with all the information he found.

He discovered Mr Mayall wrote the address to the trustees of Shoreham Harbour because he had been appointed a trustee by the Corporation of Brighton to represent their interests.

Now referred to as Mr Alderman Mayall, he then employed the services of engineers, the harbour master and ship owners from the north to gauge whether the port could be made a going concern.

Through these meetings, he determined the port was, in his words, ‘a revenue slumbering; it only requires ways and means that it may be rendered available’.

As a trust port, the Government had set an allowance of £3,000 per year for the running of the port, but this amount was insufficient to even dredge.

Therefore, a new bill would be needed to be passed in law, allowing Shoreham Port greater borrowing powers, and this finally went through.

The speech Mr Ramus discovered was delivered at a meeting of the Shoreham Harbour trustees on July 20, 1875, at the Dolphin chambers in Shoreham.

Mr Parker said it was interesting to know Mr Mayall’s work may have helped to shape the success of Shoreham Port today, and enable it to become a thriving commercial port.

Mr Ramus said: “The customers had told me that they believed the original owner, who had commissioned the place to be built, may have been involved in the moving pictures industry in its infancy, but they knew no more.

“I later discovered links to a US president, Ulysees S. Grant, Charles Dickens, Queen Victoria and her family and the painter J.M.W. Turner. Mayall also had great involvement in local politics and overall lived a quite remarkable life.”

 

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