17 January 2014

Shoreham Port were pleased to hear from Andy Ramus, a local resident from Shoreham, who recently discovered a pamphlet of a speech made to trustees of Shoreham Harbour, dated 20th July 1875. Mr Ramus found the pamphlet whilst carrying out a loft conversion and went on to research the author John Jabez Edwin Mayall’s life.

Mr Ramus said “Converting people’s loft spaces occasionally throws up stuff of interest, usually in the form of old newspapers, but recently whilst on a job in Southwick we stumbled upon a pamphlet dated July 20th 1875, in almost perfect condition. 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.”

Mr Ramus continued “In the early stages of setting out for steels and joisting, I had found an old and barely discernable business post card with the name J.J.E.Mayall and four addresses from London, Paris, Dublin and Brighton in each corner, stating his business as a 'Photographic Artist'. I later discovered links to a U.S 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.”

After much research, Mr Ramus found out that 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. 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 that 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 £3000 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, which fortunately did happen. It is interesting to know that Mayall’s work may have helped to shape the success of Shoreham Port today and enable it to become a thriving commercial port.  

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.”

To find out more about J.J.E.Mayall please visit Andy Ramus’s blog at www.wolf-e-boy.com/John-Jabez-Edwin-Mayall.

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