Sir John Hawkshaw - Charmouth`s Famous Railway Engineer


We have chosen Sir John Hawkshaw as the subject of our talk tonight as there is no memorial to his time here in Charmouth, yet he left his mark on our landscape and almost altered our destiny forever. For in the year 1864 he submitted a plan to Parliament for an extensive railway linking Charmouth, Lyme Regis, Axminster and Bridport with the main line to London. We would have had a station at the rear of the shops on what is now the Playing Fields. It never came to pass and thankfully the village is still an oasis of calm. The talk will fall into two parts.
The first will be his astonishing achievements in the field of construction. Everyone has heard of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, voted second after Churchill in a BBC poll of ‘the 100 greatest Britons’. Telford and the Stephensons are familiar names – but not John Hawkshaw. Yet his achievements and the scope of his work in this country and across the world were famous in their day. His Severn Tunnel was an engineering marvel; he built railways, canals, bridges, harbours, advised on the Suez Canal, and promoted ideas for a Channel Tunnel.
There will then be a break for refreshments and after half hour the second part with begin. This will deal thoroughly with his impact on both Charmouth and Lyme Regis. We hope that by the end you will have a greater understanding of this famous figure from the past. So let’s get started with our first slide.

John Hawkshaw was born on 9th April 1811 in Leeds, where his parents kept an Inn in Kirkgate. John was the fifth of Henry and Sarah’s six children. One of his earliest memories was of the Middleton Railway, pictured here that brought coal from the Middleton Colliery to a place by the river Aire at Leeds Bridge, near his childhood home. In 1812 this became the first commercially successful steam railway in the country. This no doubt inspired young John in his future path in life. After attending Lockwood Academy and later Leeds Grammar School, which he left at the age of 13, he went on to work for Charles Fowler, (no connection with the architect of Charmouth Church) on Turn Pike Roads. It was in this occupation that he learnt the skills of surveying and geology as they progressed with the roads through numerous obstructions. He left Leeds in 1829 , aged 18 and worked for Alexander Nimmo, on drawing up plans for an intended railway from Liverpool to Leeds. But the scheme failed, although later Hawkshaw was to implement them. 

Aged just 21, Hawkshaw was sent by associates of Nimmo, to take charge of the British owned Bolivar Copper Mines in Aroa in Venezuela. He sailed from Falmouth in 1832 on the “Hope” to Barbados, and then in to La Guaira in Venezuela. Here he managed a workforce of 1200 who worked in the mines. He improved the primitive transport links by constructing a wide new cart road and developed the navigation system to the port. Ships would then take it back to St. Helens, near Liverpool to be smelted. While he was there he traveled around the country and investigated the geology and fauna. He had to return home due to ill health after suffering from Malaria. His time was not wasted and he was later to write a book on his experiences in the country – “ “Reminiscences of South America from Two and Half Years Residence”, in 1838.

John Hawkshaw returned to England in 1834, where he was engaged for some time in the Liverpool Dockyard under Jesse Hartley. Afterwards he was for a short time in the office of James Walker, where he laid out the Leipsic and Dresden Railway. In 1836, the year in which Mr. Hawkshaw became an Associate of the Institute of British Engineers, he was requested by the Directors of the Manchester, Bury, and Bolton Canal Navigation and Railway to take charge of their works, and the railway, which was completed under his superintendence two years later. In the same year he was called upon by the Directors of the Great Western Railway to report, in conjunction with Nicholas Wood, on the desirability or otherwise of maintaining the broad gauge on the Great Western Railway system. His report was adverse to the broad gauge, chiefly on the ground of the inconvenience it would occasion in the future extension of railways. The slide shows the Great Western Broad gauge track advocated by Brunel, which was eventually scrapped and an engraving of John Hawkshaw.

Although his advice was not followed at the time, subsequent events have fully proved the soundness of his views.which remained unaltered throughout his life. The slide shows the last broad gauge Great Western Train at Paddington Station in 1892. The complexity of the expensive mixed gauge track can be seen in the foreground.

In 1844 Hawkshaw became the Consulting Engineer to the Manchester, Bury, and Rossendale Company, formed for the construction of a railway into Rossendale, and which was afterwards expanded into the East Lancashire Railway Company. In the following year, he became Chief Engineer of the Manchester and Leeds Railway Company, which was the nucleus of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company.
The slide is of the interior of Manchester Victoria Station which is still in use today

The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway received a major boost on 20 September 1847 when Queen Victoria returning from her holiday in Scotland arrived at Fleetwood in the Royal Yacht, “Victoria and Albert” to continue the journey by train to London. There was a welcoming reception at Fleetwood, with an onward journey by special train. John Hawkshaw was chosen to drive the train for her majesty, shown here in this engraving of the event.

In 1845 the Huddersfield and Sheffield Junction Railway amalgamated with Manchester and Leeds with Hawkshaw as chief engineer. The line had difficult terrain to cut through. The slide is of the magnificent Lockwood Viaduct which was designed by him at a cost of £33,000 and completed in 1849. It is 1428 feet long with a maximum height of 70 feet with 32 arches and still operational today.

When it opened its new works at Miles Platting in 1846,The Manchester and Leeds was one of the first companies to build its own locomotives. Over the next 35 years, it produced 522 there. Hawkshaw designed both the works and two important classes of locomotives there. The first were the Hawkshaw Single 2-2-2 passenger locomotives, constructed between 1846 and 1849, which is shown here.

Hawkshaw's other design for the LYR was a mixed traffic 0-4-2. This one, no. 169 was built in 1850 and lasted until 1878.After his five year agreement with the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway ended in December 1850, Hawkshaw became consulting engineer to the company for the remainder of his long career, though their work thereafter formed a relatively small part of his substantial practice.

Ann Jackson married John Hawkshaw in 1835 and they settled in Salford, near Manchester, where they mixed with the prominent thinkers of the day to include William and Elizabeth Gaskell. Her first volume of poetry “Dionysius the Areopagite with other poems” was published in 1842, followed by “Poems for my Children” in 1847. The Hawkshaw's had six children, the most well-known was John Clarke Hawkshaw (1841-1921), who like his father was a civil engineer. In 1865 he married Cicely Wedgwood, daughter of Francis Wedgwood, grandson of Josiah Wedgwood, founder of the famed pottery firm. Francis’s sister Emma Wedgwood married her cousin, the famous,Charles Darwin, whose portraitsare shown here. 

In 1850 Hawkshaw moved from Manchester to 33 Great George Street, Westminster, where he remained until the close of his professional career; at first alone, and from 1870 in partnership with his son, John Clarke Hawkshaw, and his former chief assistant, Harrison Hayter. The slide is of the Institute of Civil Engineers, which was on the same street . The Hawkshaws  were in good company as they were neighbours of a number of other famous engineers including William Cubitt at no.19, George and Robert Stephenson at 24, Charles Barry at 32. By 1858, more than 40 civil engineers lived or worked in Great George Street.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel was located around the corner in Duke Street.

The slide shows the two famous engineers – Stephenson and Brunel who were contemporaries of  Hawkshaw. In 1855 Stephenson was president of the Institute of Civil Engineers, with Brunel, Locke and Hawkshaw as Vice Presidents. They both died within a month of each other in 1859 at comparatively young ages. John Hawkshaw who was born in 1811 outlived them and died in 1891 aged 80 and left £200,000 in his will, a fortune for those times.

We now have one of the many connections with John Hawkshaw and Charmouth. This is of the Hungerford Market, shown in this slide with the bridge crossing the Thames which was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and opened in 1845. The Market Building was by the famous architect Charles Fowler and was one of a number including Covent Garden and Exeter Market designed by him. The same Charles Fowler was also the architect for St. Andrews Church in Charmouth which opened in 1836. His mother lived with his aunt at “Little Hurst”, which is now the village surgery and is buried in the church, which has a fine memorial to her.

This print shows the demolition in 1859 of the original Hungerford Bridge which was bought by the railway company extending the South Eastern Railway into the newly opened Charing Cross Railway Station. In the distance is Fowler's short lived Hungerford Market building. The railway company replaced the suspension bridge with a structure designed by Sir John Hawkshaw, comprising nine spans made of wrought iron lattice girders, which opened in 1864. The chains from the old bridge were re-used in Bristol's Clifton Suspension Bridge.

A print of Charing Cross Station nearing completion. In 1861 Hawkshaw was appointed Consulting Engineer to the South Eastern Railway whose main line from London to Dover currently terminated at London Bridge Station on the south bank. His first task from 1861-66, was the design and construction of the West End and City extensions to Charing Cross and Cannon Street. There he built main line stations still standing, although altered today. The entire line from London Bridge to Charing Cross is elevated running on 190 arches and 18 bridges. The project cost a staggering for those times cost of nearly £3 million

A print of the much criticized Monster Girder Bridge over Borough High Street under construction, on the Charing Cross Line. Hawkshaw made no apology for it and gave a robust defense of its design. He had to meet requirements, but felt that Charing Cross Station would make up for it and would be a “handsome thing”.

The interior of Charing Cross Station wiith its splendid roof was indeed handsome. The station gave the South Eastern Company a grand terminus right in the heart of the West End, which made a fitting departure point to Dover and the continent.

The exterior of Charing Cross Station with the replica of the long lost Charing Cross, which had been one of 12 crosses erected in 1391-4 by King Edward I in memory of his wife. Behind it is Barry’s Charing Cross Hotel.

Cannon Street Station is shown here. Only the twin towers of Hawkshaw's most successful architectural achievement survive. They originally held water tanks for replenishing the locomotives. In 1867, it’s first full year of operation, It handled 8 million passengers. Hawkshaw continued as consulting engineer for the next 15 years.

The interior of Cannon Street Station showing the 190 ft roof span. Following bomb damage in the Blitz, which was never fully repaired, the arched roof was dismantled in 1958. The station has since been rebuilt, and just the towers and side walls of Hawkshaw's structure remain to give a hint of what has been lost.

Soon after Hawkshaw moved his practice to London he was appointed to the Metropolitan Commission of Sewers. Overflowing cess pit and old inadequate sewers were causing regular outbreaks of Cholera in the capital. What was needed were new sewage works on a huge scale, but funds would not be approved. Even though in 1849, Dr John Snow had advanced a theory that the disease was the result of contamination of drinking water by sewage, it had not gained general acceptance. In 1855 the Metropolitan Board of Works was created under Joseph Bazalgette, as chief engineer. It was not until the “Great Stink” on the Thames three years later, that action was taken. Work then started on the magnificent new system of main drainage, the first section of which was opened in 1865, although it was not finished until 10 years later. The slide shows a section of the new Thames Embankment with Hawkshaw's Charing Cross Station in the background. Below it is a subway carrying gas and water pipes(1), then the low level sewer(2) and the Metropolitan District Underground Railway (3). The photographs at the top are of Hawkshaw and Bazalgette.

Amongst the many projects Hawkshaw was involved with was that forFen drainage which is depicted in the attached slide. It shows his permanent coffer dam across the Middle Level drain, whilst under construction in 1862. Nine of the eventual sixteen siphon tubes are in place on the view.

This fine print is of the Holyhead Docks and gives us an idea of the sheer scale of the Harbour. Hawkshaw took charge of this great project in 1856 on the death of James Rendel. It was to be the first of a number of docks and harbours he was to be involved with. In June 1873 after 25 years of slow progress, seventeen under Hawkshaw's direction, the great work was finally completed at a cost of over a million pounds. The Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, officially opened it on 19th August. As a result Hawkshaw was knighted at Balmoral by Queen Victoria on 30th August.

Hawkshaw was appointed Consulting Engineer to the Hull Dock Company in 1862 and continued to act in that capacity until his retirement. In connection with these works he designed a swing Bridge of over 800 tons, which was one of the largest of its kind when it was completed in 1865. The Albert docks were opened by the Prince of Wales in 1869. The Print shows the opening ceremony performed by the Prince with Clarke Hawkshaw, son of John, who was a contemporary of his at Trinity College, Cambridge.

Hawkshaw was Consultant Engineer to the government railways in Mauritius where there were steep gradients to contend with. Two standard gauge lines totaling 64 miles were constructed between 1861 and 1865 to transport sugar from the interior to the coast for export. As the line neared completion Harry Higginson, district engineer, discovered the first substantial remains of the extinct Dodo, which had been wiped out by European voyagers in the 17th century. The Dodo bones were shipped back to the British Museum.

Hawkshaw designed and supervised the construction of the 1200 ft long Carlisle bridge over the River Foyle in Londonderry, which was opened in 1863. The photograph shows its two levels, with a railway on the lower deck and roadway above.

In 1865 John Hawkshaw was appointed consulting Engineer to the Amsterdam Ship Company. A new ship canal was to run 16 miles from the city to the coast, reducing the voyage by 35 miles. It was to present a considerable engineering challenge to him. A great new harbour had to be made and he called on the expertise that he had gained at Dover. The slide shows the route that was taken and the northern pier at Ijmukden under construction.

One of the most important civil engineering projects of the 19th century was the creation of the Suez Canal. John Hawkshaw played a small but decisive part in its realisation. In the middle of the century the only route from Europe to India was via the Cape of Good Hope. At he close of 1863 Hawkshaw went to Egypt, and while there spent twenty-seven days in examining the district to be traversed by the canal. Having thoroughly investigated the question he reported that there were no works on the canal presenting any unusual difficulties, and that no obstacles would be met with that would prevent the work when completed being maintained. The Khedive, who ruled the country, was determined to get his opinion,and it was because his report was entirely favourable that Ferdinand de Lesseps was able to say at the opening ceremony that he owed the canal to Hawkshaw.

The illustration is of the 0-4-2 passenger locomotive designed by Hawkshaw for the Madras Railway in India. For over thirty years from 1857 to 1888, he was the Consulting Engineer to their railway. The first section was opened in 1856 and it was Hawkshaw who was involved with the subsequent section the first of which was that to Bangalore opened in 1864, by this time the system extended some 800 miles.

John Hawkshaw and William Barlow worked together to complete the Clifton Suspension Bridge in 1864 as a memorial to Isambard Kingdom Brunel. As a further tribute to Brunel, the wrought iron chains of his Hungerford Suspension Bridge across the Thames in London were purchased for £5,000 and re-used as  Hungerford Bridge had been demolished in 1860 to make way for the new Charing Cross Railway Bridge. Rejecting his bridge deck design, they created a stronger and more hardwearing structure hanging from a re-worked three chain system, which was capable of withstanding much greater loads. Without these changes the bridge would not be able to hold today’s modern traffic. The inscription on the end face of the eastern pier shows Hawkshaw and Marlowe as completing the bridge. The other photos are of it under construction.

John Hawkshaw was aged 53 in 1864, when he was at the height of his career. The portraits shown here reveal him as an impressive confident man with a long list of successes behind him. This was the year that he decided to make his mark on Charmouth. But why did he choose our village. It is a question that has intrigued us for a long time as in the period of just two years he was to alter the lives of its people dramatically. The first clue is when Edward Cecil Hartsinck Day arrived there in 1861. He was a Geologist who made a study of the rocks and Fossils here. He was a member of the Geological Society, as was Hawkshaw and would have known each other. He published an article in 1863 for the society on the Middle and Upper Lias on the Dorsetshire Coast. No doubt Hawkshaw appreciated his talents and  employed him to study the Cretaceous beds in both England and France for the best route for a tunnel to link the two countries.
The second clue was that of his friendship with the famous artist, John Gould, whose father had been gardener at Poulett House in Lyme Regis and informed him of it being for sale. The owner was Colonel William Pinney, who was standing down as M.P. for the town. Hawkshaw had just lost as candidate for Andover and was looking at another constituency.
The third clue was that in that year there was another Railway boom with plenty of money available to finance new schemes. He could see the potential of linking Charmouth with Lyme Regis, Bridport and Axminster to the Main line to London.
During 1864 he was to buy a large area of fields and buildings in both places, knowing that if successful their value would increase considerably. He did not have a country house and was renting Everleigh Manor, near Andover in Hants at this time and may well have been looking at finding one to live in.

Edward Cecil Hartsinck Day attended the new Royal School of Mines in London and took up a geological career. To advance this he, in 1861, moved to live in Charmouth, one of the most 'geological' locations in England. The Parish Records give us an insight into his time here. For his son William , aged just 2 was buried at St. Andrews in 1861. He was to have two more children whilst living here – Alice born in 1862 and William Hartsinck in 1865. His name appears on the Jury List for the village during his time here and is described as a Gentleman. The Charmouth Cricket Club was founded in 1863 and he was one of the founders and their Treasurer. He was elected Fellow of the Geological Society in the same year and published an important paper on the Middle and Upper Lias of the Dorset Coast. In this he identified a new shell bed in the Middle Lias which is now named Day's Shell Bed after him. The ammonite Dayiceras was also named after him by L.F. Spath following a suggestion from W.D. Lang, "to commemorate his important work on the Lias at Charmouth.“
In 1864 Day purchased "one of the most perfect Plesiosauri ever found on the Dorsetshire coast" for £40 from the local dealer Samuel Clark of Charmouth shown here on the left. He  was also assisted by a young Isaac Hunter, on the right in locating suitable examples for his collection.

The illustration shown above is from Owen`s “A monograph of the fossil Reptilia of the Liassic formations” published in 1863. The most remarkable feature of this discovery was that in 1864 Day sold it on to the British Museum for £200, a fortune at the time. The Plesiosaurus can still be seen in a showcase on the wall of the Natural History Museum in London and is illustrated here.
Day was highly active as a geologist while he was at Charmouth. He helped Huxley with his researches on belemnites. In 1865 he revealed the true situation of the cephalic spines in the fossil shark Hybodus anningae and in 1867 he acquired from Isaac Hunterof Charmouth, a second new species of Plesiosaurus, which Richard Owen was to have called Plesiosaurus laticeps.
Day left Charmouth for America in 1867and was Assay Master in the Columbia College School of Mining. He then became in 1872, Professor of Natural Sciences at the Normal College, New York, where he was also active as a botanist. He died on 4 January 1895 in Algiers, whilst on tour in an attempt to recover his health.

John Hawkshaw's son, later wrote that “Early in 1865 Sir John obtained the services of Mr Hartsinck Day, who, besides being a competent geologist, had also a knowledge of surveying. Mr Day's attention was directed principally to the cretaceous beds which Sir John's large experience in tunnel work led him to choose as the most promising material through which to tunnel. Mr Day spent several months... surveying the beds on the coast in England and France, and prepared a geological map showing their position on both sides of the Channel as to the position of the beds under the sea". The route that was chosen was very similar to that now in operation, and was also carefully chosen to pass mostly through the Lower Chalk. This tunnel was to have crossed from Calais, close to the present terminal at Sangatte, to end in St Margaret's Bay, to the east of the present exit at Shakespeare Cliff. Sir John  was engineer, with Sir James Brunlees, of the original Channel Tunnel Co from 1872, but many years previously he had investigated for himself the question of a tunnel under the Strait of Dover from an engineering point of view, and had come to a belief in its feasibility, so far as that could be determined from borings and surveys. Subsequently, however, he became convinced that the tunnel would not be to the advantage of Great Britain, and would have nothing to do with the project.

E.C.H. Day found many of his fossils in the area where the Heritage Centre is today. It had been built as a Cement Works on the site of a former Lime Kiln by George Frean for his son in law Michael Morcom in 1854. They crushed the large stones collected from the beach and cliffs and produced what was known as Roman Cement as it set under water and was used in harbours. It was here in 1858 that James Harrison had found the earliest Dinosaur amongst many other fossils. He must have known Day as they had similar interests and were comparatively wealthy. George Frean had bought the Manor of Charmouth in 1853 from the Liddons, and sold their Manor House at Langmoor and kept the fields and some buildings that went with it. The Cement Works was somewhat of a white elephant and no doubt Day had mentioned to Hawkshaw that Frean would be happy to sell it. This is indeed is what he did in January, 1864 for the sum of £6000 with the rest of its surrounding fields and title – “Lord of the Manor of Charmouth”.

To give you an idea of how extensive Hawkshaw's purchases were in 1864, we show this map with most of Charmouth shown in pink and green that was his. Many of you here no doubt have houses that were on fields that once belonged to him. The large pink group of fields at the top is Lily Farm that he bought with a Blacksmiths and a number of cottages in the same year from Colonel William Pinney who had purchased them in 1850.

This watercolour shows the fields and Cement Factory as they would have looked at the time Hawkshaw  bought them in 1864. The small building to the left of the factory is the Battery where the Coastguards would keep their shells and ammunition. They would practice firing their cannon each day and when the sea was out would collect their shell to use again. The Admiralty paid a nominal rent for the Look Out to Hawkshaw, who was the Lord of the Manor.

This advertisement for a freehold estate dated 24th July 1850 is of great interest as it was all one lot with Poulett House its centerpiece  with a large chunk of Lyme Regis, including villas,houses and a ship building yard by the Cobb. As well as this there was Lily Farm in Charmouth with 60 acres of fields,a Smith`s shop and two houses. The successful buyer was Colonel William Pinney, whose family had previously been slave owners in the west indies and had received £30,000 compensation in 1834 for them. He in turn sold the estate to John Hawkshaw early in 1864.

A photograph of Lily Farm with its surrounding fields, which was owned by Hawkshaw and his son until it was sold in 1914 at a loss on what they had originally paid for it fifty years earlier.

This map again shows the considerable estate, coloured in pink and green, that John Hawkshaw bought from Colonel Pinney in 1864 in Lyme Regis.

A number of the properties seen here in this picture of Lyme Regis would have been bought by Hawkshaw including the Ship yard, by The Cobb.

“Poulett House" now known as the Alexandra Hotel, had been the Dower House for the family who lived at Hinton St. George in Somerset. It was a fine building where Colonel Pinney had lived. Hawkshaw after its purchase let it to the town mayor and solicitor, William Ingram, who was to later purchase it from him. Hawkshaw's  intention if successful with his railway was to live there with his family and move from the house in Eversleigh in Wilshire that he was renting at the time.

John Gould, who was a close friend of John Hawkshaw was born in Lyme Regis, where his father was gardener to Lady Poulett, who lived in the house that is today the Alexandra Hotel. This is where his passion for nature began. His father was later to get a new job for Queen Charlotte at Windsor Castle. The son was in time to work for the King as a taxidermist. He progressed rapidly and was the first curator of the Natural History Museum and Zoo, when only 23. He is known today for the fine illustrations he produced for a number of books on Birds. He is shown here with one of the beautiful prints that now command a high price.

As well as work in England, Hawkshaw had a number of significant projects abroad. This is shown clearly in the letter by him dated August 6th 1864. He writes “ My visit to Lyme Regis is postponed, for tomorrow night if all be well I start for Russia where I have large works in progress. I hope to get to Lyme in September when I may have the pleasure of meeting you and at all events I hope then to have the pleasure then of paying my respects to Mrs. Breton. ”. It was in 1862 that he was appointed Consulting Engineer to the Dunaburg & Witepsk Railway, a 161 mile extension to the Riga and Dunaburg in Russia.

John Hawkshaw's master plan in coming to Charmouth was to build a railway, become an M.P. and reside in a fine country house. He was to almost achieve all of these ambitions between 1864 and 1865. In buying up the large Estates in both Lyme Regis and Charmouth,he had a base to work from and was quick to win his voters over in a number of ways. As well as the promise of the prosperity that the railway would offer, he gave coal to the poor, treated his tenants well, built at his own expense a water supply and many other incentives for their votes. Bridport already had its Station, opened in 1857, shown in the advert above and its neighbours were anxious to have theirs as well. In July 1864, The local paper was to report  Hawkshaw's activities as follows:
"Railway Accommodation being very much needed at Charmouth and Lyme Regis, a company has been formed for the purpose of constructing a line from Chard Road to Lyme Regis, with a branch to Charmouth, from Penn Inn. A meeting for the purpose of discussing the matter was held on Wednesday evening, the 13th instant, at Lyme Regis, F. Hinton, Esq, Mayor, in the chair, when a large number of gentlemen, tradesmen, &c., of Lyme and Charmouth were present, and on the following evening, another meeting took place at Charmouth. Mr Morcome, of Charmouth, occupying the chair. Several gentlemen and tradesmen were present, and took practical speeches were made, and there is a fair probability of the railway being constructed, as a portion of the intended line has been surveyed, and there is every reason to believe it is bona fide affair, as the promoters, as well as the inhabitants of both Charmouth and Lyme, see the great necessity of a railway, and further there is a prospect of paying the shareholders a fair if not good dividend“.
It is interesting to see that both Morcome and Hinton were both favorable to the project as they each rented their properties from Hawkshaw. 

Prior to the Railway, Charmouth had regular coaches passing through it from London to Exeter. The coach shown here was “the Coronet” which ran between Bridport and Exeter from February 1858 till the summer of 1860 when the opening of the L.S.W Railway to Exeter and opening of Axminster Station, brought the service to an end. It is outside the Coach and Horses Inn and dating back to 1860, must be the earliest photographic depiction of Charmouth. The building on the left is a former sweet shop where Lydia Bradbeer had lived which was demolished in 1861 to widen St. Andrews Church yard.

Hawkshaw was not the first to look at connecting both Lyme Regis and Charmouth to the main line. The slide shows that the famous engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel had proposed and drawn up plans for it in 1846. Joseph Locke had also envisaged a similar railway and gone as far as detailing a railway station at the rear of Catherston Cottages. Unfortunately the projects never came to fruition.

This slide shows abstracts from the large book of plans and sections for the Bridport, Lyme and Axminster Railway dated 1864, which can now be seen in the Devon Record Office at Exeter. It is very detailed and extensive, covering the route that it would take if approved by Parliament. John Hawkshaw's name appears as Consulting Engineer on the cover. He also describes himself as Lord of the Manor of Charmouth in the bottom center panel, which he was entitled to do after purchasing the estate and title from George Frean.

The Bridport News reported in November 1864 that “There is again presented to us the bright and alluring vision of a railway for this district, but whether it is to assume actual shape or form, or, like its precursors, amuse us for a while, and then melt into thin air, I will not attempt to predict. The intended line is entitled the Bridport, Lyme, and South Coast Railway, and is to connect the Great Western at Bridport with the South-Western at a point about midway between Axminster and Chard, throwing off a branch at Whitchurch for Lyme. It is this branch which is to pass through this place. The first Charmouth Mead is the spot selected for that station. After passing Charmouth, the proposed line will make a considerable detour; the distance from Lyme, which is about two miles by the road, would be about four by the proposed rail. The only work of any difficulty in the neighbourhood would be a tunnel of 347 yards, between this and Lyme, and through the hill near Pen Inn. Pitcleaves, a field near the cemetery, it to be the terminus at Lyme. The maps and plans of so much as relates to this parish are now at the clerks for inspection, and a bill is to be brought into Parliament during next session. There can be no doubt but that a railway would be a very material benefit to us. and if it should be carried out as we hope it will, the beauties of Charmouth will then no doubt attract a large share of public attention”. The route it was to take is shown here included in the Plans presented to Parliament in November 1864. The different sections are described as Railways 1,2,3,4

There follows just a few of the many sheets in the book of maps and plans for the railway. This is the section that would go though Charmouth. The enlargements of the area where the planned station was to be built is compared with the 1841 Tithe map alongside it to show that it would be built on the first “Charmouth Mead” where the Recreation Grounds are today at the rear of the Street. The entrance to it along Barr's Lane, would have been very narrow and no doubt would have to be widened by demolition of one of the buildings there.
The reference book describes Railway no. 1 commencing by a junction with the Bridport Railway, in the parish of Bradpole on the north east side of the Bridport Station. Then on to Bradpole, Allington, Whitchurch Canonicorum, Wootton Fitzpaine, Marshwood, Catherston Lewiston and Charmouth and terminating in a field called “ The First Charmouth Mead”, belonging to Henry Coombe Compton and in his occupation. 

A more detailed plan of the area where the station was to be built. The field at that time was owned by Henry Compton and rented to farmer, John Hyde. The artists impression of how it may have looked if it came to fruition is also shown.

The reference book describes Railway no. 2 commencing by a junction with the aforesaid railway no. 1 passing through Charmouth, Catherston Lewiston, Wootton Fitzpaine and Whitchurch and terminating at Dunnings Bridge in Whitchurch Canonicorum. Then Railway no. 3 commenced by a double junction with that railway and passing through Whitchutch, Penn and Lyme Regis and terminating in a field called Higher Early Mead belonging to Henry Cornish Henley where a station was to be built.
In 1874 construction started on a railway, but it was soon stopped due to the hilly terrain and sparse population making it unviable. It was not until 1900 that it was started up again and fianlly opened in 1903. The photograph is that of the opening day, over 40 years after Hawkshaw's original Plan was rejected.

The Great Western Railway Coach that would pick up passengers from Bridport Station and take them to Charmouth and Lyme Regis, before they had their own Stations is seen outside the Bull Hotel in Bridport. The other photograph is of the first train arriving at Bridport Station when it opened in 1857.
The reference book describes Railway no. 1 commencing by a junction with the Bridport Railway, in the parish of Bradpole on the north east side of the Bridport Station. Then on to Bradpole, Allington, Whitchurch Canonicorum, Wootton Fitzpaine, Marshwood, Catherston Lewiston and Charmouth and terminating in a field called “ The First Charmouth Mead”.

On 19th July 1860 the London and Western Railway opened its main line between Yeovil and Exeter, giving the area rail transport to London. A horse drawn bus operated between Lyme Regis and Axminster.  Hawkshaw's Reference book shows his planned route connection to Axminster and is described as follows:
Railway no. 4 commencing by a junction with intended railway secondly described at its termination in Whitchutch and passing thence through parishes of Whitchurch, Moncton, Hawkchurch, Grange of Beaver, Furzleigh, Millbrook and Axminster and terminating by a junction with the Yeovil and Exeter Line of the London and South Western Railway.

It would have been sensible to reach prior agreement with either the GWR or L&SWR, but it seems that Hawkshaw neglected to do so, for both companies opposed his Bill, which therefore had to be withdrawn. The extract shown here is of a letter sent to John Hawkshaw from his solicitors regarding the withdrawal of his proposal to Parliament for the railway. It would seem that without agreement from the two large railway companies to backing and financing it, there was no chance of it going ahead.
Dear Sir,
Having regard to what passed at the last interview with the Great Western and South Western Companied, at which the latter company declined to join in the promotion of the above line, on the terms proposed, you will not be surprised to learn that our clients have decided not to make the Parliamentary deposit, and the bill therefore, for the session is abandoned. However anxious for a railway to Lyme, you would not, we are sure, have counselled any other course, looking at the large amount of capital involved, and the impossibility of it being praised except with the assistance of the two great companies.

Neil recently purchased a metal plaque with the inscription " Presented by J. Hawkshaw, Esq. to the Charmouth Cricket Club 1865". What made it so exiting was the plaque was given by him to Charmouth so long ago and by a miracle has survived. It was not until he went to The British Newspapers Archives website which has a database of most papers since they were published, that he was able to solve the mystery as to what it was. For the "Bridport News" on the 1st July of that year under Cricket Club reported that:
 “We have much pleasure in announcing that Mr. Hawkshaw has presented this Club a large iron roller, for the use of the ground. It has on it the following "Presented by J. Hawkshaw, Esq., to the Charmouth Cricket Club, 1865."
.It would seem that the iron plate originally fitted on the front of this roller. It was the only memorial to this great engineer ever being in Charmouth. The Newscutting at the top refers to the founding of the Cricket Club, two years before by villagers including Edward Day.

The large Iron Roller for The Cricket Club, was clearly another way he made villagers aware of his generosity, by having his name inscribed on the iron plate in its center. The club had been formed just two years before with Edward Day its Treasurer and proved very popular with its weekly results appearing in the Bridport News. There were matches between neighbouring villages and towns as well as “Men against Women” and “Married against singles”. The Cricket field and its pavillion are illustrated here. Two of Johns son`s played in the team which was then captained by Michael Morcom which is referred to in the newscutting at the top from June 1865.

John Hawkshaw soon after buying Lily Farm planned building a reservoir on his land and feeding a number of standpipes through the Street with fresh water at his own expense. The Bridport News was to report.
”Through the kindness and liberality of Mr Hawkshaw, a great boon is about to be conferred on this place, in the shape of a plentiful supply of pure water, in which. Indispensable, requesting Charmouth has hitherto been poorly off. For though nature has placed an abundance within easy reach, as yet no good method of distributing the precious gift had ever been adopted. the state of things is now to be remedied. Messrs Brown of Lyme, have contracted to build a tank, capable of holding 11,500 gallons of water, at the source of the spring known as the Grange, and to lay mains and provide public taps through the whole of the village. Any householder will be able, we understand, at a trifling expense, to have the water bought to his house”. 

The first sod of the waterworks was cut on June 15th by Mrs. Norris, the wife of Dr. H. E. Norris. A band was in attendance and the village was decorated with flags. The company repaired to a field, where wine and beer were distributed to drink success to the undertaking. Dancing afterwards commenced and was kept up with much spirit for some time. The waterworks were a great benefit to the place and the thanks of the inhabitants were expressed to Mr. John Hawkshaw, Lord of the Manor".
There are still signs today of them in walls down the hill, two of which are shown here.

This wonderful painting by Lucy Rosetti from 1878 shows a standpipe with a watering can beside it at the side of Portland House, opposite Charmouth House, signs of which can still be seen in the wall.

After the withdrawal of his Railway scheme and the possibility of applying again in the next parliamentary session in November of 1865, Hawkshaw was to stand for election as Member of Parliament for both Lyme Regis and Charmouth in that year. He was in a good position as he owned considerable property in both places and was famous for his many engineering projects. When Colonel Pinney, whose former house and property he had bought, stood down, it was Hawkshaw who felt well suited to replace him as Liberal candidate. Lyme Regis was known as a "rotten borough" with many of the voters being bribed. It was not a cause of action he would take and instead tried to win them over with his good works. His competitor was J.W. Treeby who had made a fortune building Villas in St. John’s Wood in London and had recently bought High Cliff House and other property in Lyme Regis. Both he and John gave supplies of coal to the Poor and other inducements. The news reports of the time shown on this slide detail their progress, including the possibilty of John Hawkshaw making improvements to the Cobb which was in a terrible state of repair.
Less than a fortnight before the poll, Hawkshaw  suddenly discovered that he was ineligible for election to Parliament. Nor should he have stood as the candidate for Andover. The reason was that, since 1856, Hawkshaw had been Engineer to the government funded harbour of refuge at Holyhead. This constituted an 'office of profit under the Crown', one of the few disabilities which debarred a man from entering the House of Commons. A solution had to be found at once. If John Hawkshaw could not be the candidate, his son John Clarke Hawkshaw would have to stand in his place. A telegram was sent to Henley, where Clarke was rowing in the Regatta, summoning him back to town for hurried consultations before he proceeded to Lyme with his father's solicitor.

After a campaign lasting just eight days, he lost the contest, but by only nine votes. He actually won by 92 votes to 87 in Lyme Regis, but lost by 15 to 29 in Charmouth, which was decisive. He had certainly done his best in the brief time available. He later recorded:
There was an archery meeting at which I was present and gave the prize to be contested for by the young ladies. There was a ball in the evening, at which I had to dance with the fair winner wearing it, a gold necklace or something of that sort. I went to the old Church on Sunday and sat in a big pew, where I am afraid the new candidate took the attention of some of the congregation away from the service.
I called  on  all  the  principal  inhabitants and eventually on all the voters. Only on one of my calls was the question of politics brought forward and that was in the case of an unfortunate tradesman, who told me, almost with tears in his eyes, that he dared not vote as he wished, for in that case he would lose his trade. The most trying part of my calls was the amount of indifferent cider I had to drink.
Lyme Regis was a most corrupt borough and was very properly disenfranchised later on. The people had lived for years on smuggling and elections. Charmouth formed part of the borough for voting purposes and I heard after the election that there were only eleven electors there who were not bribed. I lunched at one house where, after lunch, they asked £100 for their vote . Old Dr Hodges, the Rector, asked me to breakfast with him. He was a delightful old man, a thoroughgoing Tory, and said he wished he could vote for me, but he should vote for a broomstick if it put up on the Tory side".

After getting his degree at Cambridge he joined his fathers practice in London and worked with him on many important projects. In the same year as he stood for election he married Cicely Wedgwood daughter of Francis Wedgwood, grandson of Josiah Wedgwood, founder of the famous pottery firm. Francis’s sister Emma Wedgwood married her cousin  Charles Darwin. This family connection and the close proximity to the Jurassic Coast must have fostered his love of collecting fossils. His fine collection still exists and is on display in his original cabinet at Haslemere Museum in Surrey and contains a fine Ichthyosaur from Charmouth. The items were donated by his son Colonel Oliver Hawkshaw in 1922.Three of the items in the collection are shown here.

After defeat at the election and with his railway scheme, Hawkshaw was to try and sell all his property in Lyme Regis and Charmouth. There was to be an Auction in July 1867, but it was postponed until September of that year. The original catalogue for the sale can be seen in the Dorset Archives and is very comprehensive and contains some fine maps of both Charmouth and Lyme Regis. There follows some of the pages from the brochure, which is very valuable as providing a window both the places at that time.

The Map from the Auction catalogue of the many auction lots in Lyme Regis that were offered for sale whown in pink and green, with considerable property near the Cobb, including a ship yard.

The Map from the Auction Catalogue for 1867 showing the Charmouth Estate for sale by Driver and Co. in London. Lot 30 is the Drang which sold on the day, whereas Lot no 31 did not sell until 1871.The main one was lot 21 as it included The Cement Works, The Look Out and a number of fields surrounding it.Mr. Morcom of Plymouth had a 21 year lease there and was paying £100 a year rent for a Cement Mill, a Stone and Slated Building, with two floors, lean to, and two kilns. On top of the rent there were royalties of 1s 6d per ton on Cement,1s per ton on unmanufactured Stone,1s per ton on Manganese, and 2s per 1000 on all Bricks,Tiles and other like articles manufactured by the Lessee.It did not sell on the day and Michael Morcom was to stay there for another 5 years and then returned back to Plymouth and the building was to be empty for many years. Lot 25 was where Waterloo House and Fossil shop are today and failed to get its reserve of £300, Lot 26 two houses (Stow House and Bow House)let to mr. Penny and Mr Smith was bought by Mr. Peach for £600.Lot 28 Double Common was bought by Mr. Richmond for £200, The Drang, where 5 acres is today sold for £210.

The Bridport News was to report before and after this auction and some of the cuttings are shown here. It reports that
“The Sale of Mr. Hawkshaw's property - this important sale by auction took place at the Assembly Rooms in Lyme Regis on Tuesday 10th September, under the direction of Messrs, Driver and Co., of 4, Whitehall, London. For some of the properties the competition was spirited, but several lots still remain unsold. In Lyme, Lot 1, Paulett House and grounds adjoining, purchased by H.F.Ingram, Esq. for £3000. In Charmouth - Lot 21,Lilly Farm offered £3150, reserve price £4000. Lot 30, The Drang, let to the executors of the late George Payne, sold for £210. Lot 31, Manor of Langmoor, not sold, reserve price, £4000”. 
Other lots raised a further £4,430. Many failed to reach reserve price, however, and properties valued at £16,750 including the coastguard buildings, boat-building premises and shipyard went unsold. The Manor of Langmoor referred to above was actually the Cement Works and the fields around. It was not until it was bought by John James Coulton, four years later that they were able to dispose of this lot. It was this gentleman who also bought The Drang and attempted to build a housing Estate on the land in Higher Sea Lane. Lily Farm was to remain with the Hawkshaws until it was finally sold in 1914 at a much lower price than it was originally offered at.

Just a year after failing to get his railway scheme through and becoming a member of Parliament, Hawkshaw abandoned Charmouth and Lyme Regis. In June 1866 he was to purchase Hollycombe, a substantial country estate in West Sussex with a 140 acre park around the house. The prints shown here are of the house at the time of the Hawshaws, the smaller view is that of a bookplate used by his son. The house was inherited by Clarke on the death of his father. The famous painting below is “Israel in Egypt” by Sir Edward Poynter which was bought by Hawkshaw and hung in the house. The artist was to paint additional slaves as John felt that there was not enough to tow the heavy Sphinx.

There follows now some of the schemes Sir John Hawkshaw and his son were involved with after his departure from Charmouth.
As joint Engineer with George Robert Stephenson,he was responsible for the conversion of Sir Marc Brunel's Thames Tunnel, where his son Isambard had been employed by his father. In 1865 it had been purchased by the ELR and an underground line two and half miles long was constructed between Wapping and New Cross. It was completed in 1869 and the print shown here is the station with Brunel’s Tunnel in the background.

The print here is of construction of the inner circle underground railway in 1881 linking Tower Hill with Aldgate, for which Hawkshaw was the Engineer. It shows the awful cramped conditions that they worked under, with lighting provided by naked flames from lengths of gas pipes.

Hawkshaw was consulting engineer to the Commissioners of the Dover Harbour Board and between 1871 and 1874 enlarged the former Basin To create the five acre Granville Dock. Clarke Hawkshaw once again assisted his father and travelled down to Dover once a week to supervise its construction.

Hawkshaw was consulting engineer to the Severn Tunnel, which, from its magnitude and the difficulties encountered in its construction, was one of the most notable engineering undertakings of the 19th century.It was the longest rail tunnel in Britain for more than a century carrying the Great Western Railway from Bristol into South Wales and remains in use as part of the national rail network. On 18th March 1873, the Great Western Railway’s direct labour gangs began working on the tunnel and opened to goods traffic on 1st September 1886 and to passenger traffic between Bristol and Cardiff three months later. The slide shows Sir John making an inspection of the tunnel and the western and eastern portal of it.

London Brighton & South Coast Railway named one of their trains in December 1896 after JOHN HAWKSHAW, which is shown here.

Amongst John Hawkshaws many honours was being  elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in June 1855,serving as President of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1861-3 and being knighted in 1873.
In 1885 his beloved wife Ann, who had shared his travels, his successes and the family tragedies, died and was buried near Hollycombe. A few years later he retired, leaving his practice to his son. When he died in 1891 he was buried alongside Ann. His obituary read: ‘No man has done more to enhance the honour of the profession’.

If you google Sir John Hawkshaw today you will be directed to the pub bearing his name which is on the concourse of the rebuilt Cannon Street Station, which is a strange memorial to him.
Looking back at the brief time Hawkshaw was associated with Charmouth one has to reflect on what would have happened if his efforts had succeeded in 1865. John or his son would have been our Member of Parliament with tremendous influence with the many projects they were involved with. Lyme Regis would have had their railway instead of waiting until 1903 for it. We would also have had our station, although we would have lost the Playing Fields as that was where it was to be built. At the same time John Hawkshaw knew that with the railway would come expansion of both places and the qualities that we appreciate today of a village would have been lost.