Sir John Hawkshaw

After the decade under the Frean's, the Manor was to briefly be owned by a person of national importance - Sir John Hawkshaw, the great Victorian Engineer. In 1855 he had bought Lily Farm from Matthew Liddon, and later the Manor from George Frean.. His main objective in buying these and other properties in the vicinity was his proposal to construct a railway linking Bridport, Charmouth, Lyme and Axminster. In this way they would be connected to the main lines. Bridport already had a station opened in 1857 and The London and South West Railway and Great Western had proposed a branch to Lyme in the 1860's. He also had political aspirations and had stood as an unsuccessful Liberal candidate at Andover in 1863. His plans for connecting his Estate in Charmouth with the Railway and constructing a Station were only a small fraction of the many projects he was involved with at this time. Just a short list would include finishing Brunel`s Clifton Suspension Bridge (1860), designing Charing Cross Station, construction of sections of London's Underground. He was also the consultant engineer on the Severn Tunnel and in 1872 was engineer for the first Channel Tunnel. He would stand comparison with Isambard Kingdom Brunel in his career, but unlike him lived to be an octogenarian and died a rich man leaving £220,000, a fortune in those days.
He wasted little time in submitting his plans for the line which was to be called the Bridport,Lyme and Axminster Railway, for in November that year the detailed plans and sections were submitted to Parliament with his name as Consultant Engineer and Lord of the Manor of Charmouth. He would also appear as chief landowner and Lord of Charmouth in Directories of the time. His was not the first proposal for connecting the village to it's neighbours. For in 1846 Joseph Locke planned a line with a station behind the Catherstone cottages for the Yeovil and Dorchester Railway. In the same year Brunel planned to link Charmouth with Yeovil and Bridport for the Great Western. But both of these failed as money ran out after the period of “Railway Mania” that swept England.
If all had gone to plan, the village would have had a Station at the rear of the Street where the Recreation Field is today with access along Barrs Lane. Unfortunately the Bill that was sent to Parliament by Hawkshaw for the necessary powers had to be withdrawn in the face of opposition by the Great Western and South Western Railway.
Amongst the other plans to be seen in the Dorset Record Office is one by the Lyme Regis Railway to extend the line to Bridport. If it had gone ahead the line would have followed the shore and then cut across to the west of the Heritage Centre and along a section of Lower Sea Lane.
Now Hawkshaw`s plans had been thwarted he decided on standing for election for Lyme Regis on July12th 1865, but was prevented by his holding of government appointments. But undeterred his son, John Clarke Hawkshaw stood instead and narrowly lost to Treeby. He was to work with his father on many important projects and is shown as still owning “Lily Farm” in the village until 1915..
There are few reference to Sir John Hawkshaw`s time in Charmouth, but one interesting news cutting for Pullmans Weekly show him in a good light. It describes the celebration that followed the opening of the Villages Water Supply on the 29th June 1865 and informs us that “ 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, for coming forward so liberally in the matter. Taps were placed by the side of the Street for the use of those who did not possess a well and pump ”. The source of the water appears to have been a spring in “Grange Mead” then owned by him and no doubt his engineering skills were instrumental in its construction. In the Auction of 1867 a number of lots were sold but the main one no.31 containing the Manor of Charmouth and the Cement Mill failed to reach its reserve and was subsequently sold to James Coulton



Sir John Hawkshaw (1811– 1891)
Sir John Hawkshaw (1811– 1891)
Plans for the Bridport, Lyme & Axminster Railway
In 1857 the Railway came to Bridport with links to London
A Map showing the proposed route of the Bridport, Lyme & Axminster which included a station at Charmouth in 1864 The Bridport, Lyme Regis & Axminster Railway Company Map showing the Charmouth section, with access from Barrs Lane, alongside the Post Office to the Station which would have been on the site of the Recreation Ground
The 1864 Reference Book Shows John Hawkshaw as Lord of the Manor of Charmouth . . The “Return of Owners of Land” for 1871 reveals that he owned 112 acres of land in Charmouth in that year
John Hawkshaw was the Chief Engineer and consultant employed by the Great Western Railway Company to monitor progress on the Severn Tunnel excavations by Thomas Walker. This engraving shows him carried along the unfinished tunnel in a tram. Interior of Charing Cross Station showing trains and the iron roof, London, c1860. The terminus of the South Eastern Railway was designed by John Hawkshaw and opened in 1864.
Gareth Slater`s view of how Charmouth station may have looked on its opening if it had gone ahead.
Bridport Station shortly after it had a station opened in 1857
Isambard Kingdom Brunel`s Proposal for Railway to Charmouth -1846
Joseph Locke`s Proposal for Railway to Charmouth -1846
Joseph Locke`s Proposal for Railway to Charmouth -1846
Joseph Locke planned a line with a station behind the Catherstone cottages for the Yeovil and Dorchester Railway.
LYME REGIS RAILWAY Proposed route for an Extension to Bridport dated November 1874 following along the shore from Lyme Regis through to Charmouth The proposed route through Charmouth to the west of the Heritage Centre
A map of the Railway Lines operating in 1924 showing lines to both Bridport and Lyme Regis, but still no connection with Charmouth,
John Clarke Hawkshaw (1841-1921) stood for election in 1865 and lost by 9 votes to Treeby,
On the left of this painting by Lucy Rossetti can be seen one of the standing taps along the street from the water system installed by Sir John Hawkshaw in 1865.
Two of the places on the Street which still have the brick insets in their walls where the stand pipes and taps were available to take the water from.

The Map from the Auction Catalogue for 1867 showing the 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.