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Sir John Hawkshaw (1811– 1891)
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 Sir John Hawkshaw as Lord of the Manor of Charmouth The reference book of 1871 - “Return of Owners of Land” reveals that John Hawkshaw owned 112 acres of land in Charmouth.

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`s Proposal for a Railway, with its station at the rear of Catherstone cottages.
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,
1865
1864
 
   
August 1898
June 1865
JANUARY 1865
July 1865
19th September 1867
December 1866
Sir John Hawkshaw (1811-1891), the Famous Railway Engineer stood as an unsuccessful Liberal candidate at Andover in 1863, and intended to do the same at Lyme Regis in 1865, where he bought an estate nearby at Charmouth in 1864, but was prevented by his holding of government appointments. His son,John Clarke Hawkshaw (1841-1921) standing instead, lost by 9 votes. It is interesting that his son had only just left Cambridge and in the same year joined his fathers practise.
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.
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.

After the decade of the Frean's ownership of the Manor of Charmouth, the village was to briefly be owned by a person of national importance - Sir John Hawkshaw, the great Victorian Engineer. Though he was to purchase the Manor from George Frean on January 1st 1864, he had earlier in 1855 bought property in the town from Matthew Liddon. This was probably Lily Farm, on the western edge of the village. His main objective in ownership of 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. The earlier 1854 Auction details made this perfectly clear when it noted that the Estate "offers are an important opportunity to any Gentleman desirous of possession in political influence, being attached to the Borough of Lyme Regis, of which it forms a considerable portion".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 also designed the bridge over Narmada River, India, was engineer of Amsterdam ship canal (1862) and wrote a report on the route chosen for the Suez Canal (1863). He designed a number of docks including he Albert Dock at Hull and the West India Dock in London. If that was not enough 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 a good age (80) 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 as 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 had submitted detail plans to Parliament for a line with a station behind the Catherstone cottages for the Yeovil and Dorchester Railway. In the same year Brunel planned a line linking 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. The first sod had been cut in September 1874 and the bill had been submitted, but was withdrawn in the House of Lords. 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 Hawkshaws 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. The results make interesting reading, for a List published soon after show that the other candidate, John Treeby received 87 votes against Hawkshaws 92 in Lyme Regis. But in Charmouth he lost heavily to Treeby who received 14 more votes and won. This same Son was only 24 at the time and after getting his degree at Cambridge joined his fathers practice in London. He worked with his father on many important projects and is shown as still owning “Lily Farm” in the village until it was sold by him in 1915. Another interesting fact about him is that he was Sir Charles Darwin's nephew. This and the close proximity to the Jurassic Coast must have fostered his love of collecting fossils, which are on display at Haslemere Museum in Surrey in their original cabinets and contain Ichthyosaurs from Charmouth.
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. The reference book of 1871 - “Return of Owners of Land” reveals that he owned 112 acres of land in Charmouth. It seems that in that year he was to sell the manor to James Coulton, though it is confusing to see an Auction catalogue for 1867 showing the Estate for sale by Driver and Co. in London. A number of lots were sold including the adjoining "Drang" field but the main one no.31 containing the Manor of Charmouth and the Cement Mill failed to reach its reserve and was sold on subsequently. It is an interesting document as it reveals the extent of the Estate that was mainly to the south of the Street. Although he was not able to achieve his dream of building a railway through Charmouth or being elected its Member of Parliament, Sir John Hawkswell and his son did initiate the villages first water supply and still owned property here until 1914.


November 1865

September 1867

Bridport News - Saturday 14 September 1867

Dorset County Chronicle - Thursday 21 July 1864