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Carpenter finds historic Victorian speech while working on Southwick house
A carpenter who found the belongings of a famous Victorian photographer while converting a loft has donated the finds to a museum.
Andy Ramus was working on a property in Southdown Road, Southwick, when he came across the documents belonging to John Jabez Edwin Mayall.
The photographer, whose clients included the likes of Queen Victoria, artist J.M.W Turner and author Charles Dickens, was also instrumental in transforming Shoreham into the town it is today.
In the 1870s Mr Mayall, as a member of the Corporation of Brighton, campaigned to Government ministers to allow greater borrowing powers so Shoreham Port could grow.
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One of the finds made by Mr Ramus was a speech to the trustees of the port made in 1875, pledging his commitment to the growth. Mr Ramus said he felt “honoured” to have made the discovery.
He said: “In my line of work you often find the odd fascinating thing in old lofts, but I’ve never found anything like this.
“He was instrumental in making Shoreham Port – and therefore Shoreham – what it is today.
He was a remarkable man.
“It’s an incredible story and I thought it would be best to donate it to the Marlipins Museum.”
Mr Mayall was born in 1813 in Oldham before moving to America.
On his return to the UK he trained as a photographer and set up his own studio in London.
Such was his expertise in the early methods of photography that he gained a number of high profile clients including the royal family and was commissioned to work at the Great Exhibition of 1851.
Around this time he also moved to the south coast and had the house on Southdown Road built.
He was soon a trustee of bodies such as the Corporation of Brighton, which brought about his links with Shoreham Harbour.
The nine-page speech, which sawhis popularity rocket locally, concluded with this rousing pledge: “I shall be always found in the fore to anything that concerns the prosperity of the port of Shoreham, with a view to making its harbour one of the first upon the south coast.”
Mr Mayall was later made Mayor of Brighton in 1877.
Visitors will be able to view his speech when the Marlipins Museum, in High Street, Shoreham, opens in May.
To see the research done by Mr Ramus visit: http://wolf-e-boy.org/John-Jabez-Edwin-Mayall