History of Harwich
Wellington Inn, Harwich. A place to stay
From The Pleasure-seeker's guide
History of Harwich >> Harwich in 1863
The Pleasure-seeker's guide to Harwich in 1863.
Description of Harwich from The Pleasure-seeker's guide, hotel directory, and excursionists' handy book. Published 1862.
So called from the Saxon word Harerie, which signifies a haven, does not appear to have been a place of any great repute before the time of Edward I., when it was made a free borough by Thomas Brotherton, Earl of Norfolk, and Earl Marshal of England.
In the Reign of Charles I. it was strongly fortified, and at the present day the works at Landguard Fort and the Redoubt have been so augmented that the Town and Harbour may be considered perfectly secure from any sudden attack and quite able to hold its own in the event of any foreign invasion.
Harwich was formerly a place of very great importance; Packet Boats sailed from there to Helvoetsluys - the journey averaging about a day, but on the introduction of Steam Vessels it lost a great deal of its trade, and but for the Great Eastern Railway having made a Station, whence fish is largely conveyed to London, it might have degenerated into insignificance - though it is rapidly advancing now owing to the frequent cheap Excursion Trains and Steamers.
Harwich is a sea-port and market town, situated on a small peninsula, forming the north-east point of the coast of Essex, at a railway distance of less than 70 miles from the metropolis, and at the confluence of the navigable rivers Stour and Orwell. The union of these streams forms a capacious harbour capable of affording shelter to a thousand vessels - a fact which alone must render it a place of the utmost importance so long as commerce continues to be essential to the prosperity of this great country.
Harwich Harbour is well known as being easy of access, capable of affording anchorage to hundreds of vessels of all sizes, and perfectly protected against the most boisterous weather; and the Government of the day has never failed to recognize its importance in a national point of view; hence it is that no less a sum than £l32,000 has been expended in constructing the magnificent Breakwater, and in removing certain shoals or banks which obstructed the free navigation of the harbour - works which were in progress from l840 to l856; and since the cessation of hostilities with Russia, and the transfer of the Coast Guard from the Customs to the Admiralty Department, Harwich has been made the head-quarters for the extensive district between Great Yarmouth and Dover.
To render the harbour accessible by night, signal-fires or harbour lights have been in use since a very early period; an entry in the Corporation referring thereto bears the date of l6l9. The present lighthouses were erected in l8l8, and for the maintenance of which certain dues are collected from all vessels that pass by them. The gross receipts from this source amount to about £l0,000 per annum.
Among the principal attractions of Harwich and its vicinity, visitors are recommended not to fail seeing the Light-houses, the circular Redoubt with its drawbridge, Landguard Fort, Felixstow Beach and Dovercourt - a short delightful walk from Harwich - with its Spa, Reading room, Conservatory, etc.
Good Fishing may be had here at certain seasons of the year, and a sail outside the Harbour with the fine breeze from the German Ocean, will alone be worth a journey from London.
A very pleasant and cheap excursion from Harwich may be made by taking at the Pier a Return Ticket for Ipswich, proceeding thence by one of the small Steamers continually running up and down the river Orwell, and returning by Railway, from Ipswich to Harwich. As the Pier here belongs to the Railway Company they give Visitors the opportunity of returning by Rail or by one of their steam vessels.
A few hours may be very pleasantly occupied by having a sail to the 'Cork Light' - one of England's numerous floating light-ships. The small crew on board always gladly welcome any visitors for their duties though of the highest importance to the maritime world, are nevertheless exceedingly monotonous; and they employ their leisure time in carving models of men-of-war frigates, jolly jack tars, and other subjects of naval beauty, which they are very glad to dispose of for trifling sums. On board may be viewed the reflectors, revolving apparatus, etc., nightly employed as a beacon for those on the silent highway of the waters.
Harwich may be reached from London by Great Eastern Railway, ordinary fares l7s.3d., and 2ls.9d., but Excursion Trains run every Sunday and Monday, during the Season - returning same day 3s., 5s.6d., and 7s.6d., - or Tickets available for a week 6s.6d., 9s.6d., and l2s.6d. To those who prefer the water, Steam-boats run from London Bridge during the Season, Tickets available for l4 days 5s. and 7s.6d.
Back to History of Harwich
Are your ancestors from Harwich? Why not tell us their story: My Harwich Ancestors.