Littlehampton at the heart of parliament (May 2018)

Act For Erecting And Repairing Piers In Littlehampton 1793This is a revision to the 1733 Act which allowed the redefining of the shoreline of  Littlehampton harbour. It also allows the irrigation and draining of the fields in order to further extend the port to more and bigger ships. This was due to a growing trend in the United Kingdom. In 1790, when the bill was enacted, the French Revolution had disrupted the Continent and the ability of her Empires to compete with rapidly expanding British companies. Therefore, Britain began to monopolise the most important markets in India, the Indies and the Americas and in order to trade with her colonies, she had to massively expand her maritime capacity. This is the reason for which the irrigation, removal of trees and fields and the flooding of certain aspects of the port were enabled in the act in order to expand the harbour so that she could help support the Empire and expand the local economy.

This is also an interesting part of the collection due to its demonstration of linguistical development of the English language. The script of the act is closer to its Saxon routes in the present day with capitalisation of all nouns and other important words in a sentence which is still used in the German language. Furthermore, it is also shows the original shape of the letter ‘s’ which is closer to looking like a letter ‘f’ due to the German double ‘s’ which resembles something between a ‘b’ and a ‘f’. (β) Also, the use of Latin in the text is far more frequent than the usage of the extinct language in today’s legislative and legal culture which shows how our language has become more individualistic and advanced in the present day; also, it shows how far we have come.

Finally, it is interesting because of its positioning on another wider-historical narrative. The legislation shows how a system of locks and other hydro-dynamic systems are to be employed in order to ‘Make the River navigable’. This microcosmic edition shows a wider-feet hitherto seen only in the United Kingdom during this time which was that of the canal; whereby people attached rivers to one another by creating strait rivers for augmenting national infrastructure. Lock systems were particularly useful in this as it allowed ships coming in to the port to continue on wards and go to different river of different altitudes in order to get their goods directly to the terminal location.

In essence, the Act is a microcosm for the wider historical narrative of the time and a great example of the cultural and linguistic advancements we have made during our nation’s history; that is why it is the Object of the Month for May 2018.