Nonnington via Sandwich to London by sea, a weekly service!

fortune-hoy 1
An original handbill advertising the weekly service by sea aboard “The Fortune” from Chester’s Quay near the Tower of London to Sandwich. The service carried “goods and passengers for Sandwich, Walmer, Wingham, Eastry, Mongham, Goodnestone, Deal, Ash, Littlebourn, Tilmanstone, Nonnington, Eythorn”.

In the 1830′s Nonington was served by a weekly service to London via the port of Sandwich allowing residents, especially the shop keepers, to have goods brought in from outside of East Kent.  I only became aware of this service when I was fortunate enough to find an original hand-bill for “The first hoy for Sandwich”  at a local boot-fair in 2012.
The service departed every Saturday from Chester’s Quay, near the Tower of London and took in “goods and passengers for Sandwich, Walmer, Wingham, Eastry, Mongham, Goodnestone, Deal, Ash, Littlebourn, Tilmanstone, Nonnington, Eythorn”.  Nonington was therefore in much closer contact with the capital than was previously thought and those residents who wished, and could afford too, could keep up with the latest news and fashions. This may explain in part why so many minor gentry and wealthy merchants lived in East Kent.

A hoy was a small sloop-rigged coasting ship or heavy barge which carried goods and occasional passengers. In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, English hoys plied a trade between London and the north Kent coast that enabled middle class Londoners to escape the city for the more rural air of Margate.

A scene aboard the Margate hoy
A deck-scene on board a Margate hoy, an 1804 cartoon by Charles Dibdin the Elder (1745-1814) caricaturing the antics of some of the middle-class passengers who used the service between Margate and London. Comparable scenes would undoubtedly have been witnessed aboard the Sandwich to London hoys.

William Stokes appears to have been the master of “The Fortune” circa 1835, and earlier, as the ship appears on the Ramsgate register for that year registered as coal/coasting vessel. Barber and Smith, warfingers, are in Kent’s registry of 1823 at the London address shown.

The coast of Kent was busy with hoys which often loaded and unloaded on the beach if there was no quay, and sometimes small boats ran out to meet the ships at anchor. Many hoys served the markets in London and merchants with access to the service these vessels provided grew rich as the demand for goods increased.

“The beauties of England and Wales: or, Delineations, topographical, historical, and descriptive, of each county”, Volume 8, Part 2, published in 1808,  refers to hoys carrying produce from the market gardens surrounding Sandwich to the markets of London. Many of these  market gardeners where the descendants of Flemish immigrants who had begun market gardening in the reign of Elizabeth I. They also produced flax, teazle, and canary seed which had a ready market in London and beyond.

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