Jug belonging to Exmouth's Beach Lady

Contributed by Exmouth Museum

  Jug belonging to Exmouth's Beach Lady

Bessie Hunt had a refreshment hut on the beach on Exmouth seafront, in 1901 with a canvas tent and a brass 'Primus' stove - rent was ONE SHILLING (5p) per year.
In 1904 the local council brought in by-laws to force all refreshment huts, pleasure boats etc. off the foreshore. Bessie turned down an offer of another site She claimed that, as high spring tides came above where her tent was sited, it was 'no-man's' or 'unclaimed' land. Neither police nor council had authority over it.
The Urban District Council obtained a court order, removing Mrs Hunt.
On 20th June 1906 a police sergeant and the Borough Surveyor arrived to enforce it. Mrs Hunt first poured hot water over the visitors, then lay on the stall counter and dared them to remove her. She was arrested and taken to Exeter Jail. Granny Hunt continued to fight, writing to the Local Government Board in Whitehall and to her M.P.
She was released and provided with a travel warrant which she refused to use it, paying the fare herself. She was given permission to use her original site. Her jug, plate and warrant are on display in Exmouth Museum.

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