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MARKET TOWNS OF DORSET (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Lyme Regis in 1839

LYME REGIS is a small and irregularly built seaport town in the parish of Lyme and county of Dorset, 20 miles west from Dorchester and 120 west-south-west from London.

The streets are badly paved and not at all lighted, and the principal thoroughfare is so narrow, that the safety of foot-passengers is said to be endangered. The fish-market, held in the best part of the town, is regarded as a nuisance, and the butchers' shambles are erected in the main street. Indeed the corporation appear for many years to have altogether disregarded the improvement of the town.

The charters of incorporation granted to the town date from the 12th Edward I to the 26th Charles II, which last was acted upon until 1688, when it was recalled by a proclamation of James II. The revenue of the corporation in 1833 was £288, which was sufficient to cover its expenditure. This however is independent of the ‘Cobb’ or harbour dues, which amounted, in the year ending Sept. 30, 1833, to £417, the disbursements on account of the same during that period being £446.

That the trade of the port is rapidly declining appears from the circumstance, that in 1831 the number of vessels which entered and cleared with cargoes inwards, outwards, and coastwise, was 629, the aggregate tonnage of which amounted to 44,930 ; while in 1833 the number of vessels was only 201, and the corresponding tonnage 11,877. Indeed the harbour appears chiefly valuable as a place of refuge for small vessels during bad weather, as it is the only safe shelter between Lyme Regis and the Start Point of Portland.

The church, dedicated to St. Michael, is an ancient edifice. The living, a vicarage in the diocese of Bristol and patronage of the prebendaries of the cathedral of Sarum, is valued at £275 per annum. In 1831 the population of the parliamentary borough, comprehending the parishes of Lyme and Charmouth, was 3,345, that of the town alone being 2,407. Until the passing of the Reform Act Lyme Regis had returned two members to parliament continuously from the reign of Edward I. It now returns but one member.