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William Henry Redsull
Alderman William H. Redsull was a victualler by trade and ran the New Plough in Middle Deal Road, taking over the licence in 1913. The following year, in November 1914, he was elected Mayor of Deal.
The Sinking of the Niger
On the afternoon of November 11, 1914, almost as soon as Alderman Redsull was declared Mayor, HMS Niger, a British gun-boat was torpedoed by a German submarine, in the Downs. Deal’s Lifeboat and five shore boats soon launched to give assistance and, despite many of their vessels being dangerously overcrowded, they managed to save most of the Niger’s crew. In march the next year Mayor Redsull at the Town Hall presented silver medals to the thirty-four boatmen and lifeboatmen involved.
As Mayor he sat at the Petty Sessions dealing with mainly local issues. However, in August 1916, he heard the case of the shipping agent, John Prior, who on seeing that the ship ‘Speedwell’ had passed through the Downs had then notified the owners by telegram. As the ‘Speedwell’ at that time was in Admiralty Service this broke Regulation 18 of the Defence of the Realm Act that forbade the reporting of Admiralty shipping movements. Mayor Redsull and the Bench were satisfied though that, as John Prior had not known the ship was in service, the telegram had been innocently sent and as such no action was taken against him.
In October 1915 men under 41 were invited to offer themselves for enlistment. Mayor Redsull and the other magistrates were then kept busy administering the attestation oaths of these volunteers. Early the following year compulsory enlistment came into force, first in January for single men and then in May for married men. Military exemption cases were then also heard fortnightly by seven members of the Town Council.
With many Belgian Refugees in the town, they needed a place where they could all meet. The Belgian Club was founded, on the corner of Brewer and Middle Street and was opened by Mayor Redsull in May 1915. It was here that they planned the 85th-anniversary celebrations of Belgian Independence which included a reception held at Stanhope Hall on July 21st. Following the speeches Mayor Redsull was presented with an hand written address in praise and appreciation of the assistance that the town was giving to the refugees. This was signed by the Belgian Committee members and also by the members of the Deal & Walmer Refugee Relief Committees.
On Saturday, 9th November 1918 news of the Kaiser’s abdication was received and given to Mayor Redsull at the Royal Hotel where he was celebrating his fifth successive re-election. Then very early on Monday 11th news was picked up on a Government vessel’s radio in the Downs that the Armistice was to be signed later that day at 11 am. This was then passed to the Mayor who then, after receiving verification at around 9 am, gave orders for the air raid sirens, used throughout the war to warn of both Zeppelin and aeroplane raids on the town, to sound the all clear. Pilot cutters, drifters and other vessels sounded their horns, railway whistles and church bells joined in the joyous cacophony. That night street lights were again lit, and drifters in the Downs using their anti-submarine lights illuminated the sea front.
Saturday, 19th July 1919 was appointed National Peace Day. Street parties were held, and the town was festooned with decorations. At Stanhope Hall the town’s “old folks” were entertained, and dinner was served. Then in August 1919 in recognition of the Deal and Walmer residents war saving efforts the “Tank”, which was once situated on the green alongside Deal Castle, was formally presented to Mayor Redsull.
A New Mayor
After five years dedicated service William Henry Redsull’s term of office ended with Thomas Steed Bayly being elected Mayor on November 10th, 1919.