Utilities for Beach and Village

Chapter 9 -- Part 1

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When the street railway brought a boom to Hampton Beach, the resort was ill equipped to handle the thousands of visitors who arrived every day between June and August. Modern conveniences that we take for granted were absent from both the Beach and the Village, and it was to service the former that Hampton first received water distribution, electricity, gas, and telephones. Hampton’s sewage system also began at the Beach, and its development is discussed in the chapter on public works.


Electricity was produced by the street-railway company to power its cars and was first used for lighting at the Casino. In December 1899, the Hotel Whittier was the first of the non-railway properties to have electric lights, but the utility was soon installed by Beach hotel and cottage owners and by residents of the Village whose homes were along the street-railway route. By July 1913, the Hampton Union reported, "Electricity is now extended to White Island and now the entire shoreline is well lighted."

In 1899, the Town paid $200 to the street-railway company for street lights, but for the next few years the Town paid only $48 -- for one light in Lafayette Square in the center of the Village. The 1902 town meeting did not vote to put a light at the town hall, so the second annual subscription whist party and dance for the electric-light fund was held, organized by Mrs. D. H. Crosby, with proceeds used for the light. In 1904, arc lights were placed in front of the Franklin house on Exeter Road, at Whittier’s, and in Union Square, while incandescent lights were placed at several other places in the Village. By this time, the Town was paying $400 a year for lights. During the teens, the Town began to vote for more street lighting each year, and many people became concerned about the cost of the service. In 1905, the Town voted $150 to wire the town hail for electricity. The 1911, 1912, and 1913 town meetings approved articles relating to the feasibility of a Town-owned electric plant, but nothing came of the proposals. By 1922, when Marelli’s and Otis H. Marston installed wiring, every building on Lafayette Road had electricity. (Hampton currently pays about $125,000 per year for street lights.)

In March 1908, the Exeter & Hampton Electric Company separated from the financially strapped street railway and Hampton’s Ernest G. Cole and Thomas L. Perkins joined the board of directors. This company continues to supply Hampton and 12 other seacoast towns with electricity.

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