Blundell v Catterall; 7 Nov 1821

References: (1821) 5 B&ALD 268, [1821] EngR 579, (1821) 5 B & A 268, (1821) 106 ER 1190 (B)
Links: Commonlii
Coram: Abbott CJ, Holroyd, Best JJ
Ratio The defendant used a beach ‘between the high-water mark and the low-water mark of the River Mersey’ at Great Crosby in Lancashire for the purpose of providing bathing facilities (including bathing machines and carriages for members of the public who wished to swim in the sea). The plaintiff, the Lord of the Manor of Great Crosby and owner of the beach in question, sought an injunction to restrain this use. The defendant argued that all members of the public had the right to use a beach for the purpose of gaining access to, and bathing in, the sea.
Held: (Best J dissenting) Unless such a right could be established by usage and custom, there was no ‘common-law right for all the King’s subjects to bathe in the sea and to pass over the seashore for that purpose’.
Ratio Holroyd J said: ‘By the common law, all the King’s subjects have in general a right of passage over the sea with their ships boats and other vessels, for the purposes of navigation commerce trade and intercourse, and also in navigable rivers . .’
. . And : ‘Where the soil remains the King’s, and where no mischief or injury is likely to arise from the enjoyment or exercise of such a public right, it is not to be supposed that an unnecessary and injurious restraint upon the subjects would, in that respect, be enforced by the King, the parens patriae.’
This case is cited by:

  • Cited – Newhaven Port and Properties Ltd, Regina (on The Application of) -v- East Sussex County Council and Another SC (Bailii, [2015] UKSC 7, [2015] BLGR 232, [2015] AC 1547, [2015] 2 All ER 991, [2015] 2 WLR 601, [2015] WLR(D) 109, Bailii Summary, WLRD, UKSC 2013/0102, SC, SC Summary, SC Video)
    The court was asked: ‘whether East Sussex County Council . . was wrong in law to decide to register an area . . known as West Beach at Newhaven . . as a village green pursuant to the provisions of the Commons Act 2006. The points of principle raised . .
  • Cited – Mace -v- Philcox ([1864] EngR 170, Commonlii, (1864) 15 CB NS 600, (1864) 143 ER 920)
    The ‘sea-beach or foreshore throughout the whole length of the borough of Hastings, including the locus in quo’ had been used ‘from time immemorial’ by the public ‘as a place of public resort’, subject only to the corporation’s statutory powers to . .
  • Cited – Llandudno Urban District Council -v- Woods ([1899] 2 Ch 705)
    A clergyman set up a pulpit and was holding services and delivering addresses on the seashore.
    Held: An injunction was refused. The court discouraged actions for trespass on public highways where the inteference was trivial. In this case, . .
  • Cited – Brinckman -v- Matley ([1904] 2 Ch 313)
    Members of the public did not have the right to go on the foreshore for the purpose of bathing or getting access to the sea for bathing. . .

(This list may be incomplete)

Last Update: 20-Apr-16
Ref: 200679