Huddersfield Chronicle (22/May/1852)
The following are transcriptions of all of the content relating to the flood that appeared in the 22 May 1852 issue of the Huddersfield Chronicle. The individual sections are:
- Public Notices: Holmfirth Catastrophe
- The Holmfirth Catastrophe: Subscriptions for the Relief of the Sufferers
- Local Intelligence: the Holmfirth Catastrophe
- The Holmfirth Flood: Meeting of Delegates
- Holme Reservoirs: Meeting of Commissioners
AT a MEETING of the CENTRAL COMMITTEE for the RELIEF of the SUFFERERS at HOLMFIRTH, by the Bursting of the Bilberry Reservoir, held at Huddersfield, on Wednesday, the 19th May, 1852.
The Lord Mayor of York in the Chair.
Present, the Huddersfield and Holmfirth United Committee and Representatives from London, York, Hull, Manchester, Leeds, Bradford, Halifax, Rochdale, Bolton, Wakefield, and Sowerby-bridge.
The General Report of the United Committees of Huddersfield and Holmfirth, and the Reports of the Subcommittees having been read, It was resolved —
First, — That the Reports now read be adopted, printed, and circulated.
- Moved by Samuel Gurney, jun. Esq., of London, Seconded by John Rand, Esq., Bradford, Supported by Wm. Barber, Esq., London.
Second, — That the Committee at once proceed to consider the Memorial of the Mortgagees of the Reservoirs.
- Moved by W. L. Brook, Esq., Seconded by John Rand, Esq.
The Memorial of the Mortgagees of the Reservoirs having been read,
It was resolved —
Third, — That this Meeting, regarding as it is bound to do, the primary object for which the subscriptions were raised, declines to accede to the application of the Mortgagees.
- Moved by the Rev. Henry Ward, of Hull, Seconded by John Morley, Esq., Manchester.
Fourth, — John Brooke, Esq., the Chairman of the United Committees of Huddersfield and Holmfirth having, at the commencement of this meeting, declined to continue a member of this Committee, in consequence of there being a claim on the part of the Mortgagees of the Reservoirs in which he was interested as a Trustee, —
That the question respecting the Mortgagees having been disposed of, Mr. Brooke be, and is hereby unanimously and by acclamation requested to accept the office of Chairman of this Central Committee.
- Moved by Thos. Mallinson, Esq., Seconded by W. L. Brook, Esq.
Mr. Brooke having taken the chair,
It was resolved —
Fifth, — That the thanks of the Committee be given to the United Committee for their services in bringing the business of this Relief Fund into the state in which it appears this day.
- Moved by the Rev. Mr. Smith, of Halifax, Seconded by John Rand, Esq.
Sixth, — That as a general principle in cases of Mortgaged Mills and other kinds of property, it is recommended that the Mortgagor and Mortgagee be considered as one person, and that all votes of money be made for the permanent restoration of mills and other property, so as to secure employment for the operative classes.
- Moved by — Travis, Esq., York, Seconded by W. L. Brook, Esq.
Seventh, — That this Committee has confidence that the United Committee of Huddersfield and Holmfirth has correctly estimated the losses sustained by claimants on the fund, and in order to expedite the progress of the business of distribution, Eight Gentlemen from other towns be appointed to act along with those members who now represent the United Committee, to be a Committee to apportion the amount to be paid to claimants, with power to finally settle all awards not exceeding £200 each, and to advance to claimants two thirds of the estimated amount awarded to become payable to them.
- Moved by — Wright Esq., Hull, Seconded by William Barber, Esq., London.
Eighth, — That each of the following towns send one of their representatives to act, pursuant to the last preceding resolution, — Halifax, Bradford, Wakefield, Leeds, Rochdale, Manchester, York, and Bolton.
- Moved by Jas. Micklethwaite, Esq., Wakefield, Seconded by Samuel Laycock, Esq., Bradford.
Ninth, — That the Committee last appointed be authorised to pay a further sum to claimants under £20, who have been settled with, but may be thought justly entitled to further aid.
- Moved by C. H. Jones, Esq., Huddersfield, Seconded by John Walker, Esq., Bolton.
Tenth, — That all subscriptions raised in other towns ought to be transferred into the control of the Central Committee, so as to form one common fund for the relief of the sufferers.
- Moved by Saml. Gurney, Esq., Seconded by Wm. Barber, Esq.
Eleventh, — That this Committee be called together again so soon as the Committee appointed by the seventh resolution have concluded their labours.
- JOHN BROOKE, Chairman.
- J. C. LAYCOCK, JOHN FREEMAN, Hon. Secs.
The Chairman having left the chair,
It was resolved,
That the thanks of this meeting be given to JOHN Brooke, Esq., for his conduct in the chair this day.
- WM. LEIGH BROOK, Chairman pro. tem.
THE HOLMFIRTH CATASTROPHE.
SUBSCRIPTIONS FOR THE RELIEF OF THE SUFFERERS.
|J. A. Heaton, Crosland Moor||0||10||0|
|Subscriptions from Liverpool, per Harpin, Bros.||80||18||0|
|Subscriptions from Liverpool, per W. L. Brook||22||10||0|
|Collection at Loxley Chapel||2||4||0|
|R. M. Evans, Esq., per Bentley and Shaw||5||5||0|
|Mark Bruton, per Bentley and Shaw||0||2||6|
The Holmfirth Catastrophe. — We publish in our present number a lengthy series of reports, and the discussions which arose thereon at the meeting of delegates from various parts of the kingdom, held in this town on Wednesday last, for the purpose of settling the preliminaries on which to base the distribution of the funds collected on behalf of the sufferers in the Holmfirth valley. The proceedings were marked by many features of interest, and we doubt not that the proceedings will be read with interest by the subscribers to the funds in all parts of the country.
THE HOLMFIRTH FLOOD.
MEETING OF DELEGATES.
A large and influential meeting of delegates from the local and district committees, convened by circular, issued by the United Committee, was held at the Board of Guardians’-room, Albion-street, on Wednesday last, to consider the various applications of the sufferers by the Holmfirth calamity, and to grant such relief as might be thought advisable. The meeting was called for ten o’clock a.m., and shortly after that hour we observed present — John Brooke, Esq., chairman of the united committee ; William Leigh Brook, Esq., chairman, and Joshua Moorhouse, Esq., vice-chairman of the Holmfirth committee ; Thomas Mallinson, Esq., constable, chairman of the Huddersfield committee; the Rev. Josiah Bateman, vicar ; John Sutcliffe, Esq. ; Joshua Charlesworth, Esq. ; Messrs. James Charlesworth, C. H. Jones, Joseph Wrigley, E. L. Hesp, S. Oldfield, W. Burrows, J. Firth, I. Robson, T. Nelson, T. Dyson, and Messrs. M. Kidd, J. C. Laycock, and J. Freeman, honorary secretaries ; together with the deputations from other towns, whose names are given below.
John Brooke, Esq., took the chair pro forma, and was supported by W. L. Brook, Esq., on his right, and Thomas Mallinson, Esq., on his left.
The Chairman, in opening the proceedings of the meeting, explained the reason why he pro forma occupied the position as chairman. It was thought, he said, by the united committee, over whom he had the honour to preside, that it would be better that he should preside over the preliminary proceedings of this meeting, and until the appointment of the central committee, whose duty would be to appropriate the funds. When that time arrived he should vacate the chair, and leave the re-appointment of his successor in the hands of the meeting. The honorary secretary would now call over the names of the deputation present.
The Hon. Secretary then read over the following list of gentlemen present, as deputations from other towns:—
|Hull — Rev. H. Ward aid Geo. Wright||1400|
|Manchester — Messrs. Goldsborough, Mosley, and Mort||4000|
|Wakefield — Messrs. Micklethwaite and Dibb||1236|
|Bradford — Messrs. John Rand and Laycock||3428|
|Leeds — Messrs. Hyde and Passavant||7000|
|London — Messrs. Wm. Barber and Mr. Gurney, jun.||7800|
|York — The Lord Mayor, Messrs. Whitehead and Travis||2322|
|Halifax — Rev. Mr. Smith and Mr. Abbot||5200|
|Rochdale — Mr. James Schofield||470|
|Bolton — Mr Walker||146|
|Sowerby-bridge — Mr. Porritt, accompanied by Messrs. Stott and Charteries||410|
The following towns were also entitled to send delegates, as having subscribed upwards of £500 each, but were unrepresented at this conference, — Birmingham, Nottingham, Sheffield, Stockport, Dewsbury, and Saddleworth.
One of the Deputation wished to know what was the gross amount of money received by the local committees?
The Hon. Secretary (Mr. Freeman) said that as near as he could ascertain £33,468, making a grand total, including the sums represented by the delegates to-day, of
[This, it will be seen, is exclusive of the sums unrepresented from the towns above-mentioned, which will no doubt increase the total to upwards of £70,000.]
The Chairman drew attention to the fact that in two instances (Manchester and York), the gentlemen on the deputation exceeded the number decided upon by the united committee. He was very happy to see those gentlemen, but it would be seen, in the event of a division, their votes might be objected to.
One of the gentlemen from Manchester explained that though there was three gentlemen present representing that town it was understood that only two would vote. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. Travis, of York, said that the reason why three gentlemen were present from York, was in consequence of the deputation having been appointed prior to the regulation of the united committee. The deputation as appointed included Mr. Leeman, who would also have been present had he not been called to London on the previous day. (Hear, hear.) As in the case of Manchester two votes only would be given by them. (Hear, hear.)
The explanation was deemed quite satisfactory, after
The Secretary presented the following reports of the general and sub-committees.
Of the United Committee of Huddersfield and Holmfirth, appointed for the collection and management of the funds for the relief of the sufferers by the bursting of the Bilberry Reservoir, on the night of the 4th of February, 1852, presented to the Central Committee at their meeting in Huddersfield, 19th May, 1852 :―
Three days after the occurrence of this dreadful calamity in the valley of the Holme, a few gentlemen, called together by circular from the Constable of Huddersfield, met in the Commissioners’ Booms to devise means by which the effects of this catastrophe could be mitigated ; and a similar meeting was held on the same day at Holmfirth. The disaster was then stated to be of such dire extent, that nothing but the most liberal contributions would be adequate to avert the ruin in which the inhabitants of the district must otherwise be involved ; whilst the destruction of upwards of eighty lives was a calamity for which money could afford no compensation. Subscriptions, on a scale intended to meet, as far as practicable, the exigency of the occasion, were at once commenced ; and at those preliminary meetings £1600 was raised at Huddersfield, and £600 at Holmfirth. It was also resolved to call a public meeting at Huddersfield on the following Monday. The appeals made at this meeting were most enthusiastically responded to, and subscriptions were handed up to the chairman amounting to several thousand pounds.
Notwithstanding this pleasing and substantial evidence of sympathy and liberality on the part of the inhabitants of this neighbourhood, so frightful was the calamity deemed to be, that it was still believed that any sum which might reasonably be expected to be raised, would be quite inadequate to meet the necessities of the case. Some of the speakers at this meeting who remarked on the desirableness of restoring the Holme valley to its former condition of activity and prosperity, were checked as being in danger of holding out expectations quite unlikely to be realised. At that meeting this committee was formed, and it was resolved to make an appeal to the public at large.
For several weeks the committee met every night, having first divided itself into two sections—the one taking the immediate care of clothing, housing, and relieving those who were destitute ; the other taking charge of obtaining subscriptions and carrying on the general management of the charity. The Huddersfield section met at half-past five in the evening, seldom separating so early as nine o’clock, — sometimes considerably later. The Holmfirth committee were engaged during the greater part of each day.
The report of the meeting at Huddersfield, together with the details of the occurrence which appeared in the newspapers, had the effect of arousing the sympathies of the public. Deputations of gentlemen from different towns visited the scene of the disaster, in order that they might report to their fellow-townsmen what they had witnessed with their own eyes. Deputations from Huddersfield and Holmfirth were urgently solicited to attend public meetings convened by the authorities of distant places; and not unfrequently was this committee blamed for not attending more promptly to these calls.
The committee at the outset had no idea that any sum would be raised approaching to that which has since been realised. Whilst the subscriptions were proceeding, the reports of them which they were able to obtain were so indefinite, that it was long before any probable estimate could be formed of their aggregate amount. The committee, therefore, remained in as much ignorance and uncertainty as to the amount of the fund which might eventually be placed at their disposal, as wish regard to the extent of the loss which had been incurred. Of the latter, this committee had no better means of forming an estimate than the public in general ; and whilst many of them thought the amounts stated by the public press exaggerated, — and none of these ever received their sanction, — yet they did not feel justified in officially contradicting those statements until their opinion was confirmed by actual returns. It is true that the Holmfirth section of the committee, in their anxiety to meet the pressing demands of the public for definite information, did, upon data, too hastily, though, no doubt, honestly adopted, issue a statement to the public which the committee were not in a position to correct until the needful information was obtained through the return of the schedules. Until this was done, whilst the estimates made by practical men of business were so large as to warrant this committee to proceed with all possible zeal in the procuring of subscriptions, nothing satisfactory as to the real or even proximate amount of loss could be ascertained, and much time necessarily elapsed before these statements could be made out. The 1st of March was the day appointed for receiving them, but it was afterwards found indispensably requisite to extend the time for their completion.
The first return of schedules, incomplete as it was, convinced this committee that the loss had been considerably over estimated, and they at once ceased to promote further subscriptions. When all the schedules were received, and the amount ascertained to be but £67,224 10s. 9½d., (exclusive of a claim of £33,000 made by the mortgagees of the reservoirs) — a sum much less than they expected — this committee, by circuits and advertisements, requested all further applications for subscriptions to be discontinued.
It must not, however, be supposed that the above figures by any means represent the total amount of loss actually sustained, not including either the amount of losses for which no statements have been sent in, or that to which manufacturers and millowners have been subjected by the stoppage of their mills, and in some cases by the entire suspension of their trade.
After receiving the schedules, this committee appointed a sub committee to investigate them, consisting of such of its members as were not intending to be claimants on the fund. That committee divided itself into further sections, and the central committee will derive the best information of what has been done by the perusal of the reports of the sections thus created.
No. 1. — REPORT OF CLOTHING COMMITTEE.
In the emergency caused by so fearful a calamity as the one which has befallen the valley of the Holme, it necessarily followed that the labours of this committee would be at once brought into active operation; and that the first efforts of any definite organisation to meet the immediate and pressing necessities of so great and sudden a disaster, would be directed to the providing of clothing for the numerous parties destitute of this indispensable requisite.
The first intimation of the sad catastrophe and its direful effects, naturally led a sympathising and generous public to suppose that the requirements in this department would be both urgent and considerable ; and scarcely had the day of the calamity closed, ere an appeal was made by the Constable of Huddersfield on behalf of the sufferers which was met by a benevolence which at once placed this committee in a position to relieve many of the most pressing and necessitous cases.
The ladies of the district immediately and spontaneously formed themselves into a clothing committee, and the resident guardians of the poor proffered their assistance to facilitate the preliminary investigations into the requirements of the applicants, in order that where pecuniary relief was at the same time required, it might also be promptly afforded, until a regular relief committee could be constituted. This committee sat daily for several weeks, and all parties who could shew that they had sustained any loss, and were in need, had their necessities immediately supplied.
In the first operations of this committee, personal visitation could not precede relief, but as soon as the more urgent and pressing claims had been met, and time had been afforded the general committee to divide themselves into sectional committees, a number of gentlemen were appointed to assist the ladies, whose duty it was to visit and report all cases of loss in this department occurring in their respective districts.
The ladies, moreover, promptly undertook, and in the most delicate manner relieved, those cases where the previous position and circumstances of parties would naturally preclude their personal application, but whose total loss of all their clothing required active and immediate assistance.
The committee cannot but record their admiration of that general philanthropy which was universally displayed by the poorer classes, in eagerly offering the shelter of their homes, the share of their board, and the use of their clothing, to their unfortunate neighbours, until their wants could be supplied by this committee.
It may seem almost invidious to mention names where the benevolent of all classes were so eager to add their quota to the general aggregate, more particularly so as the large and numerous contributions were made in a manner so characteristic of a genuine liberality by parties who did not think proper to give their names or address; yet several packages were so extremely liberal, from donors whose names were given, that we cannot permit this opportunity to pass without recording, at least, some of them ; and, on behalf of the sufferers, beg to express our gratitude to Messrs. Firth and Sons, Heckmondwike ; Mrs. and Misses Bateson, of Leeds ; Messrs. Moses and Son, London; the Wesleyan congregations, Halifax ; Rev. J. Gooch, Leeds, Rev. J. Brooke, Sowerby ; Thomas Mallinson, Esq., constable of Huddersfield (and through whom large quantities were received which had been contributed by both distant and local parties); Henry Ledgard, Esq of London, and others.
A regular ledger account has been kept by the ladies of the various articles, and to whom distributed, and both ladies and gentlemen took every precaution to check imposition. The distribution was confined to those only who could show that they had lost clothing by the flood. In consequence of the very liberal supply provided by a generous public, it has only been necessary to purchase in a very small degree, and this in boots, shoes, cotton, flannel, and bed-tick ; and the committee purchased mainly such portions of stock as had been damaged by the flood. The following is the quantity distributed to 610 individuals, many of whom are heads of families, and received supplies for the other members, viz., upwards of 8300 articles of clothing, consisting of about 350 suits of men’s clothes, 260 suits of female attire, 180 suits of boys’ clothes ; 200 suits of girls’ attire ; also 280 blankets, 200 sheets, 90 bed quilts, 40 sets of bed-ticking, including pillow-cases, &c.
The whole of the above large stock of clothing &c., was classified, and distributed by the ladies’ committees, chiefly by orders emanating from the gentlemen appointed to enquire and assist them besides which the ladies about the close of the distribution made a personal visitation of the various applicants, to see that they had made a proper use of what had been given, and that the losses had been adequately met. Their untiring energy and incessant application, devoting weeks consecutively to this work, has exhibited a zeal which could not be surpassed by any other committee.
After the schedules had been sent in, the committee were furnished by the schedule committee with the return, included in many of the schedules, of the amount claimed for clothing, and wherever they conceived that the claimants had not been amply and fully reinstated they ordered a further supply.
After all the claimants had been fully satisfied there still remained a considerable quantity of men’s apparel ; and the general committee desirous to keep strictly within the objects of this charity, ordered that the residue should be given to those parties who were obtaining relief in work in the watercourse. It was felt that a considerable number of them might not have a change of dry clothing to put on when they had ceased their daily work, also that their general clothing was ill adapted for this kind of work, and would soon wear out. Fortunately the residue consisted principally of the contributions of Messrs. E. Moses and Sons, which were specially adapted for the working classes, and thus nearly all who have been working in the watercourse have been supplied with substantial new working apparel and in some cases were the stock did not enable the committee to meet the wants of the parties themselves they were able to give some recompense by furnishing the junior members of their families.
The quantity thus distributed is as follows :— 160 men’s coats, 103 men’s vests, 97 pairs of trousers, 15 hats, 10 pairs of shoes, 18 boys’ jackets, 7 boys’ pairs of trousers, 5 juvenile suits, 6 girls’ frocks; and some few other articles of minor importance.
It now only remains for us to state the quantity now on hand, which consists of 18 fustian jackets, 13 cloth coats (very old) which will be appropriated in like manner.
- Geo. Robinson,
- W. Meikle.
No. 2. — RELIEF OF OPERATIVES.
In rendering an account of their past proceedings your committee would at the outset remind you that their constitution embraces twelve members of the Holmfirth committee, and the general chairman and vice-chairman ex officio, assisted by such members of the Huddersfield committee as may from time to time be deputed to attend ; and they would observe that to the constant and regular attendance of the Huddersfield gentlemen they owe much of the comfort and confidence they have felt in the discharge of their important and arduous duties.
The peculiar danger attending any effort on a large scale to provide temporary support for the lower classes by the extraordinary appliances of public charity, is that of undermining their habits of self-reliance with its demoralising consequences. To guard against this mischievous tendency, and to render their operations directly subservient to the great ultimate object in view, the re-instating of the Valley, as far as may be, in its former condition of manufacturing capability, your committee have been steadily guided by the general principle of making labour a condition of relief. Your judicious arrangements for clearing the watercourse and forwarding the occupiers of mills in repairing their dams and goits by a partial payment of wages to such of their operatives as they might employ in that way, have materially facilitated this object.
The application of this principle, however, to a class of objects, including all ages and both sexes, and whose ordinary habits and avocations are so foreign to the calling of an out-door labourer, has been necessarily limited, and has required a nice discrimination. True, and it is a gratifying fact — a sturdy spirit of independence has generally characterised the able-bodied applicants. Nay, in several instances the obvious promptings of physical infirmity have been unheeded in a manly preference of the wages of honest industry to the bread of idleness. Accordingly, within the narrowest possible limits consistent with a humane and generous view of their duty, but liberally within those limits your committee have relieved in money.
Accompanying this report is an abstract of your committee’s proceedings up to the present date, which, under the several heads indicated in the above remarks, exhibits the following results —
- Relief in Money. — Number of persons relieved, 544 ; of those dependent upon them, 952 ; together, 1466 ; amount paid, £755.
- Relief in Work under Committee. — Total number who have been thus employed, 171 ; a large proportion of them married men with families. Average weekly number about 130 ; amount paid in wages, £892 17s. 11id.
- Relief in Work under Mill Occupiers. — The average weekly number thus employed for the first four weeks was about 220, it has since gradually diminished, and is at present about 30 ; amount paid in aid of wages under this head. £638 19s. 8d.
Your committee have used their utmost diligence, and availed themselves largely of personal observations and enquiry from house to house, to elicit the full extent of destitution caused by this calamity, and to guard against imposition ; and as a result they have the satisfaction in being able to state that in many cases where the loss of employment has been but partial in a family, and generally in the case of small clothiers and manufacturers, the members of whose families have been employed by themselves as operatives, no application has been made for relief.
Unhappily the necessities of the case demand that your committee should now briefly refer to the future as regards the objects of their care. Throughout the locality generally a creditable energy has been displayed by the occupiers of mills in restoring their premises to a working condition, and to a corresponding extent your committee are being gradually relieved of the operatives employed by them. The Digley valley, however, is still a sad scene of desolation, with its four mills in a ruined state, so that under the most favourable circumstances a considerable time must necessarily elapse before the ordinary sources of employment can be available to the operatives dependant upon them. Again, the long continued dry weather has admitted of a rapid progress in the clearing of the watercourse, but there still remains an amount of work to be done in this department which must occupy some months. With these facts before them — the details of which will come before you in other forms, and referring to their latest weekly disbursements — your committee respectfully urge upon you the expediency of making an adequate provision for the prosecution of these necessary objects.
- Joshua Moorhouse,
- Joshua Charlesworth,
- John Fearon,
- Thos. Nelson,
- C. H. Jones,
- Wm. Burrows,
- Thos. Firth, Jun.
|Relief in work paid weekly to workmen employed in the watercourse||Relief in money paid weekly to persons out of employment||Relief in work under mill-occupiers paid weekly|
|Amount paid to 5th March||25||2||0||185||0||0||271||8||1|
|Week ending 12th March||55||4||6||80||0||0||87||17||5|
|Week ending 19th March||66||15||5||80||0||0||61||19||11|
|Week ending 26th March||87||0||0||70||0||0||48||18||3|
|Weekend ending 2nd April||97||17||0||60||0||0||36||8||3|
|Weekend ending 8th April||77||13||10||35||0||0||32||12||0|
|Weekend ending 15th April||76||7||6||75||0||0||32||12||11|
|Weekend ending 22nd April||77||17||8||40||0||0||21||7||1|
|Weekend ending 29th April||83||0||0||40||0||0||21||4||1|
|Weekend ending 7th May||87||0||0||40||0||0||12||16||5|
|Weekend ending 14th May||91||0||0||50||0||0||17||12||6|
|Weekend ending 15th May||68||0||0||0||0||0||4||2||9|
No. 3. — CLAIMS UNDER £20.
The committee appointed to enquire into and settle all schedules not exceeding twenty pounds, in making their report, beg to observe that some of their number having previously visited most of the applicants from house to house, and taken minutes of the condition in which they found their dwellings, the circumstances and characters of the parties, and the probable amounts of the losses, sustained, felt themselves justified in affording immediate assistance in urgent cases, to the extent of from ten shillings to five pounds.
They subsequently had the applicants individually before them, enquired minutely into the various particulars, endeavoured to correct the amounts where necessary, and adjudged and settled every case upon its own merits.
The clothing committee having been previously actively engaged in distributing the ample stock placed at their disposal, your committee thought it right, as a general rule, to deduct either the whole or great part of the amount put down in the schedule under the head of wearing apparel; and they furnished the clothing committee with lists of those deductions, in order to ascertain that the parties had been fully supplied.
Many of the schedules also contained charges for clearing their houses of the deposit loft by the flood, but as these were generally but mere estimates of their own, the labour having been performed by the parties themselves, your committee likewise, in most cases, subtracted this item, deeming it preferable to supply them with coals, towards remedying the evils arising from damp, rather than to compensate them in money.
They have disposed of 168 of the cases referred to them, the gross amount of which, as originally stated in the schedules, was £1190 5s. 8d., which, by the above-mentioned deductions and corrections, was reduced to £744, five of these schedules being left for the consideration of the central committee.
In placing these results before the general committee, they have the satisfaction of being able to express their conviction, that in the great majority of cases, the sufferers evinced a disposition to act fairly and honestly; the very poorest manifesting a desire rather to understate, than to exaggerate, their losses, although the fixing of the value of old furniture being very much a matter of opinion, necessarily laid the statements open to considerable corrections.
Your committee have had repeated opportunities of observing the conduct and demeanour of the recipients since their claims were discharged, and they have great pleasure in expressing their belief, that a lively sense of gratitude and thankfulness is generally felt by them for the liberal sums which a generous public has enabled the committee to bestow towards making up their losses, which in many cases amounted to their little all; and had it not been thus met, they and their children would, in all probability, have felt the distress incident upon such a dire calamity for many years to come.
- John Brooke,
- Thomas Mallinson,
- Joshua Charlesworth,
- Charles H. Jones,
- Isaac Robson,
- Thomas Firth, jun.,
- Thomas Dyson,
- E. L. Hesp,
- Joseph Firth.
No. 4. — COMMITTEE FOR REPORTING UPON THE STOCK-IN-TRADE, FURNITURE, &C.
The committee appointed to examine the schedules sent in by the shopkeepers and other sufferers whose amounts exceed £20, have endeavoured, to the best of their ability, carefully to scrutinize each individual case ; and the time devoted to this object, great as it has necessarily been, has been barely sufficient to allow of their doing the work in all cases to their entire satisfaction.
The work to which your committee directed their first attention was the clearing of the watercourses at such points as it was absolutely necessary in order to facilitate the re working of the mills ; and your committee are glad to be able to report a very satisfactory progress in this department. The extremely favourable state of the weather ever since the commencement of these operations, has very much expedited them, and consequently will have tended largely to diminish the expense.
Several of the sufferers have lost the whole of their books and papers, and have consequently had to make out their statements from memory. In these cases your committee have called for invoices, and whatever vouchers could be produced ; have enquired into their former stock-takings, and weekly returns, and obtained such collateral evidence as was within their reach. In some instances, however, the parties not having been in the practice of taking stock, they were compelled to rely in a great measure upon their own statements, assisted by the evidence of their neighbours or others, both in regard to the respectability and integrity of the applicants, and as to the character and extent of their business.
Where they have failed to satisfy themselves as to the general correctness of the statements, they have reserved the case for the decision of the central board.
Many of the cases of loss, not exceeding £50, were so pressing that the united committee instructed this committee to exercise their discretion as to settling them — a power of which they have in most instances availed themselves. These consisted chiefly of stock and furniture belonging to the better class of operatives, and to small tradesmen wholly dependant upon a giant of money to enable them to return to house and home, or resume their wonted occupations, and employ themselves and others dependant upon them.
Your committee have also exercised the power given them to make grants on account, in various sums not exceeding £100 in any one case, to many others who were sufferers to a large amount, in some instances, to enable them to recommence business, in others to assist them, or to prevent their entire ruin. They think that, whilst great prudence will be required in the final settlement of some of these cases, a wise liberality ought to be exercised, in order to prevent some, who were previously in moderate circumstances, and good credit, from being too much crippled to carry on their business profitably, or from becoming depressed beyond recovery.
Where entire families have been swept away, and no very near relations survive, the schedules are left for further consideration.
Several claims were put in on account of lost money, most of which were for the present at least struck out of the schedules.
The total number of schedules referred to this committee was 92, viz. :— 43 for stock in trade ; 34 furniture ; 15 houses damaged, lands, roads, and fences injured, and money lost.
Thirty of these have been settled, two are withdrawn, and sixty remain for the decision of the central committee. The gross amount claimed in the thirty schedules settled was £1092 12s. 7d.; they were settled for £705.
- C. H. Jones,
- Joshua Charlesworth,
- Isaac Robson,
- Joseph Firth.
NO. 5. — RAW MATERIALS, MATERIALS AND GOODS IN PROCESS, AND GOODS IN A MANUFACTURED STATE.
In presenting a report of that section of the schedules which embrace raw materials, materials and goods in process, and goods in a manufactured state, the committee beg to say that, with one exception, and that of a schedule sent in by an official assignee under bankruptcy, the conclusions at which they have arrived are all from personal observation and examination of the parties sending in the respective claims. In all cases where direct vouchers could be had — such as invoices of goods or materials recently purchased, but which had not been disposed of or consumed, — their production was required ; and in the absence of evidence of this kind — so far as was thought necessary or was available — the facts were attested by parties not directly interested as claimants. It would be obvious, however, that in connection with a calamity so sudden and unexpected as the one out of which these enquiries have arisen, the evidence which could be adduced in many cases was not of such a character as would at all satisfy the purposes of a judicial enquiry ; as it not unfrequently happened the claimants had lost all, or such a number of their books and papers as precluded them from presenting such a schedule as would convey an adequate idea of the loss they had actually sustained.
In some of these cases the committee were wholly shut up to the statements of the sufferers themselves, and such a mode of examination as suggested itself to them at the time; nevertheless, they are satisfied that on the whole there has been little disposition to overstate the facts of the case ; and that where deductions have been made from the schedules, they are not the consequence of intentional misstatement, but generally from difference of calculation between the committee and the claimants themselves.
The committee think it light to further to state, that whilst they felt it their duty at the time to make these deductions, yet subsequent interviews with the parties have led them to the conclusion that the total of loss stated is, in most cases, under the actual facts; and arising in this way, the sufferers were able to speak to such losses as were enumerated in the schedules at the time, but subsequent discoveries have in many instances been made, and which, had they been made at an earlier period, would very properly have been included in the return.
The number of schedules committed to this section of the schedule committee was 31, whose gross statements of loss amounted to £5865 19s. 3½d. The estimate formed by the committee is £4474 15s. 6d. ; out of which six claimants have been finally disposed of, whose schedules amounted to £207 1s. 7d., and settled with £140, leaving 25 for consideration and settlement by the central committee.
As to the propriety of each party enumerated in this schedule, whose case is not already disposed of, being claimants on a fund raised for the relief of distress ; or to what extent any of the remaining applicants should be relieved, the committee offer no opinion at this stage. They have thought it their duty, however, to make such enquiry regarding the circumstances of the parties as will enable them to answer all needful and proper enquiries on this point ; and they derive great satisfaction in the prospect of being relieved from further responsibility in this matter by the duties which now devolve on the central committee of distribution.
- John Brooke,
- Thos. Mallinson,
- Thomas Dyson.
No. 6. — REPORT OF THE SUB-COMMITTEE ON MILLS, MACHINERY, HOUSES, &C.
The sub-committee appointed on mills, machinery, watercourses, weirs, goits, land, and houses damaged or destroyed, beg to state that they had ninety schedules to examine and report upon, in which compensation is applied for to the amount of £43,288 15s. That in the first instance they personally inspected the whole of the property, in order to ascertain, to the best of their ability, the amount of injury sustained ; finding, however, that they could not, in all cases, wholly rely upon their own judgment, they employed a competent and independent valuer to correct their estimates, some of their number accompanying him ; and they trust that they have thus been enabled to arrive at a tolerably correct knowledge of the real loss sustained. With regard to the mills and machinery, the estimated damage to the sufferers is £32,305 1s. 5d.
Your committee think it right to say that in many cases the mills are not the property of wealthy persons, but are held by several, — in some instances as many as eight or ten partners, some of whom are principally dependent upon this source of their support. In other cases they are let off in parts to small manufacturers, who can ill afford the losses occasioned by the flood.
Charges for stoppage of works, &c., which in a few instances formed a large item, have been struck out of the accounts.
The prostrate condition of some of the mills and works on the subsidence of the flood was such, and the quantity of mud and debris so great, that some of the parties were not prepared, at the time fixed for the schedules to be sent in, to form a correct estimate of their losses. They have, consequently, in several instances, reduced their original estimates, on finding that the repairs cost less than they had anticipated. In other cases, the reductions made by your committee have been readily admitted for the same reasons.
In some few cases your committee have found the losses to be under stated, through inadvertence or a praiseworthy fear of exaggeration, and, consequently, have thought it right to make additions to such schedules.
The unusually long continuance of dry weather since the calamity occurred has greatly facilitated the repairing of mills and works ; thus enabling some of the occupiers to resume their operations without much detention. This providential circumstance has, no doubt, proved a large saving both to the millowners and to the funds placed at the disposal of the relief committee, who have thereby been enabled, without interruption or delay, to proceed with the clearing of the water-courses. From this cause the number of those dependent upon the funds of this charity have of course been gradually reduced.
The instruction your committee received to examine into and pay in full for the damage done to the places of worship, has been attended to. Three of these have been injured, and the sum of £684 7s. was applied for; but your committee think that in awarding £543 they have fully allowed for all the damage sustained, except the tombstones.
In addition to the above, your committee have discharged fifteen cases, not exceeding £50 each; the gross amount stated being £609 5s. 10d., and the sum paid £385 8s. 7d. They have also granted loans to various amounts, not exceeding £100 each. The final settlement of these cases, together with the remainder of those entrusted to this committee, amounting altogether to sixty-seven, are left to the central committee.
The accompanying classified schedules show the amount of relief applied for by the sufferers and the committee’s estimates of the damage done.
Your committee cannot close this report without expressing considerable anxiety respecting the final adjustment of some of the cases, fearing that unless efficient aid be afforded, the parties will not be able to resume or continue their business, and the works being consequently stopped, the labouring class will ultimately be serious sufferers.
- C. H. Joses,
- Joseph Firth.
- Saul. Oldfield.
No. 7. — WORKS COMMITTEE.
As soon as your committee was appointed, they proceeded to employ the men ordered to work by the relief committee, and upon such portions of the watercourse as they considered most important.
The immense quantity of debris which had been washed down from the reservoir into the Digley Valley, and the large accumulations of the wreck of buildings and earthwork washed from the adjoining lands, and along the course of the river, made this a work of no light character. The river at several points was quite filled up, and at others not even the original course could be seen.
At the outset of your committee’s proceedings they carefully selected overlookers of known experience to superintend the men — persons who had been long accustomed to such work, and who had previously held responsible situations of the like character. They also appointed one general superintendent of the whole. The men are worked in companies, each company having an overlooker, who is required to be constantly with them, this being considered necessary, since the workmen employed were totally unaccustomed to this kind of work, and as they knew that this would be at best but a temporary occupation, they might not care whether much practical result was exhibited. On the other hand, your committee have not been anxious that this employment should be unnecessarily laborious. The number of workmen employed has been nearly 200, and the average number about 130 weekly.
The weekly wages paid to men with families amounts to from 12s. to 15s., and the total expenditure by your committee is £822, exclusive of payments for planks, wheelbarrows, and work tools
No work of importance has been prosecuted immediately below Digley Mill, the proprietors not having yet decided what course they shall adopt with this property, but immediately above, workmen are employed, and a watercourse his already been cut, and so forward to Bilberry Mill, where another party of workmen are now engaged.
On the whole, the work is creditable to the hands engaged, and proceeds satisfactorily, and your committee hope ere long to be in a position to cease operations without the deb-is being of any serious detriment to the working of the mills.
The superintendence and inspection of so considerable a work has necessarily occupied much of your committee’s time, and they may now report a general and favourable progress of the whole of the works.
- Signed, George Robinson, Sidney Morehouse.
- May 17th, 1852.
NO 8. — SUB-COMMITTEE APPOINTED TO ENQUIRE INTO CIRCUMSTANCES OF ORPHANAGE CAUSED BY THE BURSTING OF THE BILBERRY RESERVOIR.
Mary Ann Mettrick, about six years old, daughter of James Mettrick, of Water-street, Hinchliffe Mill, who, with his wife and seven children, perished in the flood. She is at present, and had previously been living with her grandparents, Eli Hirst and wife, of Hinchliffe Mill, who are unwilling to part with her; but, being poor, would have difficulty in keeping her without help. Three brothers of this orphan, aged respectively 24, 18, and 16, still survive ; they are all unmarried.
Wilson Mettrick, about ten months old, son of William Mettrick, of Hillhouse, who was a widower, and, happening to be at the house of his father, the above-named James Mettrick, on the night of the flood, was cut off with the rest of the victims. This child is at present, and was previous to the flood, in the care of the wife of Hugh Holmes, of Upperthong, a respectable woman, without any family of her own, who has nursed it since the mother’s death. The mother’s sister, Elizabeth Greensmith, co-operative stores, Hinchliffe Mill, says she could not consent to its being taken to an orphan institution.
Ruth Crosland, born November 14th, 1851, daughter of Jonathan Crosland, widower, of Water-street, who, with all his other children, six in number, were drowned. The mother having died in childbed, this infant has since been nursed by, and is still in the care of the wife of William Nichols, Longwalls. These people, being poor, with a large family of their own, do not seem to have it in their power to furnish the necessary comforts tor the child ; the more so, as their house is inconveniently small and uncomfortable ; and Dan Crosland, of Hinchliffe Mill, the orphan’s paternal grandfather, has expressed a wish that it should be given in charge of the wife of another son, James Crosland, of Brownhill, who is willing to undertake the care of it. The friends are unwilling to have it sent to an orphan asylum. Nichols’s wife cannot bear the thought of parting with the child, and seems almost to regard it as her own.
- Memorandum — In each of the above three cases, the Holmfirth Relief Committee have hitherto allowed 5s. a week for support, and in none of them are there any private resources from which provision can be made for their education and maintenance. They are all healthy children.
Mary Cartwright, a widow, had a very narrow escape from drowning. The lower room of the house in which she slept was filled with water. The fright had such an effect upon her that she never was well afterwards, and ultimately she took the typhus fever and died. She has left eight children ; the eldest (Ann) is 22 years of age, and has recently lost her husband, who died also of typhus fever, having taken cold by working in the ruins of Mytholmbridge, where he was employed in the recovery of salvage for his master, Charles Bashforth. He has left one child, aged about 20 months, and his widow expects to be confined again very soon. She is now living with her sisters.
The second daughter of Mary Cartwright (Betty) is 20 years of age, and is at present keeping house for an uncle.
The next (Jane), aged 18, is weaving, by which she earns about 10s. per week.
Philias, aged 16, is also earning about 1s. per week at the same employment.
Clementina, 14 years old, is a piecer, but has had to remain at home to take care of the younger children during the mother’s illness.
Johnson, 12 years of age, is learning as a mule piecer.
Emma, 6 ditto.
Hannah Maria, 2 and a half years old.
The family would be very glad if an asylum could be secured for the youngest, and they would feel doubly grateful if some provision could be also made for Emma. They would have no objection to their being placed in an orphan asylum.
Hannah Hartley, aged nearly 11 years, is the daughter of Sidney and Mary Hartley, who, with five of their children, were swept away by the flood ; their house being entirely destroyed. She, with two older brother’s, were saved by getting upon the roof of the adjoining house. The ages of the brothers about 19 and 12 respectively. She is at present residing with an uncle and aunt, named Ainley, at Armitage Bridge. Her relatives would be glad to get her into an orphan asylum, which in her case seems particularly desirable.
Richard Shackleton, with his wife and three children, were drowned. One little girl, aged twelve, being with her maternal grandparents, with whom she has resided from childhood, escaped. Her grandparents having adopted her as their own, are unwilling to part with her. Her grandfather, John Green, is engineer at Shaw’s mill, near Golcar.
- John Fearon, Isaac Robson.
The number of schedules sent in is 400, amounting to £67,224 10s. 9½d. The number finally settled and disposed of is 222, for the sum of £2,019 5s. 9d. ; the number withdrawn is 22, amounting to £2,033 13s. 10d. ; leaving 158 schedules to be considered by the central committee, exclusive of the memorial of the mortgagees before referred to.
The total sum received by this committee is £33,468 13s. 5d. ; and the following amounts have been collected at the undermentioned towns in addition to remittances already received, and which now await the disposal of the central committee.
|Collected at the under-mentioned towns, in addition to the remittances awaiting the disposal of the Central Committee.|
|The Cash Account stands thus:—|
|By Cash paid into the Huddersfield Banking Co||33,468||13||5||To Cash Holmfirth Relief Commitee||9500||0||0|
|To Deputations Expenses||74||1||4|
|To Cash returned to Mr. Todd, Dewsbury, paid in mistake||5||0||0|
|Balance in Bank||£23,583||13||1||£33,468||13||5|
In conclusion, the committee venture to add, that although they are aware that, by those who were not cognisant of the difficult and delicate position in which they have been placed, their proceedings may have been subjected to criticism and to some diversity of opinion, they have, nevertheless, the satisfaction of feeling that they have endeavoured to the best of their ability, in whatever respect they may have erred, to perform their onerous duties with fidelity both to the subscribers and to the sufferers. In the distribution of a small portion of the very large sums so bountifully confided to them by a generous and sympathising public, they have endeavoured to exercise prudence and economy, and have made such enquiries and obtained such information as they trust will enable the central committee to proceed satisfactorily with the labours which now devolve upon it. As to the mode in which that committee should act, they do not presume to give an opinion ; but they have no doubt that it will be disposed to meet the case of the sufferers in the same liberal spirit which has been evinced by the subscribers at large.
- John Brooke,
- Chairman of the United Committee.
- J. C. Laycock and John Freeman
- Hon. Secs.
The Chairman again rose, and said he hoped if any gentleman desired information he would not fail to put any question which he might think necessary, as the committee were anxious that the most searching enquiries should be made. (Hear, hear.) He should be very glad to hear any remark on the report, or to afford any information, and he trusted that no gentleman would return home without being perfectly satisfied.
Mr. Schofield, Rochdale, wished to know whether the expenses referred to in the report were still being incurred, and whether there was an actual outgoing of money at present?
The Chairman — Yes.
Mr. Joshua Charlesworth, Holmfirth, said the current disbursements were from £120 to £140 per week.
Mr. Schofield said he had asked this question in consequence of there being great doubt in the minds of those he represented as to the propriety of such a course. The better plan, they thought, would have been to let the mill-owners themselves clear the water courses. Mr. Peto, whilst over here, had found great fault with the course pursued, and he (Mr. Schofield) thought the sooner an end was put to it the better.
The Chairman must confess that he thought it would have been only just to the committee, that any gentleman, knowing that such an authority as Mr Peto had made such a remark as the one referred to, should at once have communicated it to the committee. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. Schofield did not wish to insinuate that the committee had acted improperly, but he thought the work would have been better done if the money had been advanced to the millowners, and they allowed to expend it. Entertaining this view he thought some time should be fixed for stopping the disbursements, whether for relief or for wages, and the way in which that might be brought about would be by gradually lessening the amounts paid.
The Chairman replied that the disbursement were gradually lessening themselves. (Hear.) It was a matter of surprise to every body that the disbursements had been so small, (hear) — and he could only account for the circumstance from the fact of the working classes making such small claims, and the strenuous efforts made by the millowners to put their mills again into working order. (Hear.)
Mr. Burrows said they would find that the total outlay for casual relief and labour was only £9600.
Mr. C. H. Jones said that the committee had had their attention drawn to the course suggested by Mr. Schofield, of having the work done by contract, and the committee had found apart from the non-employment of those whom it was their object to relieve, that the cost would have been £4000 or £5000. True, the work would have been done in a different way, but as at present done it was quite satisfactory to the millowners. (Hear.)
Mr. Freeman said there was another objection to such a course which he should have thought would have struck so eminent a contractor as Mr. Peto. Supposing that each millowner had been left to apply these funds, they would have cleared the water course to suit each their own levels, and thus would have arisen a source of incalculable trouble. (Hear.) He therefore thought the committee had adopted much the wiser course in taking the management of the stream into their own hands. (Hear.)
Mr. Schofield thought Mr. Freeman was quite right, but whilst over the ground he had observed many instances where men were employed on unremunerative labour.
Mr. Freeman said it must necessarily be so, where the committee were compelled to keep men in work so as to afford them relief.
The Chairman said that if these men hail been accustomed to such work the result would have been very different, but they were in-door and not out-door labourers, and consequently it could not be expected that they would earn their wages, at the same time it would not have done to have allowed those men to remain idle. (Hear.)
Mr. Abbott, Halifax, thought the committee could not have adopted any other course, in accordance with the objects of the charity, than the one they had. They had applied their funds to the relief of the poor who had suffered by the flood, but to have adopted the contract system would have been taking upon themselves what they had no right to do, and been affording relief to the millowners instead of the poor. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. W. L. Brook, said there was one part of the report in which he could not concur. As chairman of the Holmfirth committee he could bear witness to the manner in which they had discharged the arduous duties devolved upon them, and could most distinctly affirm that they had discharged their duties to the best of their ability, and he was sorry that any reflection should be cast upon that committee. (“No, no.’’) It was distinctly stated in the report that the Holmfirth committee were the means of a false statement going forth to the public. Now, the statement referred to was made at the request of a deputation front the Huddersfield committee, who were desirous of information as to the probable loss. The committee replied that they were not in a position to furnish such information or to make any report whatever. “But,” responded the deputation, “we are going to London and other places, and it is strange you cannot give us some data upon which to act.” In consequence of this representation the committee engaged a practical manufacturer of high standing, and Mr. Bates, — those gentlemen made out an estimate, which had proved to be exaggerated, but he appealed to any gentleman who had witnessed the devastation, extending as it did over four miles of country, whether it could be expected that these gentlemen could furnish anything like an approximation of the loss sustained. The committee took the best steps in their judgment tor ascertaining the loss, and appointed valuers, but that measure was set aside by the Huddersfield committee, and therefore he did complain that any reflection should be cast upon them in the report.
Mr. Robson thought Mr. Brook was mistaken in supposing that the paragraph referred to was intended to reflect upon the Holmfirth committee. (Hear, hear) It was well known that the Holmfirth committee did issue a printed circular in which they stated the probable loss sustained — an estimate which had since proved to be incorrect. Now, in preparing the report which had been read — which would go before the public and before parties who would not draw the distinction between the Huddersfield and Holmfirth committees — it was thought best to state how the exaggerated report had got into circulation, and the paragraph referred to was given rather as an apology and explanation to the public, and not by any means as a reflection on the Holmfirth committee. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. John Rand, Bradford, said the impression of himself and Mr. Laycock was that no reflection whatever was cast upon the Holmfirth committee. (Hear, hear.) The impression excited in his own mind during the reading of the report was that these two committees had acted together in perfect harmony, vicing with each other as to which could best meet the emergency, and the report must have convinced them that these united committees had acted with discretion and caution, and brought to bear upon the subject a high degree of practical knowledge He quite concurred with Mr. Abbott that their proceedings had been characterised with an assiduity and perseverance which could not fail to prove most satisfactory to those who had been privileged to subscribe. (Hear.) He thought his friend, Mr. Leigh Brook, must be a little sensitive, if he thought there was anything in the report which would convey a different impression, and he thought the least they could do would be to award the united committee a vote of thanks. (Hear, hear.)
Mr Micklethwaite, Wakefield, said he found from the report that the committee had only expended some £9800 in conveying the vast amount of good they had been the means of to the sufferers.
The Chairman said that when the committee found the subscriptions so much larger, and the losses so much smaller, they prosecuted their investigations with renewed energy, determined that they would not, because they had large funds, “cook” the losses. (Hear )
Mr Micklexhwaite and Mr. Rand were sure the contributors would be satisfied. (Hear, hear )
Mr. W. L. Brook read the paragraph in the report of which he complained, which was as follows, —
- It is true that the Holmfirth section of the committee, in their anxiety to meet the pressing demands of the public for definite information, did, without the consent of the united committees, issue a statement to the public, based upon data too hastily, though, no doubt, honestly adopted, which the committee were not in a position to correct until the needful information was obtained through the return of the schedules.
Mr. James Charlesworth said, as a Holmfirth man and a member of the Holmfirth committee, he did feel hurt at this paragraph. (Cries of “Then cross it out.”)
The words, “without the consent of the united committee,” were then ordered to be erased, after which Mr Gurney, junr, London moved that the report now read be adopted, printed, and circulated.
Mr. Rand seconded, and Mr. William Barber, London, supported the motion, which was carried unanimously.
Mr. Dibb, Wakefield, wished to know whether full provision had been made for the repairs of places of worship.
The Chairman replied that there had. The committee had originally passed a resolution that advances to places of worship should only be made to the extent of £100, but subsequently it was thought that the trustees and wardens of places of worship would not like to commence repairs until they knew what assistance would be afforded them, and it was therefore decided with the concurrence of the committees of London and Leeds, to settle these claims once. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. Dibb merely wished to know as he had induced two gentlemen to pay their subscriptions to the general fund (who would otherwise have reserved it especially for the repairs of places of worship,) satisfied that full confidence might be placed in the committee. (Hear.)
The Chairman thought, before the central committee proceeded to business, it should be clearly understood that all funds subscribed to this charity should be put into one purse and abide the decision of the committee.
Mr. Hyde, Leeds, said this observation of the chairman would necessitate him to make one or two remarks. When the Leeds committee was formed resolutions were adopted which precluded him from consenting to put the Leeds subscriptions into a general purse.
The Chairman thought this would place the committee in a very different position. Were gentlemen not there entrusted with full powers? If one gentleman was to say “mine” must be placed to a certain fund, and a second “mine” to another fund, he did not know how they were to act.
Mr. Hyde felt the difficulty in which the central committee would be placed.
The Chairman considered it necessary that this point should be settled before they proceeded to the appropriation of the money.
Mr. Hyde felt when he was appointed that he was merely to come and ascertain what measures were proposed, and to report to his committee, who it they approved would hand over their money into the general fund.
Mr. Rand thought Mr. Hyde was too much fettered. (Hear.)
Mr. Hyde explained that the Leeds committee had anticipated the Huddersfield committee would have reported that “we have such and such applications from manufacturers for such sums,” and they were then prepared to consider such report, but to reserve to themselves the control of their funds. He did feel that such a regulation fettered him, but he was sure if the awards were made in the same spirit which characterised the report the Leeds committee would concur. (Hear.)
The Chairman said they had come there to transact business, but here was a serious difficulty in the outset, for supposing the committee decided that a certain claimant should receive a certain amount, and that Mr. Hyde reported such decision, probably the Leeds committee would say, “we won’t allow that — we won’t give such applicant anything.” He did not see how they could proceed unless the local committees had sufficient confidence — not in the united committee, but in the central committee. He did not want to create difficulties, and he should be very glad if any plan could be suggested.
Mr Morley, Manchester, said that a similar resolution to the one read by Mr. Hyde had been passed by the Man-hester committee. There had been great difficulty in obtaining money at all, except for the destitute ; and many subscribers had said distinctly that they did not give their money to re-build mills or repair the reservoir, but simply for the relief of the poor.
The Chairman said, if the Manchester committee wished to act upon such a plan, their money could be placed to the account for relief to the destitute, and it would be deposed of at once. But with regard to millowners and other sufferers, it must be understood that a great amount of money had been collected for their relief, because it could not be supposed that so large a sum had been lost by the poor. (Hear hear.)
The Rev. J. Bateman said, that when he had the honour of attending Manchester as a deputation, he remembered pointing out distinctly the fact that the calamity included the losses of millowners. “Here,” he told them “is one mill destroyed worth £10,000 or £15,000, and we come to you, asking you to assist in making up this loss.” It was clearly understood at that time that the Manchester men did not give their money, nor were they asked to give it, for the poor only.
Mr. Morley concurred in the remarks of the reverend gentleman, and no objection would be made to the appropriation of the money to millowners who were destitute, and had not the means of repairing the loss they had sustained.
Mr. James Charlesworth said that the first object was to relieve the poor, but if that relief was to be rendered permanent the funds must be so appropriated that permanent work could be given to the sufferers. (Hear.)
Mr. Barber was very happy to say that Mr. Gurney and himself had come to that meeting unfettered. They had come there for business, and he could not but think that every gentleman should be prepared to decide according to the arguments before him. The London committee felt it was for the general committee to decide the matter, and they had, therefore, left their deputation wholly unfettered. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. Abbott thought they were losing time in useless discussion. If the original appeal to the public was read, he thought it would furnish them the basis upon which the subscriptions were raised.
The original appeal was then read.
The Chairman still felt there was a great difficulty, as Mr. Hyde and the gentlemen from Manchester said they could not place their money into one common fund.
Mr. Hyde felt himself bound by the resolution of his committee.
The Chairman said the committee must see the difficulty in which they were placed.
Mr. Hyde thought it was only as it were reserving a dividend.
The Lord Mayor of York was happy to say that the deputation from York came there unfettered. (Hear.)
Mr. Rand suggested that they proceed to business as though no person was at all fettered as to the appropriation of funds which he represented.
The Chairman said he felt they could not do so, for if the central committee made a certain award, and a distant committee refused to abide by it, how were they to act?
Mr. Hyde said that supposing they proceeded to the distribution of their funds, and the Leeds committee refused to concur in the awards, why it would simply amount to this, that they would have to reduce the awards rateably in proportion to the amount withheld.
Mr Freeman considered that by so acting they would be making the Leeds committee the arbiters of the central committee.
Mr. Hyde did not think so. There was a claim of £33,000 from the mortgagees, and suppose the committee awarded £5,000 on the claim. He reported it to his committee, and they refused to concur in such award : the committee would have to reduce the award proportionately. Individually he felt if the money was awarded in the spirit of the report, no objection would be offered by the Leeds committee, but beyond the expression of that opinion he could not go.
Mr. Porritt, Sowerby-bridge, was unfettered except upon one point, and he wished to ask whether the commissioners would receive any compensation?
The Chairman could not answer that question.
The Rev. H. Ward, Hull, had a similar question to put, but thought it rather premature. The deputation from Hull were charged emphatically on this point.
Mr. W. L. Brook said the committee were desirous of placing every town on the same footing. Providing all the money was not appropriated it was thought to be only fair that each town should receive its proportion in return, but this could not be done with the reservations under which the Leeds and Manchester deputations were placed.
The Chairman thought they must have it understood whether or not the decision of the central committee was to be final.
The Rev. Mr. Smith, Halifax, said it was mere waste of time to argue this question as the deputations had stated that they could not remove their fetters. He thought they should proceed to business. There were two considerations which should guide them in this matter — first, the general principle of the grants, and second, the specific application of the money. Let them argue these questions, and then the gentlemen could report to their respective committees the result.
Mr. Barber wished to ask Mr. Porritt whether, when the subscriptions were received at Sowerby-bridge, any question arose as to how the money subscribed was to be appropriated.
Mr. Porritt — It did, at the very first.
Mr. Wright thought this discussion was premature, and that they should resolve themselves into the central committee. At present they were merely addressing the Huddersfield committee. (Hear.)
Mr. Thomas Mallinson should like to know whether there was any other gentlemen similarly fettered as the deputations from Leeds and Manchester?
Mr. Dibb said that the Wakefield deputation were fettered in some slight degree. The committee had paid over only a portion of their funds, reserving to themselves the control over the remainder, but he was sure their committee would be satisfied with what might be done to-day.
Mr. Walker, Bolton, was unfettered, excepting upon one point. The subscribers were desirous that everything should be made good but the reservoir. (Laughter.)
Mr. E. L. Hesp thought the resolutions fettering the action of some of the deputations had been passed before it was generally known that a meeting of delegates was to he convened, and he thought, when the central committee was formed, it would be very proper to propose that all the fends be placed at its disposal, so that all might be subject to the same results, otherwise towns which reserved their funds would be placed in a better position than neighbouring towns.
Mr. Rand said that Mr. Laycock and himself were unfettered, and they were quite willing that the rule hitherto acted upon should be earned out, although they entertained a decided opinion that no money should be paid to the mortgagees.
After a few words from Mr. Morley the matter dropped, and the meeting constituted itself into a central committee.
The Chairman then rose and desired to make a few observations in reference to himself and the position he then occupied. When this sad catastrophe occurred neither he nor his brother had in their minds either commissioners, mortgagees, millowners, or any other party but were actuated simply by a desire to relieve the distress which it had occasioned. A committee was appointed and his friends did him the honour to appoint him as chair-man — for he did consider it an honour to have been privileged to preside over such a body of gentlemen, whose labours had been unremitting, and who were determined to discharge their duty. (Hear.) Numbers of them came forward, not only liberally with their subscriptions, but de-voted an amount of time even still more valuable, and no one but those on the committee could conceive the work they had gone through. Their proceedings had been amicable, and he had never seen a single attempt made by them to forward the views of one party more than another. (Hear.) He might now observe that he was a commissioner, though he was not, nor had he been, for five or six years an acting commissioner. He was not a mortgagee, but he was deeply interested for some who were, and for whom he was trustee. He was not aware that the mortgagees were going to make application for relief, nor did he know of it until their claim was laid upon the table of the committee. When he found this was the case, his first impression was then and there to resign the post of chair-man, but on further consideration, and believing he could continue to occupy that post without compromising any one, he felt that by retiring he might cause an interruption in the committee’s proceedings which he should have afterwards to lament. (Hear, hear.) From that time, however, his friends would bear him out, he never alluded to the mortgagees or the commissioners in any way what-ever. (Hear, hear.) The time, however, had now arrived when he could no longer, consistent with his feelings, re-main a member of the committee. He had strong feelings on the question, and notwithstanding the confidence place in him, where he to remain he should perhaps have, subsequently, to charge himself with having acted more as an advocate than a judge. On these grounds he should retire from the committee, but he could assure them that whatever decision they came to he should do all he could to carry it out. (Hear.)
Mr. Thomas Maillinson said that no one could have listened to the observations of Mr. Brooke without feeling that they were very honourable to him, and no one could have the honour of knowing Mr. Brooke, without also knowing that he had expressed but feeble things of himself. Those who knew Mr. Brooke as neighbours, who had associated with him in these committees, could assure the gentlemen present that he had not conveyed to them any idea of the highly honourable feelings by which he had been actuated through these proceedings — (hear, hear) — and he (Mr. Mallinson) should feel it a calamity were Mr. Brooke to separate from them at this junction. (Hear.) He felt it due to themselves and to Mr. Brooke that they should seek to retain his valuable services, and he therefore begged to move—
- John Brooke, Esq., the chairman of the united committees of Huddersfield and Holmfirth having, at the commencement of this meeting, declined to continue a member of this committee, in consequence of there being a claim on the part of the mortgagees of the reservoirs, in which he was interested as a trustee, — Resolved — That the question of respecting the mortgagees be first disposed of, and that Mr. Brooke be, and is hereby unanimously and by acclamation requested to accept the office of chairman of this central committee.
Mr. W. L. Brook seconded the motion.
Mr. Freeman was sure that those who had known Mr. Brooke were the best able to form a correct estimate of his abilities. Without him he knew not what the committee would have done. (Hear.) He had no doubt that Mr. Brooke’s munificent subscription which headed the list, had lead to the handsome subscriptions now at the disposal of the committee. But apart from this, the time which he had devoted to the business of the committee, the practical experience he had brought to bear upon the subject, were such as he was sure gentlemen present would highly appreciate when they came to consider the different items in the accounts. His suggestion had formed the basis and framework of their proceedings. (Hear.) He (Mr. Freeman) regretted that this claim of the mortgagees had induced Mr. Brooke to signify his intention to retire, and believing that he was the most qualified to direct their deliberations ; was possessed of information which no one else could give ; and that his retirement would be a grievance to the sufferers, he (Mr. Freeman) trusted that Mr. Brooke would place himself in the hands of the committee. (Hear.) He should cordially support Mr. Mallinson’s motion.
Mr. Mallinson was about to put the resolution, when
The Chairman again rose, and assured the meeting that he could not, in accordance with the dictates of his conscience, continue amongst them. He could not but feel gratified with the remarks of the preceding speakers, but notwithstanding what they had said, he was sure there were gentleman better qualified to conduct these proceedings than himself and they must, therefore, excuse him. If he could afford them any information, he would remain at his counting house, and be at their call at any moment. He would simply say he had a strong feeling that the commissioners, as a corporate body, had not acted towards the mortgagees as they ought to have done. Besides this question however others would arise connected with it, in reference to which he should feel himself very much fettered. Again, then, he must state that he could not accede to this resolution.
Mr. John Sutcliffe, Mr. Burrows, Mr. Mort, Mr. Rand, Mr. Joseph Wrigley, and the Rev. Mr. Bateman spoke in favour of the motion, and strongly urged Mr. Brooke to sacrifice his own feelings for the public good, the Vicar assuring him that they would become the guardians of his conscience, after which Mr. Brooke retired. The Lord Mayor of York was then appointed chairman pro tem.
The Rev. Mr. Bateman immediately afterwards re-entered the room, and intimated that Mr. Brooke had consented to place himself in the hands of the committee, though he (Mr. Brooke) should prefer that the mortgagees’ claim be reserved to the last.
After a short conversation it was felt that it would not be wise to postpone the consideration of so large a claim, and a communication having been made with Mr. Brooke, it was decided at once to proceed with the question.
Prior, however, to reading the application of the mortgagees, an interesting discussion ensued, in answer to a question from Mr. Wright, as to the number of votes which the united committee should give on this occasion, in the event of the committee being called upon to divide. It appeared the united committee was represented by eighteen gentlemen, (the number appointed was twenty, but only eighteen were present,) and the reason urged for this excess over any other town was, that the united committee represented all the towns who had subscribed under £500, and one-half of the total amount collected. It was felt, how-ever, by some gentlemen that this number might excite objections on the part of subscribers at a distance that the local influence was too great, and a motion was proposed and seconded that the united committee should have twelve votes. The Huddersfield gentlemen signified their entire concurrence in the motion, but on it being intimated that at least five of them would not vote, the motion was withdrawn, and the matter dropped.
Mr. W. L. Brook then proposed that they take into consideration the mortgagees’ claim. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. J. Micklethwaite wished to know whether it was the mortgagees of the reservoirs or of the mills they were about to consider?
Mr. Brook — Of the reservoirs.
Mr. J. Micklethwaite — Then the mortgagees of the mills will come afterwards. (“No, no.”)
Mr. James Charlesworth believed that no such claim would come before them. (Hear.)
The Hon. Secretary then read the following
APPEAL ON BEHALF OF THE MORTGAGEES.
TO THE COMMITTEE OF THE HOLMFIRTH RELIEF FUND.
Gentlemen, — It is with great respect for your board, and a full appreciation of the arduous, and I fear in many cases invidious, labours you have to undergo, and with a wish rather to assist you in coming to a right decision, than to add to your difficulties, that I now presume to come before you as an applicant for relief on behalf of a large class of unfortunate sufferers — I mean the mortgagees who, on the credit of the Act of Parliament under which the reservoirs were constructed, and in full reliance on the bona fides of the owners and occupiers of mills for whose sole benefit and on whose application the act was granted, advanced their monies.
In explaining the grounds on which I rest this application, I wish to abstain from all remarks in the slightest degree disrespectful or recriminating towards the commissioners as a body. Many of them I know personally as highly honorable and business-like gentlemen; I shall therefore simply confine myself to the relation of such facts, and the statement of such arguments, as I think ought to influence you in the decision I now ask you to come to — viz. “That in any contemplated mode of disposal of the relief fund the mortgagees ought to hold a prominent position, as their case is more strongly entitled to your consideration than that of the owners and occupiers of mills ;” or in other words, “the reservoir commissioners.”
So long as it remained doubtful whether the subscriptions would realize a fund sufficient for relieving parties who, through no fault or neglect of their own, had been reduced to penury by the catastrophe, the mortgagees remained silent, being willing to postpone their own case in favour of the destitute. But now that the largeness of the public liberality has removed all anxiety on that score, and has placed an ample fund in the bands of your board, the mortgagees venture to ask at your hands that which they, and I believe the public, will think just and equitable.
The commissioners have incurred a debt to the mortgagees for monies advanced for the construction of the reservoirs to the amount of about £34,000, as stated in the annexed schedule. That debt is morally the debt of the millowners and occupiers, the money having been used by them for the benefit and improvement of their own private property, and not for any public object.
Morally, every millowner and occupier is liable to the payment of the principal and interest, and no doubt the legislature thought it bad made them so legally. The clumsy machinery of the act had however left loop holes of which parties have not been slow in availing themselves ; and the natural consequence has been a long series of disputes and litigation amongst the millowners, by which the funds primarily applicable to the due maintenance and repair of the works, and the payment of the mortgagees, have been wasted. The works have, as might be expected, been left in an unfinished and dangerous state, unheeded and neglected, and for six years not one farthing of interest or principal has been paid to the mortgagees.
To enable you to comprehend this complicated affair, it is better at once to give an insight into the constitution and mode of operations of this unique “corporate body” of commissioners.
The terms “millowner” and “commissioner” are convertible. The millowners are, with scarcely an exception, all commissioners, and the commissioners must be mill-owners or occupiers. Under the term millowners, therefore, the occupiers must be included.
The millowners, as commissioners, lay and levy the rates, and the same commissioners, as millowners, ought to pay them.
But mark the anomaly! When the millowners, as commissioners, in pursuance of the act, lay a rate, the commissioners, as millowners, individually oppose the levying of it by every means that the act has left open to them. There lies the great, and, to the public, hitherto hidden cause of all the failure of all the reservoir scheme, and of all the quarrels, and ultimately the calamity and disaster that has caused so much pain and sympathy in the public mind.
The millowners, as individuals, will not arrange their quarrels and differences so that the fair rates contemplated by the legislature may beraised. They cannot, therefore, as commissioners, execute the act according to its spirit and intention. The plague spot must remain if the money be distributed amongst the millowners. The interest of the debt lies as a millstone upon the rates, and must paralyse all the efforts of the commissioners, since they constitute the only means by which they can perfect and hereafter sufficiently maintain the remaining reservoirs in a state to avert future calamities.
The commissioners and millowners together have had everything their own way — every difficulty, every obstacle, has arisen from among themselves, and no external pressure has interfered to warp or turn them from their own course. It is for them, therefore, to make out a claim for relief paramount to that of their mortgagees if they can.
In opposition to the present application the commissioners may say the mortgagees are not entitled to your relief, but must look to their securities. If so, I on their behalf reply that the very first attempt that was made by the mortgagees to get possession of the rates was met by the commissioners with an appeal against the appointment of a receiver, which had been made in their behalf by the magistrates of Huddersfield after a long and patient hearing. They may also say, that the same calamity which has injured the millowners has also most seriously injured the mortgage securities. If the commissioners claim the fund, alleging that it has been subscribed for the benefit of the suffering owners and occupiers of mills, after satisfying the more immediate claims of charity, the mortgagees reply, that the public did not intend to contribute funds for the benefit of the very parties whose acts and neglects have caused all the loss and misery that has happened. I also say that the millowners, by their mismanagement of the monies intrusted to them, have disabled themselves from doing justice to the mortgagees, and from taking those measures for ensuring the public safety, which the public has a right to require.
The mortgagees are perfectly innocent parties. Three years ago they offered to make great sacrifices to the mill-owners, to induce them to consent to a bill for which they applied to parliament, by which (if not opposed by the millowners) the charge on the rates would have been reduced very materially, and the commissioners would have been enabled to complete and make safe this very Bilberry Reservoir. Thus all the recent mischief and destitution would have been prevented, and that at a considerable sacrifice to the mortgagees, but of none to the millowners.
The unhappy dissensions of the millowners, however, again prevailed — the bill was opposed with the utmost virulence, and ultimately thrown out.
Under the circumstances, therefore, I, on behalf of these injured and unfortunate mortgagees, respectfully make to your board the following suggestions :—
First. — That by relieving the mortgagees, (and to whatever extent you relieve them,) you are in fact relieving the millowners in precisely that way in which the charitable
Eupublic would wish them to be relieved, viz. — you will annihilate or reduce the interest chargeable upon the rates, thereby enabling the commissioners to expend them, or such reduced amount of rates as may then be necessary to be levied, in the maintenance and repairs of the remaining reservoirs, and keeping them in a state from which the public need fear no future catastrophe.
Thus a fair arrangement with the mortgagees would be productive of substantial benefit to the millowners themselves and to the mortgagees, and could not fail to be satisfactory to the public, because it would be based upon equity and sound policy.
Secondly. — If, on the other hand, you pay over the money to the millowners, what would then be the result? The mortgagees would not receive one farthing of it ; some of the mills and works would probably be reinstated and others not. In cases where the mills were not reinstated, the recipients might retain the money and probably distribute it amongst their families. There the mortgagees would be positively injured, as they would lose the rates of all milk and works not rebuilt, and the owners would be great gainers by a beneficial disposal of their property. But suppose that all should be reinstated, then what would in all probability follow? The rate (which must still be levied) would be still resisted — quarrels and expensive arbitrations and law suits amongst the millowners would continue as heretofore — litigation between the millowners and mortgagees must of necessity take place, (as it cannot be expected the mortgagees would consent to lose their property without a struggle,) and thus the very object contemplated by a generous and humane public would be defeated — the rates would continue to be wasted and squandered — and the fund provided by parliament for the public protection would be entirely unavailable The owners of milk are, with few exceptions, able to bear their own loss and to reinstate their property. On the contrary, many, I may say most, of the mortgagees are poor persons, to whose means of livelihood the monies invested in the reservoirs are of the utmost importance ; many of them (perhaps for the purpose of slightly increasing their scanty incomes) have, in full reliance on the honour of the commissioners, been induced by them to lend their almost little all.
Permit me, gentlemen, most respectfully to submit to you, that you meet not to settle any legal or vested rights or claims. That your mission (as I, and I believe the public, understand it,) is to dispose of a large fund in the relief of innocent parties who have most deeply, without any fault of their own, been injured by one of the most awful, and in its more remote consequences one of the most extensive, calamities that ever befel the neighbourhood ; and lot me further most respectfully submit that the country will look to you to apply their bounty in a way likely, not only to relieve present distress, but to avert, if possible, the occurrence of any similar calamity from the same or like causes.
Let me conclude, gentlemen, by saying that if you should unfortunately feel yourselves powerless to help the mortgagees in the manner suggested, then I implore you to give your most anxious consideration to this one more and last suggestion :—
The millowners or commissioners having been (as it has been distinctly proved), by acts of omission, if not of commission, the authors of the fearful devastation, they are clearly, under present circumstances, not entitled to the relief they seek, and my suggestion is that you should withhold from them altogether any participation in the relief fund, until, either by agreement among themselves or by seeking the assistance of the legislature, they have placed themselves in a position to deal honestly by their creditors, and can show to the public that they have a clear unencumbered income from rates amply sufficient for the protection and safety of the public.
It k not for me to presume to dictate any course of proceeding, but to supply you with information and such arguments as seem to me to be applicable to the case.
As one of the subscribing public, I think I may venture to hint that a small portion of the fund may be judiciously applied in taking some steps for compelling the commissioners to provide for the immediate safety of the reservoirs, and I have no doubt that parliament would willingly assist (if necessary) in controlling a body of commissioners who have so notoriously violated the confidence which it had reposed in them.
- I beg to subscribe myself, gentlemen,
- Your most obedient servant,
- J. C. Fenton,
- Solicitor for the Mortgagees.
- Your most obedient servant,
- Huddersfield, March, 1852.
The Rev. H. Ward rose with the very deepest pain to move a direct negative to this application. He was perfectly willing to concede that the statements put forth in the document were such as must be felt by all to be of a very touching character, and he believed that every gentleman would deeply commiserate the position of the mortgagees, but on this occasion there was something else to look to beside the gratification of personal humanity. With such a conviction pressing upon himself he should propose
- That this meeting regarding as it is bound to do the primary object for which the subscriptions were raised, declares itself incompetent to entertain the application of the mortgagees.
He trusted that they would be unanimous on this question, and that it would not be necessary to enter into any discussion upon it. (Hear.)
Mr. Morley seconded the motion.
Mr. Schofield said that until very lately he was a stranger to all the circumstances connected with this case, but, as it was clear that whatever loss had been sustained by the mortgagees, was brought on by the millowners, as commissioners, he differed from the observations just made. He should have voted for the motion of the rev. gentleman, but it was clear to his mind from the document just read, that the bursting of the reservoir was caused by the mill-owners themselves — he had almost said by their dishonesty in not having paid the mortgagees, and he should propose as an amendment,
- That the claims of both mortgagees and millowners be left to the last.
The amendment was not seconded.
Mr. Rand should like to ask, whether by the adoption of the resolution it was intended to preclude a mortgagee from claiming on other grounds.
The Rev. Mr. Ward — Certainly not.
Mr. Jos. Wrigley assured Mr. Schofield that all the millowners in the Home Valley did not sail in the same boat. He had paid his rates from the commencement.
Mr. Jones wished to know whether the question of the repair of the reservoir was included in the resolution.
The Rev. Mr. Ward — No.
Mr. Joshua Charlesworth had been a commissioner since 1847. The act of parliament indeed rendered every millowner a commissioner; there was no choice in the matter. He could only say that he had never taken any part whatsoever in promoting what had been done by the reservoir commissioners, or in any way whatever beyond what was absolutely necessary in defence of his property. As to the rates he had always paid them.
Mr. W. Barber regretted that Mr. Charlesworth had not attended to those duties, for had the commissioners generally attended to their duties, the calamity would never have occurred. The course proposed by the mortgagees would not afford relief to that class whom the committee were desirous of relieving — the working class. By pursuing, however, the course adopted, the committee were using means which would result ultimately in relief to all classes.
Mr. Wright pressed for a division.
Mr. Hesp thought gentlemen from a distance had come with express instructions, without being furnished with sufficient information on the question before them.
Mr. Wright would assure Mr. Hesp that such was not the case. Mr. Fenton’s letter, he believed, had been before the several committees, and at Hull it had been the subject of considerable discussion. That committee wished to divest their minds of all prejudice, and to take calmly into consideration the claims of the mortgagees, and after discussing the matter they came to the conclusion that as a committee they were bound to act up to the wishes of the subscribers, and to appropriate the money to the relief of the distressed. They felt that they could not entertain the question of the mortgagees. The mortgagees were deeply injured — and indeed he must say he considered the whole affair as rather disgraceful to the neighbourhood and to the West Riding. If there was a surplus, the question might be entertained, but at present it could not.
Mr. Hesp thought that if the question stood over it would afford time for consideration, but submitted that they were now called upon to decide without previous enquiry. The merits of the case had not been fully gone into. There were a variety of circumstances to be considered before the position of the mortgagees could be ascertained, and he thought their claim, together with the restoration of the reservoir, would require minute investigation before they could come to a decision on the question before them. He concurred with Mr. Schofield that the best mode would be to reserve the question, together with that of the millowners, to the last, when a sub-committee might be appointed to investigate the claims of the mortgagees, and to ascertain whether it would be desirable to repair wholly or in part the reservoir. He believed the reservoir might be repaired to an available height for half the amount estimated. He had no personal interest in the question, nor had the Huddersfield gentlemen, but he submitted that they should not come to a decision at present.
Mr. Wright said there was a specific motion before the meeting; all these collateral circumstances would arise afterwards, but he thought they must at once dispose of the enormous and gigantic claim.
Mr. Hesp said it did not follow that because the claim was gigantic it should be wholly adopted or negatived. If a committee were appointed, they would enquire into the circumstances of the mortgagees, and reduce or allow the claims, as the position of the claimants justified.
Mr. Wright humbly submitted that Mr. Hesp was out of order. A resolution had been passed declaring that the question should not be entertained, but still this gentleman was urging delay.
The Chairman — Do you intend proposing a resolution?
Mr. Hesp — No.
The Chairman — Then I certainly think you are rather out of order.
Mr. Jones apprehended that while the question was before the meeting they had a right to discuss it. He thought they could not adopt the resolution without stultifying themselves, for they could not propose the restoration of the reservoir without benefitting the petitioners. Entirely to negative the application therefore would be to shut themselves out from repairing the reservoir, or from doing anything in the matter.
Mr. Hyde replied that the relief would be only incidental. (Hear.) They were mixing up two questions which had nothing to do with each other, whether they should advance money to certain parties who had lent their money on bad security, or relieve them incidentally together with others, by repairing the reservoir. They were merely wasting time in such a discussion. The simple question before them was, whether or not they should entertain a broad claim for £33,000 on behalf of parties who had advanced their money on bad security. (Hear.)
Mr. Freeman did not believe this appeal, and he did not wish it to go forth to the world that every owner of a mill in the Holmfirth Valley was an unjust man. The differences which had arisen were not between the mill-owners and the mortgagees, but between the millowners and the commissioners. The millowners raised the question as to the principle of rating, and when the question was tried, the decision was in favour of the millowners. The mortgagees came before this meeting to claim relief in respect to money lent upon those rates, and he apprehended the only question for them to consider was whether the mortgagees were entitled to any relief from the fund at the disposal of the committee.
The Rev. Mr. Ward thought they were incompetent to entertain the question, and if they went on in the manner they would be there until midnight.
Mr Freeman thought he was quite in order. It was time the act was amended, and the principle of rating properly fixed, so that sufficient rates could be raised to pay the mortgagees. (Hear, hear.) The question as to the restoration of the reservoir was quite a different matter. The destruction of the embankment was a direct consequence of the flood, and if they decided to restore it, they incidentally benefited not only the poor but the mortgagees.
Mr. C. Laycock intimated that Mr. Fenton was in attendance on behalf of the mortgagees to afford any information which might be required, if the committee desired to see him. (“ No, no.”)
Mr. Whitehead, York, objected to the wording of Mr. Ward’s resolution. He believed the committee were not indisposed to do something for the mortgagees, but not in the mode now before them. The motion, however, as at present worded, seemed to put the mortgagees altogether beyond the object of the fund, and be therefore begged to move the omission of the words “declares itself incompetent.”
Mr. J. Micklethwaite would move as an amendment
- That the meeting resolves not to appropriate any portion of the funds raised by subscriptions to the relief of the mortgagees.
The Rev. Mr. Ward conferred with Mr. Whitehead and Mr. Micklethwaite, after which he consented to withdraw the words objected to. The resolution then stood as follows: —
- That this meeting, regarding as it is bound to do the primary object for which the subscriptions were raised, declines to aceede to the application of the mortgagees.
The motion as amended was then put and carried nem. con, after which the Lord Mayor of York vacated the chair, and a vote of thanks having been passed to him, a deputation was appointed to wait upon Mr. Brooke. The deputation returned in a few minutes, accompanied by Mr. Brooke, who was received with acclamation. Mr. Brooke having assumed the chair,
The Rev. Mr. Smith said that before they proceeded further he thought they should express their sense of the proceedings of the local committees, and he therefore begged to move —
- That the thanks of the committee be given to the united committee for their services in bringing the business of this relief fund into the state m which it appears this day.
Mr. Rand seconded the resolution, which was put by the Lord Mayor of York, and carried unanimously.
The Chairman briefly returned thanks on behalf of himself and committee, when the meeting proceeded to the general business.
Mr. Jones said the first question to consider was how they should dispose of the remaining business. The local committees had satisfactorily investigated the various cases brought before them, and prepared the several reports and statistics, and such information as would enable the central committee to take action upon the cases brought them. Large, however, as the committee was, he did not apprehend they would take each case individually, but would decide upon some general principle. He thought the course hitherto pursued of investigating the claims by subcommittee, would be the most expeditious and satisfactory, and be should therefore suggest that the committee sectionalise itself, and report generally at a future day. If they discussed the whole matter in general committee, it would take them some twenty days to get through the business, but by sectionalising themselves, the business might be disposed of in ten days or less.
The Chairman thought that the central committee would not think of again going through the accounts and losses to see that they were correct, and it did strike him they might hit upon some general principle of action. They might take one or two cases as investigated, and having confidence in the local committee, proceed to award on the claims presented. (The chairman then read one or two cases in illustration.)
Mr. Rand should like to know what principle had been adopted in the cases referred to.
The Chairman said the local committee had never been called upon to fix any principle in reference to the cases quoted. Their duty had been merely to ascertain that the claim sent in was upon losses occasioned by the bursting of the reservoir, and whether the amount claimed was a correct one. It was for the central committee to decide upon the relief to be awarded.
Mr. Rand asked whether the local committee could lay down a general principle.
The Chairman thought the central committee would be equally capable of deciding that question.
Mr. Jones said that the local committee, in pursuing their investigations into the claims of the schedules, examined into the articles lost, and the position of the applicant. Suppose a person sent in a claim for £50 for furniture, the committee inquired into the articles lost, and all luxuries or unnecessary articles were struck out. They then inquired whether the applicant was left entirely destitute, whether or not he had lost his work, and upon the facts brought before them they reduced the claim to £20, £15, or £10, as might be deemed necessary, or struck it out altogether.
The Chairman said gentlemen would see that the local committee had formed no definite plan. He thought if two or three suppositious cases were put, it would facilitate business. Let the committee suppose a man had lost £400, and that it was his whole, and then proceed to discuss it.
Mr. Mort thought that was the question — what was the position of the man.
The Rev. Mr. Smith suggested the adoption of a principle of per centage, based upon the position of the claimants.
The Chairman — The claims of the very poor are disposed of.
Mr. Barber thought they should lay down some general principle, and leave the application of it to the local committee, as no one could know the position of the applicants so well.
Mr. Hyde wished to know whether the amounts put down by the local committee was the amount lost, or the amount to which they thought the applicant entitled.
The Chairman said that if a person worth £1000 sent in a claim for £50, and the committee only valued the loss at £40, it was put down at the last amount.
Mr. Abrott said suppose a claim was put in for losses sustained on a mill kept by 20 or 30 persons, to the amount of £400, and on investigation they found that the loss had been occasioned by the neglect of such parties, would they place them in the same position as the unfortunate shopkeeper who had lost all?
The Chairman replied that that was entirely a question for the central committee.
Mr. Mort suggested that they should pass a resolution of confidence in the Huddersfield committee, and authorise them to report to the central committee as to the appropriation of the money. He thought the central committee would be prepared to accept the suggestions of the Huddersfield committee, for it must be clear that any information they received must be through the Huddersfield committee.
The Chairman said that if they put all the claims upon the same footing of moral feeling there would be no difficulty in the matter, but if they made difference on that question — and he felt there was justice in the remarks of Mr. Abbott — then arose the great difficulty, and the Huddersfield committee were desirous in such cases to have the assistance of the central committee.
Mr. Travis understood that there was enough to pay 20s. in the pound to those who had really lost everything, and he was sure the Huddersfield committee were fully competent to enquire into and determine upon the priority of classes Suppose that classes one, two, and three make a claim, he thought they would be quite safe in leaving the question of precedence to the Huddersfield committee.
The Chairman said, notwithstanding that there was 20s. in the pound, individually he had a strong opinion that a person who had lost £1,000, but who was still possessed of £5000, should not be a recipient upon the fund in the same proportion as one who had lost all. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. J. Micklethwaite thought no party ought to be a recipient of these funds who, from neglect, had been auxiliary to the misfortune which had taken place by not raising his voice against the proceedings of the commissioners.
Mr. Jones said the local committee had considered the matter very carefully, and unless the central committee were prepared to give a certain per centage, indiscriminately to all, there was no other mode but going through the cases seriatim. That course would occupy too much time unless they formed themselves into sub-committees.
Mr. Schofield was satisfied that no just decision could be come to in any other way.
The Chairman suggested that a committee should be formed to lay down a general principle of action, and then another to go through the accounts, as he was convinced they must have a general principle to act upon.
An opinion having been expressed in favour of taking one or two cases as an illustration,
The Chairman said there was a case before him. There was a claim from a company for somewhere about £2000. The committee who investigated it thought the claim would be met by £1350. This company consisted of several partners, some of whom they would suppose were well able to sustain the loss whilst others were nearly ruined by it. They would have to classify these cases. Suppose the mill was divided into ten shares, and that each shareholder had lost £135, they would have to enquire into the different circumstances of the shareholders, and award accordingly. If the rich man had lost two-thirds, and the poor man one-third and been ruined by it, he presumed that the latter would be entitled to claim nearly the full amount whilst the former would not be entitled to anything. (Hear, hear)
Mr. Whitehead thought they might adopt some such principle as the. Those who had lost all or three-fourths, to be paid in full; those who had lost half, 15s. in the pound ; those who had lost one-fourth, 10s. in the pound.
The Chairman said that such a principle could not be adopted, for suppose a person worth £20,000 had lost £15,000, they could not think of allowing such a person £15,000. (Hear.)
One of the Deputation enquired what was the largest claim?
The Chairman — With the exception of Mrs. Hirst, the largest loss does not exceed £4000.
Mr. Hyde said it appeared to him impossible to avoid going into the cases. He had expected that the Huddersfield committee would have gone into the matter, and reported to the meeting the amount to which they thought the claimants entitled, but they had simply before them the amount lost.
It being suggested the committee should enquire into one or two cases — taking that of Mrs. Hirst first — the reporters were requested to withdraw. On being again admitted we found Mr. Wright addressing the meeting, and observing that if the committee were to make an abstract of the claims, assisted by the Huddersfield committee, they would be enabled to adjudicate those claims in a much more expeditious manner, and thus relieve themselves of a great deal of labour. At the same time he should like some expression of opinion as to the commissioners claiming relief. The Hull committee entertained a very strong opinion on the subject. He understood that there were many cases where commissioners had been heavy sufferers, but who had made no claims, and he thought, though the commissioners by acts of omission or commission had drawn the calamity upon the valley, the committee should not refuse to restore their milk, by which means they would be giving relief to the poor. He thought it would facilitate business if they come to a general resolution to have an abstract of the claims drawn up.
The Chairman said that nearly all the claimants were commissioners.
The Rev. Mr. Ward — Not of those who have qualified?
Mr. Jones — No.
Mr. Dibb wished to read the following resolution of the Wakefield committee :—
- That no commissioner of the Holme Reservoir be allowed any relief from these funds.
The resolution was adopted on the ground that if a mill-owner claiming was an acting commissioner he was culpable for neglect, and if not an acting commissioner he ought to have protested against the proceedings of the commissioners.
Mr. Wright wished to know what opinion the Huddersfield committee had come to with respect to these commissioners. Did the committee think them entitled to as much relief as others?
Mr. Hesp was satisfied that the committee, consistent with justice, would be incompetent to entertain the question, He was fully persuaded that many of the millowners, though commissioners, were as innocent of the catastrophe as himself. He believed the sole blame attached to one or two individuals, and therefore he thought it would be very unjust to lay the blame on innocent parties.
The Chairman entirely dissented from the opinion that the commissioners as a body were to blame. There might be individual cases where parties acted improperly, but that must not be held to involve all the commissioners.
Mr W. L. Brook said there was no doubt that, some parties were to blame, but he believed the general feeling amongst the inhabitants of the valley itself was adverse to this consideration disqualifying the commissioners from claiming individually.
The Rev. Mr. Smith said that whether a sub-committee was subsequently formed or not, it would he well to consider the larger cases. They would thus be enabled to come to a general principle.
The Chairman concurred, and the reporters were again requested to withdraw.
During the absence of the reporters we understand that interesting and animated discussions ensued upon the sixth and subsequent resolutions (for which we must refer to our advertising columns,) after which the meeting broke up shortly after five o’clock.
MEETING OF COMMISSIONERS.
The adjourned annual and general meeting of the Commissioners of the Holme Reservoirs was held at the office of their clerk, (W. Jacomb, Esq., solicitor,) Buxton-road, on Tuesday afternoon last, for carrying out the purposes of the act, the making of a rate or rates for the current year, and on other special matters. The meeting was convened for four o’clock, and at that hour there were the following Commissioners present: Joseph Brook, Esq., Messrs. Joseph Broad-bent, George Robinson, Joshua Littlewood, Sidney Morehouse, John Roebuck, James Robinson, Edward Butterworth, G. Haigh, Firth Barber, William Haigh, Richard Haigh, Abel Cuttell, John Hinchcliff, Washpit ; John Hinchcliff, Barnside; Enoch Vickerman, Joseph Mellor, and James Holmes.
Joseph Brook, Esq., was appointed chairman, after which the Commissioners proceeded to the business before them.
The sub-committee (Messrs. S. Morehouse, George Robinson, and Joshua Littlewood,) appointed at a previous meeting to examine and audit the accounts, now brought them up and laid them on the table.
The Chairman desired the auditors to report to the meeting as to whether the accounts were correct or otherwise, as the balance sheet on the table was not signed.
Mr. Littlewood — We have examined the accounts and compared them with the vouchers, and found them correct.
The Chairman — Do the other members of the committee concur in that report?
Mr. S. Morehouse replied that they did with one reservation. Considering it proper that Mr. Jacomb’s accounts should be taxed, and not deeming themselves (the committee) competent to tax a solicitor’s bill, they had not gone into those items, and the committee were prepared to recommend them to be referred for taxation.
The Chairman said they would be aware that the period was limited within which the right of taxation could be claimed.
Mr. F. Jacomb understood Mr. Morehouse merely to refer to the charges of the clerk included in the present accounts.
Mr. G. Robinson begged Mr. Jacomb’s pardon. He understood Mr. Morehouse’s motion to be retrospective to some extent. There were items in the balance-sheet entered as paid by the clerk, which had never seen daylight, and which he contended ought to have been put down as paid on account.
Mr. F. Jacomb said they could not be entered as paid on account. The terms of the order would not allow it.
Mr. Robinson could not understand why they should not be so entered. If, however, Mr. Jacomb would give a guarantee that the clerk’s bills should be taxed, he had no further objection to urge.
Mr. F. Jacomb had already offered such a guarantee in writing, and was prepared to repeat it, so far as the present accounts were concerned, but in the absence of his father he could not give such a guarantee in reference to the past accounts entered as paid.
After a few further remarks from the Chairman, Mr. G. Robinson, Mr. S. Morehouse, and Mr. Jacomb, in reference to some accounts said to have been passed in 1849, but of which no one seemed to have any recollection,
Mr. Sidney Morehouse said he thought it was time, in justice to the mortgagees and others who had invested money under this act, that a proper audit should be completed, and he therefore begged to move —
- That the accounts of the clerk (Mr. Jacomb) be referred to Mr. Dixon, deputy clerk of the peace, for taxation.
Mr. George Haigh seconded the motion.
An irregular discussion ensued, in which the Chairman, Messrs. Morehouse, G. Robinson, J. Littlewood, and other gentlemen took part, after which
The Chairman said he was sure Mr. Jacomb, if met in a courteous manner, would do everything that was honourable, and he therefore thought it would be better to have Mr. Jacomb present, and to hear what he had to say on the subject. He did not think Mr. Jacomb would offer any objection to the taxation of the past accounts, but they could not expect young Mr. Jacomb to give a guarantee to that effect.
Mr. F. Jacomb quite concurred in the remarks of the Chairman, but they would not, in the absence of his father, expect him to give a guarantee in reference to accounts of which he knew nothing, and which had been paid whilst he was in London.
Mr. Littlewood then moved that the accounts do pass, and that Mr. Jacomb’s charges included therein be referred to Mr. Dixon, deputy clerk of the peace, for taxation.
The motion was not seconded, and ultimately Mr. Morehouse withdrew his motion, and it was agreed that—The further consideration of the accounts be adjourned for a month (on the motion of Mr. Robinson, seconded by Mr. R. Haigh), in order to afford Mr. Jacomb an opportunity of being present to offer any explanation he might deem necessary.
The next business brought before the meeting was the laying of new rates, on the assessment and report of Mr. Hall, which were laid on the table.
The Chairman said he did not think it necessary that this report should either be moved or seconded, but in order that any person might be competent to raise a question upon it, he would, in the event of the meeting declining to do so in the usual manner, move its adoption from the chair.
Mr. G. Robinson was not aware what was the amount of the rate, but he did think that before they made a rate on the Bilberry stream they should have something like an idea how the money was to be expended. It would be very hard for the ratepayers to pay for a reservoir which did not exist. He should not object to the Holme Styes Reservoir being repaired as soon as Mr. Bateman gave in his estimates, nor was he desirous that the repair of Bilberry should be pressed at present, but he thought something like a general expression of opinion should be made by the Commissioners, that it should be attended to ultimately.
The Chairman and others concurred, after which, in answer to one of the Commissioners, it was stated that the rate would be about the same as the previous one, which amounted to £1186 6s. 7d.
Mr. Robinson — What is the rate on the Bilberry stream?
Mr. Morehouse replied £430 13s. He concurred with Mr. Robinson that it was very hard that parties should be called on to pay rates in reference to Bilberry reservoir, which did not exist, but at present it could not be avoided.
Mr. A. Cuttell thought the hardship was equally great in reference to the Bilberry stream, for the water was all drawn off, and the millowners on that stream were virtually without a reservoir.
Mr. J. Hinchliffe, Bamside, thought they had no alternative but to lay the rate. (Hear, hear.) Parties receiving no benefit could appeal, and he supposed those so situated would do so.
Mr. Littlewood moved, and Mr. J. Hinchliffe, of Barnside, seconded, that the rate as prepared by Mr. Hall, be allowed.
The motion having been put and carried the following gentlemen were appointed the Drawing Committee for the year ensuing :— Messrs. S. Morehouse, A. Cuttell, R. Haigh, Jos. Broadbent, Joshua Moorhouse, G. Robinson, John Hinchliffe, of Barnside ; D. Hinchliffe, of Washpits ; Jos. Mellor, E. Butterworth, James Holmes, and Jos. Wrigley.
APPOINTMENT OF TREASURER.
It appearing that there was a resolution on the books, (subsequent to the one rescinded at the last meeting,) appointing Mr. D. Marsden, manager of the Huddersfield Banking Company, treasurer,
Mr. George Robinson moved, and Mr. A. Cuttell seconded,
That the resolution of the 30th of May, 1845, appointing Mr. D. Marsden, manager of the Huddersfield Banking Company, treasurer to this body, be and is hereby rescinded, and that Mr. James Charlesworth, manager of the Holmfirth Branch of the said bank, be and is hereby appointed his successor.
The motion was carried.
Mr. G. Robinson was desirous that some effort should be made to pay the debt due to the Huddersfield Banking Company, and he thought they should at once commence to pay them £200 per year. He, therefore, begged to move, “that in the opinion of this meeting £200 per annum should be paid to the Huddersfield Banking Company in liquidation of the debt.”
Mr. Broadbent — How much is it ?
Mr. Robinson — £725 3s. Id.
Mr. R. Haigh seconded the motion, which was earned.
THE REMOVAL OF THE CLERK.
Mr. G. Robinson rose to renew his motion (adjourned from the last meeting) proposing the dismissal of the clerk and the appointment of a committee to take possession of the books and papers ; and also that a non-professional man be advertised for as clerk, at a salary of £40 per annum.
Whilst Mr. Robinson was on his legs, several gentlemen left the room, and Mr. Littlewood proposed, seconded by Mr. D. Hinchliffe, that the meeting do adjourn.
The amendment, on being put, was lost, after which Mr. Robinson proceeded to state the grounds on which he submitted his motion to the meeting, stating that the heavy bills continually being presented by Mr. Jacomb had induced him to take this course, and concluded by saying that he thought the services of a non-professional man would be much more satisfactory and more economical.
Mr. Vickerman seconded the motion.
The Chairman thought the motion was imprudently worded, and would only tend to involve the commission in litigation and unpleasantness, and he, therefore, hoped Mr. Robinson would withdraw it.
Mr. Robinson expressed his determination to press it to a division, but, ultimately, he gave way to the suggestion of his friends, and withdrew it, on the understanding that the subject would be renewed in the presence of Mr. Jacomb at a future meeting.
The meeting was then adjourned to that day month, and the board broke up.