HUDDERSFIELD AND MANCHESTER RAILWAY AND CANAL COMPANY.
The usual half-yearly assembly of this Company took place in the Board Room, at the station, Huddersfield, on Friday, the 25th ult. William Aldam, Esq., Chairman of the Company, presided. There was a tolerable muster of shareholders present.
The Secretary (Mr. Gilmer) read the following
The balance sheet of income and expenditure to 31st December last has, according to the usual practice, been circulated amongst the shareholders.
“Since the half-yearly meeting in August last, it has been the endeavour of your Directors to decrease, as far as was consistent with the interests of the shareholders, the rate of expenditure on the works, on account of the extraordinary depression in the money-market; and with this object they have proceeded at a uniform speed only with these portions of the works which would require the full time for completion, or where the safety of the public was concerned; and they have deferred those works which were of easy construction, and where postponement would not prevent their being finished simultaneously with the heavier portions. The expenditure has, notwithstanding, been very considerable — the payments for works, land, and compensation, and stock, amounting to £166,451 13s. 9d. during the half-year. To meet these demands, calls have been made as follows, namely:— a call of £3 per share on 9th September, and one of £2 per share on 7th December on the “unpaid up” £30 shares, and two calls of £1 per share on the third-shares, payable respectively on the same dates. These calls, your Directors are happy to state, have been well responded to-the arrears at 31st December amounting to £34,927; but as £19,204 of this amount was due on the call payable on 7th December, the arrears on previous calls were only £15,673, and at the same date the payments in anticipation amounted to £11,322.
“With reference to the calls due, your Directors have not failed to remind defaulters of their arrears from time to time; and while they have been desirous of making every allowance for the very severe commercial depression, from which the country has not yet recovered, they feel that it is due to the shareholders who have paid up the calls already made, that a limit should be set to the delay in payment of the arrears, and they have accordingly given notice of their intention immediately to declare forfeited the shares upon which the calls due respectively on 1st May, 1846, 2nd November, 1846, and 2nd February 1847, have not been paid : but your Directors trust that the forfeiture of these shares will be rendered unnecessary, by the payment of the arrears previous to the expiration of the legal notices, which have now been issued.
“The loans received to 31st December were £120,145; since then additional tenders have been received, and the loans now accepted amount to £137,695.
“Your Directors refer with satisfaction to the balance sheet, shewing the revenue from the portion of the line between Huddersfield and Heaton Lodge Junction (a distance of 33 miles), which has been opened for traffic since August last. The number of passengers conveyed during that period were:—
the number of miles travelled (including day tickets) 475,184. The merchandize traffic has only been in operation since the beginning of December, and the tonnages during the month were upwards of 1,749 tons. By agreement with the Lancashire and Yorkshire Company, this Company do not at present manage this traffic, but only supply the locomotive power for the goods conveyed over the line, and this arrangement will continue in operation until the opening of the Leeds and Dewsbury line. The expenses of working a short line are usually heavy, and in this instance your Directors have been under the additional disadvantages of providing the necessary staff for working a branch joining a main line of railway (the Lancashire and Yorkshire) with which they are not amalgamated. To afford proper accommodation to the public, trains have been run to and from Huddersfield in connection with every train of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Company which stops at Heaton Lodge Junction. — These trains are at present thirty-four daily.
“The purchase-money for Sir John Ramsden's Canal has been paid, as will be seen by a reference to the balance sheet; and your Directors are happy to say that the canal is now in good working order. The controul of this canal has been in their hands only since the 22nd July last: but since that time several important alterations have been effected, and the superintendence of both canals confided to one officer. The saving which will be obtained in the working of the two canals under the present arrangement, is estimated at upwards of £600 per annum.
“For full information as to the progress of the works during the last half-year, your Directors beg to refer to the report of your engineer, Mr. Alfred S. Jee, which is appended.
“In compliance with the provisions of “The Companies' Clauses Consolidation Act, 1845,” Messrs. William Aldam, Jun., Joseph Brook, Joseph Starkey, and Joseph Stocks, four of the Directors, and Mr. Francis Shaw Buckley, one of the auditors of the Company, retire from office at this time. They are eligible for re-appointment, and should the proprietors desire a continuance of their services, they will, in continuing to fill the offices, they now hold, use their best efforts to pro mote the interests of the Company.”
“I have the honour to lay before you the following, report upon the state of the works on your Railway:—
“The viaduct at Stalybridge is nearly completed, all the arches being turned with the exception of two. The iron-work for the Rasbottom Street, crossing is not yet provided, but no time will be lost in doing so. At the Stalybridge tunnel, great difficulty has been experienced owing to the soft and wet nature of the ground, but I am happy to state that only eighty lineal yards remain to be completed. The bridges and earthwork are in a forward state between Stalybridge and the summit.
“The Scout tunnel requires 37 lineal yards to be constructed before its completion. At the Uppermill viaduct all the piers are built to the springing level, and three arches have been turned, leaving twenty arches still to be built. I regret to have to say, that owing to want of proper management on the part of the contractors, a cessation of the works has been the consequence, and the Company have been obliged, under the powers of the contract, to carry on themselves those portions of the works where delay would have postponed the opening of the line.
“The summit tunnel at Standedge has been carried forward by the contractor (Mr. Nicholson) with a rapidity and in a manner fully equal to my expectations. There are now 35 faces of operation fully manned, and the rate of progress is about 70 lineal yards per week. 2,850 lineal yards have been completed, leaving 2,474 still to be done; and I have every reason to believe that in twelve months from this time, the permanent road will be laid through out its whole length. The number of men employed upon this work is 1,326.
“Between Marsden and Huddersfield the works are in a tolerably forward state, but have been stopped owing to the cause mentioned above, the same contractors having undertaken to execute this portion of the line and not having carried out their engagement. Those portions requiring to be pushed on have been taken in hand by the Company, and the paddock cutting and Huddersfield tunnel have been carried on at a proper rate of speed. A total length of 7 miles of permanent way have been laid, and about five miles in addition are ballasted and ready to receive the rails. As soon as you are in a position to do so, it would be advisable to re-let the whole of these works for a fixed sum, and if this step be taken, I do not apprehend any delay in the opening of your line, which I think may take place in the spring of next year.
“The station at Huddersfield has been carried or slowly during the winter, sufficient accommodation having been provided for the working of the traffic between Huddersfield and Cooper Bridge. A temporary goods' shed has been erected, as also platforms for the unloading of cattle, and several coal shoots are in the course of construction. The buildings for the repair of your engines and working stock are nearly completed. The portion of you line between Huddersfield and Cooper Bridge already opened to the public, has been worked in a satisfactory manner, and your stock of engines and carriages are in very good working condition.
“Cooper Bridge Branch. — This branch, forming a junction with the Lancashire and Yorkshire in a westerly direction, has been carried on at a very fair rate of speed. The long arch under the Birstall turnpike-road is completed, and nearly all the other masonry is finished. The earthwork also is in forward state, so that in a month or two the permanent rails will be laid and the line may be opened for traffic.
The Chairman, in moving the adoption of the report, said he was happy to congratulate the proprietors upon the satisfactory nature of the traffic. They had only commenced carrying merchandise on the 1st December, and yet the total receipts amounted to £2,757 12s. 1d. Such an amount of receipts on only 4 miles opened were greater than they could have anticipated. Their merchandise traffic would have commenced much earlier, had it not been for some negotiations pending with the Lancashire and Yorkshire Company, and their unwillingness to leave the control of their traffic to another Company. When the Leeds and Dewsbury line was opened, this subject would then become a matter of fresh arrangement. Another portion of their future traffic would shortly come upon the line; he alluded to coal, as a number of coal shoots were now ready, and he felt assured that a considerable amount of income would accrue from that source. The canal, late the property of Sir John Ramsden, had been under their management near six months, and in looking over the balance sheet, he saw that a large amount had been expended on repairs, but in future the cost of repairs would not exceed one-third of that sum. The present heavy charge was owing to the bad state of repair in which they found the works when handed over to the Company. He was glad to say that the Marsden tunnel was rapidly progressing, that he had no doubt the entire line would be opened throughout in the spring of 1849. The Chairman then alluded at some length to the charge of £52,406 for law expenses, which he, in common with all the Directors, deeply regretted. They had decided on having one Bill taxed, and he had no doubt it would lead to a great saving. The hon. gentleman's speech was well received by the proprietors.
Mr. Abel Shaw, of Saddleworth, wished to know if the amalgamation would be completed with the London and North-Western Company, when the trunk was opened?
The Chairman replied in the affirmative.
Mr. A. Shaw – Would the proprietors then come in to the receipt of dividend?
The Chairman – Yes.
Mr. A. Shaw said there had been considerable expense incurred in law suits, which might have been avoided.
The Chairman thought not, for Mr. Hurrop, of Delph, asked £3,000 for his land, which they resisted, and subsequently he accepted £1,800.
Joseph Armirage, Esq., Milnsbridge House, censured the heavy expenses for repairs on Sir John Ramsden's canal.
Joseph Brook, Esq., Vice-Chairman, said that the two canals had been delivered over to them in a bad state of repair, but they had effected considerable improvements, and placed them under efficient management, which would save the Company £600 per annum. The trustees of Sir John Ramsden had expended nothing on repairs for the last two years; for instance, the basin had not been sludged for seven years, and they had been obliged to expend near £600 to do it effectually, but in future the annual cost would not exceed £30. Although some shareholders might think the salary paid to Mr. Carter too much, yet it was impossible to have a more efficient officer, as he looked after every thing, and paid great attention to developing the canal traffic. (Applause.)
Mr. Joseph Shaw, of Huddersfield, said that, in rising to make a few remarks, he must first congratulate the proprietary on the clear and lucid statement made by the Chairman on the position of their affairs, and the satisfactory answer given by their Deputy-Chairman to the questions of Mr. Armitage, and secondly, for the satisfactory declaration that all the calls had been well met. He rejoiced at this, because it shewed, to a certain extent, the fallacy of the London Times, in asserting that 15 millions of arrears were owing on railway calls. He utterly disbelieved it, for all the half-yearly reports he had seen negatived the assertion. (Applause.) He had looked over the balance sheet, which the Secretary had forwarded to each shareholder, with a jealous eye, with a view of discovering some extravagance with which he might find fault. It was the duty of every proprietor to investigate the position and the management of his Company, instead of reposing a blind confidence in the Direction, which often led to malversation and extravagance. Notwithstanding his zeal to hunt out errors, he was obliged to confess his happiness in being disappointed, and that he should give the adoption of the report his warmest support. Before touching on the railway expenditure, he would glance for a moment at the canal traffic, which had fallen short of his expectations. He wished to view matters through a correct medium, as he had no wish to deceive or be himself deceived. They had given Sir John Ramsden £46,000 for his canal, which would require a net income of £2,300 to pay 5 per cent. For the last six months they had only netted £672 2s. 6d., notwithstanding the dues had been 1s. 6d. person; but as they were new reduced to 6d. he was afraid there would not be that increase of traffic to compensate for the reduction. Why the canal had been leased he could not tell, for he felt convinced it would be a loss to the shareholders. He was glad to find the Huddersfield and Manchester canal was in a better position, and he would venture his opinion that the zeal and unremitting attention of his friend Mr. Varley, to whom his brother Directors had delegated the chief management, would be shewn in the full development of its traffic. (Applause.) It was only justice to the Directors that the shareholders should know that notwithstanding the Huddersfield and Manchester canal had cost them £180,000, yet of that sum £100,000 would be saved in the formation of the new tunnel, leaving only £80,000 for the cost of the canal, warehouses, and a quantity of valuable building ground in Manchester. (Great applause.) Besides this advantage, it would prevent ruinous competition, which he looked upon as the bane of railway property. Having disposed of the canals, he would now call their attention to the railway, which he was glad to hear would be opened in 12 months, and judging by the enormous traffic which had passed over the four miles already opened, he anticipated that the Huddersfield and Manchester line would be one of the most productive in the kingdom. In speaking of dividends, care should be taken to keep down the expenditure, or the dividends would be curtailed. He knew of many lines that were suffering entirely from this cause, but he hoped better things of their Directors, seeing they had sent one lawyer's bill for taxation. (Cheers.) He believed there were no charges which required looking after with greater vigilance than “law charges” and “engineering.” He had on former occasions, both at meetings and through the press, denounced the extravagant charges which he had seen both in this and other Companies under these two heads. He was, from conviction and reflection, firmly persuaded that many of those changes had been extravagant, and, regardless of any censure, he should fearlessly state his mind on the subject. (Hear, hear.) For many gentlemen of the law he entertained the highest respect, and therefore he was not making war upon individuals, but upon the system. The system was in fault, and who were to blame? Let the shareholders who had shrunk from their duty reply. Perhaps, if fate had made him a lawyer, he might have seized upon the prey with as keen a grasp as any of them. (Laughter.) On the present system of charges, no wonder that engineers purchased lordly manors, and solicitors drove their carriages and pair, out of the suffering shareholders' money. He wished them to bear in mind, that on this short line of 26 miles, including branches, they had already paid £75,800 in lawyer's and engineer's bills, and he was sorry to hear that thousands remained unpaid. (Hear, hear.) He was much afraid that £80,000 would be expended under these two heads, before the opening of the line, on what he must denominate unproductive labour. It was monstrous to think they should be called upon to sink £3,000 per mile for such a purpose, and the apathy that had been shewn; but, like other abuses, it would work its own cure, and he hoped the day was not far distant when Directors would bestow all their sympathies upon the fleeced shareholders, instead of their overgorged functionaries. (Loud applause.) To shew the absolute injury that is inflicted on railway stock through the interference of lawyers, he begged to refer them to Mr. Russell, the Chairman of the Great Western Railway Company, though, in doing so, he had no sympathy either with that Company or the Directors, for he believed there was not such a lawyer-ridden Board in the nation. Mr. Russell had stated publicly, that negotiations were proceeding amicably between a deputation from the Great Western and the Birmingham and Oxford Companies, when it was unfortunately decided to call in an attorney on each side, and from that moment all conciliation and compromise was at an end. Such was the system, and such was the way in which the shareholders' money was squandered; what was death to them was life to lawyers. He sincerely hoped their Chairman would keep them out of Parliament, out of law, and out of Chancery. He then thanked Mr. Abel Shaw for speaking out as he had done, but regretted he had not made better use of his materials. He confessed that he viewed with the utmost dismay the many lawyers that had been engaged by that Company, and trusted that the Board would speedily reduce them. He could not say with Solomon, “In the multitude of counsellors there is safety;” for, unfortunately, their lawyers had not kept them out of law. Mr. Shaw then referred to the case of Mr. Lees, residing near Staleybridge, who had sued the Company for heavy damages, and obtained verdicts, he believed, both at Liverpool and since in London. This lawsuit might have been avoided had their lawyers done their duty. In conclusion, he called upon the Directors to tax every bill, to economise expenditure, to proceed energetically, and they might rest assured of their shareholders' support. Mr. Shaw sat down amidst great applause.
The Chairman, after briefly expressing his hearty concurrence in the views so ably propounded by Mr. Shaw, put the motion, which was carried unanimously.
Joseth Armitage, Esq., proposed the re-election of the retiring Directors, which was seconded by William Barker, Esq., and carried unanimously.
J. Lees, Esq., in proposing the re-election of the auditor, made a long speech in favour of a different mode of appointing auditors, which led to a desultory conversation.
Mr. Jeremiah Riley somewhat abruptly inquired of the Chairman if there was any truth in the paragraph which was going the round of the papers, that the London and North-Western Company were going to amalgamate with the Lancashire and Yorkshire Company, when the Chairman assured Mr. Riley there was no truth in the report. Several shareholders here said it was a mere stock-jobbing article, intended, no doubt, to deceive some simple tons into purchasing Lancashire and Yorkshire stock.
William Barker, Esq., proposed a vote of thanks to the Chairman, which was carried with acclamation, and the meeting broke up.
HUDDERSFIELD AND MANCHESTER RAILWAY AND CANAL COMPANY.
At the ORDINARY HALF-YEARLY MEETING of Shareholders, held in the Board Room, at the Huddersfield Station, on Friday, the 25th day of February, 1848.
It was moved by the Chairman, seconded by Joseph Brook, Esq., of Greenhead, and resolved:–
That the Balance Sheet of Income and Expenditure, and the Reports of the Directors and Engineer now read, be received and adopted.
It was moved by Joseph Armitage, Esq., of Milnes Bridge House, seconded by William Barker, Esq., of Clare Hill, and resolved:—
That the following gentlemen who have gone out of office, be and are hereby re-elected Directors of this Company, viz.:— William Aldam, jun. Esq., of Frickley Hall, near Doncaster; Joseph Brook, Esq. of Greenhead, Huddersfield; Joseph Starkey, Esq., of Woodhouse, near Huddersfield; and Joseph Stocks, Esq., of Shibden Hall, near Halifax.
It was moved by James Lees, Esq., of Delph Lodge; seconded by Abel Shaw, Esq. of Saddleworth; and resolved:—
That Francis Shaw Buckley, Esq., of Innstead, Saddleworth, who has gone out of office, be and is hereby reelected one of the Auditors of this Company.
It was moved by William Barker, Esq., seconded by John Gatliff, Esq. of Huddersfield, and carried by acclamation:—
That the thanks of this meeting be given to Mr. Aldam, for his able conduct in the Chair.