HUDDERSFIELD AND MANCHESTER RAILWAY COMPANY.
A special meeting of the original shareholders in this undertaking was held in the Guildhall, Huddersfield, on Thursday, June 4, in conformity with the Sessional Orders of the House of Lords. The projects to be sanctioned were the diversion at Huddersfield, on the Manchester and Leeds line, the branch to Bradford, and also a branch to Oldham.
Wm. Aldam, jun., Esq., M.P., in the chair, and he stated at length the nature of the several Bills to be submitted. The Cooper Bridge branch was to be a mile and a half in length, extending to Bradley Wood, and was to be made as a fork upon the Manchester and Leeds line, in order to avoid making a detour, as the line, as at present laid out, went towards, Leeds. The estimated cost of this branch was £30,000. The next Bill was for making a branch from the main line at Shaw Hill to Oldham, the estimate of which was £159,000, and would be about four miles long. It would pass through a population of an industrious character, and the Parliamentary population of Oldham alone was 70,000. There had been some competing schemes with this, but satisfactory arrangements had been made with them. He (the Chairman) had no doubt their junction at Oldham with the Oldham Districts Company would be a means of affording them much additional traffic. The third Bill was the most important, because it would involve the largest outlay, and on its construction would produce much new and important traffic. Mr. Gee, the Engineer, had revised the plans and sections, and he was satisfied the outlay would not amount to more than £55,000 a mile. The length of it was to be 9½ miles, and the gross amount required would therefore be £500,000, and the traffic which was calculated upon would seem to justify it. This would be in competition with the West Riding Union scheme for about 7 miles to Bradford, which was to be made at an expense of £100,000 a mile, and on that line between
Huddersfield and Bradford there were two gradients of 1 in 50, whereas on the projected branch of this Company, there was not a worse gradient than 1 in 100. The line to Bradford was one of the greatest importance, and 5 miles shorter than the route by Halifax, and would take in several places as nearly as possible direct north and south of the line. The railway from Bradford to Huddersfield was part of a chain of the north and south railway, which must form the direct communication between Bradford and the south, and a great stream of traffic from the lines north of Bradford, might be expected to be opened along, this. Company's line. He (the Chairman) hoped Parliament would entrust to this Company the making of this branch. But going north of the West Riding Union line at Cleckheaton, it was possible some terms might be come to with the promoters of that line, or terms might be imposed by the legislature. He added that it was possible the legislature might require this Company to run into the West Riding Union line at Cleckheaton, and if so, this Company would be required to raise £180,000 instead of £500,000. He thought, however, there was a strong case in their favour for the whole Bill.
In answer to a question put by a shareholder,
The Chairman said, interest would be paid on calls at a rate not exceeding 5 per cent.
Mr. Shaw, who had previously been opposed to this branch to Bradford, now strongly supported it, after a mature examination of the maps, being satisfied that it would supply an important means of transit, and would make Huddersfield a central town for railway communication.
Mr. Gatliff, of Leeds, dissented from the proposition sanctioning the Bradford branch, because the cost of its construction would fall heavily upon the shareholders, and he knew original holders of canal shares who would be unable to pay the calls which would necessarily be made if this project were carried out. He thought it ought to be suspended, unless the Directors would relax their calls with respect to such parties as he alluded to.
After some observations from Mr. Leigh Brooke, showing the importance of this branch to the Huddersfield and Manchester Company, and denying that the original shareholders had a right to expect the consideration which Mr. Gatliff sought for them, each of the Bills were unanimously affirmed, with the exception of that for the Bradford branch, which was dissented from by Mr. Gatliff and Mr. Armitage.
Mr. Shaw asked the permission of the Chairman to call the attention of the meeting to an editorial article which had appeared in Herapath's Railway Journal on the Saturday week previously. He said a more disgusting or libellous article had never come under his notice, reflecting seriously upon the Directory of this Company. It was untrue from first to last, and no doubt put forth to serve a certain purpose. He knew that their Directors were men of integrity, and ability, and honour, and that they were using even y means to accomplish the completion of this undertaking, with the management of which they were entrused by the proprietary. [After some other strong remarks in condemnation of the writer in this publication, Mr. Shaw read a long article in which it was stated the Directors were deceiving their shareholders by not expediting the works upon their line, and that only three or four workmen were engaged upon it.]
The Chairman said, immediately on the passing of their Act, the purchase of the land had been made, and the works as far as practical proceeded with. The progress of the Huddersfield and Cooper Bridge branch was obvious to any one passing that way. There had been some little delay owing to the contracts having to be somewhat modified, but the works were now going on along the whole of the line with great rapidity — and the Directors had agreed to open the line from Cooper Bridge to Huddersfield on the 1st of May in next year. He read a detailed enumeration of the number of men and appliances at work upon the line, which showed that the total number of men engaged on the works of the Huddersfield and Manchester line was 1,361, the number of horses 128, and 5 canal boats. The works were in as forward a condition as upon any other line which had received the sanction of Parliament within the same period, and this was amply borne out by the statement of the force which they had now actively employed. With respect to their financial affairs he was happy to say they had funds in hand adequate to meet all their immediate demands, a great portion of which had arisen from the £5 call per share which had been necessary for the payment of Sir John Ramsden's canal. Of that call there was an arrear of £60,000, and in their bankers’ hands there was a sum of £94,000, so that they had in the bank, or in the hands of proprietors who had not paid up their calls, upwards of £150,000. He (the Chairman) hoped this statement of the progress of the works, and the condition of their pecuniary resources, would satisfy the shareholders that the Directors had not neglected their interests.
The statement of the Chairman was received with unanimous satisfaction, and several shareholders loudly denounced the shameful attack which was contained in the publication alluded to. On the motion of Mr. Leigh Brooke a vote of thanks was unanimously accorded to the Chairman, with acclamation.