History Newspaper Archives

See Forthcoming Events heading for more details:Regular Dragonfly boat trips, Swindon||Check out the Forthcoming Events tab for exact details.

Newspaper Archives 1880 - 1889
1883-1887 Shareholders Meetings

3 items of interest to the shareholders in the 1880s.

Nov 3 1883

Wilts and Berks Canal Company-
The annual meeting of shareholders was held at the Company's Offices, Swindon, on Friday, October 26th, the chairman, Mr Turner, presiding.
A dividend was declared at the rate of six per cent for the year ending September 30th, and upon the proposition of the chairman it was unanimously resolved that the sum of £50 be presented to MR H G. Allen as a testimonial for his services during the past five years as secretary and manager to the Company, and in view of his intended journey to Australia for the benefit of his health.

April 25 1885.

Wilts and Berks Canal Company
The half yearly meeting of this company was held at the offices, Swindon, on Friday, when a dividend of six per cent was declared and paid.

March 26 1887

Wilts and Berks Canal Company.
The first half yearly meeting of shareholders was held at the company's office at Swindon, on Friday, the chairman, Mr Henry Taylor, presiding.
In moving the adoption of the report, the chairman congratulated the company that they were able to show a balance in their favour, after paying all liabilities up to the 25th March. He stated that from that date their expenses would be considerably reduced as they had effected a reduction in salaries of £370 per annum, and relet their wharves and premises at an increased rent of £300 per annum. This included the house, and land, and wharf at Swindon, which the late manager had free of rent, the saving thus effected would be sufficient to pay six per cent, on the paid up capitol of the company, and he trusted that with this economy and the increased rents, combined with the amount to be received for tolls, would be such as to give the proprietors a handsome dividend in the future.
Mr. G.F.Fox seconded the adoption of the report, and the shareholders were highly pleased with the future prospects, the chairman alluded to the death of Mr Robert Pictor, of Box, one of the directors of the company, and spoke of the valuable assistance he had rendered since its formation.
The whole of the directors then retired from office in accordance with the Act of Parliament, and the following were elected for the ensuing year: Mr. Henry Taylor, Windsor Terrace, Clifton: Mr. Thomas Turner, Grove House, Swindon: Mr. George F. Fox, Keynsham: Mr. Adam Twine, Wootton Bassett: and Mr. James Hickins, Tyneham. Mr Edward Ormond, solicitor, Wantage, and Mr. Lewis, Wooton Basset, were appointed auditors.
A vote of thanks to the chairman for his valuable services during the existence of the company was unanimously carried.

Swiindon Evening Advertiser

 
December 1889: Canal Traffic to Bristol
We have the satisfaction this morning of announcing an important step towards the improvement of the means for conveying heavy traffic from the port of Bristol.
It is well known that for twenty years past the policy of the railway companies has been to obtain possession of the canals in their districts, or at any rate to acquire a controlling interest, so as to smother their competition. It has long been contended by Mr F.r Conder, CE and others that it is a mistake in their own interests, because it involves carrying by rail a quantity of heavy minerals and other traffic at rates which are not remunerative, while it interferes with the earning power of the railways in more profitable directions.The policy of the continental railways is different.
It was once deduced from figures that the Great Western Company only received three-tenths of a penny per ton for every ton of coal they carry in order to pay for a carriage of sixty miles ! At the same time it has been felt that the practical closing of canals has been a great detriment to mercantile interests, because it removes the only formidable competitor of the railways, and the Railway and Canal Traffic Act of 1888 contains clauses for the emancipation of the canal interest.
In order to follow these up and see what can be done with them, a number of gentlemen interested in the traffic between Bristol and London have bought the Wilts and Berks canal with the intention of entering into active competition with the Great Western Railway.
This leaves the Kennet and Avon canal at Semington, a few miles this side of Devizes, and passes through Melksham, Lacock, Wootton Bassett, Swindon, Shrivenham and Challow to the Thames at Abingdon. The Kennet and Avon canal, which joins the Thames and Reading, has the advantage of giving a distance of 23 miles less between London and Avonmouth, but against that has to be set 28 additional locks, as it ascends to a much greater height.

Swindon Advertiser - December 16th 1889

 
1888 :The Railway & Canal Traffic Act
The Wilts and Berks Canal at one time enjoyed considerable traffic but the Great Western Railway Company, having control of the Kennet and Avon Canal over which all its Bristol traffic has to pass from Semington, has been able to checkmate it.
The Act of 1888 has, however, effectually prevented any extension of the power of the railway companies over canals, for section 42 forbids any railway company, director, officer of the railway company without express statutory authority, to allow any part of the company's funds to be applied for the acquisition of any interest in any canal undertaking. The terms of the section are most comprehensive and provide that if it is contravened the interest acquired shall be forfeited to the Crown, and the persons who are to blame shall be liable to repay the company the sum expended and the value of the forfeited interest and proceedings for the recovery of this exemplary penalty may be taken by any shareholder of the company.
But the action of the legislature has not ended there, for section 33 provides that "where a railway company, or the directors or officers of the railway company, or any of them or any person on their behalf have the control over, or the right to interfere in or concerning the traffic conveyed or the tolls, rates or charges levied on the traffic of or for the conveyance of merchandise on a canal or any part of a canal, and it is proved to the satisfaction of the Commissioners that the tolls, rates or charges levied on the traffic of or for the conveyance of merchandise are such that are calculated to divert the traffic from canal to railway, to the detriment of the canal or persons sending traffic over the canal - the Commissioners may, on application of any person interested in the traffic of the canal, make an order requiring the tolls, rates and charges levied to be altered or adjusted, in such a manner that the same shall be reasonable compared with the rates on the railway."
But the Paddington Board (GWR) have also formulated bye-laws, which while they show a benevolent regard for the well being of their servants, which might well be extended to the guards and signalmen on the line, have also acted very effectually in restraint of trade. They prevent all Sunday traffic, they do not allow boats to pass through any lock after 9pm or before 4am, so that a boatman, instead of being able to make a forced march so as to speak, and get through in a day, has to lay-by at 9pm, however near he may be to his destination, and suffer the delay and expense of being out all night.
But in section 40 of the Act, all existing bye-laws cease to have effect unless duly authorised by the Board of Trade within such a time as it shall prescribe, and no new bye-laws may be enacted without its sanction. Moreover, with regard to the existing or future bye-laws the Board of Trade may at any time give the canal company notice of disallowance and then the bye-laws will cease to be in force.
Further, if the canal is not kept in proper condition, and it is contended that the Kennet and Avon needs clearing of mud, the Board of Trade can send down an inspector with all the powers of a Railway Inspector. We should add that the Wilts and Berks canal is connected by a short branch from Swindon, through Cricklade with the Thames and Seven Canal, into which new capital is about to be thrown with a view to developing it as a means of transit.
It will, we think be seen that with the new energy which is to be bestowed upon the management of the Wilts and Berks Canal and the resolute determination of the Legislature to foster canals, there is every propsect of much increased facilities for getting heavy goods from Bristol to London. In the end we believe even the railway companies will benefit, for they will be relieved of a class of traffic which is of no good to them, and which they will eventuallt see they have no business with.

Swindon Advertiser

 
March 1887: Half yearly shareholders meeting
The first half yearly meeting of the shareholders was held at the company's offices in Swindon on Friday, the chairman Mr Henry Taylor presiding. In moving the adoption of the report, the chairman congratulated the company that they were able to show a balance in their favour, after paying all liabilities up to 25th March.
He stated that from that date their expenses would be considerably reduced as they had effected a reduction in salaries of £370 per annum, and relet their wharves and premises at an increased rent of £300 per annum. This included the house, and land and wharf at Swindon which the late manager had free of rent,, the saving thus effected would be sufficient to pay six per cent, on the paid up capitol of the company, and he trusted with this economy and the increased rents, combined with the amount to be received for tolls, would be such as to give the proprietors a handsome dividend in the future.
Mr G.F. Fox seconded the adoption of the report and the shareholders were highly pleased with the future prospects, the chairman alluded to the death of Mr Robert Pictor of Box, one of the directors of the company, and spoke of the valuable assistance he had redered since its formation. The whole of the directors then retired from office in accordance with the Act of Parliament, and the following were elected for the ensuing year:
Mr Henry Taylor, Windsor Terrace, Clifton - Mr Thomas Turner, Grove House, Swindon - Mr George F Fox, Keynsham - Mr. Adam Twine, Wootton Bassett and Mr James Hickins, Tyneham
Mr Edward Ormond solicitor, Wantage and Mr Lewis, Wootton Bassett were appointed as auditors. A vote of thanks to the chairman for his valuable service during the existence of the company was unanimously carried.

Swindon Advertiser - March 26th 1887

 

 
November 1885: The Canal Boats Act
John Pope of Bath, canal boatman, was summoned charged with using the "Emily Annie" within the district of the New Swindon Local Board, without having the same registered as required by the Canal Boats Act.
Mr W.H. Kinneir appeared to prosecute and said the boat was the property of the Wilts and Berks Canal Lessees, who had since the issue of the summons had it properly registered, therefore he did not ask for more than a nominal penalty.
Mr Hodson, the manager of the canal, appeared for the defendant and pleaded guilty, saying the boat had only just come out of the dock at Bath, where the authorities refused to register boats. Formal evidence of the use of the boat having been given, the Bench inflicted a fine of 1s and costs of £1 16s 6d, promising to inflict the full penalty if any more of these cases came before them

Swindon Advertiser - November 7th 1885

 
October 1885: The Canal Boats Act
George Britton, 31 canal boatman from Wootton Bassett was summonsed to the New Swindon Local Board for whom Mr W.H. Kinneir appeared, charged with using a boat within the district as a dwelling house without having the same registered.
M. Simpson, the inspector said he saw the defendant with boat called the "Berks champion", there was a woman and three children living in a very small cabin. Defendant said he never heard of the act before or anything about registration, and did not know that he was doing any harm. Mr Kinneir said he did not wish for a heavy penalty. Fined 5s and £1 13s costs.

Swindon Advertiser - October 31st 1885

 
April 1885: Half yearly Meeting

The half yearly meeting of the Wilts and Berks canal company was held at the offices in Swindon on Friday. A dividend of six per cent was declared and paid.

Swindon Advertiser - April 25th 1885

 

 
November 1883: Shareholders Meeting
The annual meeting of the shareholders was held at the Company's offices in Swindon on Friday, October 26th, the chairman Mr Turner presiding.
A dividend was declared at a rate of six per cent for the year ending September 30th and upon the proposition of the chairman it was unanimously resolved that the sum of £50 be presented to Mr H.G Allen as a testimonial for his service during the past five years as secretary and manager to the Company and in view of his intended journey to Australia for the benefit of his health.

Swindon Advertiser - November 3rd 1883

 
April 1882: Avonmouth docks and the canals
The Bristol post says - "We understand that a project is on foot for developing the carrying facilities of the extensive canal system which exists between this city and several of the inland counties and a company has been promoted, chiefly by merchants and others interested in the Avonmouth dock, to be called the Bristol Port and channel warehousing and canal carrying company.
Arrangements have already been made with the Directors of the Wilts and Berks company for the lease of that undertaking. The intention is to improve the means of transit by canal and to offer increased facilities not only for the general carrying trade, but for the distribution throughout the country of large stocks of American produce which are now received at Avonmouth and in the old port.
Carrying by water can be conducted so much more cheaply than by railway that the new scheme promises to be a very formidable rival of the Great Western Railway, which serves the district traversed by the canal. The Wilts and Berks is 66 miles in length and extends from Semington, near Melksham to Abingdon, where it meets the Thames, and the junction with Bristol is formed by the Kennet and Avon Canal. That canal carrying can be carried out at a profit has been shown by the vigorous management of the Wilts and Berks canal by its present directorate.
When they assumed its control about six years ago it was earning no dividend for its then proprietors, but ever since that time the shareholders have received dividends varying from four to five per cent per annum. The traffic further up the Kennet and Avon canal is also being developed by Messrs Gerrish and Co, limited and doubtless the water highway will be used a good deal more freely by tradesmen in the locality.

Swindon Advertiser - April 29th 1882