07 September 2009

Canal Accounts for 1847

By Trevor Ellis

While visiting a recent postcard fair, I was offered a copy of the Balance Sheet of Income and Expenditure for the Huddersfield and Manchester Railway and Canal Company to 31st December 1847. These accounts were for a half year and were to be submitted to a meeting held at Huddersfield Station on 25th February 1848. 

In order to try to relate these to the happenings on the canal, I first checked Hadfield's "Canals of the British Isles", from where it appears that the accounts are only three years after the H.M.R.C. Company was formed. He also says that the whole undertaking was vested in the London & North Western Railway in 1847, suggesting they may even be the final separate accounts. However, there are a number of discrepancies between the accounts and Hadfield, which led to me checking Stanley Chadwick's "All Stations to Manchester", though the same numerical discrepancies appear there. From that account it is also not entirely clear when the L.& N.W.R. took over full management - possibly not until the line was completed from descriptions of a Directors' celebration of the opening of the whole line on 13th July 1849.

There is no single valuation for the Narrow Canal in the accounts, though there is a figure for Sir John Ramsden's Canal. The Narrow was paid for by an exchange of shares as part of the amalgamation, while the Broad Canal was purchased separately from the Trustees of Sir John Ramsden. Thus the accounts show "5551 (5552 in Hadfield/Chadwick) shares at £30 per share given to canal proprietors in commutation", totalling £166,530 (around £12,989,340 today, based on an internet site which quotes £100 in 1847 as being equivalent to £7,800 at current prices) plus "Money payment to proprietors of 620 canal shares (687 in Hadfield/Chadwick), at a rate of £25 per share" totalling £15,200 (equivalent around £1,185,600), which would value the Narrow at £181,730 (around £14,174,940 today) (£183,730 according to Hadfield). 

The accounts show the amount paid for Sir John Ramsden's Canal in the period covered by the accounts as being £45,912 1s 9d (around £3,581,156). Hadfield quotes a price of £46,560 and suggests it was bought in 1845, whereas according to Chadwick, the transaction was to take place a year after the Huddersfield and Manchester Railway and Canal Act of 21st July 1845 - the accounts suggest that payment may have been later still and there is some mention that the authorised capital of the Company had to be increased, which may have caused delay. It is possible that some of the discrepancies in the shares may be due to the total liability appearing in the minutes, while the accounts show actual payments made for shares, though this still would not explain the Broad Canal discrepancy, on what was a straight cash purchase. 

The railway side of the business at this time is noticeably smaller than the canal - income from "Coaching" £2,478 17s 6½d (approx. £193,362), "Parcels and Mails" £141 9s 6½d (approx. £11,037), "Merchandise" £117 11s 10d (£9,173). Total income was £2,757 12s 1d. (equivalent to £215,093). The reason for this is that the railway had only recently opened from Huddersfield to Cooper Bridge on 2nd August 1847 and it would be nearly two years before the line to Manchester opened. According to Chadwick, quoting from the minutes of the meeting in the February, 121,801 passengers had been carried since the opening. 

The Narrow Canal account shows "Dues" as £3,015 13s 7¼d out of a total income figure of £4,218 16s 4¼d (equivalent to £329,066). The Broad Canal had income of £1,345 6s 3d (£104,933). Among the items of expenditure for the two canals are those shown below.

It is interesting to note that the Tunnel accounted for around a quarter of the repair costs on the Narrow. The higher cost of "sludging" on the Broad is presumably down to the fact that it receives its water from the river. The figures for lock-keepers on the Broad suggest that as many as four may have been employed, given a wage of around 13s or 14s per week paid on a comparable canal at that period and that these accounts only cover six months. (Two lock cottages are known, though that at Lock 1 is double.) The figure of £531 7s 7d for the Narrow would give a figure of around 30, which seems high, but that would give two people to every 5 locks or so, comparable to the Broad.

Both canals show a profit at this stage and clearly the railway had not made any significant impact on their freight traffic by replacing them as carriers, with most of its business being in the "coaching" trade. Work in Standedge Tunnel must have had some effect on the through traffic on the Narrow Canal but it is difficult to tell how much from Chadwick's account. He does mention that, in the Summer of 1846, work was mainly on the shafts and approach cuttings, but from the fact that the railway tunnel was to be completed by January 1849, there must have been some effect in this period from the 40 boats mentioned as being engaged in moving spoil out of the tunnel. However, the lack of any alternative would certainly not have given the Company the luxury of closing the canal tunnel as happened with the building of the final tunnel in the 1890s.

31 May 2009

New Leaflets for Society

A new leaflet has been produced by the Huddersfield Canal Society, promoting the canal.

The leaflet opens out to an A3 double-sided map showing the main features of the canal along with interesting and useful information.

Special thanks to Roger Platt and his colleagues at Tameside who have worked with the Society to finalise the design and print of this new leaflet which will be distributed to tourism outlets throughout the north of England.

Anyone who would like a supply of leaflets should contact the Society (contact information on Home Page).