RAILWAY AND INDUSTRIAL HISTORY OF THE SOUTH WEST BLACK COUNTRY

 
 

 

 

  1665

AN
ANSWER
As well to a PAPER, Entituled


REASONS wherefore the making Navigable of the Rivers of Stower and Salwerp in the County of Wocefter, will be of great advantage to the County of Salop. and efpecially to the Towns of Shrewsbury, Bridge-North, Wenlocke, Wellington, and Towns adjoyning to the River of SEVERN.
As alfo to another Paper, Intituled, An Anfwer to fome partiall pretences, called, REASONS difperfed by fome Shropfhire Coal Mafters.
Since it is not unknown that perfons of great worth and Honour are engaged in carrying on the faid Navigation, whofe more ferious bufineffe will not permit them to look into the ill confequence of the things intended, or that may happen by it. Nor have they ever feen any of the Shropfhire Works, or Engines now ufed therein, whereby to underftand the great charges incident thereunto; but in all probability have hither to proceeded upon the bare information of others, who chiefly defigne their own advantage more thatn the publique good. It is therefore thought fit to publifh this following account of the bufineffe, as well for the fatisfaction of thofe Honourable perfons, as all others concerned therein.

I.
If Stower fhall be made Navigable, the Country can have not affurance that by that means they fhall be fupplyed with Coals, in regard of the many contingencies thereunto incident, as in a Paper formerly printed is at large fet forth. Nor can the Undertakers of the faid Navigatio give the Country caution that the price of Coals fhall not be enhanced, having none but what they muft buy of others, who ( in all reafon) the work once perfected, will make their beft advantage of their goods, which they may fell at what rate they pleafe if Shropfhire Works be deftroyed.
II.
It is confeft that Aftley Furnace hath been partly fupplyed with Charcoal out of Hamond-Woods, and other places in Shropfhire; which doth only fhew that the faid Country is ftored with great plenty both of Wood and Coals, and is nothing at all materiall to the thing in difpute: And yet is it not probable, or to be believed, that Wood is likely to be fo dear in Worcefterfhire, as is alleadged, fince very good Coppice-woods lying within two miles of certain Iron-works, now belonging to one Mr. Hubands of Hipfley in the faid County, have of late ftock’d, and ftill are ftocking up, and the Land converted to Tillage, the truth whereof in not unknown to fome of the Undertakers of this Navigation.
III.
Whereas it is alleaged that the Works in Shropfhire may vend their Coals to the Towns and places thereabouts. It is anfwered t.......... at Brofley, Maudley, and Benthall in Shropfhire, from whence all the Towns and places downwards upon Seavern are now fupplyed, lye........ner between two fuch inacceffible hills (Seavern running between them) that neither Carts nor Horfes can paffe from them with any burthern.....and to fupply the places thereabouts, were there need fo to do. But on the contrary, all the Countrey round about them doth fo abound with Coales, that there is not fale for the tenth part of thofe that might be gotten in other adjacent Works. The truth of all which is evident to all that know thofe parts.
IV.
And for him that hath taken upon him to publifh in print that of 100000. Tuns of Coals yearly fent down Seavern from Shropfhire Works (as in a former printed Paper is fet forth) not 35000 Tuns are fold below Bewdley. By fuch his calculation, he fhould be the fame perfon * that faid he would make Stower Navigable within three Moneths after he began the fame. For ‘tis evident, and will be made appear, that 100000. Tuns of Coals are yearly fent down, and very few of them fold above Bewdley.
V.
If Coals have been fometimes wanting at Worcefter, Gloucefter, and other places as is alleadged, the fame hath been occafioned for want of Storehoufes there to unload their Barges into; the Owners of them having been conftraned fometimes to lye on the River at the faid Towns and places, before they could fell their Coals, fo long, whileft they might have otherwife made another Voyage or Return, having not been permitted to unload, but as they could fell their Coals, which caufed fometime a want, and thereby the price to be raifed; which otherwife would have been at a conftant cheap rate at every Town: for the fcarcity proceeded not from a want of Coals at the Works, but of carriage from thence ..an.. the fame thing will fometimes be, whofoever fhall undertake the fupply of thofe Towns, unleffe ftore-houfes be built for the laying up a ftock w... time beft ferves for the Barges to paffe.
VI.
Whereas Shropfhire Coal-Mafters are charged that they are unwilling to lofe the power ( now in their hands) of abufing the Country. .... defired, that the Undertakers of the faid Navigation, before they further proceed to deftroy the certain Trade now on foot, may give the ........ good affurance not onely to furnifh them with Coals, but alfo to do it at as reafonable rates for the time to come, as the Shropfhire Coal-Mafters w... perform both, and then may they have fome better pretence to force men to fell their Land againft their wills, and for fpoyling fo much good ....dow ground in thofe parts fo precious, as of neceffity they muft do, if they go on with their intended Project.
VII.
If the Water Engines now on foot in Shropfhire Coal-works, be fo inconfiderable, as in the aforefaid Paper is fet forth, the Author thereof may make himfelfe a good advantage, to whom 200 l. per Ann. fhall be given to maintain the Engines, and drain the water but of one Work now on foot there. And though he faith there are but four Works in which Engines are ufed, yet is it too well known th the refpective Proprietors of thofe Works, that there are feverall Engines ufed in feven of them, and fuch (though in that Paper craftily termed Hand-pumps) as force water a thoufand yards through bored Timber: And thofe feven Works lying deeper and lower that the reft, drayn all the others, and if neglected, will drown them alfo.
VIII.
How the Bargemens work will be enlarged by the taking off their Trade forty miles upon Severne, is a Paradox. And ‘tis to be admired how any man could have the confidence to affirme and publifh in print, that Coal-Barges never go fo high as Welfh-poole or Shrewsbury, or down fo low as Briftoll, when every Bargeman is able to teftified the untruth thereof, to whom ‘tis left to certifie their knowledge.
IX.
Whereas it is alleaged, that were Coals more plentifull, more would be fold: And that greater Barges can fwim below Stower-Mouth, than above. It’s anfwered, could fale be had, double the quantity that now is, would be fent down from Shropfhire Works. And it will be made appeare by the oaths of honeft and fuffucient Barge-men, that when they have paffed with their loaden Veffels from Shropfhire Works below Stower-Mouth without any lett (the water being one the fame) they have been inforced to inburthen their Veffels of part of their loading at Larford, Redftone Ford, and other Fords lying all below Stower-Mouth before they could paffe them. By which it is evident, that when Barges can paffe from Stower-Mouth, they can fo do from the Shropfhire Works. The only difference is, Shropfhire Coal-Mafters have often, and can now fend down 1000. Tuns of Coals to Worcefter in one day from their Works, and be there a day fooner than any quantity can from Stowrbridge Works, fetting out at one and the fame time refpectively, for that the Boat-men upon Stower will be (as the Undertakers themfelves confeffe) inforced to go creeping with but fixe or eight Tuns in a Boat, and that through fourteen or fifteen Locks, when as fifty Tuns and more are ordinarily conveyed down to Worcefter in one Barge from the Shropfhire Works.
X.
Laftly, If this project be of that benefit to the Countrey as is pretended, and doth not rather refpect the private Intereft of the Undertakers thereof. It had been but reafon for the Lord Windfor and others (inftead of rejecting) to have complyed with the Propofition to them made by the Shropfhire Coal Mafters before the late adjournment of the Parliament, which was, That Commiffioners being Members of Parliament of the Honourable Houfe of Commons for the Counties concerned, might have been appointed during their adjournment, to have viewed both places, and to have reported their fenfe of the whole matter to the Houfe, by whofe Judgement the Shropfhire Coal-Mafters would have been content to have ftood or fallen.