RAILWAY AND INDUSTRIAL HISTORY OF THE SOUTH WEST BLACK COUNTRY
Vol. 1, No. 17 ] SATURDAY, 27th., APRIL, 1867 [ Price 1d.
CELEBRATION OF THE OUTCOME OF W. H. FOSTER ESQ.,
The eldest son of Mr. W. O. Foster M.P., completed on the 9th., instant his twenty first year, and this event it was determined should not pass unmarked in Stourbridge, connected as the Foster family has so long been with the town and its material well being. Mr. Foster was at the time kept in London by his parliamentary duties, and this and other reasons lead to the celebrations of his sons coming of age being postponed until the present Easter week. The inhabitants of Wollaston did indeed hold their festivities on the day itself, but elsewhere they were deferred. At Stourbridge on Monday, the town was made gay with flags and evergreens, and preparations were rife in connection with the reception of Mr. Foster and his son in the town. The entrance and approaches to the Corn Exchange were enlivened with evergreens and banners, and again in the neighbourhood of the Talbot they were particularly luxuriant. The arrangements for the day included the presentation of an address to Mr. W. H. Foster, at a public meeting of the inhabitants; and this was to be followed by a dinner at the Talbot Hotel. Earlier in the day the agents and other principal employees of Mr. W. O. Foster went out to Stourton Castle, and presented his son with an address.
The meeting at the Corn Exchange was numerously attended, and the room, indeed, became quite crowded in the end. Ladies there were present not a few, and their interest in the proceedings was probably not less than that of the other portion of the audience. The arrival of Mr. Foster and his son was hailed with applause.
The Rev. Hugh Sherrard acted as chairman. He said he had to present to Mr. William Henry Foster on the interesting event of his attaining his twenty first birthday. The name of Foster had been so long identified with the best interests of Stourbridge, that he was sure it was unnecessary to explain the reason why they felt it incumbent upon them to present a small token of their esteem and respect in that public manner. The name was identified in their mind with integrity, uprightness, liberality, benevolence, and public spirit. He not say that it was one of the appointments of Providence in the world in which they lived that distinctions and inequalities should always prevail among men in various matters, an one of these was in the possession of wealth. There was a tendency, amid the progress of civilisation, that wealth should accumulate in some few hands, but he felt they should never be dissatisfied with their position with regard to such wealth if they passed into hands so worthy and deserving of it as those of those of Mr. Foster. (Cheers.) In a town and neighbourhood like that, were there was a great population and a large trade, and were, as he trusted, the interests of trade would continue to thrive, as they had hither too thriven, there were a variety of objects for social, moral, and religious improvement of the people, and in the accomplishment of these purposes and object they always looked to the possessors of wealth to assist them in their carrying them out; and he need not say that wherever there had been any such object, anything for advancing the interests of the town and neighbourhood, anything to benefit mankind socially, anything to promote interests of morality and religion - whenever the object was a good one, and it had been fairly laid before Mr. Foster, he had always been equal to the occasion in his liberality and public spirit. (Cheer.) They felt it therefore but a duty incumbent upon them that they should testify their high respect to Mr. Foster by presenting that address of congratulation to his son. Mr. Sherrard then referred to Mrs. Fosters character, and the esteem in which she was held, and concluded by reading the following address:–
“Congratulatory address from the inhabitants of Stourbridge and neighbourhood to William Henry Foster, Esq., on his coming of age, April 9th., 1867, presented to him at a public meeting held in the Corn Exchange, Stourbridge, April 22nd., 1867.
“Dear Sir, - WE, the inhabitants of the town and neighbourhood of Stourbridge, decide to offer you our sincere congratulations on your attaining your majority.
“We should indeed be ungrateful and inconsiderate if we did not on such an occasion both feel and express the warmest interest in your welfare, and our best wishes for your future happiness.
“The honoured name which you bear has been long and happily associated with Stourbridge and its facility.- The material interest of our town and district have been largely promoted by the employment given for so many years to hundreds of the labouring population, by the liberal patronage accorded to the trading community generally, and by the kind and generous contributions of your father and your late uncle to works of public utility and ornament.
“Education and religion have also been greatly benefited by your fathers munificence, and not only has a new church and school of great architectural beauty been endowed entirely by him, but the other churches and educational establishments of this town and neighbourhood are deeply indebted to him for his continued liberality and support.
“In your respective parents the poor have always found benevolent and sympathising friends; and for many years every good work originated and carried on for the advancement and material, social, and religious well being of the community has been large indebted for their success to their generous and timely assistance.
“It is not always that such liberality attends the possession of wealth, and we therefore congratulate you on being the heir of a name so much honoured and respected among us. We sincerely hope that the high personal qualities the parents may be continued in their son, and that you, who, with Providence, inherit their name, may be long and happily spared to use your position and influence for the same worthy and elevated object.
“Once more we beg to congratulate you on so interesting an occasion and to wish yourself and your family all future prosperity and happiness.
“Signed on behalf of the inhabitants of the town and neighbourhood of Stourbridge.
“HUGH SHERRARD, chairman.
Mr. W. H. Foster said that anything he could say would be totally inadequate to express to them the feelings of gratitude with which he received that address. Their kind reception of him that day convinced him of their friendship, and of their interest in his welfare, but still he should be most wrong if he thought himself worthy of that honour, and did not recognise in it their mode of expressing the esteem entertained for his father. (Cheers.) He should endeavour to prove himself hereafter worthy of the honour they had that day done him, and he hoped they would never have to regret having shown him that mark of their good will. (Cheers.) His family, as they said had been associated for many years with Stourbridge and the neighbourhood, and the prosperity of the one had been happily connected with that of the other. He trusted these long associations would long remain undisturbed - (cheers) - and when ever he looked upon that beautiful illuminated address, he should be reminded that he had ties that bound him to Stourbridge, strongest of all ties - that of friendship. He had again to thank them for their kindness, and he most heartily wished them everything that might conduce to their happiness and welfare. (Cheers.)
Mr. Ackroyd then made some remarks apropos to the occasion and felicitated Mr. Foster on seeing his son attain his majority while he himself was in the prime and vigour of life. The best possible wish that could be uttered in respect to the son was that he might become a better man than his father, and it might be in some respects he would fail in achieving that if the experience of his father did not enable him to succeed. He could not add to the eulogies which had already been made, but he could say for himself, and for all present, and for many who were unable to be present, that the name of Foster was honoured and respected through the entire of the neighbourhood - (cheers) - and he might go further, and say that there was not a part of the world where civilisation obtained but that name conferred blessing, although with a degree of modesty which could not fail to commend itself to reflecting minds. The name of the firm remained now, as of old, “John Bradley and Co.,” (Cheers.) He hoped father and son would long live to enjoy the blessings with which they were favoured. (Cheers.)
Mr. W. O. Foster said he could not venture to reply to the too flattering terms in which his name had been referred to by his friends Mr. Sherrard and Mr. Ackroyd. He could only take the manifestation of that day as one of the many acts of kindness of the inhabitants of Stourbridge to his family. He must ever consider the wealth of that town and that of his family as going hand in hand together. (Cheers.) The town was associated with his earliest recollections, and whenever he might be and wherever he might be, and as long as he lived, he felt that town must be a centre where his chief and greatest interests where concentrated. He took the greatest interest in its prosperity, and any efforts of his to aid it would not only be a pleasure, but his chief and greatest interest. (Cheers.) he had been gratified beyond expression at the kind manner in which he was welcomed while dwelling there, and he could only repeat how much he appreciated their kindness, and wished them all health and every prosperity. Mr. Foster also acknowledged, on behalf of Mrs. Foster, the kind allusions which had been made to her.
Hearty cheers were then given for the Foster family, and the meeting dispersed.
Took place at the Talbot Hotel, the assembly room of which was nicely laid out for the purpose.
Lord Lyttleton occupied the chair, and on his right and on his left were Mr. W. H. Foster and Mr. W. O. Foster, M.P.; Mr. W. Ackroyd was in the vice-chair. The company numbered a hundred gentlemen, and many more would have been present if the accommodation would have sufficed for a greater number. Amongst those present were Mr. H. W. Foley, M.P.; Mr. H. F. Vernon, M.P.; and many gentlemen from a distance as well as those of the immediate neighbourhood, who formed the bulk of the company.
The chairman gave the loyal toast, and then proposed the “Bishop and Clergy and Ministers of all Denominations.” Lord Lyttleton referred to the assistance Mr. James Foster gave to the erection of Amblecote church and to Mr. W. O. Foster’s erection of Wollaston church and schools.
The Rev. R. P. Turner responded to the toast, and also the Rev. D. Maginnis.
Mr. Foley, M.P., proposed the “Army, Navy and Volunteers.”
Colonel Westhead responded to the toast.
The chairman then proposed the toast of the evening. They had all of them come there prepared, and has long been prepared, to drink the health of Mr. William Henry Foster; nor was there anything which he could say which would stimulate their feelings of heartiness and good will on that occasion. The significance attached in all their leading families to the arrival of a full manhood of the eldest son was deeply rooted in the feelings and affections of the country. (Cheers.) If there were any persons in this country who desired to see a total revolution in the institutions and character of this country, these persons might know that no mere alteration in their political framework or system of laws would have any sufficient effect towards such a revolution as long as the social habits and instincts of the people remained. (Cheers.) Nor was there anything, he believed, more deeply rooted in the feelings of the people that the significance attached to the coming of age of their eldest son. He had no doubt the present one had been present in the minds of some in that room for one-and-twenty years. (Laughter.) Though it was only of late it had become particularly significant. During the time the less youthful Mr. Foster present had held the position in the iron trade which he did, they had known his liberality and right feeling, and many excellent social qualities, and they looked forward some of them to the son occupying the worthy position the father had done. (Cheers.) They had, therefore, come together to give utterance to the feeling of pleasure and sanguine hope which the present event inspired them with. The noble chairman then referred to the estate Mr. Foster had just acquired in Salop, and while expressing his deep regret at the long continued decay of an ancient family, which had now come to its inevitable catastrophe; he said there was no one to whose hand he would sooner see it pass than the Foster family. He concluded by proposing Mr. Foster’s health, and three times three were given in his honour.
Mr. W. H. Foster most heartily thanked them for the kind manner in which they drank the toast, and for the cheers that accompanied it. He deeply felt the honour they had done him in asking him there to dinner, and coming, some of them, a long way to meet him. He trusted their first meeting would not be their last. His chief regret at leaving that neighbourhood would be that he left behind him so many kind friends and pleasant associations. He hope they would excuse his saying more then, as he had a great tax upon his oratorical powers that day - (laughter) - and a little went a long way to one unaccustomed to public speaking. (Laughter and cheers.) He again thanked them, and then resumed his seat.
The Rev. G. Gilbanks proposed “The Magistrates of Worcestershire and Staffordshire,” to which Mr. H. O. Firmstone responded.
Mr. Vernon, M.P., proposed “The health of Mr. W. O. Foster."
Mr. W. O. Foster said he sure he could not too deeply thank them for the kind manner in which they had received the toast. To see a son grow up to twenty-one, in good health, was a pleasing thing; and it was more pleasing that that son had discharged his duties to that time satisfactorily. He hoped his sons duties to society would discharged in a like manner. In his career at school and college he had never given his mother or himself any anxiety. Whenever he left home he felt that wherever he went he would do right, and he never regretted his confidence which he placed in him. He was much indebted to them for the kindness they had so long manifested towards him. It had been stated, rather inaccurately that his father and uncle had both came here from Cheshire. This was an error. They were born in Stourbridge, but the family came from Cheshire. His grandfather married a widow with one son, from who the works derived their name. He believed the foundations of the old concern were not very good. They had to drive piles at the bottom of the town to keep things good, owing to the effects of the forge hammers, and chimney fell in the canal - (laughter) - and he fancied by that time the money was almost gone. His father had to go to Cheshire to three uncles who lived there, to get some fresh sinews of war. The firm had gone through the roughs and smooth of life. It weathered the stormy times of 1816. The founder of the firm died about that time, and his father was a father was a comparatively young man then. Considerable failures of banks were then occurring, and everything was gloomy. They stood the wreck of those times when older houses came to grief, and there they were at the present time. With energetic managers, the path of life was now different to those who proceeded him. Lord Lyttleton had alluded to the purchase he had lately made, and the probability of his leaving the neighbourhood in consequence. It would, however, only cement the ties which bound him to the place. He should feel they were still neighbours; he should be only be a few miles further off. This place would continue as before; and he fully intended to follow out and pursue those avocations to which he had heretofore his time. It was a duty to his family to do so, and he felt it also a duty to society and the general community. He hoped when he was gone the old concern would still exist. He greatly appreciated their kindness towards himself, and thanked them for the hearty manner in which they had drunk his health.
The chairman proposed “The Town and Trade of Stourbridge,” in which he was deeply interest as a near neighbour. He was please with the municipal alterations which had taken in the town, putting it on much the same footing as other places, and he was gratified at the progress the town was making in various ways. He connected with the toast the name of Mr. Ackroyd, and made some humorous remarks in reference to that gentleman occupying the position of vice on that occasion.
The Vice-Chairman responded to the toast, and in the course of his remarks referred to death of old inhabitants of the town which had occurred of late. He spoke of the manufactures of the town and neighbourhood, and expressed his belief that the prospects of the trade of the place were better than they had ever had been before.
Several other toast were afterwards given.
In heartiness and vigour the festivities of Mr. W. O. Foster’s workmen in honour of his eldest son’s outcome, far surpassed the other demonstrations in celebrations of that event.