RAILWAY AND INDUSTRIAL HISTORY OF THE SOUTH WEST BLACK COUNTRY
Vol. 1, No. 37 ] SATURDAY, 14th., SEPTEMBER, 1867 [ Price 1d.
HALF YEARLY MEETING OF THE STOURBRIDGE RAILWAY COMPANY.
"The fifteenth half yearly meeting of the above company was held at Messrs. Harwood, Shepard and Harwood's offices, at Stourbridge, on Monday afternoon. Mr.Acroyd presided. There was an average attendance.
The report of the directors was as follows:- "The directors beg to inform the shareholders that the Stourbridge Extension Railway was opened for traffic on the 1st. April last. Although the line, as respects stations, and other minor works, was not completed in accordance with the provisions of the agreement with the Great Western Company, of the 1st. June 1866, it was deemed advisable by both parties no longer to defer opening the railway; and it is therefore worked under the heads of a provisional agreement, mainly founded on the original agreement of 1863, which provides for a net payment of 50 per cent of the gross receipts to the Stourbridge Extension Company, with a rebate on all traffic from and to the West Midland Section. The directors have pleasure in stating that since the opening of the railway, both through and local traffic, so far as the latter could be conducted in the absence of the necessary station accommodation, have equalled their own expectations, as well as that of the working company. The Directors have the satisfaction of recommending the usual dividend at the rate of 4 per cent per annum for the six months on the Stourbridge Railway, and at the rate of 4 per cent per annum on the Extension Railway for the three months during which the line has been open to traffic."
The Engineer (Mr.Wilson) report ran thus:- "I have pleasure in reporting that, since the opening of the line, on the 1st. April last, to Handsworth and Smethwick, the permanent way and works (still in the hands of the contractor) have been well maintained, and the whole are in the same unfinished state as in my last report, but since that time the telegraph has been put up between Stourbridge, Handsworth and Smethwick, and is in complete working order."
The Chairman said if it was not for the experience that most of them had in railway matters, the first sentence of the report might appear strange, seeming at was the fifteenth half yearly meeting of the company. But there were a variety of circumstances which interfered with the general expectation of persons engaged in railway transactions, and not unfrequently one was the postponement of the time when their desires could be accomplished. Unfortunately the Stourbridge Railway was no exception to the rule. At the same time considering the nature of the country through which the line passed, and the difficulties with which the construction of the railways generally, and of this one in particular, had to deal, and also taking into account the state of the country at large during the period which had elapsed since obtaining their Act, he thought they had not much reason to complain; and, though later than they could have desired, the line was at length in working condition, and performing pretty nearly the whole of the obligations which were entered into by the directors of that company, and the proposals which they submitted to Parliament and to the public. The works, he thought, he might venture to say without fear of contradiction, so far as they were completed, could not be exceeded by the works upon any railway in the kingdom, at all events through a similar district, and that they were fully adequate to all the requirements there could be no doubt. Though it did not affect their position in regard to dividends, it never-the-less would be satisfactory to the shareholders to know that at the present time the Stourbridge Railway proper and also the Extension Railway were not at all running into debt with the Great Western Railway Company beyond the amount which was covered by the rebate. The Extension Railway was at present working under a temporary agreement upon the same terms as those of the first agreement with the Great Western Company, and there was this satisfaction, that they would be enabled to declare a dividend upon the terms of the original agreement, namely 4 per cent. He could anticipate the Rev.. gentleman who honoured them with his company (the Rev.Cannon Woodgate), by telling him that he would be enabled now to get to Birmingham without passing over any of the supposed dangerous viaducts with which the Great Western system was infested. The Chairman concluded by moving that the report be received and adopted.
The motion was seconded by Mr.C.E.Swindell and agreed to.
moved that a dividend at the rate of 4 per cent per annum be declared
on the Stourbridge Railway for the six months ending June 30th.
The Chairman moved the declaration of a similar dividend on the Extension for the three months ending June 30th.
The motion was seconded by Mr.Sherriff and carried.
Mr.Sherriff said he thought that the district had very great cause for congratulation, first that they had got a railway through to Birmingham at all; and secondly that instead of meeting without the declaration of a dividend as other companies did, the shareholders were able to get 4 per cent as a minimum dividend, with the prospect of receiving varying dividends till they reached 5 per cent in perpetuity.
The Rev.Cannon Woodgate asked if they had any control over the railway.
Mr.Sherriff: No, none at all.
Mr.Woodgate made some remarks as to the influence this would have on fares.
Mr.W.B.Collis said the fares were raised to more than what they were before the Stourbridge Railway was made.
Mr.Sherriff said if they made any statement to the authorities regarding the fares, he supposed they would be told to pocket the 4 per cent. There was a mania now for raising fares, but he did not much believe that it would have the effect of raising the funds unless done judiciously.
Mr.Swindell said the issue of tourists' tickets would diminish in consequence.
A gentleman present said they had fallen off very much indeed.
Mr.Collis then made some enquiries as to the agreement with the Great Western Company and other matters.
The meeting terminated with a vote of thanks to the Chairman, on the motion of Mr.Fisher, seconded by Mr.Collis.
The Chairman, in acknowledging the compliment, said they were singularly fortunate in having a connection with both New Street and Snow Hill Stations, in Birmingham. He congratulated them upon the very satisfactory state they were in.
"SUMMONS FOR THE NON PAYMENT OF POOR RATES:- Mr.Grove appeared to support the informations against the Great Western Railway Company for non payment of poor rates, to the amount of £57 11s. 6d. There were originally 24 persons summoned, but all with the exception of five had paid.
SIR,- Allow me through your columns to call the attention of the public and the railway authorities to the question of accommodation on their line. At some of their stations there is no accommodation whatever, except a platform to stand on till the arrival of the train. If you happen to be half-an-hour too soon, or five minutes too late for the train, you have to stand in the drenching rain, or repair to the nearest inn. If I travel on other lines, and hurry to the station, and get in a perspiration, I can at once go into the waiting-room out of the draught and wet. I think that the fare ought not to be so much as other lines, so long as they do not provide us with proper accommodation. On other lines we get sheltered from the burning sun in summer and the inclemency of winter. On the Stourbridge Extension Railway there is none of this; in fact it appears to be half a century behind the age. It does not matter where you travel, you can get accommodation, except on the Stourbridge Extension Railway. I hope before the inclement weather sets in, we shall see nicely heated rooms erected, and that amount of accommodation which will reflect credit on the company. It is highly important that the company should attend to this matter. I think that they ought not only to study the interests of their pockets, but the comfort and health of their passengers.