GOOD NEWS FOR THE DISTRICT. - It is with more than
ordinary pleasure we are in a position to inform our readers that a contract
of its kind larger than has ever come into the South Staffordshire district
before, has been obtained by enterprising neighbour, Mr. Benjamin Wood,
of Wordsley Foundry, and now also a proprietor of the Brettell Lane Ironworks.
That gentleman has just received an order from the East Indian Railway
Company for about 500 tons of axle boxes, and about 46 tons of axle brasses.
To those who understand the trade it will be apparent that the number
of axle boxes will be about 15,000, and upwards of 9,000 brasses. This
seems an earnest that we are on the eve of better times, and that South
Staffordshire and its ironmasters have not lost that pluck which but a
few short years ago placed them in the van of the iron trade. We confess
to have heard this news with delight, and determined to loose no time
in chronicling it, to cheer the hearts of our fellow workers in this district.
GOODS STATION. — At the meeting of manufacturers
and others, on Wednesday last, it was decided that the deputation to wait
upon the District Manager for the Great Western Company, on Tuesday next,
shall present a memorial from the district. One has been accordingly been
prepared, and is being presented for signature by all interested parties.
THE IRON TRADE
There has been a languid market today. Transactions
were few, as well in pig as in finished iron. In the former no purchases
of much worth have been, and where there are enquiries the purchases are
unwilling to give vendors’ prices. Only here and there are merchants
buying finished iron, and in those cases merely small lots are negotiated;
yet the the prospects are held to be favourable.
The unsatisfactory operation of the Factory Act, in the influence chiefly
upon the workpeople themselves, was much discussed. It was remarked that
whilst the Poor Law prohibits Guardians from giving relief for boys who
are over nine years of age, the Factory Act will not let them work till
they are twelve, and at ironworks until they are thirteen. Mr. Groucutt
(ironmaster) at the Bilston meeting, showed this incongruity, and desired
that the Act might be altered so as to allow boys to employed in ironworks
at twelve years of age - not “nine”.
The mills and forges west of Dudley appear to be kept more fully at work
than those on the east side of Dudley. If the orders which are daily coming
in are not so numerous as they were, there is no room for despondency,
and as the season advances there seems to be a well grounded hope that
the trade will improve. An extra furnace is now blown at the Woodside
Ironworks; and at the Old Level near Brierley Hill, preparations are being
made to blow in the two furnaces which have been standing for many years.
Samuel Hingley and Co. are going to blow one in near their works at Corbyn’s
Hall, Kingswinford. The mills and forges at Brettell Lane, formerly in
the hands of Messrs. John Wheeley and Co., and which have not been in
operation since the suspension of this company, have been purchased by
another firm, and are now being put in readiness to start again, so that
this district will before long begin to assume its wanted activity, and
hundreds of hands which have been comparatively idle for a long time will,
it is hoped, find something like regular employment, a consummation devoutly
to be wished. There continues a good demand for pig iron made from the
native ironstone of the district, and prices are somewhat stiffening.
Producers are exercising considerable caution in effecting sales, and
will not make contracts for any great extent for forward delivery, in
the face of a rising market. The demand for thick coal continues brisk,
and the colliers are working very regularly. An attempt has been made
by some few of the disaffected ones, who now seeing that their late attempt
to force up wages has proved abortive, are agitating for a reduction in
the hours of labour, but the bulk of the colliers are to well of for work
(sic) to allow themselves to be brought into collision with their masters
by a few of the defunct union. This project if carried out could only
effect the bandsmen who work by day; the pikemen who work by stint and
not infrequently earn two days’ wages in one, do not appear to take
any active part in this movement. There continues a good demand for the
argillaceous ironstones of the district, and prices rule from 14s. to
15s. per ton in their raw state, and from 20s. to 21s. when caleined;
in both instances the purchasers are allowed long weight of 22 cwt. to
the ton. There is no improvement to report in the labour market at present,
but as the length of the days increase there is every probability of their
being more work than of late.
The iron trade of this district is in much the same state as last reported.
In some quarters a moderate degree of activity prevails, while in others
there is more or less slackness. The reports on ‘change here on
Thursday where to the effect that the lighter kinds of manufactured iron
are in good request, such for instance as sheets, angles, small sized
rounds, and nail rods. The pig iron trade continues good, and in this
district a number of additional furnaces will shortly be under blast.
Makers are firm in their quotations. The North Staffordshire trade is
quiet. Small orders for bars and merchant sizes continues to be received,
the aggregate being sufficient to keep the mills moderately employed,
but plates are so little in demand that some mills are absolutely standing.
In pig iron and ironstone there is nothing doing, but there is a disposition
to regard the future hopefully.