History pages - The early working years  



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The Early Working Years

© Copyright 2002 Graham Cousins and the Railway & Canal Historical Society.

1838 - continued


The next Committee Meeting was spread over two days, 20 and 21 June, during which time the annual survey of the canal took place. The proposed Biddulph branch canal and railway was discussed on 20 June. It was decided that as the coal mine owners were against a railway the Committee would recommend to the Annual General Meeting that the idea of a railway should be abandoned and that the Company should confine itself to the promotion of a branch canal to terminate near Biddulph Forge - Mr Heelis was to consider the best way of proceeding with the matter.29

The survey of the upper level of the canal took place on 20 June, whilst the survey of the lower level took place the following day. During the survey of the lower level the Committee viewed the works of the new Sutton Reservoir and the culvert under the road and canal for conveying the waste water from the reservoir. Mr Hall reported that the reservoir had already been useful in helping to refill the canal after the last general stoppage. Mr Hall had reported a slip on the offside of the embankment in Pearson’s Valley (Buglawton) and the Committee examined the spot - it was ordered that the culvert under the embankment be lengthened. It was also ordered that the culvert in Porter’s Embankment (nearer to Congleton) be lengthened forty feet as had been previously recommended by Mr Nichols. Mr Nichols also reported that Park Lane Bridge (in Congleton) had now stood firm for nearly two years - it was ordered that it be now put ‘into a proper state of repair’. It was also noted that the aqueduct at Red Bull was still in a leaky state, notwithstanding the repairs recently made by the Trent & Mersey Canal Co.

The Annual General Meeting of the Company was held on Thursday 19 July 1838.30  The Committee’s report on the general business and condition of the canal was considered satisfactory and a dividend of £2 10s per share was declared. At the Committee Meeting held the same day it was ordered that the state of the aqueduct near the Red Bull be notified to the Trent & Mersey Canal Co. and that they be requested to repair it forthwith.

At the Committee Meeting on 29 August Mr Heelis stated that he had written to Mr Moore of the Trent & Mersey Canal Co. about the Red Bull Aqueduct. Mr Moore had replied that it would be attended to. Several cheques were signed at the meeting, amongst them being one for £44 to John Wood for lengthening the culvert at Porter’s Valley, and a cheque for £28 to Mr Buckley for repairing the slip on the offside of the embankment at Pearson’s Valley. It was reported that Mr Simpson, Mr Watts and Mr Hall had attended a meeting in Birmingham the previous day with delegates from other canal companies to discuss what actions could be taken against the progress of the railways in regard to the carriage of merchandise. Nothing had been decided. A Subcommittee was formed at the meeting, consisting of Mr Cholmondeley, Mr Simpson, Mr F. A. Philips, Mr Watts, and Mr Ryle, to receive two propositions from Mr Robert Williamson, who worked the Stone Trough Colliery at Biddulph. His first proposition was that the Company should build a railway from the canal to his colliery - he was informed that the Company would not do this. The second proposition was that if the Company would withdraw its application to Parliament enabling it to build a railway or canal to Biddulph he would construct a railway from the canal to the colliery at his own expense and open up the colliery so as to be able to supply 104,000 tons of coal per annum. He would bring at least 52,000 tons of this to the canal - one half of which at least should go northwards. Mr Williamson proposed that he would be able to do this by Christmas, and offered to give surety to the Company that he would do this. This was on the understanding that the Company would not proceed with its application to Parliament. It was left that the Subcommittee should come to a definite arrangement with Mr Williamson and agree suitable terms.31

The Committee met again on 17 October 1838 and Mr Heelis reported that the Subcommittee had reached an agreement with Mr Williamson. The agreement document, which had been signed by Mr Williamson, was read to the meeting and the Common Seal of the Company was affixed to the document. Mr Heelis also reported that he had ‘written to Mr Moore of the Trent & Mersey Canal Co. on the subject of a proposed canal from Middlewich to Altrincham, and that he had been informed that the Trent & Mersey Canal Co. intended to oppose it. It was decided that Mr Cholmondeley and Mr Simpson should attend a forthcoming meeting of the Trent & Mersey Canal Co. and make suitable arrangements for opposition to the proposed Middlewich & Altrincham Canal. A letter from Mr Bouverie, the Chairman of the Grand Junction Railway & Canal Co., was read to the meeting. This concerned the reduction in tolls on the canals between London and Manchester. Mr Hall was asked to reply stating that the Committee thought a reduction was necessary. Mr Hall reported that Mr Buckley had completed his contract for the Sutton Reservoir. A sum of £653 was due to him. Mr Brown was asked to examine the work at Sutton before payment was made to Mr Buckley. It was also reported at the meeting that the Anderton Carrying Co. had purchased the carrying concern of Messrs Swanwick & Co.

At the next Committee Meeting on 2 November it was reported that the Grand Junction Railway & Canal Co. had reduced the tolls on its canal from 1 November. Mr Simpson reported that he and Mr Cholmondeley had attended the meeting of the Committee of the Trent & Mersey Canal Co. as agreed. The Trent & Mersey Canal Co. intended to vigorously oppose the proposed Middlewich & Altrincham Canal. At the time it wasn’t known through whose land the line of the canal was to pass, so another meeting had been arranged for 3 December, after the plans and sections had been deposited. It was decided that Mr Cholmondeley, Mr Simpson, and Mr Wilbraham should attend the meeting and that they should previously see the Ashton and Peak Forest Canal Committees to discuss the matter. Together with Mr Daintry the three were to set up a Subcommittee to arrange opposition to the Middlewich & Altrincham Canal.

The final Committee Meeting of 1838 was held on 7 December where Mr Cholmondeley and Mr Simpson reported that they had attended a meeting of the Ashton and Peak Forest Canal Committees. It had been decided that these companies should unite with the Macclesfield Canal Company in opposing the Middlewich & Altrincham Canal. Mr Winter stated that a meeting had taken place with Mr Lock, one of the Duke of Bridgewater’s Trustees, regarding the proposed canal - it appeared that Lord Francis Egerton was not going to actively support the scheme. Mr Simpson reported on the meeting of the Committee of the Trent & Mersey Canal Co. at Stone where it had been arranged that it would conduct the major opposition, with the Macclesfield, Peak Forest and Ashton Canal companies giving such help as they could. It was resolved that Mr Simpson and Mr Buckley should form a deputation from the Macclesfield Canal Committee and that they should have full powers, together with the deputation from the Ashton and Peak Forest Canal companies, to take any measures felt necessary to oppose the passage of the Middlewich & Altrincham Canal Act through Parliament.32 A sum of £200 was to be placed at the disposal of the deputation for the purposes of the opposition. The final act at the Committee Meeting was to advance Mr Hall’s salary to £500 per year - effective from the 25th December.

Continue the story - 1845-1846