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at the time :

"At the general half-yearly meeting held at Derby on Saturday,
August i Qth, 1848, Mr. G. Hudson, M.P., in the chair, there was an
unusually large attendance, owing to a report in the newspapers that
the Chairman was about to resign for the purpose of transferring his
services to the London and York. After the usual review of the
Company's position by the Chairman, a shareholder asked him if it
were true that he was going to leave the line for the London and York.
Mr. Hudson assured the honourable proprietor that he had no intention
of leaving the Company (Hear, hear, and applause), and he would
further say, that so long as he had health and strength and enjoyed the
confidence of the proprietors, nothing on earth would induce him to
quit the Company. (Hear, hear, and much applause.) He did not
care what the promotion offered might be ; he had naturally a warm
affection for the Midland proprietors, and had always been received by
them with such kindness that he should be unworthy of the name of
Englishman if he should think of leaving them while he could be of


any use to them. (Applause.) Mr. Hudson then paid a fine tribute
to the memory of George Stephenson, who had just died. At this
meeting it was decided that in future the Midland proprietors should
meet on Wednesdays instead of Saturdays."

These declarations by Mr. Hudson satisfied the shareholders for the
moment, but the " fire " of opposition was not extinguished ; it
smouldered only to burst out into unexpected fury before many
months, as the subsequent narrative will disclose.

The half-yearly meeting which was held at Derby on September yth,
1848, took place in one of the sheds. The report stated that the
goods and coal traffic showed the very satisfactory increase of ^"47,300,
but the passenger receipts gave a serious falling off. This was due
entirely to the fact that parts of the Great Northern and the Man-
chester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire Companies' lines had been opened
and were diverting or taking away the Midland passengers. In con-
sequence of this falling off in receipts and the growth of the under-
taking, as well as to better watch the interests of the Company, the
directors announced that they had formed themselves into committees
specially to control the large departments Way and Works ; Locomo-
tive, Carriage, and Wagon ; Traffic ; and Finance.

The proceedings at this meeting have been described as " quiet " or
"even uninteresting." However, those "in the know" were perfectly
aware that this was not a sign of peace and tranquillity, but simply
a lull before a great storm. The directors had previously under-
taken to furnish to the " Liverpool party " the details and particulars
for which it asked. Consequently until that information was com-
piled and forwarded it was practically impossible for further action
to be taken. Immediately the required information was obtained
a meeting was held in Liverpool on October 28th, 1848, when the
whole management of the Midland Company was criticised adversely,
and it was decided to raise important issues at the next meeting.
Accordingly, on February i5th, 1849, the balance-sheet was called
in question, and it was alleged that "it did not deal fully with
the accounts " ; a sum of .36,000 parliamentary charges had been
put down to capital, but a debate upon the question was " cut short "
by the statement of the Chairman that the directors were per-
fectly willing to charge that amount to revenue if the shareholders
wished it.

A proprietor expressed his opinion that the Company made little or
no profit on its coal traffic ; this brought down upon him the statement
of Mr. John Ellis that " it was even more profitable than their
passenger traffic."


Attacks were next directed against the Chairman, and it was hinted
that he had sold some shares.

Mr. Hudson strongly resented the insinuation, and stated that he
had then about ,17,000 in the Company, which was even a greater
stake than he had previously held, and he asked the shareholders,
"What motive can I have but to serve your interests in leaving my
home, filled with friends, to travel all night in order to wait upon you
to-day ? " This question brought forth " loud applause." He warned
the shareholders against playing into the hands of men who might
have sold their shares and found it inconvenient to deliver them, and
therefore wanted to depreciate the property. He (the Chairman) could
not be accused of holding his position from mercenary motives. He
only received ;8o a year from the Company, had never put a relative
into a post on the line nor trafficked in the shares, and his only object
in retaining the post of Chairman was the satisfaction he felt in pro-
moting the interests of the shareholders.

A member of the "Liverpool party" then proposed "the appointment
of a Committee of Inquiry into the administration and accounts of the
Company." Much amusement was caused by cries of " Liverpool
again !" " That was concocted in Liverpool ! " and a vote of confidence
in the directors being proposed, it was carried by a vast majority and
followed by rounds of applause and the waving of hats.

However, a few days after the meeting, when the published reports
had appeared in the newspapers, a very considerable change was
observed. Letters were received from some of the largest share-
holders and best friends of the Company, expressing regret that the
" Committee of Inquiry " was not granted. " Let them inquire,"
wrote one shareholder ; " let them investigate. Let them look
for themselves into the position of affairs ; they won't rest till they

At the next Board meeting there was unmistakable information and
evidence that a majority of the shareholders was decidedly in favour
of a " Committee of Investigation."

Mr. John Ellis, Deputy Chairman, and the other directors had no
objection whatever, their only desire being to carry out the wishes of
the shareholders, and in view of the serious Great Northern com-
petition they came to the conclusion that it would be well for the
shareholders to see for themselves the injury which the London and
York scheme was about to do to their company.

The Chairman, however, took an entirely different view. The vote
of confidence in the directors had been carried amid "tumultuous
applause." That, he considered, was sufficient. " Is this company to be


managed at Derby or at Liverpool? that is the question"; and it was
evident that Mr. Hudson would rather resign than agree to a " Com-
mittee of Investigation." At the same period it became known that
the York and North Midland Company and the York, Newcastle, and
Berwick were entering into arrangements by which the east coast traffic
would be handed over to the Great Northern system to be conveyed
to King's Cross instead of to the Midland at Normanton, en route
to Derby, Rugby, and Euston Square ; and at the same time it was
evident that passengers could not be expected to travel from York to
London via Rugby when a quicker route was established via Peter-

An extraordinary general meeting, attended by about a thousand
proprietors, was held in the goods shed at Derby on April igth, 1849.
Mr. John Ellis, Deputy Chairman, presided, and read the following
important letter from Mr. Hudson :

YORK, April \ith, 1849.


The approaching meeting of the shareholders renders it necessary
for me to address you on the subject of the office which I have had the
honour to hold as Chairman of your Company.

Forming parts of one great line of communication, the Midland,
the York and North Midland, and the York, Newcastle, and Berwick
Railway Companies have hitherto had one common interest to pro-
mote, and in watching over the development of them it has always
been to me a pleasing reflection that I was contributing to the pros-
perity of each of the other companies. It was this which enabled
me to discharge the duties of Chairman, confided to me by the share-
holders of these different lines ; and it is because I am apprehensive that
circumstances have now arisen which must render it impracticable for
any one person to preside over all these companies that I feel it requisite
to make the present communication. It must be obvious to everyone that
the Great Northern Railway, when opened, must of necessity materially
affect the existing lines of railway in the district through which it passes.
To the formation of that railway I gave my most uncompromising opposi-
tion. I believed its formation to be unnecessary, and felt that the benefits
to be derived from it were not sufficient to justify the immense capital
requisite for its construction. It pleased the Legislature to view the question
otherwise, and the consequence is that this line will very shortly be brought
into active operation. The existence of that Company cannot now be
disregarded, and it may be that the interests of these different railways may
not be found to be identical. Therefore it is that, after due deliberation, I
have thought it right, and to be more satisfactory to the shareholders of the
Midland Railway Company, to resign the office of their Chairman. I could
not consent to hold the office without devoting every energy that I possess
to the furtherance of their interests, regardless of any other company ;
neither would I consent to preside over the other two companies without
being prepared to exert myself for the promotion of their prosperity,
irrespective of the consequences which might result to any other company
from the policy which they might decide on pursuing. Under these
circumstances I feel that I best perform my duty to the shareholders by
tendering my resignation of the office of Chairman. It is impossible for


me to do this without expressing the deep sense which I entertain of the
generous confidence which has been reposed in me by my brother share-
holders, and the high satisfaction which I have derived from the cordiality
which has prevailed amongst the directors with whom it has been my good
fortune to associate, "and of the unanimity which characterised all our
proceedings. This it is which has enabled the capabilities of your line
to be brought into full activity.

I take my leave of you, gratefully acknowledging your past kindness and
anxiously desirous for the continued prosperity of the undertaking with
which I have been identified.

I have, etc.,


This letter was received with hissing. The Chairman of the meeting
continued :

" Gentlemen, that resignation has been accepted (Hear, hear), but
whilst the letter would only seem to imply that Mr. Hudson has
resigned the office of Chairman, we understand it as a resignation
as a director altogether, and in that light it has been accepted by
the Board (cheers), and that explains why I have taken the chair
at this meeting."

Mr. Ellis went on to explain that Mr. Hudson's remarks as to his
having made an arrangement between the York and North Midland
and the Great Northern had caused the Midland much anxiety. He
(Mr. Ellis) had seen Mr. Denison, the Great Northern Chairman, who
had assured him the arrangement did not extend to traffic, but only to
making a line from Knottingley to Burton Salmon, to save the expense
of going straight to York. He (Mr. Ellis) was a director of the London
and North Western Railway, as well as a director of the Midland Rail-
way, and thought these two lines natural allies.

The views of Mr. Ellis as to the Midland and the London and
North Western being allies was no doubt perfectly correct, because
at this period the London and North Western was taking the Midland
traffic over its rails from Rugby to London.

The references at the meeting to the Knottingley curve will be fully
understood by a consideration of the following statement of facts, which
were of an extraordinary character.

This curve extended from Burton Salmon on the York and North
Midland to Knottingley on the Manchester and Leeds Company's
Railway, and the Act authorising its construction received the Royal
Assent on July Qth, 1 847. The importance of this, however, could not be
seen, and was never suspected until the Manchester and Leeds began
to work in conjunction with the London and York (or Great Northern)
via Askern Junction. But it was afterwards discovered that the York,


Newcastle, and Berwick Company and the York and North Midland,
who had been previously entirely dependent upon the Midland for their
connection with London and the south, had by means of this small
junction curve another complete route to London available by means
of the London and York Company's line.

This little link also completed the through east coast route from
London, King's Cross, via Peterborough, York, and Newcastle,
Berwick to Edinburgh, and thence to Glasgow.

As far as the York and North Midland and the York, Newcastle,
and Berwick Companies were concerned it was a highly valuable
conection in fact, a fine stroke of policy. And Mr. Allport, who
was then Manager of the York, Newcastle, and Berwick Railway

SHARP'S "60" CLASS, 1848.

Company, could not fail to have recognised the vast value to his
Company of a second road to London.

But it was an altogether different thing with Hudson, who occupied
the treble position of chairman of three companies, namely, the
Midland, the York and North Midland, and the York, Newcastle,
and Berwick, whose systems extended from Rugby to Newcastle.
According to the old doctrine, no man can serve two masters ; but
Hudson tried to serve three, and so long as the interests of the
three companies did not come into conflict it was to their mutual
advantage to have one common chairman. But when, as in this case,
the interests of the two most northern companies were preferred to,
or clashed with, those of the Midland or more southern company,
his position became impossible. The two most northern companies
were planning and carrying out an arrangement which could not fail to



be, and was intended to be, a deadly blow against the Midland, and
that placed Mr. Hudson in an untenable position, which he ought
never to have consented to occupy. His position was also aggravated
by the fact that as the Bill for the Knottingley curve had been passed
on July Qth, 1847, tm 's deadly blow to the Midland had actually been
delivered at the very time he was making those profuse professions
of friendship and devotion to the interests of the Midland share-

When the truth leaked out and the real position was revealed it
excited the greatest indignation, and for a time caused consternation
amongst the directors and shareholders of the Midland, as they con-
sidered that their interests had been shamefully betrayed.

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Thus Mr. Hudson terminated his connection with the Midland, both
as Chairman and as a director. A " Committee of Investigation " was
then appointed, upon the motion of Mr. Wylie, of Liverpool, to examine
into the management and affairs of the Company, with instructions
to report to an adjourned meeting.

What is known as a " Budget express " made a very notable run on
Saturday, February igth, 1848, in order to convey copies of The Times
and other papers containing reports of the Budget debate, which did
not conclude till one o'clock in the morning. The express ran from
Euston to Rugby, thence over the Midland system to Normanton,
to York, Newcastle, Berwick, Edinburgh, and Glasgow. It left
London, Euston, at 5.35 a.m. and reached Glasgow at 3.57 p.m.,
completing the journey of 470! miles in the remarkably quick time


of 10 hours 22 minutes. The detentions amounted to 50 minutes,
including 8 minutes occupied in passing from Gateshead to the New-
castle Station, and 7 minutes in passing from Tweedmouth to the
station at Berwick, thus reducing the actual railway travelling to
9 hours and 32 minutes, being at the rate of upwards of 50 miles
an hour. The journey from London to Rugby was done in i hour
40 minutes, and from Rugby to Normanton, on the Midland, in
2 hours 6 minutes, being at the average rate of 56 miles an hour.
The couriers, Mr. Beswick, Travelling Inspector of the Midland Railway,



(Midland Railway, 1848 )

and Mr. Lockey, after spending an hour in Glasgow, returned to
Edinburgh by the 5 p.m. train, thus showing the possibility of break-
fasting in London, dining in Glasgow, and spending the evening in

The train passed over the Midland system as follows :

Distance from

m. ch.

Rugby, arrived

Rugby, left

20 5 Leicester, passed
32 38 Loughborough, passed
49 2 Derby, South Junction, arrived

Derby, South Junction, left
72 62 Chesterfield, passed
88 48 Masborough, passed
112 49 Normanton, Altofts Junction, arrived
Normanton, Altofts Junction, left .







Mr. Hudson alluded to this train at the Midland meeting held
the day it was run, saying they attained the speed at a less cost
and in a better manner than on the broad gauge, and that the run
was a proof that the railway was in excellent order. Mr. Hudson's
observations were more than justified, as the speeds were very re-
markable. From Rugby Station to Derby South Junction, a distance
of 49 miles 2 chains, was run in 56 minutes, or an average speed


throughout of 52*5 miles per hour. Engines were changed in two
minutes, and the run was continued to Altofts Junction, Normanton,
a distance of 63 miles 49 chains, which was covered in 68 minutes,
or an average speed of fully 56 miles an hour. The run from Rugby
to Derby was performed by one of Sharp's engines of the " 60 " class,
and from Derby to Leeds by one of Wilson's well-known "Jenny Lind"
engines, both of which are illustrated, as well as the carriages of the

It ought to be remembered in considering this remarkable run that
rails did not at the time exist from London to Edinburgh. There were
two gaps one of over a mile between Gateshead and Newcastle, over
the River Tyne, owing to Robert Stephenson's high-level bridge not
being completed ; and the other between Tweedmouth and Berwick,
across the River Tweed, where the Royal Border Bridge was not ready
for traffic. These two gaps were traversed by coaches and horses at
full gallop, a wonderfully quick transfer being effected in each instance.



THE upheavals related in the previous chapter necessitated the
election of a new Chairman, and the prosecution of the in-
vestigations which the shareholders had directed to be made. When
so much doubt and uncertainty had been created, it was essential to
the well-being of the Company that a very strong chairman should
be secured to take charge and direct its policy ; and further that the
Committee of Investigation should be such as to command the entire
confidence of the proprietors.

The choice of the directors fell upon Mr. John Ellis, the Deputy
Chairman, who had given ample evidence of his great ability, capacity,
and worth, and as being a man in whom the greatest confidence could
be reposed. Accordingly, on May yth, 1849, at a meeting of directors,
Mr. John Ellis, M.P., of Leicester, was unanimously elected, Mr.
Hudson's resignation having taken effect on April iQth.

Mr. Samuel Beale, of Birmingham, who, previous to the amalgama-
tion, had been Chairman of the Birmingham and Derby Junction Rail-
way Company, was elected Vice-Chairman.

These appointments gave great satisfaction, in view of the recent
rather painful experiences of the Company.

The Shareholders' Committee had the services of professional
accountants, and investigated the books, leases, and every branch of
the Company's business. Mr. Barlow, the resident engineer, satisfied
the committee that when an older set of rails was replaced by heavier
and better rails, that revenue should be charged with the original value,
and capital should pay for the permanent benefit to the property.
Mr. Robert Stephenson, with reference to the locomotive stock, also
expressed his view that when an engine of an old light pattern was
replaced by a new heavier engine, that the difference in original cost
was a permanent improvement, and that the amounts which had been
hitherto carried to capital had been legitimately so placed.

The report of the committee was completed and dated August i5th,



1849, and proved that the published accounts were in accordance with
the authentic books of the Company. Several suggestions were made
in the report, one being that there should be a stipendiary chairman,
who should devote his whole time to the interests of the Company.

Naturally the members of the "Liverpool party" were extremely
disappointed at the result of the investigation. Mr. Wylie even moved
an amendment when the adoption of the report was proposed, and
remarked, " A more incomplete and inconclusive document I have
never seen." However, he ultimately withdrew the amendment, and
the report was adopted unanimously.

Thus the great storm created on October 28th, 1848, "fell flat and
went off in smoke," and the shareholders had the satisfaction of knowing
that the charges of mismanagement which had been frequently made
were not founded on fact.

The new line from Burton to Coalville having been opened and the
Swannington railway widened and improved to Desford Junction, the
new connecting line running thence to Knighton Junction, near
Leicester, was brought into use on August ist, 1849, and a through
service of trains established between Burton, Leicester, and Melton to
the Eastern Counties Railway Station at Peterborough.

Not only did the Burton branch form a communication between east
and west, but for the first time it put the Leicestershire collieries into
the excellent position of being able to send their coal by rail to all
parts. No longer had the coal to be conveyed to the West Bridge
Wharf, there to be loaded in boats, as rails now existed in connection
with the main line. This was a very severe blow to the canals, and
brought a large and valuable coal traffic to the Company. Another
useful link was the Kirkby and Mansfield branch, opened in October,

The Great Northern competition was now becoming very disastrous
to the Midland traffic, a further section of that railway being opened
between Askern Junction, north of Doncaster, and Retford, thus
enabling the Great Northern to compete more especially for the traffic
between Leeds and the south via Peterborough.

In September, 1849, tne Great Northern tried still further to increase
their traffic by actually running over the rails of the Midland Company
into Leeds, which, of course, was then the extreme end of the Midland
Company in the north. This attempt led to a very extraordinary
incident, which resulted in an effort to run a Great Northern engine
and train on the Midland system, and an equally determined resistance
on the part of the Midland, who pulled up the connecting metals.

The North Midland Railway Company and the Manchester and


Leeds Company had from the first been on the most friendly terms.
So much so that, to save the making of two lines side by side from
Normanton to Leeds, the North Midland Company agreed to build
a booking-office for the Manchester and Leeds Company at its Hunslet
Lane Station, Leeds, and to make the Normanton Station one for the
joint use of both companies, as well as for the accommodation of
the York and North Midland. The Manchester and Leeds passengers
were thus allowed to use the Midland line between Leeds and Goose
Hill Junction, south of Normanton. In the interests of the Manchester
and Leeds, the Wakefield, Pontefract, and Goole Railway Company
formed its line ; and for the same reason, namely, to avoid duplicate
lines, the Midland Company agreed to allow the Wakefield Company
(which in the meantime, in the session of 1847, na d amalgamated and
become the Lancashire and Yorkshire) to run its trains from Methley
Junction to Leeds. But with the introduction of the Great Northern
system and the formation of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway
the whole situation changed. That original friendship between the

Online LibraryClement Edwin StrettonThe history of the Midland railway → online text (page 12 of 36)