OPENING OF THE NORTH MIDLAND RAILWAY.
The Leeds Intelligencer, 4 July, 1840.
On Tuesday last, the ceremonial opening of the North Midland Raiiway throughout the entire line from Derby to Leeds took place; and on the following day, the 1st of July, the Railway was opened for the use of the public. Before we proceed to detail the proceedings of Tuesday, we propose to furnish a brief sketch of the formation of the North Midland Railway Company, and of the subsequent progress of the works.
On the 26th of September, 1835, the prospectus of the proposed Company was advertised in the Intelligencer. It sketched in outline the course of the intended Railway, contained a list of provisional Directors, and stated that it was proposed to raise a capital of £1,250,000, in shares of £100 each.
On the Monday following a meeting of gentlemen favourable to the undertaking was held at Scarborough’s Hotel, which was attended by Messrs C. and W. Beckett, G. Goodman, J. Hubbard, G.Wailes, T. B. Pease, Thomas Shann, T. T. Luccock, and others. After a lengthened explanation by Messrs Stephenson and Swanwick, the Engineers, Mr. Patteson, the Secretary of the Company, Mr. Burke, the Parliamentary Agent, and Mr. Hunt, the Solicitor of the Company, and after considerable discussion, resolutions, approving of the design and of the basis upon which it was proposed to be carried out, were adopted.
The share list filled rapidly; the requisite advertisements and notices for an application to Parliament were immediately given; the surveys, plans, and sections necessary for the purpose were completed. Very early after the opening of the session of Parliament a petition for leave to bring in a Bill was presented; the Bill was in due course laid on the table of the House of Commons, and having been read a second time was committed to Sir John Beckett, Bart., and a numerous list of Yorkshire and Derbyshire Members. The measure encountered considerable opposition in Committee, particularly from the Aire and Calder Navigation Company, but eventually the Railway Company overcame all opposition, and the Bill received the Royal Assent on the 4th July, 1836.
The Act is entitled “An Act for making a Railway from Leeds to Derby, to be called the North Midland Railway”; and it recited that the making of the railway from Leeds to Derby would be productive of great public advantage by opening an additional certain and expeditious communication between the towns aforesaid, and the intermediate towns and districts, and also facilitating the means of interercourse between the North of England, the Midland Counties, the Metropolis, and the West and South West of England. It then proceeded to incorporate the original Proprietors by name, and their respective successors, and all oi her subscribers to the Company; and it authorized the Proprietors to raise money amongst themselves for the undertaking, not exceeding 1,500,000 in shares of £100 each.
On the 23rd of September, 1836, the first general meeting of the proprietors of the company was held according to the act of incorporation at the City of London Tavern, when 21 directors, the full number allowed by the act, were elected, namely George Carr Glyn, Esq., (afterwards appointed chairman of the Company,) Ralph Fenwick, Esq., William Hood, Esq., Frederick Huth, Esq., Kirkman Hodgson, Esq., William Leaf, Esq., William Little, Esq., and John Pickersgill, Esq., all of London; William Leaper Newton, Esq., of Derby; Thomas Laycock, .Esq., of Sheffield; Francis Parker, Esq., of Rotherham; Charles Tee, Esq., of Barnsley; Joseph Holdsworth, Esq., of Wakefield ; James Hubbard, Esq., (the Vice Chairman of the company,) William Beckett, Esq., George Goodman, Esq., James Holdforth, Esq., Thomas Benson Pease, Esq., Thomas Shann, Esq., Hatton Hamer Stansfeld, Esq., and Anthony Titley, Esq., all of Leeds. We may observe, en passant, that all these gentlemen, with the exception of Messrs Laycock, Parker, Tee, and Holdsworth, the representatives of the four intermediate towns on the line, had been members of the provisional committee of management.
When these gentlemen had been appointed they set about the prosecution of the works with promptitude and vigour. An office was opened at Chesterfield, as the most convenient place on the line for the occupation of the company’s engineer. Mr. Frederick Swanwick was appointed the Resident Engineer, and various assistant engineers were engaged for different portions of the line.
The Clay Cross Tunnel, the most stupendous work on the line, was the first object to which they turned attention. This tunnel is a mile in length; and acting upon the advice of the Messrs Stephenson and Mr. Swanwick, their engineers, the Directors let it to Mr. Edward Price, upon favourable terms; and notwithstanding the many unexpected obstacles which it interposed the tunnel was completed within three years from its commencement.
The next important step was the selection of a suitable site for the Derby station, so as to effect an immediate and direct communication, at a convenient point, with the Derby and Birmingham Junction Railway, and the Midland Counties Railway. A negotiation was therefore opened with the Corporation of Derby, for the purchase of some of the corporate lands, which was brought to a satisfactory conclusion; but as it was found that the site originally projected for the station at Derby was liable to be occasionally overflowed, application was made to Parliament for an act to vary the site, and at the same time power was obtained to deviate from the line of railway, in the parish of Duffield, extending through the town of Belper, with slight deviations in other places, and also to make various branch railways. Power was also taken by that act, which received the Royal assent on the 5th May, 1837, to take additional lands, in and about Hunslet Lane in Leeds, so as to enable the Directors to afford increased accommodation at the station, and also to make convenient approaches to it from the town.
Before the end of the year 1837, nearly all the land required for the southern part of the line was purchased, upon terms not exceeding the estimate of the land valuer; and, we believe we may say, in all cases without the intervention of a jury; but the difficulties which arose in the arrangements for the purchase of the land in the vicinity of the works of the Aire and Calder Navigation Company were such as to render it necessary to make a deviation of the line.
Accordingly, in the month of November, in that year, notices were published of an intention on the part of the Company to apply to Parliament for an act to authorise a diversion of the Railway. By this act which received the Royal assent on the 1st July, 1839, the Railway was so far diverted that the line from Rothwell to Leeds, instead of pursuing the course of the river Aire, near its southern bank, as was originally intended, took a more southernly direction, crossing over Hunslet Moor, and passing the Workhouse at Hunslet.
By the same act, also, the company were empowered to issue new shares to the amount of £750,000, in addition to the monies authorised to be raised and borrowed by the original act; and also to raise by subscription or mortgage, a further sum not exceeding in amount, in the whole, the sum of £250,000. Within a couple of months after the passing of this last act, the land required for the deviation line was purchased or agreed for, and the work was let in two portions.
The Leeds Contract, measuring two miles and 36 chains was let to Messrs Bray and Duckett, and the Rothwell contract, one mile and 12 chains in length, to Mr. J. Mawson, and both have completed their works within twelve months. These portions of the line, for the reasons we have stated, were the last commenced; but being now happily completed, the railway is at length opened for the use of the public; thus forming an uninterrupted railway communication between this town and the metropolis, and thus shortening the time of communication between the two places to little more than ten hours.
Such is the brief history of the origin and progress of this important work. Some idea of its magnitude may be formed when we state that the quantity of earthwork along the Line is calculated to have been not less than ten millions of cubic yards. The aggregate length of the tunnelling is 3800 yards, and there are upwards of 200 bridges. At one time there were between eight thousand and nine thousand workmen employed on the line, besides eighteen stationary engines.
In the Oakenshaw Contract, which was undertaken by Mr. J. Thornton, and which was 3 miles and 41 chains in length, there was the loftiest viaduct and the highest embankment on the line. The viaduct crosses the Barnsley canal at a height of 65 feet; it consists of five arches of sixty feet span, and has a very imposing effect upon the spectator at a short distance. The quantity of embankment on the south side of this viaduct was about 140,000 cubic yards; and on the north side the quantity was nearly as much.
The Woodlesford contract, though only 2 miles and 32 chains in length, was also a very heavy one. It continued no less than 284,000 cubic yards, but through the great activity displayed by the contractor, Mr. J. R. Chapman, the work was completed within the time.
In the Altofts contract, 3 miles and 22 chains long, was undertaken by Mr. Hugh McIntosh, there is an extensive embankment, and a splendid viaduct over the Aire and Calder Navigation Company’s Canal. It consists of six arches, the principal one having a span of 90 feet, and the other five measuring 60 feet each. In the Notton contract, 2 miles and 2 chains long, which was undertaken by Mr. William Shaw, there was not only the Chevet Viaduct of several arches, measuring in length 110 yards, but a very considerable embankment, and a tunnel about 600 yards in length.
We have already spoken of the Clay Cross Tunnel; we may mention that the next largest Tunnel was on the Milford contract, about six miles from Derby. It measures 836 yards, and has very beautiful entrances. Mr. David Mcintosh was the contractor. The Bull Bridge contract, 2 miles and 21 chains long, was undertaken by Mr. Thomas Jackson, and comprised an excavation of 400,000 cubic yards in extent. The ground was first broken at the Clay Cross Tunnel, in the month of February, 1837; and it was then expected that the works would have been completed within three years.
There is little doubt that that would have been accomplished but for the difficulties that interposed at the Leeds end of the line of which we have already spoken. It will, however, be inferred from what ye have stated above, that the calculation as to the expense was not so correct as the calculation regarding the time. The original estimate was £1,250,000, but it was thought advisable to take power by the original act to raise £1,500,000, but the actual expenditure of the Company has been nearly double that sum.
The expenses have undoubtedly been much greater than was originally anticipated; but much of the excess is to be accounted for by the large expenditure in connection with the station at Derby, an arrangement having been entered into by which the North Midland Company was to erect a station sufficiently large for the use of the Midland Counties Railway Company, and the Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway Company, the North Midland Company being paid a rental for the same at the rate of six per cent, on their outlay.
IMPORTANCE OF THE NORTH MIDLAND AS A GREAT TRUNK RAILWAY.
The North Midland forms one of the grand trunk railways from which several branches diverge, and continues a link between the other important railways in the North, Centre, and South of England. Travellers coming by this line from the South will now find an unbroken chain of railway communication, through the heart of the manufacturing districts of the West Riding, and into Lancashire by means of the Manchester and Leeds Railway, to York by means of the York and North Midland Railway, to Darlington, Stockton, and the County of Durham, by the Great North of England and the Stockton and Darlington Railways, and to Hull and the Eastern Coast, by the Leeds and Selby and the Hull and Selby Railways.
All these Railways will be opened throughout this summer, except the Manchester and Leeds, which will be opened at the close of the year. At Derby, also, the North Midland has not only a communication with Birmingham by the Birmingham and Derby Railway, but also with Nottingham, Loughborough, and Leicester, by the Midland Counties Railway, which joins the London and Birmingham line at Rugby. When the Great North of England is opened to Darlington, the nearest and cheapest land route for travellers from Scotland to the metropolis will be by this line.
The towns either actually upon the line or within a very short distance from it are Leeds, Wakefield, Barnsley, Rotherham, Sheffield, Chesterfield, Belper, Alfreton, and Derby; and at the distance of a few miles, are also the towns of Pontefract, Doncaster, Tickhill, Bawtry, Worksop, Dronfield, Mansfield, Bakewell, Matlock, Wirksworth, and Ashbourne.
The North Midland Railway connects together the populous and wealthy districts employed in the woollen, the linen, and the cutlery manufactures of Yorkshire, and the hosiery, lace, aud porcelain manufacturers of Derby; and also, by means of the other railways joiuing it, connects with the above the hardware manufactures of Birmingham, the hosiery and lace manufactures of Nottingham and Leicester, and the wool growing districts of Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, and Warwickshire; and all these will have the most rapid and easy communication with London, and the south and west of England.
The railway passes in its entire length over a rich coalfield, and skirts the mountain limestone of Derbyshire; and great quantities of these valuable minerals will doubtless be conveyed on the line, to the benefit alike of the landowner, the farmer, and the manufacturer. It has also the advantage of having through the greater part of its course no competition from canal navigation, there being no canal communication between Leeds and London but by the circuitous route of Manchester.
The entire length of the North Midland Railway, from Leeds to Derby, is 721/2 miles. The space between Leeds and Masborough is 321/2miles.
SCENERY ON THE LINE.
The North Midland Railway has the recommendation of passing through a highly beautiful country. Running along several of the luxuriant valleys of Yorkshire, and down two of the romantic valleys of Derbyshire, its scenery is exceedingly attractive, more so, we believe, than that of any other railway in the kingdom, not even excepting the Whitby and Pickering. Most of the railways possess very few attractions of this kind.
The whole line from London to Birmingham and Liverpool is remarkably uninteresting; the Lancashire and other Yorkshire railways (except the Manchester and Leeds and the Whitby and Pickering) are equally unattractive to the lovers of natural scenery: and we believe the same remark will apply to the Great Western, the South Western, and the other southern railways.
Indeed, the very principle of finding the nearest approach to a level makes it almost inevitable that most railways should be monotonous in their scenery. But the North Midland is a splendid exception to the rule. The journey from Leeds, to Derby, along the valleys of the Aire, the Calder, the Dearne, the Dun, the Rother, the Amber, and the Derwent, affording views of the beautiful park of Temple Newsam, Methley, Walton, Woolley, Thrybergh, Wentworth, Renishaw, and Wingerworth, with the noble ruin of South Wingfield Manor, and many other gentlemen’s seats and grounds, skirted nearly the whole distance with wooded hills, and immediately bordered with fertile meadows and pastures, is an almost uninterrupted and very charming picture.
And we may add that the works of the railway itself, comprising magnificent viaducts, aqueducts, and bridges, and station houses of tasteful architecture, contribute to the admiration and delight of the traveller.
THE LEEDS STATION.
The Leeds station is situated in Hunslet Lane, and occupies a very extensive area in the rear of the premises for merely occupied by Mr. S. Clapham. The contract for the offices and adjoining sheds for the departure and arrival of trains, was taken in February last, by Mr. Thomas Jackson, builder, of Pimlico, London, who has also erected the Derby station. The length of the offices, in front, is 179 feet; the width, 28 feet 6 inches, with an arcade six feet wide, running the whole length.
At the grand entrance, in the centre, the arcade is ascended by flights of stone steps, and is distinguished by a row of four highly ornamented anti-pilasters, terminating in an arch at the apex, above which is placed, a most beautiful piece of rich stone sculpture, exhibiting the arms of Leeds, Sheffield, and Derby, the shield being divided into three compartments, on the upper one of which is (for Leeds) a fleece or, field azure, three mullets, en chief sable; underneath, on the left, is Sheffield, represented by eight arrows Salter, field argent; and by the side of this is Derby, a buck in a park, proper; the supporters are two griffins.
This splendid piece of workmanship has been executed by Mr. J. Thomas, sculptor aud carver, of Birmingham, upon whom it reflects infinite credit, and will doubtless be the means of bringing his talents more prominently before the public; we understand, indeed, that he has already orders for the execution of other ornaments for the North Midland directors. The ground floor of this building, which is two stories high contains, besides booking offices, ladies’ and gentlemen’s waiting rooms, apartments for guards, police, porters, &c.; while in the upper story are rooms for the directors, offices for the superior clerks, &c.
At the rear of the station is the shed for the trains; this has a landing stone on each side eight feet broad, and 267 feet long. The entire width of the shed is 113 feet 6 inches. Within these ample dimensions are six lines of rails, with turntables at each end; the roof is divided into four compartments, covered with blue slate, and there is a sky-light runs the whole length of each compartment.
The roof is supported by rows of neatly fluted columns; it is, with the exception of some longitudinal rafters, composed of neat and light iron rods, similar to the one at Derby, and together with the window frames, which are also of iron, has been executed by Messrs Bramah and Co., of the London works, near Birmingham. The general appearance is exceedingly handsome; it has been erected from the design of Frederick Thompson. Esq., who has been the architect for all the stations on the line, and has been under the superintendence of Mr. Richardson, the clerk of the works; the whole building has been brought to its present state in very little more than four months.
At an early hour on Tuesday morning the streets of Leeds were crowded with persons making their way towards the station in Hunslet Lane. It had been previously arranged that the Directors, with the Shareholders and friends who were to go on the excursion, should meet at the station between seven and eight o’clock in the morning. The arrival of the company was punctual. A few of them, indeed, had made their appearance not long after seven o’clock; and as the hour for starting approached, the interior of the station began to assume a most extraordinary degree of bustle and animation; each more anxious than another to secure a place.
By eight o’clock the whole were comfortably seated, and the signal was given for their departure. About two minutes after eight o’clock, the train, consisting of 34 first and second class carriages, and bearing a load of between five and six hundred persons, left the station amidst the acclamations of the assembled multitude. The carriages were drawn by two of Mr. Stephenson’s locomotive engines, Nos. 60 and 61.
It was loudly cheered as it proceeded on its way through the suburbs of the town by the countless spectators who had stationed themselves on every wall and every bridge or spot of ground where they had the most distant chance of catching a glimpse.
The country, properly so called, being once gained, a greater quantity of steam was laid on, and the carriages proceeded on their wav at a good rattling pace, much to the delight of their occupants, and apparently to the great astonishment of the cattle grazing in adjacent meadows. At a quarter past eight they reached the first station, (Oulton) where they stopped for about two minutes.
At Methley they also stopped to take in water. The Oakenshaw station, which is twelve and a half miles from Leeds, and which has been erected for the accommodation of passengers from Wakefield and the vicinity, was reached at five minutes past nine. At this place a very fine station house has been constructed of the white stone dug out of the excavations in the vicinity, which presents, when chiselled, a delicate dove coloured tint. Here an immense assemblage of respectable and well-dressed persons was congregated, and the Directors of the York and North Midland Line and their friends were in waiting with their trains to be attached.
After stopping at this place for about fifteen minutes, the trains proceeded at an easy pace over the Oakenshaw viaduct, which carries the Railway across the Barnsley Canal; the beautiful Church of Sandal Magna forming an interesting feature in the landscape.
The train then went through the Chevet Tunnel, which is about six hundred yards long, and which passes at the rear of the house of Sir William Pilkington. The Cudworth Station was reached about half past nine. At this station, which has been erected for the accommodation of the inhabitants of Barnsley and the neighbourhood, the trains were met by an immense assemblage of persons.
A band of music was in attendance; the large blue flag belonging to the Operative Conservative Society, with William III, Prince of Orange, painted on one side, and the National Arms emblazoned on the other, was hoisted over a platform which was erected for the musicians, and the station house and several of the adjoining buildings were tastefully ornamented with evergreen. The spectators showed the interest which they felt on the occasion by the loud and repeated cheers which they gave for the passengers during the stoppage. A supply of water having been taken in, at a quarter to ten the trains again proceeded on their way.
Having passed through the Darfield Tunnel, which is about one hundred and forty yards long, the railroad leads into the wide and pleasant valley of the Dearne and the Dove Canal, with the woods of Wentworth Park in the background on the right, and on the left the village of Bolton-upon-Dearne, with a series of exterior woods in the background. At the Swinton Station, which has been built for the accommodation of the inhabitants of Doncaster, the trains were loudly cheered, but made no stoppage.
The Masbro’ Station was reached at twenty minutes to eleven. At this place, which is distant from Leeds 33 and a half miles, and where a stoppage took place of somewhat more than a quarter of an hour, water was again taken in, and several ladies and gentlemen from Sheffield and Rotherham joined the train. Immediately after leaving this station, the railway is crossed by the Sheffield and Rotherham Railroad, by the canal, the River Dun, and the Sheffield and Rotherham turnpike road.
Here we come into the beautiful valley of the Rother, with Boston Castle, erected by a former Earl of Effingham, on the hill to the left. Passing Treeton and Handsworth, Derbyshire is entered at Beighton, six miles distant from Masborough. Villages and rich Derbyshire mountain scenery now present themselves in rapid succession; first a piece of deep cutting, and then an embankment of considerable elevation – scarcely a mile of level foundation being met with. Eckington Station, situated in Renishaw Park the beautiful property of Sir George Sitwell, Bart., was reached by ten minutes past eleven.
The architecture of this station, (which is the station for Worksop) is uncommonly chaste and beautiful. Passing Staveley, Whittington Hall, and Dunstan Hall, the train arrived at Chesterfield at twenty minutes to twelve, where the whole population appeared to have turned out to welcome it. Close to the station a bower of oak boughs was constructed, from which hung two splendid blue flags, and in which were stationed a band of music, which played a number of merry tunes during the stoppage.
The enthusiasm of the spectators here was very great. After a stay of five minutes, the train was again in motion, and shortly afterwards passed Wingerworth Hall, the mansion of Sir Henry Hunlock, the scenery for some distance being of the moat magnificent character. Claycross tunnel (which is a mile in length, and which is fronted with a splendid Moorish gateway,) having been passed at a quarter-past, twelve, the train reached the station at South Wingfield which was adorned with flags, and a variety of flowers and evergreens.
Water having been laid in the train again proceeded, passing through the Lodge Hill tunnel, which is two hundred and fifty yards long, and in the immediate vicinity of which are perhaps some of the finest pieces of scenery of which this very beautiful line can boast. The train arrived at the Ambergate station at half after twelve, when it made a short stoppage. Two short tunnels at Hagwood, and a series of deep cuttings through rich minerals, bring the traveller within sight of Belper; when the substantial masonry by which the line is enclosed, and which is the workmanship of Mr. Jackson, attracted the admiration of all. The train, after remaining about four minutes at Belper, which it reached at a quarter to one, proceeded through the Milford tunnel, which is about half a mile in length, and arrived-at Derby at ten minutes past one; having accomplished the distance, which is 721/2 miles, in five hours and eight minutes.
THE DERBY STATION.
On arriving at the Derby station, the company met with a most enthusiastic reception. A band of music was stationed under the shed, and a most sumptuous dejeune a la fourchette, consisting of the richest wines and of every delicacy of the season, was laid out for their refreshment; to which it is needless to say they did ample justice. The Derby Station is a handsome brick structure of very great extent, being erected for the accommodation not only of the North Midland, but also of the Midland Counties and Birmingham and Derby Companies. It is built by the North Midland, and is under the management of its Directors; but the other Companies pay six per cent, on that proportion of cost which is for their accommodation.
The entire area enclosed is twenty six acres. The station consists of offices for the booking of passengers, waiting rooms, refreshment rooms, apartments for the Directors. Secretary, and other officers; warehouses for goods; a shed of unequalled extent and great lightness to cover in the landing places of the railways; and separate engine houses and workshops.
The refreshment rooms are handsome, but by no means on the grand scale those at Birmingham, The shed is so spacious as to cover nine several lines of rails; the walls which support the roof have open arches in their whole length ; the entire width of the shed is about 140 feet, under three roofs, one of 56 feet span, and two of 42 feet span each. The roofs are of very light yet strong construction, containing an ample space of windows to enlighten the area below, and supported by sixty fluted cast iron columns, 22 feet high. The apex of the roofs is 38 feet high.
The length of the main shed is 450 feet, but one of the three roofs is prolonged by wings to the length of 1050 feet, by 42 feet wide. The engine houses and workshops are, as we have said, separate for the three Companies; and those of the North Midland are very tastefully and admirably constructed. The engine house is a polygon of sixteen sides, and 130 feet in diameter, lighted from a dome-shaped roof of the height of 53 feet. It contains 16 lines of rails radiating from a single turntable in the centre; the engines, on their arrival, will be brought in here, placed upon the turntable, and wheeled into any stall that may be vacant.
Each of the 16 stalls in these locomotive engine stables will hold two or perhaps three engines; and here the iron horses will receive every attention after they have been fatigued and harassed by their work. There are also carriage-houses and workshops on a large scale, it being intended to repair every thing on the spot. The latter buildings form wings to the polygon, 160 to 180 feet in length, and at a right angle to each other. A hotel is shortly to be erected at the entrance of the station. The whole of the works at this station have been built by that spirited and able contractor, Mr. Jackson.
The stay at Derby occupied somewhat more than an hour; it being judged necessary to return as soon as possible in order that the company might be in time for the meeting in the evening. At half past two accordingly, the shrill note of the whistle gave the signal for departure, and in a few minutes the train was again in motion; the company having received a considerable accession at Derby. On their return the company were most loudly and enthusiastically cheered at the various stations which they passed, and by greatly augmented numbers. The return occupied a shorter time then the journey thither – having been accomplished in four hours and twenty five minutes. The company arrived at the Leeds Station at five minutes before seven in the evening.
Crowds of admiring spectators had assembled on the line for more than a mile out of Leeds, and there was much applause. In fact, everybody seemed glad to see the travellers return, for as they were nearly two hours later than the appointed time, it was feared that some mishap had occurred. It is gratifying to be able to state that not the slightest accident of any kind occurred to mar the pleasure of the trip. The whole of the line appears to be in admirable order; and, with the exception perhaps of a small portion of the rocky ground in Derbyshire, is perhaps the smoothest and most easy to travel on of any line which has yet been opened in any part of the country – an advantage for which the public are under great obligations to Mr. Swanwick, the resident engineer, and to Mr. Harding; both of which gentlemen have devoted their most untiring energies to the successful accomplishment of the undertaking.
THE DINNER AT LEEDS.
Shortly after the return of the train, between four and five hundred ladies and gentlemen proceeded to the Music Hall, in Albion Street, where a most sumptuous dinner was set out by Mr. Wilks, of the White Horse. The viands comprised every delicacy in great abundance, and the wines were of the first rate quality. The saloon, which was fitted up by Mr. Constantine, presented a most magnificent appearance. At the extremity of the room was an elevated cross table under the gallery, at which sat the Chairman and the principal guests.
At right angles to this table, and extending nearly the whole length of the room, were five long tables, the two side tables being elevated so as to command a view of the whole. The walls were most tastefully ornamented with double and single festoons and folding draperies, intermixed with laurel and other evergreens formed into wreaths. Over the Chairman was a canopy ornamented with drapery and evergreens, with the letters “V. A.” surrounded with a wreath, and beautifully illuminated with gas.
In front of the gallery was a star ornamented with gas, surmounted with the motto “Success to the North Midland Railway Company,” in roses and other flowers. A balloon, with car appended, and also an anchor, composed of a variety of flowers from the Leeds Zoological and Botanical Gardens, were suspended from the front of the gallery. The orchestra was fitted up in front for the accommodation of the Ladies.
In the centre was a crown illuminated with gas, and surrounded by evergreens. The long picture gallery was likewise fitted up with two tables, the whole length, and adorned with evergreens. The decorations, on the whole, were fitted np with fine taste; and their appearance, from whatever part of the room they were viewed, was elegant in the extreme. The fine band of the Fourth Irish Dragoons was stationed in the orchestra, and performed a series of enlivening airs, both at and after dinner. A party of glee singers were also present.
Richard Carr Glyn, Esq., the Chairman of the Board of Directors, presided on the occasion. He was supported by the Rev. W. F. Hook, Vicar of Leeds, on his left, and on his right by the Rev. William Sinclair, Incumbent of St George’s Church, and by William Smith, Esq., the Mayor of Leeds. Anthony Titley, Esq., was Vice President. The Stewards were W. Beckett, Esq., James Hubbard Esq.. H. H. Stansfeld, Esq., George Goodman, Esq., T. B. Pease, Esq., J. Holdsworth, Esq., C. Tee, Esq., Edwin Eddison, Esq., Thomas Shann, Esq., James Holdforth, Esq., and J. Shaw, Esq.
Among the guests were T. D. Bland, Esq., of Kippax, and Miss Bland; Colonel Chatterton of the 4th Irish Dragoons the Lord Mayor of York, the Lady Mayoress, Theodore Rathbone, Esq., one of the Directors of the Midland Counties Railway, H. Patteson, Esq., Secretary to the North Midland Company, and his three daughters, Mrs. Doctor Hook, Sir John Simpson and Lady, Mr. North, Sheriff of York, George Stephenson, Esq. the Engineer, F. Swanwick, Esq., Resident Engineer, Newton, Esq. of Derby, Parker, Esq. of Rotherham, Mr. Alderman Hudson (late Lord Mayor of York) and Lady, R. Davis, Esq. of York, Aldermen Hotham and Meek, and William Oldfield, Esq. of York, John Barstow, Esq., of Garrowhill, Thomas Laycock, Esq., the Rev. B. Sutton of Sheffield, and Lady, and a great many ladies and gentlemen from the neighbouring towns and country. Grace was said by the Rev. the Vicar, when the company proceeded to do justice to the repast. After dinner Non Nobis Domine was sung by the Glee singers.
The CHAIRMAN opened the business of the evening by proposing – “The health of the Queen and her Royal Consort.” The toast was most respectfully received and cheered. Song – “God Save the Queen.”
The CHAIRMAN then gave – “The Queen Dowager and the rest of the Royal Family “; which met with at least a dozen rounds of applause. Air by the Band – “The Bonniest Lass in a’ the world.”
The CHAIRMAN said that the next toast which he would give them was – “The Army and Navy.”
The toast was drank amidst loud cheering.
Mr. Russell’s Song – “While History’s Muse.” The reference to “Wellington’s name,” called forth loud applause, and cries of “encore.”
Col. CHATTERTON rose to return thanks. The greatest happiness which soldiers had was to meet their fellow citizens at home; for their wish to please and honour them proved that they appreciated the endeavours of their soldiers abroad to preserve the peace of the country, and the lives and property of its Sovereign and people. (Cheers.)
The CHAIRMAN said, that after the exhibition of the morning, he had no doubt the meeting would pay the merited tribute to those who had begun and carried that great undertaking to a successful issue. He appealed to those who were with them on the line that day whether the result was so or not. (Cheers.) He would not disguise from them that they had encountered some difficulties in the management of it. These it was probable, they would not have been able to overcome, if they had not possessed a sound proprietary on whom they could depend a united body of Directors, and a staff of engineers in whom they had the fullest confidence. (Great cheering.)
He hoped that the work, so far as it had gone, was one which would deserve well of the country and of the nation at large; and to the good will of the public, those interested must look for the support necessary for enabling them to carry its objects into execution. (Cheers.) He would propose a toast of ” Success to the North Midland Railway.” The toast was honoured with 3 times 3 and loud applause.
WILLIAM BECKETT, Esq., then rose and was received with much cheering. The toast which it was his duty and pleasure to give was one to which he was well assured they would do full justice. Its object was to give expression to that sense of obligation under which the shareholders lay to their talented and pub lic spirited chairman Mr. Glyn. (Cheers.) Under other circumstances he should have felt that he was a stranger among them, and should have spoken of the qualifications he knew he possessed, and of the long friendship which had subsisted between them without any diminution, but with an increase of esteem. But after witnessing the scenes which had given them so much pleasure they ought no longer to consider him as a stranger among them; and he was sure he would be hailed by all as a valuable friend. On occasions of that kind, they ought to consider to whom they were indebted for the original proposition, and to whose exertions it was that they owed its carrying out. If he should now allude to him as being that friend from whom the proposition for the undertaking originally came, those who were acquainted with it would know whether or not he was giving him more than his due. (Great applause.) On that subject he might refer to any of those who had assisted in carrying out the great work. He was sure that whether he appealed to the Committee, or to Mr. Hubbard, or to that greatest of all railroad authorities, Mr. Stephenson – (Loud cheers) – they would with one united voice state that all could I not have been so well conducted as it had been but for the exertions of their chairman. He now called on them to do justice to “The Heath of their worthy Chairman,” which he hoped they would receive in such a manner as to make him understand that the Yorkshire people had not only sense to see when they were obliged, but generosity enough to acknowledge it. The toast was drank amidst loud and long continued cheering.
The CHAIRMAN rose to respond. He could not see that any little exertion of his in the matter deserved such an acknowledgment. He should indeed be ungrateful if he could forget the connection which had subsisted between him and the town of Leeds; and though the name which he had the honour to bear, perhaps, might carry with it some recommendation, yet he felt that it was the introduction with which his name was coupled on the occasion that had caused it to be received with so much eclat. With regard to the part which he had taken in reference to the North Midland Railway, he felt that the time was come when exertions should be made to secure to the town of Leeds some of the advantages which their neighbours of Lancashire had secured for themselves. But he had had but little more to do than to put the project forward; for never, he was sure, was one received with so much enthusiasm as had been the North Midland.
He had recently been on one of the great lines, and there was one fact with regard to railways which hud struck him, and the mention of which ought not to be omitted. All the great lines of railway had in variably emanated from commercial people. (Cheers.) They were not indebted for a fostering hand to any other party. They had had to make their way against much prejudice; but the day bad arrived when their promoters were enabled to convince the public that the system was founded, not only on considerations of self interest. but that there was likewise a public interest involved in all these undertakings. (Hear, hear, and cheers.) They had had no aid from the Legislature, nor from the landed interest; but bad been carried forward by the force and the power of the commercial interest of the country. (Cheers.)
If they would look around, and see how they were managed, they would see that it was almost exclusively by commercial men; and the spirit which animated the commercial body in the country was absolutely necessary to the carrying through of such undertakings. He would conclude by proposing “the Mayor and Corporation of the Town of Leeds, and prosperity to its trade and manufactures.” The toast having been honoured.
The MAYOR rose to reply. After returning thanks for the honour they had done him and the body of which he had the honour to preside over, we understood him to say that he rejoiced in such undertakings as that of which they had assembled that day to celebrate the completion, as they were calculated to benefit all. The capitalist found employment for his capital, and workmen of various trades were furnished with labour. He thought it highly necessary that there should be such means of conveyance in manufacturing districts, and he hoped, ere long, to see a line of railway connecting Leeds with the West, the great manufacturing district of Bradford and the neighbourhood. (Loud cheers.) He had committed to his care a toast which would be received by them in a befitting manner, “Dr. Hook and the Clergy.” The toast was drank with 3 times 3, and immense cheering.
Dr. HOOK, on rising to acknowledge the toast, was received with several rounds of enthusiastic applause. For himself, and in the name of his Reverend Brethren, he had to express thanks for the compliment which had been paid to them. The clergy, of course, felt interested at all times in everything which they considered to affect either the temporal or spiritual interests of the Parish and Borough; and more conducive to that welfare he believed nothing could be than the event which they that day celebrated. (Cheers.)
What could be more beneficial to the general interests of a manufacturing country than quick and easy means of transmission All benefited by it, whether they happened to be engaged in commercial or in literary pursuits – to both of these classes it was obviously of great importance to have a quick and easy communication with the metropolis. In speaking of railways they ought also to remark on the peculiar safety of that mode of travelling. (Cheers.)
When they considered the number who travelled by stage coaches, and compared them with those who travelled by railways, and likewise the accidents which occurred on either side, he was convinced they would find that those that took place on the railways were as nothing. He would also take that opportunity of congratulating the Chairman and the Directors on the successful termination of the railroad. It was indeed a great and a glorious undertaking.
When in ancient history they used to read that Xerxes cut through Mount Athos, they were disposed, with an ancient Latin author, to consider it as the mendacious assertion of mendacious Greece, who magnified tho power and prowess of an opponent in order to enhance the glory of conquering such an enemy but when they saw what the company had done, levelled heights, filled valleys, made firm marshes, and rent rocks, they should be disposed to receive what seemed wonderful or incredible in ancient history with more respect. He had to congratulate them on the triumph which they had achieved over Time, and, as the Poet had it, his brother Space; and once more in the name of his Reverend Brethren and himself he begged to express to them their thanks. (Great applause.)
The CHAIRMAN said that he rose in the discharge of a most agreeable duty. It was to propose the health of his worthy colleague Mr. Hubbard. He would not take up their time by detailing to them his various good qualities, but he would bear testimony to him in that particular character in which he stood. He had had many difficulties to contend with. The Board as they knew was composed of gentlemen; some of whom resided in London, and others in the provinces.
The experiment was a great one; and had there not been that cordial co-operation and confidence which dictated all his communications, they could not have gone on in the agreeable way which they had done. (Cheers.) He might say that as long as he had Mr. Hubbard as his coadjutor, so long would he be content to hold the honourable office which he then held. But if deprived of his co-operation, from that moment the North Midland Railway must look out for a different mode of conducting its affairs. He had to propose the health of Mr. Hubbard with 3 times 3. The toast was drank with 3 times 3, and one cheer more.
Mr. HUBBARD rose to return thanks. He was aware that there were many gentlemen connected with the railway who were much better qualified than he was to hold the situation which he did. He was anxious, however, to do his duty to it, though he regretted he could not do that justice to it which he could have wished to do. He had been long in Leeds as a commercial man, and knew that by the former methods of travelling, it required 23 or 24 hours to reach the metropolis. That day however they had opened a communication which would carry them thither in ten hours, and he had no doubt that in the course of a twelvemonth it would take them in much less time. (Cheers.) While on that subject, he hoped they would permit him to give the health of the Right Hon. Sir John Beckett. (Great applause.)
That gentleman had conducted the bill through parliament, and he did believe that but for his exertions it would not have gone through in one Session. And when it got through the House of Commons Sir John followed into the House of Peers, and through means of the great influence which he possessed was successful in getting it carried also through that House. He hoped the company would drink the health of the Right Hon. Baronet with all the honours. The toast was drank with 3 times 3, and loud cheering. Air by the Band – ” The Bonnets of Blue.”
WILLIAM BECKETT, Esq., said, that on the part of Sir John Beckett he had to return them many thanks for that expression of their kindness. It was, no doubt, quite true that they had had his aid during the short time that he was connected with the representation of Leeds, and he knew well that it had given him much pleasure to do all in his power to forward the object which they had in view – as, indeed, it was his duty to do. It had given him great pleasure to be able to do to; and he had no doubt it would give him still greater satisfaction to see it brought to a successful close. It was agreeable to think that the company had had so much regard to the rights of those persons with whom they had come in contact, and which had been the means of bringing upon them the good will and confidence of the whole country in which their transactions were carried on. No one, he was sure, would rejoice more at its successful termination than Sir John Beckett. (Cheers.) He had again to thank them for the kindness in drinking his health.
Song. – Mr. Russell – “Charlie is my Darling.”
D. BLAND, Esq., then gave – “Mrs. Glyn and the Ladies.” The toast was drank with the greatest enthusiasm. ” Glee. – ” Here’s a Health to all good Lasses.”
The company then withdrew. There were various other toasts on the appointed list, including Mr. Patteson, the secretary; Mr. Baines, M.P., and the Members who supported the Bill in Parliament; George Stephenson, Esq., the engineer; Mr. Hudson and the Chairmen and Directors of the Railways in connexion with the North Midland; the towns and trade of Sheffield, Derby, Wakefield, Barnsley, Rotherham, and the trade and manufactures of Leeds and the West Riding of the County of York. These were all thrown overboard, because, we presume, the departure of the ladies caused the retirement of the greater part of the gentlemen.