Thursday, 4 September 2014

The Royal Commission



This is just one of a series of around fifty old newspaper articles that I have been reading. I have been researching from old newspapers and magazines the last 200 years or so of the inland waterways. With particular interest in the issues of the day that were effecting the canals. The most active periods for evaluation and change, has always been just prior, during and shortly after the two world wars. It should be remembered that between the wars the ownership of some of the canals changed hands as the railway companies bought up the waterways to get reduce competition. What is not clear is the effect this early form of asset stripping had on the viability of the inland waterways. Its good to take a look back at what people were saying and doing in the past. Most surprising of all are some of the problems that beset the canals back then - are still prevalent today. Reading old newspapers can throw up some rather interesting stories. Here is what we would call today a public interest story.

Caveat: Some of the articles are difficult to read and even using modern electronic  scanning and text conversion methods. The odd punctuation, word or character may have been transcribed in error. 
Western Mail
Saturday 21 April 1906
CANALS AND WATERWAYS.


Lord Shuttleworth
The Royal Commission on Canals and Inland Navigation to inquire into and report on the present condition and financial position of the waterways, the causes which have operated to prevent the carrying out of improvement by private enterprise, whether such causes are removable by legislation, and what facilities, improvements, and extensions and desirable order to complete a system of through communication by water between centres of commercial, industrial, or agricultural importance, and between such centres and the sea. They are also to give their views, as to the probable cost, the prospects of a reasonable return on the outlay, the immediacy of canals being made or acquired by public bodies or trusts, and the method by which funds for the purpose could be obtained and secured. 
Lord Shuttleworth, is to be chairman of the Royal Commission has an intimate knowledge of the conditions in Lancashire and has held important positions in the Government. He has been in turn Under-Secretary for India, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Secretary to the Admiralty, and Secretary to the Committee of the Privy Council on Education. He sat in the House of Commons for many years as Sir Ughtred Kay Shuttleworth. In 1902 he received a peerage. He is the owner of many acres, and the author of a book on chemistry.


 
The Sydney Morning Herald
Thursday 30 December 1909

CANALS AND WATERWAYS
FIRST STEP IN THE MIDLANDS
COMMISSION'S RECOMMENDATIONS.

LONDON, Dec 20. The Royal Commission on Canals and Waterways has presented its report. The Commission recommends the appointment of a central waterway board with a view to unifying and transforming the existing canals and waterways of Birmingham, and the South Staffordshire district, into four main routes to the Thames, the Mersey, the Severn, and the Humber, as the first step in any comprehensive scheme.

The Commission suggests a combination of free grants and loans over long periods in connection with the issue of stock for the acquisition of properties. The report estimates the cost of improvements, excluding the cost of acquisition at £17,500,000, and after the whole capital expenditure has been completed the annual expenditure will be £1,000,000.

Mr. James F. Remnant, M.P., Mr. R. C. H. Davison (civil engineer), and Mr. J. C. Inglis (manager of the Great Western railway), signed dissentient reports.  

The Royal Commission on Canals and Waterways was appointed in March, 1906, to inquire into the canals and inland navigation of the United Kingdom, and to report: 

(1) on their present condition and financial position; 
(2) the causes which have operated to prevent the carrying out of improvements by private enterprise, and whether such causes are removable by legislation; 
(3) facilities, improvements, and extensions desirable in order to complete a system of through communication by water between centres of commercial, industrial, or agricultural importance, and between such centres and the sea; 
(4) the prospect of benefit to the trade of the country compatible with a reasonable return on probable cost; 
(5) the expediency of canals being made or acquired by public bodies or trusts, and the methods by which funds for that purpose could be obtained and secured, and what should be the system of control and management of such bodies or trusts. 
Lord Shuttleworth is chairman of the Commission. A progress report issued in 1908 shows that the mileage of the canals In the United Kingdom Is 4673, the share of England and Wales being 3640. The paid up capital is £47,550,000 and the net profits for 1905 were £789,497.

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