Wednesday 3rd December 1834
Ann Walker’s Entry
Anne Lister’s Entry
No entry today.
[up at] 7 20/..
[to bed at] 12 by the castle clock
no kiss finish morning Fahrenheit 47º at 8 50/.. a.m. at which hour went down to breakfast – my letter to ‘Major Norcliffe, Langton Hall, Malton’ went by the bag before breakfast this morning – read the newspaper – Sir Robert Peel not arrived – he to be premier, and not the duke of Wellington – Washington came – paid him for last Saturday’s pit sinking and mine driving bills, and ordered all Mr. Samuel Hall’s property etc. up to the town of Southowram to be put into the plan – ordered Shibden dale, but he said the town’s plan of the township of Northowram was lost 2 or 3 years ago – taken somewhere to a distance on some occasion and never forthcoming since – then 1/2 hour making notes from Palmer’s report till just setting off to Halifax when Mr. Samuel Freeman came (at 10 50/.. by the Halifax castle clock and 11 5/.. by our hall clock) – he thought he had a minute or 2 just to see me before going to the meeting – I proposed our going together – he rode – but walked down the old bank and we part at the churchyard steps fancying to arrive at the office about the same time but I was in, and seated close to, and on the right of Mr. Waterhouse, treasurer and chairman 2 or 3 minutes before Freeman arrived – the room seemed full – there might be about or nearly 50 – Mr. Waterhouse wished I had come 1/2 hour earlier (I was there at 10 55/.. by the castle clock) – Mr. Norris (William) immediately began reading Mr. Bull’s report which took up 38 minutes explanatory of Palmer’s report and shewing the differences of cost and advantage single locks, and double and parallel locks to act as side ponds – single and double towings paths – 60 feet breadth of top water-line, or 50 ditto ditto etc. etc. – a few questions were asked during the reading chiefly by Mr. John Hodgson who was for some time the principal speaker – and against Palmer’s plan, and for single locks etc. etc. all that was cheapest – a Mr. Oldham, a quaker of Leeds, a large fat man chiefly opposed him neither of them master of their subject tho’ the former is of the committee but Oldham talked and put his questions sensibly – all soon began to talk at once and the chairman begged one to speak at a time – It seemed as if all had come to the meeting without any previous acquaintance with the subject of it, and many seemed inclined to be guided by the committee of whom (of at least the sitters at the table) Messrs. John Hodgson and Rawdon and William Briggs were against the liberal scale of improvement and Mr. Waterhouse tho’ for it yet being chairman expressed no opinion and Mr. Joseph Hodgson tho’ also for it, did not advocate the cause by words – at last, it was thought best, that the Chairman should propose the resolutions drawn up by the committee – the pith of the 1st was should the new part of the canal be 50 or 60 feet broad – 50 carried by shew of hands about 13 to 11 – It was said by someone, that, according to act of parliament, we had a right to ascertain whether the majority was against us in number of shares – but we did not press this, and let the vote go against us – the difference of the cost was estimated at £2,000 – I said to my neighbour I was sorry to see us begin to garble Palmer’s plan – why consult a 1st rate engineer unless we had so far a good opinion of him as to be guided by him – we were not engineers – why not take his advice to do a little in the best manner possible and make our means measure the quantity rather than the quality – but my neighbour I did not know him said he acted for others and must be careful – the next neighbour but one, a Mr. Wetherherd, was of my opinion and said a few words aloud nearly what I had just whispered – Freeman had held up his hand against us and his neighbour Mr. Clay of Rastrick – a great deal of talking ensued from individual to individual – nobody seeming knowing what to do till Mr. Rawdon Briggs, begged the chairman to read the 2nd resolution that Double and parallel locks 72 feet by 18 feet to act as side ponds be adopted with the amendment proposed by Mr. Rawdon Briggs that single locks, similar to those we have, be adopted – Mr. John Hodgson seconded him – now ensued a Babel mode of discussion – Mr. John Hodgson calling the engineer (Mr. Bull) to account for stating in his report that double locks would save compensation to mill owners, he Mr. John Hodgson contending that no compensation could be due – Cook and . . . . of Horbury soke mill, belonging to the executors of the Pilkingtons, let with several other buildings etc. but called at the nominal rent of £100 per annum – Mr. Bull not a man of eloquence – Mr. James Norris our attorney did not much defend him, and John Hodgson seemed to gain the wordy battle – Mr. William Briggs spoke far the best, seeming to understand his subject better than the rest, but ran on with a comparison between double (saying nothing of double and parallel) and single locks, shewing that the committee not having sufficiently understood Mr. Bull had stultified themselves in one of their resolutions and that as for expedition so much insisted on so far from attaining it, there would be more delay in passing double than single locks – yes! said Mr. Bull, but not with double and parallel locks – the meeting seemed utterly at a loss to what opinion to come – then came a long desultory conversation chiefly sustained by Messrs. Briggs as to the lengths of the pools – and it was doubted which resolution should be put 1st – that respecting the locks, or that respecting the pools – Mr. William Briggs strongly recommended following the natural rise of the valley and making the falls of the locks and the lengths of the pools very accordingly urging that it was easier to dig a canal than to build one for that if we equalized the falls of the locks and lengths of the pools, instead of sinking, we should at one end have to raise, or build up one canal which would, of course, be more expensive, would it not Mr. Bull? than sinking – Yes! was the answer Mr. Bull only that he had written an answer to these anticipated objections which he handed to William Briggs and myself but nobody was inclined to read – At length is was agreed to drop the pools for that the decision about the locks would decide sufficiently about the pools – I had in the mean time opened my mouth again and turning to the Messrs. Briggs said audibly that parsimony was not always economy and that I feared they were in this case advocating the former and not the latter – Mr. Palmer was a man of great ability and credit, and I could not help agreeing with him that whatever we did should be done in the best manner possible and that the quantity not the quality of our work should be limited by our means – Mr. Rawdon Briggs replied he did not think all this expense necessary – the trade did not require it and never would – Do you then, said I, mean to limit the progress of improvement? we know what is at present – you are doubtless right as to that – but which among us dares venture to say he knows what will be? Mr. Clay like Mr. William Briggs and Mr. John Hodgson had contended that this was a question of profit and loss – Mr. Freeman had said this would never answer unless an opening was made with the Mersey; but I saw that I had called the attention of the meeting and my fat friend Mr. Oldham seemed well satisfied – It was agreed to put it to the vote whether there should be double and parallel locks to act as side ponds (dimensions left to the committee but not to be less than 70 feet by 16 feet and to be 72×18 if this could be managed on account of mill owners) or single locks – the shew of hands was in our favour (for the former) – Mr. Rawdon Briggs demanded a scrutiny – on which the chairman and clerk (Mr. William Norris) and the committee retired to ascertain which side had by number of shares the voters on each side having signed their names on a separate paper the chairman and other necessary gentlemen must have been absent about or above 1/2 hour – In the mean while the whole meeting divided into sets of 2 or 3 all in earnest conversation – Mr. Freeman came up to me and explained that he had voted against me (for 50 feet instead of 60 breadth water, had voted with us for the double locks) because Mr. Clay told him the Aire and Calder proprietors present were all for leading us into expense to serve their own ends – I explained that I thought not of the Aire and Calder – I thought only of ourselves – why not do a job well, or let it alone – people must do work thoroughly well nowadays, or it would not do – If they meant to garble Palmer’s plan in detail in this way, for plans of their own, I wished they let the navigation remain as it is, and do nothing; and if this last plan was put to the vote, it should have my support rather [than] spend money for nothing – If were to spend £40 for an indifferent job, would it not be better to spend £50,000 on a good one? – Freeman seemed rather staggered – Mr. Kershaw and I had then some talk about Northgate – he regretted I had not bought his property there – I said I should if he had taken my offer at 1st – but I made up my mind quickly, and stuck to it – and that when his tardy change of mind came it was in fact too late – I had already disposed of my resources – Mr. William Briggs left the committee, and very civilly expressed his sorrow at having me for an opponent – said (as John Hodgson) had also said the anticipated coal trade would not pay – our chief trade was corn, and Wakefield was the mart, but this had gone down much of late years and would go down as Ireland improved – the steam communication with Ireland brought corn to Liverpool cheaper than we could grow it – this was evidenced by whenever there was a bad harvest in Ireland, the corn market was better at Wakefield and our navigation made more – and did I not think Ireland would go on improving and furnish more and more corn? I was just going to reply saying I did not quite agree with him about Ireland (meaning that poor laws, their improved manner of living and consumption of their own corn etc. would equalize them rather more with us, when the chairman and committee returned saying that we had a majority – there was a majority of 58 for the double and parallel locks – for single locks votes of persons present 176 for double (present) 188. each of the committee had 20 proxies – the chairman just whispered to me that they had not entered my proxy for Adney (because I ought to have brought a written form of proxy) but that it was not wanted as we had a majority of 58 – this question of locks decided all the rest was voted left to the discretion of the committee save that a power to borrow £50,000 at 4 percent was voted – the act of Parliament only allows us to borrow £60,000 – there is already a debt of £23,000 upon the navigation – Mr. Rawdon Briggs said Mr. Norris (William) as an officer of the company had no right to vote – It was proved that by act of parliament he had no right to be (he could not be) on the committee, nor could any officer of the company, but that he did not lose his right to vote as a proprietor – he said that he had voted for double locks because of the trouble it would save with the mill owners, but that he would withdraw his vote if the meeting thought proper, but this was of course not sanctioned – It had been shewn or owned by Messrs. John Hodgson and William Briggs that Cooke and (Watson?) of Horbury mill could stop the canal any time – Mr. William Henry Rawson said in his usual sneering manner we had better empower the committee to borrow £60,000 at once; for they would want it – of course, he was against double locks – not a soul there could know my opinions when I entered the room – of course my going will be talked of – cela ne m’émporte pas beaucoup – if such be public meetings here in general, there is sad want of some mastermind to lead the multitude – As the committee was divided like a house against itself why had not each party a champion really armed in his cause de cap à pied to state and defend his cause? or why had not each side an independent engineer to conduct the arguments for him? we treated a great concern like a little one, and prated like a parcel of children – there was a large plan (of the canal and proposed improvements) on the table which nobody looked at, and a model of double and parallel locks (to act as side ponds) which nobody understood! – I came away as soon as the money was voted have been there from 10 55/.. to 3 53/.. by my watch 35 minutes too late, by the castle clock now the best regulated one in the town, the town’s economy having employed at a low salary a man from Sowerby to take care of the old church clock so that it is nearly useless as a measure of time – so that I was at the meeting from 11 1/2 to 4 32/.. it having begun at 11 – called at Whitleys and paid for Turner’s chemistry and Gotha almanac – called also at Greenwods about sofa fringe – and home (by the old bank) at 5 1/4 – some time with Adney – gave her a true account of the meeting – then with my father and Marian, and merely said we had gone on very well having voted the improvements – then with my aunt a little while – dinner at 6 – coffee – lost 1 hit and 1 gammon and won 1 hit – wrote the 1st 12 lines of journal of today – 1/4 hour with my aunt – then an hour tête à tête with Marian till 10 1/4 – to tell her Mr. Abbott was there and had come up to speak to me which I thought back tact that I spoke civilly but distantly and turned away I thought she had better tell him she had told me of this queer business of hers and tell him what I had said and what I should do and the real state of the case about the property she said when she had once made up her mind she was not likely to change and the thing had been too long thought of for her to give it up I said that I hoped she would take care to have the settlements properly made and to see that he really had what she expected that as she was to live in the town the break between [us] had better be entire half measures would be painful to both sides was she quite she said of my opinion so it is understood and agreed mutually to pass without speaking – sat talking to Adney and did not come upstairs till 11 1/4 – damp soft, disagreeable day tho’ finish on the whole – https://insearchofannwalker.com/thursday-4th-december-1834/
Courtesy of West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale SH:7/ML/E/17/0118, SH:7/ML/E/17/0119 & SH:7/ML/E/17/0120
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