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PORTMADOC. PORTMADOC DEBATING SOCIETY.âThe ordinary fort- nightly meeting of this society was held on Monday evening. Jan. 20th. Mr. Thomas Jones the president in the chair. A discussion was commenced on the question Are Russia's aims in the East prejudicial to the interests of England?" The debate was opened by Mr. J. S. Hughes in the affirmative, Mr. J. H. Lewis of the Portmadoc Grammar School, leading in the negative. Mr. Wheeler, Mr. Hughes, Dr. Morris, and Mr. R. G. Humphreys, also took part in the debate, which on the proposition of Mr. J. Vaughan was adjourned to the next meeting.. CONCERT.âA concert was held on Friday evening, Jan. 17th, at the Town Hall, Portma9oc, for the benefit of Mr Thornaan, of Maentwrog, to enable him to pursue his studies at the Royal Academy of Music.. The artistes engaged were Madame E. C. Arnott, Miss Kate Davies, Mr. E. D. Williams, Mr. J. Thorman, Mr. T. Hughes, harpist, and Mr. R. R. Owen, accom- panist. There was but a poor attendance, and this, as is usually the case, had a very depressing effect on the singing. Mr. Thorman showed that he possesses a powerful bass voice. The solos on the harp by Mr. Hughes were very effectively given. The meagre attendance at the concert was the more ta be regretted as Mr. lhorrnan gave a concert here about twelve months ago, at which also the attendance was very limited. Mr. inorman and party gave a concert at Penrhyndeudraeth tne following evening to a much larger audience. COMMERCIAL REVIEW FOR 1878. e u"iyerBal depression of trade throughout the coun- # i <S7S k reached this town, and the closing months of lo7o hae witnessed a slackness in the business of Port- madoc without a parellel in the historv of the town. The The principal industries of this place arc-the exportation of slates, shipbuilding, importation of timber, &c., and the building of dwelling-houses and workshops for the accommodation of a quickly-growing population. It will be flrdvisfthlej perlv*ipsj to treat of theso striatum iâ EXPORTATION OF SI/ATES This is by far the leading trade of the town, Portmadoc being the main outlet for the immense production of slates at the Festiniog quarries. This year trade has grown year by year until it has attained a considerable magnitude, and a large number of vessels are now em- ployed in the shipment of the slates to British and Con- tinenal ports. There are at the Port no fewer than ten wharves, with a total frontage to the harbour of about a mile, and and in prosperous times all the available space has been occupied by vessels loading and unloading, while others have been lyiug abreast waiting their turn, and only detained by want of accommodation for loading or discharging. This past year, however, has witnessed a great falling off in this businessâa falling off which the following figures will, perhaps, best show :â Shipments of slates for past three years. Quarter ending 1876 1877 1878. Tons. Tons. Tons. March 29,097 25,204 26,788 June 31,597 29,230 25,864 September. 30,308 31,025 22,484 December 23,590 21,103 10,702 Total 114,592 109,622 85,838 in round numbers this shows a decrease in 1877 of 5,000 tons as compared with 1876, and a further decrease of 24,000 tons in 1878; or a total decrease in the ship- ments of 1878 as compared with 1876 of nearly 29,000 tons. When it is borne in mind that during the past three years the population of the district has considerably increased, and that various businesses have sprung up dependent directly or indirectly on. the..slate trade, it can better be understood how many of the people of the dis- trict are affected by this slackness of trade. Not a few of the wealthier residents have invested a great portion of their savings in vessels engaged in the slate-shipping trade and to many of these the loss of freight is the loss of the greater portion of their ineome. The effect in the falling off of this trade is less work for the labourers, less freight for the owners of the vessels and less receipts to the owner of the harbour. The amount of slates sent from the port I per rail shows a slight increase, namely In 1876-27,277 1877â32,028 1 and in 1878-33,992 SHIPBUILDING. Slates being a peculiarly heavy class of goods, a special kind of vessel has to be employed for their conveyance, as in a rough sea they would be likely to knock a weakly- built vessel to pieces. For some time, therefore, there have been built at Portmadoc and Borthygest vessels purposely constructed for the carriage of slates, and during the spring and summer of 1876, 1877, and 1878, eight vessels have been annually launched from the different ship-building yards. The vessels, which have an average tonnage of about 300 tons, occupy about twelve or fifteen months in building, and keep a number of men constantly employed. Sucii, hwwever, has bean the effect of the depression in trade that thet c; is now not one in the course of building, and since the iaunching of the last vessel in July, 1878, the shipbuilding yards have been virtually closed. Some of the workmen at once obtained employment as shipcarpenters on large vessels connected with London, Liverpool, Cardiff, &c., and others have been working as labourers; but many of them have had to undergo considerable privation. There are now one or two vessels in the course of repair, and this is giving a little employ; but very few of the men get anything like regular work, and others are almost or entirely un- employed. IMPORTS. The principal imports are coal, limestone, and timber, the trade in which during the past three years shows that whereas in 1877 there was a decline in the imports corresponding to the decline in the exports in 1878 there was a considerable increase in the imports and a great decrease in the exportsâwhich is very much like burning the candle at both ends.âThe stock of timber is accumula- ting, and business is slack, owing principall yhowever to the non-demand for shipbuilding purposes. THE BUILDING TRADE. For a long time past there has been rather a dearth of house accommodation in his district, which the builders have endeavoured, during the last few years to meet. They have so far succeeded that there is now here and there to be sesn in house windows the hitherto unknown sign, This house to be let."âThere are now in course of building in Portmadoc and Tremadoc, some twenty-five or thirty cottages and dwelling houses, and the building trade would have been now slack, but for one or two larger undertakings.âA new Independent Chapel has been built during the past year, but there is still some eight months' work for the joiners, &c.âThere are also in course of erection a Masonic Hall, a new station by the Festiniog Railway Company, and a foundry by Messrs. J. H. William, and Sons.âIn addition to these, contracts have been let by the School Board for the erection of schools at Borthygest and Morfa Bychan. MISCELLANEOUS. The reports from the foundries are that trade is far from brisk; and the same may be said of every other business. A few sett stone quarries have of late been opened in the neighbourhood; but the difficulty of procuring setts makers prevents the quarries being carried on, so as to yield a fair profit. Shopkeepers are complaining of the want of money; but all classes, with two or three in- significant exceptions, have so far kept clear of financial difficulties. IMPROVEMENTS. A word or two should be said about the improvements to Portmadoc during the past year. The most noticeable is the handsome new building of the National Provincial Bank of England. In place of the inadequate accommo- dation at their old site in Bank Place, they have now large commodious premises in High-streetâpremises much more befitting such a prosperous bank as the National Provincial. The North and South Wales Bank, too, have improved their fine building by the erection of a portico in a style suitable to the rest of the building. Another great improvement has been effected by the Local Board in conjunction with the Recorder, Mr. Breese. They have caused the footpath in High-street to be properly kerbed and levelled. It had been in a most dangerous condition forla. long time, but is now in good order. It is a pity the Beard have not more money to spend in street improvements; but evidence is given every now and then of a desire on the part of the Board to do what they can with what comes to their hand, and as long as the inhabitants object to high rates they must be content with second rate conveniences. A Local Board rate of 2s., or occasionally 3s. in the pound per a mum, cannot be expected to pave, flag, light, and drain the district to perfection, and the Board must at times have a difficulty in determining on which leg to put the boot. Mr. Breese has also had the space round the drink- ing fountain at the entrance to the town levelled and covered with gravel and surrounded with good kerk and sett stones. With regard to the prospects for the immediate future it is neither easy nor safe to express an opinion, but there is a general feeling prevalent in the port that a consider- able revival of trade will take jplace immediately upon the opening of the Baltic ports in the coming spring. ST. JOHN'S CHURCH.âENTERTAINMENT TO THE CHOIR. On Friday evening, the 17th January, the organists and choirs of this church had a supper kindly given them by the Rev. J. Morgan Jones. There are different organists and different choirs for the Welsh and English services, and it was partly with the view of bringing them together in a friendly way, and also of showing his appreciation of the services gratuitously rendered that the supper was given. The supper was provided at the Sportsman Hotel, Portmadoc, in a manner which fully sustained the repu- tation of Mrs. Wild. The Rev. Mr. Jones occupied the chair, and Mr. J. E. Jones the vice-chair. After the ustialloyal toasts, The CHAIRMAN proposed "The army, navy, and volun- teers," which was suitably responded to by Captain SP00NER,wh0 spoke in high terms of the services rendered by our army and navy, and of the zeal which animated our volunteers. Mr. J. S. HUGHES then proposed the healths of the organists, Mr. R. Grindley, Mr. E. Mathews, and Mr. J. Thomas, and in doing so referred to the willingness, kind- liness, and regularity with which they each undertook their duties at the morning, afternoon, and evening ser- vices respectively. Mr. Grindley was well known to those present. He was engaged in training the raw recruits to fight well the battle of life, and in conjunction with Mr. J. Thomas, had rendered all help in his power to forming and maintaining the Welsh choir. To Mr. Thomas, whose genial face and kind hearty manner tended to keep everyone with whom he came in contact in good spirits, and to Mr. Grindley, the good at- tendance at, and present efficient state of, the Welsh choir was altogether due. Mr. Mathews was not so well known as the others, and though he had now resided for some time in the district, he was comparatively a stranger. Yet ever since he undertook the duties of organist he has spared no pains, but, accompanied by his wife, had Sunday after Sunday come from his comfortable home in all weathers, a long journey over one of the bleakest of roads, to perform his self-imposed task. Not only so, but he had sacrificed his time to have a practice every week, and had worked hard and perseveringly to make the English choir thoroughly efficient and competent to sing the beautiful music of the Church in-Ja worthy manner. In proposing their healths, he trusted they would all be spared long to continue their valuable services for the Church. The CHAIRMAN, in endorsing Mr. Hughes's observa- tions as to the organists, spoke in Welsh, and likened the choirs to volunteers and the organists to officers. He trusted that the same spirit of willing obedience which characterised the volunteers would be found amongst the choirs, and hoped that they would all work well together, not for his bake, but for the sake of the dear old Church of England. The healths of Mr. Grindley, Mr. Mathews, and Mr. Thomas, were then drunk, and three cheers given for each. Mr. GRINDLEY, Mr. MATHEWS, and Mr. THOMAS re- plied, each expressing his heartfelt thanks for the kind feeling shown towards them. In the course of his speech Mr. Mathews adverted to the position held by a choir organist, and said he did not think they had full justice done to them. The members of a choir often thought the organist hot and peppery, and always wanting his own way, whereas oftentimes it was the choir who were deter- mined on having their own way. They might depend upon it that no organist would alter his choir from mere caprice. Surely he was the best judge of the positions which the members of the choir should occupy, and he hoped they would all take note of the Chairman's obser- vations on that point, and emulate the volunteers in strict discipline and obedience to the wishes of whoever might be their leader. He also strongly urged punctual and regular attendance at the practices, without which it was utterly impossible for any choir to sing as it should. The health of the assistant organist, Mr. John Parry, was next drunk with acclamation. Mr. D. HOMFKAY thanked the Chairman on behalf of all present for the handsome entertainment given that evening, and said it showed the great interest taken by Mr. Jones in all matters connected with the Church, and that evening's meeting reminded them of the position Mr. Jones held as the head of a spiritual family, of which they were the members. He proposed the health of Mr. Jones. The toast was received with loud cheering. Mr. JONES thanked all for the hearty way in which his health had been honoured, and expressed the pleasure he had in meeting the choirs that evening. He again ex- pressed a hope that they would all work hard together, and do all in their power for the welfare of their mother Church. Numerous songs and glees enlivened the evening's proceedings, and a very enjoyable meeting was closed by the singing of the National Anthem. THE PORTMADOC HISTRIONIC CLUB. SPEECH BY MR. HOLLAND, M.P. At the second performance by this club, on Thursday evening, the 16th January, there was an improvement noticeable even on the good acting of the previous evening. The same pieces were performed, the only difference being in the order of the plays. Mr. Benson addressed the audience in terms similar to those reported last week, and read the prologue, after which Mr. Casson spoke in Welsh, for the benefit of those who might not have understood the previous speaker's address, and informed them of the intention of the Club to devote all the gains of the two performances, after payment of necessary expenses, to- wards the relief of the distressed, instead of to the Volunteers, as at first intended, an announcement which was received with much applause. Number 1 round the corner" was then given with equal vigour and tone as on the previous evening, and after the fall of the curtain, Mr. J. H. Jones repeated his song of "The wicked Welshman," which was vociferously applauded and encored. Mr. Bernard followed with his clever "Flute imitation." Mr. S.|HOLLAND, M. P., who was among the audience, then at the request of the Committee, rose to say a few words. After expressing his pleasure at being again amongst so many of his old friends in that neighbourhood, he congratulated the audience on the fortnutioa of a club so competent as this had shown itself to be, and highly eulogised those who took part in the'performances. He made a humorous allusion to the advantages experienced by the public in an appeal for charitable and other objects through being asked to witness such an admirable per- formance as that, as compared with the means usually adopted of importuning them for money at bazaars. To Paris and back for £5" was then given with great success, the capital acting of Mr. J. H. Jones as Snoz- zle," Mr. Spooner as '⢠Sprig-gins," Mr. Edwards as "Lieut. Spike," and Mr. Griffith as "Fanny," calling forth continual outbursts of applause. Indeed had the play been written' for the first-named gentleman he could not have been more thoroughly at home in it; many of the audience who are no strangers to the London stage heartily joining in commendation of the admirable way in which he played his part of Snozzle. The band of the 4th Carnarvonshire Rifle Volunteers, under the conductorship of Mr. F. H. Strowger, played several selections of music in their best style. The principal actors were cailed before the curtain, as also was Mr. F. H. Strowger, the bandmaster and stage manager, and also Mr. Collier, who has been so successful in his painting of the scenery. < After payment of current necessary expenses there is a balance in hand of £1.5, which is beinghanded over to the ministers of various denominations for distribution among the poor.











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