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GBEAT WESTERN RAILWAY. HALF YEARLY MEETINGâYESTERDAY. [FROM OUR OWN REPORTER.] The 76th half-yearly general meeting of the share- holders in the Great Western Railway Company was held at the Paddington station yesterday (Thursday). Sir Daniel Gooch (chairman of the directors) presided; there was a good attendance of directors, but not a very large assembly of shareholders. The report of the directors will be found in our third page.. The Chairman, in moving the adaption of the report, congratulated the meeting on the position of the accounts for the past half-year. Looking at the great increase which had taken place in coal, materials, and wages, he thought they might fairly be satisfied with the result. (Hear, hear.) It would be seen from the figures that the amount of interest which they had paid during the past half-year was-upon loans, 94 5s. Ilid, and a little more 2 than this upon debenture stock, the average being £ 4 7s. 6d., being a diminution upon loans of Is. 10d., and upon debentuie stock of Is. 5d., as compared with the previous half-year. The report contained a comparative statement of receipts and expenditure ior 1872 and 1873 but the figures were a little complicated by the fact that the 1873 account contained the receipts from the Llanelly line, which they took at the commencement of the half- year, and also the receipts from the Swansea Canal. With regard to the latter he might say in passing that the receipts of the canal, so far, left at least a couple of thousand pounds a year profit, and that there was every reason to believe that the purchase would prove advan- tageous to the company. The total increase of revenue had been 2216,369. But against this was to be set the increase which had taken place in various items of expen- diture. During the past year 5093 tons of steel rails had been laid in lieu of iron ones, being 2792 tons more than last half-year. The increase in the locomotive expenses" amounted to about £ 90,000 of this sum JE69,000 arose from the increased price of coal, and j318,000 from the increased rate of wages. As an illustration of the advance which had taken place in the price of coal he might mention that this time last year they were paying 7s. 7 jd. per ton in the half-year ending January last the cost was 12s. OAd. per ton while in the half-year ending June last the cost was 13s. llf d. per ton. He feared that even this was not the worst; he feared they were at the present moment paying considerably more, because during the past half-year there were some contracts which bad not expired, and which tended to lessen the average price paid whereas, now the contracts we out, he feared they were paying nearer 15s. or 16s. a ton. It was a mosi, serious thing to them in every way. Looking forward to the extension of the narrow guage, they had bought and paid for 48 narrow guage engines in advance of the num- ber stated in the capital account; they had also 456 waggons in advance of their capital charge as shown in the tables and probably next year a proposition would be made for extending the narrow guage system. The £ 37t0 increase in the traffic expenses was chiefly the con- sequence of increased expenditure in wages. Not only had there been a rise in the rate of wages, but there had also been an increase in the number of men employed, in consequence of various improvements which had been introduced for promoting the efficiency and safety of the working of the line. After going in great detail into the various accounts, the hon. gentleman said the general result was that there was a sum of B44,959 available for dividend, which enabled the directors to recommend one at the rate of 5f per cent. upon the original shares. He thought he might say that dur'Bg the past session they had been fairly successful in their Parliamentary strug- gles. The bill which they had promoted for constructing a new line between Stourbridge, Kidderminster, and Bew ley, instead of the curve which it had been previously proposed to make, had been thrown out. chiefly by the opposition of local interests -the Londen and North- Western perhaps having had something to do with it. The Great Western Company had on'y taken up the matter in consequence of the strong representations of the local authorities he feared that now that the effort he had refered to had failed, there was nothing left for it but to proceed at once with the construction of the line as authorised by the Act of 1861. The Britonferry Dock Bill-the nature of which had been fully explained at the last meetingâhad been sanctioned by Parliament, and those docks had now become an integral part of their system. It was not their own seeking, but the Vale of Neath had obligations and arrangements with respect to the docks of so complicated a character, that it was con- sidered to be wise for the Great Western to accept the terms which were offered, and which they were enall d to accept under the provisions of this Act, rather than to run the risk of litigation. The directors had to regret that hitherto all the efforts which had been nuds to obtain the repeal of the duty at present chargeable upon the receipts from passenger traffic had been unsuccessful; he trusted that now that Mr. Lowe was no longer Chan- cellor of the Exchequer, and that Mr. Gladstone had taken his place, they would get something more like common honesty. As stated in the 'eport, the directors had entered into negociations for the acquisition of certain col i ;ry property in South Wales. It was found that they could not purchase collieries at present in work, except at a price which was felt to be exorbitant; but they had the expectation of being able to obtain undeveloped property at a reasonable rate, and one which would make it possible for the company to undertake it with advantage. They proposed to purchase property which would enable them to sink two pits-one in the west of the South Wales district, the other mine in the Monmouthshire district-at a cost of B60,000 each. In conclusion the chairman referred to the fact that it was now necessary that they should take powers to issue a further sum of £1,500,000 of ordinary stock. The direc- tors thought the existing holders of consolidated ordinary stock were entitled to some benefit in connection with the issue, and therefore proposed that it should in the first place be limited to them, and that it should be offered at a premium of 10 per cent.. He concluded by moving the adoption of the report. Captain Bulkeley seconded the motion. Mr. Cyrus Legge, expressed his satisfaction with the conduct of the directors and the result of the working for the past half-year, but doubted the propriety of increas- ing the capital, which he feared would simply lead to a diminution of the revenue, and objected to the proposed speculation in colliery property. Several other shareholders, however, urged that the propose purchase of collieries was no speculation, but a prudent movement, designed and calculated to obtain at a lower price a material which they would always be wanting, and could not do without. A desultory conversation followed, but the subjects touched upon had no special reference to the interests of the Swansea district. Nothing was said as to the desir- ability of providing better railway accommodation for the town, or putting it upon the main line. The meeting closed with a vote of thanks to the chairman. t


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