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Detailed Lists, Results and Guides

OUR COAL TRADE. The Export of Coal and Increase of Steamers. [BY CHEVIOT.] The collapse which has taken place in 1884 in the production of steam vessels has been sudden, and heavily felt by both capitalists and their workmen. In the Clyde district, and on the Tyne and Wear—the three largest shipbuilding sites in the world—the distress has been disas- trous. A moral may be derived, and that is, put not your trust in (princes, I was going to say) single trades for towns and districts. The "cotton famine" years ago, in Lancashire, told a fearful tale. It cannot be said that the shipbuilding enterprise is the one interest on the Clyde and Tyne. There are, happily, many other branches of business on the banks of those clasbic streams. But the building of ships is extensive enough to make the breakdown sufficiently felt to a very large population. Unhappily, Sunderland feels it more than the others, for her staple manufacturing trade is that of shipbuilding. I have often trembled to think of the consequences that might ensue to Cardiff and the populations on the banks of the Taff, right and left, up to Merthyr, were a serious collapse in the coal trade to ensue. Hence the force of the sermon that has been so often preached by prominent public men to extend the boundaries of general trade as much as possible. As the coal trade—especially the steam-coal trade-is so intimately bound UD with the extent of our steam fleet, I thought it worth while ot inquire as to the proportion of development be. tween both. In doing so, I hope I shall not be led away into any doctrinaire ideas or empirical conclusions. I will endeavour to state a few facts plainly, and perhaps some practical men dealing with. both classes of property may be induced to think out" some solid lessons thereupon. Take first the total production of our coal mines. Ac- cording to that valuable publication, The Mine- ral Statistics of the United Kingdom," prepared for so many years by Mr Robert Hunt, F.R.S., and now by the Home Office, the amount was as follows in three decades :— Increase per cent. 1860 80,042,698 tons — 1870 110,431,19^ tons 38 1880 146.818,622 tons 32 Mr Hunt roughly distributes the consumption as under Shipped to foreign countries: Carried by railways and canals; Consumed in blast furnaces Consumed in other branches of iron manufacture; Used by foreign-goinf steamers. In the latter year there were Exported 18,719,971 tons. Carried coastwise 11,495,896 tons. Use in pig-iron manufacture 16,682,629 tons. Other purposes—railways, factories, home consump- tion, -ic 99,920,126 tons. Total as above 146,818,622 tons. Turn now to the export of coal since 1840. The figures are:— figures are Tnnc. Increase percent. 1840 1,606,313 — 1850 3,351,880 108 1860 7,321,832 ns 1870 11,495,092 56 1880 18,719,971 62 1883 22,775,634 21 The latter, of course, is for three years as against ten in the previous periods. The tonnage per register of British and foreign vessels cleared outwards from ports in the United Kingdom were:— British. Foreign. Total. increase per cent. 1840 341,397 66,881 408,278 1850 876,186 202,133 1,078,319 166 1860 2,041,884 376.678.. 2,418,562 124 1870 6,786,841 850,607. 7,637,448 216 1880 15,685,739 3,217,791 18,903,530 147 1383 19,920,580 4,447,007 24,367i587 28 The percentage for the last three years is singu- larly alike that of the coal export for that period, in contrast to the manifest disparity of the former periods. Turn now to the steamers registered in th United Kingdom during the same term of years. They were No. Tons. In. p. Cent 184° 77i #< 87928 F_ 1850 1,187 „ lb8,474 91 1860 2,000 454,327 170 1870 3,178 1,112964 143 1880 5,247 2,723,468 144 1883 6,260 3,728 268 35 This is one continued course of increase in all these figures. They vary and yet they agree. There are minor dissimilarities, and yet a broad family resemblance—like children, according to Darwin, who decline to be exactly like their parents, but follow more after their grand- parents, and even farther back in the perspec- tive of pedigree. But our family resemblance 11 hardly gets so far back as the arboreal period." In the first place, the production of coal does not proceed so fast in a percentage degree as the export of that article. This indi- cates, I should think, that our foreign customers are in ratio stepping out in front of us. Then, in the next place, the increase of steam vessels as carriers is ahead of the export of coal; but, al- though the aggregate increase is much more in the former, there is a coterminous resemblance in the consecutive years given. The year 1870 is an exception, but an exceptional exception which could hardly prove the rule." Going further, we find that the registered steamers have increased more in proportion to the carriers." The latter, however, have increased more rapidly. Why so? Because the modern steamer goes faster, and thus makes more voyages. But there is another exception to be noticed here, and that is-the registered steamers in- creased faster in 1860 and in 1883. I hardly re- member the whole of the circumstances of the former period. It comprised the disastrous Crimean War and Indian Mutiny. There was a financial crisis a few years before I860, and after the recoil, probably, a good deal of money was spent in steamers. About last year, however, there cannot be much doubt. It was the most unprecedented in the annals of shipbuilding for the production of steam vessels. Take the Clyde alone, and we find this view confirmed. The tonnage built there in five years amounted to In 1880. 242,774 tons. „ 1881 340,823 „ » 1882 395.149 „ » 188j 417,881 „ 1884 299,119 „ So that more than a million tons was built and launched in the three great years, 1881-3. Ot course, such productive power could only have one result. It outstripped the demand, and the per- centage of increase placed upon the register again exceeded the carrying capacity. In passing, it is hopeful to see that the tonnage built this year is more than that of 1.880, and proves that there is some vitality in the trade yet. But let us return. The popular delusion that Tenterden steeple was the cause of the Goodwin Sands is no longer believed in, especially by the enlightened citizens who dwell under the shadow of the University College of Cardiff. This pro- blem, however, remains: Can any of the learned professors solve it? Will our steam fleet in- crease again ? And what bearing will that increase have upon the coal trade ? That a demand for steamers will again arise is surely not only possibl but probable. Some people think that its halcxo" days are over and that the proper nauticalin" vestment is the big iron four-masted sailing craft. They certainly are increasing, as a visit ocCaslOT1" ally to our docks will show. Increasing ):6S, in number as well as size. They are "things of beauty' that walk the waters like "things of life," It makes a patriot's heart swell with pride to think that his nation can be represented in seas by such tokens of his country's resources. Like Tell, addressing the Swiss Alps, according to Sheridan Knowles, one migLt well apostrophise them thus How high you lift your heads int » the sky How huge you are how mighty and how free 1 Ye are the things that tower, that shine, whose smile makes slacl. But notwithstanding the utility of such ships to carry goods cheaply and safely on long voyages, it is unlikely that any serious inroad will be made upon the vocation of our steamers, either liner" or" ocean-tramp." They are more likely to sup- plant the old wooden sailing which is gradually being relegated to the limbo of the "dear departed." The revival ol the steam trade is dependent probably upon gesierni trade, The run down" of that main element commenced in Wall-street last spring. It did the same thing about ten years ago. In 1866 it began in London with the collapse of Overend and Gurney's. The Stock Exchange, for good or evil, has always the credit of beginning this general mischief; and, after capitalists have been well cautioned and prices reduced, the turn of the tide comes again. One of the features of general trade about twelve or thirteen years ago was an inordinate thirst on the part of speculators to invest in coal mines. The men of this district do not require to be reminded of the result. For a few years back another "feature" was to "invest in steam." Twenty per cent. dividends, vide circulars of managing owners, had a wonderful effect on the gudgeon-like public, who swallowed the bait- hook and all. Behold the result-an empty pocket and a lacerated mind and stomach. Well, if general trade should revive—and let us hope the revival will begin with this new year-there is plenty of coal in South Wales to supply any amount of "steam." According to the Royal Commission on the Coalfields of the United Kingdom (1866-71), we have 32,456 million and odd tons, which is something to dream about and dig for. But, I forget, the Bristol people are going to take the wind out of our sails." The new number of the Manufacturer has an article on the subject. Bristol has as good coal as South Wales It has only to erect tips and go ahead exporting. The Chamber of Com- merce there has petitioned the town council, and the town council bas-not yet consented to erect these said tips. This by the way. It shows, however, as every straw does, how the wind is blowing, and Cardiff men must be up and doing— must look after their general as well as their coal trade. Because, if a port exports and does not import, and vice versa, it makes a difference of Is 6d per ton to the trading ship shifting across this channel. Now, if steamers are still to increase, will they have an appreciable effect on the development of the coal trade-especially the steam-coal trade? To understand this question more clearly, let us ask-who are our foreign customers for coal ? In 1883 the exports of coal, etc., stood thus Tons Value. Coals 21,670,926 £ 9,970,711 Cinders 488,001 339,551 Patent fuel 616,707 335,657 Total 22,775,634 £10.b45,919 The principal customers were:— France 4,481,426 tons. Germany 2,424,573 „ Italy 2,212,111 „ Bussia 1,563,843 Sweden and Norway 1,57,484 Spain 1,229,924 Denmark — 1,102,133 14,571,494 Other countries (under a million each) 8,204,140 „ Total. 22,775,634 „ So that the main part of our coal goes but a short distance after all. What is done with it ? Ap- plied to a variety of purposes, no doubt. France gets a good deal of small coal, and makes patent fuel. A large quantity is consumed in bunker- ing" steamers. It is also used for house purposes and for factories. The bunkering question is well worth a little consideration. In the Return —above quoted (Parliamentary Return, No 138)- the coal shipped as bunkers" is not taken into ac- count. Sir Hussey Vivian moves for this important account-important especially to this district. Whydoeshe not include in his programme the "bunker" coal, both foreign-going and coasting ? No account at all is taken of the latter, but the former is, for a few years back, stated separately in Mineral Statistics." It is becoming an im- portant item of export, as for instance :— Year. Tons. 1880 4,926,076 1881 5,227,588 1882 5,575,160 1893 6,400,594 These figures, of course, refer to the whole United Kingdom. For Cardiff alone in 1883 the amount was 969,150 tons-nearly one million tons, worth about half a million sterling at ship- ment. It is a larre sum for one port, and repre- sents a good deal of capital and labour to produce. It is, however, a larger question for the whole kingdom; and it becomes an impor- tant consideration as to the quantities that our steam fleet uses when "bunkering" in foreign ports, to trade in foreign waters, or to carry them back to Old England" again. Also, how much of the coal we export goes to supply foreign steamers in their voyages abioad? Look, for instance, at the big lines" of boats, and judge what they may need. In those above 100,000 tons register, there are belonging to the 11 No. Tons. Peninsular and Oriental Line 53 175,339 BritishIndia.Line. 83 173,787 Messageries Maritinies Line 61 141,112 Comp. Transatlantique Line 66 133.S62 Anchor • ine ^5 129,871 Cunard Line 33 112,608 Allan Line 37 106,452 Austrian-Lloyd Line 81 104,263 Florio Itubattino Line 87 104,167 in the yearly account ot the nrst-mentioned line for the period ended 30th June last, the cost of coal (including its freight) was £ 488,822 15s 6d. This would at least represent half a million tons. If the others consumed the same ratio, about four million tons would be taken for those seven fleets only, to say nothing of the other more numerous, but smaller, fleets of the world, amounting to about six times the tonnage of those enumerated above. I have now done with this subject for the nonce. I hope this little "study of statistics" may be of some use to our local shipowners and coal-shippers, who are just now in tribulation about the stagnation of trade.


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-' The Nile Expedition.