A Complete History of The Great Flood at Sheffield
by Samuel Harrison
Web Page 39

(130)
 PROCEEDINGS OF THE RELIEF COMMITTEE.

A meeting of the general committee of the Bradfield Inundation Relief Fund, was held on April 29th, in the Council Hall, Sheffield, the Mayor presiding. Ald. Saunders submitted the following return, made up by the district committees:--

Amount of money given in relief ...... £2,974 7
Cost of Food .................................
Do. clothing ...................................
Do. furniture replaced.....................
1,460
1,022
2,555
18 
16 
7
10
0

 

Total cost of relief of all kinds to present date..... £16,678  4 3

 

Probable amount of future relief ......... £2,358 13 5

 

Number of widows caused by the flood .... l l
   ,, ,,   orphans.......................................... 40
   ,, ,,   deaths ........................................... 250
   ,, ,,   persons relieved ............................ 20,537
   ,, ,,   houses in the district ....................... 4,953
   ,,    ,,   ,,    flooded.................................. 4,357
   ,,    ,,   ,,    destroyed and abandoned...... 798

The clothing committee have spent an additional sum to that mentioned above, and that, including several cases of relief above £5 also not included, makes the total expenditure about £19,000.

CLOTHING DISTRIBUTED. --- Boots and shoes, 4407 pairs; trousers, 593 pairs; coats, 516; vests, 178; calico and linsey, 5814 yards; shirts, 1141; dresses and petticoats, 1986; stockings, 2107 pairs; shawls, 204; flannel and woolsey, 1119 yards; sheets and beds, 325 bonnets and caps, 201; various, 4000.

The Mayor read the following financial statement, in which were included the amounts paid to the various district committees:--

To Sheffield and Rotherham Bank (Balance) .........
 ,,  Sheffield Banking Company .............................
 ,,  Sheffield and Hallamshire Bank.........................
£14,861
6,887
1,813
17
15
15
0
1
2
 ,,  Cheques issued to District Nos. 1 & 2 .............
 ,,  Ditto Ditto 3 ......................
 ,,  Ditto Ditto 4 ......................
 ,,  Ditto Ditto 5 ......................
 ,,  Ditto Ditto 6 ......................
 ,,  Ditto Ditto 7 ......................
 ,,  Ditto Ditto 8 ......................
 ,,  Ditto Ditto 9 ......................
 ,,  Ditto Ditto 10 .....................
 ,,  Ditto Ditto 11 .....................
 ,,  Stationery .........................................................
 ,,  Petty disbursements per Secretary ....................
 ,,  Stamps, &c.......................................................
 ,,  Advertising........................................................
 ,,  Payments per Chief Constable ..........................
 ,,  Working Men's Tools Committee .....................
 ,,  Clothing Committee .........................................
£3,229
667
2,441
1,571
1,057
451
1,036
3,041
1,208
657
69
10
17
616
100
1,333
2,311
4
13
1
14
4
19
7
13
15
7
18
0
4
12
0
1
11
10
11
7
2
2
3
2
0
11
0
0
0
11
0
0
6
3
Total of Disbursements ......................................... £19,811 18 8
Subscriptions actually received ..............................
Amounts known to be lying in London and elsewhere, at the order of the Committee, also other sums promised here, estimated at .................
£42,751

10,000

2

0

5

0

  52,751 2 5
Paid as above ................................................................ 19,811 18 8
Balance ....................................................................... £32,939 3 9


(131)
THE WATER COMPANY AND ITS LIABILITY.

Within a very short period of the occurrence of the catastrophe, the question arose of the liability of the Waterworks Company to make good the damage. It cannot be wondered at that considerable anxiety was felt both for the Water Company, and for those who had claims to make for compensation. As the capital of the Water Company was only between; £400,000 and £500,000, and as the shares were all fully paid up, except a comparatively small amount, doubts were entertained as to the ability of the Water Company to meet the claims, even if the question of liability were settled. There were cases in which shareholders were at first willing to part with their shares for nothing merely on being secured from further responsibility. But this feeling did not extensively prevail, and better hopes began to be entertained as to the position of the Company. Its revenue was unimpaired, and it had the monopoly of the supply of water to a large manufacturing town. Hence, most of the shareholders felt confidence in the value of the property, and were not disposed to make a ruinous sacrifice. Before the catastrophe the shares of the Water Company were in excellent repute as one of the safest local investments, and £l00 paid-up shares were quoted at £146. After the flood they fell to £40, and subsequently underwent various fluctuations which it is not necessary here to particularise.

The Bradfield reservoir was made under the powers of the Water Company's act of 1853, authorising them to take water from the Loxley, the Rivelin, and their tributaries. It was passed a year after the Holmfirth flood, and to that circumstance may be ascribed the insertion of the following stringent and comprehensive clause, of which the marginal note is--"Company to make good all damages to be done by reservoirs bursting," &c.

"LXVIII. That the said Company shall, and they are hereby required from time to time, and at all times for ever hereafter, to pay and make good to the owners, lessees, and occupiers of all mills, manufactories, buildings, lands, and grounds, and to every person whomsoever, all loss, costs, charges, sum and sums of money, damages and expenses whatsoever, and for all injury of what nature and kind soever, as well immediate as consequential, which such owners, lessees, or occupiers, or other persons might suffer, incur, pay, expend, or be put unto by reason or in consequence of the failure or giving way of the reservoirs, embankments, water courses, or other works of the said Company."

Counsel's opinion was taken, and it was to the effect that the Water Company was liable to make compensation for all the damage occasioned by the flood, but that, while the property of the Company might be taken in satisfaction as far as it would go, the private property of the individual shareholders could not be touched.

Subsequently the Water Company applied to Parliament for increased powers, so that they might be enabled to give compensation to the sufferers. The result may be briefly stated. After very strong opposition from the Corporation and private parties the Bill of the Water Company passed successfully through Parliament, and received the royal assent on July 29th, 1864. The following were the principal provisions of the Act:--That William Overend Esq., Q.C., J. Jobson Smith, Esq., and M. Foster Mills, Esq., be the Commissioners to assess the claims for damages caused by the flood. That all actions at law be stopped, and that all claims for compensation be settled by the Commissioners. That the Water Company be authorised to raise £400,000 additional capital by borrowing or otherwise. That the Water Company be empowered to increase the water rents by 25 per Cent., for a period of 25 years, and that at the expiration of that term the lower rates be reverted to. That interest on substantiated claims for damages be allowed from the date of judgement by the Commissioners. That in the case of claimants for compensation for loss of life of those on whom they were dependent, proof of negligence on the part of the Water Company be not required. That the whole of the uncalled up capital of the Water Company be got in within twelve months. That the justices of the peace have power to inquire whether the reservoirs are secure. That the charges for water be levied impartially upon all persons, except that a reduction be made for the sanitary purposes of the town. That the works be completed by 1873; but that a constant supply of water be given to the town by July, 1869, that is, in five years from the passing of the Bill.

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