HOUSE OF LORDS COMMITTEE ON SOUTH MET CO BILL 1881 – some notes on the proceedings . This is the bill to allow East Greenwich Gas Works to be built and deals with objections.
An enormous amount of time was taken up with the Blackwall Point Dry Dock at the enquiry – although only a small proportion of the total submissions were about it. To summarise very briefly: The owners of the dock wanted compensation for likely damage to their work and they wanted the Gas Company to buy it. Most of the time is taken up with legal arguments on precedents, etc. but there is a strong undercurrent of argument which suggests that the purchase of lands either side of the dock site means that it will be landlocked and they therefore want the gas company to buy it before its value falls – on the other hand the gas company
want to wait until the value does fall.
However the following are items from the cross examinations with relevance to the dry dock:-
Submission of evidence from Alfred Davis Lewis of 34 Leinster Gardens, shipbuilder and Samuel Hyam 109 Westbourne Terrace and the Biphosphated Guano Company – the petititioner Alfred
Davis Lewis is lessee of the said Samuel Hyam for a long term of years of extensive premises consisting of a ship building yard including a dry dock – at which he carries on external painting
operations and employs a large number of skilled artisans and workmen.
In his evidence he says that the dock is used for the purpose of repairing and painting and decorating ships and is used by Mr. Lewis who is a shipbuilder with large contracts existing with many companies and owners to submit vessels ranging over a long period
George Livesey says “I saw a large ship in there some time back – which had touched a rock somewhere and injured her stern post – they were taking it out and putting a new stern post in –
this is a rough kind of repair
Question to Livesey “have you ever seen delicate work being done, painting of colours, decorating a ship and supplying the upholstery?
Livesey – I have not seen it but I should suppose it would be – it is said the supply of gas would be very injurious to work of that kind – I do not think that it would – it would only be injurious so far as the dust is concerned – the storage of gas would not do so.
Sir Edmund Beckett QC (acting for SMGC) Mr. Hyams is a gentleman of a certain persuasion as could be seen from his name and he was hoping to do a little business.
Lewis wants the Gas Company to accepts a clause in the bill which says ‘The Company shall
purchase the ship building works docks and all belonging to it reputed to belong to Samuel Hyam and Alfred Davis Lewis’.
Surveyors evidence – Messrs. Lewis property is of about 3 acres with a 400′ long dock and workshops with a 400′ frontage on the river and Hyam owns another 800′ of frontage. It can take ships of 2,000 or 3,000 tons. Mr. Lewis takes contracts from lines of ships to repair them. The ship owners will need to take out more insurance if the work is done near a gas works.
They land coal at the jetty already. The prevailing wind will carry coal dust onto the ships.
Lewis gives evidence – they have a 410′ long dry dock and wall, They take Cape ships in it which have to be repaired within 24 hours – they employ 250-350 men. They do gilding work on side of ships and if the engine room is open they will get grit in it. They have 45 years left to run on their lease. They do gentlemen’s yachts and had W.H.Smith’s yacht in there once and the P & O company’s steamers.
The House of Lords decision was that South Met. Gas Co. must buy the dry dock and a clause to that effect should go in the Bill.
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