Title: A Hopeful Prospect

Periodical: Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper

Date: May 1, 1887

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After a period of depression unusually severe and prolonged, signs are happily apparent of an expansion of British trade. The iron industry led the way, and other industries are now following suit. A more cheerful spirit prevails in the great manufacturing centres of the North, and the improvement is gradually extending towards the South. Among other incidental features in support of the more favourable outlook for British commerce is the very noticeable and continuous decline in the returns of pauperism. The improvement of trade at the main commercial centres is having its effect in many ways, and in none more than in the spirit which is now being thrown into such great enterprises as the Manchester Ship Canal. [1] When the scheme was first broached it seemed almost hopeless, so deep was the gloom which had settled upon everything commercial and industrial; but now there is every assurance that the large preliminary local capital of £3,000,000—the condition precedent to the further progress of the scheme—will be forthcoming. Already two millions and a half have been subscribed, and it is not at all likely that the half-million still necessary will be withheld. The Lancashire capitalists and manufacturers are becoming alive to the importance of the project. The proposed improvements in the canal communication between Birmingham and the sea are another indication of the more hopeful spirit prevalent. The cost of the entire scheme is put at only one-third of the Manchester project, viz., £2,000,000; and it is hoped that this amount will be found by the different towns concerned, from Birmingham to Bristol, applying to Parliament for leave to borrow on the security of the rates, and thus avoiding the necessity for making the canal an ordinary joint-stock undertaking. It ought not to be difficult to carry this promising enterprise to a successful issue, seeing the wealth that exists in the Midlands.

Further signs of industrial activity may be found in the Exhibitions of the year, which promise to be notable as regards their number, extent, and significance. We are being pleasantly invaded by “Our American Cousins;” and, in addition to the great Exhibition of United States products to be opened at Kensington on the 9th of May, we are to be made merry, and instructed also, by Buffalo Bill’s wild Indian show, which is said—and, we believe, not without reason—to be as unique as it is extensive. But the Old Country does not intend to be behind with its indigenous displays. The Exhibition at Manchester will be opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales [2] next week. From the art, engineering, industrial, chemical, and general points of view, this Exhibition has prospects of unusual excellence. In extent the Exhibition is a wonderful advance upon its predecessors, covering an area of forty-five acres, or just double that of the London Exhibition of 1886. In no branch will there be a more striking display than in that of machinery, the motive power for which is supplied by half-a-score of Messrs. Galloway’s world-famous engines. [3] This firm has also carried out the whole of the contract in connection with the illuminated fountains, which are designed to vie with the late Sir Francis Bolton’s [4] triumphs at South Kensington. Ireland fills a magnificent section at Manchester, and here at least all will be Unionists in warmly greeting her productions. Chemistry again, which enters so much and so deeply into nearly all our manufacturing industries, will be fittingly represented in a city which boasts of so eminent a chemist as Sir Henry Roscoe [5] ; and its beneficent influence is to show the hygienic as well as the practical side. In the application of the fine arts to manufactures, Messrs. Doulton, of Lambeth, [6] and other firms will again demonstrate the strides that have been made, and are still being made in this direction. Altogether, the Manchester Exhibition will compare very favourably with any which have preceded it. On the 11th of May Newcastle will emulate Manchester by opening a mining, engineering, and industrial exhibition; and the products of Tyneside will, there is no doubt, be viewed with that interest which their scientific and general value demands. Last but not least, Liverpool, imitating the sister city of Manchester, and undeterred by her untoward losses and experience of last year, will re-open her Exhibition buildings on May 16th. The Princess Louise [7] and the Marquis of Lorne [8] will perform the inaugural ceremony, and as one of the principal features of the resuscitated Exhibition will be the Colonial section, it is peculiarly appropriate that the Princess, the wife of the late Governor-General of Canada, should express her interest in the products and enterprise of the Dominion. All the exhibitions enumerated promise to be worthy of the spirit, the ability, and the energy of the inhabitants of the Northern portion of England.

English trade will, no doubt, be stimulated by the Budget. Mr. Goschen’s [9] financial proposal for dealing with the Sinking Fund may be open to objections, but even Mr. Gladstone’s authoritative criticisms will not awaken discontent with the remission of a penny in the Income tax. That is the central fact which traders and men of business grasp at once, and as each penny in the Income tax means two millions of money, this substantial relief in taxation will make itself felt indirectly in trade. Industry must benefit by a further diffusion of capital. The decision of a Select Committee of the House of Lords in favour of a subway from the City to Stockwell will necessarily lead to the expenditure of a large sum on useful work. Money is proved to be plentiful by the further reduction of the Bank rate; and profitable openings for its use are being eagerly sought. Without desiring to be too sanguine, a review of the present conditions of our national commerce cannot but lead to the conviction that a brighter day is at length dawning upon our industries.

Note 1: The Manchester Ship Canal, a waterway opened in West England during 1894, linked Manchester with the River Mersey and the Irish Sea. [back]

Note 2: Albert Edward (1841-1910), Prince of Wales, became Edward VII, King of Great Britain in 1901. He was married to Alexandra of Denmark (Alexandra Caroline Marie Charlotte Louise Julia, 1844-1925), Princess of Wales. [back]

Note 3: Galloway’s world-famous engines were steam engines developed by W & J Galloway and Sons, a Manchester, England, manufacturer, co-founded by brothers William (1796-1893) and John (1804-1894) Galloway in 1835. [back]

Note 4: Sir Francis John Bolton (1831-1887), a British army officer and a telegraphic and electrical engineer. [back]

Note 5: Sir Henry Enfield Roscoe (1833-1915), an English chemist and university administrator. [back]

Note 6: Sir Henry Doulton (1820-1897), an English businessman, inventor, and pottery manufacturer. [back]

Note 7: Princess Louise Caroline Alberta (1848-1939), Duchess of Argyll, the fourth daughter and sixth child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, was a gifted sculptor and a dedicated advocate of many issues including education of women. [back]

Note 8: The Marquis of Lorne was John George Edward Henry Douglas Sutherland Campbell, 9th Duke of Argyll, the fourth Governor General of Canada from 1878 to 1883, who held the title Marquis of Lorne from 1847 to 1900. [back]

Note 9: George Joachim Goschen, 1st Viscount Goschen (1831-1907), an English economist, administrator, and statesman. [back]