Northern Ireland

Railway Finances ‘Sound as a Bell’ – On This Day in 1924

The Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle, which was built between 1896 and 1898 as a railway hotel by the Belfast & County Down Railway company, which also operated it. Picture: Downpatrick and County Down Railway
The Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle, which was built between 1896 and 1898 as a railway hotel by the Belfast & County Down Railway Company, which also operated it
February 22 1924

While the chairman of a railway company who finds it necessary to tell the shareholders that receipts from passenger and goods traffic are not quite satisfactory for the moment may be pardoned for deeming his task rather unpleasant, Mr Thomas Richardson’s position at yesterday’s annual general meeting of the Belfast and County Down Railway Company does not call aloud for sympathy: the line that serves the fair County of Down earned less last year than in 1922; but the company’s financial condition is “sound as a bell”, and the comparatively slight decrease in traffic returns are readily explainable.

Without following the chairman’s detailed statement, it is evident that the prevailing depression in employment, trade and industry must injuriously affect traffic of all kinds on a railway which serves as the main line of communication between a large industrial city and a rural and semi-rural population who are suffering as severely as their urban friends from post-war paralysis in trade.

Many of the thousands presently unemployed in Belfast and the surrounding districts were “customers” of the B and C D Railway; agriculture is one of the most truly depressed of industries; tillage has fallen; prices are poor – though the cost of commodities to consumers shows no sign of decreasing; enterprise has slackened, and carrying companies have less to do.

Of course, the competition of road traffic in a restricted area within which the main highways are well kept, as a rule, was not left out of his reckoning by Mr Richardson. His address was an excellent review of the situation; it closed with a note of confidence which pleased the shareholders – though the travelling public will not welcome the announcement that there is little prospect of fare reductions in the near future “unless some relief is obtained from the heavy burden of working expenditure”. Yet the working of the line cost £13,773 less in 1923 than in 1922.

The company prospers under capable management; when the general turn of the commercial tide begins, it will earn more – and charge less for moving its patrons and their goods.

The depressed economy and threat from motor traffic ultimately led to the closure or absorption of small railway companies such as the Belfast and County Down Railway Company.
Compensation Paid Following Pogrom Years

Claims for compensation for the loss of life and destruction of property following the Belfast riots dealt with up to yesterday, Mr J Leech, KC, Deputy-Recorder, resumed the business of the Court, amount to £7,151,599 1s 5d. The awards made to date total £1,676,442 14s 11d.

The deaths and injuries, and the loss of homes and businesses from 1920 to 1922 in Belfast, resulted in many claims being made by those impacted by the sectarian violence that engulfed the city.