Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Beginnings of the Northern Omnibus Company

An update to earlier post. It began in February 1883, with ...
"A public meeting was held on Thursday evening at the Mount Albert Public Hall to consider the advisability of establishing a locally-owned line of omnibuses on the road between Auckland and Avondale. There was an influential attendance, Mr. A. K. Taylor occupying the chair. The following rersolutions were carried: -- 1. That it is desirable to establish a locally-owned line of omnibuses on the road. 2. That the following be appointed a committee to co-operate with the gentlemen who may be appointed for Avondale district in establishing (if possible) a locally-owned line of omnibuses on the road -- viz, Messrs S. Stuart, R. Wayte, J. M. Alexander, W. G. Mitchell, J. H. Daubeny, and J. R. Randerson, and that it be be an instruction to the committee that until it be ascertained that an Omnibus Company will probably prove a remunerative concern, no further steps be taken in the registration of the said company, and that a further meeting of the public be called to lay the said information before them. A vote of thanks to the Chairman concluded the proceedings."
(Weekly News, 24 February 1883.)
The company's prospectus was advertised in March that year, and two months later, the Northern Omnibus Company was inaugurated.
"The objects for which the Company is established are: the establishment and maintenance of omnibuses and other vehicles for carriage of passengers and merchandize between Auckland and New Lynn and between Auckland and such other Districts within a radius of ten miles from Auckland as may from time to time be determined by the Ditrectors and the doing of all such things as are incidental or conclusive to the attainment of the above objects."
Initial capital was set at £4000 in 4000 shares of £1 each. The initial shareholders were: Neilson Gordon Lennox, stationer, Auckland (50) Francis Quick, omnibus proprietor, Auckland (50) William LeGrande Mitchell, gentleman, Auckland (50) Thomas Faulder, gentleman, Auckland (20) Robert Garrett, tanner (50) John Bollard, farmer (50) Samuel Stuart, gentleman (25) (Thomas Faulder, by the way, was listed in the 1881 Newton Electoral Roll as a farmer living in the Arch Hill district, his farm named "West House Farm" at Richmond.) Initial directors were: James Macky Alexander, solicitor W L Mitchell J. Bollard W G Lennox Robert Charles Greenwood Charles Hesketh Charles Arthur Couch, builder
[Source: Archives New Zealand file, Northern Omnibus Company, BADZ/5181/43/273/1883/11]
The first annual meeting was held in December 1883 (Weekly News, 15 December 1883). Chairman of Directors was W. L. Mitchell.
"The directors have much pleasure in meeting the shareholders since the formation and working of the company, and in presenting their balance sheet, profit and loss account, etc., they beg to report that, although the accounts present a loss, it must be remembered that the company commenced operations during the worst period of the year, and have continued until the present time under adverse circumstances. The half-year now commenced will, especially during the next three or four months, produce larger receipts, and the directors anticipate that much of the loss will be recouped thereby. No allowance has been taken in the accounts for the value of their leasehold stables in town, which, if deducted from the balance of profit and loss, will leave that account showing an actual loss on the half-year of £103 7s 7d. "The directors have pleasure to report that the receipts have increased from £21 12s per week to £37 14s 9d, thus showing that the traffic is capable of expansion, and that the number of travellers is steadily on the increase, and although fares have been reduced, and the inducement of tickets per dozen offered, yet those concessions have not injuriously affected the earnings of the company, and the directors believe that, with still further encouragement to our travellers, the benefits of a well-established line of omnibuses will yet be more fully realised, and that within a reasonable time the company will have entered into a remunerative and profitable trade. "The traffic on the Great North Road has been of sufficient encouragement to warrant your directors in continuing it, its capacity has been tested, and the result is a satisfactory one. Economy in the management, and thorough efficiency in the service, are two essential points aimed at by your directors, and with these objects in view certain changes are being made, which the directors believe will effect a saving in our working account, and whilst introducing a new time table for the New North Road, and giving an increased service to the people, the extra running will be effected without any additional cost to the company. The directors think it as well to mention to shareholders that they have resolved upon abolishing Potter's stables at New Lynn, and retaining those at Mr. Lennox's property. This has been done with the object of centralising our plant, and of reducing expenditure. "Before closing this report, the directors desire to acknowledge the valuable services which Mr. Bollard has rendered as manager and principal organiser of the company, and the directors feel sure that his exertions in the interests of the company from the outset will be fully recognised by shareholders. The whole of the directors retire from office at this meeting, but are eligible for re-election. The auditor, Mr. John Milne, also retires, and is also eligible for re-election. Dated at Auckland, this 10th December, 1883. -- W. L. Mitchell, Chairman."
The retiring directors were: W. L. Mitchell, J. Buchanan, G. T. Hogg, R. Garrett, T. Faulder, F. Quick and S. Stuart. These were all re-elected, and Charles Hesketh elected as auditor without fee. Future annual meetings were set up for March, although the following year it all turned to custard (see previous post). Archives New Zealand's file extends down to 1904, interestingly enough. This is because the last document on the file is from the Government, asking the Northern Omnibus Company in 1904 whether they were still a company or not, as no reports had been filed for 20 years. The response, of course, was silence, and so the file was officially closed.

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