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Irlam and Bethell

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Gibraltar Ironworks, Poland Street, Oldham Road, Ancoats, Manchester.

Engineers and Millwrights

1858 'MANCHESTER COURT OF RECORD. THE LIABILITY OF CARRIERS. On Monday and Tuesday at this court a case came on for trial before J. Monk, Esq., deputy recorder, involved the liability of carriers. The action was brought by Messrs. Irlam and Bethell, ironfounders, of the Gibraltar Works, Manchester, against Messrs. Faulkner and Co., the well-known carriers, to recover damages caused to certain railway turntables through the alleged neglect of the defendants. The facts, as proved by the defendants, showed that the turntables were manufactured for the Bombay Railway Company, and that in January last a contract was entered into with the defendants, through their agent, Mr. Hughes, to convey the tables to London, by way of Grimsby. The tables were to be sent to Grimsby by railway, and thence to the Victoria Dock in London by water. Before they were despatched from the plaintiffs' premises, they were put together to ascertain that the various parts fitted, but they were again taken to pieces before being delivered into the charge of the defendants. One portion of the tables consisted of segments of iron, and it was to these that the principal damage was caused. When the articles were delivered at the Victoria Dock it was found that 19 of the segments had been cracked and otherwise injured, and that a few iron bars had been bent. A correspondence took place between the plaintiffs and the defendants as to the damage, and several visits were made to London by one of the plaintiffs, the expense attending which was included in the amount now sought to be recovered. On behalf of the defendants, it was contended by Mr. Saunders that the damage to the tables was not caused by any act or default on their part as carriers; but resulted from the faulty construction of the articles, which were so badly made that the vibration by carriage in railway trucks or vessels would cause the cracks which were originally in them to extend, and so produce the damage which had been sustained. A plea was also put in by the defendants, alleging that they entered into the contract to convey the goods in consequence of fraud, covin, and misrepresentation on the part of the plaintiffs. Several witnesses were called for the defendants, to show that the tables were not injured when they arrived at Grimsby, that they were there carefully and properly shipped on board a vessel, and that the fractures of the iron segments were caused by the necessary vibration on the voyage.
-The learned deputy-recorder very carefully summed up the evidence to the jury, and read the following exposition of the law, defining the liability of common earners:— “A common carrier is, by the common law of the realm, in the nature of an insurer, his warranty being safely and securely to carry. Accordingly, whether he is guilty of negligence or not is immaterial, for the warranty is broken by the non-conveyance or non-delivery of the goods entrusted to him. At common law he is not excused or discharged in case of injury of the goods entrusted to him, unless it is occasioned by an act of God, or by the Queen's enemies." It seemed to him (the deputy-recorder) that the defendants had entered into the contract with the general liability of common carriers but his would not render them liable if it was true, as they asserted, that the iron segments were so faulty that by reason of the carriage of them the cracks in them would extend. The question was whether the plaintiffs had safely delivered the articles, properly constructed, to the defendants; and if they had done so, it was not necessary that they should prove that the carriers had been guilty of negligence. With respect to the plea of fraud, he had not seen anything during the course of the trial which justified the defendants in making such a charge against the plaintiffs, and he thought it was a plea that should not have been placed upon the record.
—The jury, after short deliberation, returned a verdict for the plaintiffs, damages £50. [1]

1859 Court case concerning the witholding of payment to Irlam and Bethell for ten railway turntables constructed for the defendants, Joseph and Thomas Dunn, engineers, of Manchester. The turntables were intended for the Newport Dock Company. 'Evidence was given to show that the turntables were shamefully imperfect, and not in accordance with the contract; that several important parts were broken, and asking that the defendants would at once send some competent person to take charge of them, the company declined to accept them, and they remained at the wharf the defendants' risk.....' [2]

1859 Partnership dissolved: William Irlam and Samuel Bethell, machinists, engineers, millwrights, and ironfounders, Gibraltar Iron Works, Newton Heath, near Manchester, 21st March, 1859 [3]. Note: The address of Samuel Bethell, jun., was given in 1853 as the Gibraltar Iron Works, Poland-street, Manchester.[4]. Poland Street was in Ancoats, so perhaps the firm later moved to Newton Heath and took the name with them.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 2nd January 1858
  2. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 18th August 1860
  3. Perry’s Bankrupt Gazette, 15th September 1860
  4. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 2nd July 1853