The Benfleet Brick Works Limited 1899-1908

A company history

The Formation

It seems that while The Benfleet Brick and Tile Works Limited was going into liquidation the next business venture, on the same brickfield, was under way. Kelly’s Directory of Essex for 1899 shows that the “Benfleet Brickworks Limited” had already been formed and the manager, “Frederick L. Goad” had been appointed. The 1881 Census Returns give Goad’s occupation as, “Lieutenant Colonel on the retained list”, living in London. Goad is not a person one would expect to see managing a brickfield. It seems likely that Goad purchased his commission, as he was only twenty-eight years of age in 1881.

The “Articles of Association” were registered with the CRO at Somerset House on the 16th August 1899. The list of subscribers signed their name to the “Certificate of Incorporation” and “ The Benfleet Brickworks Limited” came into being. The registered address was that of the Solicitors “Walker Sons and Field, 61 Carey Street, London, W.C”. The “Nominal Share Capital” was set at £10,000 divided into £1 shares.

On the 27th October 1899 the Company Secretary, H. E. Rogers, sent a type written, letter on Company headed note paper to change the Company’s registered address to “15, Great George Street, Westminster”.

In May 1900 the Company Secretary sent the CRO a “Summary of Capital and Shares” for the year ending 31st December 1899. This shows there was an initial take up of shares was on 4th October 1899. The returns dated 28th December 1899 show that the 727, had been purchased providing the company with a working capital of £727.

New Shareholders

This new purchase of shares changed Goad’s position, he was no longer the major shareholder. The two additional shareholders also provided the Company with a further £800 of working capital. By the 18th January 1901 a copy of the “Register of Directories or Managers” was sent to “Companies Registration Office”, the Colonel had resigned his directorship and Thomas James Reeves had replaced him. The other directors are named as Richard Pearsall and William Frederick Reeves; there had been a take over. John Price and Thomas James Reeves now held more than half of the Company’s shares and were in control of the Company. It would seem that the Colonel had been out manoeuvred, probably by the Reeves family.

The Company Secretary advised the CRO of a change of address on the 18th November 1901, to “Chiswell House, 133 Finsbury Pavement, London EC”. It was signed “Wm. Reeves, Secretary Pro Tem”. Reeves’s signature appears to be scrawled and shaky, possibly he felt under pressure at this time.

During 1901 James William Jemmett was appointed as the Manager in South Benfleet. His name does not appear on Company papers so it would seem that he was an employee with no financial investment in the business. Jemmett and his family are listed on the 1901 Census Returns for South Benfleet; his title is given as “Brickfield Manager”. Jemmett appears to have spent much of his time living at South Benfleet over the next five years, either at a cottage on “Marsh Brickfield” or a house at “Town Meadow”. His permanent address was in adjacent parish of Hadleigh. Jemmett seems to have remained in post till the company ceased to trade in 1906.

Company in trouble

On the 24th December 1902 the “Return of Allotments” of shares was sent to CRO, it shows that a further 300 shares had been issued. This provided the Company with a further £300 of working capital. John Price and Thomas James Reeves had injected £150 each bringing their individual holding to 550 shares. Wm. F. Reeves signed the form again as Secretary Pro. Tem. This further capital investment may be an indication that all was not well with the Company and that the major investors were trying to keep it afloat.

The records provide no further information about Company activities till the 21st April 1906. On this date a letter was sent to the Secretary of the Benfleet Brick Works Limited by the Registrar of the CRO. It stated that the Company was in default as it had not sent the “Annual List of Members of the Company” for the year 1904 in accordance with “Section 19 of the Companies’ Act 1900”. The Company had twenty-one days to respond after which time the “default” would be reported to the “Board of Trade”. The letter was sent to the Company’s registered address at Chiswell House, it was however returned to the CRO marked, “gone away”.

No further action was taken during 1906, the following year another letter was sent to the Company dated the 12th April 1907. This was a final notice from the CRO Registrar who stated that action would be taken to strike the Company name from the Register and this action would be published in London Gazette after a period of three months had expired. In this instance the letter was answered by the Company Secretary William Reeves, he registered another change of address for the Company. The letter was dated the 23rd May 1907; the Registered Office for the Company was now “South Benfleet, Essex”. The solicitor at this time was H. Meredith; he handled all subsequent documents. A further letter dated the 24th May 1907 was sent to the Chiswell House reiterating that the Company was in default, as the CRO had not received the returns showing, Company capital and the shareholders names. The Company had just one month to respond or it would be struck off the Register. This letter was returned to the CRO marked, “gone away”.

There appears to have been a sudden change of heart by the Company Directors following this particular letter, ten days later a summary of Capital and Shares was received by the CRO date stamped the 4th June 1907. It was a summary of accounts for the year ending 31st December 1904 the accounts showed that the Company had debts of £1250.

The Company Directors had decided to concede that the business had failed, by the 29th July 1908 the demise of The Benfleet Brickworks Limited was complete. The Liquidator, Harry Meredith sent a letter, “To the Registrar of Joint Stocks Companies” declaring that “the property of the Company had been disposed of”. It was the last time that a limited company made bricks at South Benfleet; each company that had produced bricks at “Marsh Brickfield” had failed.

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