The Ship Canal Portland Cement Manufacturers Ltd were constituted in 1912 to operate the newly constructed independent plant at Ellesmere Port. The project was conceived as a large-scale, highly efficient operation that would revolutionize the industry and destroy its dyed-in-the-wool Old Guard. However, the plant was not successful as planned. The plant was the first to be taken over by Henry Horne in 1926 in the formation of the Red Triangle group. After takeover by Blue Circle in 1931, it was immediately closed. In Ellesmere Port: the Making of an Industrial Borough (1982), its demise is attributed to "locational disadvantages in relation to the main markets in areas of the more prosperous Midlands and South East". More pertinent was the absurdity of siting the plant 80 km away from its raw materials.
The directors produced this update report to shareholders and plea for more money, following long delays in commissioning the plant, on 7th January 1913. The text follows:
The Directors present the following interim report to the Shareholders:-
The installation of the first unit of plant is now practically complete and a trial run has been in operation during the last few weeks and good quality cement manufactured. The trial run showed the advisability of making a few alterations in certain mechanical details of that part of the plant handling the raw materials, and advantage was taken of the Holiday Season to cease operations to enable these improvements to be effected, and these are now nearing completion, and it is anticipated that the first kiln will be re-started in a few days. The second kiln will be put in operation at the earliest opportunity.
Since the issue of the Annual Report, it was deemed advisable for the Company to have complete control of the Little Orme's Head Quarry, in order that the output necessary for the successful operation of the Cement Works should in no way be hampered. The funds necessary for the exercise of the Company's option were provided by two of your Directors, Messrs. Parke and Boddington, and the transfer of the property to the Company is now in course of completion, the loan of £35,000 made by these gentlemen being secured by a mortgage on this property. The Company's Bankers have advanced a further £25,000 upon a Debenture, which has been guaranteed by the original Directors.
The expenditure to date upon the properties acquired and on and in relation to the construction of plant at the Cement Works and the Quarries has been approximately £240,000. It will be within the recollection of the Shareholders that Messrs. Michael Faraday & Co., in April last, valued the properties (inclusive of the £27,500 necessary to exercise the option to purchase the freehold of the Stanlow Estate) at £312,126.
It was anticipated that the Works would have been started in August last, but difficulties of labour and the late delivery of parts of the plant have led to an unexpected delay, which, together with the large outlay towards the subsequent units, has caused a considerable increase in the Estimated Capital Expenditure.
The best method of providing further funds has engaged the serious attention of your Board. The Directors believe that it is inexpedient to put on the market a public issue of Preference Shares until the first unit has been in working operation for some months, when the anticipated profits can be fully demonstrated. At the same time the Board are undesirous of increasing the present Ordinary Share Capital. To bridge over this intervening period our largest Shareholder has agreed to place at the disposal of the Directors for sale 20,000 of his holding of Ordinary Shares.
It has been determined to offer these Shares for sale at a premium fixed so as to equalise the position of the original Shareholders, in the manner explained in the Annual Report, the excess above par simply representing interest at 5 per cent. per annum upon the par value. The proceeds to be derived from this offer of Shares will be advanced to the Company free of any interest, and the loan is not re-payable until the expiration of six calendar months after a dividend at the rate of 20 per cent. has been paid on the Ordinary Shares.
The present Shareholders are given a preferential right of purchasing these 20,000 Shares, and the price (free of all stamp duty and transfer fees) has been fixed at 21s. 7d. per Share. The Directors believe that these proposals are calculated to most strongly conserve the interests of the Shareholders, and that a large majority of the holders of Ordinary Shares will desire to take the opportunity of increasing their holdings. In the event of these Shares being over applied for, they will be allocated to the applicants in proportion to the amounts applied for by them respectively.
If you desire to take advantage of this offer, please fill in the enclosed form, and forward it to the Secretary not later than 14th January, 1913, with a cheque at the rate of 10s. per Share for such number of Shares as you desire to purchase. In return, a transfer will be sent to you for your acceptance, and the shares will be registered in your name and certificate issued on payment of the balance, viz. : 11s. 7d. per Share.
In conclusion, I am desired to say, that at the practical conclusion of the initial construction work, the Directors desire to confirm the views expressed by your Chairman at the Annual Meeting, that a prosperous future should be enjoyed by this Company.
BY ORDER OF THE BOARD,
E. A. KENYON,
Original content © Dylan Moore 2012: last edit 13/08/13.