Minutes of Shareholder Meetings
These large books hold the paperwork sent out to the shareholders (called the Proprietors back then) for the public meetings which included copies of the accounts for the half-yearly meetings, “Reports of the Proceedings” of the scheduled meetings as well as any interim special meetings and the paper copies held in the GNRS Archive relate to the period from 1867 to 1922.
The digital records on the website include the paperwork for each meeting in its own file.
These records are unique to the GNR as most railway boards only published a synopsis of the shareholder meetings after the mid-1840s Railway Mania and the crisis that followed. This was because they did not want the adverse comments made of their respective boards of directors as well as the administrative costs associated with their production and dissemination.
The shareholders of the GNR implacably opposed this and repeatedly resolved to keep the publication of each meeting, which makes for interesting reading as you can read verbatim comments and accusations from unhappy shareholders. If you have the stamina to read several, you will see the regular attendance of certain individuals who the directors must have hoped would not attend.
Every shareholder was sent individual copies of what was called the “Great Northern Railway Company Reporter” which you will see at the top of each copy together with a sequential number which aids those who want to collect them, although they only put in rare appearances at public auctions. The size of the operation involved in getting them out was such that in 1846 there were 3345 shareholders, but by 1900 there were 25,272 which required the accounts to be sent out 2 weeks before the meeting and the transcript sent out 2 weeks after the meeting. These were hand addressed up to at least 1899 as the digital archive has a copy of No 228 3/8/1899 in its postal wrapper unopened.
A great deal of general information can be gleaned from these records, much of it not recorded elsewhere or in the main textbooks. Within the accounts you can see the published costs of many of the main works and also dates of completion etc. It is a rich seam of uncommented on data that member historians may particularly find interesting.
Online Archive Notes
For half yearly meetings only, the first few images are the Official Notice of the Meeting together with the Accounts to be discussed at the meeting. The minutes of the meeting then follow.
If a Special or Extraordinary Meeting is held immediately after the Half-Yearly Meeting concludes, then minutes follow on.
If a Special or Extraordinary Meeting was held on its own the minutes may only consist of a single page.