A speech by Alfred Holt

The following speech is a tribute to W.T.Taylor (my great grandfather) soon after his death in 1925.

A speech to the shareholders of W.T.Taylor & Co. Ltd 19th January, 1926 by Alfred Holt, Chairman

The Directors have pleasure in presenting their 21st Annual Report.

The year’s working has resulted in a profit of £26,154/10/2½d, making with the balance brought forward a disposable balance of £41,131/2/6d.

The directors declared an interim dividend of 1/3d per share in June last, and now recommend a final dividend of 1/6d per share, making a total dividend for the year of 2/9d per share free of tax and carrying forward a sum of £17,131/2/6d to the current year’s accounts.

The year has had some encouraging features but also one of the saddest that could come to any company. On the 22nd of May last, Mr W.T.Taylor, our Managing Director, passed to his rest after a comparatively short illness.

During the previous year he had undergone a somewhat severe operation but made a quite complete recovery and was looking forward, as we were, to a long period still during which we should have his continued assistance and the benefit of his wisdom and wide experience.

It was a severe blow to his colleagues on the Board when they realized that Mr Taylor’s life had run its course and his invaluable service would no longer be available to our Company and that our association with him, commencing in the atmosphere of business, developing through the 21 years of our connection with him into a friendship of respect and affection which is rarely seen in a purely business undertaking, was to be broken. We feel we have not only lost an invaluable business colleague but a dear personal friend.

Whilst we grieve over his death, we rejoice in the life he spent amongst us and are grateful for the happiness we have found in him and through him.

His life has been a useful one and his contribution to the welfare of his generation much above the average of his fellows. His faithfulness to duty and his loyalty to his friends was an example and an inspiration to all with whom he came in contact, and his honour and integrity beyond reproach.

His services to our company cannot be calculated or valued in set terms, as the seeds he planted and the trees he so carefully and zealously tended will bear rich fruit for many many years to come.

Whilst he was of a quiet and reserved nature, he had a winning and attractive personality, especially was this so in his relationship with our workpeople, whose respect and regard he won in an unusual degree, and he possessed the rare faculty of drawing the best out of those with whom he was associated.

We can however understand something of the nature of his service if we would carry our minds back to the beginning of the Company in 1904. Our Company was incorporated on the 15th June 1904 with a nominal capital of £15,000 and a subscribed capital of £8,000, the first allotments being made on the 20th June. We resolved to commence operations with 100 looms, although we planned our works for 250 looms, intending to put in the remaining 150 looms as we could raise further capital.

To commence with 100 looms was looked upon by many people in the Cotton Trade as a mad enterprise and doomed to failure from the very beginning. Our struggles lent some colour to this view but in spite of the trials and tribulations in those early years, Mr Taylor never lost faith either in himself or in his friends and his dogged perserverance, courage, and determination carried him through where most other men would have failed. What was a seeming impossibility became for him a great triumph. How great a triumph this was, our shareholders have very good reason to know, but a simple illustration will shew it more clearly.

In our first year our turnover was £20,636, in the 2nd year £33,884, whilst in the year just concluded we turned over nearly half a million, a figure nearly 25 times the amount of our turnover in our first year.

Mr Taylor never had any ambition to acquire wealth and in the Company’s early years would not accept any higher remuneration than was necessary to maintain his household in reasonable comfort, preferring the success of our Company to personal profit for himself.

In later years when circumstances changed and the Company’s prosperity became more assured we sought his views from time to time as to what he thought his remuneration should be, but he always accepted without demur whatever sum the Board thought was just and fair as between himself and the Company.

His relationship with his colleagues on the Board have been of the very happiest character throughout the 21 years of the Company’s existence and we shall greatly miss his genial presence for many years to come. Our deepest sympathy go out to his two sons Mr Harry and Mr John Taylor in their personal loss, a loss tinged with the pride of inheritance of a good name, well won, and richly deserved.