Directors' Minutes

Scope and Content

The Directors' Minute Books include minutes of Directors' meetings, the meetings of the Gouthwaite Reservoir Board on which the company had two representatives from Nov 1901 (see 'Gouthwaite Box'), and meetings with deputations from the Corporation, Board of Trade etc; Directors', Engineer's and Medical Officer's reports; statements of accounts; correspondence (with Urban Sanitary Committee, City Surveyor, Town Clerk, York Rural Sanitary Authority, District Commissary General, other waterworks etc.); scales of charges and newspaper cuttings. They throw important light on events in York at the time of the Prince of Wales' marriage (1863) and his visit to York (1883), the typhoid outbreak of 1900, and during both World Wars (including air raid precautions, the 'Thetis' submarine disaster of June 1939, war damage Nov 1941) and the General Strike (1926), as well as reflecting the impact of technological innovation (e.g. electricity, tele-communication, trams) and the cycle of drought (1929) and flood (emergency of March 1947). Minutes are typed and numbered from Dec 1939.
The Directors' business included:
Routine Business
Ordering cheques to be signed (until Minute Book 8, when cheques were ordered to be listed in Finance Committee Minutes), subscribing to waterworks associations, overseeing publicity campaigns (e.g. frost precautions), considering the recommendations of the various committees, appointing staff (e.g. treasurer, secretary, auditors, collectors, plumbers, engine-drivers, engineers, analysts), and setting wages and working hours. Lists of service-men, casualties and wage lists indicate which members of the company enlisted during World War I and reveal the point at which female clerks were admitted (Minute Book 8). 'Indispensable' workmen were issued with badges in Oct 1915. The Company Secretary and Chief Clerk were dismissed for embezzlement in 1897-98 (Minute Book 5). Charitable donations are also recorded (York City War Memorial 1919, York Minster Window Fund 1920, extension of Acomb Cemetery 1924, Lord Mayor's Fund 'Civic Week' 1928, 'War Weapons Week' 1941).
Shares and Capital
Appointing, giving notice of, and reporting to the General Meetings of Shareholders, closing the registers of transfer, keeping a record of share transfers, dividends and mortgages, authorising the creation of new shares to raise capital and overseeing their allotment and calls of payment.
Water Supply
Matters concerning the City's water supply, including present and future demand, drainage (e.g. Ouse Drainage Scheme 1921), pollution (Minute Book 8 contains a report on the prevalence of Typhoid Fever in York in 1900 dated 7 Feb 1901, Minute Book 9 includes an extract from the Annual Report of the Medical Officer in 1905 and Minute Book 16 contains reports regarding radioactivity 1961-62), fire protection, fluoridation (1962-63), the provision of various establishments (e.g. the City urinals, Public Baths, the Retreat, York County Hospital, Clifton Asylum, Bootham Asylum, York Barracks, Union Workhouse, Blue Coat School, Grey Coat School, Rowntree factory, Anglo-Scottish Beet Corporation factory, Theatre Royal, RDCs), and setting water rates and meter charges.
Legal Proceedings
Passing resolutions and sending deputations to London to oppose various bills in the House of Commons, including the Bradford Corporation Water Scheme 1889-92, the Leeds, Harrogate and Ripon Water Schemes 1900/01, Northallerton Water Bill 1909, Bradford Bill 1925; conducting negotiations concerning the re-grouping of water undertakings (1965); making land purchases and contracts; introducing penalties for stealing water and authorising prosecution in cases of theft or improper use.
Ordering extension and repair works (including mains and pipes to be laid and repaired), and supplies of sand, lime, gravel, oil, tallow, valves and meters. Considering the reports of James Simpson, the company engineer. Trials of new engines. Considering matters such as the electrolytic action of trams on mains (1902).


Minutes of the Board of Directors' meetings, held fortnightly 1846-Nov 1920, then monthly to 1965. The first meeting was held at Chairman James Chadwick's house in Spen Lane. Other early meetings convened at the Queen's Hotel, whilst later meetings were held at the company's Lendal Offices (in the Board Room in the restored Lendal Tower from 1934). The Directors met twice before and after the half-yearly General Meetings of Shareholders, at which the Chairman presented the Directors' Report and Statement of Accounts. The Chairman, Deputy Chairman, Directors and Committees were elected after each half-yearly General Meeting of Shareholders.

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