Chapter 34: Opening a Business in Preston
The Irish Potato Famine came on this year, which raised the Price of many things, and, among others, Treacle. This concerned me a good deal, for now I began to make money, for 1847 and 1848 made me Master of loose Capital £200.0.0 which was a great sum for me. It became a problem how I was to use it. Alas, as the Proverb goes, "Fools and Money soon part company!" So it was with me and my Money! Now I began to scheme to make my little Place into a Sugar refinery. But I was without any Knowledge of the Trade. I began with Buying a Boiler and a small Engine. My Father in Law, who was living with me, fitted them up, he being a handy Man, called Jack of all trades. He possessed the Idea that he could do anything that was proposed to him, he being a Sanguine man as well as myself. So we encouraged one another and went from one thing to another. I now told him I should like to make a steam Worm Pan. He said that, if I could buy some old Boiler Plates he could make it. So I went to Horan's Old Iron Yard, where I had bought my first Pan, and bought a lot of old Plates. When I brought them home we found that we could do nothing without Tools. So, by my Father-in-Law's direction, I bought an old Hand Punching Press and Hammers. Then we found we must have a Furnace in order to bend the plates into shape. Having got so far, we found that we also wanted help in rivetting. So we got a Mr Smith, a brother-in-law to stand in for Rivetting. He being unversed in the Work, and my Father in Law getting in a Passion, jumped about, throwing away a Sledgehammer he had in his hand. This lighted on Smith's Foot, which made him jump about howling, so that the whole gang was upset and nearly came to a Quarrel. But, the one's Temper cooling down, and the other's Pain easing, we got to work again, and eventually finished the Pan and went on to other Work, but that Interminable.
But all things come to an End, somehow or another; but it found me in such a brake of Entanglement as I never was before, nor have been since. For all my money was spent and a great deal more Borrowed, so that I was tied Hand and Foot as it were, and could not move backward or forward. While in this dilemma, Mr Mollenhauer came on the Scene. He advised me to advertise for a Partner. I did this with great reluctance, for I considered that I had only fitted up the Place to work sugar scrapings or refuse sugar from Ships. But, there was no standing still: I must either get a Partner or shut up the Place.
A Mr Moseley came forward, who required me to make out an Inventory. The cost of the things I had put down, which came I think to £556 or thereabouts. He put £500 into the Business. We started together, I think, about April 1849.
My partner was not inclined to go in for Sugar scrapings but for Raw Sugar. After we had gone on for about six months, we had lost all the Money he had put in - he holding all the Cash while there was any. So he proposed to give me £100 and he would take over the Place, making it into a Lard Refinery. This I gladly agreed to, as it gave me an Opportunity to start on my own Account once more.
I bought a little Pan and went to Preston, hoping to make a living there, although I knew nothing of the Place. I left Liverpool in December 1849, owing Mr Jones above a hundred pounds. I also owed my brother in Law at Kirkby Estate thirty pounds. He wanted his Money, so I paid it. This left seventy of the hundred pounds I had received from Mr Moseley, and, what with Odds and Ends and removing to Preston, would leave me about fifty six pounds or thereabout to start afresh.
When I got there, I could see no place where I could set up my Pans but a Timber Yard, the Proprietor of which agreed to put me a Wooden Shed and staked out the Ground. After this I got George Smeaton a Bricklayer from Liverpool to set up my Pans. Then, as the Joiner was not ready with the Shed, I got out the Foundation for the Pans, and set the Bricklayer to work with the Pans.
When we had them nearly finished, a Severe Frost set in and froze us in. This lasted three months so that we could not Stir a Peg. This kept me for that time doing nothing, which brought me to great Straights. During this time I borrowed twenty Pounds from Mr J Vickers, who had removed to Irthlingborough in Northamptonshire, and thus still added to my Burden of Debt; but the end came at last, enabling me to get to Work. I got a Pony and Cart to go round the grocers to gather in Bags and Hogsheads, and so made a little way; but I found myself sorely Pressed for the want of Money. So I asked the Kings for to sell me three Punchons of Treacle, allowing me a long Credit to tide me over my Difficulty, which they did. After I had been some time at the Timber Yard, I saw a small Warehouse to let in Back Lane, which I took and removed thither. This was a good move; for now I was in the midst of the Grocers, and handy for the Market People in selling Rain Tubs, which I made out of Tierces that had a tight Bottom in. These cost me two and sixpence; but by trimming them up and putting New Iron Hoops on I could sell them for six or seven shillings. This added greatly to my income. I turned the lower part of my Warehouse into a Marine Store, buying Rags, Bones and Iron. So, in dealing with these sundries, and making about two Puncheons of Treacle in a Month, I could make about two pounds ten shillings in a Week. This would at least pay my way, but no back Debts.