Land Purchases

Such was the rate of expansion that a decision was taken to move the company to a new factory. The hunt began for a new site, which had to be close to Messenger’s own Cumberland Road factory, because it still required the infrastructure that that the factory provided. A new green-field site was identified adjacent to the factory, between Rosebery Street and The London and North Western Railway land; in fact, it joined the eastern boundary of Messenger’s factory.

 

1901 OS Map

Purchase negotiations duly started in early March 1918, with solicitors, Woolley, Beardsleys and Bosworth, of Rectory Place, Loughborough, handling the negotiations on behalf of Messenger’s and Deane and Co., on behalf of the William Webster & Co., who was representing a syndicate of owners. Following various discussions, the vendors were prepared to offer 4,736 square yards of unoccupied land at 9d. per square yard, with Messenger’s being responsible for erecting ‘a suitable’ fence or wall on the north-east side, whilst the Railway were under obligation to erect a fence between the9r property and the proposed purchase. Their solicitor’s view, in a letter dated 14th March, was that the offer was reasonable and that it “would form a very useful addition to your Co.’s premises[1]. In addition, there was a query raised by Messenger & Co., Ltd., regarding the strip of land leading to Cumberland Road[2]. The view of the solicitors for the vendors was that there were “no rights of road over the same in any one, so that it would belong absolutely to your Company[3]. At this stage the only potential problems lay in the fact that the houses fronting Rosebery Street, had acquired right of light to their back windows, by the “effluxion of time[4], which might have inhibited Messenger’s plans for the new factory and a small dispute regarding the actual size of the plot. The vendors, who were a syndicate, stated that the land was 4,736 square yards, although the plan showed it as 4,732 square yards. Although the difference was only 4 yards, Woolley, Beardsleys and Bosworth suggested that Messrs Woolley & Noel should make “road measurements” on Messenger’s behalf[5]. The vendors were keen to sell, suggesting that if the contract was signed by the 25th March, with a 10 per cent deposit; then vacant possession could be available on completion, as the present tenant’s notice to quit expired on the 25th.

The letter from Woolley, Beardsleys and Bosworth was addressed to Alfred Burder, who at the time was residing at Belcombe Court, Bradford-in-Avon, Wiltshire. In his response to his son, Edwyn, dated 15th March[6], he recommended going ahead with the purchase. He also suggested that it wasn’t worth the expense of questioning a difference of only four acres. It would no doubt be cheaper to pay for the additional 4 square yards than the expense of Messrs Woolley & Noel measuring the land and the additional letters from Woolley, Beardsleys and Bosworth. He also disregarded the light problem for the houses facing on Rosebery Street, stating that “the garden is too long”, also they could use roof lights in the new factory. Whilst he was living at Belcombe Court, Alfred Burder travelled up to Loughborough, when required, stating that he did not propose to attend the Directors’ meeting, neither did he intend to go to Arora meeting, as “the turnover for February is satisfactory[7].

 

1921 OS Map

At the Directors’ meeting, they gave the go-ahead to purchase the land, subject to all three parties, the vendor, The London and North Western Railway and a representative from Messenger’s meeting on site to the size of the land with the vendors and to agree the boundary with the Railway Company. Despite the apparent urgency, arranging the meeting, agreeing the size of the land and engaging with the Railway Company to agree to erect the fence, took a couple of months. The size of the land finally agreed between the two parties was 4,597 square yards and the contract was signed on 6th July. The solicitors also drew up a Deed of Indemnity between Messenger’s and the syndicate, namely William Webster, Anthony Webster, Herbert Bennett and Ellen Cook, all of whom had equitable interests in the sale[8].

Messrs Woolley, Beardsleys and Bosworth finally submitted their invoice, amounting to £17 15s. 6d, in March 1919, exactly a year after proceedings started.

Nothing appears to have happened regarding the Railway Company erecting their fence due Messenger’s running into difficulties with the tenant of the adjacent field. However, as the tenant was giving up the tenancy on 5th July, Messenger’s wrote to the Railway Company giving them 28 days to erect their fence[9].

By late 1919 Messenger’s had decided that they must have more land and opened negotiations with the owners of a parcel of land adjoining the land they’d just purchased. The plot of land consisted of 1,027 square yards with a 66ft. 6in. frontage onto Rosebery Street. Messenger’s decided that the asking price of £265 was far too high and attempted to negotiate a lower figure by offering to buy a smaller portion of land amounting to about 840 square yards[10]. It appears that a group, known as the Paget syndicate, were selling off several parcels of land. By the middle of December both parties had reached agreement for Messenger’s to purchase lot 4, of 4,482 square yard, part of lot 5 containing 840 square yards, making 5,322 square yards in total at 1s. 6d. per square yard. In addition, they also agreed to purchase lot 6 consisting of 640 square yards at 4s. per square yard along with the gable end of a house abutting onto lot 6 for an additional £45, bringing the total to £612-3-0d. for the 6,162 square yards[11]. This is significantly more than the 9d. per square yard Messenger’s paid for the first piece of land and no doubt there was an element of opportunism on behalf of the vendors.

Like the earlier purchase, Messrs Woolley, Beardsleys and Bosworth acted on Messenger’s behalf and Deane and Co., on behalf of the William Webster & Co., who was representing a syndicate. Before the contract could be signed Woolley, Beardsleys and Bosworth indicated that Messenger’s had to pass a resolution allowing Eric Burder to act as agent for and on behalf of Messenger & Co., Ltd., before he could sign the contract. Two days later, on 7th January, having passed such a resolution, the Company Secretary wrote to Woolley, Beardsleys and Bosworth, confirming that such as resolution had been passed by the Directors’[12].

There was obviously a problem because on 12th January, Mr. W.A. Bent Beardsley of Woolley, Beardsleys and Bosworth, wrote a private letter to Edwyn Burder at his home address. The personal letter is somewhat ambiguous because it makes references to several telephone calls, without explaining their content. It appears that there was a perceived problem with the land purchase and he was looking for a letter from Messenger’s. There was also an obvious history between Messenger’s and Frederick Grogan, as the letter states” … I feel sure if your Company ask Mr. Grogan outright for a similar kind of letter it would be likely, according to past experience, to cause friction[13].

It appears that the major concern was that the vendors were only willing to give an 18 months’ title on the land and the solicitors thought that the purchase should not proceed; hence the request for an explicit instruction from Messenger & Co., Ltd. and Frederick Grogan regarding as whether to proceed. Whilst Messenger’s drew up a draft letter that “both Messenger & Co., Ltd. and Mr. Grogan have decided that this land must be purchased by the Company and that have already instructed you to proceed with the purchase on those lines and our Company has, moreover, signed the Contract to purchase the land on those lines. It is only right, however, that you Firm should have our instructions in writing to accept such a title which, in the absence of such instructions, you would, as you stated in the interview, have declined to accept”, it was apparently never sent[14].

Messenger & Co., Ltd. had decided that they could build the new factory on the land already purchased and might not require building on this for perhaps another three years. It is interesting that communications between the various Directors, regarding the sale, were completed through their solicitors[15], although there is no evidence of any falling out between the various family members.

 

1962 OS Map

Another problem arose during the conveyance one of the tenants died, leaving neither will nor Letters of Administration regarding their estate[16]. There was also the issue of the sitting tenants, James and Ann Dickens, to address. The pair had a yearly tenancy that ran from March 25th, so Messenger’s began negotiations with them to obtain immediate possession. At the end of January, the couple agreed to give up their tenancy on payment of £8 and on 2nd February Messengers wrote to James and Ann Dickens, enclosing a cheque for £8 and ‘demanding’ immediate possession[17].

Before finalising the deal, Messenger’s wanted confirmation from the vendors regarding a few dimensions. The first was that that of both the entrance and the back of the road to Rosebery Street from the large piece of land was indeed 12ft. The second was that the frontage was 55ft. for the 840-square yard parcel of land. The third was confirmation that the length of another frontage towards the left-hand side of the larger parcel of land. The confirmation from the vendors was presumably forthcoming because the contract was duly completed on 7th February[18]. Woolley, Beardsleys and Bosworth invoice for their work amounted to £23 16s. 0d, on top of which was the sum of £6 14s. 0d. to cover the conveyance stamp (£6 10s. 0d), Statutory Declaration Stamp (2s. 6d) and Commissioners fee (1s. 6d).

 

References:

  1. Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office ref: DE2121/290.

  2. Presumably the strip of land outside of Nos. 82 and 84 Cumberland Road.

  3. Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office ref: DE2121/290.

  4. The houses were built in 1893.

  5. Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office ref: DE2121/290.

  6. Ibid.

  7. Ibid.

  8. Ibid.

  9. Ibid.

  10. Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office ref: DE2121/291.

  11. Ibid.

  12. Ibid.

  13. Ibid.

  14. Ibid.

  15. Ibid.

  16. Ibid.

  17. Ibid.

  18. Ibid.