CONTRACT BETWEEN

SIR ROBERT McALPINE & SONS AND

WELSH HIGHLAND RAILWAY (LIGHT RAILWAY) Co

FOR CONSTRUCTION OF THE WELSH HIGHLAND RAILWAY : 30 APRIL 1922

Page last updated: 6 February 2012



Transcriber’s foreword

Transcribed from an engrossed copy in Gwynedd Archives (Caernarfon) at XC2/33/47. Items presumed to be "errors" - marked (sic) - are as contained in the original documents. Although the text is that of the original (ampersands and ditto marks are as used in the original), the pagination in the transcription is not retained (the transcription does not purport to be a facsimile); however, page breaks are noted in the transcription. Names shown thus John H Stewart denote signatures. The contract itself is to be read in conjunction with its integral supporting documents: the Contract & Specification; the Schedule of Prices and Quantities; and the List of Bridges and Culverts.

The transcript has also been compared with a typescript "office copy" of the contract documentation, as supplied to the Ministry of Transport under covering letter of 18 April 1923 from the company’s director and legal adviser, Evan R Davies, which is in The National Archives at MT6/3007 (part III); there are additional mis-transcriptions in that copy.

The Contract of 30 April 1922 between the Welsh Highland Railway (Light Railway) Co. and Sir Robert McAlpine & Sons to (re-) construct the railway was an engrossed agreement of double foolscap sheet, together with :

  • Contract & Specification (prepared by Sir Douglas Fox & Partners, March 1922), cover + 35 pp foolscap carbon copy typescript
  • Schedule of prices and Quantities for Payment on account, 13pp of foolscap stencilled headings with carbon copy typescript figures. Note: The measurements, in feet, given in "page 37" onwards, represent the distance from the start point of the new railway, at the south end of South Snowdon/Rhyd Ddu station
  • List of Bridges and Culverts, 5pp (same style as Schedule of Prices)

All these documents can be accessed by following this link to a PDF file (380KB).

The accompanying drawings were:

Although not part of the contract documentation (having been prepared subsequently, in June 1922), the plan accompanying the 1922 light railway amendment order application (Fox drawing A33455) (880KB) provides an over-view of the new-build section of the project, between South Snowdon/Rhyd Ddu and Croesor Junction, incorporating detail differences from the contract drawings above and identifying variations from the 1921 light railway order's route; it has been reconstructed from six separate microfilm images. A less compressed version (2.8MB) can be supplied in response to an email request. To see - for comparison - large scale maps of the Welsh Highland Railway at various dates visit Steve Harris's website.

Dye-line prints of the contract drawings appear only to survive in the Gwynedd Archives at Caernarfon (at XC2/33/47), for the copies supplied to the Ministry of Transport do not appear to have made it to The National Archives. However, microfilmed copies did survive at Hyder Consulting Limited, successors to Sir Douglas Fox & Partners. Having been microfilmed from original drawings (some of which were clearly not in pristine condition when filmed) and then reproduced as the accompanying JPEG files, they have "lost something in translation" but nevertheless give a reasonable representation of the original drawings and we must be grateful that they are available. The original linear scale of drawings A33395, A33400, A33401 and B33402 was 6" to the mile (1:10560) while A33455 was 1:2500. The drawings have been reproduced by kind permission of Hyder Consulting Ltd. Clicking on the relevant link, above, will load the document in question in a new window.

Each page of the attachments in the engrossed copy of the contract was initialled AMcA (Alfred McAlpine).

The contract bears the railway company’s seal, witnessed by directors Sir John Henderson Stewart Bt. and Henry Joseph Jack – names which will be familiar to students of Welsh Highland history – and company secretary William Richard Huson, an employee of Evan Robert Davies’ London legal practice (Davies was the WHR’s third director).

At that date, McAlpines was still a partnership – it did not become a limited liability company until 1956 (although a number of its subsidiaries did so earlier) – so the contract is signed jointly and severally - on behalf of the partnership by Malcolm McAlpine (see below) as well as by each of the partners – namely, the founder and his four eldest sons:

  • Sir Robert McAlpine [of Knott Park], Bt. : 13 February 1847 at Newarthill, Lanarkshire – 3 November 1934; founder of the firm; knighted (Baronet) 1918
  • Robert McAlpine : 17 October 1868 – 16 November 1934; succeeded to his father’s title on the latter’s death, but survived his father by only 13 days
  • William Hepburn McAlpine : 31 October 1871 – 20 February 1951; succeeded his father as Chairman of the firm; grandfather of Sir William Hepburn McAlpine, Bt. (Bill McAlpine – the 6th Baronet and railway enthusiast extraordinaire de nos jours)
  • Sir Thomas Malcolm McAlpine : 19 June 1877 – 12 April 1967; knighted (KBE) 1921
  • Alfred David McAlpine : 6 November 1881 – 25 May 1944; knighted 1932; split from family business in 1934 to found Alfred McAlpine Ltd (firm acquired by Carillion in 2008)

J R Milne and J Esam were employees of the firm as witnesses.

A group portrait of the McAlpine signatories appears in Welsh Highland Heritage no. 55 (March 2012).



Transcription by Richard Maund (assisted by Derek Lystor) - August 2010


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