The accounting system of the Stroudwater Navigation Company developed over time according to the nature of activities being undertaken, changes in personnel and response to suspected fraud.
The Treasurer’s account book initially recorded the receipts from shares and later mainly tonnage receipts. The latter were reconciled and paid in every half yearly until April 1814 when this changed to weekly following the suspension of clerk Edward Hains because he had fraudulently embezzled Company money. Early outgoings included payments to the clerk for the expenses of building the canal and later payments of dividends and taxes.
The Clerk's cashbook recorded receipts from the Treasurer, rent and other sundry items such as sale of twigs. His outgoings comprised the initial building of the canal and all of the day-to-day expenses involved in keeping it operating. The Clerk was also responsible for the cash transactions recorded in the tonnage books. All books were reconciled and authorised on a half-yearly basis.
When Joseph Grazebrook replaced his father Benjamin as Clerk, a purchase ledger for items bought on credit for building the canal was introduced. In 1814, a combined nominal, sales and purchase ledger was introduced. Entries were made from a journal book giving details of the transactions involved. In April and October the ledger was balanced and a profit or loss calculated after taking into account any money due to or from the company i.e. on an accruals basis.
Early abstracts of accounts for shareholders were drawn up on a cash basis in April and October each year. These summarised tonnages by wharf and classes of receipts and payments, and a note was made of the value of the fixed assets, capital employed in the coal trade and taxes due. A rate of dividend was also recommended.
Later the accounts were prepared on an accruals basis.
Information about Accounting during the operational period up to 1941 can be found by searching the Minute Book and Letter Book pages in the Archives section of this website. Additionally, a list of relevant documents that can be consulted at Gloucestershire Archives can be found in the Subject Listings page under the heading Accounting.
Found in the Archive
An unusual entry in the accounts for September 1801 was a subscription to the Severn Humane Society who circulated information about how to resuscitate people recovered from the water and presented awards to rescuers. (D1180/2/20)