Henry Joseph Jack
|Henry Joseph Jack|
|FR Co. Chairman||07.1921 - 01.11.1924|
Henry Joseph Jack (1869 - 1946)
The Croesor Tramway operated in various forms for over seventy years, so the appearance of Henry Joseph Jack on the stage for a mere six years would suggest that he was a minor player in the fortunes of the tramway. This was far from the case, Jack was neither a railwayman nor an engineer, but without his presence it is possible that the narrow gauge railways of North Wales would have faded into obscurity between the wars. 
Jack was born in Swansea on 9th October 1869 (Although the 1881 census indicates 1867) and of his early years there is little on record. His father, Henry, a Maltster, died in 1879 aged 46, leaving HJJ's mother to raise him and his brother John. He married a widow,Emily Hilton (nee Burn) on 2nd November 1891. In the 1901 Census, he is recorded as being Managing Director of a wholesale Diary Company (J Higgs & Co.), and resident in London. By 1908, he was resident in Llanberis, and was involved with the NW Power & Traction Company, in trying to sell the six Ganz electric locos, built for the PBSSR.
By 1909, he is recorded as being in Colwyn Bay, and involved with the reconstituted Aluminium Corporation at Dolgarrog. By 1915, he was the Managing Director, and living at Maenan Manor, Llanrwst. In 1920 Jack was elected as a member of Caernarvonshire County Council, later becoming Chairman.
In 1920 the Aluminium Corporation diversified and acquired a controlling interest in the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways (NWNGR), and started to acquire a controlling interest in the North Wales Power & Traction Company Ltd. (NWPT). Amongst its portfolio was the Portmadoc, Beddgelert and South Snowdon Railway, and as a result Jack took a place on the board of the PBSSR, in 1921.
During 1921 management changes took place that facilitated building the Welsh Highland Railway. Jack, now Chairman of the NWPT, had also become Receiver of the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways in April 1921 and then following Dolgarrog's acquisition of a controlling interest in the Festiniog Railway, Jack became its Chairman during July 1921. The Snowdon Mountain Railway was also acquired.
As a result of this, Jack was now in control of all the passenger carrying narrow gauge railways of that part of North Wales.
On 18th October 1921, the Light Railway Commissioners held a public inquiry into the Dolgarrog regime's plans for the Welsh Highland Railway. The Chairman of the Commissioners was quite blunt and told Jack that many local people held him in suspicion, being both a member of the County Council and in control of all the railways that were to make up the greater Welsh Highland/Festiniog empire. The Chairman told him that many people felt he wielded far too much influence, indeed it seems that Jack was always regarded as an upstart and an outsider from South Wales.
The Public Inquiry went the way of the railway and on 1st March 1922, Jack, together with Sir John Henderson Stewart and Evan R. Davies became the first directors of the Welsh Highland Railway (Light Railway) Company. As was to be expected, the new board were very upbeat about the future of the new empire and in the North Wales Chronicle, Jack stated that the WHR desired to put the railways in such a state that they would not continue to be a disgrace to the county. Jack predicted an upturn in the slate industry, but also suggested that the WHR would be most reliant on holiday traffic. He cannot be blamed for failing to foresee the terminal failure in the slate industry, but he did have the foresight to see the possible earnings from tourist travel.
The April 1924 AGM was a stormy affair and Jack was made the scapegoat for the losses made from the start of operation. Jack cannot be blamed for failing to predict the cut throat rates that local bus operators were charging which were putting each other out of business, never mind the impact they were having on the rail passenger traffic. The recipts from the FR were similarly down. Jack took the blame for the lack of success of the WHR and resigned with effect from 1st November 1924, being replaced by the company's engineer, Colonel Holman F. Stephens, who became chairman and managing director during 1925. This marked the end of the Dolgarrog regime on the railways.
The most visible and enduring impact that Jack had on the WHR was the result of his insistence that the stock be cut down to run through the Moelwyn Tunnel on the Festiniog line. As a result, Moel Tryfan and the carriages were cut down successfully, but Russell was butchered in vain and only once ran above Boston Lodge following the modifications.
Completing the story of Jack's career in North Wales, on the 2nd November 1925 disaster struck the village of Dolgarrog. The Eigiau Dam of the Aluminium Corporation collapsed, water having leaked under the dam which itself remained intact. The water poured into the Coedty Reservoir which being small was unable to hold it. The dam of that reservoir failed and the power station and the village of Dolgarrog, one mile below, were engulfed. Most of the villagers were in the Assembly Hall for the weekly film show and so escaped, being on higher ground. Sixteen lives were lost as a result of the collapse.
Jack emerged badly from this affair and in 1928, having resigned from the Aluminium Corporation, and NWPT, he left Dolgarrog. With, firstly, an accomodation address in London, he subsequently moved to 9 Grosvenor Gardens, Westminster. In 1933 he changed his name to Henry Jack Macinnes. His first wife's death, in late 1936, was registered in Worthing, Sussex.
In the latter half of the 1930's he was living in Holmdene, Fairford, Gloucestershire, and still held a majority of the WHR shares (52,391 Ordinary shares). He remarried, in mid 1942, to a Charlotte P Brezzie, approximately 20 years his junior. He remained Chairman of the SMR until 1945, and died, at the age of 77, in early 1946 in Tonbridge, Kent. He left no will, but a valuation of his estate, appeared in The Times newspaper, to the value of £63,458.
Re-edited from an article by John Keylock, assisted by David Gwyn and Michael Bishop
 Census Entry for 1881
|An entry has been found for this person at 169, St Helens Rd, Swansea|