1916 court: Local wine and spirit merchant’s bad debt

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At a sitting of the Scarborough Bankruptcy Court before the Registrar (Mr F Bedwell), at the Court House, Castle Road, Hannah Drabble, carrying on business apart from her husband, at 56, North Marine Road, Scarborough, as a wine and spirit merchant, returned gross liabilities £1,084 0s 1d, of which £543 6s 9d is expected to rank for divedend. The deficiencies amounted to £468 19s 11d.

Debtor, in reply to Mr JL Poland, the assistant official receiver, said that she commenced business in September, 1907, taking over the business carried on by her late husband, Mr TE Dent. The business at that time was insolvent. The liabilities were £1,038 3s 5d to trade creditors, and the assets were estimated at £843, leaving a deficit of £194. She raised £305 by mortgage on a house she possessed in Trafalgar Square, and which had been left to her by her mother. With the aid of this she paid a composition of 12s 6d in the pound. To pay this she required £650.

In August, 1910, she married again, and her present husband had let her have £500 a month later. In March, 1911, he gave her a cheque for £100, making £600, to pay off the previous liabilities in which she had become involved, almost to a similar amount. Her present husband had let her have, altogether, about £800, and this he was not claiming – he had given it to her. She attributed failure to taking over the insolvent business, and latterly on account of bad trade due to the war.

Asked if she knew the cause of the non-success of the business during her first husband’s life she said it was due to giving too much credit on a country round. Her first husband commenced business 17 years ago. Her turnover in 1912 was £2,921, in 1913 it was £2,922, and in 1914, probably due to the war, £1,290. Since 1914 to the date of the receiving order the total was £785. She had paid to the brewery company to September, 1909, £392 for bottled goods; in 1910, £369; in 1911, £351; in 1912, £382; and in 1913, the best year, £415. In 1914 it was £342, and in 1915-16, £272. Notwithstanding the war the turnover from bottled goods had only dropped £80.

The Assisant Official Receiver: So that although the gross turnover of your business dropped over £1,000, the turnover in respect of wines and spirits and so on showed nearly no material decrease?

Debtor: No.

Proceeding, in reply to questions, she said she made an average profit of 15 per cent on bottled goods. The sales upon the bottled goods were: 1908, £462; 1910, £436; 1911, £415; 1912, £451; 1913, £489, the best year; 1914, £405; and 1915-16, £320. The grocery trade had diminished since the outbreak of the war, and she had sold goods at under cost. The bottled business had been the mainstay of the concern during the past two years. In better days the bottled business constituted one-fifth to one-sixth of the total turnover.

Asked to the wages bill, debtor said she had found it necessary to employ certain men for country work and so on. Her husband had assisted and she had paid him 10s a week and his food. The net loss on the trading last year was £145. The brewery (Bentley’s Yorkshire Brewery) were the largest creditors. She owed them £223.

The examination closed.