Kent Coal. Another Letter from Sir Conan Doyle
Conan Doyle replies to 3 points raised by a previous letter about the Kent coal mines.
Another Letter from Sir Conan Doyle.
To the Editor of the Pall Mall Gazette.
Sir, — I had no intention, when I wrote to you first upon what I regard as an important national matter, of being drawn into a correspondence upon details. When, however, I have lists of questions addressed to me in your columns I have no choice but to answer them or to let them seem to go by default.
In answer, then, to the three queries of your anonymous Canterbury correspondent, I would say:-
1. That it is the present management who negotiate sales to foreigners. Who else could it be?
2. That so far as I understand Mr. Arthur Burr controls the management.
3. That this group of companies has been in existence between six and seven years, so that your correspondent in alluding to fourteen years is confusing them with other companies under different control and with a different objective. The faith of the shareholders in the enterprise has been, and continues to be, so firm that all the heavy, financial calls needful to buy and develop so great an estate have been found from their own pockets, without any appeal to the general public. Much money has, as your correspondent says, been sunk, but since nearly all the shares are at the present moment at a substantial premium none can be said to be lost.
My point still remains untouched: that if unsympathetic comment by men who have never even troubled to go sixty miles to look at the results achieved is allowed to cripple this enterprise, neither Mr. Burr nor any other manager has any choice but to sell it in sections. Experience has shown that these sections are readily bought by foreigners, and thus the British public is frightened out of what I regard as a very valuable heritage.
Let me say, in conclusion, that I know Mr. Arthur Burr very slightly, and that I have only had one conversation with him in my life. My attention was first drawn to him by the extreme virulence of the attacks upon him in the Press. My own experience for what it is worth, is that he has managed this great concern with marked wisdom and foresight in the face of very determined opposition, which has never, save in one instance, come from shareholders, but always from outside critics. I believe that the future will speedily justify both him and those who have supported him. — Yours faithfully,
ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE