Biography of Thomas Henry Barker

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Description: Thomas Henry Barker was presented with a bound book of speeches and writings and a large portrait on 30 April 1906 in recognition of his achievements, and this was the speech given on that occasion. He died in 1917.


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Mr Barker joined the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce as Assistant Secretary in 1881. In 1884 he succeeded Mr William Blood as Secretary.

Mr Barker formed in that year the African Trade Section whose work has led to a great extension of British Possessions and interests in West Africa. In this connection mention may be made of the large increase in Imports of West African timber, to the arrangement for Timber Concessions and the fixing of Royalties and other charges at the lowest obtainable figure.

In 1886 Mr Barker travelled over the Canadian Pacific Railway from Quebec to Vancouver, shortly after its opening, in order to see and report upon the commercial resources of the newly opened parts of the Dominion. From 1888, when the Railway and Canal Traffic Act 1888 was passed, he worked extensively in the matters of Railway Reform, including Reclassification of goods and reduction of rates.

Mr Barker also drew up important reports upon the Effects on the Port of Liverpool of the opening of the Manchester Ship Canal, and on the Administration and Charges of the Port. These reports were presented to the Mersey Docks & Harbour Board and their recommendations largely adopted by the Board. The result was substantial reductions in Rates & Dues. These matters being of vital interest to the Timber Trade, the Association was represented upon the Committees by the late Messrs J Berkeley Smith, and James Harrison and, later, by Alderman James Webster.

Mr Barker organised and represented the Chamber on a large number of Deputations to Government Departments on many matters affecting the trade of the country and of the Port of Liverpool. Between 1884 and the present time Mr Barker wrote more than 100 Memorials which were presented to various Departments of the State and which may be classified as follows, namely 55 Memorials on Home Administration and Legislation, 25 on Indian, Colonial and Foreign subjects and 20 on African subjects. Also 20 special reports

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were drawn up and presented to successive Governments, in addition to reports on Parliamentary Bills.

In the autumn of 1903 Mr Barker attended the Meeting of Chambers of Commerce of the Empire at Montreal, when he took the opportunity of again crossing Canada by the newest route; thence visiting Japan, North China, Corea, Manchuria and Siberia, travelling over the Trans Siberian Railway from Dalny to Moscow, in order to report upon prospects of extension of British Trade with Siberia &c.

Some ten years ago a Russian Section was added to the Chamber.

Mr Barker was one of a small Deputation, including the late Sir Alfred Jones, which waited upon the Czar of Russia at Cowes, subsequent to the visit of members of the Duma to Liverpool and was made Chevalier of the Order of Saint Anne of Russia.