Joseph Orrell (Landlord: Anfield Road)

Born: January 17, 1860, in Liverpool (Lancashire), in England.
Passed away: March 16, 1933, in Marlybone (London), in England.

1860, February 16: Baptism, St. Peter’s, Liverpool.
1861 Census: Residence Kirkdale, aged 1.
1871 Census: Residence North Meols, Lancashire, aged 11.
1895, September 11: Marriage to Elizabeth Rose Emmeline Matilda, in Mitcham.
1901 Census: Residence 72 Cambridge Gardens, Kensington, London.
1911 Census: Residence 19 Holland Park, Kensington, W London.
1933 Probate: 18 Harley House, Marlyebone Road, Marlyebone, Middlesex, to Elizabeth Rose Emmeline Matilda Orrell, widow, £45,513 19s 5d.

The Split of Everton FC by David Kennedy
-The clause placed by Joseph Orrell Jnr, when invoked, would have disturbed the covered standing enclosures that had been erected on the Orrell side” of the club’s ground by 1891 and, bound by roads on its other perimeters, would have necessitated removal from the ground by the club.

It is clear from press coverage of the conflict within the club that the membership had long been aware of this Sword of Damocle shanging over the future of the club’s home ground. In fact, when in August of 1891 John Orrell instructed his solicitor to invoke the clause agreed between his nephew and Houlding, enmity was expressed towards John Orrell from Houlding’s supporters and opponents alike at the decision, believing that John Orrell had bided his time on this issue.

In September of 1891, William Clayton, as stated earlier a key figure opposed to Houlding in the club dispute, acknowledged the ‘difficulty’ presented to the club by Orrell’s actions. And letters in the press from club members pointed up Orrell as the instigator of the club’s difficulties: Mr Orrell, whose property in a sense was lying idle through no fault of the Everton football Club, naturally wanted employment for the land the same as Mr Houlding and this supplies the crux of the whole position.

A possibly revealing insight into John Orrell’s actions, and one which supports the theory of opportunism on his part alone, concerns his agreement in January 1891 to sell for £30,000 his own brewing business. The incorporation of his business into a limited liability company, Orrell’s Brewery Syndicate, followed by its immediate sale, raises an interesting point concerning the club dispute and eventual split.

In 1891 John Orrell’s solicitor explained Orrell’s actions to give effective notice to the club as the result of his client’s desire to lay out his adjoining land for commercial purposes, that is, the building and sale of houses. This, however, would seem to be at variance with John Orrell’s commercial rationalization represented by the sale of his brewery and its properties (including ale houses and beer houses).

Aged seventy in 1891, it perhaps makes little sense that John Orrell would sell off one established business enterprise only to start up another venture at his advanced stage in life. Also, his stated intention to lay out his land for house-building coincided with depressed business conditions in the housing industry at that point in time.

The local housing market was acknowledged as being depressed in the early 1890s. This might indicate that Orrell’s motivation in invoking the clause was the grasping of a commercial opportunity in order to further rationalise his property-holding in Liverpool (Orrell retired to a residence on the Wirral in early 1893) by selling his Anfield Road land.

The significance of these details is its questioning of any theory of collusion between Houlding and John Orrell over the timing of the dispute. This evidence highlights John Orrell’s actions in the context of his own individual motives and concerns for his property and its place in his overall business strategy.

Historians of the dispute have tended to stress that John Orrell and John Holding were associates in the brewery industry. It has also been suggested that both men were responsible together for fixing the club’s ground rental at arbitrary annual rates, an assertion made despite the absence of evidence that Orrell played any role in club affairs

The whole issue of Orrell’s part in the club split has been under researched. In fact, accusations of a pact or collusion with Orrell during the course of the club dispute were also levelled against members of the Everton committee opposing Holding. Strengthened by an earlier newspaper report that revealed some members of the committee had, during the summer of 1891, obtained land valuations for the relocation of the club away from Anfield.

Whatever the truth behind the Orrell affair the ongoing dispute within the club erupted from his decision to serve notice on the club that they must make good on the promise Houlding had entered into to allow an access road to be built, thereby disturbing the stadium.

The Orrell complication provided the battleground for a final showdown between Houlding and his supporters and a caucus within the membership who rallied around the triumvirate of William Clayton and Dr James Clement Baxter, sitting committee members, and George Mahon, a member of the club who would soon become Everton’s first boardroom chairman.

Houlding’s opponents believed that, as landlord, the club president should negotiate with Orrell and pay him an agreeable rent for his land in order to retain continued tenancy. For his part, Houlding saw the way forward through the club’s purchase of both his and Orrell’s properties via the sale of shares in the club and its formation into a limited company. Initially, the latter course of action was chosen.

It is clear from contemporary sources that, far from Houlding’s preferred solution to the ground problem being ‘forced’ upon the club, as stated in established accounts of the split, his limited company scheme when first proposed was unanimously voted for by the full committee of the club.

By this stage seven of the eleven-man committee were opponents of Houlding’s: William Clayton, Dr Baxter, Abraham Coates, Robert Wilson, Francis Currier and John Atkinson. All of these men would become directors of Everton in the post-split period.

The committee meeting of 27th August 1891 agreed it desirable ‘that a Company be formed for the purchase of Mr Houlding’s interest in the football ground and of Mr Orrell’s interest in a portion of the adjoining land’.

The volte-face on this decision by the majority of the committee at the Extraordinary General Meeting of club members on 15th September, which had been especially called to debate the scheme, is never explained. However, the mobilisation of the membership in opposition to Houlding on this issue was organised and implacable from this point on, and the perception of Houlding as having attempted to arbitrarily force the limited scheme upon the membership has been subsequently nurtured Proposals of, and Objections to, Houlding’s Limited Liability Scheme

As mentioned, the core of Houlding’s proposals to transform the club into a limited company lay in the purchase by the club of both his own land and that of John Orrell’s adjoining property. This involved a payment to Houlding of £6,000 for his 15,500 square yards – a £3,000 initial payment, with a further £3,000 lying on mortgage at 4 per cent interest per annum.

Houlding had calculated the sale of his land to the proposed new company at the land value he had paid for it in 1884, that is, seven shillings per square yard. Similarly, John Orrell’s 13,000 square yards of land would be bought by the company involving an initial payment of £1,875, with another £3,000 on mortgage, also at 4 per cent interest per annum.

From Houlding’s stated perspective, his proposed scheme would secure the club’s location, allow for the club to extend ground capacity, and afford the possibility of creating an athletics track which could maximise the ground’s utility during the close season and ensuring funds for the football club to progress.

From the perspective of those critics opposed to Houlding (nominated by the local press at this point as the Dissenters) his proposals amounted to an exploitation of the club’s difficulties with Orrell and were regarded as a convenient way to arrest the declining.

The Dissenters argued that Houlding’s land had depreciated significantly in value in the intervening period between his payment for it and the proposal of his scheme. Thus, Houlding’s sale at purchase price would represent shrewd business on his own behalf, realising capital which had now turned into a poor investment in view of the agreed capping of Houlding’s annual rental opportunities at 4 per cent of purchase price.

As we have seen, Houlding had purchased the land in 1885 at seven shillings per square yard. Certain members of the committee declared that as land value in the vicinity had fallen to four shillings and sixpence per square yard, the proposed formation of the club into a company was, under Houlding’s value of his capital investment at the club whilst retaining a prominent position within it.

Plan, the subsidisation of Houlding (and Orrell) for the loss of value on their capital investment. It does, indeed, appear from information obtained from local newspaper advertisements of the period that the value of land in the district might well have been in decline.

For example, one such advertisement in the Liverpool Courier at the time attracting attention to the availability of land in Everton and nearby West Derby was worded thus: ‘Valuable freehold and leasehold plots for building purposes sold at greatly reduced prices’.

Again, contextualisation is the key to determining the validity of these charges levelled against Houlding. Taken in isolation, Houlding’s proposals for the club to purchase his land at what was an inflated valuation would seem to be damning. Taken in the context of Houlding’s long-term exploitation of the club and the case against him would appear to be conclusive.

However, an appreciation of the details of the financial history between the president and the club, as has been attempted in this chapter allows for the questioning of these assumptions. In reacting to Orrell’s demands upon the club, Houlding could be said to be claiming no more and no less than the value of his outlay advanced on behalf of the club.

An alternative argument might be proffered that the club’s use of Houlding’s land and capital loans at competitive rates of interest amounted to the long-term exploitation of Houlding. Everton had secured its first championship in 1891/92.

The use of Houlding’s investment to build up a squad of professional players and to expand ground capacity to accommodate ever-increasing public interest was crucial to the club’s rapid rise from a district club.

It can be argued that the expectation amongst Houlding’s opponents that this state of affairs should continue ? whereby a small-scale brewer financed single-handedly a large organization like Everton ? was unrealistic, to say the least.

Rejection and Aftermath of Houlding’s Scheme
The period of the dispute from the rejection of Houlding’s scheme to his being deposed as club president is a largely unexplored period in previous accounts of the Everton dispute.

Events during this period strongly suggest the pursuit of a strategy by those in opposition to Houlding on the Everton committee that was designed not only to further discredit and weaken Houlding’s position within the club, but also to prepare the membership for a flight away from the Anfield Road ground, the trump card Houlding held against them.

The reluctance of members of the club to leave behind the Anfield Road site, not only through emotional attachment but also because of their substantial capital investment in the ground, provided a stumbling block to the plans of the committee.

Houlding’s opponents took full advantage of the Orrell affair from this point on to force the club membership toward the solution of a ground move. The petitioning of John Orrell by the anti-Houlding faction was key to this strategy.

The securing of the Anfield Road ground until the end of the season 1891/1892 by the club’s executive committee for a payment to Orrell of £100 preserved the club’s cherished League status and was the first priority of Houlding’s opponents on the committee in the aftermath of their organised blocking of the president’s incorporation scheme.

From the security of this position, and the opening up of a dialogue with Orrell (effectively by-passing Houlding), Houlding’s opponents were able to secure from Orrell an agreement that would ensure the club’s continued tenancy for an annual rental of his land for £120 on a ten-year lease.

On the strength of this, they called upon Houlding to reciprocate Orrell’s terms, which amounted to 2 1/2 per cent interest upon Orrell’s purchase price of his land of £4,800. The strategy was a simple one: Houlding’s refusal to tear up his original rights to 4 per cent interest on his approximate purchase price of £6,000 would leave the club facing a yearly rental payment of £360, a level the membership would find hard to accept given the annual payments of similar-size clubs.

Alternatively, the prospect of reducing his annual rental from £240 to £150 placed Houlding in a dilemma: the failure of the club president to follow the lead of an outsider on terms and conditions of tenure would inevitably have enhanced his negative image in the wake of the failure of his unpopular limited liability scheme.

Houlding responded by offering to ‘accept a reduced sum’ of his 4 per cent rental ‘in the event of the club’s finances being insufficient to meet this’. Though hardly a definitive commitment to reduce terms, this offer, in conjunction with Orrell’s offer, amounted to a substantial improvement for the club in terms of long-term security of tenure and rental costs.

From Houlding, there was a willingness to revert to his pre-1888 position of accepting a rental rate below 4 per cent of his purchase price and a written commitment not to disturb the tenancy of the club.

From Orrell, there was a commitment to provide the club with a ten-year lease for an annual rental of £120, with the option to buy the land.

The club, for a fixed annual rental below £360, had now the possibility of secure and stable tenure and the physical space to expand the capacity of the ground to prosper. The counter response from the Everton committee was to formulate what they believed to be an improved offer to Houlding and to call a Special General Meeting on 25th January 1892 to endorse its acceptance.

The terms of the Everton committee were as follows: ‘That the Everton Football Club offer to Mr Houlding £180 p.a. rental and that £120 p.a. be offered to Mr Orrell on a lease to run for 10 years, the terms to be as mentioned by Mr Houlding except that he shall not have a nominee on the committee’.

The rental offer, which would have resulted in a fixed loss on rental and a decline in his influence upon the administration of the club, would, the architects of the resolution knew, inevitably be unacceptable to Houlding and signalled the determination of his opponents to rout him and draw to a close the struggle for club control.

Houlding, predictably, rejected this offer. With the reinforcement by the membership at this meeting of their earlier rejection of Houlding’s limited company scheme; and with the still outstanding threat to the club’s tenancy of the Anfield Road site; the motion by Houlding’s opponents to form the club into a limited company and relocate to another site was overwhelmingly carried.

Two short statements in the Everton minutes of the meeting read: Proposed by Mr Mahon and seconded by Mr Griffiths that the Goodison Road site be selected by the Committee in case Mr Houlding does not accept the above offer. Carried.

Proposed by Mr Clayton and seconded by Mr Atkinson that the Club be formed into a Limited Liability Company Under the name of the Everton Football Club Ltd.

The club secretary, William Barclay, had documented a momentous occasion in the history of English football. Though the row over the course the club was to take rumbled on until March of 1892 with the formal demand of the resignation of Houlding and his remaining supporters on the club committee the dye had been cast.

By early summer of 1892 Everton Football Club had begun their relocation to nearby land in the Walton district where they erected the Goodison Park stadium. The Anfield Road site was retained by John Houlding and, after an unsuccessful attempt at registering the Everton name, his newly formed company: Liverpool Football Club and Athletic Grounds Company Limited was born.

One of the most fierce and enduring rivalries in world football had been established and established in very acrimonious and controversial circumstances.

NOTES It has been stated in all other accounts of the split that this Joseph Orrell was John Orrell’s brother. In fact, Joseph Orrell Snr. (John Orrell’s brother) had died in 1883, leaving the bulk of his estate to his son (also Joseph). It was this Joseph Orrell – Joseph Orrell Jnr – that Houlding arranged the contract with to buy the adjoining property to John Orrell’s. (Will and Grant of Joseph Orrell Ref: MHP 1012/1013, Registry of Grants, Wills and Probate Index, High Holborn, London).

Occupation from 1861 Census Return. John Orrell, was resident at 42, Pluto Street, Liverpool 21 LC, 22nd September 1891 The Everton Election’: Mr Houlding and the Football Club’, p.4. Statements in the local press in this period highlight the long-standing reluctance of the club to add facilities to the Anfield Road ground because of these complications. Orrell Brewing Syndicate, Co. File BT/31/4962/33147. Public Records Office, Kew, London 24 LC, 30 November 1905.

Brewer John Houlding was instrumental in renting a new land for Everton to play on between Anfield Road and Walton Breck Road on which Everton made their debut on 28 September 1884.

Everton’s new home simply became known as Anfield after the district it was situated in. Joseph Orrell jnr., who inherited the land from his father in 1883, put it up for sale in 1885. Houlding bought Anfield from Joseph for 5,228 pounds, 11 shillings, 11 pence, to be precise, which including legal costs, amounted to a total of £6,000.

Houlding used £2,000 of his own money to purchase the ground and took a £4,000 mortgage on which he paid 3% interest.

The contract stipulated that Houlding should make a yearly donation to Stanley Hospital in the name of Orrell and that the land on the perimeter of the Anfield ground that Joseph’s uncle, brewer John Orrell, owned should be left alone in case of a future construction of an access road that Houlding should partake in building.

This contractual clause later played a big role in the split between Houlding and Everton.
(From – under Joseph Orrell’s private pages)

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