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Gladstone's Speech in Full

"Sir Edward Watkin, ladies and gentlemen, I believe there is no fixed programme of proceedings for the present day beyond that which has just been accomplished. Still, I feel it to be a matter of absolute necessity that a few words should be said upon an occasion so remarkable and, of course, my very first duty, as you will all agree, is to connect this remarkable occasion with the name of Sir Edward Watkin (Cheers). Sir Edward Watkin makes it a boast that he draws his extraction from Wales, and if he draws his extraction from Wales, no man, I will venture to say, has ever rendered a more substantial and more effective Service to his country than he has done by promoting and procuring the erection of this bridge. (Hear, Hear)

The skill of the engineer, the energy of the contractor, the limited time in which the work has been executed; the remarkable, and I will say splendid, application of mechanical science on which the whole thing turns - all of these are remarkable; all of them worthy of commemoration; but what appears to me to be a singular irony, and to us a very agreeable irony of fortune, ladies and gentlemen, is this: We belong on the western side of the country. From the railways on the western side of the country we have derived, for the purpose of establishing a communication of Wales with Lancashire and the Mersey, we have derived unhappily, no assistance. (Hear, hear) Not only have we derived no assistance, but we have derived a great deal of opposition and resistance (Hear, hear) which the united forces of Wales and all our ardent desires never would have been able to overcome if there had not arrived here from the extreme east of the island the chairman of a railway company which derives its name from the most eastern county, namely, the county of Lincolnshire. (Cheers) It is from Lincolnshire that the light of our deliverance has shone - (Laughter) -and all that energy and skill that are worthy of the British name and worthy of the experience and fame that Sir Edward Watkin has obtained in all matters connected with railways - from thence has come the execution of this work, done in a manner hardly less remarkable than the work itself. This is a great day for Hawarden and its neighbourhood - (Hear, hear) - it is a great day for all Wales - (Hear, hear) - it is a great day for all the northern districts of Wales, with its enormous mineral production wanting the cheapest and most direct access to the great markets, and to such a point of export as the Mersey. (Hear, hear) It is a great day for the interior of Wales - for all that lies beyond Wrexham, for those struggling railways which have been hitherto confined and condemned to making only local use of their resources, but which are now going to become part of the great system of the country. (Cheers) All this we owe to our friends of the Manchester. Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway Company, and, above all, to the energy of our friend Sir Edward Watkin. (Cheers) And if a cheer were a very reward, I think you might give three times three, and three times three times three cheers for Sir Edward Watkin in acknowledgment of his great exertions and of the splendid consummation to which they have now led." (Loud cheers)

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