Grantham Civic Society feature: Treadgold had strong links with the Klondike
Arthur Newton Christian Treadgold was born in Great Gonerby in 1863 to Thomas George Treadgold and Lydia Newton.
In 1871, Arthur’s father was a farmer on Long Street and employed eight people. In the same year, Arthur who was described as short and slight of physical frame, entered Grantham Grammar School, where his nickname was Barmy. By 1881 the family were living on Cecil Street in Grantham, when his father had become a wealthy Corn Factor. Arthur went on to study at Hertford College, Oxford until 1886, when he gained a Master’s degree, and went on to become a teacher.
He took a short course in geology at the London Geological College and subsequently made arrangements to visit the Klondike in north-west Canada, as a special correspondent for The Manchester Guardian and The Mining Journal.
On 2 January 1898 he boarded a ship for New York. As a representative of an English newspaper, he gained rapid access to people and information. On his arrival in the Klondike at a small settlement called Dawson, he became an active participant in the gold rush, instead of merely a reporter, writing his about observations and experiences. He planned well and foresaw great opportunities for making fortunes. He wrote eloquent descriptions of the community of Dawson, for the Manchester Guardian.
He was a clever observer and, when the gold fields were frozen in the winter, he spent his time travelling around the land and working out the best claims. He purchased a few, with the idea of consolidating them and building equipment to thaw out the land to extract the gold. If hydraulic mining to extract the gold was to be successful, he needed water and electricity, so he travelled to Ottawa to put his plans before the government. He was given a charter to supply water and electricity to the whole area, which subsequently became known as the Treadgold Concession. When the community of Dawson discovered this concession in 1902, the local paper the Nugget wrote, ‘What is known as the Treadgold Concession; the most colossal octopus that ever fastened its tentacles on the gold gravels of the Yukon Territory, again makes its presence felt’.
Other prospectors thought this charter very unfair and considered it to be merely a means to provide Treadgold with more revenue. He was very confident in his own opinions and ideas, and so found it difficult to work with anyone else, but could be charming, and was able to borrow large sums of money. Legal action was instigated, and in 1904 the federal government rescinded the concession.
Undaunted, Treadgold continued with his ideas and lost a lot of the money that he had made. He continued to borrow more, from both England and the United States, before eventually becoming bankrupt. He faced court action in Canada and England and it was while preparing to make an appeal to the House of Lords in 1951 that he fell off a London bus.
He died in hospital on 23 March that year and his ashes were sent to be scattered in the Klondike.