Coal to Runcorn Gasworks

Picturing the Past: NarrowBoat, Autumn 2019

A selection of images from the Jack Parkinson Collection provides an insight into the carriage of coal on the Bridgewater Canal in the early 1960s

These two images convey perfectly the wide, wellmaintained Bridgewater Canal in 1961 shortly before this important coal traffic ceased. They appear to be taken in late summer as the grass looks rather parched and in need of rain. The location is Norton Prior, near Halton, due east of Runcorn. The NB Spring 2019 issue featured Gordon Waddington of Bolton whose boats carried coal to Runcorn Gasworks. However, he was not the only boat-owner involved, another being Jonathon Horsefield Ltd of Runcorn. This was an old established coal-dealing and canal-carrying family business based at Runcorn by the late 1840s, with some family members working as boatmen in later years. Horsefield operated a fleet of about a dozen horse-boats on the Bridgewater, mainly working in the coal trade between Lancashire and Cheshire. Later generations were also publicans. After Jonathan Horsefield’s death in July 1905, his coal and canal-carrying business was continued by his executors before eventually be…

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