Pratt’s Wharf and the Wilden Iron Works

Unearthing History: NarrowBoat, Summer 2020

Tom Foxon

Tom Foxon looks at a local traffic on the River Stour that continued until 1949

Canal boat captains often had to take their unwieldy craft out onto rivers. When talking about the special skills required they would refer to their ability to work in ‘running water’. The Worcestershire Stour running water was particularly tricky. Wilden Forge, near Stourport, was started by the Foley family in the 17th century. When the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal was built, Pratt’s Wharf, situated 2 miles below Kidderminster, was provided to serve the works and was in use by about 1770. Benjamin Pratt was at that time the lessee of the forge. The original wharf seems to have subsequently become disused and it is thought that, at that time, pig iron from Monmouthshire and South Wales was being brought to the forge up the Stour from Stourport, a distance of about one and a half miles. This arrangement was clearly unsatisfactory as, in 1825, the ironworks made an application to make a wharf on the towpath side of the canal, presumably on the site of the …

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