Loading Coal on the BCN

Last Traffic: NarrowBoat, Summer 2020

Another delve into the Jack Parkinson collection shows a variety of boats at Anglesey Basin in the final years of carrying on the BCN

This scene at Anglesey Basin – near the terminus of the Birmingham Canal Navigations at Chasewater Reservoir on the Anglesey Branch – is very evocative of the post-war decline in canal-carrying. The open, neglected landscape of scrubby heathland and old working boats was typical of the last ten years of trade on the BCN. By this period boats were loaded using the wharfside chute with coal brought from pits at Hednesford by lorry. Small coal used in industry and large coal for domestic use were both loaded here. At least two of the craft appear to be Severn longboats, with their bluff, deep hulls and timber heads on the foredeck, both probably owned by Leonard Leigh Ltd, with one partially loaded under the shute. Leigh bought at least 12 of these horse-drawn craft from the Severn & Canal Carrying Company of Gloucester in 1942 for use as day-boats, but all were sold shortly after to the British Electricity Authority Midlands Division for its own day-boat operations. The…

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