James Smart of Chalford

Famous Fleets: NarrowBoat, Winter 2020

Hugh Conway-Jones

Hugh Conway-Jones explores the early history and carrying activities of a well-known Thames & Severn Canal-based carrier

In the 19th century, the Stroudwater and Thames & Severn canals were well used by canal boats and barges, mainly for carrying raw materials to the communities along the two waterways and also exporting some local products. Coal was brought in from the Forest of Dean, Staffordshire and South Wales, while road stone came from Bristol and Chepstow. Imported grain and timber were taken eastwards, and local grain and timber westwards, with much cut timber being sent to the Midlands. The boats and barges were owned and crewed by local people, and the village of Chalford became a centre for these activities after it had been particularly hit by the decline of the Stroud Valley’s woollen cloth industry.William and James Smart Among those who found work on the canals were two brothers namedWilliam and Charles Smart. William’s son, James, also joined him in the late 1840s at the age of nine. At that time, William was captain of Emma, owned by Edward Restall who processed timber…

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