Life in a BCN canal cottage

Working the Waterways: NarrowBoat, Spring 2021

Andy Tidy

Andy Tidy explores the social history of a family of BCN workers, who resided in a canalside cottage at Perry Barr

All too often our interest in canal history starts and ends with the built remains that surround us, but every so often a rich seam of canal-based social history emerges that adds colour to all those black-and-white images. I would like to introduce the Mason family who, for successive generations, worked on and for the Birmingham Canal Navigations. In particular, I would like to introduce you to Enoch Mason who was born in May 1893 and, for 30 years occupied BCN Cottage 83 next to Lock 10 on the Perry Barr flight. In some ways there is nothing particularly remarkable about the Mason clan. They were everyday folk doing everyday jobs, and that probably goes to the root of the issue with social history. Because it all seemed soeveryday at the time, no one thought to record it – until now. In the case of Enoch Mason, his story was first brought to life by Janet Key Lane, his grand-daughter, who decided to capture her mother’s memories of life growing up at Cottage 83. While…

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