Famous Fleets: NarrowBoat, Autumn 2006
Alan Faulkner deals with a colourful fleet of narrowboats that carried coal from the Warwickshire collieries to a wide variety of destinations.
The Samuel Barlow Coal Co Ltd, which was one of the last companies to trade regularly on the Grand Union and Oxford canals, was incorporated in 1916, but was based on a business founded in the late 1860s. Samuel Barlow was born on 28th August 1847 at Exhall beside the Coventry Canal, the eldest son of John and Mary Barlow. His father was a boatman, and Samuel took up the same profession. In 1867 he married Mary Ann Compton and they moved to Bulkington Lane, Bedworth, where Barlow acquired his first pair of narrowboats and concentrated on delivering cargoes of coal. When the compulsory registration of canal boats was introduced in 1879, four boats – Ellen, Mary Ann, Live & Learn and Friendship – were recorded for him at Coventry. Barlow was an enterprising man and in September 1879 he moved to Glascote, which adjoins Tamworth, in an area where the coal mining industry was developing strongly, as he saw opportunities to expand his business. It proved to be a wise move; …