S.E. Barlow

Famous Fleets: NarrowBoat, Autumn 2010

Alan Faulkner

Alan Faulkner studies the coal carrying business of a famous company based in Tamworth

When I first started collecting narrowboat names in the early 1950s, it took me some time to work out that the Samuel Barlow Coal Company and S.E. Barlow were not one and the same concern. The fleets had similar liveries, both had bases in Tamworth, both seemed to specialise in carrying coal, and both had adopted a theme of naming many of their boats after admirals. In time I realised that I was far from alone in confusing two separate businesses. Samuel Edwin Barlow was born in 1897, the eldest son of John and Lucy Emma Barlow. In turn his father John had been born in 1875, the third son of Samuel and Mary Ann Barlow. Grandfather Samuel had established a thriving coal carrying and retailing business in Tamworth and, following his sudden death in 1894, John took over the running of his father’s business in partnership with his older brother Thomas and his widowed mother. Under John’s leadership, the business continued to grow, but to enable it to expand still further duri…

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