The Water Transport Company Ltd

Unearthing History: NarrowBoat, Spring 2016

Stephen Rowson

Stephen Rowson details a short-lived, late 19th century enterprise intended to improve cargo-carrying between Cardiff and Birmingham.

The Water Transport Company Ltd of Cardiff was key to plans in the early 1890s for moving provisions between the Bristol Channel ports and Birmingham that would cut out the need for multiple transhipment. The railway companies had become a complacent monopoly and their high rates for what was often an inconvenient service to move imports inland from the coast (and manufactured exports the other way) encouraged the idea of ship canals as a competitive alternative. Following on from the Manchester Ship Canal, several projects were proposed on the River Severn with the ultimate aim of building a Birmingham Ship Canal to replace the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. At the time, ocean-going ships and coasters would land their imports at Cardiff or Bristol. Loads destined for the Midlands would then be taken up the Severn Estuary to Sharpness and through the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal to Gloucester Docks, where transhipment would take place into boats that could be locked out into t…

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