Canal Barge, Netherton Tunnel Branch Canal, Netherton
- Reference Number: p/2048
- Date: c 1955
- Level: Item
- History Note: The Netherton Tunnel Branch Canal, connects the Dudley Canal No.2 Line, with Telford's New Mainline of the Birmingham Canal Navigations, via the 3,027 yards long Netherton Tunnel. It passes underneath Brindley's Old Mainline, near to the northern portal of the Netherton Tunnel, at Tividale. Work began in December, 1855, on the digging, and seventeen shafts were sunk providing position for the best facilities for working and dsiposing of the spoil. Seven of the shafts were left open as ventilation shafts. These were brick lined and capped with twelve foot high moulded brick cornices on which rested a wrought iron grating, known locally as "pepper pots". The deepest shaft was 344 feet 9 inches deep. The tunnel on completion, was 2,768 metres long and was first illuminated by gas, then electric lights. The tunnel was finished and opened on the 20th August, 1858. During its construction, nine men lost their lives and eighteen were seriously injured.
- History Note: The canal carrying company Thomas Clayton (Oldbury) Ltd., was formed as the result of a merger in 1889, between canal carriers Fellows, Morton & Company, and William Clayton of Saltley, Birmingham - one of the largest canal operators on the Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN). Clayton's had docks at a wharf off Stone Street on the BCN Old Line canal. Their fleet of boats, often referred to as 'gas' or 'tar' boats and decorated with the company markings of distinct cabbage-like roses (often known as 'Clayton Cabbages'), carried a variety of bulk liquids from the local gasworks to distillation and chemical companies, to make such products as fertiliser and tar. All the boats were named after rivers alphabetically, according to the year they were built. They were also nicknamed 'oil boats' due to the fact that they won their largest contract to carry oil for Shell Max and BP from Ellesmere Port to Oldbury. The company ceased in 1966 when a new motorway was built through their Oldbury dock.
- Description: A barge belonging to Thomas Clayton Ltd. of Oldbury, being towed by a horse about to enter Netherton Tunnel. This image also depicts the fact that horses were still used for towing barges as late as the 1950s. Note the boatman is wearing a trilby hat as opposed to the traditional flat caps that most boatmen wore. (Courtesy of the T. W. King collection held at Dudley Archives & Local History Service).
- Copyright: Mrs. R. Collins
- Access Status: Open
- Contact: Dudley Archives,
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