Thomas Clayton Ltd. Canal Boat Dock, Oldbury
- Reference Number: p/2134
- Date: Jul 1955
- Level: Item
- 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.
- History Note: The Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN) began in September 1772, with the completion of a canal between Wolverhampton and Birmingham, by engineer James Brindley. The main aim of the BCN was to provide the short haul transport of finished goods and raw materials of the surrounding manufacturing region of the Black Country. By 1789, it had expanded rapidly and had already absorbed the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal. By 1840, it had incorporated the Wyrley & Essington Canal, and had amalgamated with Dudley Canals in 1846. By the 1850s, there were around 160 miles of canals with over 200 locks, 17 pumping stations, 7 tunnels and 6 reservoirs. However, by the end of the 19th century, canals were in decline due to the railways. BCN did not go under however, as they had an agreement with the London & North Western Railway (LNWR) where local deliveries and collections would be handled by boat, and long transport by rail. By the 1930s though, most of the heavy work on the canals had ceased causing many of the canals to fall into disuse and neglect. Eventually, in 1968, BCN were taken over by the British Waterways Board. They, along with local water authorities, set about to restore many of the original BCN canals. Consequently, they are now used for leisure and recreation.
- Description: The Thomas Clayton Boat Dock at a wharf off Stone Street, on the Birmingham Canal Navigations' (BCN) Old main Line. This is a view from Stone Street Bridge, of some of Clayton's tar boats. The barrels on the boats were part of company tradition, and were used for horse feed. After the boats were motorised, they were still used to store other equipment such as ropes. Some of the intricate painted designs typical of Clayton boats, can also be seen. (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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