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Severn and Canal Carrying Company Limited


Records of the Severn & Canal Carrying Company Limited: registration certificates 1934-1950, vessel plans 1930-1937, estate and office site plans 1935-1939.



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Administrative /​ Biographical history

In 1906 a new company was incorporated but the old name of Severn and Canal Carrying Company Limited was retained. The original company's assets were taken over, with the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal Company contributing £5,000 in shares and debentures and appointing a director. The tugs were transferred to the Sharpness New Docks & Gloucester & Birmingham Navigation Company, which in 1909 bought a controlling interest in the Severn and Canal Carrying Company Limited. (Fellows, Morton & Clayton sold its majority shareholding, although it continued to appoint a director and an understanding remained between the two carriers not to compete against one another.) The Severn and Canal Carrying Company Limited therefore operated as a subsidiary of the Sharpness concern, and mainly used the Worcester and Birmingham Canal as the Sharpness company had owned that canal since 1874. The carrying company's headquarters and principal wharf was at 16 Bridge Street, Broad Street, Birmingham (adjoining Gas Street Basin). The company ran over 80 narrow boats in 1914, as well as barges, tugs, trows and a coaster. The company's first motor boat was purchased in 1927, and the company horses were out of service by 1929. The narrow boats never had forecabins, partly because the boats were rarely used as family craft with almost all the captains living ashore (mainly in Gloucester). This also accounted for the lack of traditional painting on the Severn and Canal Carrying Company boats. In 1939, the Severn company joined with John Harker Limited to form Gloucester Shipyard Limited, using two dry docks rented from the Sharpness company to repair boats. Cadbury Brothers Limited had close trading links with the company, which often carried sugar from Gloucester to Birmingham and Knighton. By the mid 1920s, George Cadbury (Cadbury's managing director) and Cadbury's head of transport had been appointed as Severn and Canal Carrying Company Limited directors. In 1928 Cadburys decided to discontinue its own carrying fleet and rely on the Severn and other carriers. After the First World War the company's narrow boat operations started to decline, due to the deteriorating condition of the Worcester and Birmingham and Staffordshire and Worcestershire canals, and the growth of road transport. From the 1930s the Severn company started transshipping from its new motorised barges directly into lorries at Worcester and Stourport, eliminating the need for narrow boats. In 1942 the Severn and Canal Carrying Company decided to change its name to the Severn Carrying Company Limited, the dropping of the '& Canal' signalling the decline in canals. For more information on the Severn and Canal Carrying Company see Alan H Falkner's 'Severn & Canal and Cadburys' (Robert Wilson, 1981) and Edward Paget-Tomlinson's 'The Illustrated History of Canals & River Navigations'.

System of arrangement

It has not been possible to ascertain any original structure of record-keeping from the small number of records held for this company. The fonds has therefore generally been arranged in chronological order, while keeping records relating to each other together. This means that some records may fall slightly out of the chronological sequence. Documents have been placed first, then plans.

Associated material

[See also BW142-143 for records of the Severn and Canal Carrying Company under different company names]

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