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Records of Canal Transport Limited


Records of Canal Transport Ltd, Lancashire Canal Transport, Liverpool Warehousing Co and Docks and Inland Waterways Executive, North Western Division, Carrying Section.



Reference code


Access Status

These records are available immediately for research.

Administrative /​ Biographical history

In 1921 the Leeds & Liverpool Canal Company gave up its carrying subsidiary as it was unprofitable, the carrying fleet and crews were leased to Lancashire Canal Transport Ltd of Blackburn, Benjamin C. Walls of Skipton and John Hunt & Sons (Leeds) Ltd. By 1930 finances had improved and the three carriers together with Liverpool Warehousing Co Ltd merged to form Canal Transport Limited to undertake the carrying business on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. The Leeds & Liverpool Canal Co supported this venture by subscribing fifty-one percent of the £40,000 capital required and by supplying senior staff, notably the Manager who was the Canal Co's General Manager and Engineer Robert Davison. The headquarters of the company was at 72, Pall Mall, Liverpool with operations based at Eanam Depot, Blackburn. It leased its constituent companies' warehouses at Shipley, Leeds, Church nr Accrington, Blackburn and Wigan from the Canal Company as well as others at Leigh and in Yorkshire. Liverpool Warehousing acted as forwarding agent for the company, liasing with shipping lines. The company inherited 73 boats and new boats were acquired through a hire purchase agreement with the canal company, which started in 1932. New steel motor boats were ordered from WJ Yarwood and Isaac Pimblott of Northwich and John Harker of Knottingley and named after rivers, new wooden dumb boats were ordered from Mayor's of Wigan and Tarleton and named after birds. Traffics were mainly imports in general goods, grain and wool, the general goods passing along the length of the canal, the wool being carried to Shipley, Skipton and Stockbridge and the grain to Blackburn and Nelson. Exports were less common being mainly textile machinery from Blackburn or Church to the ports of Liverpool and Manchester for export to the third world. Trade was initially good but by 1940 was in decline. The Second World War brought increased trade, particularly in wool from Australia and foodstuffs, organised through the War Ministry, profits increased sharply over the next four years but decreased to a loss of £10,000 by 1945 that remained until nationalisation. In 1941 the head office in Liverpool was bombed and the Company moved its offices to a private house in Formby, operations continuing to be overseen from Blackburn. After the war the fleet was run from Lime Street Chambers, Liverpool. During WW2 staff became increasingly difficult to retain and following a dispute in November 1941 boatmens wages were increased to ten shillings a week. Wages continued to rise and by the end of the War the Leeds and Liverpool canal had to be closed on Sundays to reduce overtime payments. In an effort to find new boatmen the company went to Ireland and although a number of Irish men came to Britain few actually worked for the Company with any success. Another scheme to find staff was begun in early 1945 and involved the training of women to work the boats, though this was not as widely publicised as that on the Grand Union Canal as many thought that women would not be able to handle the larger boats and locks. The Leeds and Liverpool Canal Company and its holdings in Canal Transport Ltd were nationalised in 1948, with the company finally being fully nationalised in January 1950 when its private shareholders were bought out. The Docks and Inland Waterways Executive of the British Transport Commission absorbed the fleet and operations in 1952; the last boat being built in June 1954 by Harland & Wolff of North Woolwich. Commercial carrying by the company ceased in 1963. The Company name was retained as a non-trading subsidiary of the BTC, until the Company was wound up in 1974.

Extent & medium

12 large and 17 small boxes, 8 linear metres.

System of arrangement

The fonds has been arranged to correspond with the existing arrangement of the single large deposit of material accessioned pre 1982, material accessioned seperately has been fitted in with this arrangement.

Associated material

The Waterways Archive, BW139, Leeds and Liverpool Canal Company 1868-1957. Liverpool Record Office, ACC3004/7, Monthly summary of freight and warehouse rent accounts 1941-1943. Lancashire Record Office, DDX1769/7, Daily lists of loadings of canal boats operated by Canal Transport Ltd Blackburn 1942.