Stourbridge Extension Canal Company
Records of Stourbridge Extension Canal Company: plans and sections of the canal and branches 1840-1841.
These records are available immediately for research
An extension canal to open up the coalfields around Shut End was first proposed in the 1820s and various surveys carried out, but it was not until 1836 that any definite action was taken. William Fowler surveyed for a canal to link the Stourbridge to the Birmingham Canal. The promoters, mostly Stourbridge shareholders and local businessmen, opted to form their own company of proprietors. Influential objectors were at least partly responsible for the proposals being amended in favour of a smaller canal from Brockmoor on the Stourbridge to just beyond Shut End, simply because the new company could not raise the funds. The Stourbridge Canal Company was prepared to finance it, but the offer was refused. The Act for the Stourbridge Extension Canal was passed in 1837. The 2-mile long narrow main line opened in June 1840. There was a 5/8 mile branch to Standhills and in 1841 the branch to Bromley was opened, barely 1/3 mile long. The only lock on the canal was near the Bromley branch. Francis Rufford was chairman until his death in 1844. Thomas Wight was the clerk. There had been three engineers during the construction period, William Fowler, who left in September 1838 and was replaced by Benjamin Townsend who himself was eventually replaced by William Richardson. J U Rastrick had been approached because of his involvement in earlier proposals, but he did not accept. The canal was profitable from the beginning. In March 1847 it was bought by the Oxford, Worcester & Wolverhampton Railway, which the canal company had petitioned against only a few years previously. The chairman of the railway, another Francis Rufford had also recently joined the Stourbridge Extension Canal's committee. The railway was as unsuccessful as the canal was successful, which is why the railway was so eager to own it and was prepared to maintain it. For further information on the Stourbridge Extension Canal see Edward Paget-Tomlinson's 'The Illustrated History of Canals & River Navigations' and Charles Hadfield's 'The Canals of the West Midlands'.
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 been arranged in chronological order.