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Sunday, August 28, 2016


Well not sure about yourselves but I am just a bit p....d off writing about things medical. Yes we will keep you informed of how things go but as I am feeling good at present I would like to continue the journey we were making to Chester to meet two of our U.S. friends after they had been on their UK and part of main land Europe cruise. Sorry Cheri and Jerry we just couldn`t make it.

Atherstone top lock.

View of the right hand side of the top picture is of interest. Just to the right of those three steps was the entrance to the basin.
1963 view of the towpath bridge spanning the entrance to Minions Wharf. Picture from Jim Sheads site. HERE
 This was the entrance to Minions Wharf that was in 1769 the end of the Coventry canal that had been granted and act of parliament to build through to Fradley on the Trent and Mersey. Lack of cash caused the building to cease at Atherstone. 
Some would reason the Coventry company were in no hurry to re-commence building as this would open the way for cheap coal to come from the north spoiling the business being done with the coal fields in Bedworth, Nuneaton and Hawkesbury to name just a few and I tend to agree.

Intervention by the Trent and Mersey and Birmingham and Fazely companies saw the canal reach Fradley untill 1789.

So as you look at the top picture you can see why there`s a winding hole in what appears to be an awkward place, the width was needed to enter/exit the wharf basin.
A is the winding hole, top lock and Minions wharf entrance.     B is 68 Coleshill road.    C is the Wilson and Stafford hat factory.    D is the Minions Wharf basin.  
Ordnance survey map dated around 1880
This is the area of the Minion basin using a late 1890`s map over a modern day map. Try this link the image can be changed by using the transparency overlay slider bottom left.

The only buiding left from the Days of Minions wharf. Probably built as the wharfingers house back in very late 1790`s it`s now listed as a private residence, somehow doesn`t look very lived in does it.

Hat making in Atherstone began in the 17C. and this building is the last of seven hat makers in the town. It was owned by Wilson and Stafford and closed in 1999 and was due to be demolished to build flats in 2008. It had connections to the slave trade link here.
In 1828 Gilbert Minion, who gave his name to the wharf, was listed in a trade directory and later in 1850 other family members were listed. 
Warehouses and other buildings were still on the site in 1970 when the site was cleared with the exception of 68 Coleshill  road and the basin was filled in to build houses.

Follow the link HERE and scroll down to case no. 24  to read an 1847 interesting court report about a break in at Minion Wharf. In fact the whole link mentions many boating incidents. 
Seven years transportation was the sentence and in those days you found your own way home so many chose to stay in places such as Australia that their crimes had made their homes.

Well I enjoyed that. Being able to sit and type research and delve back into blogging was fantastic.


Bryce Lee said...

Amazing to me was the ability to do the overlay on the map, from then to the more or less present day. Given Canada is such a young country in terms of existence (150 years of age in 2017) such forms of mapping were not considered until sometime after 1870. And now aerial mapping is the much prferred method after aeroplanes came into vogue.

Carol said...

Very interesting Les, especially reading the court reports, what a lot of rogues on the canals at that time! Glad to hear that you’re feeling well and able to continue with your research and blogs. xx

Chas and Ann said...

We have been past that hat factory many times. Never knew that there was a basin near the lock. Thanks for the history lesson complete with illustrations. Good for you to keep your mind ticking over Les.

Richard said...

I have often wondered what that large factory was - gosh they must have worn a lot of hats in the 19th/early 20th century. Great blog-thanks Les
NB Pendle Warter

Lesley K said...

As ever Les, a great blog post...take another pain killer and write a hundred more like it please.
X Lesley

Unknown said...

Me & my husband are going to sell up over the next two years & do the same as you. I found your blog whilst looking for people who have done the same thing, and are still doing so. I'm 53 this year & my husband will be 55. Did you have any boating eperience before buying? Do you ever regret doing it & do you have any advice/reading/blogs to help?


Les Biggs said...

Hi Bryce
yes the overlay facility is a great tool for locating exact locations of old installations.

Les Biggs said...

Hello Carol
Amazing what is out there on the web. Can you imagine being transported and finish your sentence unable to get back to the uk. Still it helped populate the outbacks of Australia and other British colonies.

Les Biggs said...

Chas/Ann i do hope you are both well. I guess our paths will not cross again but I must say it was always a pleasure bumping into you both on the wet road.

Les Biggs said...

Richard it`s always been a pleasure to check out the areas we cruise through. Often one thing leads to another.

Les Biggs said...

Hi Lesley
It`s all down to the Morphine dose being finalised by those lovely medical folk that surround me.
The pain killers that i thought were to help a bad back were bein consumed like smarties and in the end doing no good. Turning back south was for sure a good move.

Les Biggs said...

Hi Kazy
Just had a lot of boat hols on Norfolk Broads and one canal holiday. I f your unsure best you try the Helmsmans courses and mechanical classes. Of course just taking it all slowly and accepting advice from others will soon have you as efficient as us all. Remember speed is where they all go wrong. Faster you go the bigger the mistake becomes.
Best of luck to you both it`s a great life.

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs