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Edward, Joseph and William Barnett the Black Country


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Hi,

This site has been recommended to me as I have Boatmen ancestors and I would love to find out more about how they lived and if possible whether any of the boats they worked on still exist.

 

My x3 Great Grandfather was Edward Barnett born 1842 in Lapworth, Warwickshire. On his marriage certificate he is listed as a Boatman and is listed as one on the censuses from 1871 up until 1911. He lived at locations within walking distance of the Dudley and Walsall canals over the years including Cherry Orchard in Rowley Regis, Eagle Street Tipton, Oldbury Road West Bromwich and Stour Street West Bromwich to name a few. The only extra info I have about him is that in 1911 he worked for the "Railway Company" as a worker so presumably not self employed. 

 

His son Joseph was a "Barge Steerer Boatage Dept" in 1901 and was also living on Oldbury Street in West Bromwich.

 

My ancestor, Edward's son William born 1877 in West Bromwich is listed as a Barge Canal Boatman in 1901 living at 13 Stour Street West Bromwich, a Canal Boatman for the "R. Railway Company" at the same address in 1911 and he is listed as a "H.W. Boatman Loading and Unloading" living at 12 Slater Street in West Bromwich in 1939 aged 77! He died later that year.

 

People on various canal boat related groups on Facebook have suggested that they most likely moved coal along the Shropshire canal. Is it possible to find out more about the boats they would've worked on, more about them and their lives as boat people and whether their boats still exist?

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3 hours ago, Barnetttheboatman said:

Hi,

This site has been recommended to me as I have Boatmen ancestors and I would love to find out more about how they lived and if possible whether any of the boats they worked on still exist.

 

My x3 Great Grandfather was Edward Barnett born 1842 in Lapworth, Warwickshire. On his marriage certificate he is listed as a Boatman and is listed as one on the censuses from 1871 up until 1911. He lived at locations within walking distance of the Dudley and Walsall canals over the years including Cherry Orchard in Rowley Regis, Eagle Street Tipton, Oldbury Road West Bromwich and Stour Street West Bromwich to name a few. The only extra info I have about him is that in 1911 he worked for the "Railway Company" as a worker so presumably not self employed. 

 

His son Joseph was a "Barge Steerer Boatage Dept" in 1901 and was also living on Oldbury Street in West Bromwich.

 

My ancestor, Edward's son William born 1877 in West Bromwich is listed as a Barge Canal Boatman in 1901 living at 13 Stour Street West Bromwich, a Canal Boatman for the "R. Railway Company" at the same address in 1911 and he is listed as a "H.W. Boatman Loading and Unloading" living at 12 Slater Street in West Bromwich in 1939 aged 77! He died later that year.

 

People on various canal boat related groups on Facebook have suggested that they most likely moved coal along the Shropshire canal. Is it possible to find out more about the boats they would've worked on, more about them and their lives as boat people and whether their boats still exist?


 

Although I’ve got lots of family boating connections in the places you reference I have no record of any Barnetts.

 

I’m interested as to how folk on FB come to conclude your family were engaged in carrying on the Shropshire Union. The entries in the census suggest day boat work to me rather than long distance carrying and that is how by far and away the majority of canal boat workers were employed.

 

It appears to me the entry suggested as “R. Railway Co” above actually says “Canal & Railway Co” and has been added to the census record in a different hand, and in pencil rather than ink, across two columns.

 

Noting that Edward Barnett was born at Lapworth and his wife Sarah Jane at Newport (by balance of probability of some variable records) it does suggest some sort of boating family link and with a Shropshire connection but there appears to be no canal connection within the Barnett family while at Lapworth. Do you know otherwise for either Edward or his wife and do you have any other family names associated with canal work in your tree?

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1 minute ago, Captain Pegg said:

Although I’ve got lots of family boating connections in the places you reference I have no record of any Barnetts.

 

I’m interested as to how folk on FB come to conclude your family were engaged in carrying on the Shropshire Union. The entries in the census suggest day boat work to me rather than long distance carrying and that is how by far and away the majority of canal boat workers were employed.

 

It appears to me the entry suggested as “R. Railway Co” above actually says “Canal & Railway Co” and has been added to the census record in a different hand, and in pencil rather than ink, across two columns.

 

Noting that Edward Barnett was born at Lapworth and his wife Sarah Jane at Newport (by balance of probability of some variable records) it does suggest some sort of boating family link and with a Shropshire connection but there appears to be no canal connection within the Barnett family while at Lapworth. Do you know otherwise for either Edward or his wife and do you have any other family names associated with canal work in your tree?

Hi thanks for your reply. Sarah was indeed born in Newport Staffordshire/Shropshire however her father Joseph Slinn was a shoemaker and so far I can't find any other boating connections. I haven't looked into her mother's side of the family yet, I believe she was Jane Pearce born 1805 in Eccleshall. Edward's father, John Barnett, came from Bray in Berkshire but he is down as a labourer. His wife Mary Yeomans was born 1816 is Haselor Warwickshire but I've not looked at that branch yet. 

 

Does the fact that Edward and William appear to have worked for a company mean that there is no way of tracing them to specific boats?

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Quite a few Barnett's worked "Down up north," Manchester, Cheshire, Mersey Weaver, Northwich, Middlewich and Longport, list by no means exhaustive.

 

Boats to research, Crewe, Cuthbert, Bangor and Raven. Probably others too.

 

Photo from Waterways World May 1991.

 

Perhaps researching records in that area may help?

 

Mrs Ralph Barnett Mersey Weaver 4  W World May  1991.jpg

Edited by Ray T
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So @Ray T’s information explains the link to the Shropshire (Union) canal that others have identified. Thanks Ray. I have information on many Cheshire/Staffordshire boating families but still no link to Barnett. Another avenue to explore.

 

However there is no obvious link on the census information for the people in the OP to long distance boating, nonetheless it may still be the case or it’s the same wider family. Usually when looking at census information over a period of time it becomes clear whether a working boater lived predominantly at home or on board. 
 

@Barnetttheboatman As for boats, if your ancestors worked boats as long distance carriers I suspect there would be evidence in the census as to the boats concerned. That there is no evidence of them ever being resident on a boat is why I suggested your ancestors were engaged in day boating or ‘joey boating’ as it is often referred to. Given they were resident on the Birmingham Canal Navigations there will be easily accessible records of the boats concerned via the BCNS website but how those can be linked to your ancestors I don’t know, that may be difficult.

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1 hour ago, Ray T said:

Quite a few Barnett's worked "Down up north," Manchester, Cheshire, Mersey Weaver, Northwich, Middlewich and Longport, list by no means exhaustive.

 

Boats to research, Crewe, Cuthbert, Bangor and Raven. Probably others too.

 

Photo from Waterways World May 1991.

 

Perhaps researching records in that area may help?

 

Mrs Ralph Barnett Mersey Weaver 4  W World May  1991.jpg

Thanks where would I start with trying to see if mine went up there? As you can see by the censuses they have houses although what they did in the 10 years between each census I guess I'll never know.

39 minutes ago, Captain Pegg said:


 

@Barnetttheboatman As for boats, if your ancestors worked boats as long distance carriers I suspect there would be evidence in the census as to the boats concerned. That there is no evidence of them ever being resident on a boat is why I suggested your ancestors were engaged in day boating or ‘joey boating’ as it is often referred to. Given they were resident on the Birmingham Canal Navigations there will be easily accessible records of the boats concerned via the BCNS website but how those can be linked to your ancestors I don’t know, that may be difficult.

What boats would they have most likely have driven? I know nothing about canal boats so would they have looked like your typical narrow boat that we see on canals today or would they been different? 

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Day Boats were basic - many had no accommodation, some were "double ended" having mounting points for the ellum at both ends - 

 

https://hnbc.org.uk/boats/bhp-no-3

 

others had a small cabin with just bench seating and a bottle stove - 

 

https://hnbc.org.uk/boats/coronation

 

and the various railway companies had their own day boats working from the various interchange basins on the BCN

 

https://hnbc.org.uk/boats/gwr-no-15

 

Sometimes referred to as the "Skip" of the canals - many were used in a way similar to a skip or a container, a boatman would take a loaded boat to its destination, transfer the horse, ellum, and running gear to an empty boat and return leaving the loaded boat to be unloaded at the destinations convenience.

 

springy 

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The boats Springy links to are all built of iron. But many of the joey boats used on the BCN would have been wooden. Same general shape and use, but for obvious reasons few wooden boats from the 19th or first half of the 20th century survive today.

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Birchills (it took me a bit longer to find a photo) but a good illustration of the relatively small size of a day boat cabin. and not built till 1953.

 

IMG_0926.JPG.574bb139761f993810659f98441e98be.JPG

Edited by springy
add build date
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This would seem to refer to boatmen working in the railway interchange trade, possibly at the depots. On the BCN the Great Western Railway, Midland Railway and the London & North Western Railway had interchange depots and there were also the boatage depots. 

 

Staff were needed to load and unload boats, Depots in the vicinity of Stour Street, West Bromwich included , Oldbury (GWR), Oldbury (LNWR), Albion (LNWR), Great Bridge (LNWR & MR) and Swan Village (GWR), The GWR operation tended to be associated with Bantock. The LNWR operation was run by the Shropshire Union Railway & Canal Carrying Co, the MR had their own craft. By 1939 it was GWR and LMS.

 

Staff also worked the boats bringing traffic from canal side works to the interchange basin. Some boats remain from the LMS days, or even earlier, Saturn is an example of a SU flyboat that worked in the Midland interchange trade as did the now broken up Symbol.

 

Should further information come to light, the railway company may be determined.

 

 

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Back in the 1980's when we were part of the 'Aylesbury crowd' (new to boating then), one of our party was a Barnett, Albert IIRC. I believe he was from a boating family, dry sense of humour, well liked, quiet in the main, quite tall. Don't know what happened to him.

 

There was some sort of re-enactment going on canalside which was combined with a local fete. There were red coats and canons, pikes and sabres, and Albert chimed in with:

"Oh, another lock dispute".

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The 1911 Census entry for Joseph Barnett has him as a railway contractors labourer. Explanation for that form of employment may correspond with somebody working for a local railway contractor, engaged in railway construction, but equally apply to s contractor such as Bantock who were contractors to the GWR. 

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Posted (edited)

Thanks everyone! I've just got William's death certificate back and it lists his occupation as retired Railway Goods Loader does that help confirm anything?

 

 

 

 

 

On 21/06/2021 at 14:11, Derek R. said:

Back in the 1980's when we were part of the 'Aylesbury crowd' (new to boating then), one of our party was a Barnett, Albert IIRC. I believe he was from a boating family, dry sense of humour, well liked, quiet in the main, quite tall. Don't know what happened to him.

 

There was some sort of re-enactment going on canalside which was combined with a local fete. There were red coats and canons, pikes and sabres, and Albert chimed in with:

"Oh, another lock dispute".

Sounds like my kind of person, maybe we're related ?

Edited by Barnetttheboatman
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A retired railway goods loader could apply to someone who worked in a goods station, or an interchange basin building. In 1939 the post would have been Great Western Railway or the LMS ?

 

 

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1 minute ago, Heartland said:

A retired railway goods loader could apply to someone who worked in a goods station, or an interchange basin building. In 1939 the post would have been Great Western Railway or the LMS ?

 

 

So he may have moved from the boats to a land based depot? He was still living at Slater Street when he died.

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At Slater Street he was close to the LMS Goods at Great Bridge, which included the canal/railway interchange basin. The GWR also had a goods station at Great Bridge for their branch from Swan Village.

 

He could have moved from an interchange depot as suggested, but is surprising that no railway records can be found.

 

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5 minutes ago, Heartland said:

At Slater Street he was close to the LMS Goods at Great Bridge, which included the canal/railway interchange basin. The GWR also had a goods station at Great Bridge for their branch from Swan Village.

 

He could have moved from an interchange depot as suggested, but is surprising that no railway records can be found.

 

How would I find railway records? I got his wife's death certificate today and it says he was a retired railway good loader as well. Am I right in thinking that he would've driven a joey boat for the railway company have I got that right?

On 21/06/2021 at 13:55, Heartland said:

Staff also worked the boats bringing traffic from canal side works to the interchange basin. Some boats remain from the LMS days, or even earlier, Saturn is an example of a SU flyboat that worked in the Midland interchange trade as did the now broken up Symbol.

 

Would this be similar to what my ancestors did then if they lived in houses? Would Saturn be a joey boat?

 

 

 

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On 20/06/2021 at 21:52, springy said:

 

 

https://hnbc.org.uk/boats/gwr-no-15

 

Sometimes referred to as the "Skip" of the canals - many were used in a way similar to a skip or a container, a boatman would take a loaded boat to its destination, transfer the horse, ellum, and running gear to an empty boat and return leaving the loaded boat to be unloaded at the destinations convenience.

 

springy 

I'm actually going to the Black Country Museum in July and it mentions on this page this boat is now there...so this is an example of a Joey boat? And her name is Cascade or No 15? It would be nice to see her!

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It is important to recognise the difference between railway (station) boats and other boats on the BCN.

 

Boats like Birchills had a different role and use.

 

This view is of men on a station boat at Albion Basin, Walsall Canal.

 

Some railway records are in Ancestry. They are also elsewhere such as the National Archives.

 

 

 

Albion Basin.jpg

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