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Canal Boatmen 1st World War


Lorna
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On 21/03/2014 at 13:27, Lorna said:

Hi everybody I am an avid reader of this Forum don't often post, but I wondered if anybody has any knowledge of the Boatmen who went to war.

I'm in the process of doing a project for The Friends of the Canal Museum Stoke Bruerne on this subject I have so far found 30 names are there any more?

 

William Allcott

Enoch Appleton

Abel Beechey

John Cheshire

Frederick Dakin

Frederick Charles Dale

William Faulkner

Harrold Fellows

Joseph George

Henry Grantham

William Grimes

John Allen Harrison

James Hollinshead

Thomas Jackson

Richard Jinks

James Meese

William Henry Millard

William Norton

Frederick Owen

John Samuel Pegg

William Postles

Albert John Powell

Samuel Pritchard

Tom Sibley

David Stokes

Herbert Matthew Townsend

George Walley

Michael Ward

Edward Westwood

Walter Joseph Withey

I have quite a lot of information on the above.

I'm related to a lot of them in one way or another as most boat families are.

Lorna York

Canal Boat Family Historian

 

Hi Lorna,

i am researching my husbands gg grandfather Thomas Kay.  He was a canal boatman and died during WW1 (14th July 1916 at Flanders).

He worked the canals at Wheelock, Cheshire and later Salford, Manchester.

 

He had my husbands great grandfather Thomas Hodson Kay with my husbands great grandmother Elizabeth Hodson.  They were not married but I believe she came from a large canal boating family.

 

I understand Thomas Kay was from London but I know nothing of his life prior to him living in Wheelock, Cheshire in 1901.

 

Im looking to learn more about his boating life.  I was told about your project and I’m interested to find out more.

 

my husbands grandfather (another Thomas Kay) was the last of the family to be born on a barge.

 

 

 

 

On 21/03/2014 at 13:27, Lorna said:

Hi everybody I am an avid reader of this Forum don't often post, but I wondered if anybody has any knowledge of the Boatmen who went to war.

I'm in the process of doing a project for The Friends of the Canal Museum Stoke Bruerne on this subject I have so far found 30 names are there any more?

 

William Allcott

Enoch Appleton

Abel Beechey

John Cheshire

Frederick Dakin

Frederick Charles Dale

William Faulkner

Harrold Fellows

Joseph George

Henry Grantham

William Grimes

John Allen Harrison

James Hollinshead

Thomas Jackson

Richard Jinks

James Meese

William Henry Millard

William Norton

Frederick Owen

John Samuel Pegg

William Postles

Albert John Powell

Samuel Pritchard

Tom Sibley

David Stokes

Herbert Matthew Townsend

George Walley

Michael Ward

Edward Westwood

Walter Joseph Withey

I have quite a lot of information on the above.

I'm related to a lot of them in one way or another as most boat families are.

Lorna York

Canal Boat Family Historian

 

Hi Lorna,

i am researching my husbands gg grandfather Thomas Kay.  He was a canal boatman and died during WW1 (14th July 1916 at Flanders).

He worked the canals at Wheelock, Cheshire and later Salford, Manchester.

 

He had my husbands great grandfather Thomas Hodson Kay with my husbands great grandmother Elizabeth Hodson.  They were not married but I believe she came from a large canal boating family.

 

I understand Thomas Kay was from London but I know nothing of his life prior to him living in Wheelock, Cheshire in 1901.

 

Im looking to learn more about his boating life.  I was told about your project and I’m interested to find out more.

 

my husbands grandfather (another Thomas Kay) was the last of the family to be born on a barge.

 

 

 

 

On 21/03/2014 at 13:27, Lorna said:

Hi everybody I am an avid reader of this Forum don't often post, but I wondered if anybody has any knowledge of the Boatmen who went to war.

I'm in the process of doing a project for The Friends of the Canal Museum Stoke Bruerne on this subject I have so far found 30 names are there any more?

 

William Allcott

Enoch Appleton

Abel Beechey

John Cheshire

Frederick Dakin

Frederick Charles Dale

William Faulkner

Harrold Fellows

Joseph George

Henry Grantham

William Grimes

John Allen Harrison

James Hollinshead

Thomas Jackson

Richard Jinks

James Meese

William Henry Millard

William Norton

Frederick Owen

John Samuel Pegg

William Postles

Albert John Powell

Samuel Pritchard

Tom Sibley

David Stokes

Herbert Matthew Townsend

George Walley

Michael Ward

Edward Westwood

Walter Joseph Withey

I have quite a lot of information on the above.

I'm related to a lot of them in one way or another as most boat families are.

Lorna York

Canal Boat Family Historian

 

Hi Lorna,

i am researching my husbands gg grandfather Thomas Kay.  He was a canal boatman and died during WW1 (14th July 1916 at Flanders).

He worked the canals at Wheelock, Cheshire and later Salford, Manchester.

 

He had my husbands great grandfather Thomas Hodson Kay with my husbands great grandmother Elizabeth Hodson.  They were not married but I believe she came from a large canal boating family.

 

I understand Thomas Kay was from London but I know nothing of his life prior to him living in Wheelock, Cheshire in 1901.

 

Im looking to learn more about his boating life.  I was told about your project and I’m interested to find out more.

 

my husbands grandfather (another Thomas Kay) was the last of the family to be born on a barge.

 

 

 

 

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On 1 January 2019 at 21:03, Kay_C said:

Hi Lorna,

i am researching my husbands gg grandfather Thomas Kay.  He was a canal boatman and died during WW1 (14th July 1916 at Flanders).

He worked the canals at Wheelock, Cheshire and later Salford, Manchester.

 

He had my husbands great grandfather Thomas Hodson Kay with my husbands great grandmother Elizabeth Hodson.  They were not married but I believe she came from a large canal boating family.

 

I understand Thomas Kay was from London but I know nothing of his life prior to him living in Wheelock, Cheshire in 1901.

 

Im looking to learn more about his boating life.  I was told about your project and I’m interested to find out more.

 

my husbands grandfather (another Thomas Kay) was the last of the family to be born on a barge.

 

Hi Kay_C,

 

Thought I'd respond as Lorna hasn't been on since you posted. She isn't a regular contributor to the forum so it may take a while for her to respond.

 

I have a Lucy Kay 1865-1891 in my records who married into an Atkins boating family at Tunstall. I also note she appears on board boats as a young girl in census information. She is not directly related to me but I keep wider records of people who are connected to my boating ancestors by birth and marriage. I will do some investigation and see if I can link her to anyone you mention above which would likely confirm the Kay family boating heritage.

 

I also have information for three people with the surname of Hodson who married into families connected to my own. Two of these appear to be on the Cheshire/Staffordshire canals, the other in Coventry. I suspect at least the former two are related.

 

Keep an eye out for further info from Lorna and if she doesn't appear you'll have to settle for what I can find.

 

JP 

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Thank you so much for replying JP

 

thats interesting about Lucy Kay, yes please let me know if you learn more. 

 

I am finding Thomas Kay to be very elusive.  He was born in Middlesex around 1888 (October 1888 according to his service record).  He notes his occupation as boatman.

He notes that he has no family on his service record! His next of kin was given as George Perrott another boatman.  George Perrott claimed his possessions and medals in 1919 and said he was his brother in law.  I can not find any connection to George Perrott though.  It looks like Elizabeth Hodson (now Barlow as she married  Hugh Barlow another boatman in 1910) tried to make a claim to the war office on behalf of her son.

 

He first appears in the 1901 census at Wheelock wharf (age 14/15) working as a servant in a Drapers shop.

Can’t find him on the 1911 census then he signs up in 1914.  Address given is Arthur Street, Ancoats.

 

He doesn’t appear on the war memorials in any of the locations he lived.

 

I am not sure as yet how I will find his parents and I’m not entirely sure he come from a boating family.  I have thought he may have come into boating when he worked at Wheelock Wharf.  

I also thought that his match with Elizabeth Hodson may not have been approved because of this.  But im just speculating!

 

Sorry to waffle on! I really appreciate your reply!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mr Thomas Kay seems to be a very elusive person, I'm afraid I can tell you nothing more about him than that you already know.

But I can tell you about the Hodson family.

Elizabeth Hodson was the daughter of John Thomas Hodson and Mary Ann Rebecca Theobald she was born in 1890 Both the Hodson's and the Theobald's are long standing boat families.

Lorna

 

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1 hour ago, Kay_C said:

Thank you so much for replying JP

 

thats interesting about Lucy Kay, yes please let me know if you learn more. 

 

I am finding Thomas Kay to be very elusive.  He was born in Middlesex around 1888 (October 1888 according to his service record).  He notes his occupation as boatman.

He notes that he has no family on his service record! His next of kin was given as George Perrott another boatman.  George Perrott claimed his possessions and medals in 1919 and said he was his brother in law.  I can not find any connection to George Perrott though.  It looks like Elizabeth Hodson (now Barlow as she married  Hugh Barlow another boatman in 1910) tried to make a claim to the war office on behalf of her son.

 

He first appears in the 1901 census at Wheelock wharf (age 14/15) working as a servant in a Drapers shop.

Can’t find him on the 1911 census then he signs up in 1914.  Address given is Arthur Street, Ancoats.

 

He doesn’t appear on the war memorials in any of the locations he lived.

 

I am not sure as yet how I will find his parents and I’m not entirely sure he come from a boating family.  I have thought he may have come into boating when he worked at Wheelock Wharf.  

I also thought that his match with Elizabeth Hodson may not have been approved because of this.  But im just speculating!

 

Sorry to waffle on! I really appreciate your reply!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's possible he is the second person from the bottom of the attached 1891 census sheet. It's a Thomas Kay aged 4 born Gravesend, London and boarding with a tailor and draper in Church Hulme, Cheshire, just a few miles from Wheelock. I note in the 1901 census his birth place is listed simply as London so I don't think the fact that Gravesend is in Kent rather than Middlesex is a major issue.

 

I wonder it any of the people in the 1891 census can be linked to any in the 1901 census, there's nothing apparent in the entries at first glance.

 

JP

 

 

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Thanks Lorna.  Are the results of your project on display at the Canal Museum?  

 

I plan on researching the Hodson line at some point, I can see from ancestry that a few people are descended from this line and have done their research to Theobald and Jinks.   

 

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Thank you JP, I agree this looks like a strong possibility.  I am so grateful!

 

I’ll have another look at birth entries and see if I can find him and look at records of the people who were living with him.  

 

Thanks again! 

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Hi kay

Another possible sighting of the elusive Mr Kay

1911 census Birmingham boat "Digby"

 

Joshua Sidwell 23 Master born Runcorn

Thomas Key    23 Mate    born Stoke Staffs

Joseph Sidwell 24 Mate   born Wolverhampton Staffs

The  "Digby" home address was Fazeley  Street Birmingham which was Fellows Morton and Claytons Head Office.

 

I've just been speaking to my cousin Lily she has given me some information Thomas Kay had a sister name unknown and they were placed in a children's home in Sandbach Cheshire and they were from Manchester. Lily's mother was Elizabeth Hodson's sister

Lorna 

 

 

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Hi Lorna,

 

This is fantastic, I never expected that a living person would have recollection of Thomas.

Would that make Lily also first cousin to Thomas Hodson Kay?  What was Lily’s mums name (if you don’t mind me asking).

 

I mentioned previously that George Perrott noted himself as brother in law to Thomas Kay in the war records.  On further research I found that George’s brother John James (who also died during WW1 in 1915) was married to a Mary Jane.

I am waiting on their marriage certificate. On one of her children’s births it says her maiden name is Kelly.  I’m hoping it’s a transcription error.

Your cousins information gives me hope that she is the possible sister.

It looks like Mary Jane also died in December 1916.

 

I still can’t find a birth entry for Thomas or Mary Jane.

 

I am going to have a look into the children’s home at Sandbach.  

 

Thanks again!

 

Clare

 

 

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According to the GRO Online Index, Harriet Perrott b.Q4 1907  Manchester - mother's maiden name was Hulme. GRO Ref 8d P226

Seems there were a few Kay families in Manchester 1911 censuses who were described as being boatman/waterman.

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Digging a bit further, I find daughter Fanny born Q1 1911 - mother's maiden name Kelly GRO Reg 8d P210

The deceased child is likely Sarah Ann born Q4 1909 - mother's maiden name Kelly GRO Reg 8d P204. Death Index Q3 1910 GRO Reg 8d P119

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Thank you so much for looking into this Pennine.

 

I have been assuming her surname is Kay but they may have had different surnames? Two birth entries with surname Kelly is interesting..

 

I have just found a Mary Jane Kelly living in Hulme as a lodger in the 1891 census. Employed as a dressmaker.  I am hoping her marriage certificate gives me more information...

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  • 2 months later...

Lorna, 

 

The boatmen which you mention may not have gone off to war, some went off to work in the better paid munitions factories. But if they did join the services, there are probably websites to search for them, but knowing your expertise to chasing such items up, I do wonder if they ended up in the killing fields of France.

 

During 1917 the canals came under the canal control committee of the Board of Trade, and this organisation made every attempt to recruit boatmen.

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Most of the boatmen mentioned were seconded to the Inland Waterways division of the Royal Engineers and were based at the so called  secret port of Richborough in Kent.  Some went to France and worked the French and Belgium canals and some to Mesopotamia (Iraq) working on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers there is a lot more research to be done on this and I would at sometime like some help on understanding the military codes and definitions on the various regimental forms I have found.

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www.thelonglongtrail.co uk may be of some help, or www.greatwarforum.org is the place that will answer most, if not all of your queries with regard to military codes and definitions.

Up to December of 1917, some 1,100 officers and nearly 30,000 men transferred to or enlisted in the Inland Water Transport Section. During 1917 633 officers and 8,270 men were drafted overseas to theatres of war. (France, Mesopotamia, Salonika, Mediterrean, Egypt and East Africa). By the end of WW1 the total personnel in the Inland Water Transport and Docks Service amounted to 1,666 officers and 29,436 other ranks.

 

PeteS

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May have some family connections = In my records i have

on 26th May 1904 at Astley st Stephens in Manchester a Martha Hodson daughter of Geoffrey Hodson (Decesed)

married William Lowe the son of James Lowe a Boatman.

 At Merridale Cemetery Wolverhampton i found 7 Hodson boatmen & their family inc a james Hodson son of William who in 1861 drowned 

in the canal William is alongside his son he died in 1863 i made a note of the grave numbers .

Also have the baptism records for 1870 @ st marys Norwood near Southall   Georgiana & Eli Hodson children of John & Mary Ann  John gives occupation as Canal Boatman

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"Up to December of 1917, some 1,100 officers and nearly 30,000 men transferred to or enlisted in the Inland Water Transport Section. During 1917 633 officers and 8,270 men were drafted overseas to theatres of war. (France, Mesopotamia, Salonika, Mediterrean, Egypt and East Africa). By the end of WW1 the total personnel in the Inland Water Transport and Docks Service amounted to 1,666 officers and 29,436 other ranks."

 

This is a useful fact, but were these servicemen under Army control or another service ?

 

Also how do these figures relate to the Transport Workers Battalions.  Under the instructions of the War Cabinet the men of the Transport Workers  Battalions were to be used as the necessity arose to maintain the flow of traffic through the canals.

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The Inland Water Transport and Docks sections were always part of the Royal Engineers. Formed in December of 1914 to deal with and to develop transport on canals and waterways of France and Belgium. They ran barges both in theatre and the UK and all the associated dock processes. The Section at first operated under the Director of Railways, but owing to the rapid development of Inland Water Transport, a special directorate was formed in October of 1915. They were responsible too for construction and repair of barges used in cross-channel transport, from 1916 centered at the secret Richborough Port. By 1918 242 barges were employed , including ten of 1,000 ton capacity. They were also responsible for the technical operation of Hospital Barges*. In February 1918 a cross-channel ferry service, was brought into operation between Richborough and Calais with a supplementary service from Southampton to Dieppe. These ferries were invaluable for the transport of locomotives, rolling stock, heavy guns and tanks. By 1918, it had become a large and well equipped seaport of 2,000 acres, complete with all services and capable of handling 30,000 tons of traffic per week. Building yards and workshops were constructed to increase the supply of barges and other small vessels needed in all theatres of war . The River Stour was diverted by cutting a new channel to render possible 2,300 ft of new wharf for the cross-channel barge service, in which at the end of the war, 242 barges were employed, including ten of 1,000 ton capacity. These Ro-Ro ferries were invaluable for the transport of locomotives, rolling stock, heavy guns and tanks. In all some sixty miles of broad gauge railway were laid at Richborough.

* The hospital barges were not specifically built or designed for troop evacuation or as a hospital until a few years into the Great War. Initially, they were converted from locally purchased Peniche.  Conversion into 30 bedded hospital wards and QAIMNS nurses accommodation, and repairs were carried out at the IWT yard at Arques. The barges were usually located near Casualty Clearing Stations and Field Hospitals, They travelled in strings of three, pushed or pulled by tug, The crew appears to have been 2 bargemen, a cook (who also operated the stretcher lift), two trained nurses and various orderlies. The barges were usually in strings of three, pulled or pushed by tug under the command of a RE Inland Waterways Sergeant, and travelled to a port where the wounded were transfered to a ship or onward to a specialist hospital.

 

An idea of how the IWT system worked can be found at the National Archives in WO158/851. Unfortunately not yet digitised, so to view would require a trip to Kew.

 

The Transport Workers Battalions supplemented civilian labour wherever there was a proved shortage in the ports, railway centres, canals, and iron and steel works in the discharge of cargoes. They were solely used to supplement proved deficiencies in civilian labour.  The first formed in May 1916, and by early in 1917 the number of the battalions was increased to a strength of 5,000 men and ultimately to an effective strength of 35,000.

 

PeteS

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The TWB were formed principally for use as dock labour and in steel works to ensure rapid movement of goods where there were local bottlenecks. Their use was extended to canals and railways directly, though these comprised a minority of the total employed. A report on the effectiveness of the system can be found in the National Archives at LAB101/2. On the canal operations, I have found a little in the various L&LC archives, and a fuller account in the Rochdale Canal archives in Manchester. Their official position seems to have been uncertain as, though they came under military control, they were in effect employed by the company. Two 'soldier boatmen' were drowned working on the L&LC, but their names are not registered in 'Soldiers Who Died' nor are they in the Regimental Diary, which was only kept when abroad.

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