Hawkesbury Junction

Dates 1826 to 1918, most of these are from the Coventry Herald.

A lot of drunkenness and fighting in this particular selection, but also the sad story of the Malin family, whose leaky boat finally gave up the ghost  in the second rising lock between Newbold and Hillmorton.  The boat had leaked throughout the family's journey, a problem which John Malin had tried to solve, without success, by driving the boat into the mud to seal the cracks.  John managed to save two of his children from the sinking boat, but his wife and youngest child Arthur were both drowned.

The picture is Hawkesbury Junction.


Names from Coventry (57kb)

Another article of particular interest here is the description of an explosion on the Grand Junction Canal.  The boat which exploded was the Tilbury, and her cargo comprised "sugar and other miscellaneous articles, such as nuts, straw boards, coffee and some two or three barrels of petroleum, and about five tons of gunpowder" - difficult to imagine a more combustible mixture.  The Tilbury was one of six barges being towed by the Ready steam tug from the City Wharf of the Grand Junction Canal when it exploded.  It is plain from the tone of the article that the writer's sympathies are not with the crew of the Tilbury, both of whom lost their lives in the explosion, but with those whose property was damaged by the exploding "monkey boat".


Articles from Coventry (908kb)


Nuneaton Advertiser
Knowle Locks

A couple of hundred articles from the Nuneaton Advertiser, dates 1868 to 1895.

There are many cases here of cruelty to boat horses and donkeys, as well as the tale, from August 1878, of Henry Broadfield, who sold his master's horse without permission and spent most of the money in the local pub.  He told the arresting officer, "When the drink's in, the wit's out", a fact to which many of us can attest.

An article of June 1887 tells of an unholy row between three boatwomen, Louisa Coles, Ann Hambridge and Elizabeth Bricknell.  Thomas Coles, husband of Louisa, said "Mrs Bricknell picked up the mop and looked at his wife as if she was going to make his wife swallow the mop, stick and all".  He added that his wife "fairly challenged Mrs Hambridge out, but the latter would not come and fight".


Names from Nuneaton Advertiser (56kb)

From May 1887, there is also the cautionary tale of eight year old Albert Edwards, who was sentenced to three strokes of the birch for stealing two eggs.


Articles from Nuneaton Advertiser (465kb)


Warwick Advertiser 1823 to 1845
Napton locks

From March 1824, an account of the inquest into the death of two men in a fire at Pickford's wharf, which was started by the bursting of a carboy bottle, the contents of which caught alight.  The bodies of the victims are described as "reduced to mere cinders".

In 1833, William Gibbons, a boatman, told of bribery in the election of Sir C Greville.  He described how he was brought from Birmingham, fed and watered in sundry pubs and given money to pay his rent - in exchange for his vote.

Names from Warwick Advertiser 1823 to 1845 (50kb)

In January 1837, a boatman named Perkins was found guilty of fraud and wilful damage for lading water into his boat to increase the weight of the cargo and disguise the fact that some of it had "disappeared" en route.  This was apparently a common practice among boatmen!

Articles from Warwick Advertiser 1823 to 1845 (213kb)


Warwick Advertiser 1866 to 1891
our warwickshire

In June 1879, John Grindley was found half dressed and soaking wet in Priory Road by the police.  He knew he had fallen into the canal, but was so drunk that he could not remember how or where.

Drunk or no, Mr Grindley was luckier than Emma Curtain, who fell into the canal and drowned in December 1885, when throwing away some mouldy bread.  Her daughter Alice said "people were accustomed to go to the canal side to throw things in".  A convenient dustbin!

On a note of pure pathos, when 3 year old Alfred Fennell drowned in the canal, his playmate Richard Ward, who was standing on the canal side when the rescuers arrived, said "he was waiting for his friend to come out of the water again".

Names from Warwick Advertiser 1866 to 1891 (54kb)

In January 1874, 14 year old Thomas Attwood was fined £1 6s 6d, which his father paid, for breaking 3 iron pinons on the locks at Hatton, by hitting them so hard that they shattered.

Richard Whitehouse, aged 13, boatboy of Thomas Green, was badly beaten by his master for failing to do as he was told.  Those who saw the assault reported Green to the police, and he was given two months' imprisonment for the crime (and a 40s fine for resisting arrest!)

Articles from Warwick Advertiser 1866 to 1891 (332kb)


Warwick Advertiser 1897 to 1919
Knowle barges

The major article in this selection, from March 1900, concerns the suicide of George Garnham, master of the Warwick Union Workhouse, by drowning in the canal.  George Garnham's wife, who was Matron at the Workhouse, was forced to retire through ill health, which meant that he was forced to leave too, which he clearly did not want to do.

In May 1909, Sarah Ann Childs, a boatwoman, was killed when her boat horse moved on unexpectedly, catching her foot in the tow rope and sending her tumbling down a flight of stairs on the towing path. hitting her head.

Names from Warwick Advertiser 1897 to 1919 (53kb)

When a boatman advised lock keeper George Silver that he had heard a splash in the canal, and thought someone might have fallen in, George decided that he might as well have his dinner before going to check it out.  As the Coroner said, "You gave him a couple of hours to get properly drowned!"

Finally, the case of Arthur Young. who drowned his horse in the lock at Hatton.  Arthur was plainly fed up with the horse, which was an ex plough horse and not really suited to canal work, and beat it to try to make it behave.  The horse fell into the canal and drowned in the lock.  Arthur's excuse was that it had "a regular character of walking into the canal".

Articles from Warwick Advertiser 1897 to 1919 (276kb)