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Thomas Clayton (Oldbury) Ltd This well-known operator can trace its history back to 1842, when William Clayton set up a carrying fleet in Birmingham, and in 1862 established a wharf and boatyard at Saltley. Thomas Clayton took over the business on his father's death in 1882, and continued to expand it. By then, as well as general cargoes, Clayton's had developed a specialist trade in liquid cargoes, the many gas works being the main customers. At first, the cargo was carried in barrels, but by 1885 the practice had developed of putting it directly in the hold, which was decked over to form the top of the tank. The lids of the hatches were then sealed with lead seals until reaching their destination. In 1889, the business was rationalised. The general carrying business was merged with a rival concern, Fellows, Morton & Co, to become the famous Fellows, Morton & Clayton Ltd. FMC also took over the Saltley yard from Thomas Clayton; many of the FMC and Clayton boats were built at this yard, including the well-known steamer “President” which is based at the Black Country Museum. Thomas Clayton remained a Director and shareholder of FMC, but continued to operate his own fleet which concentrated on the carriage of liquids, from a new base at Oldbury. All of the boats in Clayton's fleet were of wooden construction, except for three experimental iron boats purchased from FMC. However, the boatmen preferred the wooden boats, and the iron ones were soon sold. The boats were all named after rivers or lakes. In 1916 a new pattern was established when the boats built in that year were given names beginning with “A”. In 1917, “B” was used, and so on until the letter “U” was reached in 1939. After that, no more new boats were purchased and the pattern was abandoned. The mainstay of the Clayton traffic was gas works by-products - mainly tar, creosote and “gas water” (an obnoxious solution of ammonia) - much of which was taken to Midland Tar Distillers at the bottom of the Titford Canal, adjacent to Clayton’s base, for reprocessing. In 1924, Clayton’s obtained a contract for carrying fuel oil from Stanlow Oil Refinery at Ellesmere Port on the Manchester Ship Canal to the Shell Depot at Langley Green, for which the motor boats were primarily purchased. However, in late 1955 the boats were made obsolete by a new pipeline, and with it the last regular long-distance traffic on the Shropshire Union Canal ceased. Surprisingly, Clayton’s fleet did not reach its peak, of over 90 boats, until the early 1950s. However, the demise, when it came, was rapid, and the fleet was down to just 8 operational boats by 1966. The final crunch came when Clayton’s yard was compulsorily purchased for building the M5 motorway. The decision was taken therefore to close the fleet, and the last load was carried on 31st March 1966 by the “Stour” - which is now owned by the Black Country Museum. By this time, Clayton’s had built up a road oil tanker business, under the name of Thomas Clayton (Petroleum Products) Ltd — later to be taken over by the Cory group — and the Oldbury Company was wound up. In order to perpetuate the memory of this famous fleet, the present owners of Dane have registered a new Company in the old name.

For a full history of the company see Narrowboat magazine.

 

Thos. Clayton fleet since 1916.

Name / Fleet No. / Source / Date entered fleet / Registered Details / Registered date / Further Information

ALDE 44 W 10/1916 BREN 355;17.10.16 422 13.9.22 out of fleet.49 , had fore cabin Broken Up.
ADDER 53 W 12/1916 BREN 359;20.2.17 430 18.9.22 o.o.f.52 , had fore cabin , Broken Up .
BLYTH 40 R 04/1917 LSTR 139; 4.17 746 22.10.23 Had fore cabin , Broken Up .
BOURNE 54 N 05/1917 BREN 362; 19.6.17 440 25.9.22 Had fore cabin , Broken Up .
BANNON 55 N 07/1917 BREN 363; 18.9.17 477 1.11.22 Had fore cabin , Broken Up .
BOYLE 56 W 09/1917 BREN 364; 18.9.17 22800 11.1.18  
BRENT 10 R 10/1917 LSTR 140; 3.11.17 460 10.10.22 Had fore cabin , Broken Up .
BEAVER 15 N 12/1917 BHM 1366;14.12.17 116 4.10.21 Sunk Croxon Flash , Trent and Mersey. Broken Up
CALDER 11 N 07/1918 BHM 1373; 10.1.19 444 25.9.22 o.o.f.49 Had fore cabin , Broken Up .
CHERWELL 2 N 10/1918 BREN 387; 17.12.18 501 1.12.22 Had fore cabin , Broken Up .
DEVON 42 N 02/1919 BHM 1479; 1.5.25 401 30.8.22 Broken Up.
DOON 57 N 05/1919 BHM 1477; 2.4.25 464 11.10.22 Had fore cabin , Broken Up .
EDEN 14 F 03/1924 BREN 424; 18.3.24 958 7.11.24 Broken Up .
EXE 4 F 03/1924 BREN 425; 18.3.24 839 18.4.24 Had fore cabin , Broken Up .
ESK 15 N 03/1924 BREN 426; 17.6.24 915 17.9.24  
ERNE 24 N 06/1924 BREN 428; 15.7.24 970 24.11.24 Had fore cabin , Broken Up .
EREWASH 28 R 07/1924 LSTR 154; 22.7.24 927 1.10.24 Had fore cabin , Broken Up .
FORTH 22 N 07/1925 BREN 443; 15.9.25 1094 24.9.25  
FROME 41 N 10/1925 BREN 445;15.12.25 1129 25.1.26 Broken Up .
GLEN 59 T 10/1926 TRNG 104;2.11.26 1334 22.9.27  
GIFFORD 60 N 12/1926 DAV 374; 7.12.26 1288 5.5.27

from when she was built in 1926 until the early 1940s and horse drawn, Gifford carried gas tar from the gasworks at Oxford to the Midland Tar Distillers works at Banbury and from Leamington gasworks to both Oldbury in the West Midlands and Banbury. The hold is decked over to make a watertight tank for the transport of liquid cargoes.  It has a forecabin, which gives more living space than most working narrow boats.  There is a bulkhead or ‘stank’ at each end of the hold, giving an air space between it and the living accommodation, which prevents noxious fumes from the cargo polluting the cabins. In the 1940s and 1950s Gifford also carried fuel oil from the Shell refinery at Stanlow on the Manchester Ship Canal, through Ellesmere Port to the Shell Mex depot at Langley Green in the Midlands.  After 1940, she was often towed by a motor boat and the 160 mile round trip would take 6 to 7 days. Gifford has had her fair share of births and deaths.  In 1932, baby Joseph Thomas Gardner was born on her when she was tied up at Crescent Wharf, Birmingham.  Nine years later, in 1941, tragedy struck Gifford when young Susan Agnes Beechey, aged only 13, was suffocated by fumes from the stove in the fore cabin.  Her sister Clara survived. Gifford worked until 1963 carrying tar from gas works in the Midlands to Oldbury, once more horse drawn. Max Sinclair saved Gifford from being broken up by paying a £60 deposit to Claytons. In 1970 Edward Paget–Tomlinson, bought Gifford. Extensive repairs were carried out by Ken Keay at Walsall.  Further, major restoration work was undertaken by Malcolm Webster in the 1990s. Gifford was one of the first boats in the collection at the Boat Museum when it opened in 1976.  She is owned, operated and cared for by the Boat Museum Society, volunteers at the National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port. GIFFORD Other Photos

GIPPING 61 L 12/1926 TAM 26; 11.12.26 1273 23.3.37  
GANGES 17 H 12/1926 BHM 1496; 17.12.26 1279 31.3.27  
HUDSON 62 N 02/1927 DAV 375; 1.3.27 1370 27.1.28 Converted known as PAINTED LADY
HAMBLE 35 L 02/1927 TAM 29; 12.2.27 1280 31.3.27  
HOLSTON 34 R 05/1927 LSTR 158; 6.5.27 1318 24.8.27  
HEBBLE 30 R 12/1927 LSTR 159; 12/27 1371 31.1.28 Motorised last seen on the Leeds And Liverpool canal
IRWELL 65 H 05/1928 BHM 1507; 18.5.28 1411 19.7.28  
IVOR 38 H 12/1928 BHM 1515; 19.1.29 1464 11.1.29  
JORDAN 66 H 06/1929 BHM 1519; 7.6.29 1494 5.6.29 Other Photos
JUBA 67 H 11/1929 BHM 1524; 2.11.29 1538 14.12.29  
JARDINE 68 R 12/1929 LSTR 160; 12/29 1536 28.11.29  
KENNET 69 H 01/1930 BHM 1525; 31.1.30 1553 22.1.30  
KYM 9 N 06/1930 DAV 409; 17.6.30 1715 10.2.32  
KUBINA 70 N 10/1930 DAV 414; 7.10.30 1646 14.11.30 Shortened to 57ft and converted fs 81
KAMA 71 H 12/1930 BHM 1531;19.12.30 1650 19.12.30  
KEN 20 M 12/1930 BHM 1530;19.12.30 1180 10.8.26*  
KENT 23 M 12/1930 BHM 1532;19.12.30 22903 14.6.18*  
KABUL 73 M 12/1930 BHM 1371;11.10.18 1592 28.4.30*  
LEAM 72 R 02/1931 LSTR 161; 2/31 1662 7.3.31  
LEA 74 N 06/1931 DAV 423; 16.3.31 1690 21.8.31

'64.bought and converted by J.Taylors parents.

uncle had it until 89.Broken up98.J.Taylor has

Lindsay and Keppel

MONNOW 13 B 01/1932 BHM 1339;1.10.15 2030 13.7.38 paired with UMEA based at Cowley
MOOSE 76 B 01/1932 NOT REG'D 2038 22.8.38  
MOY 75 B 01/1932 BHM 1328;15.1.15 22268 1.2.15* o.o.f.49
MOHAWK 77 X 02/1932 BHM 1116;13.11.03 528 18.12.22 o.o.f.49
MOLE 78 N 05/1932 DAV 431; 17.5.32 1731 13.7.32  
OHIO 79 H 07/1934 BHM 1554; 17.8.34 1817 27.8.34  
OKA 80 N 07/1934 DAV 455; 6/34 1821 10.9.34  
ORWELL 58 L 07/1934 TAM 131; 21.7.34 1815 20.8.34  
PEARL 81 N 02/1935 DAV 461; 4.2.35 1851 10.5.35 Motorised by TCO. converted for sale. 4/90
PINN 73 H 02/1935 BHM 1559;15.2.35 1860 19.6.35  
POYLE 82 N 05/1935 BHM 1568; 21.6.35 1864 5.7.35 Motorised by TCO now converted
PEEL 83 H 05/1935 BHM 1562; 17.5.35 1869 19.8.35  
REA 84 N 05/1936 BHM 1588; 19.6.36 1918 22.7.36  
RIBBLE 85 F 11/1936 BHM 1603;18.12.36 1951 7.4.37  
SEVERN 86 F 04/1937 BHM 1605; 4.6.37 1960 2.6.37 Converted to motor for Claytons
SOAR (M) 32 Z 05/1937 BHM 1604; 28.5.37 1959 26.5.37 o.o.f.49
STOUR (M) 87 F 09/1937 BHM 1611;19.11.37 1983 27.9.37 Unconverted for sale. 8/90 now based at BCLM in need of TLC STOUR Other Photos
SPEY (M) 88 F 10/1937 BHM 1612;19.11.37 1990 15.11.37 unconverted. waterways world.9/00 photo
TWEED (M) 37 F 01/1938 BHM 1613; 18.2.38 2004 19.1.38

sank 1978 Uxbridge and slid into the channel where she was broken up by BW Other Photos

TIBER 89 M 01/1938 BHM 1614; 18.2.38 1507 16.7.29* Other Photos
TAY (M) 90 F 03/1938 OLD 1; 8.5.38 2009 16.3.38 based Northern Trent and Mersey     TAY
TAFF (M) 91 X 03/1938 OLD 2; 8.5.38 2012 30.3.38 o.o.f.49
TEES (M) 92 F 05/1938 OLD 3; 7.7.38 2022 1.6.38  
TOWY (M) 93 F 07/1938 OLD 4; 5.10.38 2033 27.7.38 clothed up camper.Now at Boat museum Ellesmere Port   TOWY 

 TOWY today

USK (M) 94 F 01/1939 OLD 6; 7.3.39 2054 13.1.39 converted to trip boat 1960's sold and went to London then to Northern canals. Bought by present owner as live aboard but with expanding family proved impractical, was the victim of an arson attack Oct 07 which left her a derelict hulk. Other Photos
UMEA (M) 3 F 11/1939 OLD 7; 5.12.39 2080 10.11.39

Converted based at Cowley on Grand Union paired with MONNOW was originally built for someone else, any ideas who??

RIBBLE (M) 85 E 12/1941 OLD 11; 16.1.42 1951 19.8.42 Other Photos
SEVERN (M) 86 E 08/1944 OLD 14; 1.8.44 1960 1.10.47 Totally rebuilt by Jem Bates and based Puttenham Aylesbury Arm, she is restored as an unconverted motor rather than a planked over tanker. Site Other Photos
PEARL (M) 81 E 10/1945 OLD 16; 2.10.45 1851 21.1.48 on Northern Trent and Mersey.
CAPTAIN (M) ---- Z 05/1947 BHM 1446; 4.7.24 1000 23.1.25* for sale. 4/91. converted and 59ft see FMC list
EMPEROR (M) ---- Z 04/1948 BHM 1006; 3.6.98 1079 27.8.25* see FMC
DOVE (M) 8 G 09/1948 OLD 21; 3.11.48 1531 12.11.29 built by the Severn & Canal Carrying Company Ltd. at Stourport in 1913. Her British Waterways number is 77328 and she was registered at Gloucester as number 518 in 1929. In 1912, she was re-registered as number 483, which was changed again to number 22 (maybe 21??) at Oldbury in 1948. She was originally named ALDERSLEY, but became known as MOTOR NUMBER 8 in 1929 and remained as such until 1948. She has oak sides, an elm bottom and a pine superstructure and is doubled planked, fastened with iron nails. She has a pointed bow and a counter stern. Her current engine was made by National Oil & Gas in 1934 and is model 20M, with two cylinders, rated at 18 horsepower. Sold to Thos Clayton in 1948 to become their DOVE.

*conv.fs.4/92. extant 2000
DOVE Other Photos

DON (M) 1 G 06/1949 OLD 22; 2.6.49 1771 18.8.33* converted was also Severn & Canal .MV6
HARKEN 39 X 49      

Experimental tug for use on BCN instead of horses but was unsuccessful and was quickly sold

CLYDE 11 I 49 UXB 511; 10/18 1372 1.2.28*  
CHESS 12 I 49 BHM 1161;10.11.05 19900 27.11.05 *
MOY 13 I 49 BHM 1196; 7.2.08 20562 3.4.08*  
CONWAY 19 I 49 BHM 1468;17.10.24 985 29.12.24 *shortened
CALDER 27 I 49 BHM 1478; 2.4.25 1060 22.6.25*  
CROMFORD 32 I 49 BHM 1467; 4.7.24 926 1.10.24*  
WEAR 44 I 49 TAM 7; 16.1.26 1142 26.2.26*  
MOOSE 45 I 49 BHM 1352;29.9.26 22637 26.3.17*  
SHANNON 46 I 49 BHM 1500; 3.2.28 1395 10.5.28*  
FOYLE 48 I 49 BHM 1499;16.12.27 1375 10.2.28*  
LIFFEY 75 I 49 BHM 1484; 22.1.26 1167 19.5.26*  
MEDINA 76 I 49 BHM 1358; 16.3.17 22664 11.5.17*  
MONNOW 77 I 49 BHM 1104;19.12.02 1693 11.9.31*  
KENT 91 I 49 BHM 1351;29.9.16 22734 7.7.17*  
THAMES 95 I 49 NEVER REG'D 1893 20.3.36*  
DART (M) 16 G 05/1950 OLD 23; 13.7.50 1387 20.4.28* 58ft wooden hulled former working boat now shortened and with a full length conversion. * Built in 1928 by Anderton Boat Co in Stoke for the Severn & Canal Carrying Co as Motor Boat No 2 * Subsequently part of the Thomas Clayton fleet of tar boats (Dart, fleet no 16), * Ceased as a working boat in 1959 and shortened (by Malcolm Braine) in about 1968 to its current length. * In hands of current owners since 1983 Dart has been regularly docked and maintained, the most recent docking for hull maintenance and new stern tube was this year. The engine is a very ample Gardner 4LK,

DART

DANE (M) 18 G 05/1950 OLD 24; 13.7.50 1516 7.8.29* Dane was built in 1907 as a horse boat by Severn & Canal Carrying Company at Stourport-on-Severn. At this time is was named Bath, Fleet Number 11. In 1929 it was rebuilt as a motor boat, and the present 15hp Bolinder “semi-diesel” engine was installed. It is understood this was the first such conversion carried out by Severn & Canal. Following conversion, it carried no name, just a number — Motor No 7. In 1948, along with 3 other boats, it was sold to Thomas Clayton (Oldbury) Ltd, and converted to an “oil boat” for carrying bulk liquids, e.g. oil, tar, creosote & other gas works by-products. The conversion work was carried out at Lees & Atkins dock, Polesworth, at a cost of £480. It was then given the name Dane, which it has retained ever since, and Fleet Number 18. However, it was discovered that Dane was too long to fit into the second lock up the flight of six (known as “The Crow”) on the Titford Canal. This lock was known to be the shortest on the BCN, and presented a problem as this meant Dane would be unable to reach Langley Green — the destination of the main oil traffic from Stanlow Oil Refinery! Therefore it was shortened by rebuilding the bow to its present form, and is consequently totally different from all other “Severners”. Dane did not, therefore, enter traffic with Clayton’s until 1950 — the last boat to enter the fleet apart from an experimental iron boat Adder (ex-FMC France) which was not successful and soon sold. By 1960 the Clayton traffic was diminishing rapidly, largely due to closure of the gasworks following the introduction of North Sea gas, and the loss of the Stanlow oil traffic following the laying of a pipeline. Dane was sold in 1960 and converted to a pleasure boat. It was purchased by the present owner in March 1977. In 1981, the decision was taken to restore Dane to working condition, and the conversion was removed. The following year, it was repainted in authentic Oldbury-style Clayton livery. Owing to a growing family and the limited accommodation in the traditional back cabin (although the boatmen and their families managed to cope), the forecabin was added in 1989. The design of this followed closely those fitted to some Clayton horse boats - of which Gifford is the best known example. Finally, the decking was replaced to original appearance.

DANE Other Photos

ADDER (M) 53 X 04/1952 OLD 25; 4.7.52 1963 11.6.37*  

Key to T.C.(O)

List


KEY TO FLEET LIST
B :- Purchased from British Cyanide Co. Ltd Oldbury
 
E :- Converted from Butty
 
F :- Built by FMC Uxbridge
 
G :- Purchased from Severn Carrying Co. Ltd Gloucester
 
H :- Built by G Hale & Son Oldbury
 
I :- From Imperial Chemical Industries (General Chemicals) Ltd
 
L :- Built by Lees & Atkins Polesworth
 
M :- Purchased from Midland Tar Distillers Ltd Oldbury
 
N :- Built by Wm. Nurser & Sons/Nurser Bros Braunston
 
R :- Built by Rudkins Leicester
 
T :- Built by Bushell Bros. New Mills Tring.
 
W :- Built by Wm. Henry Walker Rickmansworth

 

Z :- Purchased from FMC Ltd Birmingham
 
X :- ADDER - Ex D&IWE "FRANCE Ex FMC
HARKEN - Ex Ernie Thomas Walsall
MOHAWK - Ex Chance & Hunt Ltd Oldbury " LUCY
TAFF - Ex G. Hale & Son Oldbury "WESTERN
 
* - Reg & Gauging dates refer to previous owner
 

Sources:- Claytons of Oldbury. A.Faulkner, Roger Fullers website

 

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