Steamer Notes from Millner Letters

Note: The red simply highlights the boat name – it is not a hyperlink!

3.8.1895 FM &Co Steamer EMPRESS J Crocker captain caused a block at Stoke Top lock this morning from 4.50 am to 4.50am owing to running into the lock in front of J Oldham loaded with coal for Croxley Mill. Oldham was at the head of the lock outside waiting for our nightman’s orders when Crockett ran his steamer between the other boats and got into the lock first. As it was Oldham’s turn and Crockett was in the wrong and would not give way when required to do so by the lock keeper he should be fined for obstruction. Millner/GC Thomas
23.12.1895 J Neal, captain of Messrs Fellows & Co steamer VICTORIA refuses to work the side ponds at Stoke – it is useless writing to the firm about any of their boat people as they take no notice of complaints. Millner/GC Thomas
26.12.1895 I have received instructions to summons J Neal, Captain of your steamer VICTORIA for repeatedly refusing to work sideponds at Stoke – but as I do not wish to do this unless absolutely necessary, I shall be glad if you will caution him and oblige. Millner/ FMC
26.12.1895 Let me know immediately after J Neal refuses to work the sideponds. I have written to Messrs Fellows & Co also to Neal and I shall most certainly take out a summons the next time he is reported. Milner/G Inns Stoke.
26.12.1895 I understand you refuse to work side ponds at Stoke and I now give you notice that I have received instructions to summons you. I have no desire to do this but I shall certainly apply for a summons the first occasion after this notice that you refuse to work the ponds. Millner/Neal

I have also to call to your notice boatman Crockett of the EARL for running full speed into the gauging stage at Gayton when coming in to coke. Your men appear to do this to save trouble in shafting round to the coke shed. I need hardly remind you that the steamer suffers equally with the Company’s works. Millner/FMC

30.6.1896 On February 12th, I understand you wilfully ran your Steamer HECLA full speed into the bottom gates of Lock 20 Stoke doing damage to the inside gate breast and weakening the gates. I shall have the gates repaired and shall expect you to pay part of the expense you have put the company to. Millner/indecipherable
14.7.1896 I have a report from Buckby that you wasted a full lock of water at Lock 9 yeaterday morning by drawing on Messrs FM&Co’s steamer EMPRESS. As the lock was the steamer’s and you refused to give way when requested to do so I have to give you notice that unless you see me and pay the value of the water so wasted my instructions are to take a summons out under Bye Law 37 and claim the full penalty of £5 Millnr/Mr E King
1.9.1896 Your steamer PHOENIX and the L&BCCo steamer BUFFALO blocked off all traffic at Stoke yesterday for 24 hours and delayed some 40 boats. I have a report from our tug master on the 28th ulto that your new steamer PRINCESS ran into the company’s Blisworth Tug on the 2.o/c turn and also the boat behind and broke the tug’s towrope and turned the boats across the tunnel. Millner/FMC
1.9.1896 I beg to report that the traffic at Stoke top lock was blocked for 24 hours from 5.40 am yesterday until 6.00 am this morning and was caused by the L&BCC’s steamer BUFFALO Captain W Edwards and FM&C Ltd steamer PHOENIX Captain A Humphrey running into the lock and refusing to give way. The PHOENIX caught the BUFFALO in Blisworth Tunnel. I am informed Edwards signalled to the PHOENIX (which had a perishable cargo) to pass when outside the tunnel. Instead of doing so he jammed the PHOENIX and broke his own tow line – Edwards then ran his own steamer (BUFFALO) into the lock and left his butty boat behind – the PHOENIX followed and both steamers remained in the lock. Edwards (BUFFALO) was ordered by the lock keeper to give way but he refused.
I was at Braunston in the morning and could not get to Stoke until 3.30 pm. I tried both persuasion and force to remove Edwards and it was not till I got there this morning that he would give way which he did by pulling out of the lock. Some 40 boats were delayed. I shal be glad of your immediate instructions whether I am to take out a summons against Edwards or both Captains under Penal Enactment 30 and claim full penalty. I am, yours faithfully, T W Millner (to GC Thomas, Bulbourne)
4.9.1896 Stoppage at Stoke: In reply to yours of the 3rd inst, I have taken out summonses against the Captains of the Steamers BUFFALO and PHOENIX under the 89th section of the Company’s act and a third summons on the BUFFALO for strapping round the lock gate balance on our endeavouring to force the boat out of the lock (under Bye Law 13.
Edwards has been troublesome for some time and only a fortnight ago I gave orders for him to be watched when passing Buckby and Braunston.
I had instructed Mr Whitton, magistrates clerk, of Towcester, before receipt of your letter.
With regard to the stoppage I tried to remove the BUFFALO out of the lock, but the driver left working the engine and we were unable to clear the gates. I then called on the Police to assist us but to no purpose. If I had obtained the necessary horses and men to force the boat out of the lock we should have had a breach of the peace and no police to assist us.
The case will be heard on the 22nd inst at Towcester and Mr Whitton would like a copy of the company’s act to present before the magistrates. Yrs obediently TW Millner (to Hubert Thomas, 21 Surrey Street)
11.9.1896 In reply to yours of the 10th inst. Humphries , the Captain of the PHOENIX saw me on Sunday morning respecting his summons and I told him I could do nothing for him but that he might write or see you if he wanted any consideration. I do not attach so much blame to him as the lock was his and the stoppage was caused by Edwards. I think a small fine before the magistrates would meet Humphries case but Edwards I should like to make an example of and get off the Canal if possible. Both men have had the summonses served on them. (Millner to Hubert Thomas 21 Surrey St)
11.9.1896 Stoppage at Stoke: The Captains of the Steamers BUFFALO and PHOENIX have been served with summonses and the case will be heard on the 22nd inst at Towcester – Mr Whitton is Solicitor for the Company. Can you tell me if the Company have any previous cases against Edwards of…………..told he was the………..that broke the padlock off Marsworth Lock gates and assaulted the lock keeper Cotterill. Millner/GC Thomas)
16.9. 1896 When will it be convenient for you to see me respecting the above case, which I understand will be heard next Tuesday. (Millner/ Whitton)
22.9.1896 I beg to report that this case was heard atTowcester today with Lord Eaton as Chairman of the Magistrates. At Lord Euston’s suggestion Mr Whitton withdrew the summons against Humphrey and Edwards was fined 20/- for strapping round the lock gate………..20/- for obstructing the traffic with an additional 12/- costs. Our case against Edwards was only partially heard when the Chairman intimated the bench had heard sufficient evidence and had made up their minds. It would be a good thing to get the Edwards family removed from the canal if possible. (Millner/H Thomas)
22.9.1896 I have to report that this case was heard at Towcester today. At Lord Euston’s suggestion, Mr Whitton withdrew the summons against Humphrey. Edwards was fined 20/- for strapping round the gate balance and 20/- for stopping the traffic with an additional 12/- costs.
24.9.1896 I beg to return the Company’s Act. I should like to ask for a spare copy of this as the one belonging to this office has been taken away. Referring to the stoppage, I requested Humphrey to pull out of the lock after I found it impractical to shift Edwards.
In case of another stoppage and the boatmen refuse to give way shall I be right in using force to clear the traffic.I beg to thank you for the sheets of Bye Laws and a few copies in book form would be useful. The original 200 yard distance posts are gone at Stoke top and bottom and also at Cosgrove and Fenny. Will you please say if you object to my replacing them. Regarding the one for the top of Stoke do you think it advisable to refix this post bearing in mind the following notice which is posted at Stoke Pass Office and also at Braunston..
All boats leaving the south end of Blisworth Tunnel are to take their turn of the locks in the same order as tugged through the tunnel.
By order
(Millner/H Thomas)
5.7.1899 At 8.35 pm on Monday 3rd July, I received a wire from Danks stating that M Canvin’s steamer JUBILEE had
sunk in Braunston Tunnel and stopped the traffic at 6 pm. After sending the men and stanking material forward from this yard, I rode over to Braunston and found Messrs Fellows Morton & Clayton’s steamer MARQUIS Captain T Wenlock and butty boat loaded with starch and sundries for Birmingham had run into that Canvin’s Steamer JUBILEE and butty boat Captain T Canvin loaded with 23 and 30¼ tons of Wyken Coal for Leckhampton, between the 13 & 1400 yards in the tunnel. The JUBILEE lay across the tunnel with the bow on the offside and the stern on the towpath side and he was struck an inch on the inside of the stempost with the guard iron almost knocked off. The MARQUIS then appeared to have run up on her foredeck and pressed her under. The tunnel was thick and both steamers look to have been on their wrong sides.
Wenlock states that he sounded the whistle several times but heard no reply. The MARQUIS followed the same owner’s SULTAN close behind from hear and was probably running hard at the time of the collision.
The stank was driven at Bridge No 6 Wilton and the water in the tunnel (and summit for a distanceof 1½ miles 275 yards was run off to a depth of 2’ 8” before the JUBILEE could be floated after lightening her cargo 6 tons and pumping all the water out. She rose at 2 pm, but it was 7 pm before the summit could be raised sufficiently to allow boats to move.
108 lockfuls of water were required from the reservoir to make up the deficiency.
In my opinion the JUBILEE is not a safe steamer to navigate the tunnels without sidecloths and she ought not to be allowed to carry such heavy loading.
Also considering we may always expect to have boats sunk in the tunnels, proper stop grooves should be placed in Welton Bridge wing walls as soon as possible to prevent future delays to traffic and considerable loss of water. Millner/Thomas
7.7.1899 After Canvin’s steamer JUBILEE had been raised in Braunston Tunnel, she got up steam and worked through the tunnel between 7 and 8 pm and was run into by our tug HASTY when she was towing the fleet of boats that had been in the stoppage. The tunnel was smoky at the time and the JUBILEE did not sound the whistle – if she had been on her wrong side she would probably have been sunk a second time.

I have to report Messrs Fellows’ boat HOCKLEY Captain I Clarke loaded with explosives for entering Braunston tunnel north end at 8.45 am on the 3.7.1899 without first sending the flagman over to warn steamers, after the tug Captain had warned him.. Millner/Thomas
10.7.1899 ..caution your boatman Miller of the steamer JASON to be more careful in working through my Company’s Tunnels at Blisworth and Braunston and make less smoke in passing through.
I have complaints from our Blisworth Tug as to the number of times your men stoke up whilst in the tunnel and the foul state of the tunnel when they come out. Millner/ C Nelson
12.9.1899 I have reports from our tug captains that your steamers will work through the tunnels at too great a speed for safety and our men fear there will be another accident if the speed is not reduced.
GIVE CAPTAINS GENERAL ORDER – Use more care, slow down, especially when passing the tugs and fleet of boats.
On Friday evening last (8th September) the three steamers MARQUIS, EMPEROR and EMPRESS passed through Braunston Tunnel and one or the other broke our tug HASTY’s mooring chain and afterwards cast her loose at the fore end, and when the men returned to work on Saturday morning she was near the tunnel entrance. Millner/FMC
26.9.1899 Cherry has reported Fellows Steamer DUKE to you for working through Braunston Tunnel whilst explosive boats were navigating through. I beg to send you our tugman’s report handed in to me last week:
at 2.45 pm on the 16th ulto W Tonks arrived at the north end of Braunston Tunnel with his pair of explosive boats and was directed by our tug steerer Taylor to send the flagman over and keep his boats at the north end until the tug returned to him. The tug entered at the south end of the tunnel at 4 o/c and left the flagman in charge. When about halfway through the tunnel Taylor noticed a steamer enter the south end and follow him. On arrival at the north end Taylor informed Tonks that a steamer was in the tunnel and ordered him to stay where he was until the boats came out. He refused to wait and entered the tunnel and passed the DUKE on the way through. I understand J Ayres was warned by the flagman but took no notice. The DUKE was about 20 minutes behind our tug at the north end. Millner/Thomas
9.12.1903 On September 19th our steamer “MARQUIS” steerer Edwards left Brentford with 9 tons of sugar for Digbeth and 5 tons for aventry. By an error on part of our Brentford people, the whole was declared to Digbeth. We have duly advised the Grand Junction Co of this, and they wish us to notify you of the mistake. FMC/Oxford CC
21.4.1905 I wish to report the driver of Messrs Fellows & Co steam boat PRINCE for using abusive & threating language on the 11th inst also for using indecent and abusive language on the 20th inst. The Tug came in the tunnel at 4 pm on the 11th and the above named steamboat was the other side Welton Bridge and when they got out of the tunnel at the Braunston end the driver began to use the abusive language and said the tug came in before 4pm. It can be proved by the boatmen on the boats that were towed by the tug that we came in at the right time. W Taylor/Millner
24.7.1905 On July 24th at the 2 oclock turn from the north end the tug with 10 boats in tow the last boat owner Thomas Phipps was jammed with one of Fellows Morton & Clayton butty boat behind the Steamer named the EMPEROR the butty boat was named the WELTON loaded with sugar the Captain Woodward they was jammed from half past two till half past six. F Warren/Millner
7.8.1905 Yours of the 5th re Cast Iron P(addle) Post. This left Lock 99 last night per steamer PHOENIX for Braunston. I have no fittings belonging to it. Soon as I receive the new side pond P(addle) Frame fitting from Messrs Beasleys Uxbridge I will dispatch same by boat to Braunston R S Turrell Norwood Top Lock/Millner
25.9.1905 re Steamer BARONESS J Ward and butty G Ward. On the 23rd inst (Saturday night) 10.30 pm, the above arrived at the top of Braunston, and found two boats abreast, one a “per Linton” in the employ of J Griffiths & Son, Bedworth , and our steamer and butty could not get by them.
Ward called Linton up, and he said I have stopped through aggravation in this length, and being impeded in his transit, made up his mind that if he could not navigate no one else should, and he called to Ward that he had better blow his light out, and stop the same as Linton. Ward had no alternative, having no assistance, but to stay until 4.30 am. 24th, and the Lock keeper simply called upon that he should not have stopped the traffic, and the thing there remained, the lock keeper appearing to have no control in the execution of his duties. We think upon the report made by Ward, as well as we ourselves being observant of the facts of the shortage of water and the overloading of boats by private firms, after ourselves being restricted to a minimum of 25 tons, the case should be taken up with Surrey Street and pressure brought to bear upon those who obstruct the navigation to commerce. FMC Braunston/Millner
28.9.1905 Will you please instruct me if Messrs Fellow’s or Nelson’s steamers are allowed in addition to their butties, to tow other boats belonging to their respective firms which these steamers may pick up on or near the tunnels instead of leaving the horse boat to be taken in tow by the company’s tugs and if so are the boats so towed to be allowed precedence down the locks to the boats towed behind the company tugs. Millner/Bliss
30.9.1905 Clarification of above letter to Bliss : …they do not tow other traders boats but pick up their own firm’s boats and take the same in tow behind their butty boat. Millner/Bliss
30.9.1905 We have heard from Surrey Street (GJCC Head Office) that our steamers are in the habit of towing boats belonging to other traders through your tunnels, and that the boats so towed claim precedence down the locks. We have written Mr Bliss and informed him that we are asking you to give us instances, so we can deal with the matter as it deserves as the irregularity was quite unknown to us. Will you kindly let us know which steamers are the greatest offenders, and if you can give us dates we should be glad. Jones FMC/ Millner
3.10.1905 Since writing you we have again heard from Mr Bliss, who informs us that he wrongly reported to us that our steamers were towing boats belonging to other traders. As a matter of fact they pick up our own horse hauled craft and Mr Bliss says this causes dissatisfaction amongst the boatmen, as the horse hauled boats so towed claim precedence down the locks over the boats behind the Company’s tugs.
There is now no necessity for you to furnish us with the particulars asked for, and of course you cannot blame our men for doing their best to look after our interests by getting our boats quickly through the country at the present time Jones FMC/Millner
10.10.05 Mr Cherry informs me that Messrs Fellows & Co , Griffiths and Dickinsons are still passing traffic over the Braunston Summit with upwards of 61 tons on the pair of boats and that when the boatmen are spoken to about keeping the loading down, they state that there are no notices out with reference to restricting the loading to 25 tons per boat. If you have no objection I should like a few notices printed similar to those you issued for the Tring Summit in 1902 for posting about the District. I may say that we have passed 170 boats over the summit in the last 3 days, which is very satisfactory considering the state of the water supply. TWM/Bliss
31.10.1905 I am sorry I have not been able to send the photographs but I have not been fortunate enough to catch one of your steamers by daylight. This afternoon I managed to do so but cannot send prints until Thursday next. Millner/Jones (FMC)
9.11.1905 T 1.10 pm “Fellows wire their Captain of steamer EARL with important goods for Birmingham due Friday wants fourteen pairs boats before he can clear Stoke can anything be done to assist them “ Waterways London (GJCC)/Millner
9.11.1905 T 6.5pm “The steam boat EARL will be through 12 boats in front of her 16 in all at the bottom 189 boats up to six tonight”. Allen, Stoke Bruerne/Millner
9.11.1905 (Thurs) In further reply to your wire re Fellows and Co steamer EARL at Stoke for Birmingham. This steamer will clear the locks tonight. It is not advisable for boats to be allowed to pass Stoke locks without waiting strict turns for I am sorry to say that our water supply is still very unsatisfactory.
10.11.1905 ….steamer EARL passed here on Thursday night at 10.00. The HECLA passed at 1.30 this afternoon, but we have no news of the DUKE Millner/FMC
5.12.1905 …...steamers be careful as they pass the brickies working in tunnel Millner/FMC
20.12.1905 ….tunnel working at night….Millner/Thomas
18.1.1906 EARL ran into the bottom gate at lock 17 Stoke Bruerne on the 13th inst and broke and knocked off the inside balance – the gate now requires a new balance and spliced heel. I shall be glad if you will let me have your captains version of the accident and I hope you will caution the man to use more care in working the locks. Millner/FMC
31.5.1906 If you have any steamers working to clear the Buckby Locks stoppage on Monday next (4th June) I shall feel greatly obliged if you will instruct the men to get through before 4am June 4th as it is necessary for us to close the locks top and bottom at 4 am. Otherwise the stoppage will not be over in four days. At Easter your last two steamers stopped the work at Stoke from 5 am to 8 am. I hope you will be able to arrange this. Millner/FMC B’ham
13.3.1907 Accommodation Living Bridge No 80 Gt Linford. Re boatmen refusing to shut same.
Saturday March 2nd 11.30 am Mr William Hedges, farmer, of Linford was in his fields adjoining swing bridge No 80 Gt Linford Parish on Saturday morning Mar 2nd when Messrs Fellows Morton and Clayton’s Steamer VICTORIA Captain Wilkinson and butty boat HETTIE Captain Henry Smith working north or towards Braunston passed through the above Swing Bridge and left the same off or open and Henry Smith whose duty it was to put the bridge over again refused to do so, although requested by Mr Hedges . Smith also refused to give his name to Mr Hedges.
Friday March 8th about 9.30 pm Messrs Fellows Morton & Clayton Ltd Steamer QUEEN Captain Edward Griffiths and butty boat MARPLE Captain John Wenlock – These men also left the swing bridge open or off. Mr Hedges caught them and spoke to them about putting the bridge over and they said they knew nothing about it.
Summons 1st Henry Smith captain of boat HETTIE but now working for E Smith Canal Carrier of Brentford.
Summons 2nd John Wenlock captain of FMC boat MARPLE at Braunston
There is a notice on the bridge cautioning boatmen re closing bridge:
GJC Notice: Any person in charge of a boat, barge or other vessel neglecting to close or fasten this swing bridge after passing through the same is liable to a penalty of 10/- By order Oct 1904

Occupier has to go round to next bridge half a mile away when swing bridge is open. Millner/?

21.4.1907 A report on the 21st of April at 5.30 am a pair of Harriss boats were coming into the bottom lock when one of Fellows engine came into them to have the lock causing a delay of three hours neither of them willing to give way. Name of Harris boats Cyril and Samuel Fellows engine COLONEL Captain J Barker and IVER Boat Boats Captain A West. G Inns/Millner
27.4.1907 We beg to acknowledge receipt of your complaint of yesterday’s date re conduct of our steerer Young when in two (tow) of the PHOENIX on the 18th instant and also damage said to have been done by Woodfield, captain of the EMPEROR. Both these complaints will be thoroughly investigated and you shall hear from us further Ironmonger FMC/Millner
30.4.1907 With further reference to yours of 26th inst., complaining of the reckless working in Braunston Tunnel of our butty steerer A Young (in tow of PHOENIX) We have taken this matter up with this steerer today and must say that his explanation does not appear quite satisfactory. We have given him instructions to see you and tender his own explanation, and if this is not satisfactory to you , we shall certainly discharge him. We would suggest that you summons the man, or inflict a fine on him, which may act as a deterrent. After seeing him we shall be glad if you will communicate with us again. We have not been able to see Woodfield yet. He is at Coventry today and we hope to see him at Braunston tomorrow, when we will write you further.
1.5.1907 Your favour of 26th ulto addressed to B’ham. The latter portion of it referring to damage at Lock No 1 @ Braunston by our steamer EMPEROR steerer J Woodfield & driver Isaac Hough.
Further to ours of yesterday, we have this afternoon gone into this matter with steerer Woodfield and he informs us that neither himself or driver Hough were on the boat at the time of the occurrence, they were working … B’ham & had left the steamer to call in at their home for linens etc and the accident took place in their absence. They express regret and have promised to call and see you tomorrow and explain further.
We may say that both of them are first class men and very rarely give trouble. We trust therefore under the circumstances you may see your way to mitigate the damages after seeing the men. We hope to hear from you that you will overlook the offence. Ironmonger FMC/Millner
23.7.1907 I have to report the steerer of Fellows & Cos steamer VICTORIA Captain J Wilkinson and BARON E Wenlock for meeting boat Fellows & Co (COLONEL) Captain P Boswell on the 22nd between 4 and 5pm, the above boat being loaded with naphtha, and the flagman with flag being at the south end to caution them not to enter. H Danks/Millner
29.7.1907 We had one of Mr Clayton Naptha boats Cap name Smith laying up at the North end of the tunnel waiting to follow the tug in Tunnel at 8 oclock and their was one of Emanuel Smith wide boats there to and the two flag men was at the South end of Tunnel when we came in at 7 oclock to block the Tunnel but what I can understand the wide boat flagman name Jones went down to the top lock and their came two Fellows Mortons & Clayton Steamers up the COUNTESS and the SPEEDWELL and Jones told the Steamer men to go in the tunnel I ask him when we got out why he did not stop them and he said that he and the night man Inns told them to go. I ask Inns and he said that he never told them to go we heard them coming when we first started in so we went back they got out 8.15 oclock they must have come in Tunnel about 7.40 oclock F Warren/Millner
30.12.1907 ….I also forward two complaints received from the captain of the Blisworth Tug respecting Messrs Fellows steamers not sounding their whistles when coming through Blisworth Tunnel. I am afraid that unless Messrs Fellows impress upon their steamer captaions the importance of taking every precaution (in) our tunnels we shall have a serious accident one of these days. Millner/Bliss
14.2.1908 Referring to your letter of the 24th ulto re collision on December 19th last, your steamer captain Dawson has been (passed) my office several times but he has not called as directed by you. Millner to FMC
22.2.1908 ……your man Dawson called on me on the 16th inst and as you state he entirely controverts every statement madeb by our man Warren respecting the collision in Blisworth Tunnel on December 19th last -----the greatest----in getting on----reports so cannot see the object of Warren making false statements and knowing the man I hardly think he has done so in this case.
I am afraid we can do no more in the matter but this I am quite satisfied about that unless we can prevail upon your steamer captains to use more care in working through the tunnels we shall have an accident Millner/FMC
3.4.1908 I am obliged for your letter enclosing a report from Braunston respecting our tug running in front of your steamer COLONEL in the 1st inst and after I have got our tug trip sheets in I will look into the matter and I quite agree with you that it is not advisable to make enmity between our respective drivers.
I wish you would let your Mr Iremonger request your drivers to ease down when passing our steam dredging plant for these are continually getting adrift. Last Sunday morning early we had several of the dredger craft loose at Gayton. Millner/C F Jones, FMC Fazeley St Birmingham
13.4.1908 I am obliged for your letter of the 2nd inst enclosing a report from your Braunston depot respecting the tug going into the Tunnel before time and in front of your steamer COLONEL on the 1st inst. I have seen the tug captain and I find according to the trip sheets he entered the tunnel at 4pm with 6 empty boats only and with this load the tug would travel faster than your steamer. I may say it would not be possible to wind the tug after the steamer had passed the bridge near the tunnel end – I do not think we need go further into the matter as Danks assures me that he gives way when heavily loaded and I quite follow Barker’s endeavour to get in front of the six empty boats. Millner/C FJones
8.9.1908 Tug HASTY, this tug had a collision with one of Messrs Fellows & Co’s steamers in Braunston Tunnel on Thursday last (3.9.08) and broke the cast iron feed pipe bend off at the boiler. Temporary repairs were done at Messrs Fellow’s depot to enable the tug to start work again but it is advisable for you to come down and take particulars for a new bend as early as convenient. Millner/Beasley
15.10.1908 re: dredging of bridge holes on Blisworth Pound. The level at the present time is 4” below weir but your steamers can get through the bridges if they will only ease down instead of running through at full speed……Millner/C F Jones FMC
5.11.1908 I beg to inform you that we have had another collision in the above tunnel between our tug and your steamer the BARON this morning and serious damage has been done to both and also to the butty boat BILSTON. It appears the BARON was about 100 yards from the N end of the tunnel coming north about 8 o’clock this morning and our tug had just entered on the 8 o’clock pull for Stoke Bruerne. The tug cleared the fore part of the steamer but both sterns came together and the light iron guard on the BARON’s stern and the heavy guard on the tug’s stern must have fouled – the steamer’s guard was sprung and our tug’s guard completely ripped off and twisted all shaped and consequently fouled the butty boat and damaged her cloths and broke some soap cases.
Your men stopped at the Arm and reported the accident to me and I inspected the damage to your boats and afterwards saw the tug.
Our men report the matter as an accident and state both steamer and tug were on their right sides.
The tug’s guard was a new one and the men say it was not foul or loose before the collision. I shall be glad to hear full particulars from you after you have seen your man as I must report the accident to the Company and see if something cannot be done for the better working of the traffic through the tunnels. Millner/FMC
20.11.1908 I beg to thank you for your letter of the 10th inst enclosing your Mr Smith’s report respecting the above accident. I am afraid I cannot add anything further to my former remarks on the affair and these accidents will occur as long as the men cannot be made to use more care. I certainly told Wenlock I was pleased the damage was on your side for once as it is just a trifle one-sided for our tug always to be the victim. Since the above accident we have had the tiller of the Braunston tug bent double while moored at the S end of the tunnel simply because the men on your steamer PRINCE did not ease down soon enough. Millner/FMC
23.12.1908 Herewith I beg to enclose….your steamer MARQUIS running into the top offside gate at Lock No 2 at Braunston on 17th inst. I may state it has been necessary to chain the gate back for the present, and we shall be forced to put in a new pair of gates next year as the next blow will probably knock the gates down.
After Christmas we shall have the iron centres up in Braunston Tunnel in a very low place and I must ask you to especially caution your men on the steamers. Wishing you the compliments of the season. Millner/FMC
19.11.1910(?) I have to repond (sic) one of Mr Nelsons steamers Captain name Harry Kendall Steamer name JANUS a towing one of there own boats name the Natal th eCaptain name Sam Beechy we met the Steamer coming from the south end of the tunnel when we whent (sic) in at the six oclock turn he not having a tug ticket during tug hours. F Warren/Millner
4.2.1911 R Littlemore – wasting water at Stoke Bruerne – fined 10/-
4.2.1911 I beg to report that the “Orange” loaded with 27½ tons of castings and grease from Leicester and Market Harborough, Captain H Draycott Jnr and butty boat to the steamer GENERAL, Captain Neal, was sunk opposite Messrs Phipps’ ironstone landing at the north end of Blisworth Tunnel at 4am on Thursday February 2nd.
The steamer GENERAL and a second steamer EARL with their butties were coupled together for convenience of getting through the ice then on the canal and on passing through the ironstone landing the butty boat “Orange” collided with an empty ironstone boat moored at the landing.
Some of the cast iron plates stowed in the boat’s bottom shifted and caused the boat to roll and sink in the centre of the waterway, leaving sufficient space on the offside for boats to pass.
Having no boat lifting tackle the only practical way of raising her was to drive a stank across the canal at Bridge No 50 and put in the drop planks at the north end of the Blisworth Tunnel and draw the water down about 2’ 0” out of a section of canal about ¾ mile long.
It was found necessary to unload 16 tons of grease in casks and retrim the castings before the boat would rise when all the water was pumped out of her.
The boat was refloated and the traffic moving again at 6pm of the same day. The accident occurred owing to the heavy load and bad stowage of the plates, no packing being used to prevent these from slipping.
A considerable quantity of water was run away which reduced the head of water in the Blisworth pound by one inch.
Cost of £4. 4. 0 invoiced to FMC
6.2.1911 A report received from the Captain of the Blisworth Tunnel Tug respecting Mr John Griffiths’ steamer SPEEDWELL towing a pair of his own boats through the tunnel. Mr Griffiths’ steamers make a terrible quantity of smoke when only towing a butty boat and they are not capable of towing more than one boat. They make the tunnel in such a foul state that I am afraid if they are allowed to continue towing more than one boat we shall have an accident in the tunnel with our night gang. I would suggest that Mr Griffiths be instructed to discontinue towing more than one boat.
19.5.1911 I have had a report from Burtin to say when they was going from the south end of the tunnel at 9 oclock turn this morning they met one of Mr John Griffiths Steamer the SPEEDWELL Captain name Wilson the steamer was making very much smoke and they never blew the whistle and the Steamer was on the wrong side of the tunneland ran into the tug but it as (sic) not done any damage to the tug I have heard by the boat people this afternoon that it as (sic) broken two of the steamers guards off. F Warren/Millner
19.5.1911 I have to make a report about one Mr Faulkners Steamers the JASON coming from the north end of tunnel meeting the tug at the 5 oclock turn from the south end and never blew the Whistle till we just hit them and put them on the right side as they was nearley right on our side I think thare steamers Mr Faulkners ought to be made to use different coal than they do for our tunnel as it is not fie for any one to go through after them it is not safe to meet them in here if you cannot see them for they are verey often on the wrong side they are the worse lot working them as I ever saw I had just looked out and I saw a little light as I thought and I reversed the Engine as soon possible or else I quite think it would have very likely sunk him we must have a better way working and less smoke or else we shall be having some accident in here if someone is not scalded by bursting some of the steam joints when they hit the tug. F Warren/Millner (all sic)
20.5.1911 I have to inform you that one of Fellows Steamers the BARONESS Captain Merchant came in the north end of tunnel and ran into the tug when the tug was coming from the south end at 11 oclock turn they was told to keep back by the boat men and blew the whistle but they would not do so the man on Steamer said they could not blew the whistle as they had not got the wire on it they have broken the tiller and the snubber and tilted the tug so that the water ran in the stoke hole. I think there ought to be a rule for those steamers to blew there whistle a distant from the tunnel end and then we might hear them and keep back a little from the end as there is not room to pass when the boats are tied in the tunnel mouth at Blisworth end it wants the boatsto be made to lay round the corner the same as they do when we have got a wide boat comming out and then we should have a better chance of not getting hit. F Warren/Millner
14.6.1911 Captain J Merchant, steamer BARONESS reports that on May 20th about 10.45 am he was approaching Blisworth Tunnel, and about 150 yards away he tried to blow his whistle, the wire being broken. Two steamer lengths away, however, he had got it repaired and he blew it twice, and again when entering the tunnel. He states that John White’s boat was tied to a stump about 5 yards in the tunnel mouth and Merchant had just passed it when he heard the tug working for the first time. He did not hear their whistle blow. The Tug men shouted “Keep back” but it was too late. Merchant eased up. The butty boat was rounding White’s baot and was consequently across the tunnel when the Tug caught the fore end of her. Merchant states the Tug’s tiller was broken through their man loosing it, as it swung round at the back of Merchant’s tiller and struch the wall. He also states that the Tug’s snubber was not broken and the tug was tilted through hitting the butty boat. He says White’s boat could not lay round the corner, as the canal wants clearing out to enable boats to do so. FMC/Millner
30.5.1911 In reply to yours re complaint of driver of Steamer JASON. The same men are working two of them which have done so for years I think your man must be a little bit prejudiced in some way. I will ask the driver not to fire up when going through the tunnels. I presume the same men and boats used to go through your tunnels when working for Messrs Jees’. If I have any trouble I shall return them. They are only on trial for a period. L Faulkner/Millner
28.9.1911 Owner Fellows Morton & Co Captain James Wilkinson Boat name VICTORIA. I met this steamer at lock No 16 at 4.30 am and on going down found the bottom side lock paddle left up at Lock 18 and found the pound partly empty so had to run 3 locks of water to fill it up. I told the boatman of it and also that I should report him. G Inns/Millner
1.10.1911 I have to inform you that Fellows Morton wide boat the SWAN whent through the tunnel from the south end without having a flag man at the north end Newton the Captain said there was never a nother Engine coming so they whent in but that must be stopped they do not no when Mr Griffiths or Mr Faulkner Engines are comming in tunnel as we shall be following with a train of boats we shall verey likely have to push back to the end again. F Warren/Millner
4.10.1911 We beg to acknowledge receipt of yours of yesterday re report from the captain of your Blisworth Tug of the conduct of the captain of our boat SWAN. This boat is now in London and we are sending on your letter foor investigation and requesting our Mr Clayton to ask the captain to call at your office as he passes by. FMC/Millner
10.10.1911 Further to our letter of the 4th inst, respecting our boat SWAN. Mr Clayton of London writes that he has seen the captain (Newton) who states that you have been misinformed in this matter. As a matter of fact on this occasion he (Newton) did send his man over to the north end of the Tunnel to stop any traffic whilst his steamer was passing through, and as far as we can glean a misunderstanding has arisen, owing to observations passed between the captain of the tug and C Newton, and by the latter’s remarks we are afraid that he misled the Tug captain. However Newton assures us that his man was sent forward to give the necessary warning, and it has always been customary for him to do this, and of course he will continue to do so in the future. Our Brentford people have requested Newton, who left there on the 8th, to call and see you on his return. FMC/Millner
23.12.1911 Burtin reports to me that yesterday afternoon when they left the south end of the tunnel at the 1 oclock turn there was a wide boat waiting to come in the tunnel at the 2 oclock turn the flag man was at the south end at 1 oclock to stop the steamers when the tug whent in at 1 oclock a steamer one of Fellows Morton named the PRINCE Captain name Fred Edwards whent in tunnel and meeting the tug with the wide boat coming from the north end and the tug had to push back out of the end again to let the steamer pass I do not no what he told the flag man when he came up there as the tug must have gone in the tunnel some time before he came up there. F Warren/Millner
29.12.1911 We have your favour of yesterday and are much concerned to learn of the irregularity in working through Blisworth Tunnel by our steerer F Edwards, steamer PRINCE. We will take the matter up with him at Braunston, and also give him instructions to call and see you. We cannot help but think that there has been some misunderstanding. As a rule Edwards is a very tractable and willing steerer and we should not have thought him guilty of such carelessness. Ironmonger FMC/Millner
6.2.1912 At the bottom we have one wide boat and one pair of coal boats going south three pairs of Fellows including a steamer Admiral with goods at the top going south. Also 4 pairs of empty boats going to Braunston. I have been to Braunston this afternoon & Mr Cope informs me that the Canal Co are not going to run the Ice boat as boats are not going to follow – Fellows have two steamers there but no buttys for them. Also 4 loaded boats with empty barrels on for this way Mercer/Millner
13.2.1912 Our Steam Motar Wide Boat SWAN is disabled owing to a defect in her condenser tubes. We are unable to get at them here owing to their being below water line which will necessitate her being sent to our Dry Dock at Uxbridge. But it has occurred to the writer that pahaps you would allow the use of your weighing dock here to enable us to inspect them and effect the necessary repairs. The boat has not been weighed and during the time she would be there she could be weighed. Would you kindly wire us in Birmingham in the morning if we may use the Dock for the purpose named. Of course we do not wish to put you to inconvenience in the weighing of boats FMC/Millner
22.2.1912 Re Motor Wide Boat SWAN. The repairs to this boat have been effected. Please accept our thanks for the use of your weighing dock at Braunston. With regard to our suggestion that this boat should be weighed, we found it impracticable, as there was only just room to get her in the dock and no room for the index staffs, so under the circumstances we shall have her weighed at Brentford. She would leave Braunston today for Brentford. Ironmonger/Millner
3.5.1912 On Monday boats was fast again in the Tunnel with a boat behind the Steamer named the SULTAN for one hour it caused the tug to loose a turn I think you had better send another snubber in case of another mishap F Warren/Millner
28.8.1912 Re Raising Sunken boat at Linford. I am pleased to hear that you were able to raise Messrs Sefton’s coal boat MAY without interference to the traffic. Let me have an account of the cost to the Company which will be sent to Messrs Sefton in due course, and I should advise them to try and recover the amount from Messrs Fellows, Morton & Co as the sinking was due to their steamer ADMIRAL not easing down when passing. Thomas/Millner
15.10.1912 We have our letter of yesterday enclosing the tugman’s report of irregularity in working through Blisworth Tunnel on the part of Captain Griffiths of the steamer VANGUARD. We feel greatly annoyed to think that you should have that trouble, and on arrival of steerer Griffiths with us we shall certainly take the matter up in a suitable manner; in all probability we shall give him instructions to call upon you.
28.12.1912 We had another stem in with a steamer yesterday the empty boats wrong side of the steamer broken our snubber and a lot of things in the KINGs cabin
19.12.1912 T “Lost last night white Maltese Terrier Peggy probably on board steamer preceding SPEEDWELL and BARONESS all three passed Leighton Lock about 10.30 pm. Make enquiries.” Gordon Thomas/Millner
19.12.1912 T 0.25 am “Telegram from Gordon Thomas “ Lost last night white Maltese Terrier Peggy probably on board steamer preceding SPEEDWELL and BARONESS all three passed Leighton Lock about 10.30 pm. Make enquiries” All passed Gayton Toll Office between 6am and 9pm” Millner/Millner
19.12.1912 T 6.12 pm “Cannot hear of dog” Mills (Braunston)
20.12.1912 T 12.51 pm “Did you receive telegram yeaterday about our lost dog have you any news of Peggy” Mabel Thomas/Millner
20.12.1912 I wired you yesterday also this morning re my white Maltese Terrier, which I have a strong suspicion was picked up by a passing steamer about 10.30 pm on Wednesday night.
Three steamers arrived almost simultaneously at Leighton Lock whilst I was walking round the garden; I was not at the lock when the first steamer passed, but the following one was the BARONESS and the last VICTORIASPEEDWELL. My dog ran in front of me and barked at the first steamer and I followed him down to the lock, but was not there in time to see the boat leave, neither could I find any trace of my dog.
It is a little white Maltese Terrier answering to the name of “Peggy” and I should like you, if you would, to make private enquiries respecting it at your end as far as Braunston. I will communicate with the Police in Birmingham. Gordon Thomas/Millner
2.5.1913 re Memo of 25th April re accident to EARL. I met the steamer and questioned Mason. He states the accident occurred at the Rifle Butts at Stantonbury early morning before it got light – I have had the canal drained but can find no obstruction. Millner/Thomas
10.6.1913 Re Bridgeholes on the Fenny Pound. The captains of our steamers have been to the trouble of taking particular notice of these bridgeholes, and they inform us that the following are the bridges which they consider will want attention. Talbots to Cosgrove Lock: Nos 102, 99, 98, 97, 93, 92, 90, 88, 87, 86, 85. From Stoke Bruerne: Nos 41, 38, 36, 34, 32, 29. Have you anything to say to this? Jones FMC/Millner
15.12.1913 I beg to report that during the last month that Mr L B Faulkner’s steamers have been working through Blisworth Tunnel at night after the company’s tugs had ceased running and towing three loaded boats all owned by Mr Faulkner. These steamers are old and barely capable of towing a single butty and when in the tunnel they make a large volume of smoke. So much so that our maintenance gang working at 1390 yards in have had two very bad nights and have not been able to see for some ½ - 1 hour after the boats have passed. Mr Faulkner’s present steamers should not be allowed to tow more than the usual butty. He should also be requested to use the best quality of steam coal Millner/Thomas
30.12.1913 I beg to report the PRINCE for leaving a paddle up about a foot and wasting 6 lockfuls of water at No 11 lock on Monday night last. John Winkless/Millner
9.2.1914 In reply to your letter of 6th inst I am sorry to hear that your steamer SULTAN met with a mishap below Buckby last week……the bend below Brockhall shall receive attention. I am having reports from our lock keepers that the men on your steamers are refusing to work the sidelocks at Buckby and on the 11th January and 6th February EMPEROR and COUNT were reported. As we are short of water this is now a serious matter.
9.3.1914 re consignment of Salmon and Pine ex steamer VULCAN to Gayton warehouse – there is a shortage of 5 tins – the thief is not known
10.3.1914 The offside of the same lock was broken in a similar manner by the steamer VICEROY, Captain E Wenlock on 10.3.1914 as reported. We have just replaced same with a new oak balance Millner/Thomas
19.6.1914 On the 13th inst when your steamer QUEEN was passing through lock 11 at Buckby, Beresford the mate of the butty boat Kineton drew the lower paddles before closing the top gates and by so doing wasted a considerable quantity of water as we are too well off for water at present I must put a stop to the reckless way of working the locks. I shall feel greatly obliged if you will inform Beresford that unless he comes to the office when next passing and pays the sum of 5/-, I shall take a summons under the Company’s byelaw No 8 for the full penalty of 40/-. Millner/FMC
30.6.1914 QUEEN working through Blisworth Tunnel on 21st inst……Millner/FMC
7.8.1914 On 2nd August 1914 BARONESS Captain Merchant ran into the towpath side bottom gate of lock 3 at Braunston and damaged the balance to such an extent that it must now be renewed. The balance is about 37 years old and probably rather weak. The accident caused by the rope breaking when strapping into the lock. Millner/Thomas
21.8.1914 Court has called and paid me the 5/- fine which will be sent to Northampton Hospital. Re COLONEL – Captain H Neal entered Blisworth Tunnel at the south end when the Company’s tug was towing one of your wide boats through from the Blisworth End on the 10 o’clock turn on August 18th. The boats met at the Wet Pit 1249 yards and your steamer had to go back stern first. This delays the traffic and is not so good for the tunnel or your boats. Please instruct Neal to call at the office Millner/FMC
10.9.1914 Referring to the report you sent us on the 21st August respecting our steamer COLONEL going into Blisworth Tunnel while the tug was coming in the other end. The writer has investigated this and apparently it was an error of judgement on the part of the man in charge of the boat. The regular captain was away, ill, and this man was in charge during is absence.
Perhaps you will be able to see your way clear to let this man off with a talking to; I have told him to call and see you, either on his way up to London or when he comes down. Argent FMC/Millner
13.10.1914 SPEEDWELL colliding with one of the Griffith boats in Braunston Tunnel - I enclose a report from our tug man Millner/FMC
9.1.1915 My Company’s tug at Braunston was towing two C C turn boats from Braunston yesterday, she met your steamer BARONESS and butty near the wet pit shaft. The tug was on the right or towpath side and sounded its whistle but received no reply from your steamer. The BARONESS pushed the tug over on to the off side without doing any damage, but she stemmed the first boat behind the tug which was Mr Faulkner’s boat PROVIDENCE doing considerable damage to this boat’s stem post. The tug men state they think the steerer of the BARONESS was a stranger and did not know the tunnel regulations for he would have it your boat was on their right side although they hugged the towpath wall and passed all the boats on this side. You are aware that boats travelling south keep to the towpath and going north the offside of the tunnels.

At 6.45 am on 29th January steamer PRINCE Captain Edwards ran into the inside bottom lock gate and broke the balance beam near the breast.. The accident occurred owing to the steamer not answering quickly enough when the engine was reversed and as no strap was used the gates had to stand the blow. The balance was a pitch pine one and new in 1906. We can repair to last a few months longer.

The offside of the same lock was broken in a similar manner by the steamer VICEROY, Captain E Wenlock on 10.3.1914 as reported. We have just replaced same with a new oak balance Millner/Thomas

11.2.1915 I have communicated with Messrs Fellows Morton & Co as to the damage caused to lockgate at Lock No 20 Stoke Bruerne, by steerer Edwards on the 29th ulto in accordance with your report to the engineer. Mr Thomas estimated the cost of repairing damage at £5 : 10 : 0 and I so informed Messrs Fellows. You will see by the enclosed copy statement made by the Steerer that there appears to be a difference of opinion as to the extent of the damage and I shall be glad to hear from you further before taking the matter up again with Messrs Fellows. Bliss/Millner
Enclosure: 10.2.1915 Referring to yours of 4th inst re damage alleged to have been done by our steamer PRINCE captain Edwards at the bottom lock gate, Stoke Bruerne. Further to ours of 5th inst, we have now had this man seen, and attached you will find his statement regarding the occurrence which please peruse.
“Damage to Lock gate No 20 Grand Union Canal by steamer PRINCE. Steerer Edwards, steamer PRINCE reports that coming into this lock in the usual way the propeller of the steamer fouled some wire netting and prevented the engine from reversing as quickly as it would have done. Consequently he struck the bottom gate slightly, just splitting about 4 to 5 inches of wood work near the end of the gate. The damage was so slight that the lock keeper wanted to know where the gate was hit. The Grand Junction Canal Co have since repaired the damage by putting an iron bolt through the place.
5.2.1915 …damage to Lock Gate 20 at Stoke by steerer Edwards on 11th inst. (PRINCE) The balance had a clean break for a length of two feet from the breast and the tenon on the end of the balance was also broken. I have temporarily repaired the same by drawing the broken ends up with two bolts, and it will last until it gets another blow, all the strength now being in the bumper. The carpenter was I½ days stripping the balance and fixing it up again. I inspected the damage before sending in my report. Millner/Thomas
22.4.1915 I was at Cosgrove Lock yesterday morning about 12.30 when Mr L B Faulkner’s steamer JUPITER steerer J Proctor and butty, both empty, came into the lock going north. The steerer’s wife opened the inside bottom gate, leaving the offside gate closed, when the steamer knocked this gate open, ran into the lock and then knocked the top offside gate open some 18” with the weight of water against it. Luckily no damage was done as far as one could see, but the blows were severe. Proctor states the engine stopped dead centre, which was no doubt correct, but he made no attempt to get it off or use a strap, if he had one. I am reporting this case not because I consider he should be proceeded against, but I do think his employer should know about it. On speaking to him I only met with abuse and when asking him why he carried no fender he said “Ask Fellows Morton why they don’t put fenders on”. You no doubt know the man is a poor cripple and unfit to work of boats with only his wife to assist him Millner/Thomas
6.9.1915 With reference to yours of 27th ulto I am informed that the first bridge hole on the other side of the Target Turn in the Fenny Pound is very bad, and from what our men say there must be a lot of stones collected there. Dawson, captain of the steamer PHOENIX reports that he was delayed over half an hour at the Target Turn on Friday, owing to one of Faulkner’s boats being stuck at that point….J M Anderson FMC B’ham/Millner
15.1.1917 On Thursday January 11th 7am Turn, the steamer PRINCE F Edwards captain came through tunnel without headlamp, or any other light. They were told about it before they went in but they kept going. It was Fellows Morton & Clayton engine. P Betts/Millner
22.1.1917 Replying to yours of 15th inst re the captain of the steamer PRINCE coming through Braunston Tunnel without a light, I have taken this up very severely with this man and his excuse is that he broke his lamp glass before he got to Buckby and that although he tried at two places to get one he was unable to do so. He states however that his drver sat on the cabin top with a smaller lamp, and the driver confirms this. I have told him that in future when he comes through this tunnel he must have a proper light on. Anderson/Millner
28.5.1917 I am obliged for your wire and letter of the 26th inst respecting steamers DUKE, SPEEDWELL, MARQUIS – but none have cleared the Buckby stoppage although I gave instructions for the locks to remain open until 6am. The steamer COUNT was probably the last steamer to clear the stoppage…
2.7.1917 Steamer PHOENIX at Heyford Bridge. Dawson reported the matter when he passed our Gayton office and I was at the bridge in the morning. We had a side stank nearly complete on the towpath side, south side of the bridge with red lights on and a man watching. It appears in taking the corner, Dawson cut it a little too close and ran under the stank baulk and grazed the last pile driven. The stank was protected by another baulk running under the bridge hole as I make it a rule to have guide baulks put in and do all we can to make it safe for the traffic. So I am afraid you must put this down as an accident and no one to blame.
21.8.1917 Messrs Fellows Morton & Clayton, Ltd, complain that their steamers and buttires are often tied up in the locks at night time which prevents their other craft from passing through. Please instruct the lock-keepers that this practice being in contravention of the Company’s Byelaws will not be permitted in future and report to me any case which comes under their notice of boatmen offending in this way. Bliss/Millner
24.8.1917 FMC’s steamer ADMIRAL steerer P Littlemore and butty boat Verbena , George Jones running into the top inside gate of Lock 8 at Buckby at 10.30 pm August 21st 1917 and breaking the gate bumper and otherwise straining the gate. There was no lockfiller ahead of the boats and at the time our night lockkeeper was drawing off the water and the lock was ¾ full. The lockkeeper shouted for the steamer to stop. The boats were coming at such a pace that the tow rope broke and the butty crashed into the gate. Had the lock been empty the gate might have been knocked down. The butty boat had no fender on the fore end otherwise the damage might have been less. I would suggest Geo Jones be fined 10/- for the damage.
12.9.1917 …the Blisworth Tunnel SPIDER was towing the 3pm pull from Stoke Bruerne when Messrs Fellows Morton Clayton’s steamer ADMIRAL, P Littlemore, ran into the tug and bent the iron stem guard, crushed in the oak stem bar and sprung the sheering on top of the foredeck so that the tug will have to go into dock for the damage to be made good. . The collision occurred near the 2000 yard plate. The tug was against the tunnel wall on the offside (being her right side) and the ADMIRAL must have been across the tunnel. Both tug and steamer had sounded their whistles so the steerer knew of their proximity. Littlemore’s mate was steering and I understand the atmosphere was thick, but all the same the steamer should have kept its right side. I consider a claim should be made for the damage when the cost of repairs has been ascertained. I have not reported this to the General Manager
7.6.1918 I received your report together with plan with reference to Messrs Fellows Morton & Company’s steamer VICTORY and butty boat UNA running aground in the Stoke Pound and I will speak to you about this matter when I next see you. We have not yet received any notification of this from Messrs Fellows. Yates/Millner
23.8.1918 Letter re rule of the road “traffic working south must keep to the towpath side at both tunnels and north the offside”
8.11.1918 Sold Sunbeam motorcycle for £28
30.7.1920 T 9.51 am “Steamers PRESIDENT, KING and butties passed Cowley noon Friday Cargoes most urgent please arrange pass Buckby Braunston to clear Warwick stoppages” Anderson FMC/Millner
31.7.1920 T 11.20 am “Your memo to hand have instructed Norton Office to pass Fellows and Co boats on Sunday morning please make any necessary arrangements with regard to Braunston and Buckby Locks.” General Manager Waterway Estrand London (GJCC Office)/Millner
31.7.1920 I duly received your memo accompanying Messrs Fellows & Co’s letter and have this morning telegraphed you as follows:- Your memo to hand have instructed Norton Office to pass Fellows and Co boats on Sunday morning please make any necessary arrangements with regard to Braunston and Buckby Locks. Bliss/Millner
4.11.1920 Herewith I beg to enclose a report from the captain of the Braunston Tug, ststing that on November 2nd Messrs Fellows, Morton & Clayton’s steamer VULCAN, Captain J Wilkinson, towing Mr Faulkners pair of empty boats, Captain D Doughty, was passed by the Company’s Tug in the (Braunston) Tunnel near the last shaft, with the 6pm boats from the Welton End,. You will note that the last pull at Braunstion is 5pm. I presume as it was after the last pull nothing can be done in the matter? Millner/Bliss
25.11.1920 Referring to your letter of the 4th inst, I took up with Messrs Fellows Morton & Clayton the question of their steerer Wilkinson, Steamer VULCAN towing a pair of Mr Faulkner’s empty boats through the above tunnel, and enclose their reply received this morning, which, I think, will interest you. Bliss/Millner
5.1.1921 Paying 3/3d per gallon for petrol
4.11.1921 Re Waste of Water at Stoke Bruerne Locks. I beg to report that last night when Messrs Fellows Morton & Clayton’s steamer KING, Captain W Griffin, was working up the Stoke locks one of the crew left the inside bottom paddle up at Lock 16 and ran the long pound empty and it took 15locks of water to bring the pound up to a working level. Two motors and a pair of boats were delayed owing to the pound being empty.
Lock keeper Abbott was on duty from 10pm until6am this morning and he came over to me and reported that he worked up the locks from the bottom to lock 17 with the boats and them left hem and went on ahead to the top lock. At 12.30 am he passed the steamer through the top lock. After this he admits stopping in his hut at the top lock until he left duty at 6 am, and he went home without knowing the long pound was empty. When Lock keeper Inns came on duty at 6 am he had to run water before the traffic could work. Abbott expresses his regret for the neglect of duty. It is such a clear and serious case that I can find no excuse for him and it appears to me the only thing to do is discharge him and fine the boatman for leaving the paddle up. Awaiting your instructions. Millner/Yates
8.2.1922 I beg to report that on February 6th, Messrs Fellows Morton & Clayton’s steamer VICTORY, Steerer J Hough towed a pair of J Phipkins boats (owner and steerer) through Braunston Tunnel and they came out of the South end of the tunnel before the tug went in with the 5.30 pull. Phipkins did not take tug tickets. Millner/Bliss
22.12.1922 Boatman Sam Coales, working a pair of boats for the Moira Colliery, called here this morning and reported your steamer PRINCE (F Edward) for passing him in the Blisworth Pound at such a rate that he shipped a lot of water and was nearly swamped. He states this is by no means the first time such has occurred and I think it would be advisable to caution your ,men on the steamers. Millner/FMC
22.4.1923 I have to report to you that today Sunday one of Fellows Morton and Clayton Steamer named the EARL came up to the north end of the tunnel after the tug had started in the tunnel with five loaded boats in tow she came by all the boats and of course when they tried to get past the tug I told them that I should not let them go by as I was first in the tunnel and they would have to go back they whent abreast of the tug about a hundred yards past the wet pit the Captains name is Jones. F Warren/Millner
24.4.1923 Warren’s report is that on the 12.30 turn on Sunday he had 5 boats in tow and when he had got about 100 yards in FMC Steamer the EARL followed them in and wanted to pass but of course Warren would not give way to him. The Steamer caught the Tug up at about No 20 and when Jones the Captain found he could not pass he dropped back and asked Warren not to say anything about it it caused the tug to be 1¼ hours going through. ? /Millner
20.12.1923 EXTRA BUTTIES TO STEAMERS. I duly received yours of the 14th instant. At first blush I thought the
extra butties would be held to be under steam power and have preference under Bye Law 28. I presume , however, your contention is that after the steamer and butty had passed into the lock the extra butties would come under Bye Law 29. Be this as it may, I think the better way before taking any action will be to see if those butties are likely to continue. I should have thought the extra expense entailed by the steamer waiting at the locks would more than swallow up any benefit derived. With regard to your last paragraph, if Traders tow any boats through the tunnels beyond those belonging to them we will at once take the matter up with the offending parties on hearing from you. Bliss/Millner
23.4.1924 Great Linford Bank. Concrete Piles. I beg to report that on the 15th inst, about 1 pm Messrs Fellows Morton & Claytons steerer B Knibbs, motor boat “BRITAIN” (sic) going south, while passing a pair of Griffiths boats ran between the Company’s boat Daventry moored alongside the concrete piles which had just been backed up with concrete and knocked 13 piles back out of line. The boat Daventry shows a mark on the sternpost where hit but is not otherwise damaged. The motor had her cloths torn by the mooring chain of the Daventry. A girl was driving the motor at the time of the accident.
The only damage that I can see is that it has made a rough job look worse and we can make good when casting the coping. Millner/Yates
24.6.1924 Enclosed please find a report from Betts respecting Messrs Fellows Morton Clayton motor SULTAN towing three boats through Braunston Tunnel on Saturday 21st, while the tug was working. Starmer who was driving at ythe time, tells me he had started into the tunnel with the 12 oclock pull from Welton end with five boats in tow when Wright, who was steering saw the two empty boats coming through Welton Bridge, and although he waited for them to catch the tug they did not tie on to the last boat. Mr Mercer says that all three boats had taken out tug tickets and paid for them. C Harlow/Millner ((on holiday in Ramsgate)
21.3.1927 Re Stoppage at Lock No 8 Buckby. I have to report thet on March 13th J Boswell, motor COLONEL fouled the guard iron on the off side bottom gate and broke a piece out of the breast 5’ 3” x 6” x 2” and we had a four hours stoppage from 9 pm until 12 midnight to make good the damage. No delay to traffic occurred as the repairs were done after locking up hours.
I understand it was an accident that could not be avoided owing to the breast iron being loose. Millner/Yates
29.8.1927 This afternoon Messrs Fellows Morton & Claytons motor boat MONARCH, steerer W Huff, left here with Mr G Hatcher’s trunk addressed to Brentford, carriage forward. Perhaps you will pay the 2/6 carriage for Mr Hatcher. Millner/E Cherry GJCC Brentford

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