This book explores the canal traffic generated by the railway interchange basins in the west Midlands. It is now a forgotten trade, but one which was very significant at the time.
Railway companies found that working with the canal proprietors increased traffic on their lines. Transhipment basins and wharves were established where goods could be transferred between boat and railway wagon. The peak years were between 1900 and 1910, where over a million tons were handled annually at these interchange points. This trade accounted for about a seventh of the total tonnage carried by the Birmingham Canal at that time.
Each railway company operated themselves, or through an agent, a boatage service which worked to a strict timetable. These railway, or station, boats were once common sights on the canal. Most craft were horse worked open wood or iron boats with no protection against the weather. It is remarkable that this type of boat and service continued through to 1958!
Although interchange basins existed elsewhere in the country, the largest concentration of basins was to be found in the West Midlands. Tom Foxon explains the factors responsible for the establishment of this trade, its development and final decline.
Originally published in 1998 as volume 2 in a series on industrial canals of the West Midlands, this is a new (but not updated) edition, published 25 years later.