Saturday, 20 March 2010

On the Trail of Fellows Morton and Clayton

If you find yourself with a free afternoon in Birmingham there's plenty of scope to pass the time with a bit of canal exploration. I started at Warwick Bar, where the Grand Union (or Warwick & Birmingham Canal if you prefer) meets the Digbeth Branch of the B.C.N.
Many people will be familiar with this view of the area, with the stop lock - now kept chained open - and the distinctive building with the curved corner wall behind it.
Warwick Bar
But I wonder how many people have seen this view of the building, showing its having once been owned by that famous canal carrier, Fellows Morton and Clayton
FMC Warehouse at Warwick Bar, seen from Fazeley Street

Fellows Morton and Clayton went into voluntary liquidation in 1947, having made a small trading loss for the year but no doubt having seen the writing on the wall as the economics of transport moved against the canals. Their name is still be be seen on the cut, on the cabin sides of many of their old boats that have survived, and on quite a few canalside buildings too.The Fazeley Street edifice is apparently listed as being of local significance.
Next door is Warwick Wharf. There's a very well-known photograph that appears in many places showing the aftermath of a German air attack on the wharf in 1940 which sank at least four narrowboats from the FMC fleet. I haven't been able to find a copy on the 'net to post or link to here but, the site is recognisable today - now home to a couple of modern narrowboats.
There is public access to the wharf from Fazeley Street and at the entrance you can see these delightful "canal era" buildings, which are invisible from the canal itself.

From Fazeley Street to Gas Street Basin is "3.9 kilometres" if you "do the maths" on the BW signposts that line the canals in central Birmingham, and it made  a very interesting and pleasant walk back to the city centre. 


外太空 said...


Starcross said...

My thoughts exactly