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Thomas Monk.....Canal Pioneer

PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2015 11:54 am
by mumbles
This Thomas Monk and his sons were boat builders and pioneers of Canal Transport in 19th Century ... i=13732863

Re: Canal Pioneer

PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2015 12:13 pm
by mumbles ... story.html

Most of our readers will have come across the term 'Monkey Boats' but few fully understand what the term implies. Monkey boats in fact played a very important part in the history of the canal system and linked the Black Country firmly to the rest of the country and, through the river and sea ports, with the furthest tendrils of the Empire.

Monkey boats are so named after Thomas Monk (let us call him Thomas I), who was born on 13th April 1765 to Thomas Monk senior at Lower Mitton, which was soon to be developed by that great pioneer of the canals, James Brindley, into the new inland port of Stourport On Severn. Nash's History of Worcestershire says of the place, "About 1766, where the River Stour empties itself into the Severn below Mitton, stood a little alehouse called Stourmouth: near this place Brindley has caused a town to be erected, made a port and dockyards, built a new and elegant bridge, established markets, and made it the wonder not only of this county but of the nation at large . . . Thus was the sandy barren common at Stourport converted, in the space of thirty years, into a flourishing, healthy and very populous village."
The fledgling town of Stourport at that time comprised little more than a few warehouses and workshops but it had the advantage of standing at the confluence of two rivers, the small Stour and the mighty Severn, the second busiest river in Europe, used from earliest times for the carriage of goods in and out of the burgeoning industrial area that would become the Black Country. In addition, James Brindley was soon to bring his genius to bear in providing, in the form of the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal, a solution to the problem of fluctuating water levels in the rivers and permit year-round navigation linking the major seaports and industrial towns.
Thomas Monk senior built barges for the Severn carriers - and it was an occupation that had supported his forebears for several generations; so the young Thomas I probably had his future career mapped out from birth. Eventually he married Sarah Jeffries from the nearby village of Ribbesford. and the couple lived for a while at Hartlebury, where they had two children, George and Thomas II. Thomas Monk I was an early entrepreneur and, recognising the opportunities presented by the rapidly-expanding canal network, he took his family first to Selly Oak and Smethwick and then on to Tipton where he set to work on building a veritable fleet of narrowboats, and a family of nine children. At the peak of its career the family company owned no less than 133 boats,all carrying the Monk name and a vast assortment of goods, commodities and people, all over the country.
All of Thomas's children also entered the business and many set up boatyards that took their name into other parts of the region; George (born 9 August 1788) at Wolverhampton and Netherton, Thomas II (born 27 February 1790) at Tipton and Caponfield, William (22 July 1792) at Selly Oak and Tardebigge, Edward (21 February 1794) at Smethwick, Joseph (26 December 1800) at Warwick and Stratford, John (22 May 1803) at Tipton, Samuel (3 June 1804) at Tipton and Bordesley, and James (14 April 1806) at Tipton. Even Thomas' daughter Elizabeth (30 September 1798) set up a boatyard at Berkhamstead in partnership with her husband (under the name of Hutton)!
Being based at Tipton, at the very heart of the canal network, the company's 'packet boats' were ideally placed to travel quickly and efficiently (for the age) to all parts. It obviously became clear to Thomas II from an early stage that the carriage of passengers was more profitable than cargo since it was to the former that he devoted his efforts. One of the company's best-known services was introduced about 1820 in the form of the packet boat 'Euphrates' that ran from Friday Bridge in Birmingham to Factory Bridge at Tipton in just 2 hours. In "White's Staffordshire' directory of 1834 appears an entry (which in some way presages today's text messaging) for "Thos. Monk, Jun's. packet boat from the Fountain Inn, Owen st. to Birmingham, Mon. Thu. & Sat. at 1/2 p.8 mng., and arr. 8 evening". The same directory shows that both Thomas Monks resided at the time on the Dudley Road at Tipton.
A descendant of the Monk dynasty recently visited the region from his home in Kuirindi, New South Wales, Australia, in an effort to find out more about his illustrious and industrious forebear. Tony Monk was born in Birmingham in 1932 but emigrated to Australia under the assisted passage scheme in 1967. He and his wife Mavis originally intended their visit to last for three weeks, but the fascination of the quest for details of the family's history led to their extending the trip on two occasions and the couple eventually spent eleven weeks here, returning to Australia on August 17th last year.
Tony was born on the 28th July 1932, to Eric and Nancy May Monk who lived on the Bristol Road at Selly Oak. He has traced his ancestry back through his grandparents, Oliver David Monk and Jeanetta (Bull) who had a confectionery shop also at Selly Oak, to George and Rebekah Monk of Weoley Park at Northfield. George Monk was the last to have pursued the family's historical trade as a boat builder, and he was the son of the William Monk mentioned earlier, (born to Thomas in 1792 at Hartlebury) and married to Mary Rudge at Rowley Regis.
Tony has discovered that some of the Monk family were at one time landholders in the area of the Harborne Reservoir. An area of land, together with the reservoir itself, was leased to the family by the Ledsam family until a compulsory purchase order took it out of their hands in 1960. Until that time, though, it appears that the Monk family continued to have a hand in the working of the local canals since their lock-keepers controlled the flow of water from the reservoir for boatyards and mills, and also supplied water to the Lapal canal.
Tony would love to hear from anyone who has connections with the Monk family or who has documents and photographs that might help him in discovering more about them. If you can assist, please contact us here at the Bugle office.

I have connected Thomas Monk to various Black Country Families on bcc

Re: Canal Pioneer

PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2015 5:10 am
by Northern Lass
do you want me to move this to social history section mumbles?

Re: Canal Pioneer

PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2015 10:06 am
by jac
Just wish they were connected to a Hall family -Stourport early 1800's ..two daughters married presuming Halls were possibly connected to the canals!


Re: Canal Pioneer

PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2015 2:01 pm
by mumbles
Please NL
I have connected most of Monk Family to others on BCC including a lot of Boat People