Saturday, 21 September 2019

Memories from a man who used to work on tar boat runs

Day one of the Tipton Canal Festival turned out to be sunny, warm and busy. There was a constant stream of people walking past our BCF boat race game; most of the time it was just Jan and I running it. We were helped for a while by Trevor, who had driven from Stoke-on-Trent to see us.

Before the crowds arrived a man came over to say that he could remember the Halford Branch, the location name signwritten on our boat. He then told me that he was born on a boat, first steered aged five and worked with his family, the Tolleys, first for Fellows, Morton and Clayton, then for Thomas Clayton bringing tar from Ellesmere Port to Oldbury for distilling. He said that it took only 15 minutes for the tar to be pumped out of the boats. I wish there had been more time to talk to him as his memory was sharp (although I find it astonishing that tar could be pumped so quickly). His surname is Tolley but I can't remember his first name. Can anyone help?

I grabbed an opportunity to have a quick look round the festival in the morning and came across a mobile glass blower. Fascinating. I asked him one or two questions about his craft but he wouldn't give anything away. It worked by magic, he said.

We were at one end of the site, but this didn't seem to affect business.


Brian and Diana on NB Harnser said...

If you go to the red house glass museum on the Stourbridge flight, you can moor outside, they do glass blowing classes so you can blow your own vase

Brian and Diana on NB Harnser said...

I have found references to Jack Tolley on Canal World Forum but no connection to Tar Boats

Halfie said...

Ah - Jack. Yes, I think that's who he said he was. Thanks for the info you've sent Jan on Facebook.