Chester from north Wales, and could obviously compete with those coming down the canal from Llangollen — perhaps the quality was higher. Kelp (seaweed) was used as a fertiliser and also had industrial uses. Although the list largely comprises agricultural products and timber, that is, traffic going out, records for other wharves serving towns show that it is probable that more goods for Wem came in than were dispatched. The Ellesmere Canal Company and its successor, the Ellesmere & Chester, were sensitive to issues of supply and demand and public pressures. For example, in 1816 the tonnage on grain, malt and flour boated from Edstaston to Chester was reduced from 2d to 1½d per ton per mile ‘upon this express condition that the traders charge no more than ten shillings per ton for the freight of these articles’. By ‘freight’ the company almost certainly meant the amount for carriage excluding the tonnage of 4s.10½d for the 39 mile journey, whereas the reference to ‘freight’ in Whittle’s advertisement included the tonnage.
Edstaston Wharf, with the line of the canal in the foreground Photo: Peter Brown
The products of the iron foundries of east Shropshire (now the Telford area) came by road to Edstaston, where they were transferred to a boat to be taken to Ellesmere Port then across to Liverpool. This traffic ended in 1835, when the Birmingham & Liverpool Junction Canal opened, and canal transport could be used for the whole journey via Wappenshall, Norbury Junction and Nantwich.
The Ellesmere Canal had originally been intended to join Shrewsbury to Chester but the last eleven miles from Weston Lullingfields to Shrewsbury were never built, the company having exhausted its funds. In 1817 Thomas Telford was asked to appraise a horse-drawn tramroad connection from Edstaston to Shrewsbury, but he thought it would not cover its costs. Pigot’s 1835 directory entry for Shrewsbury states that Peter Hilton provides a daily carrier service from his warehouse in Bridge Place to Edstaston wharf, meeting Swanwick & Co’s fly-boats for Liverpool and Manchester, an example of integrated logistics. Richard Stedman also provided a carrier service from his house in Mardol to Edstaston wharf three or four times a week. Curiously, the entry for Wem does not mention Swanwick & Co — the canal carriers are given as Fairhurst, Tilston & Co and Turton & Co, both of whom provided a daily service.
Shroppie Fly Paper
Shroppie Fly Paper is the newsletter of the Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch of The Inland Waterways Association.