This memorial is to commemorate Michael’s life-long passion for the cargo- carrying canal fleet, which he admired throughout his life and the people who worked on them. If you are a canal enthusiast, you will recognise the carved image on the rear of the memorial. It shows the Motor boat “MOUNTBATTEN” towing the Butty “JELLICOE” approaching Bridge 14 (Mike’s favourite spot) with 48 tons of aluminium for Wolverhampton. Photo taken by Mike on 16/04/1965.
If you walk a short way to bridge 14, you will see a seat erected to his memory.
He was born in Brewood in 1934 at 21 Bargate Street but spent some of his early years in Africa because of his father’s work for the British Colonies as a veterinary surgeon and researcher into tsetse flies but returned to England just before the outbreak of the 2nd World War, in the last convoy from Africa to England with his mother and sister.
After taking his entrance exams, he was accepted into Brewood Grammar School where, although he practised several sports, science was his favourite subject. When he finished his A level studies, his science teacher recommended him for a position with Albright & Wilson, a chemical Company which sent him to Wolverhampton College. He worked for them for several years carrying out research on enzymes, discovering a new one used in washing powder which was patented by the Company. After obtaining his degree in chemistry, he concentrated in research. Later he worked for the Cannock Water Company as a researcher until it merged with the Severn Trent Water Authority where he worked for 32 years at their Burton on Trent and Derby branches.
His interest and admiration throughout Mike’s life for the cargo carrying canal fleet started at an early age when from the playing grounds he would hear the sound of the motor boat’s engines and once at the Grammar School, he used to walk from school from bridge 12 to bridge 14, which was close to his home. The Shropshire Union canal, the “Shroppie” and the boats were the love of his life.
His connection with canal photography began in the early 60s when he bought his first camera, and because he was living near the S.U.C. (Shropshire Union Canal). Parts of his collection are a valuable historical record of a way of life which played such an important role in the industrial revolution of the country and which has disappeared.
His large collection included photographs of the boats and the families who lived and worked aboard, mainly taken on the Shropshire Union Canal, Grand Union Canal and B.C.N.. Mike also started his archive which contains records and histories of commercial narrow boats belonging to Fellows Morton & Clayton Ltd., Thomas Clayton (Oldbury) Ltd., Grand Union Canal Carrying Company Ltd., Willow Wren and British Waterways World, collecting all his records and data from authentic and official sources. All this collection will be made available as soon as the Archiving is completed.