Family History – a link to the Cromford Canal

In the late 1990’s a chance conversation with my paternal grandmother brought to light a previously unknown family link with the Cromford Canal, Derbyshire.

My great, great grandfather had, in her words, ‘come off the boats’ to work in the coal yard at Cromford Wharf. He had gradually risen at Wheatcroft’s, who owned the Coal Wharf, to the position of yard foreman. She remembered him living in a house, still existing I think, at the wharf.

Despite searches in the local history archive at the County Archives in Matlock, and a later e-mail enquiry to Hugh Potter author of ‘The Cromford Canal’, I was unable to confirm whether or not an Allen did indeed work on the canal.

However, access to Census information has now provided much more information…

The 1871 Census record shows a William Allen of Scarthin Nick, Cromford, Derbyshire a ‘Beer House Keeper’ having a son John Allen, then aged 23yrs. ‘Boatman’. [A second, younger son with the wonderful name Galaliel Allen was also recorded as being a Boatman.]

In the 1881 Census John Allen, of Scarthin Nick, Cromford now married to Jane Allen, is recorded as being a ‘Fishmonger’.

Whilst in the 1901 Census, John Allen is recorded as being 53 yrs. old and a ‘Canal Ganger’ [or foreman] living at ‘Coal Wharf, Cromford’. He died at Shardlow in March 1922 aged 73 yrs.


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