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LMS Route: Evesham to Birmingham

Kings Heath Station: mrkh734

A Gloucester Railway Carriage & Wagon Company Ltd 10 ton, 7 plank, mineral wagon owned by CP Perry & Son

A Gloucester Railway Carriage & Wagon Company Ltd 10 ton, 7 plank, mineral wagon owned by CP Perry & Son. The absence of a station on the wagon was probably because they had a presence at several stations being listed at Camp Hill between 1926 and 1933 and at Kings Heath in 1938. The company had been in business since 1912 and was to last until 1966. This was the only wagon built by the Gloucester Railway Carriage & Wagon Company for CP Perry & Son.

CP Perry

by Keith Turton

In size this company was on the third rung from the top of the ladder of Birmingham coal factors and merchants.: The top level was held by the three giants of the trade, Evesons, J.C. Abbott & Co. and Wilson Carter and Pearson. Next came three others, substantial by any means, in Spencer Abbott, Alexander Comley and Lunt Bros. On the third rung down was a cluster of several who, not to be compared in size as those already listed, ran substantial trading operations from numerous depots scattered around the coal sidings of both of the constituents of the LM&S railway and to a lesser extent the Great Western. Firms like C.P.Perry, Leonard Leigh, Thomas Mottishead, Frank Knight and Lawrence Miller, although names not too familiar, could also be found in the records of the Coal Buying Committee of the Corporation of the City of Birmingham, participating in the lucrative trade that was offering through competitive tendering. Continuity in trade is confirmed by entries covering six years from 1934 to 1939.

Charles P. Perry & Son whose only known new wagon to be recorded is illustrated here, obviously operated a reasonable sized fleet. Three further wagons were built by the Birmingham RC&WCo. in 1924 and numbered 212-214 (others may have been either hired or acquired second hand. Perry traded mainly with Cannock Chase collieries, particularly Brereton, but also sourced anthracite from the Pontyberem Colliery in south Wales, which would most likely have been delivered in the colliery's own wagons. Although trading was mainly with Cannock Chase collieries with access mainly to formerly L&NWR lines, Perry's depots were mainly on the lines of the former Midland Railway.

The company remained in family hands and traded until at least 1938, and after the war until it was voluntarily wound up in 1979 The 1934 contracts awarded to Perry follow:

Department Tonnage Origin
Public Assistance Committee 35 Netherseal
Erdington House 3,850 Brereton
Maryhill Colony 950 Brereton
Schools 1,500 Griff
Fire stations 260 Brereton
Chief Constable's 490 Brereton
Mental Hospitals 2,000 Brownhills
  2,000 Pooley Hall
Tramways 200 Brereton

This totals 11,285 tons, 220 tons a week or 22-25 wagon loads.

Netherseal was in south Derbyshire and Brereton near Rugeley in Staffordshire. Pooley Hall and Griff were both Warwickshire collieries, Brownhills was in Cannock Chase Assuming Perry's own wagons were used, a fleet of at least fifty would be needed. And this is for one contract. Merchants of similar size usually included a selection of consumers from the known 3,000 industrial plants estimated to have been based in Birmingham.

Just as an aside some of the conditions of contract have to be read to be believed. Thomas Mottesheads contract with Westerly house for Brownhills coal carried the following directive. "delivered by canal boats and unloaded immediately. Coal (has) been thrown alongside the canal and allowed to remain for a time, then loaded into lorries and carted to the boiler house or stack. Very hard on weighbridge. Contractor paid when weighed." Imagine this in the 21st century!