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LMS Route: Nuneaton to Leamington

Coventry Gas Works & Bedlam Lane Crossing

E Gammie

Foleshill Gas Works occupied a forty acre site on the western side of Coventry Canal between New Inn Bridge (No 8) and Judd's Lane Bridge (No 9). The production site was to the south-east of the Coventry-Nuneaton railway and the gasholders were to the north-west. From 1820 Coventry's gas supply had been delivered from a site at Gas Street, near the city centre, firstly by a private company, then from 1884 as a Coventry Corporation undertaking. By the end of the 19th century it was struggling to meet increased demand from industry and in 1898 the Corporation purchased land at Foleshill on which the new coal gas works were constructed and opened in 1909. The Corporation later purchased the Undertakings of the Kenilworth (1927) and Bedworth (1930) Gas Companies and gas was supplied to those areas from the Foleshill Works. By 1937 it was described as 'equipped with the most modern plant for the manufacture of gas and by-products resulting from the Carbonization of coal' and at that time about 40% of the total output was taken by industry (Coventry Official Handbook 1937).

Gas production was nationalised by the Gas Act of 1948 and the Coventry area came under the control of West Midlands Gas Board. By 1972 coal gas production at the site had ceased and the Coventry Canal Society's booklet of that year, 'Coventry's Waterway', described the gas works as 'a shadow of its former self'. The gas holders remained and took gas supplied from Tipton. A 1984 version of the same booklet has a description of the site when in production as having 'boxed in conveyor belts, cooling towers, tanks and gas holders' as well as its own railway system on an oval loop, worked by 3 saddle tank engines. Coal was delivered and by-products such as tar, coke and clinker were removed by canal. Later, the gasometers were removed, with the last one being demolished in 2002 and, after ground decontamination, the site was redeveloped into the Arena retail park and Ricoh stadium.

Coal Consumption

by Keith Turton

The amount of coal consumed varied from year to year and the coal contracts were usually recorded in the company minutes. A random sample for 1925 is detailed below. A copy of the original summary is in my possession, but is a very poor reproduction from a badly faded typewritten page. It is highly unusual for a gasworks of this size to divide its supply from twenty-two different sources, ten to twelve would be the most likely distribution.

Contractor Tonnage Originating Colliery
Yorkshire Collieries
J.C. Abbott & Co, Birmingham 7,000 Waleswood
Sheffield Coal Co, Sheffield 4,000 Birley
W. Fletcher & Co, Leeds 4,000 Howden
Clough Lunt Bros, Birmingham 17,000 Nunnery
Jonathan Longbotham, Sheffield 4,000 Barnborough
Thomas Cash, Birmingham 20,000 Barnsley Main
James Beswick, Manchester 9,000 Maltby
Bradbury & Sons, London 2,000 Yorkshire Main
Walter Moore Ltd, London 6,000 Lofthouse
Northern Coal Co 10,000 Low Laithes
Alexander Comley Ltd, Birmingham 2,000 Old Silkstone
F. Jervis & Co 10,000 Thorncliffe
United Steel Corporation, Rotherham 5,000 Rothervale
Midland Coal and Coke Co 5,000 Denaby
Derbyshire Collieries
Jonathan Longbotham, Sheffield 9,000 Clay Cross
Lunt Bros, Birmingham 2,000 Ormonde
J & G Wells, Chesterfield 10,000 Eckington
Wilson Carter and Pearson, Birmingham 5,000 Shirland
G & J Eveson, Birmingham 5,000 Staveley
Nottinghamshire Colliery
F. Jervis & Co 6,000 Bentinck
Staffordshire Collieries
Wilson Carter and Pearson, Birmingham 3,000 Birchenwood
Midland Coal and Iron Co, Apedale 5,000 Apedale

This totals 150,000 tons by contract, and additional spot purchases were made at the Birmingham Coal Exchange. It represents 3,000 tons of coal a week, if all of it was delivered by rail that indicates 300 wagon loads a week or a trainload every day. Some of the contractors listed above are unknown to this author, although most are names that are very well known throughout the industry.

The contract for supply from the Low Laithes Colliery deserves comment, little is known of the Northern Coal Co. The same colliery was represented in the previous year by the disreputable London contractor Montague Smith, a representative of a family well known but best forgotten in the coal trade. It is unlikely that any of this coal would have been delivered by canal due to the remoteness of the colliery of origin, with the exception of the two Staffordshire collieries shown above. However canal traffic carried by-products such as coke until the 1940's.

The illustration of the line of coal wagons in the company's rail interchange siding highlights the frustration in researching Private Owner rail wagons. No ownership of the two wagons lettered 'U M' can be found. The three wagons of the Swanwick Colliery near Ripley in Derbyshire may have been delivering coal ordered on the spot market, that colliery is not recorded among the regular suppliers to the gasworks.

Coventry Gas Works Locomotives

(information from Robert Ferris)

After May 1949 this site became: British Gas Corporation (West Midlands Region, Warwickshire Division) Coventry Works, Foleshill.

Standard Gauge Locomotives

Locomotive Type Manufacturer Works No Date Built Acquired Disposal
No 1 0-4-0ST WG Bagnall Ltd, Castle Engine Works, Stafford 1738 May 1906 1906 Scrapped on site by Sheppards (Coals & Metals) Ltd (February 1963)
No 2 0-4-0ST WG Bagnall Ltd, Castle Engine Works, Stafford 1959 1912
Rebuilt by Woodwards, Marton, Warwickshire in 1952
1912 Scrapped on site by Sheppards (Coals & Metals) Ltd (October 1964)
No 3 0-4-0ST WG Bagnall Ltd, Castle Engine Works, Stafford 2286 February 1926 1925 Scrapped on site by Sheppards (Coals & Metals) Ltd (July 1965)
No 4 0-4-0ST WG Bagnall Ltd, Castle Engine Works, Stafford 2674 September 1942 1942 Sold to Birds Commercial Motors Ltd, Long Marston (August 1972)
No 1 0-4-0ST Peckett & Sons Ltd, Atlas Locomotive Works, Bristol 1854 February 1932 1932 Scrapped by Cashmores Ltd, Gt Bridge (March 1969)
20 0-4-0ST Peckett & Sons Ltd, Atlas Locomotive Works, Bristol 2032 November 1942 1942 Ex Swan Village Works, 26th August 1964
Sold to Cashmores Ltd, Great Bridge for scrap March 1969

In 1966 the Warwickshire Railway Society wrote:

A Ruston 88DS (four wheel diesel shunter, Wks No.284844, built July 1950) now performs most of the work with Peckett No.20 (Wks No.2032) as spare locomotive. Peckett No.1 (Wks No.1854) is stored out of use and is unlikely to work again.

Sheppards (Coals and Metals) Limited

Sheppards (Coals and Metals) Limited, Coventry, were not only scrap metals merchants but also coal merchants on a medium scale, From what little information is available emerging in the 1930's from the Warwickshire business of the colliery owners J. and N. Nadin, owners of the Stanton Colliery near Swadlincote, Derbyshire with a widespread retail trade in Birmingham, Coventry and Worcestershire.

The company also operated a wagon fleet, the solitary references are in the wagon registers record the transfer that of some of J and N Nadim wagons which were repainted. A model has been produced that can be replicated by using transfers made by Powsides (www.pwesides.co.uk) their cartalogue number is 171. Trading as Sheppards Coals Ltd, the very descriptive lettering on the wagon side shows that they were successors to J. & N. Nadin and Co. Ltd and that branches were located at Coventry, Leamington,(Avenue station) Warwick and Kenilworth. From the model, the source of which is not known, they were painted red with white letters shaded black.

An image of the Sheppard Coal wagon wagon made up from transfers by Powsides
Ref: misc_kt386
Powsides
An image of the Sheppard Coal wagon wagon No 308 made up from transfers by Powsides

Bedlam Lane Crossing

Ex-LNWR Gate Keepers Crossing Cottage on the right hand side of Bedlam Lane which led to the old bone mill
Ref: misc_covgas3049
C Allbright
Ex-LNWR Gate Keepers Crossing Cottage on the right hand side of Bedlam Lane which led to the old bone mill
Looking south from Bedlam Lane crossing towards Lythalls Lane bridge with the new industrial units on the right
Ref: misc_covgas3205
C Allbright
Looking south from Bedlam Lane crossing towards Lythalls Lane bridge with the new industrial units on the right
The ex-LNWR timber built Crossing Keeper's Hut located on Bedlam Lane crossing during the Winter of 1971
Ref: misc_covgas3204
C Allbright
The ex-LNWR timber built Crossing Keeper's Hut located on Bedlam Lane crossing during the Winter of 1971
Close up showing the method of securing crossing timbers for road vehicles at Bedlam Lane crossing during the Winter of 1971
Ref: misc_covgas3208
C Allbright
Close up showing the method of securing crossing timbers for road vehicles at Bedlam Lane crossing
Detailed close up of the level crossing gates at Bedlam Lane looking north towards Nuneaton
Ref: misc_covgas3220
C Allbright
Detailed close up of the level crossing gates at Bedlam Lane looking north towards Nuneaton

Looking north from Bedlam Lane crossing towards Nuneaton with the Gasometers on the left hand side during the Winter of 1971
Ref: misc_covgas3207
C Allbright
Looking north from Bedlam Lane crossing to Nuneaton with the Gasometers on the left hand side
Bedlam Lane Crossing Gate Keeper, Mr Gurney, poses for the camera in front of one of the level crossing gates
Ref: misc_covgas256
H Addison
Bedlam Lane Crossing Gate Keeper, Mr Gurney, poses for the camera in front of one of the level crossing gates
An early map showing the boundary of the Coventry to Nuneaton Railway and Bedlam Lane Crossing and Gate House
Ref: misc_covgas259
P Lee
Map showing the boundary of the Coventry to Nuneaton Railway and Bedlam Lane Crossing and Gate House

Coventry Gasworks and Sidings

Bagnall 0-4-0ST No 1 is seen working hard shunting empty seven plank wagons in Coventry Gasworks' sidings
Ref: misc_covgas2079
Anon
Bagnall 0-4-0ST No 1 is seen working hard shunting empty seven plank wagons in Coventry Gasworks' sidings
View of Coventry Gasworks with the sidings on the left and the gasometers on the right and signal box in the distance
Ref: misc_covgas131
G Coltas
View of Coventry Gasworks with the sidings on the left, the gasometers on the right and signal box in the distance
Close up showing an unidentified Bagnall 0-4-0ST locomotive paused between duties at Coventry Gasworks
Ref: lnwrf131a
G Coltas
Close up showing an unidentified Bagnall 0-4-0ST locomotive paused between duties at Coventry Gasworks
Ex-LMS 2-6-2T No 40157 is seen at the head of a five-coach service between Nuneaton and Coventry
Ref: misc_covgas1480
AW Flowers
Ex-LMS 2-6-2T No 40157 is seen at the head of a five-coach service between Nuneaton and Coventry
Ex-LMS 2-8-0 8F No 48258 is seen running tender first past Foleshill gasometers whilst at the head of a coal train
Ref: misc_covgas1479
AW Flowers
Ex-LMS 2-8-0 8F No 48258 is seen running tender first past Foleshill gasometers whilst at the head of a coal train

View of Coventry Gasworks' single road engine shed located alongside the water tank
Ref: misc_covgas229
P Lee
View of Coventry Gasworks' single road engine shed located alongside the water tank
Schematic diagram showing the layout of Three Spires Junction with the Loop Line exiting off the up line
Ref: misc_covgas3051
C Allbright
The remains of what was part of the coke plant within Coventry Gas works as seen during the winter of 1971
A distant view across to the old coking plant with Coventry Gas Work's Gasometers to the rear in the Winter of 1971
Ref: misc_covgas3203
C Allbright
A distant view across to the old coking plant with Coventry Gas Work's Gasometers to the rear in the Winter of 1971
Looking towards Nuneaton with Coventry Gas Works sidings to the right of the photographer located on the up line circa 1910
Ref: lnwrf3398
Anon
Looking towards Nuneaton with the Gas Works sidings to the right of the photographer located on the up line
One of Coventry Gas Works' little four-wheeled Bagnall locomotives stands adjacent to one of the water towers
Ref: misc_covgas257
M Billington
One of Coventry Gas Works' little four-wheeled Bagnall locomotives stands adjacent to one of the water towers

Another of Coventry Gas Works' 0-4-0ST Bagnall locomotive stands in steam alongside one of the workshops
Ref: misc_covgas258
M Billington
Another Coventry Gas Works' 0-4-0ST Bagnall locomotive stands in steam alongside one of the workshops
Mr Shaw seen just prior to diesel power being introduced at the Gas Works, stands in front of the last steam engine
Ref: misc_covgas351
CET
Mr Shaw seen just prior to diesel power being introduced at the Gas Works, stands in front of the last steam engine
John Shaw is seen with his fireman Snowy at Coventry Gas Works carrying out some maintenance work
Ref: misc_covgas352
CET
John Shaw is seen with his fireman Snowy at Coventry Gas Works carrying out some maintenance work
Coventry Corporation Gas Department Wagon No 161
Ref: kt345
Cusworth Hall Collection
Coventry Corporation Gas Department Wagon No 161 built by Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Company

Ordnance Survey Maps, Schematics and Trackplans

Ordnance Survey Map  revised 1923 dated 1926 of Coventry Gas Works and Longford station
Ref: misc_covgas230
National Library of Scotland
Ordnance Survey Map revised 1923 dated 1926 showing Coventry Gas Works and Longford station
Ordnance Survey Map  revised 1936 and dated 1936 of Coventry Gas Works and Longford station
Ref: misc_covgas231
National Library of Scotland
Ordnance Survey Map revised 1936 and dated 1936 showing Coventry Gas Works and Longford station
Ordnance Survey Map  revised 1912 dated 1919 of Coventry Gas Works and Longford station
Ref: misc_covgas232
National Library of Scotland
Ordnance Survey Map revised 1912 dated 1919 showing Coventry Gas Works and Longford station
A schematic drawing showing the stations and a variety of works sidings which connected with the Nuneaton branch line
Ref: misc_covgas133
Michael Rutherford
A schematic drawing showing the stations and a variety of works sidings which connected with the Nuneaton branch line
LNWR trackplan of Coventry Corporation Gas Works Sidings at Foleshill on the Nuneaton to Leamington line
Ref: lnwr_track3372
B Hickman
LNWR trackplan of Coventry Corporation Gas Works Sidings at Foleshill on the Nuneaton to Leamington line