Several old limekilns are
marked on the 1902 Ordnance survey map, near the
northern end of Old Limekiln Wharf. Limestone to
feed the kilns would have been transported to the
wharf on narrow boats from some of the many quarries
in the Black Country. Pigot & Company’s Directory of
1842 and White’s 1851 Staffordshire Directory both
list a lime burner at Horseley Fields by the name of
John Ellis, so presumably he was based at the wharf.
It appears that the lime kilns were still in use in
the 20th century. The 1902 Wolverhampton
Red Book includes the following entry:
– James Baker, Horseley Fields
Lime Merchant – James Baker,
By 1908 the business is listed
as lime merchants only, so the limekilns may no
longer have been in use at that time.
For many years Limekiln Wharf was owned by members
of the Dyke family. I must thank Jo Skidmore, Aubrey
Dyke's granddaughter, for the following information,
which brings the story of the wharf, almost
In the 1940s the
wharf was owned by Elijah Dyke, his son Aubrey, and
a third party. Elijah had a number of canal boats
which operated from the wharf. At least three of his
boats were 'Ampton' boats, for use on the
Wolverhampton level of the BCN.
'Ampton' was the boater's name
for Wolverhampton. Because there were no locks along
the Wolverhampton level, it was possible to use
longer and wider boats on this section, which
stretched from the Wyrley and Essington at
Wolverhampton, through to the Cannock Arm, and to
Factory Junction at Tipton. Large quantities of coal
were transported along the canal from the mines at
Cannock to the wharves at Wolverhampton. The boats,
also known as 'wharf boats' could carry a load of 45
to 50 tons. They were built of wood and usually had
a day cabin.
This type of boat
would have been ideal for Elijah, who owned several
coal mines, including Bradley Mine. Three of his
boats were as follows:
Date of gauge
2in. x 7ft. 7in.
Down And Out
7in. x 7ft. 8.5in.
4in. x 7ft. 8in.
The boats were named after
Elijah's children, Aubrey, Florence, and possibly
Patricia. It is believed that 'Down And Out' was
originally called 'Patricia', but later renamed,
after Patricia's death in her 20s.
When Elijah retired in March 1945, his business
passed-on to his son Aubrey Dyke. Aubrey used part
of the wharf for his own business, and rented the
other buildings to several small business owners. A
surviving valuation document from January 1954 lists
the tenants as follows;
Mr. White, who occupied 110
square yards, Mr. Tonks, who occupied 290 square
yards, Mr. Penny, who occupied 772 square yards, and
Mr. Saunders, who occupied 396 square yards.
One problem with the site was the road access from
Lower Horseley Fields, through a railway bridge with
a very low arch. Because of this, all of Aubrey's
trucks had low beds. Sadly Aubrey died in 1959 at
the young age of 56. His wife inherited the wharf
and continued to collect rents from the tenants,
possibly until the late 1970s, after which she sold
it to Mr. Penny.
Ivan, remembers his father's coal wharf, and two
separate brass foundries, run by Mr. Saunders and
Mr. Tonks respectively. The furnaces were in the
ground, in the yard. Mr. Penny cast fence posts and
other concrete items in his part of the wharf.
Some of the small
buildings that stood between the two wharves still exist, but are now derelict.