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The Portishead Coal Boats: A History of Osborn and Wallis Ltd Bristol

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The Portishead Coal Boats: A History of Osborn and Wallis Ltd Bristol


Michael T. Winter

192 pages. 275x215mm. Printed on gloss art paper, casebound with colour laminated covers.

ISBN13 : 9781903599136

£19.95

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Cousins William Osborn and Humphrey Wallis combined their shipping interests in 1880 but it is for their activities from the 1920s onwards that the company is best remembered. By then trading as Osborn & Wallis Ltd, they started supplying coal to the new power station at Portishead, continuing an association with the electricity generating industry of the Bristol area which had begun around 1900. Operating from a yard and dock at Hotwells, their fleet of vessels daily plied across the Bristol Channel, loading coal at Newport Docks and at Ely Harbour near Penarth which they brought back to Portishead and Bristol. The book recounts the company's history in full, including a comprehensive fleet history, listing in some detail every vessel which Osborn & Wallis owned, from tiny wooden sailing trows to 1,800 ton deep sea tramp steamers, almost all of which are depicted in an array of historic photographs, accompanied by numerous GA drawings. Beginning as a Deck Boy in 1955, Michael Winter spent nine years working on the O&W boats and the second half of the book details his experiences with the company. In a highly readable account, he explains the intricacies of loading coal at Newport and Ely, the unloading process back at Portishead and the many problems involved with working across the difficult waters of the Bristol Channel. The narrative is well illustrated with a marvellous collection of photographs assembled by the author over many years. A final chapter looks at the history of the ships following cessation of O&W's operations in 1969 and the changes that have occurred at the places connected with the company. The author also remembers, in words and pictures, the men with whom he worked. For nearly fifty years, the 'coal boats' kept the power stations at Portishead supplied, through appalling weather and wartime tribulations, and this book pays tribute to the unstinting efforts of all those involved.

The Portishead Coal Boats: A History of Osborn and Wallis Ltd Bristol - Sample Images

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