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This aerial image provides a little context for the Tipton Green area. Dating from the 1930’s the Birmingham Canal main line can be clearly seen running parallel to the right hand edge, Victoria Park is in the centre of the image and the streets abutting the Tipton Green Locks can be just made out crowding the upper right hand corner of the photo.

In a previous post (HERE) I described my latest research into Eli Aston the MAKER of our 1903 BCN day boat Eileen. This week’s update focuses on the person who ordered the fabrication of the boat in the first place, one Benjamin or Ben.Pearson.

Ben. Pearson came from a family closely associated with the canals of Tipton, with the 1851 Census recording the occupation of his father, also Benjamin Pearson (snr.) 29 as boatman. He’d been born in 1821, and in 1846 married (in Kingswinford, Staffs, 6 miles from Tipton) one Emma Hollies 24 (b.1826 Netherton). By 1851 they had two children Daniel 3, Hannah 1, with Eliza Hollis (niece) 13 working in the household as a General Servant.

Kingswinford Parish Church

By the 1861 Census the Pearson Snr. family were living in Union Street Tipton, Benjamin Pearson (Snr.) 38 still a Boatman with Emma 35, and their children (Daniel 13 it would seem was attending Townsend School, Kidderminster as a boarder), Hannah 11 scholar, Ben. 8, Mary Ann 6, Maud 4, David 3, Clara 3, and Alice 3 months. Eliza was still working for the family as a General Servant. Emma Pearson died in 1863 aged 37 years.

By the 1871 Census Benjamin Snr. 49 describes himself as contractor it seems likely that he was in fact a haulage contractor on the BCN. They lived at 4 Howl Place, Tipton literally on the towpath in the Tipton Green flight of locks

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Tipton Green Locks close to Howl Place…

Benjamin Snr. re-married in March 1871  to Mercy [?] (b. 1826 / d.1901) They married at Edgbaston Parish Church. Mercy took over the care of Ben. 18, Mary Ann 16, David 14 with the help of Esther Hood (niece) 26. [No mention is made of the other children that Benjamin had with Emma – though the 1871 Census hints that Daniel who’d have been 23 was working as a ‘chemist’s shopman’ in Broad Street, Worcester, so far I’ve been unable to confirm the fate of Maud 14, Clara 13 or Alice 10.]

Warwickshire, Edgbaston Parish Church

By the 1881 Census young Ben. Pearson 28 was established in his own right as a canal carrier. In April 1876 he’d married Mary A. Hollis 29 (b.1852) and had two young children, William Isaiah 4 and Arthur Benjamin 2. Emma Arnold 18 was employed as a General Domestic Servant. The family lived at 42 Waterloo Road, Tipton [By a bizarre turn of fate, the 1901 Census shows that Eli Aston later owned 42 Waterloo Road].

Also by the 1881 Census Benjamin Snr. now in his early sixties was describing himself perhaps more accurately as a boat contractor ins. [inshore], Mercy 55, David 24 iron founder, Clara 23, Alice 20. Emma Nagginton (granddaughter 8) and Mary Blakwell 23, General Servant also lived in the house at 4 Howl Place, Tipton.

Over the next decade (as confirmed by the 1891 Census) Ben. Pearson continued to work as a canal carrier and with Mary 39 his family grew, William Isaiah scholar 14, Arthur Benjamin 12 scholar, Florence 4 and May 10 months. The household maintained Mary Edwards 19 & Rose Harris 19 as General Domestic Servants. They had moved from 42 Waterloo Road to 15 Dudley Road, Tipton

Benjamin Pearson Snr. died in 1884 Mercy Pearson 65 and siblings David (34) and Clara (33) continued to live at 4 Howl Place, the Census somewhat cryptically noted that they were ‘living on own means’. They employed a domestic servant Emily Wheeler (21)

The 1901 Census (the nearest Census to the boat’s construction in 1903) records Ben. Pearson 48 still living at 15 Dudley Road, Tipton and working as a ‘Canal Carrier’ employer. Mary is 49, sons William aged 24 and Arthur 22 are both Commercial Clerks and daughters Florence (14) and May (10) also in residence. Elizabeth Griffiths aged 14 yrs. is employed as general domestic servant

This is seemingly a successful period of expansion and diversification for Ben. Pearson 58, who by the 1911 Census has moved ‘upmarket’ to a property called ‘Westlands’ 50 Sedgeley Road West, Tipton and described himself as a Mineral Merchant. Mary A. 59, Florence M 24 & May C 20 both single plus general domestic servant Kate Draper 22 live in the household.

[There’s a fascinating reference, in both the 1912 & 1916 Kelly’s Directory of Staffordshire, to a ‘Benjamin Pearson Marine Store Dealer 68 High Street, Prince’s End, Coseley’ but I’ve so far been unable to confirm whether or not this is the same Ben. Pearson.]

Benjamin Pearson died in December 1917 aged 65.

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