The Magazine of Lenton Local History Society

Lenton Times Issue 1 - October 1988

Family Business

Bryan Bailey is one of that growing tribe of people interested in tracing their family history. Once the ancestors have been allotted branches on the family tree, Bryan then tries to find out more about them. One of his distant relatives was William Clayton who established a business beside the canal at Old Lenton. On his death it passed to William Pearson, Bryan's great grandfather. Below Bryan briefly relates what he has so far discovered.

The canal and Clayton's Wharf in about 1950.Photograph courtesy of Nottinghamshire County Library Service.See in Lightbox

The canal and Clayton's Wharf in about 1950.
Photograph courtesy of Nottinghamshire County Library Service.

It was probably during the 1860s that William Clayton started up in business for himself. He had suffered an accident while employed on building work for the Nottingham and Derby Railway. This accident had meant the loss of an arm and led to him being known as 'Nubby' Clayton. A collection had been made on his behalf and he was given a donkey and cart. This gave him the start he needed to build up a thriving coal and timber business, eventually owning a number of horses and carts, canal barges and the site of his operations - Clayton's Wharf, just off Gregory Street.

William Clayton died in 1893 and in his will he left the wharf to his nephew William Pearson (my great grandfather). He left 'all my stock of timber, tools, boats, horses, carts, railway wagons and all my stock in trade as a coal dealer and timber merchant.... all my adjoining coal wharf, blacksmith's shop, wheelwright's shop and other premises there...'. William Pearson extended the wharf and established a boat building yard there. Trevethick's boat building business, started in 1895 at Gainsborough, moved to the canal wharf in 1903 and took over the boat yard. William Pearson died in 1913 but didn't leave the wharf to my grandfather, who was also called William, as he had left the business by this time in order to take up farming. Instead two other sons inherited. It then remained in the Pearson family until the 1930s when the Nottingham Canal was taken over by the Trent Navigation Co.

About two years ago I had a letter published in The Lenton Listener asking if anyone had information on the Clayton or Pearson families, or indeed about the wharf itself. Two people subsequently contacted me. One was a long lost relative who proved very helpful with information concerning the Pearson family. The other was a gentleman who telephoned while I was on holiday to say that he had an oil painting of Clayton's Wharf that I might like to see. This gentleman did not leave a name or telephone number and sadly did not phone back later. If he's reading this, I should be delighted if he would contact me again!

If anyone else can help with my researches, do please get in touch by contacting Lenton Local History Society or Lenton Times. I am always pleased to visit Nottingham to talk to people about the wharf and its history and to look at old photographs etc.

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