Inquest held at Rising Sun:
“P.C. Wackett getting into an upstairs window [discovered] that William Sheppard, a marine store dealer, had broken his neck by falling down stairs while intoxicated. The unfortunate man, who lived by himself, had the reputation of being a sad drunkard, and was known by the street boys under the nickname of ‘Cuckoo.’ A verdict of ‘Accidental death’ was returned.” (Bucks Herald, Jul 1883).
Timber Yard by canal – site to the right of lock was occupied later by Rising Sun public house (from Percy Birtchnell’s collection of photographs).
R. Brinklow takes us for a stroll in George Street in the 1930s:
“There were three coal merchants (Adams, Saunders and Olliffe) all doing good trade as everybody needed coal then. A rag-and-bone man, Mr. Howard and his sons, bought amongst other things rabbit skins and jam jars. The latter items were then sent off to a jam factory in Redbourne by the lorry load. There were five shops. Mr. Rance sold fruit, vegetables and sweets. He also had two ponies and carts with which he and another covered other parts of the town. Mr. Neighbour sold hardware, paraffin and so on. Mrs. Holland kept a general store, and Miss East a sweet shop. Mrs. Newbury also had a sweet shop and general stores. There was a blacksmith, Mr. Kempster, and a brush factory. Mrs. Adams, the coalman’s wife, was the local supplier of Sunday papers, even supplying the town’s shops with their quotas. She was an amazing lady really, as she was confined to lying on a sofa in the front room where she carried on her business. There was a chimney sweep and, of course, a public house, The Rising Sun run by Mr. Wollard.” (Berkhamsted Review, May 1996).
The commercial waterway in Berkhamsted:
“I have been thumbing through three large tomes, each entitled ‘Register of Canal Boats’… covering a period (1896-1907) when the Grand Junction Canal was still an important commercial waterway and Berkhamsted was one of its busy ports. The railway had not taken all the traffic away from the canal; timber, coal, building materials and other heavy goods still came by water, and the boats did not always go empty away, for Cooper’s and some other local firms favoured this form of transport. Some elderly readers may recall the stench of the boats which returned from London with manure for the farmlands of Hertfordshire. And we still had a boat-builder’s yard, started by John Hatton before Victoria was Queen and continued by the Costin family into the present century.” (Berkhamsted Review, Jun 1974).
Why “monkey boats”?
“The canal brought new economic activities to Berkhamsted, such as boat building. William Butler owned a boat called ‘The Berkhampstead Castle’, built by Messrs. Peacock and Willetts in the Castle boatyard in 1801. It was registered in 1802 in the Grand Junction gauging register as ’employed in the Hay and Coal Trade from Berkhampstead to London’. By 1823, John Hatton had taken over the boat yard at Castle Wharf which he ran with his wife Elizabeth. Her father Thomas Monk founded a dynasty of boat builders with his fleet of narrowboats in the Black Country, attributed ‘monkey boats’. Hatton later diversified into trading coal and salt – he remained at the boat yard for at least 55 years according to census and directory records.” (L. Rollitt, MSc dissertation).