The original “Midlands and Coast Canal Carriers” company was formed in 1921 when the Shropshire Union Carrying Company decided to withdraw from canal carrying and concentrate on their Railway operations. Ariel, along with her butty Taurus worked for the company primarily between Wolverhampton, Ellesmere Port and Manchester Docks carrying various cargoes.
In 1938, after 17 years of trading, Midlands & Coast Canal Carriers went into liquidation and the remaining fleet of boats were acquired by the large carrying concern of Fellows, Morton & Clayton Ltd. Ariel continued carrying under the new company for 10 years until nationalisation in 1948.
Ariel was then placed into the maintenance fleet, based in the North West at Northwich. Unfortunately at some point in the late 1960’s, the boat was cut in half to make two maintenance boats. The stern end (Ariel 1) was used primarily on the Trent & Mersey Canal, the fore end (Ariel 2) sank on the River Weaver but was never recovered.
In 1993, the stern half of Ariel passed into private ownership and in 2002 was rebuilt at Stockton Dry Dock in Warwickshire which included fabricating a new fore end and counter, new bottom and new cabin and engine room. In 2005 the current Lister HA2M engine was installed into the boat and the back cabin fitted by Brinklow Boat Services near Rugby.
Ariel was acquired by the present owner in May 2009, and went back to work under the trading name of Longford Canal Services at the start of Winter 2010. Initially providing coal and smokeless fuels, due to demand, we soon added tanks and a forecourt style pump to supply red diesel, with Calor gas and other consumables being added shortly after. We were initially based from Sale, but moved to a new mooring in Leigh in 2019, until finally acquiring the historic wharf at Preston Brook from where we now base our operations.
Unfortunately, the back cabin and parts of the engine room were badly damaged in a fire in May 2018. Ariel was therefore removed from service to allow rebuilding to commence and the loan of the boat “Bellatrix” took over the role of providing the service Ariel had.
In July 2018, the opportunity to acquire the original company name of Midlands & Coast Canal Carriers arose. With the rebuilding of Ariel taking place, it was a suitable time to rebrand the company. This took place during July 2018.
We’re happy to report that Ariel returned to service in August 2019.