– working

– synecdoche

– resume

– contact
[a small] MONUMENT to John Fennyhouse Green, Stourport Canal Basins July 2006

© David Patten 2006

To express the first layer of the Canal Basins’ site palimpsest by memorialising four actions undertaken by John Fennyhouse Green, Under Clerk to the S&W Canal Co., in late 1768 and early 1769.

In summary, these four actions are:

#1. First Site Visit
1st November 1768 (probably)

#2. Locating the Basins at Lower Mitton
2nd November 1768

#3. Locating the River lock.
2nd November 1768

#4. Levelling Survey of Mr Acton’s Field
19th January 1769

This proposal sets out early thinking on the fourth action (Levelling Survey of Mr Acton’s Field of 19th January 1769), although, in design terms, the other earlier actions are implied.

The proposal takes an historicist approach to interpretation, ie. it tells the story of local conditions and peculiarities that influenced the creation of the Canal Basins in a decisive way. As such, the proposal should be understood in terms of the Ancient Greek ‘historia’, meaning “a learning or knowing by inquiry, history, record, or narrative”.

Who was John Fennyhouse Green?

Very little is known about John Fennyhouse Green. He worked with Samuel Simcock on the levelling work at Tettenhall Bridge on 22nd July 1766 [ref. SRO MF79/6], and his appointment as Under Clerk to the S&W Canal Co. was confirmed on 17th March 1767 – at an annual salary of £50 paid monthly and subsequently increased to £80 on 15th September 1767.

As assistant to the Clerk of Works, John Baker, Green’s tasks would have been some or all of the following:

“...to attend the works and see that everything is executed pursuant to the surveyor’s direction to measure the works to enter all contracts for work to give in Bills and Accounts to be settled by the Committee and when approved by them to pay the Bills and Money or rent for the lands to be purchased and keep the account to be passed by the Committee and then deposited with the Clerk to the Proprieters.” [ref. SRO MF79/1]

Although ‘history’ has forgotten John Fennyhouse Green, surviving documentation (primarily Stafford Record Office) indicates that he carried out an incredible range of specialist tasks – all of which he recorded in great detail. He made site visits and undertook surveys and levelling work, he attended key meetings and managed Brindley’s Order Books, he kept his own ‘Day Books’ (these diarise the setting out and construction of the canal and basins and provide the only detailed day to day account of the work), he managed the ‘Cutting Accounts’ and dealt with land purchase and compensation to land owners. All in all, John Fennyhouse Green was someone special.

It is also likely that John Fennyhouse Green was responsible for identifying Lower Mitton as the best location for the basins. In his Day Book for late October/1st November 1768, Green arrives at “Mr Price’s at Stour’s Mouth” (now the Angel Inn) and asks crucial ‘what if’ questions as he walks the fields – “If canal is bro’t above... If Bason is made there...”. And concludes, “To appearance the Land from Lower Mitton lies equally well for cutting for the canal whether bro’t below or above Mr Price’s House.” This was certainly the decision made by James Brindley and Sir Edward Littleton on the following day, the 2nd November 1768. John Fernyhouse Green, “pursuant to Mr Brindley’s Order”, subsequently carried out the necessary plans and levelling surveys of Mr Acton’s stubble field and Mr Roberts’ meadow “adjoining to the Severn”, as well as the wider area of Lower Mitton, between 5th November 1768 and 1st February 1769.

Reading between the lines of the Day Books, Green became increasingly suspicious of John Baker, the Clerk of Works, and suggests a degree of dishonesty between Baker and Sir Edward Littleton over the prices paid for land. For whatever reasons, John Fernyhouse Green was appointed Clerk of Works on 15th September 1772 and relocated to Great Haywood and John Baker was “thanked for his services” on 15th March 1774. Hopefully this was a triumph of integrity and hard work over corruption and incompetence.

click here for October 2006 up-date]

[click here for Wikipedia text]

[click here for consultation drawing]