3rd October 2006
image ©David Shrigley 2006
...it's just about reconnecting a bit of text back to its originating landscape. What do you think?
Up-date 13th October 2006
Understanding something in just one way is a rather fragile kind of understanding. ...you need to understand something [in] at least two different ways in order to really understand it. Each way of thinking about something strengthens and deepens each of the other ways of thinking about it
[Resnick, Mitchell. Turtles, Termites and Traffic Jams: Explorations in Massively Parallel Microworlds. Cambridge, Mass., and London: MIT Press 1999]
The nature of reality, history, space and time as fictional realms with infinite possibilities.
And a questioning of the idea of history as a single path or linear process suggesting instead the idea of history branching out in an infinite number of different directions at every point in time and space.
And a questioning of the idea of time, what it is, how it functions, how it operates; time as a network of simultaneously divergent and convergent forces/paths which are not absolute or uniform.
That John Fennyhouse Green identified John Acton's field as providing the best and only possible location for the new inland port is something to be recorded in the current Canal Basins restoration programme.
The Staffordshire & Worcester Canal connects the River Trent to the River Severn as one part of Brindley's 'Grand Cross' essential to the movement of materials and goods across the country.
Construction of the canal began at the Trent. By October 1768, and with the canal builders hard on his heels, Brindley was under pressure to fix on the site for the connection to the River Severn, and he was looking at the confluence of the Severn with the River Stour.
Brindley was unsure about the Stour he had ordered the neighbouring land to be fully surveyed but couldn't shake of the memory of the devastation caused by the flooding of the Stour in the April of 1768. As engineer, could he risk the success of the whole navigation project on the fickleness of the Stour?
On the 27th October 1768, John Fennyhouse Green, Under Clerk of Works to the Canal Company, was assisting John Dadford in setting out a culvert at Broadwaters when John Baker, the Clerk of Works, directed Green to "go down to the Stour's Mouth and observe where the Canal might be brought to the Severn."
By the start of the following week, Green was at Lower Mitton walking the fields near Peter Price's house and assessing their potential as future basins and locks. He was looking for a piece of land that was both broad enough to accommodate what is now the Clock Basin and which sat "high enough out of flood's way."
John Acton, the local Church Warden at Lower Mitton, owned just such a field a stubble field, measuring something over 5 acres and lying high enough above Mr Roberts' meadow that ran along the Severn.
On Wednesday 2nd November, Green met with Brindley and Sir Edward Littleton, Chairman of the Canal Company, at Acton's stubble field, and "Mr Brindley...fixed on going thro' Mr Acton's Stubble field above Mr Price's House for making of a Bason and building warehouses et on it."
Later the same day, Green was with Brindley and Baker in Mr Roberts' meadow when Brindley fixed the location for the River Lock, thus abandoning his original plans for the Stour and ordering "the Setting out of the Canal and new Water course of 17th October be altered."
Thus the canal basins and river locks came to their present location, and the town of Stourport grew rapidly to service and benefit from the new navigation.
John Fennyhouse Green
The catalogue for Greens Day Books and other material at Stafford Record Office are incorrect the spelling of the middle name is given as Fernyhouse. By checking back with the primary material, the correct spelling as Fennyhouse is confirmed and the Record Office has now agreed to amend the catalogues for Mf79/6 and D3186 accordingly. The correct spelling is found on the title page of Greens first Levelling Book begun 16th July 1766.
With the correct spelling, it has now been possible to identify John Fennyhouse Green as the second child of Fennihouse Green (1694 - 1769) and Rachel Smythe. He was baptised at All Saints in Lapley, Staffordshire on 12th November 1727 and was buried at the same place on 9th February 1774.
The gravestones of his mother, Rachel, and sister, Sarah, can still be seen at All Saints. Set between these two markers is a third gravestone, now destroyed. This is probably the marker for John Fennyhouse Green.
[click here for the original proposal]