Albright’s toxic archive links #11 Shittish waterways

If it wasn’t fatal explosions killing their own staff and gassing local Oldbury residents , it was of course their dire pollution record and this lasting legacy that defines Albright and Wilson.

I have dealt previously with their toxic trail from the old Chemical arm to rattlechain, and also provided accounts of those who observed the dire trade being carried out. These articles however from the excellent British newspaper archive and the Birmingham Daily Post reveal how further widespread the company were polluting the Birmingham canal via their appalling Alfred Matty contractors of Coseley.

From 13th February 1968 we learn of an incident following which  boaters were urged to not use the Netherton tunnel on account of the “deadly fumes” that had been unleashed from within the large structure. These fumes were a direct result of Albright and Wilson’s canal cargo- phosphorus and its breakdown products  i.e the stuff that they were dumping into Rattlechain lagoon.


This should come as little surprise that Alfred Matty were spilling this material liberally into the canal.


The entrance to the Netherton tunnel, some 2768 metres long

A further letter then appeared in the same newspaper supporting the claims made by the other inland waterways users. This also warned of “the extreme danger”  posed by the Albright and Wilson phosphorus waste. It also suggests the glow that this material was having in darkness.



By 03 May 1968 the Albright and Wilson spin machine appears to have become operational. We get the usual statement about how much money they claim to have spent putting right their own pollution issue. This of course was a regular tactic of this deceitful company. They did it repeatedly with the “Oldbury smell” as well as fatal explosions from their factory. Unfortunately as these articles often do, they appear more like advertisements for the company. The claims of cutting waste are not the issue at all, but the one which they attempt to spin. As revealed in the account concerning Alfred Matty contractor Enoch Clewes , the danger was not reduced by the danger of the chemical still being dumped.


It is interesting to note from this article that British Waterways were stated as threatening possible legal action against Albright and Wilson, which is difficult seeing that their own organisation were also directly being allowed to tip from this industrial polluter into the very same marlhole at Rattlechain that was the issue.

I wonder what deals were done between the two parties? 🙄

By 11 September 1968 we get “no rest till tunnel cleared. This comes from the boaters who had reported the problem concerning the Netherton tunnel issue to start with.

What appears to have escaped these people’s thought is where this material when cleared from the Netherton tunnel would be deposited. It is perhaps merely selfish that when this tunnel was cleared for boat cruising, that it didn’t really matter where it went, as long as it wasn’t in the canal.

Unfortunately this whole attitude was one associated with the canal chemical traffic to start with. I shed absolutely no tears that it is dead in the water and will never come back, because I have seen first hand as to what those involved with it did- they killed wildlife and poisoned the environment and little else, whilst making Albright and Wilson a great deal of money for little cost of getting rid of harmful waste that is still all there and still a danger.

I have also had the great misfortune to go through the Netherton tunnel following behind diesel powered narrow boats belching out foul pollution of their own- and this continues to the present day. I have had to deal with the direct pollution that these boats cause from leaking diesel into the water, and evidence of discharge, particularly around mooring stations are not hard to find on the BCN network. ALL DIESAL POWERED CRAFT SHOULD BE PHASED OUT AND BANNED FROM BRITAIN’S CANALS- THERE SHOULD BE  NO USE OF DIESAL AT ALL- IT IS THAT SIMPLE.

Then there are those fucking idiots who have gone on “boat marathons” , up every nook and disused arm even when told by locals that they will get stuck and there is no access, but still they selfishly continued, only to leave behind dead fish and displaced drowning chicks in the water after stirring up decades of industrial pollution that the boat chemical traffic caused and that British waterways failed to clear up.

Of course, British waterways no longer exist, and in that I am also glad because they were an absolutely shite organisation, in bed with the polluters, and not chasing them to stop it. One can see from this letter below from 1970, and after these articles appeared, that they were still pursuing Albright and Wilson about the pollution around the tunnel, but only to tip it somewhere off their patch- that patch of course being rattlechain lagoon.

British waterways confirming pollution caused by Albright and Wilson's waste materials in Birtmingham canal.
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