The Trade of Grindley Brook
For most of its existence, Grindley Brook wharf served only the local farming community. It was also the canal wharf nearest to Malpas. There was a limekiln in the triangle of land between the top locks and the wharf; limestone brought from Froncysyllte was burnt here, principally to make quicklime for spreading on the fields to increase their yield.
The other bulk product handled at the wharf was coal, probably coming from Chirk. Thomas Whittle’s advertisement gives an impression of the wide range of other goods carried between here and Chester.For much of the first half of the 19th century there was a boat builder and repairer at Grindley Brook. The settlement also had a blacksmith and a wheelwright, together with, from about 1840, a shop, but these were probably mainly dealing with local rather than canal trade. There were two public houses, James Batho, the landlord of the Canal Tavern, being summonsed to appear before the magistrates on several occasions for licensing offences and twice for assault. However, it could not have been too disrespectable a house, as the coroner also held inquests there.The mill at Grindley Brook was not built until 1896 or 1897. Much of the grain used by the mill was imported from Canada or the United States through Ellesmere Port, and was then brought to Grindley Brook by narrow boat. The mill was powered by a turbine using water bypassing the locks through a pipe 2ft 6in in diameter. The charge for the use of this water depended on the extent to which the mill owners used the Shropshire Union’s boats — £40 a year if the freight account did not reach £50, but as low as £10 if usage was heavy. This arrangement lasted until 1915, when fire seriously damaged the mill.