Cradock, Ella & Douglass

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Ella, Coleman & Co.
The firm known for most of its life as Ella, Coleman & Co. originated, probably in 1778, as soon as the Soar Navigation was opened, as a partnership between William Cradock and Michael Ella trading as wharfingers and dealers in timber, iron etc. at the head of the navigation at Loughborough. Either or In 1792, after an extension of the navigation up to Leicester had been authorised, the firm were clearly contemplating establishing themselves there as soon as the canal was finished. This led to a dispute with their clerk, James Foster, who had been in their service since 1778 and was poached by another firm with similar plans. Cradock, Ella & Co. stated that ‘they are determined to spare no Pains or Expence’ to accommodate their customers, who would be ‘provided with Sheds, Warehouse, and other Conveniences’ at Leicester ‘for the Reception of Wool, Groceries, and all other Goods that may be entrusted to their Care, and also with a good Assortment of Iron and Deals’. By this date the two original partners had been joined by James Douglass, who appears to have been a wine and brandy merchant, (he may be the James Douglass, wine and brandy merchant, listed at Leicester in Holden 1811) although the name of the firm was not changed until 1793, when Cradock, Ella & Douglass of Loughborough were advertising the sale of millstones alongside deals and Memel and Norway timber and logs.

By May 1794 they had ‘completed large and extensive Warehouses, for the Reception of Wool, Cheese, &c. upon their Wharf’, from where goods would be despatched to Shardlow and Gainsborough.

Cheese-factors were advised that ‘Weights and Scales, with proper Attendants’ were available at the wharf and that business would be conducted both there and at Poynton’s shop. When the Forest Line of the Leicester Navigation was opened in the autumn of 1794, ‘and by Consequence the whole Line for the Conveyance of Coal, as well as Merchandize’, Ella, Douglass & Poynton immediately announced that a stock of Leicestershire and Derbyshire coal and seacoal would be kept at ‘Soar Wharf, near the North Gates’, together with timber, deals, fir laths and iron.

Once again, the conveyance of wool, cheese and groceries from Leicester to Shardlow and Gainsborough in their own boats was specifically mentioned, and the firm was still selling Derbyshire millstones.

Poynton seems to have withdrawn from the partnership in the 1790s, to be replaced by Thomas Burbidge. In 1800 the firm was using the style ‘Ella, Coleman, Douglass, Burbidge & Co., Proprietors of the Vessels trading from Leicester to Gainsborough’, although from that year onwards it was more commonly shortened to Ella, Coleman & Co.

See also:
•  C.M. Douglas & Co



Sources for this article include:
  • River, Canal and Coastal Carriers in the East Midlands c.1660–1840 by Philip Riden

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    Last modified: Thursday, 16 January 2020