Chapter Twenty Eight
One of the best kept secrets about Nicks is it’s actual size . We originally owned the ground Lidl now sits on next door when the site was around 6 acres. There was a ransom strip of land owned by British Waterways 20 feet in from the Canal edge that Nicks rented for storage which went back to the days of dock labour and union controls . When a boat docked to discharge at Canada Wharf (Nicks Yard) this ransom strip came into play and only union dock labour could cross it to discharge the load so giving the waterways full control over the docking and movement of goods. The timber would be dropped onto Nicks yard on the other side of the line where Nicks labour could then stack it . Once the boat left the quay the ransom strip returned to Nicks controls for general storage. When Nicks made the sale of land to Lidl this ransom strip was retained by the Company who had also secured the ransom land behind Lilleshall Steel some years earlier giving Nicks a 750 m run along the canal behind Lidol - National Tyers - The Petrol Station and Lilleshall Steel ending at the Cleave Motor salvage yard behind Millington and Ramstedt well over three acres of yard space. In 2012 British Waterways ceased trading and land assets were placed in a new Charitable Trust designed to care for, maintain and reopen closed Canals - The Canal and River Trust, with commercial boats no longer coming up the Canal the ransom strips had become landlocked strips that were no longer required and In 2016 Nicks were finally able to acquire the land which as a result of being rented had never been invested in and was effectively a dirt track dusty in the summer and rutted and dirty in the winter. Now as owners Nicks were able to finally concrete this long strip for a better and safer forklift movement and quicker handling and considerably less damage to the trucks themselves. Two concrete roads were put in down its full length.
This was the start of major investment in the site to bring the company up to a higher standard of operation, and improve working conditions and safety. The two storage sheds which were still on the original cinder dirt floors were also concreted at the same time and storage racks fitted to increase capacity for the higher grade product such as Cedar from Canada - Larch from Russia - American and European Oak — and Hardwoods from around the world together with specials such as Thermowood - and specialist sheet materials in shed six and a picking shed for orders in shed 5 . This would be the first project of many as we started the rebirth of Nicks in preparation for the next 50 years .