“Coal Liz” Striker, 32, took over the business in September and has been traveling up and down London’s canals selling coal for seven days a week ever since. She looks forward to the canal improvements so her customers at Three Mills can call her when they need coal and she can deliver what they need to their boats instead of having to wait around for them to drive to a near-by location.
“When someone says ‘it weighs a ton,’ I know how much that means,” says Coal Liz. She owns the business with her boyfriend, who lives on the buttee boat that is supposed to be pulled by her boat. This year he has to work at another job until they can pay off the boats, so she is doing most of the work by herself and has the muscles to prove it. Being able to access more clients once the canal is non-tidal might mean her boyfriend can quit his job sooner, for now she is eagerly looking forward to taking a break in the summer until next fall when the weather turns cold again.
As a young woman, who is not much bigger than a bag of coal herself, selling coal in London in 2007, Liz receives a lot of strange looks and comments from people she doesn’t know. For the most part, she has met a lot of good people through her job and after 8 months in the business, it is hard for her to pass a boat on the canals without them saying hello and wondering when she’ll be back with their coal.