Tony Forward

Tony Forward died in hospital in Daventry on January 3rd aged 66. His funeral takes place on Friday January 25th at Milton Malsor Crematorium.

Tony was a founder-member of WBLA and was the creator of “Henry’s Bench”. He was a former seafarer who became a well-known figure on local canals.

For the last 30 years Tony’s home was a boat on which he toured Britain’s canal network, always returning to Whilton Locks, where he had many friends.

He came from an East London family of haulage contractors, established since horse-and-cart days. Choosing as a boy to go to sea, he became a highly trained Merchant Navy radio operator or “sparks” and was familiar with most major ocean passages and ports.

He spent several years ashore, providing radio communications for Nauru, a tiny remote South Pacific island (then a League of Nations mandate and now the world’s smallest republic).

When Morse code operators became redundant, Tony left the sea to live on a narrow boat on the Grand Union Canal. A skilled woodworker, he fitted out the “Mooloolaba” himself and set up a one-man business, Extra Hand, working for other boat owners and canalside residents. His main moorings were at Whilton Locks and the nearby marina.

As a founder-member of the Whilton and Buckby Locks Association, he was a friend of the flight’s legendary lock-keeper, Henry Grantham and when Henry died Tony built a remarkable decorated bench using wood salvaged from the commercial narrowboat “Forget-me-Not” that was operated by the Grantham family. The memorial bench, a feature alongside the bottom lock since the 1980’s, is familiar to thousands of boaters and towpath walkers.

Tony leaves a sister and brother, Gill and Geoff, who live in Essex.

Peter Ilsley

Renowned Canal-Side Potter Mourned

Peter Ilsley of Whilton Locks Pottery was a self-taught ceramic artist who achieved world fame. He died in hospital on 25th August 2014 at the age of 81 after a short illness.

Peter leaves two sons, Jason and Mark. Mark is also a potter who lives and works on a narrowboat on the canal.

As well as becoming a fulltime potter in the late 60’s Peter was an actor who played minor roles in several TV series including Dr Who, Basil Brush and ZCars.

Peter moved to his studio and home beside the Bottom Lock at Whilton in 1986 and soon became a leading figure in the community. He was a founder member and chairman of the Whilton and Buckby Locks Association.

Peter was also chairman of the Midland branch of the Craft Potters Association. A proud follower of the Arts and Crafts Movement, inspired by John Ruskin and William Morris, he specialised in hand-thrown vases and bowls and conducted hundreds of experiments in his groundbreaking development of spectacular crystalline glazes.

Peter wrote a book, “The Challenge of Crystals” published in 1999, which led to him being in demand for exhibitions, lectures and workshops in Asia, America, Canada, and throughout Europe. The Chinese invited him to demonstrate to a huge audience of ceramicists at Beijing University. One of his overseas apprentices, Vinod Daroz, who spent several months with him at Whilton Locks, is now a leading ceramic sculptor in India.

In recent years Peter spent the winters in southern Spain where he continued to throw pots that he brought back to Whilton Locks when he drove home.

Peter was a charismatic and convivial character who enjoyed a pint at the pub in Norton.

The funeral will take place at 12 noon on Monday the 8th of September at Rainsbrook Crematorium, Rugby, followed by a reception at the Fox and Hounds, Great Brington.

WBLA Receives CRT Adoption Certificate

Volunteers from the Whilton and Buckby Locks Association (WBLA), the local canal volunteer group on the Grand Union Canal near Daventry in Northamptonshire, has received their Adoption Certificate from the Canal and River Trust (CRT).

Miriam Tedder, from the CRT Volunteer Team, presented the Certificate to a group of dedicated WBLA members. Adoption enables WBLA to organize working parties to maintain and improve the environment along the flight including lock painting, gardening and the upkeep of a nature reserve.

WBLA is keen to recruit new volunteers from the local community who have an interest in the waterways and from boaters at nearby marinas.

Visit the WBLA website which includes amongst other items, details of local walks, calendar of events, news and a photo gallery. To offer your support please Contact Us.

WBLA CRT Adoption Notice

WBLA Adoption of the Buckby/Whilton Flight of Locks

It is with great pleasure WBLA can advise that following the members’ vote to go ahead with the Adoption of our section of the Grand Union Canal the necessary documents have been signed with the Canal & River Trust.

We look forward to receiving our Certificate of Adoption at a proper presentation during a work party in the near future

Thank all those WBLA members who have worked in the past and more recently to establish a good reputation for WBLA in the eyes of both BW and the new Canal and River Trust. John Highmore, Miriam Tedder and Helen Sime from CRT are thrilled that at last we have taken the plunge and signed up to adoption. We have also received congratulations from Chris Burton at Braunston Canal Society (who is willing to offer help or advice whenever we need it).

We look forward to a busy year ahead.

Your Canal Needs You!

The Whilton and Buckby Locks Association (WBLA), the local canal volunteer group on the Grand Union Canal near Daventry in Northamptonshire, is keen to recruit new members for working parties both from the local community who have an interest in the waterways and from the narrow-boating fraternity at nearby marinas.

Many people use the canal facilities for recreational purposes including boating, angling, observing wildlife, walking, cycling and jogging, etc. and WBLA would appreciate assistance from likeminded people to maintain and improve the environment. So if you can volunteer a few hours of your time to support WBLA with team activities such as lock painting and gardening they would love to hear from you.

Visit the WBLA website which includes amongst other items, details of local walks, programme of events, news and a photo gallery. To offer your support please use the contact us page.