Re­mem­ber­ing Trevor Maggs

Canal Boat - - This Month - TIM COGHLAN

Am­a­teur work­ing boat­man Trevor Maggs con­tin­ued canal car­ry­ing long af­ter trade un­der reg­u­lar con­tract had ceased in 1970

Some­time in 1968, in the depths of win­ter, the 35-year-old walked across a muddy field to look at an old work­ing nar­row boat moored on the Ox­ford Canal, near Rugby. It was the Corona, a 72ft motor, built in 1935 by Har­land and Wolff at North Wool­wich for the Grand Union Canal Car­ry­ing Com­pany dur­ing that great boom-era of nar­row­boat build­ing. But in the de­cline in canal car­ry­ing in the post-WWII years, the Corona had en­joyed mixed for­tunes, fi­nally be­ing sold off by the Bri­tish Wa­ter­ways Board in 1962 to the Coven­try Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mit­tee to be con­verted into a school trip boat.

By 1968, that had run its course and the boat was up for sale in some­thing of a sorry state. Trevor later de­scribed it as ‘a scruffy old boat, but I reck­oned it would do’. He bought the Corona for £ 600, and af­ter restor­ing it and in­stalling a new Lister HR2 en­gine, it was to re­main in his pos­ses­sion – main­tained in im­mac­u­late con­di­tion – un­til he re­cently died some 50 years later.

Dur­ing his work­ing life, Trevor worked for GEC in Rugby as a draughts­man. He never mar­ried, and was able to de­vote all his spare time to his in­ter­est in canal car­ry­ing, which had be­gun with his crew­ing for Nick Hill on the Jaguar. Trevor’s employers al­lowed him to take leave at short no­tice to carry loads in the early 1970s, when­ever there were or­ders, and in this he worked with his friend Colin Sherv­ing­ton, who also worked for GEC, and had bought the butty Ac­tis for that pur­pose. Both boats were re­painted in the Wil­low Wren livery, but un­der their own names. Corona was to re­main in that livery. To­gether they took loads from Gop­sall Wharf on the Ashby Canal down to Crox­ely Mill – amongst the very last runs from that canal. Trevor was later to op­er­ate the Corona as a coal boat in the cen­tral Mid­lands at week­ends.

Trevor was also a reg­u­lar at­tendee at boat ral­lies, es­pe­cially once he had re­tired. He at­tended all the Braun­ston Boats Shows from when the pa­rade of boats was in­tro­duced by David Bla­grove in 1992, un­til the shows ceased in 1999. He also at­tended ev­ery Braun­ston His­toric Nar­row­boat Rally from when they com­menced in 2003 to 2017, and ev­ery Jam ‘Ole Re-Run be­tween 1995 and 2012 when they ceased. He was 79 on that last run, still work­ing Corona on his own.

Trevor was born, ed­u­cated, and died in Rugby, and he lived in his par­ents’ house there all his life, which he later in­her­ited. The house was never changed, re­main­ing a time-warp to the 1930s. The Corona was moored at the Wil­low Wren yard at Rugby Wharf. It will be moved for his wake to be held at the canal-side Bar­ley Mow Inn on the Ox­ford Canal at New­bold. Trevor him­self was tee­to­tal and pre­ferred his tea served in a porce­lain teacup and saucer – even when boat­ing on his own or recharg­ing his bat­ter­ies in a canal-side inn.

Trevor Maggs

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