Remembering Trevor Maggs
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.