Fred has devoted all his spare time for well over 50 years to the cause of the UK’s Inland Waterways, particularly in the South West. At a time when many were fighting to retain canals that were open, he never wavered from the belief that even abandoned canals could be brought back to service when many thought they were a lost cause. The Kennet and Avon Canal is a classic example, once known as “The Sleeping Beauty”, it was finally restored and formally reopened by The Queen in 1990. Largely in recognition of the amazing work by volunteers, the Heritage Lottery Fund then provided its’ largest-ever grant of £25 million to undertake additional work, ensuring that the Canal is now one of the finest waterways in the UK.
Fred was an early member of the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust and is still an active contributor. In 1961 he assisted in the building and operation of a trip boat, on a section of the K&A canal near Bath, to demonstrate the leisure potential of waterways. This was a paddle wheel craft that was the only type of boat able to operate due to the poor condition of the waterway.
Fred has been an active member of the Bath Branch of the Trust from 1960 and was involved with the organisation and work undertaken on the “Dry” Limpley Stoke length in 1965/6 as well as the restoration of the Bath Flight of locks, which were formally re-opened in 1976. He has been an active campaigner for the canal throughout his many years as a Trust member and has contributed to (or indeed initiated) all of the many campaigns to raise funds and the image of the Canal. He still, to this day, attends meetings and makes many important contributions.
His greatest contribution, though, to the K&A restoration was his involvement in stopping the partial closure and Right of Navigation through Bristol docks in the 1970’s. This kept alive the possibility that the canal could one day be completely restored. It took over 30 years to achieve this ambition and fully restore the only canal in the South of the country able to provide a through passage from Bristol to the Thames, accommodating wide beam boats.
The 87 miles of the K&A Canal is now a thriving waterway with over 11 million visitors per year, over 3000 private and hire boats, fishing and boat clubs, all bringing money and work to the waterways and the surrounding villages. Amongst its many attractions are the world-renowned Crofton steam-driven pumping station, the uniquely "green" Claverton waterwheel-driven pumping station, and the scheduled ancient monument, the Caen Hill Locks.
Fred has played an important role in this remarkable recovery and, on behalf of the K&A Canal Trust, I am pleased to announce he has been awarded the MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours.
Dr M G Rodd CEng
Chairman of the Trust Council