The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) History

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Sir Michael Le Fanu died 28 November 1970

Admiral of the Fleet, Sir Michael le Fanu, former Commander-in-Chief Middle East was Chief of the Defence Staff from October 1970. He was Vice-President of the Inland Waterways Association in 1970. .


Lord Methuen (Paul Ayshford) 29 September 1886 - 1974

Landscape and figure painter. Born at Corsham, Wiltshire, son of Field-Marshal Lord Methuen. Educated at New College, Oxford, taking a Degree in Natural Science 1910. Studied under Sir Charles Holmes at Oxford and later under Sickert. Assistant at the Transvaal Museum, Pretoria, 1910-14; served in the Scots Guards 1914-19; First one-man show at the Warren Gallery 1928. Trustee of the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery 1938-45; Monuments and Fine Arts Officer 1944-5. Exhibited with the N.E.A.C. from 1931 (member 1943) and with the R.B.A. from 1936 (member 1939). President of the Royal West of England Academy since 1939. He joined the Inland Waterways Association and became their first member in either house of parliament. As such he asked questions on the obstruction at Lifford Bridge on the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal.

Lionel R Munk

Managing Director of Maid Line Cruisers, leading Inland Waterways Association figure and author of "The Thames. An Eating, Drinking and Cruising Guide".

From 1958 to 1970 he was IWA Chairman and 1968 he was in addition made a Vice-president a postion he retained into 1971. In 1972 he dropped this role to become Chairman again, a post he handed over to John Heap the following year.


Algernon Newton 1880 - 1968

Born in Hampstead, London, he studied at Clare College, Cambridge, then at Calderon's School of animal painting, at the Slade and at the London School of Art.

In 1923 Newton began producing architectural views of London, the work for which he is best known. These paintings are notable for the precision with which they are painted and for the unnatural stillness they evoke, a quality emphasised by them being almost always night scenes. His paintings include The Regent's Canal, Paddington painted in (1930), Canal Scene, Maida Vale (1947) and other waterscapes.

In 1947 he became a Vice Pesident of the Inland Waterways Association a position he held for the rest of his life.


Stanley V Offley 1899 -1995

He was Chairman of the North Western Branch from its founding in 1951. He retired from IWA Council in 1972 after serving on it for twenty years.

He was Vice-Chairman of the Inland Waterways Association from 1968 - 1970 and Vice-President in 1980.


Graham Palmer

Editor of Navvies Notebook and later Navvies. He organised much of the increasing army of volunteer workers restoring the canals. In 1969 he was awarded the Cyril Styring Trophy for his work on the Ashton Canal in the previous year.

John Parker 1906 - 1987

A Labour MP educated at Marlborough and St John's College, Oxford. Father of the House of Commons from 1979 to 1983. Vice-President of the Inland Waterways Association from 1975.

Lady Ponsonby - Maureen Ponsonby

Lady Ponsonby of Shulbrede retired as Waterways Ombudsman in 1997. She served as Inland Waterways Association Vice-President from 1997 to 2000.

Earl of Portsmouth

Became Vice-President of IWA in 1947.



L T C Rolt (February 1910 - 1974)

He was trained as an engineer and worked as both an agricultural and motor engineer before he married in 1939. Before his wedding he bought the narrow boat Cressy and fitted it out as a floating home on which to cruise the inland waterways. He planned to make his living as an author but the Second World War soon disrupted this course.

His account of his voyage before the war was published in 1944 in the book Narrow Boat and generated tremendous interest in the country's much neglected canal network. Robert Aickman read the book and wrote a letter to him suggesting the formation of a society to campaign for a new waterways world, an idea that had not occurred to Rolt who was by nature a private man. However he enthusiastically embraced the proposal and at the inaugural meeting of the Inland Waterways Association (IWA) in 1946 he was appointed Honorary Secretary. Soon a comfortable friendship was established not only between Tom and Robert but also included their wives Angela and Ray, a relationship that involved cruising on Cressy together and staying at the Aickman's Gower Street flat.

As time progressed Tom became less satisfied with the demands placed on him by Robert's ambitious programme of campaign cruising and lobbying for the IWA. He felt that the time demanded of him was difficult to balance with the need to earn his living as an author he also felt that Robert was taking insufficient account of his views. Tom had the idea of holding the first IWA Rally of Boats at Market Harborough in 1950. Robert took up the idea and went further making it into a Festival of Boats and organised many land based activities. Before the festival was held in August the break between the two men occurred. The final straw had been a disagreement over the IWA policy of fighting for every mile. Tom had aligned himself with a group who proposed prioritising IWA efforts or as Robert saw it "keeping some waterways and letting others go".

On 11 October 1950 the matter came to a head in a meeting at the Imperial Hotel in Birmingham where Tom and the other "heretics" were defeated. Tom and many others left the IWA over this policy split. For Tom it was a particularly sad time as his twelve year marriage to Angela also ended. She went to join Billy Smart's Circus as assistant ring master and Tom went on to run the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society.

Sonia Rolt

Sonia South was an actress who had joined the the band of women working narrowboats during the Second World War. After the war she remained on the canals and married a working boatman named George Smith. They worked the pair of boats Cairo and Warwick. She was an early member of the Inland Waterways Association and latter married L T C Rolt. In 1986, IWA 40th Anniverary year, she accepted an Honorary Membership of the Association and was elected Vice-President of in 1993.

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