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Wardle Lock legend Maureen Shaw passes on.

Maureen Shaw, one of the dwindling band of original boatwomen who grew up working the oil boats of Thomas Clayton and lived for many years in the lock cottage at Wardle Lock, Middlewich, died on 17th March, aged 78, after a long illness.

Many regular boaters who passed through the lock, at the junction with the Shropshire Union’s Middlewich arm, will remember Maureen, who was always ready with friendly advice and opinions, particularly for inexperienced boaters. 

She was the adopted daughter of the Jinks boating family, and became one of the last professional horse boaters before marrying married boatman Jack Shaw, and together they worked Dace for Fellows, Morton & Clayton. 

Maureen recalled that she found the FMC boats, with their extremely varied cargoes and arduous ‘clothing-up’ very hard in comparison with the Thomas Clayton boats’ single cargoes and covered holds. After her husband’s national service he worked for British Waterways on the arduous old spoon dredgers, and they settled in to their Middlewich lockside home, Jack dying in 1995.

Maureen never learned to read or write, but in later years she gave talks around the country about her memories, and her mind remained sharp to the end. 

She moved out of the cottage about a year ago as her health worsened, and British Waterways put the cottage up for sale. Ironically it sold at auction just two days before she died. One user of the internet CanalWorld forum remarked: “I just hope the new owners love the place just as much as Maureen did, otherwise she may well have something to say about it.” 

Click here to read Maureen’s memories as related to Robert Davies for the April 2002 issue of Waterways World (free to subscribers).  

Tuesday 20 March  | Andrew Denny  | 12.31pm, Tuesday 20 March 2012

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