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Obituary: Tony Matts

Obituary: Tony Matts 

Founder of Foxton Boat Services, pioneer of the Boat Safety Scheme and at the heart of Foxton Locks for over 50 years. 

An era ended on Easter Sunday when Tony Matts died aged 76 after a short illness.

Tony first came to Foxton in the early '60s, when he was a young physicist working in Leicester, and saw the dilapidated state of the old building at the bottom of the locks on what was then a semi-derelict canal. In 1966 he gave up a promising career to found Foxton Boat Services, where he opened a small shop and tea room and hired out ex-British Waterways working craft as camping boats. The business also did extensive breakdown and maintenance work. The trip-boat Vagabond followed, then self-drive and day-hire boats, and a horse-drawn trip-boat. In 1980 he constructed the original Bridge 61 pub.

Tony built up a significant knowledge of engines, boats and the waterways, became a qualified surveyor, and when the Boat Safety Scheme came into existence was one of the first people licensed to conduct examinations and assess other candidates. 

He fought a long battle with BW over its desire to convert the original Bridge 61 pub and chandlery into the modern Foxton Locks Inn. Fortunately he and his wife Mary had already bought the bottom lock cottage where the family lived, and he was able to extend the old stables into the current Bridge 61 pub and to continue the business (so out-living BW). His son Sam and daughter Hannah continue to operate the Boat Services and Bridge 61, so the Matts family will continue to have an association with Foxton, despite the loss of its original driving force. 

Mary Matts 

 

 
Tony Matts

Tuesday 21 May  | Andrew Denny  | 3.59pm, Tuesday 21 May 2019

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