16th November 2013
The post-war inland waterways movement has lost another pioneer. Cliff Clarke died on Thursday, 14th November.
In the early 1960s there was a very real threat to close the Chesterfield Canal. At that time the canal was navigable, with great difficulty, as far as Worksop.
Cliff galvanised a group of supporters into action to save the canal. He lobbied, cajoled, enthused and argued (as appropriate) at all levels – national, regional and local – to ensure that what was left of the canal was protected and restored. Along the way, he helped to establish the Retford and Worksop Boat Club, an organisation of which he later became President.
Cliff was energetic, outspoken and would see obstacles as hurdles to be jumped, not walls to stop him.
All the effort paid off when the closure threat was lifted by the 1968 Transport Act which stipulated that the 26 miles between West Stockwith and Worksop would be designated as a Cruiseway and the stretch from Worksop to Kiveton Park as remaindered (disused) waterway. (Beyond the Norwood Tunnel, to the West, the Act does not appear to mention the Derbyshire section of the canal.)
In later life, Cliff roamed Europe’s inland waterways in his motor yacht, which always had a warm welcome for UK boating and waterways enthusiasts.
In 1965, Cliff received the Styring Award from the Inland Waterways Association.
In 2010, he received the Chesterfield Canal Trust’s first Lifetime Achievement Award. It was inscribed “Without the tenacity of pioneers, there would be no canal.”
The funeral will be at 11 a.m. on November 28th at the Rose Hill Crematorium in Doncaster.
Cliff Clarke (left) receiving his Lifetime Achievement Award from Robin Stonebridge (Chair of the Chesterfield Canal Trust) in 2010.
Photo by Bob Smith of RWBC