Ben Williams, who died on Christmas Eve at the age of 89, was one of the key figures in IWA Manchester Branch in the latter part of the 20th century. He was a co-director with the late Ian Gall of several big events including the International Festival at Ellesmere Port Boat Museum and the 1993 International Festival in Castlefield. He was one of the main workers at the annual Castlefield Festival until the local authority took over.
Ben led on IWA’s Waterways for Youth scheme in the Manchester area and cruised just about every inland waterway there was to cruise. He was active in Worsley Cruising Club and both the Federation of Bridgewater Cruising Clubs and the northwest region of the Association of Waterway Cruising Clubs. Ben was the originator of IWA Manchester Branch’s ‘Ringing the Ring’ concept for the Cheshire Canal Ring, which was a scheme to promote the installation of hundreds of mooring rings at sites all around the Cheshire Ring. He was an active member of the Manchester Bolton and Bury Canal Society and many of the Society’s council meetings were held at his home.
[The photo, left, by Harry Arnold, shows Ben at former IWA national chairman’s John Fletcher’s wedding, at which Ben was Best Man].