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Tony Davis

Tony Davis, who died from cancer on 15th February 2022, aged 83, was one of The Inland Waterways Association’s loyal supporters for over 50 years, not least being IWA’s principal representative on the Thames for a period of over 30 years, and a recipient of the Cyril Styring Trophy, IWA’s most prestigious award.

Trained in Estate management, Tony joined IWA in June 1967, and was involved in the early years of IWA London & Home Counties Branch Working Party and production of its magazine Navvies Notebook. He was quickly involved in all aspects of the branch and during 1968-69 he established a slide library with over 500 photos covering the branch’s waterways for promotional use. Tony was secretary to the trade show at IWA’s National Rally at Guildford in 1970 where Waterway Recovery Group was launched. He was a keen supporter of the Basingstoke Canal restoration and attended Operation Ashton and other WRG big digs.

In 1971, when the branch was renamed London and South East Branch, Tony joined the committee and became IWA’s representative for the River Wey. He was passionate about preserving the Right of Navigation on the backwaters of both the Wey, and later the Thames, and amassed various legal documents and statements from past commercial operators testifying their long public use.


[The photo, left, shows Tony Davis Boating on River Yonne in 2003].

In 1974, new IWA branches were being formed in the South East, and Tony took the lead with a Guildford Branch, becoming its first branch secretary. He remained active on the Wey & Godalming Navigations and became an IWA appointee on Thames liaison committees when Thames Water Authority took over the Thames Conservancy that year. He continued as IWA’s principal representative on successive committees on the Thames for the next thirty years through the eras of the National Rivers Authority and the Environment Agency. His accumulated knowledge and calm reasoning earned the respect of Thames Navigation managers and other river users, proving him to be a most valuable ambassador for the Association.

Throughout this period, Tony maintained his active support for the Basingstoke Canals and in 1991 he was ‘master of ceremonies and a team leader for the re-opening of the Canal by HRH The Duke of Kent.


[The photo shows a 1975 rally at Weybridge, near where the River Wey joins the Thames   –  by Tony Kozary]







In 1994, Tony took on chairmanship of the now IWA Guildford & Reading Branch, before standing down from the branch committee in 2001 after thirty years continuous service. He was awarded the Cyril Styring Trophy, principally for his work on the Thames. At the same time, he was appointed as IWA’s first Honorary Consultant Planner for many years, providing assistance on planning issues, property management and building surveys advice, using his qualification as a fellow of Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. His assistance included dealing the lease and rent review issues for IWA’s offices.

Tony had a very active retirement, moved his new narrow boat to France in 2003 and enjoyed extensive cruising on the French waterways up until late 2019 when he was hospitalised following a fall in Guildford High Street. He was also a long serving trustee of the Elsa Conservation Trust, which supports conservation education in Kenya.



[The photo shows IWA’s 1970 National Rally at Guildford, where Tony Davis was secretary to the trade show  –  by Robin Higgs]