Tony Hirst, IWA Vice President since 2000, and Director of what was then known as The Boat Museum at Ellesmere Port from 1981 until his retirement in September 1999, died at the beginning of July.
Tony was born in Manchester in August 1937. In the late 1950s he served for 3 years in the RAF where he was involved in the maintenance of the radar and defence system at the Changi air base in Singapore. Straight after his stint in the Far East, Tony joined Ferranti in Manchester as Head of Display and Test. Tony and Dia married in 1961 and they were inseparable; Dia supported him and was with him, side by side in all his exploits.
He became involved with the museum proposed by the North Western Museum of Navigation (NWMIN) after attending Dr David Owen’s night school talks on Industrial Archaeology and Inland Waterways in Manchester in 1972. David told Ray Woodland, who needed help with the restoration of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal tunnel tug Worcester, that he had a couple of ‘likely lads’ who were willing to help. Tony was one of these. From then on, he was completely involved in NWMIN’s activities. He became working Party organiser in 1974 when work started at the derelict docks at Ellesmere Port.
[The photo, left, shows Tony Hirst, far right, along with other founding Museum member, (from the left) Tony Lewery, Peter Froud, David Owen and Harry Arnold at the unveiling of a milepost on the Shropshire Union Canal at Ellesmere Port – the museum’s other co-founder, Edward Paget-Tomlinson was unable to be present for the occasion].