Farewell to restoration stalwart Keith

June 2018 - The Lancaster Canal has lost one of it’s stalwart workers with the death of Keith Tassart, a former British Waterways man who joined the Lancaster Canal Trust as a work party organiser and always brought a very down to earth enthusiasm to the restoration of the Northern Reaches, writes Peter Underwood

Despite conflict in recent years between Keith’s can-do approach and the apparent unwillingness of Canal & River Trust to embrace any practical attempts to restore the Northern Reaches, Keith never stopped working towards that end.

Another restoration stalwart, Frank Sanderson gave a eulogy at Keith’s funeral where he told assembled mourners: “I first met Keith when he joined the Lancaster Canal Trust as the work party organiser. He was a great asset to the trust, with his knowledge of the canal, and having worked for British Waterways for many years.

“His enthusiasm for the work encouraged others, and the once a month work parties became every weekend, and sometimes during the week. His passionate approach of ‘Lets get the work done’, was infectious, and his ability of getting people to help was the stuff of legend.

The funeral

“He attracted a large following of volunteers and, with Keith as leader, they did a tremendous amount of restoration work. He was described by one BBC journalist as 'a bundle of energy who should be encouraged'.

“He once told me about the time he was dredging the canal at Hest Bank, best quality coal, that had fallen from barges as they made a turn, was dredged up and piled onto the canal tow path.

“The next morning when he returned it had all disappeared. Word had got around, and scores of little old ladies, with buckets and shovels, had descended overnight and removed it.

“Keith had a wholehearted commitment to any project he undertook, particularly the canal.

“I was on the canal in the last few days, Weeds everywhere, never seen it as bad, and I remember when Keith was in charge, and how clean was our canal corridor then?

“He will be remembered with great affection, and missed by many. And certainly by me.”

Photos: (1st) The funeral, (2nd) Keith made a colourful last journey with escort of John O'Gaunt Morris Men, (3rd) Keith Tassart.

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