Founder of Fox Narrowboats in March dies at the age of 74

CHARLES Fox, waterways enthusiast and the founder of Fox Narrowboats in March, died on Tuesday after a long illness, at the age of 74.

Known as Charlie, he trained as a boat builder in Ely with Appleyard and Lincoln and spent his National Service in Hong Kong working on military craft.

Charlie formed his company in the 1950s. Working from a small boatyard in West End, March, he built wooden dinghies and hired out rowing boats and canoes.

It was in 1973 that Charlie built his first canal boat, and in 1980 he built the marina to the west of March, after buying a 22 ton dragline machine to dig out the basin. The marina now has the capacity to accommodate 200 boats including the hire fleet.

Charlie had a great sense of community, and served as a retained fire fighter with Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue service for 25 years and was a recipient of the fire service long and good service medal.

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While working at the Neale Wade School teaching woodwork during the early 1970's, Charlie taught youngsters to sail at Mepal and ran boat building evening classes at Isle of Ely College, Wisbech.

The waterways were always close to his heart, and Charlie worked on various restoration projects including the re-opening of Well Creek Navigation in the 1970's and dug the winding hole in Whittlesey for the East Anglian Waterways Association in 1993.

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Following his retirement from the company in 1997, after handing over the business to his daughters Paula and Tracey, Charlie twice circumnavigated the United Kingdom in his own yacht and sailed a leg on a BT challenge racing yacht from the Canary Islands to England across the notorious Bay of Biscay.

Latterly he extensively cruised the UK inland waterways with his wife Pat on board their narrowboat.

Charlie's funeral will be held at St Peter's Church in March on Friday March 9 at 1.00pm.

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