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Remembering Harry Arnold MBE

Published on: 08 November 2018

Harry Arnold

Harry Arnold MBE passed away at the age of 81 on Thursday 1 November 2018 following a stroke almost three weeks earlier. He was well known as a waterway’s journalist, author and photographer who was instrumental in many waterway campaigns since the late 1950s.

Originally an engineer and industrial artist, he trained at Liverpool College of Art, Harry then served in both the Air and Sea Divisions of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and after two-year’s service in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, attached to 27 Guided Weapon Regiment Royal Artillery, he lived close to the Sankey Canal.

He was been professionally involved in waterways and the marine industry for over 50 years, starting as a partner in a horse-drawn hostelboat, based on the Bridgewater Canal, then moving full-time into holiday boat hire and narrowboat building.

In the 1970’s Harry was appointed as first part-time paid secretary of trade body the Association of Pleasure Craft Operators – now British Marine Inland Boating (BMIB); his work then included the introduction of the “pump-out” system to inland boatyards. Most recently Waterway Images has worked with BMIB on PR matters; daughter Julie will continue to work with Harry’s photographic archive to develop the collection alongside her own work in tourism and as an independent QAB assessor.

As a professional journalist, editor and photographer Harry was a regular contributor to boating magazines. In 1972 he was one of the founder owners of best-selling Waterways World; most recently Harry was retained to write for the free distribution newspaper Towpath Talk– the largest circulation waterway publication. Harry continued to write for Towpath Talk until his stoke on 13 October 2018, piece was the obituary for David Wain which was published in the November 2018 edition.

Harry’s waterway images archive and digital photographs have appeared in countless publications and TV programmes. Harry himself appeared on screen in programmes such as BBC’s Golden Age of Canal and spent he the summer of 2018 filming along the Montgomery Canal relating stories from the campaign and “Big Dig” that started its restoration for a forthcoming video.

Harry was awarded an MBE in the 2010 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for the significant role he played in Britain’s inland waterways scene for almost 50 years. This included being a founder member of Waterway Recovery Group and editing IWA’s Waterways magazine from 1990 to 2007; Harry carried out many other voluntary roles within IWA and in 2008 was appointed a national Vice President.

At the 2015 Canal & River Trust ‘Living Waterway Awards’ – which “seek to recognise the most inspiring and exciting waterway–based improvement projects across the UK” – Harry was presented with the first ‘Outstanding Personal Achievement Award’.

“His service to the waterways covers so many aspects, and goes back so far, that he could truly be described as irreplaceable. Even though it was publicly recognised, there will be many things he achieved which no one will ever know. We shall all miss him.” Nigel Stevens, Shire Cruisers.

Harry’s funeral will take place on Tuesday 13 November at 2.30pm at Lichfield & District Crematorium, Fradley Lane, Fradley, Lichfield, Staffordshire. If you are travelling using a Satnav please use the postcode WS13 8RS.

Family flowers only please. Harry’s family ask that you remember him smartly not in black but in colourful or waterway attire, and they will nominate one of his waterway projects for donations. c/o Co-operative Funeral care, 1 Birmingham Road, LICHFIELD, WS13 6HU.

For further information please email