Tributes paid to Braunston master craftsman Ron Hough

Ron Hough.
Ron Hough.

Tributes have been paid to canal boat painter and sign writer Ron Hough, who died on December 11.

Tim Coghlan, director of Braunston Marina, said Mr Hough was a master craftsman who had painted the old working boats in the twilight of canal carrying, and brought that tradition into the new era of canal leisure boating.

Mr Hough was born on October 3, 1934, in Birmingham, into a family of working boatmen.

He was the youngest of four children. His parents soon moved to Braunston because his mother wanted her children to have a proper education in the village school.

At about the age of 16, Mr Hough began working for canal carriers and boat-builders, Samuel Barlow in its Braunston yard, as an apprentice working in boat building and repairs.

But he was soon attracted to the yard’s tradition for boat painting, especially that of its foreman, the legendary Frank Nurser, who took him under his wing in his remaining years there, until he retired in 1952, at about which time Mr Hough was called up for two year’s National Service.

By then, Mr Hough was master of his trade, and on his return from National Service, he became self-employed, working around the waterways, including Samuel Barlow and the new world of canal leisure boating, mainly focussed on Michael Streat’s Blue Line Cruisers, based in Barlow’s old yard.

When the work was not there, Mr Hough would turn his hand to being a house painter and decorator.

He continued working as a canal painter into his 70s. His charge-rates were modest, as he said he had all he needed to live on, and liked working. In 2002, he painted the restored wooden narrowboat Raymond, for the Friends of Raymond.

Mr Coghlan said: “He told them how happy he was to be painting the Samuel Barlow livery again, after a break of so many years. It was the livery on which he was trained, and the one that he thought was the finest on the cut.”

Mr Hough was married in Braunston Church in 1958 to a London girl, Yvonne, and they went on to have three children.

He will be buried in Braunston churchyard, only a short distance from his mentor Frank Nurser, and the many working boatmen and women also buried there, whom he knew in his Samuel Barlow days.