The towpath at Blisworth now has an amazing carved wooden bench by the 18 mile marker ( half way between the north portal of the tunnel and Mill Bridge - 51). The bench was created by craftsman Matt Onderka-Lang from local oak and some reclaimed elm planks from workboat Sculptor. The elm planks were salvaged from Sculptor when it went to have its new 'bottom' fitted. The planks have had to be left to dry and season for nearly 2 years until they were finally ready to be integrated into the bench. The bench has been installed to commemorate the life of the late Jim Payler. Jim lived all of his life in Blisworth. His father was a lengthman for British Waterways and Jim grew to love all things 'canal', in particular the workboats. Over his lifetime he took countless photographs of workboats, an exhibition of his work attracted hundreds of visitors earlier in the year. Having wood from a workboat as part of his memorial bench seemed completely fitting and he'd have loved the idea. His widow Beryl, watched as a team of our skilled volunteers installed the bench. After the job was finished we all wandered back to the Tunnel Hut to sit by the fire and feast on Beryl's legendary Coffee and Walnut cake.

On Saturday 23rd November, Beryl Payler and her family were joined by members of the Canal Partnership team and villagers, to celebrate the installation of the bench at the 18 mile marker dedicated to Jim Payler. A commemorative plaque was added to the bench and everybody shared stories about Jim, his life and love of canals. This continued as the group made its way along the towpath to the newly refurbished Tunnel Hut. Here, we raised a glass in Jim's memory to his knowledge, wry wit and all round lovely man.

the late Jim Payler

Jim Payler 1940 - 2011 who loved the canals and left a wonderful photographic legacy including a workboat collection of national importance.


We hope the bench is enjoyed by all for years to come.
It is set in a wonderfully peaceful pot, so spend awhile watching the boats and wildlife and remember Jim who loved this stretch of canal.