Final voyage for Bancroft Cruisers’ skipper

Two Avon Navigation Trust launches escorted John Filgate's boat Rita Ellen carrying his coffin down the River Avon to Holy Trinity Church. Photo: Mark Williamson

THE owner of Bancroft Cruisers in Stratford-upon-Avon made one final journey on his beloved trip boat on Monday.

John Macartney-Filgate’s coffin was transported along the Avon in The Rita Ellen to Holy Trinity Church where his funeral was held.

It was escorted by two Avon Navigation Trust launches to the landing outside the church.

John Macartney-Filgate.

He died last month, aged 75, after a month in hospital.

Born in Birmingham in 1941, Mr Macartney-Filgate grew up in Solihull. He was educated at Oundle, one of Britain’s leading public schools.

Throughout his life he had a passion for classic cars — both building, maintaining and racing with some success. When he moved to Stratford he set up an engineering business specialising in building small marine engines. ith his lifelong partner, Rita Curnin-Waterson, he started a boat hire business and from 1989 to 1994 supported Rita’s son, Mark Curnin-Waterson, in the life of the restaurant boat, the Lady Camelot.

Throughout his time in Stratford John worked closely with the Lower and Upper Avon Navigation Trusts and was, with others such as David Hutchins and Dudley Matthews, instrumental in re-establishing the navigation from Evesham to Stratford — culminating in the opening of the Stratford Lock by the Queen Mother in 1974.

For many years he owned and ran the successful passenger boat sightseeing company, Bancroft Cruisers.

He was regularly seen driving The Grace Darling, The Princess Marina and, from 2008, The Rita Ellen, a wide beam cruiser named after his partner Rita.

Latterly he was chairman of the Stratford and Warwick Waterways Trust — a charity whose main objective is to reopen the navigation from Stratford to Warwick.

Mr Macartney-Filgate was well-loved by all who met him and renowned for his extensive knowledge of classic cars and the Stratford Avon.

His funeral was followed by cremation at Oakley Wood.

  • Ricky Gunn

    Re John Macartney-Filgate and “culminating in the opening of the Stratford Lock by the Queen Mother in 1974.” Methinks it was 1964 because I was around at the time.