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Tributes to Rickmansworth author and historian
The last surviving director of a Rickmansworth boat building business, Anthony John Walker, was an author and historian who co-founded a local amateur dramatics society.
Mr Walker, who died on August 11 aged 81, was born in Rickmansworth on December 28, 1927, the second son of Percival and Hilda Walker.
He went to a small private school in the town before joining Watford Grammar School for Boys, where his brother David was already a pupil.
Term started on September 4, 1939, the day after war was declared.
While at school, Mr Walker joined the Rickmansworth squadron of the Air Training Corps. But it was with the Royal Navy that he signed up with, when he was called up for National Service in 1946.
He was stationed first at Skegness, then north Wales and Scotland, where he served as a signalman and teleprinter operator on submarine depot ships until he was demobilised in January 1948.
His memories of serving with the Navy were recorded in an autobiography, Aye Aye Sir, published in 2000.
In 1949, Mr Walker was struck by the virus Poliomyelitis, which left him severely disabled. But with courage and determination, he was still able to play a part in the family business.
The business, named WH Walker and Brothers Ltd, was founded in Harry Walker by 1905, who took over a lease of part of Frogmoor Wharf from Lord Ebury. The firm thrived there until the land was sold to Tesco in June 1989.
Mr Walker was also a keen historian with an interest in his ancestors. And his passion for the canal and boats led him to record in print the history of the Grand Union Canal, and the part his family played, in Walkers of Ricky, published in 1991.
In addition to his duties with the family business, Mr Walker was a co-founder of The Rickmansworth Players. And it was through his involvement with amateur dramatics that he met his future wife, Beryl Williams.
The couple married in 1961 and four years later celebrated the birth of their son Richard.
Mr Walker also had a step-daughter, Deborah, whose father Bob, Mrs Walker's first husband, died in 1959 while testing a Handley Page Victor bomber plane.
An active member of the Farriers Livery Company, Mr Walker, latterly of Loudwater, Rickmansworth, was a Freeman of the City of London.
At his funeral, in Amersham on August 21, friend Philip Groves said of Mr Walker: “He was a devoted and supportive husband to Beryl and a loving and generous father to Deborah and Richard, and his grandchildren James and Matthew.
“He accomplished much in his life despite his disability. Part of his legacy will be the books he wrote which provide valuable records for future generations.
“Tony Walker was a boat builder, timber merchant, author, publisher, historian, raconteur, sailor and it was a privilege to have known him.”
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