The Friends of the Leominster Canal (FoLC) is a Registered Charity: 1113746.
MARTIN HUDSON AND FRIENDS OF THE LEOMINSTER CANAL
For over 20 years, Friends of the Leominster Canal (FoLC) has enjoyed numerous memorable highs but has also sustained occasional lows. By far its greatest low, however, was the sudden, unexpected and untimely death of Martin Hudson, on the 2nd December 2021.
This tragic event, however, occurred in a manner he may well have chosen; namely ‘in the field’ near Eye Church, researching aspects of his beloved Leominster Canal.
In the 1990's, two factors were mainly instrumental in directing Martin towards the Leominster Canal. First, he was a life member of the Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Canal Trust and second a member of the Woolhope Naturalists Field Club; both organisations having members with a specialist interest in the Leominster Canal. The latter, in particular, included the late Robin Andrews and Gerry Calderbank respectively. From this introduction, however, once Martin had savoured the Leominster Canal, he almost instantly became one its strongest, dedicated and enthusiastic supporters and then very quickly a Leominster Canal expert in his own right. Also, at the same time, being an electronics design engineer by profession, Martin was amongst the forerunners to forecast the future of digital photography and he was one the earliest to migrate fully from 35mm film. This asset made Martin a natural choice to collaborate with Gerry Calderbank, who was also planning to publish the earlier Woolhope Archaeological Research Section (WARS) findings on the Leominster Canal. To achieve this aim, they jointly formed Leominster Canal Promotions (LCP) Limited, with Martin principally contributing his digital photographic expertise. Between 2000 and 2002, under LCP, the two went on to publish three, commonly called the blue, pink and yellow covered, booklets on the Leominster Canal; with the blue book quickly running into a second edition. The booklets were highly successful and still represent the most detailed publications covering the canal's topography and its geological engineering. In parallel with this, in 2000 and 2001, Gerry and Martin also organised two equally successful two-
It is true to say, after its formation, that FoLC never looked back under Martin's capable leadership. Martin was renowned for his enthusiasm and ability for organising and leading seemingly unlimited field and study walks on the canal, arranging events, giving lectures to numerous organisations, and undertaking preservation work and maintenance on the canal. The latter, in conjunction with others, included many canal structures of historical importance, including Easton Court and Deepcroft bridges, the portals of Putnal and Southnet tunnels and the Teme Aqueduct. By far his greatest achievement, however, was saving Dadford's Brimfield ' multiple syphon', a unique part of the Leominster's and England's canal's heritage, following its partial collapse from severe winter floods. Not being listed, the easiest and by-
On the 11th April 2006, Martin's initial success of FoLC was then further enhanced, when it achieved the status and associated benefits of a registered charity; again with Martin as Chair of its Trustees.
Overtime, due to increasing pressures, Martin felt that he had no option other than to limit his time with FoLC. Although Martin remained a Trustee and continued with many activities for the FoLC, including leading many walks and giving numerous lectures, the formal responsibility for leading and chairing FoLC was transferred into the capable hands of Mike Watkins in 2011. Mike had contributed greatly to FoLC since its early days and it was also particularly useful by Mike being chairperson of the then Tenbury Wells and District History Society.
More recently, with his electronic expertise, Martin became the natural webmaster of his own theleominstercanal.co.uk, which enjoyed high website usage but sadly had to be replaced after his death by a new site, with Mike Watkins as the new webmaster.
During the two years before Martin’s untimely death, despite the unfortunate restrictions for FoLC group events, COVID-
Special thanks to FoLC trustee David Slater for writing this tribute.