Narrowboat carries coffin of former Northamptonshire lock keeper’s daughter to her funeral

Doris Osborne's coffin arriving at Stoke Bruerne
Doris Osborne's coffin arriving at Stoke Bruerne
  • Doris worked on the canals from the age of 13
  • Her father was the lock keeper at Stoke Bruerne
  • She died last month and her funeral yesterday saw her coffin borne on a narrowboat

A Northamptonshire woman who was born on a canal was carried to her funeral on board a narrowboat.

Doris Osborne was born in Reading in 1928 on board the narrowboat ‘Emma’, to Jack and Emma James.

She arrived on board a narrow boat and will depart as she came.

Son, Philip Osborne

Her family worked on boats all their lives and her father became the lock keeper at Stoke Bruerne in 1962.

After she passed away, aged 86, on Mother’s Day, her family arranged for her coffin to be carried by narrowboat through the Blisworth Tunnel to be received at Stoke Bruerne.

Philip, one of her three children, said: “Doris lived a long an happy life and was involved in many voluntary roles.

“However she never forgot her wartime role and was always so proud of her heritage on the waterways and her family connections with the lovely village of Stoke Bruerne.

“She arrived on board a narrow boat and will depart as she came, and we know she will be proud to do so.”

Mrs Osborne was schooled in Oxford while her mum and dad worked the boats along the Grand Union Canal.

When the Second World War broke out, at the age of 13, her two brothers had been called up so she helped out, ferrying many types of cargo, including Guinness, between London and Birmingham.

She recalled once seeing the canal full of debris from houses bombed the previous night and, sheltering under a tunnel, saw a V1 Doodlebug crash.

After the war, the family bought a cottage at 3 Canalside in Stoke Bruerne from Sister Mary Ward, who had helped them several times as they passed through the village.

Doris’s father became the lock keeper and was the instigator in opening the canal museum, in the old mill, in 1962.

In 1954, Doris married Reginald Osborne, a pawnbroker and jeweller from Regents Square.

She was a keen churchgoer at St Paul’s in Semilong and later in life St Peter’s in Weston Favell.

She passed away on March 15, aged 86. She leaves three children, Anthony, Philip and Wendy.