A LEGEND of Middlewich's waterways who died in March following a long illness had a send off to match her remarkable life on Friday.

Maureen Shaw's coffin was transported by boat along the Trent and Mersey Canal from her former home at Wardle Lock to the funeral at St Michael's Church.

The narrowboat Tay transported Maureen for her final voyage which is the sister boat of Spey, which she used when she worked on the canals.

Around 50 people followed the boat on foot along the towpath to pay their respects.

Maureen’s daughter Sharron Underwood, 57, said: “It was fantastic. I was really overwhelmed by the amount of people especially those walking along the canal following the boat.

“I was amazed - it was a beautiful send-off. The church was absolutely packed, there wasn’t enough hymn sheets.”

Maureen, a former cleaner at Acorns surgery, was one of the original boatwomen who grew up working the oil boats.

She was adopted into the Jinks boating family and became one of the last professional horse boaters before marrying her late husband Jack Shaw, a lengthsman on the canals.

Maureen died on March 17 at Leighton Hospital after a long illness but her mind remained sharp until the end.

She told her story in 2009 as part of Tales of Wych and Water, produced for Middlewich Vision.

Angela Farrington had known Maureen for more than 40 years and was with her when she died.

She told the Guardian that Maureen always wanted to have one final voyage on the canal.

“It’s just unbelievable,” she added.

“I can’t believe she’s gone. If she was watching over us she would have been amazed. She would have said: ‘I’ve got my wish’.”

It is understood that Maureen was born on a narrowboat and she lived for many years at Lock Cottage at Wardle Lock which she called 'her lock'.

The lock was sold at auction by British Waterways just two days before Maureen died.

Boater Stan Hesketh said: “We passed through ‘Maureens Lock’ many times on our boat over the years. Maureen was always a friend and a very able lock keeper.

“She helped many newcomers to the canal scene and will be missed by us all. She always had a story.”

Maureen was also well known as 'Auntie Maureen' offering friendly advice to inexperienced boaters.

Middlewich resident Dave Roberts said: "This really was a very special occasion, not only for Middlewich but also for the whole canal community and we are unlikely ever to see anything like it again."