The Lancashire coal mining town of Leigh, once home to half a dozen maggot farms as well as Leigh cheese, will forever be associated with some of the greatest fishermen the nation has yet produced. Benny Ashurst who developed the sinking caster and son Kevin, the 1982 world champion immediately spring to mind. Both Ashurst's were canal fishing masters as was Barry Smith another brilliant angler from that neck of the woods.
Farewell Kenny Buxton
Kenny Buxton who sadly passed away recently at the age of 76 was born and bred in Leigh. He started fishing at the age of seven on the local cut. Here we take a brief look back at his life in angling.
Kenny Buxton was also born and bred in Leigh. He was one of 19 children. He started fishing at the age of seven on the local cut. When I learnt that not far short of 100 match anglers had turned out to fish a memorial match in honour of Kenny, I was intrigued. Respect on that scale in the hard school of the northern canal angling circuit definitely had to have been earned.
I arranged to meet up with up and coming youngster and the memorial match organiser Danny Martin, together with colleague Mark Grimshaw at the wonderfully named Canal Turn Public House. I was keen to find out how Kenny have earned the angling community's respect. From the sound of things, the gods were looking down and smiling on the memorial match contestants because the venue fished amazingly well. There were 13 weights above 10 pounds and 46 over four pounds, which is almost unheard of on the northern canal circuit.
It turns out that Kenny had been one of the first coaches to gain his qualifications with the NFA back in the Glyn Williams era. Danny Martin recalls joining the juniors back in 1999; ‘I was just one of many budding match anglers. Kenny held kids matches under the auspiecs of Leigh Ospreys in the summer holidays on a Friday evening on both the Leeds & Liverpool and Bridgewater canals throughout the summer. Additionally, there was a further kid's match held on different non-canal venues each week of the school summer holidays. Some of these matches would attract up to 40 youngsters.
Kenny's tenacity ensured he got plenty of sponsorship from the likes of Mel Wilde at Octoplus, Barry Smith the local tackle dealer and later, when Barry's shop shut, from Steve Avison at Leigh Tackle & bait. Being a friend of the Ashursts', Kenny had little difficulty in securing copious supplies of free bait from Kevin's maggot farm.
At the end of the match series, each competitor received a goody bag. After a few years Kenny organised teams to compete to the NJAA and NFA junior nationals. In the winter months, Ken would organise classroom sessions where pupils mastered the art of hook tiring, rig making and the like. Today, Kevin Sephton, nephew of Kenny continues his great work with the Leigh Ospreys.
Plank Lane Angling Society
Kenny was actively involved as secretary of this long-established angling society for more than 40 years. For a while he ran matches three times a week, on a Monday and a Tuesday in the summer plus the traditional Sunday morning match often. Like most tough northerners, winter weather never deterred Kenny and for many years he ran a winter canal series. Kenny was such a popular character that he would often draw a crowd of up to 30 spectators while fishing. Given the relative water clarity of these northern canals, it can't have helped his prospects of winning the match though.
Sadly, I never got to meet Kenny. Once thing is for sure, he would have made the perfect Let's Fish organiser to work with us in our campaign to attract more young people into the sport. Kenny's angling philosophy was akin to mine; namely that teaching a youngster the skills to fish successfully on a canal will stand them in good stead on pretty much any fishing venue in the country.
Last Edited: 10 May 2018
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