Home   Gravesend   News   Article

Tributes paid to former Gravesend tug captain Alan "Nobby" Clarke after death

Tributes have been paid to former tug captain Alan “Nobby” Clarke, who died aged 86 last month.

Born in Gravesend on December 26, 1932, to parents Horace and Doris Clarke, Alan was the second of two children, and grew up in Clarendon Road along with his sister Beryl.

Leaving school aged 14 he got a job at a cobblers, but was drawn to the tugs and found work as a cook. National Service saw him sent to Malaya during the Malayan Emergency, where he skippered boats and first displayed an entrepreneurial spirit.

Alan "Nobby" Clarke (13577148)
Alan "Nobby" Clarke (13577148)

At 5ft 2ins, he was the same height as the locals - who taught him how to fish and cook curries, which he sold to fellow soldiers.

He also sold braiding to officers and provided an ironing service, sending money back home to his mum. A skilled boxer, one army bulletin described him as “a lightweight who fought like a heavyweight”.

He later married Faith Redsell, and moved to Riverview Park Estate, Gravesend, where they spent more than 20 years and raised two sons, David and Trevor.

Alan "Nobby" Clarke (13577151)
Alan "Nobby" Clarke (13577151)

Eventually becoming a captain, he working on the Thames and around the UK, Norway and even Algeria. Also a keen sailor and runner, he ran the London Marathon twice, and in later years became an excellent bowler.

Alan and his wife later moved to Higham, and when Faith fell ill, Alan donated his own kidney, although a transplant operation was not successful and Faith died aged 71.

Years later Alan found love with Kay Fairman, and they spent many happy years together until he lost his battle to cancer on June 17.

The Svitzer Adira, pays respects to Alan "Nobby" Clarke (13577039)
The Svitzer Adira, pays respects to Alan "Nobby" Clarke (13577039)

“During his fight with cancer he never complained once,” said son Trevor. “And as with most people that my Dad got to know, the doctors and nurses, they simply adored him as the whole family did.”

Alan’s funeral was held on Friday, and a wake was held at the Three Daws pub in Gravesend, with a tug display on the river.

Read more: All the latest news from Gravesend

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More