Phil Speight MBE, canal boat painter


Phil Speight MBE, canal boat painter

In 2024 Phil Speight was awarded the MBE for services to canal boat painting and heritage crafts, following a nomination by Heritage Crafts.

Having trained as a coach painter in the 1960s, Phil fell in love with the distinctive folk art of the inland waterways and began his career in traditional canal art in the early 1980s.

For decades Phil has worked in respected boatyards which specialise in the restoration or maintenance of historic vessels, serving for several years at the Ellesmere Port Boat Museum as craftsman consultant on their national collection. His work is held at the V&A and the National Waterways Museum, as well as in many private collections, and was included in an international exhibition of folk art held in Japan in the 1980s.

In the late 1990s Phil founded Craftmaster Paints to address the issue of replacing the qualities of poisonous lead paints, working closely with chemists and manufacturers to develop new alternatives. The company retains a close relationship with him and still uses his formulae for its paints. It remains the leading supplier of paints to those working on traditional canal boats, steam engines and fairground machinery.