BARROW Rugby League Challenge Cup winner and fearless prop Les Belshaw has died. He was 88.

The Yorkshire-born powerhouse was part of the legendary Wembley wonders of 1955 who brought the trophy back to Furness for the one and only time after defeating Workington 21-12 in the final.

Now only Great Britain centre Phil Jackson – who lives in Australia – survives from that fantastic side built around Hall of Famer Willie Horne.

The Shipbuilders were one of the dominant forces of the 1950s, reaching three Wembley finals in the space of six years and achieving a Lancashire Cup and Challenge Cup double in 1954/55, in what was a memorable year for both Belshaw, the club and the town.

In the pack, Belshaw and Frank Barton formed a strong front row partnership, with the wily Vince McKeating at number nine. And joining them at the coal face were Lance Todd Trophy winner Jack Grundy, plus another rangy back-rower in Reg Parker and loose forward Bill Healey.

The back division were a dangerous unit led by playmaker and goalkicker Horne. Half-back partner Ted Toohey helped him pull the strings, while Welshman Clive Best was a very reliable full-back, and the three-quarters comprised two strong and speedy centres in Dennis Goodwin and Jackson, and fast and elusive wingers Jim Lewthwaite and Frank Castle.

Although he only played nine further occasions for Barrow after that epic victory in the capital, the club remained close to Belshaw’s heart and he was a regular visitor to Cumbria for player reunions.

Belshaw – who made 60 Barrow appearances, scoring three tries – began his professional career at Doncaster and was one of the first players they signed when they became members of the Rugby Football League in 1951/52, recruiting him from Old Thornesians RUFC in 1951.

He played in Doncaster’s first ever match and during his three seasons with the club made 77 appearances, scoring five tries.

Barrow were aware of his talent in the front row and in January 1954 they swooped to sign the packman who made 14 appearances for the Shipbuilders in the remainder of the 1953/54 campaign.

Belshaw was a key member of the 1954-55 team who won the Lancashire Cup and the much-coveted Challenge Cup during what was a marvellous time at Craven Park.

But in October 1955 he transferred to Bradford Northern where he spent a couple of seasons before returning to Doncaster. He gave them another five years’ service before retiring as a player in 1962, aged 34.

Belshaw went on to become head coach of the Yorkshire club and later served them as an administrator and also a board member.

His son Chris, who lives in Blawith, near Coniston, and has a brother Michael, said his father had fond memories of Barrow during his stay in the town.

“It was an exciting time in his life,” he said.

“In his later years he made quite a few trips back to Barrow, I think, for a couple of rugby reunions. The last one would have been about six years ago.

“My mother died in 2004 and he was actually thinking of moving back up here, but that didn’t happen.”

He added: “I was not a great rugby fan but I know about his reputation because our neighbours here would say ‘your dad’s Les Belshaw, let me kiss your feet’. We looked at a house for sale and this bloke found out Les Belshaw was my dad and he was just in awe. So we are aware of his reputation in this part of the world.”

Paying tribute to Belshaw, Barrow Raiders chairman David Shape said: “It’s very sad news. He was part of arguably the best team that we ever produced, the most competitive and the most followed team the club ever had, and he achieved something which was historic for the club.

“We look back, and those days are something you would like to emulate.”

Belshaw had quite a successful haulage company in the late 1950s/ early 60s and later in life he was a semi-professional photographer and was also a newspaper columnist in Doncaster.

But for Barrow fans Belshaw will always remain a hero of that Wembley-winning side who lifted the sport’s most prestigious trophy in front of a crowd of 66,513. Horne’s trusty boot converted five goals and a drop-goal, and McKeating, Goodwin and Castle all scored tries.

Barrow team: Best, Lewthwaite, Jackson, Goodwin, Castle, Horne (captain), Toohey, Belshaw, McKeating, Barton, Grundy, Parker, Healey.

The funeral of Les Belshaw – who died last month – takes place at Rose Hill Cemetery, Doncaster, this Friday at 1.30pm.