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Burnley plays major role in canal’s 200th anniversary celebrations

Release date: 
Thursday, 22 September, 2016

Whether you’re a true landlubber, or you fancy yourself as a salty sailor at heart, everyone is invited to celebrate the 200th anniversary of one of Burnley’s greatest assets.

The Leeds and Liverpool Canal bicentenary celebrations reach a high point this October as the historic short boat Kennet re-creates the inaugural ceremonial journey 127 miles across the Pennines from Leeds to Liverpool.

The aim is to recreate the celebrations seen in 1816 all along the waterway when the inaugural journey was made by canal barge.

The 200th anniversary will reach Burnley on 18th and 19th October and the Mayor of Burnley, Councillor Jeff Sumner, is encouraging as many people and community organisations as possible to get involved.

“Burnley marks the almost halfway point of the great Leeds and Liverpool Canal and the waterway still plays a major role in the town, 200 years after it was completed,” said Coun. Sumner. “I hope Burnley folk mark their appreciation of such a wonderful piece of our history and come along, line the canal and give the Kennet a warm Lancashire welcome.”

On Tuesday 18th the Kennet will arrive at Burnley Wharf (approx. 5.15pm) for a celebratory event and then moor overnight. As it passes through the borough, the crew will enjoy the investment at Reedley Marina and the transformation of the Weavers’ Triangle, as well as historic landmarks such as the Straight Mile and Gannow Tunnel.

St Peter’s Church bells will ring out from 4pm to 7pm to mark the occasion.

There is the possibility of a brass band at the wharf. The Weaver's Triangle visitor centre will be open and members of the public are welcome to attend.

Members of the Canalside/Top o’ th’ Town community association are planning to walk alongside the Kennet as it passes through their area, along the Straight Mile to the wharf.

Organised by the Leeds and Liverpool Canal Society, which runs the Kennet as an education boat, and supported by Canal & River Trust, which cares for the canal, the voyage will be a culmination of a year of festivities

Flotillas “decorated with flags and streamers”, accompanied by “hearty cheering of immense assemblage of spectators” greeted the original ceremonial boat journey in October 1816. That trip lasted only five days but this year the Canal Society crew will take a more leisurely pace so more people can celebrate in daylight hours, leaving Leeds on Saturday 15th October and arriving in Liverpool nine days later on Sunday 23rd October.

Kennet organiser Harold Bond said: “We are calling on heritage boats, boat clubs and boaters to create a flotilla of decorated boats to join Kennet along the way. We would love to see crowds lining the canal as we pass by.

“It would be fantastic if we could be joined by local school children and community groups, cheering and waving flags. Kennet will be decked out in bunting to symbolise the two great shire county roses. It would be wonderful to be greeted by a sea of red and white as our procession sails along.

“Back in 1816, press reports state that the ceremonial first boat was greeted by peeling church bells, brass bands and cheering crowds, and canal barges were be-decked in flags and streamers. We would love to create that spirit of celebration and achievement again.”

For more information about the event email or ring Brian on 01282 453007.

For boaters wanting more information about timings and the route, please email:

To link into the community celebrations along the ceremonial canal route, please contact Sarah Knight at the Canal & River Trust on

For more details about the bicentenary celebrations go to the Canal & River Trust website

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