People braved the perhaps appropriately wet weather to celebrate the 200th “birthday” of Britain’s longest single canal waterway.
They gathered at Weavers’ Triangle yesterday (Tuesday) teatime to welcome the arrival of the Kennet canal barge as part of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal bicentenary celebrations.
The bells of St Peter’s Church pealed out as the Kennet and a flotilla of other craft made their way to Burnley Wharf where the boats were met by the Mayor of Burnley, Councillor Jeff Sumner, and other guests.
It marked the almost halfway point on the route between Leeds and Liverpool which re-created the original journey made in 1816.
“The weather was suitably wet to celebrate a waterway’s 200th anniversary but it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the people who turned out,” said Coun. Sumner.
“The canal is as important to the town now as it was 200 years ago, just in a different way, and we need to make the most of this landmark of industrial engineering.”
As it passed through the borough, the barge crew took in the new-look Reedley Marina and the transformation of the Weavers’ Triangle, as well as historic landmarks such as the Straight Mile and Gannow Tunnel.
Members of the Canalside/Top o’ th’ Town community association lined up on the towpath to wave and cheer as the boats went by.
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 is 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.
For more details about the bicentenary celebrations go to the Canal & River Trust website