21 April 2022

Written by

Ivor Caplan

Boaters from across the region are being invited to a spectacular boating parade in association with Birmingham Canal Navigations Society (BCNS) and Canal & River Trust. This parade will be presented as part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival, celebrating the people, history and stories of our canals. This is an opportunity to celebrate the past and present – and showcase the variety of crafts, people and culture that make our modern canals so vibrant today.

On Friday 24th June boats will gather at a rally organised by BCNS at Smethwick Locks in Galton Valley, the location of two canals – the Old Main Line and New Line – where moorings will be available. The historic sites of Smethwick Old Pumping Station (Bridge Street) and the New Pumping Station will be open for boaters during the Friday afternoon. On Saturday 25th , boats will travel along to the city and form up between Roundhouse Birmingham and Icknield Port, before parading through the heart of the city to the Mailbox before returning to moor up for the night between Roundhouse Birmingham and Icknield Port. The same will be done on the Sunday morning, giving an opportunity for a spectacular boating parade through the city.

For boaters who wish to play a part in the rally and parade, entry is free of charge. Each boat that takes part in the parade will receive a commemorative plaque – and are requested to showcase and celebrate their crafts and the waterways in the most fun way possible! The event is open to private boaters, invited specialist services – and is open to artists, creatives and community groups to participate and join the fun.

Ivor Caplan, speaking on behalf of IWA and BCNS said “We are delighted to be involved in this event. Our organisations have campaigned and worked for many years to ensure that Birmingham’s canal system was regenerated from its commercial past into the thriving central attraction of the city that everyone now enjoys. The Commonwealth Games will be an opportunity to showcase these canals and we welcome visitors from far afield. This event, as part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival, will be an opportunity to enjoy a variety of waterways craft parading through the centre of the city and we hope that many people will join us in this celebration of our inland waterways. Boaters from around the Country are welcome to participate in this fun event along with local community and other groups.”

Ian Lane, Head of Strategic Projects for the West Midlands and Canal & River Trust’s lead for the Commonwealth Games said: “The games give us a unique opportunity to really showcase what a wonderful green and blue asset we have on a global stage, raising our profile and generating support so we can invest back into our waterways and protect them for many years to come. The spotlight of the world will be on the city and given the core location of the canal network to the venues, we will undoubtedly be seeing a huge rise in footfall along our towpaths as well as wider media coverage. As such, it is important we create events that will bring colour and life to our waterways. We will be encouraging our boaters to come and enjoy the games and we are really excited to be working with these organisations to create a wonderful event, celebrating our canals, its rich history and the boating communities that now use and enjoy it. Over 35,000 boaters use our waterways every year, and our canal network would not be the same without them. We know that life is better by water and the positive impact our canals can make to people’s wellbeing. Our boating community have, over many decades, supported us in the transition of the waterways, from being a place of trade, the challenge in keeping them operating in the mid-twentieth century, to a place that we can all enjoy for generations, so it’s important we do all we can with these opportunities to keep them fit for purpose and alive for many years to come.”

There are more details about the boating parade and rally on our events page

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