11 June 2019

The Trailboat Festival was aimed at all ages, with loads of fun for younger visitors as part of IWA’s ‘Wild Over Waterways’ children’s activities programme, which looks to encourage the next generation to support the waterways. Waterway Recovery Group’s ‘Drive a Digger’ was definitely one of the festival’s favourite activities, which was loved by parents and children alike. Bendrigg Trust and Cumbria Canoeists offered free canoe rides and there was also brass rubbing, lace plate drawing, towpath walks and a litter-picking game. Cumbria Dry Stone Wallers was located next to the Trailboat Festival site and showed visitors how to build a wall, giving them a chance to try it out for themselves.

Wendy Humphreys, chair of IWA Lancs and Cumbria branch said, “We had a great weekend and enjoyed introducing the waterways to visitors. Believe it or not, some of the locals did not know they had a canal nearby, but they do now!”

Volunteers from Lancaster Canal Trust (LCT) were instrumental in helping to organise the festival, in particular Neil McGarry and Ian Treanor without whom the festival would never have happened. LCT volunteers were in attendance all weekend, as were volunteers from RNLI and Canal & River Trust. Canal Arts & Crafts, a local group of artists with an interest in the Lancaster Canal, held craft sessions and kindly donated its takings back to IWA Lancs & Cumbria branch.

The Trailboat Festival was officially opened on Saturday 1 June by Audrey Smith OBE, an IWA ex National President and member of IWA Lancs & Cumbria Branch. Sir Robert Atkins, IWA North West Region Chairman also gave a welcome to the Trailboaters and thanked the organising committee.

On Sunday evening, the illuminated boat parade was supposed to take place but due to strong winds, organisers decided it would be safer to hold a static display instead. The illuminated boats made for an impressive sight along the towpath and visitors enjoyed seeing the ingenuity of the Trailboaters, especially those who illuminated their boats without electricity.

Monday was a VIP day, with a reception for boaters, organisers, local dignitaries and well-known names from the waterways including Ivor Caplan, IWA National Chairman and Richard Parry, Chief Executive of Canal & River Trust. There was also the boaters’ award ceremony. After the reception, some of the VIP guests were treated to a ride on the Lancaster Canal Trust’s trip boat, Waterwitch. They were shown the work on the First Furlong, had a look at around the works at Stainton Aqueduct and walked to the historic Hincaster Tunnel.

Wendy Humphreys explains, “Once they had experienced the canal, our VIPs understood what a wonderful attraction it will be when fully restored and connected to the national network. Lancaster Canal Trust was able to show everyone the work that is taking place at the First Furlong and how close they are to completing the project.”

Some of the Trailboaters who visited the Lancaster Canal for the festival have decided that they will bring their boats back to the Northern Reaches once the First Furlong is open, which should be any time soon.


The Lancaster Trust Trophy

For Illuminated Boats using electricity

Winner: Olive, owned by Derek and Jean Smith

Presented by: Richard Parry, Chief Executive Canal & River Trust

The Ashby Canal Trust Shield

For Illuminated Boats not using electricity

Winner: Markie, owned by David Cawston

Presented by: Richard Parry, Chief Executive Canal & River Trust

The Grace Bell

For the Best Best Story Boards

Winner: Olive, owned by Derek and Jean Smith

Presented by: Ivor Caplan, National Chairman, IWA

The John Heap Rose Bowl

For the most ship shape and Bristol fashion boat

WinnerSnap Dragon, owned by Sharon Cohen

Presented by: Ivor Caplan, National Chairman, IWA

The John Ogley Cup

For the highest number of journey points

WinnerMisty, owned by Dave Blake

Presented by: Sir Robert Atkins, Trustee, IWA

The BWB Cup

For the best male boat handler

WinnerMatchbox, owned by Ian Graham

Presented by: Ivor Caplan, National Chairman, IWA

The Grand Western Award

For the best female boat handler

WinnerHelterskelter, owned by Neil and Bev Mcgarry

Presented by: Hal Bagot

The Pewsey Wharf Boat Club Trophy

For the best fitted out boat

WinnerMaud Again, owned by Cynthia Fairhall

Presented by: Hal Bagot

The Keith Haddon Memorial Award

For the most meritorious journey

WinnerTophyl of Taunton, owned by Bill and Alison Perry

Presented by: Sir Humphry Wakefield

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