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Final preparations to mark canal’s 200th anniversary

Release date: 
Wednesday, 12 October, 2016

Final preparations are being made in Burnley to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

The canal helped shape the borough and establish Burnley at the centre of the world’s cotton weaving trade. It, as much as any other historic event, helped make the town what it is today.

The Leeds and Liverpool Canal bicentenary celebrations reach a high point next week 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 Tuesday (18th) and moor up overnight before continuing its journey the following day.

On Tuesday the planned itinerary is as follows:

4pm-7pm The bells of St Peter’s Church will ring a commemorative peal

4.45pm Representatives from the Canalside Community Centre, and local residents, will greet the Kennet and walks alongside as it makes its way to the Weavers’ Triangle

5.15pm The Kennet arrives at Burnley Wharf to be greeted by the Mayor of Burnley, Councillor Jeff Sumner, the Friends of Weavers’ Triangle and others.

5pm-6pm There will be entertainment on the wharf.

Organisers hope that as many people as possible get involved to celebrate the historic milestone and re-create the atmosphere of 200 years ago.

Coun. Sumner said: “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.”

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: “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 details about the bicentenary celebrations go to the Canal & River Trust website

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