National Trailboat Festival a huge success
The IWA National Trailboat Festival 2016 has been hailed a terrific success after it returned to Chesterfield for the first time in over ten years.
Hosted at Staveley Town Basin over the spring bank holiday weekend, the event featured lots of family entertainment from boat trips to fire eaters, as well as the official opening of the new Staveley Town Lock.
A major project, the new lock was completed just in time for the event by volunteers from Chesterfield Canal Trust, along with support from volunteers from the Waterway Recovery Group.
Cllr Anne Western, Leader of Derbyshire County Council, attended the festival on the Saturday to cut the ribbon aboard John Varley II – Chesterfield Canal Trust’s brand new tripboat, which was featured alongside a score of small boats brought in on trailers to use the new slipway at the basin.
Rod Auton, Publicity Officer at Chesterfield Canal Trust said:-
“The boats made a wonderful, colourful spectacle when moored along the canal. They created great interest from the many walkers and cyclists using the towpath, as did Chesterfield Canal Trust’s 87 year-old ex-working boat Python, which was sponsored by Brook Garden Centre.
“Members of the public could also take a cruise on one of the trust’s five trip boats which were in operation. They went through the new lock, which had only been flooded two days earlier, and then up the canal past the moored boats and under three bridges.
“On the Saturday night, there was a parade of illuminated boats. All the trailboats and the trust’s trip boats were decked out in lights; many playing music. They cruised up and down the canal to the delight of large crowds; many of whom said that it was the best thing about the whole event.
“On the Monday, the festival itself was over, but the boats went in a flotilla all the way up the canal to Tapton in Chesterfield and back. Several actually reached the River Rother at St Helena’s, where the canal starts. This created great excitement amongst towpath users who usually only catch a glimpse of an occasional canoe or tripboat. It was a fitting finale to an unforgettable weekend, because it demonstrated what could happen when the canal is fully restored.
“The Chesterfield Canal Trust is very grateful to the Inland Waterways Association for allowing it to run this year’s National Trailboat Festival.”
Other highlights of the event included Learn to Drive a Digger run by volunteers from the Waterway Recovery Group, Urban Gypsies belly dancers, fire eating from Captain Jackdaw and the Rumbucket, vintage cars, the Armed Forces Bikers, Birds of Prey, canoeing, a face painter, and the chance to stroke a tarantula or cuddle a skunk.
There were also dozens of stalls of every type, plus food and drink including a bar run by Brampton Brewery featuring their specially brewed festival ale called Brindley Bitter.
(Landscape image: Cllr Western cuts the ribbon (photo © John Lower)