Narrowboats flotilla head for special Mersey rally
NARROWBOATS from across the country are making their way to Liverpool for two special events planned to tie in with the Mersey River Festival later this month.
An international canal conference and a commemorative rally to celebrate the city’s 800th birthday take place from tomorrow.
Flotillas of boats have been making their way to Liverpool, and at the heart of the action has been Maria – the world’s oldest surviving wooden narrowboat and the only horse-drawn boat in the country. Its crew, led by organiser Sue Day and a number of volunteers, as well as Queenie the vanner horse, have taken 10 days so far to travel from their Ashton-under-Lyne starting point to past the Eldonian Village, where they moored last night.
As well as taking part in next week’s international World Canals Conference being held at the Crowne Plaza hotel, the crew of Maria are participating in the Coal and Cotton event.
The British Waterways-organised rally is being held to celebrate Liverpool’s 800th birthday.
Horseboating Society chairperson Sue Day said: “We have never been on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal before, but we have had a fantastic reception.
“The local community have been so delighted to see us, and it is lovely that everyone has been so welcoming – we have really enjoyed it.
“We will stay in Liverpool for about two weeks.
“We are heading to the conference, which was held in America last year and will be held in Canada next year.
“It hasn’t been held in England for a long time.
“A horse-drawn boat has never attended before, as they are extremely rare in Britain.
“People have been thrilled to see the boat, so we want them to know we will be making the return journey by horse power as well.”
For the Coal and Cotton event, Maria is carrying a load of coal on the route from Wigan to Liverpool, which was the main cargo in the times of the Industrial Revolution.
On her return journey, the Maritime Museum will give cotton samples to take back to Leeds, where narrowboats would call into mills.
Boats are travelling from all over the country.
Tomorrow evening, from the terminus of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, they will be escorted through the North Docks and out on to the Mersey.
The boats will then spend a week in Salthouse and Albert Dock.
The public is able to join in with events at the World Canal Conference. For more information visit www.wcc2007.co.uk.