Commemorating the Bicentenary!

Commemorating the Bicentenary!

To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the completion of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, there’ll be a weekend of incredible waterfront activities organised on the weekend of the 14th October. Here’s what you’ll find if you come down and join in…

Friday 14th October

Boaters reception and photo call

The evening of the 14th will feature Dock 29 in all of its waterfront glory. The Leeds Dock-based café bar will host a ‘boaters’ reception’, which will see members of boat clubs across the region pour into Leeds to join in the celebrations. Invitees can expect a talk from Mike Clarke, President of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal Society, who will welcome them to the site and let them in on his wisdom of the heritage of the canal and its 200-year-old journey.

Making the most of the flock of boats coming into Leeds for the celebrations, there will also be a photocall from Leeds Bridge at noon earlier that day. Will you get involved and be a part of this historic occasion?

Saturday 15th October

The Tetley’s art project

Kicking off the celebrations on the Saturday is the unveiling of an arts piece carried out by the centre for contemporary art, The Tetley, at 10:30AM. Commissioned by Canal & River Trust, the piece is a collaboration between artist Jenny-Anne Smith and the Year 5 students at a local school in Hunslet, and will be showcased along the train station wall at Granary Wharf; the beginning of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. Aptly named ‘200 Years and Counting’ the mural is split into three panels representing the past, present and future of the canal, celebrating the history of the space, how far it has come, and what could be just around the corner.

The big reveal will take place on the morning of the 15th, and is a visual explosion of appreciation for the waterways.

Kennet recreation

The main event is of course the amazing recreation of the first journey of the canal over 200 years ago. In 1816, a boat set off from Leeds Canal Basin and made a five-day journey along all the 150 miles to Liverpool. After researching the press cuttings from when the canal was completed, the Leeds & Liverpool Canal Society has organised that their workboat, The Kennet, will recreate this journey complete with the atmosphere from back in the day.

The boat will set off from Granary Wharf at around 11:30 after a steel band have warmed up the crowds, and will start their journey to a gun salute, just like all those years ago. The Kennet will be followed by a flotilla of 8 boats for moral support, until the boat is ready to go-it-alone and travel off on its five-day journey.

Free boat trips

To keep the crowds busy after the Kennet has departed, there will also be some circular boat trips, that are free for everyone! Travel down the canal until you reach the locks and feel the calming movements of the boat in the autumn chill.

There will be boat trips available from Armley Mills Museum from 12-2pm, as well as from West Leeds Activity Centre in Kirkstall, whose opening coincides with the bicentenary celebrations! What better way to celebrate the opening than to get in touch with the heritage and environment of the area?

Learn about horse-drawn barges

Did you know that horses used to pull barges along the canal? Trotting along the tow-path the horses used to wear large harnesses to help them pull the weight of the boats. During the bicentenary celebrations come and see the static display at Oddy Locks, which will give you an insight into the story of the boat which was last pulled by a horse along the canal over 150 years ago!

There’s so much going on over the weekend that you just can’t miss… Join us on the Friday 14th and Saturday 15th October to help celebrate this magnificent milestone!

Photo credit: Canal and River Trust

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