THE city of Chester, recently confirmed with the status of the UK`s first Inland Heritage Port, is to celebrate the beginning of the Chester Canal by Act of Parliament 250 years ago in 1772.
Boats are expected to gather to support the Inland Waterways Association (IWA) organised campaign on the Dee Branch over the weekend of July 29-31, 2022.
IWA Chester & Merseyside Branch chairman Jim Forkin said: “The Chester Canal, like the rest of the network, now serves many purposes from boating to a ‘green corridor’ for both the wellbeing of much of the population and wildlife.
“Its heritage is incredible and deserves to be celebrated and promoted to the public at large. However we must not forget that there are still sections of the network that through lack of funds, the Canal & River Trust are neglecting and not maintaining and for that reason we are highlighting the issue of the Dee Branch.”
The event will be based in the very centre of the city around Tower Wharf with ready access to all the facilities and attractions of this major tourist attraction. Organisers are planning for 50 canalboats to make the journey from across the canal network along the Shropshire Union Canal from towns such as Ellesmere Port, Middlewich, Nantwich and possibly as far as the Potteries and Manchester.
The event, open to the public, is also planned to highlight the continuing closure of the Dee Branch which gives access for vessels to the tidal River Dee and the sea which has been closed to navigation for 10 years.
Planning is ongoing and to make the event a great day out for boaters as well as the public, trade stalls and boats will be there along with a BBQ stand, ice cream and musical entertainment. Several canal societies are expected to have exhibitions with experts on hand to answer questions whilst there will be a special event for children.
The canal, designed to carry broad beam barges, linked Chester to the Cheshire town of Nantwich opening for business in 1779. The venture had a very shaky beginning as trade failed to develop sufficiently and a costly lock collapse at Beeston almost saw its complete demise in 1787.
However the canal was eventually linked to the national network particularly when the Shropshire Union Canal arrived in Nantwich from the Midlands and a link to the Potteries via Middlewich brought more trade. Profitable and well managed it was to survive the end of long distance commercial carrying in 1958 in time for the boom in leisure boating, towpath walking and angling.
Public access is free and the organisers want to see as many families as possible enjoying the event. The entry fee for visiting leisure vessels is £10 and for further details please contact Geoff Gittus at [email protected] and commercial enquiries would also be welcome.
For general enquiries please contact Jim Forkin at [email protected]
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