Bicentenary of the ‘black and white’ canal

THE Canal & River Trust, hosted a celebratory boat flotilla along the Lancaster Canal on Tuesday to mark the waterway’s bicentenary – exactly 200 years to the day of its official opening in 1819.

Known as the ‘black and white’ canal, the Lancaster Canal originally connected Kendal to Preston and was built to transport coal barges north from Lancashire’s coalfields and limestone south from Cumbria. In a re-creation of the inaugural ceremony, a commemorative piece of coal travelled along the canal and was presented by the Mayors of Preston and Lancaster at Tewitfield Marina (currently the most northern navigable section of the canal), to the Mayor of Kendal and chairman of South Lakeland Council. In return, they were given a commemorative piece of limestone.
The Trust, which cares for the Lancaster and 2,000 miles of canals and rivers, is working in partnership with Lancaster Canal Trust, Inland Waterways Association, Lancaster Canal Regeneration Partnership, local councils and community groups to organise a programme of bicentenary events and celebrations over the next few months.

Andrea Barrett, partnerships & external relationships manager at the Canal & River Trust, said: “It’s amazing to think that Lancaster Canal is 200 years old and still as important today as it was when it first opened – just in a different way.  Now, instead of being a route for transporting goods, it’s a haven for wildlife and a beautiful place for people to use for walking, cycling, canoeing and of course boating.

As part of the bicentenary the Trust is planning a legacy project to replace 24 missing mile markers along the canal from Preston to Kendal and has launched a photo competition for everyone to capture what the Lancaster Canal means to people.


Upcoming events:

  • Wildlife and bat walks between until September – learn how to identify species of trees, birds, bugs, pondlife, bats and more!
  • Library and museum exhibitions – a range of venues hosting displays about the history of the Lancaster Canal, including the Lancaster Maritime Museum exhibit entitled ‘Barging Past’ – which will run from 11 May to 31 August.
  • Garstang Scarecrow Festival – Part of the July festival will celebrate the canal’s bicentenary.
  • Kendal Torchlight procession – Friday 27 September – a specially-commissioned piece of art inspired by the history of the Lancaster Canal will be part of the celebrations.

Photo competition details:

  • Entry is free and submissions must be made online at or share it on Instagram or Twitter with #Lanc200.  The closing date for entries is 31 October
  • Prizes will include goody bags for the runners-up and the winning entry will be printed onto canvas.
  • Full terms and conditions are available on the entry page.

More information about photo competition, bicentenary events and festivals can be found on the Canal & River Trust website: