Leeds and Liverpool Canal bicentenary is hailed a success

BICENTENARY: The Kennet education boat on its 127-mile journey along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.
BICENTENARY: The Kennet education boat on its 127-mile journey along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.
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Thousands of people enjoyed festivals and special events to celebrate the bicentenary of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal last year.

The 200th anniversary of England’s longest man-made waterway has been hailed a great success by the Canal and River Trust and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal Society.

The main focus for the celebrations took place in October when the Kennet heritage education boat, run by the canal society, performed a nine-day ceremonial voyage from Leeds to Liverpool.

Well-wishers greeted the boat on its 127-mile journey – a replica of the original procession by Lancashire and Yorkshire merchants in 1816 - while the trust’s Explorers programme brought the wonders of the waterways to almost 200 schools along the route.

Chantelle Seaborn, local waterway manager for the trust, said: “The public response to the invitation to get involved in the bicentenary celebrations for this special canal was truly amazing. It proves that the Leeds and Liverpool is still valued as a living waterway for leisure activities, wildlife and heritage. There is a tremendous affection for the canal which was obvious in all the towns and villages along its route.”

Another highlight of the celebrations was renaming a lock at Bank Newton the Mike Clarke Lock in honour of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal Society’s founder and president Mike Clarke.

The trust also launched its EveryMileCounts campaign, supported by a £36,600 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, to restore or replace dozens of missing or damaged mileposts along the canal. A film documenting the bicentenary highlights is available to view at www.canalrivertrust.org.uk.

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