As you all know 2019 is the 200th anniversary of the opening of the Lancaster Canal to Kendal, Lancaster Canal Trust worked with the Lancashire and Cumbria branch of the Inland Waterways Association and others to organise lots of celebration events during the year, and also made sure that some of the usual events focussed on the celebrations. C&RT also organised lots of events and LCT and IWA took part in most of those. The canal is special to the people who live near it and to other organisations along the canal and there were a lot of local events which we took part in when we could. It has been a very busy year for everyone but well worth it to see so much enthusiasm for the canal, to see groups working together, to make new friends and acquaintances and above all to see how well loved the canal is.

The year started off with an LCT social meeting in March. The event focussed on the history of the canal and the plans for the bicentenary celebrations.

Then on the 6th of April, the IWA North West Region Social meeting was held at St Chads in Whittle le Woods. LCT members attended as well as North West IWA members and there was a buffet lunch followed by a few speeches and the awarding of the Region Trophies. The Tetlow Trophy for a non IWA organisation promoting the waterways was awarded to LCT. Following the meeting there was a walk along the old part of the Lancaster canal where it leaves the Leeds and Liverpool canal and branches towards Preston, or where the Leeds and Liverpool Canal branches off from the Lancaster Canal! The walk was led by Bill Froggatt from C&RT. We all had a good time and enjoyed the opportunity to see the old Lancaster Canal near Johnsons Hillock locks, sadly derelict now.

On the 4th of May LCT hosted a VIP trip on the Lancaster Canal on their trip b boat Waterwitch. This was the first trip of the season and an opportunity to show local local parish councillors and other interested parties the canal from the water.                                                                    

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                                                                                                                                                                     31st May – 3rd of June, This was the main event of the year for IWA and LCT and had taken 18 months to plan. We were fortunate to be allowed to hold the festival alongside Country Fest which meant the boaters got the benefit of Country Fest and the public got the benefit of the Trail Boat Festival We had a great time, it was wonderful to see boats and canoes on the water and we promoted the canal to lots of people, that is what it was all about, the more people who can see the benefit of the canal the better chance there is to get it restored.

On the 8th of June LCT and IWA shared a stand at Bolton le Sands Village Fete. The festival organisers invited us as they were focussing the festival on the canal bicentenary; we must have done ok as they have invited us again next year!

On the 15th of June there was a Balsam Bash at Haslam Park; this was with Friends of Haslam Park, IWA and LCT. The Friends had organised a display relating to the canal which passes along the edge of the park and that was very interesting, the tea and cakes for sale to raise money for the charity were very welcome. We were also introduced to members of the Ashton and Riversway Pact who are keen to get involved in events along the canal.

On the 17th of June people from LCT joined the IWA annual branch outing which was a boat trip on Kingfisher; from Lancaster to Hasty Brow and back with a stop at the Lune Aqueduct and commentary by Bill Froggatt. There were over 40 people on the trip. We had a good trip and the weather was in our favour, at the Lune Aqueduct we had a chance to get off the boat and to explore the aqueduct. Bill gave us a very interesting commentary on the canal and the aqueduct.

The 18th of June was the actual anniversary of the opening of the canal to Kendal and C&RT organised a celebration event at Tewitfield Marina. This involved the mayors of Preston and Lancaster arriving by boat with samples of the traditional cargo of coal and limestone and presenting it to the mayor of Kendal. IWA and LCT shared the new IWA gazebo there and C&RT had a stand and provided us with afternoon tea. Radio Lancashire and Radio Cumbria were there as well as North West Tonight, there was a lot of coverage on the programme later that day and in the local papers later. All good news for the canal.

On the 22nd of June C&RT hosted an event at the Corn Mill, Condor Green, this was to say a thank you to people who had helped with the bicentenary arrangements and LCT were awarded a Restoration Award and Richard Trevitt from LCT was given an award for all his help with the Milestone Project.
There were a number of other awards to volunteers who had helped in the bicentenary events and on the canal.

On the following day the 23rd of June there was a C&RT event at Aldcliffe Triangle in Lancaster, again IWA and LCT shared the new IWA gazebo. C&RT had a stand and there was fishing and canoeing for the public. Another sunny day and lots of interest in the stand from many members of the public who visited. The milestone near the Waterwitch pub was also unveiled that day.

On the 16th of July LCT held their AGM, and this also celebrated the bicentenary, with Andrea Barrett from C&RT talking about the canal and a 200th birthday cake made by Jane Simms an LCT volunteer.                                                                                                                                                 

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On the 23rd of July we had a walk along parts of the Lancaster Canal and the Ribble Link. This was a joint IWA and LCT event starting off from the UCLAN sports ground, walking along the canal to the first lock on the Ribble Link, then along the Ribble Link and the Preston Guild Wheel and across country back to the canal to return to the Final Whistle café at the sports ground where we had afternoon tea. The sun shone on that day as well and we all enjoyed the walk.

On the 27th of July there was a day at Johnson’s Hillock with LCT, C&RT and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal Society with their heritage boat Kennet. Unfortunately the weather was awful, heavy rain all day and not many people about so we gave up around 2pm. We did however have lots of opportunity to talk amongst ourselves and the crew on Kennet delighted a small boy by giving him a short ride on Kennet, I think he will remember that ride for a long time.

Then there were the Heritage Open Days and the trust has once again taken part in some events.
Sat 14th Sept, 8 boat trips with a total of 40 passengers, £62.45 collected in donations and sales
Sat 21st Gunpowder Walks, led by John Acres, 5 in the morning and 8 in the afternoon, substantial donation to LCT from the afternoon party, worth doing but not 2 in a day for one guide!
Sat 22nd Hincaster Walk, led by David Gibson, 8 people attended and enjoyed it,
Next years dates are 11-20 Sept 2020.

There was also a celebration event on the 13th of November held on the evening at the Lansil Club Lancaster. This was hosted by the LCT and was a Lancashire evening based on a canal theme with a hot pot supper. We were entertained by Sid Calderbank and Tacklers Tales and we all had a good time.
Of course the canal is special to lots of people and communities and many of them held celebrations, too many to mention them all here, I thought you would like to see this one from Geoff Pegg telling us what happened in Holme.
Prior to the event I had been in school to give an assembly on the Canal, we went up to the towpath where the whole school sang Happy Birthday to it on the exact day, and the children made model boats out of natural materials which they sailed on the water.
On Saturday and Sunday we had our Holme Images exhibition which included Canal History and Images, and it was very well attended and a great success.
On Sunday morning the Canoe Time Trial featured 10 teams of two paddling for a good time between Bridge 150 and 151. It was good weather and a beautiful setting and we had around 100 people on the canal bank supporting the event.
On Sunday afternoon we had the Black and White Canal Walk from Tewitfield to Holme, with the vast majority of the walkers wearing black and white outfits, and we had flags. I didn’t really know how many people would turn up, but in the event there were over 150 and it was a fantastic sight to see them stretched out behind me walking up past the locks at Tewitfield. They straggled out a bit after that, but we said that people should walk at their own pace and take photographs and take in the views on the way. When we arrived back The Smithy Inn put on a Hog Roast with a local singer as entertainment
It was a fantastic (and tiring) day, but it all went very smoothly. The Lancaster to Kendal Canal was well celebrated in Holme.

Thanks to Geoff Pegg for the article and picture

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