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200 years of the Leeds & Liverpool celebrated with nine-day voyage

PUBLISHED: 16:40 19 October 2016 | UPDATED: 16:40 19 October 2016

The Kennet at the Bingley Five Rise Locks | @MarkPenny1

The Kennet at the Bingley Five Rise Locks | @MarkPenny1

Archant

Historic short boat Kennet is recreating the inaugural passage of 1816 and expected to reach Liverpool this Sunday

When Yorkshire and Lancashire merchants made the first passage of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in 1816, the press wrote of how their boat – decorated with flags and steamers – was met by the pealing of church bells, brass bands and “hearty cheering of immense assemblage of spectators”.

This year, in the highlight of the waterway’s bicentenary celebrations, the former working boat, the Kennet, is reproducing that journey.

“We are hoping to recreate that amazing atmosphere of celebration again,” said organiser Harold Bond. The voyage has been planned by the Leeds & Liverpool Canal Society, who run the Kennet as an education boat, with help from the Canal & River Trust.

The Kennet set off from Leeds last Saturday and is scheduled to complete the 127-mile trip on Sunday 23 October.

The Kennet is making the 127-mile voyage from Leeds to Liverpool | ProspectMik, Flickr CC2.0The Kennet is making the 127-mile voyage from Leeds to Liverpool | ProspectMik, Flickr CC2.0

The journey will take nine days, which is at a much more leisurely pace than the five days it would have taken 200 years ago, so more people can come and see it.

Followed by a flotilla, the Kennet and its crew have already been met by hundreds of people as it passed through Saltaire, Bingley and Skipton. In total, it will go through 91 locks and climb more than 150 metres over the Pennines.

Chantelle Seaborn, local waterway manager of the CRT, said: “This epic boat journey is a wonderful way to mark the 200th anniversary of one of the most significant waterways in Britain.

“The opening of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal played a key role in Britain’s Industrial Revolution and encouraged the development of the textile industries in Lancashire and West Yorkshire.”

As another celebration of the canal marking 200 years, a special rhapsody has been written. It will be performed by the Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band and Blackburn People’s Choir at King Georges Hall, Blackburn at 4pm on Sunday.

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