Historic canal voyage re-enacted

The canal boat Kennet

The canal boat Kennet

Celebrations for the 200th anniversary of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal will visit the borough when a boat recreates an historic first trip.

The boat Kennet will travel through Wigan as part of its 127-mile journey along the waterway as the inaugural ceremonial trip from Leeds to Liverpool is staged once again.

The voyage, which passes through the borough on October 21 and 22, brings to a spectacular end a year of festivities and celebrations marking the canal’s bicentenary.

The crew of the historic short boat Kennet will recreate a journey made in October 1816 to celebrate the opening of the new route, although this staging will be a few days slower than the original trip to allow more of it to be done in daylight hours.

Reports suggest the boats in 1816 were greeted by flotillas decorated with flags and streamers and the “hearty cheering of immense assemblage of spectators” as it traversed the Pennines.

While the 200th anniversary may not generate that kind of excitement the Leeds and Liverpool Canal Society, which operates Kennet as an education boat, and the Canal and River Trust in charge of the waterway’s maintenance hope enthusiasts will come out in force to support the voyage.

The team on board leave Liverpool on October 15 for a nine-day voyage, although the original ceremonial trip only took five days. The celebrations arrive in Wigan on Friday October 21, with Kennet being moored overnight at Wigan Bottom Lock after making its way through Red Rock, Haigh and Ince. The craft then departs on October 22, passing Wigan Pier at 7.45am and heading through Crooke, Appley Bridge and Parbold before leaving the borough over the Newburgh Aqueduct at around noon.

Boaters wanting to get involved should email friendsofkennet@gmail.com while community groups can find out more by emailing sarah.knight@canalrivertrust.org.uk

For more bicentenary information also visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk