Canal fest makes a splash

Leigh MP Andy Burnham with Leigh Canal Festival group
Leigh MP Andy Burnham with Leigh Canal Festival group

Waterway enthusiasts flocked to celebrate part of the borough’s industrial heritage at the second Leigh Canal Festival.

Hundreds of visitors enjoyed three days of activities along the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, with the festivities given an extra significance as it is exactly 200 years since the waterway was built.

Festival-goers having fun messing about on the water

Festival-goers having fun messing about on the water

The Leigh branch of the canal turned into a colourful floating wonderland as dozens of boaters brought their painted crafts to the borough and moored in the town over the weekend.

Trade boats sold goods including mugs, clothes and arts and local trip boat Kittywake provided trips and cruises along the waterway to and from Pennington Wharf.

The land-based celebrations took place around the festival’s base at the historic Waterside Inn, with activities including live music performances, a free climbing wall, a barbecue and a beer festival.

Visitors were also able to get out on the canal and sample watersports such as canoeing at free taster sessions.

The second edition of the canal festival, which followed the huge success of 2015’s inaugural event, is not the end of the celebrations marking the Leeds-Liverpool Canal’s bicentenary.

Next month the historic short boat Kennet will visit the borough as part of its voyage recreating the ceremonial journey along the 127 miles of waterway between Yorkshire and Merseyside.

The Leeds and Liverpool Canal Society, which runs Kennet as an educational vessel, will crew the boat from Leeds to Liverpool from Saturday October 15 to Sunday October 23.

The vessel will arrive in Wigan on the afternoon of Friday October 21, staying overnight at the town’s bottom lock, departing the following morning. The voyage organisers hope residents will turn out to see the Kennet.