Canal’s 200th birthday marked with voyage

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Credit: © Canal and River Trust

The boat Kennet is set to travel the length of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal. Pic © Canal and River Trust

Britain’s longest man-made waterway is celebrating its 200th birthday with a 127-mile boat journey between Leeds and Liverpool.

The working boat named Kennet set off on Saturday from Leeds and is set to dock in Liverpool on Sunday October 23rd, imitating the journey that many small vessels would have made in the 19th and 20th Centuries.

The Leeds & Liverpool Canal was constructed in 1816 for the purpose of trade benefits, with the main cargo being coal.

Millions of tons of the fuel would be delivered to Liverpool in the 1860s and many boats would make the journey along the waterway every year to supply such goods to various places such as Leeds, Liverpool and Burnley, to name a few.

Like many boats before it, the Kennet shall travel through 91 locks and will climb almost 152 metres over the Pennine hills before it reaches its destination in Liverpool.

In 1816, the construction of the canal prompted celebratory music from brass bands, chiming church bells and cheers from onlooking civilians. With the deployment of the Kennet on this long journey, the Canal and River Trust and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal Society aim to recreate the celebrations witnessed 200 years ago.

YouTube: Canal & River Trust

Chantelle Seaborn, local waterway manager with the Canal & River Trust, said: “The Leeds-Liverpool Canal is such a special waterway and it’s fantastic that so many people want to celebrate this landmark anniversary with festivals and other events.”

Historian Mike Clarke, the Leeds & Liverpool Canal Society president, said: “We will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the canal’s completion and reflect upon its importance to both the towns and cities it connects, and to the country as a whole.

“Today there are fewer industries along its banks, but the canal still gives many benefits to communities along its route. Today there are opportunities for leisure where once hard labour prevailed, and the towpath is open to all.”

About Josh Hodge, JMU Journalism