The 200th anniversary of England’s longest man-made waterway is being marked with a nine-day epic voyage.
Leeds and Liverpool Canal is having the milestone celebrated with what is hailed as the greatest long-distance water party staged through northern England.
The Canal and River Trust and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal Society are recreating the inaugural 1816 boat passage byLancashire and Yorkshire merchants on the 127-mile-long waterway this week.
They set off from Leeds on Saturday aboard the former working boat Kennet, planning to arrive in Liverpool on Sunday October 23.
Brass bands, hundreds of school children and crowds of well-wishers are expected to greet the boat on its voyage.
The flotilla will have to negotiate 91 locks, climb nearly 500 feet over the Pennine hills and cruise through the one-mile Foulridge Tunnel.
Kennet trip organiser Harold Bond said: “Back in 1816, press reports state that the ceremonial first boat was greeted by pealing church bells, brass bands and cheering crowds, and canal barges were be-decked in flags and streamers.
“We are hoping to re-create that amazing atmosphere of celebration again. The response to our invitation to get involved has been brilliant so we have every chance of staging a celebration worthy of those entrepreneurial merchants and inventive engineers who were responsible for building this waterway two hundred years ago.”
Chantelle Seaborn, local waterway manager with the Canal and River Trust, 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.”