Registered Charity No. 702429

Celebr18th HUDDLESFORD GATHERING 2nd October 2004



In all its 200 year history Huddlesford Junction has probably never seen an event such as this! The Gathering was organised as part of the Celebr18th Festival in Lichfield, to celebrate a time when canals were the new mode of transportation and Lichfield in Staffordshire was at the centre of everything new - the 18th century.

The Lichfield Cruising Club gave warm hospitality to boaters and visitors from Friday evening through to Sunday. Coventry Canal Engineer "James Brindley" (alias Rob Davies of the Trust) attended to see that all was in order in the true spirit of the 18th Century.

Twenty historic ex-working boats moored up, many "double breasted" in traditional fashion. The spectacular steam boats President and Monarch built in circa 1908 were in steam all day. A total 33 boats had booked in to the event, and many more just turned up so the final count was about 50.

Crowds watch as the boats arrive



President's butty, Kildare





Minnow and Empress

Minnow and Empress, view of bows
All these photos by Dave Moore

Other attractions on the water were a trip boat courtesy of Streethay Wharf and a holiday hire boat on display from Valley Cruises. On the field were more than 30 trade stalls, displays and entertainment including steam vehicles, vintage cars, the Lichfield Morris Men, and in the marquee a performance by Day-Star Theatre of their latest play "Taking a Chance".

The highlight of the day was the unveiling of a new arm on the fingerpost at Huddlesford Junction, organised by the Coventry Canal Society, pointing to Ogley Junction at Brownhills, and the canals of Walsall and Birmingham.

Visitors gathered to watch the VIP party, led by Michael Fabricant MP, Gwyneth Boyle (Mayor of Lichfield) and Tony Hill (Chairman of the Lichfield District Council), arrive in style along the Coventry Canal on board British Waterways hospitality narrowboat "", to the music of "Old English" bag pipes being played on the bow! At the Junction Michael Fabricant and Brian Kingshott, unveiled the new "Ogley " arm as horns blasted and the bells of the Lichfield Diocesan Mobile Belfry pealed triumphantly. Michael Fabricant said "This fingerpost points to Fradley and to Coventry. But the most important direction is to Ogley Junction: 6 miles, 7 furlongs and 30 locks away. At present the post has another sign bolted on it: 'No Access'. But I hope it will not be too long before I am asked to unscrew that sign when the Lichfield and Hatherton canals are finally reopened".

Thanks are due to British Waterways and especially to Louise and Trevor North for bringing the Waterscape boat to the event and providing VIP hospitality all day.

To bring it all to a triumphant close, on Saturday night the Cruising Club provided free entertainment with the Irish Folk Group "Skilligalee" performing to a packed marquee (and the ladies in the kitchen were bringing out still more food!).


Throughout 2004 we ran a childrens competition to decorate a ribbon plate. The winners were chosen at a meeting of the Marketing Group on 13th September 2004. All the entries were put on display at the Huddlesford Gathering on Saturday 2nd October, where the winners were presented with their prizes by "James Brindley" alias Rob Davies. It was very difficult to pick the best out of so many excellent entries, so a very big "well done" to the three winners:-

"James Brindley" presents the prize to the winner in the Under 8's category, Beth Windsor Age 6 from Stapenhill, Burton-on-Trent.
Sarah Jones Age 11 from Clayhanger, Walsall won the 8-12 category.
The winner in the Under 16's category was Scarlett Easdown Age 13 from Burton-on-Trent.

A Souvenir Programme and special brass plaque were produced to commemorate the event.

For more photos of the Huddlesford Gathering go to the Photo Gallery

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