News article created on 24 October 2019

Flotilla of 50 boats coming to Birmingham to celebrate the 250th birthday of the Birmingham Canal Navigations

The event, which is being organised by the Trust, in partnership with the Birmingham Canal Navigations Society, will begin at 12 noon at the Roundhouse before heading along the canal to Brindley Place and onto the Oozells Street Loop.

Photo of Roundhouse in Birmingham Roundhouse in Birmingham

A flotilla of 50 boats is set to cruise through central Birmingham to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the first section of the Birmingham Canal Navigations' opening.

The flotilla which will include heritage working boats, modern narrowboats and bell boats – a cross between a dragon boat and a canoe - will take place on Saturday 2 November at 12 noon and we are inviting members of the public to come along and witness the spectacle.

Once a busy transport route for carrying coal and cotton, the Birmingham Canal Navigations were at the heart of the Industrial Revolution and helped shape the city of Birmingham and the Black Country.

Today, cared for and promoted by us and an army of dedicated volunteers, the Birmingham Canal Navigations are now more popular than ever - providing vibrant waterfront bars and restaurants, traffic-free routes to cycle and run and space to relax, admire the historic architecture and enjoy a tranquil boat trip.

Adnan Saif, regional director, said: “The Birmingham Canal Navigations are the lifeblood of the city and help connect local communities and people to green spaces right on their doorstep."

“In the West Midlands over 1.75 million people live within a mile of their local canal and have the potential to use our network of towpaths as part of their daily commute to work or school, or simply to enjoy a stroll or a leisurely bike ride. Research shows being next to water makes you happier and heathier so, as part of our birthday celebrations, why not visit your local canal and see for yourself how wonderful they are."

“The flotilla will be a real spectacle with boats of all shapes and sizes set to cruise through the heart of central Birmingham. It promises to be a wonderful event and I would encourage local people to come along and experience it for themselves.”

Martin O’Keeffe, president of the Birmingham Canal Navigations Society, said: “When the Birmingham Canal Navigations originally opened the cost of coal dropped by half and helped to increase the city’s exports. Once regarded as the ‘workshop of the world’ the canals were instrumental in transporting items such as metal works and jewellery to London and the rest of the world. This boom in industry helped to shape and build the City of Birmingham and the towns in the Black Country into what we recognise today.”

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