Brownhills Canal Festival
Brownhills is an old ex mining town which sits on the A5 near Cannock and crucially, sits next the Wyrley and Essington Canal on the extreme northern edge of the Birmingham Canal Navigations. It also happens so be about three miles from our home in Aldridge, so its a place we know well.
The canal at Silver Street, Brownhills
Given its status of "capital of the Northern Reaches" it periodically hosts canal events, and this year the Birmingham Canal Navigations Society (BCNS) decided to hold a rally in the extensive moorings in the centre of town. Now this has to be one of the more tricky locations to reach, taking either one day through loads of locks of nearly two days on the flat via Wolverhampton, so no one was sure how many boats would make the long trek.
Working Boats and Day Boats (Joeys)
Brownhills has historically held a one day canal side event each year, but the organisers ran out of steam a few years ago. One year the Historic Boat Club held an easter rally here, but last year was fallow and the broad expanse of water beside Silver Street saw few visitors.
Skippers polish their boats for the crowds
In the event nearly 40 visiting boats arrived plus a clutch of historic boats and unpowered day boats, plus four trade boats. Against this backdrop the land based pitches were sold out months ago and the organisers crossed their fingers that crowds would turn out to see the spectacle.
Visiting boats line all the towpath
The good people of Brownhills love their canal and there is nothing they like better than to see it jam packed with boats. As the visiting boats trickled in on Thursday and Friday more and more locals came to the waterfront with their cameras to stand and watch as boat after boat chugged up and found somewhere to moor. This trickle turned into something of a flood on Saturday with the towpath thronging with visitors, Phoenix, the BCNS work / trip boat full to the limit on each of its short runs up and down the waterfront and even the ever hungry armada of Canada Geese retired, sated by an onslaught of duck food offered by enthusiastic children.
Governor looking splendid
And Morgana putting on her best face for the event
The site does have one disadvantage, a lack of space for a marquee and bar. But on the flip side, there is a large community centre a few hundred yards away, so entertainment and lubrication is offered just off site.
... and these guys are there selling their preserves
The event runs for two days so if you missed the Saturday jollifications there is still time to pop along on Sunday.