The Bridgewater Canal, now owned by Peel Holdings, is one of the most famous canals in the world, credited with kick starting the Industrial Revolution. Commissioned by the third Duke of Bridgewater and created by engineer James Brindley, it was opened in 1761 to carry up to one million tons of coal from the mines to Manchester.
Recently, the Canal and its environs have been undergoing a major £5.5million restoration, funded by a £3.6million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £1.9million from Salford City Council and almost sweet FA from Peel Holdings itself (see previous Salford Star article – click here).
As part of the programme, titled Est. 1761, nine Salford men who live along the Canal have been spending 700 hours in twice weekly workshops building by hand a new twenty-foot long boat, inspired by the old `starvationer' boats used back in the day, and so-called because of their wooden `protruding ribs'.
The men involved in the Minecrafting project were supported by Start Creative to learn traditional craft techniques and to build the boat from ash, poplar and beech wood taken from trees along the Canal.
"I am really looking forward to the boat being finished and will be immensely proud when it is launched, firstly to see if it floats and then the thought that this will be a lasting legacy for many years to come and may inspire future generations to do something similar" says Nigel Harris, from Eccles.
Nigel volunteered after taking early redundancy, and the project was aimed at getting men to overcome isolation, take more of an interest in the culture and heritage of their area and to make new friends.
The new `old' boat will be launched on Friday 23rd September at the Humpback Bridge, Bridgewater Canal, Worsley.
At the event Jennifer Reid will perform a new ballad penned in response to the project and the stories of the boat builders, and will be doing some clog dancing. There will also be an accompanying clog making workshop and an opportunity to make a wooden heritage craft memento.
Friday 23rd September 1pm-3pm
Bridgewater Canal, opposite the Bridgewater Hotel
Barton Road, Worsley M28 2PD.