The bicentenary celebrations of Pocklington Canal

PUBLISHED: 00:00 02 October 2018

Boat trip passes through Thornton Lock

Boat trip passes through Thornton Lock

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Hundreds attended a special party to celebrate the bicentenary of the Pocklington Canal

Lord Halifax, patron of Pocklington Canal Amenity SocietyLord Halifax, patron of Pocklington Canal Amenity Society

When it opened in 1818 it was an important route for transporting coal, flour and corn and 200 years later, despite a decline which almost saw it filled in, the Pocklington Canal is important once more.

More than 700 people attended a special birthday party for the canal this summer, organised by the waterways and wellbeing charity Canal & River Trust which now cares for the canal in partnership with Pocklington Canal Amenity Society (PCAS).

The nine and a half mile long canal is now an important part of the local community, providing people with a place to relax and wildlife with space to thrive. The event to mark its bicentenary gave people the chance to get involved on the towpath and on water, and to experience in all sorts of ways how canals can benefit their daily lives.

The celebrations included music from the Driffield Silver Band, performances by Ebor Morris, the South Pennine Handspike Dance Team and a community archaeological dig led by Yorkshire Community Archaeology.

Mary Harrison, whose husband Tony was a trustee of the Inland Waterways AssociationMary Harrison, whose husband Tony was a trustee of the Inland Waterways Association

There were trips out on the water, as well as explorations of the wildlife that lives along the length of the canal, performances which brought the canal’s characters back to life. Tadcaster-based willow sculptors Dragon Willow were joined by 65 people to help weave a horse community sculpture, named Storm after the weather.

Lizzie Dealey, project officer at the Canal & River Trust, said: ‘It’s been absolutely fantastic to celebrate Pocklington Canal’s 200th anniversary with so many people – locals and visitors alike.

‘The amount of interest in the waterway over recent months just goes to show that canals are still incredibly important to people as a space to relax and unwind in the fresh air, away from the bustle and bustle of everyday life.

‘Our thanks go to everyone involved in the restoration projects, celebration events and ongoing activities, and we look forward to helping future generations enjoy the benefits of being by water.’

Archaeology workshopsArchaeology workshops

The railways and, later, the roads took traffic away from canals and trade on the Pocklington Canal dwindled until, in 1934, the heavily silted canal was closed. After proposals to fill it in, the PCAS was formed in the late 1960s and began their restoration project. The canal is now fully open again for the first time in a century and the group are now trying to raise £150,000 to restore Sandhill Lock.

And in the canal’s bicentenary year, the canal – where regular events include guided walks, outdoor theatre and family wildlife sessions – has been given a Green Flag Award, recognising it as one of the country’s top open spaces.

For more details, or to donate to the appeal, go online to canalrivertrust.org.uk/places-to-visit/pocklington.

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