2nd July 2018
A record crowd witnessed a Lancaster bomber flying over Staveley Town Basin, followed by a Dakota the next day. These was just two of many highlights at the Chesterfield Canal Festival held over the weekend of June 30th/July 1st.
The festival was put on by the Chesterfield Canal Trust. All four of its tripboats were in action, carrying over 800 passengers into Hartington Harbour, the newly built section of canal that was being used for the first time. The Trust’s volunteers have spent several years building this section and their superb work drew admiring comments from everyone.
Dozens of would-be navvies, young and old, had a go at driving a digger, whilst others chose to cool off in canoes provided by Pleasley Canoe Club, which also organised canoe polo matches.
The Newfoundland Training and Demonstration Team proved a real hit with several shows involving these huge dogs who clearly love being in the water and rescuing people.
Other attractions included Birds of Prey, archery, lots of children’s rides, a bouncy castle, radio-controlled boats, a glitter painter and vintage vehicles. Encounter Exotics, brought all manner of exciting animals, whilst the steamroller, Old Faithful, was a magnet for photographers.
There was entertainment all day including music, dance and street theatre, both in the big marquee and outside by the lock.
There were dozens of stalls of every type including holistic massage, home-made cakes, bonsai trees, old tools, canal art, the RSPB – the list was long. All the catering and coffee stalls did a roaring trade, with the longest queues for Frederick’s ice cream. Brampton Brewery had to send for extra supplies of Real Ale several times and its cooling equipment was running at full power.
There were two evening concerts. The Swing Commanders went down a storm on the Friday, whilst Some Antics plus Judy Dunlop & Jon Scaife, proved very popular on the Saturday. The view through the marquee’s wall of windows across the basin to the setting sun could not have been more spectacular.
Finally, on the Monday, there was a flotilla of all four tripboats from Staveley Basin right up the canal to the floodgate at St Helena’s and back, with stops both ways at Hollingwood Hub and Tapton Lock. This proved very popular and delighted regular towpath users, who were not used to seeing lots of boats sailing past.
Festival Director David Kiddy said: “We could not be more pleased with the Festival. It brought pleasure to thousands of people, showed off the fabulous construction work done by our volunteers and demonstrated yet again what an asset the canal is to the area. This strengthens the Chesterfield Canal Trust’s resolve to get the remaining nine miles of canal restored.”
These two images are aerial shots of the Giant Land Art produced by Chesterfield Cultural Education Partnership. Madeline is at the bottom, Denis the digger on the right with a map of the whole canal, with the locks marked, running between them.