Issue date: 1st November 2012
Members from IWA's Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch have been helping out the Stourbridge Navigation Trust with preparations for their recent open weekend, which saw 10,000 people visit Stourbridge over the weekend of 20th and 21st October to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Stourbridge and an IWA National Rally in 1962.
The weekend before the event, volunteers from both organisations, as well as boat owners and local residents, helped prepare the site in readiness for the anniversary weekend. Litter picking, grass mowing and vegetation clearance was carried out for about a mile along the towpath. Several local people were encountered as they walked or cycled past, as this route is quite popular and useful, and all were pleased to see the work being carried out.
The car parking area, which was going to be used the following weekend for stands, displays and other activities, was also tidied up, including creating more level surface for gazebos by clearing a build up of soil. Ground was cleared, branches were cut, and hedges were trimmed.
The anniversary weekend itself was a great success, with an estimated 10,000 visitors attending to join in the celebrations. There was much reminiscing about the famous Battle of Stourbridge, which saw protestors claim their right of navigation to hold a rally in Stourbridge in 1962. The outcome is widely regarded to have forced a change in government policy which led to the survival and restoration of Britain's canal network.
There were about 100 boats at the event, and on the Saturday over 50 vehicles were on display including traction engines, fairground organs, vintage and classic cars. There was also a craft fair and displays from local canal societies.
The evening entertainment, sponsored by IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch, was 3 sessions from the “Boaty Folk” group. The highlight was a specially composed song celebrating the 50th anniversary composed by Phil Clayton (a member of the band and of IWA), making it a memorable evening for the almost 100 people attending.
Chris Dyche, chairman of Stourbridge Navigation Trust, said: "The weekend was extremely successful. It brings home the contribution people made, not only in 1962, but also in 1967 with the 16 locks restoration in Wordsley.”
Photo: Some of the 100 or so boats at the Stourbridge 50 Celebration, by David Struckett