PRESS RELEASE: 100 Boats Cruise to St Neots for IWA Festival of Water

Issue date: 29th August 2018

Thousands of people flocked to Regatta Meadow in St Neots over the August Bank Holiday weekend to enjoy the spectacular IWA Festival of Water, an annual event that this year came to the River Great Ouse in Cambridgeshire.

Organisers at The Inland Waterways Association, the charity working to protect and restore Britain's 6,500 miles of canals and rivers, said that a total of 100 boats took part in the event, with some having travelled from the furthest reaches of the connected waterways, via the River Nene and the Middle Level Navigations, to join boats based on the Great Ouse for the festival.

The event was opened by St Neots Town Crier, Ian Payne, followed by words of support from Councillor Richard West, Chairman of Huntingdonshire District Council, Councillor Barry Chapman, Mayor of St Neots, along with IWA National Chairman, Ivor Caplan, IWA Eastern Region Chairman, Chris Howes, and EA Anglian Waterway Manager, Irven Forbes.

The Sunday evening procession of illuminated boats was followed by an impressive firework display contributed by St Neots Town Council, who gave their wholehearted support for this Festival.

As well as the colourful display of boats, attractions at the three-day event included boat trips on board the Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust's John Bunyan trip boat, the chance to have a go at canoeing and stand up paddle boarding, live music, craft stalls, classic cars, children's rides and the chance to drive a digger under the guidance of restoration experts from IWA's Waterway Recovery Group.

Jane Elwell, Chairman of IWA's Events Team, said: "We chose St Neots for the 2018 IWA Festival of Water because waterways in the Anglian Region are a focal point for a number of IWA's current campaigns. Two new waterways to boost the region are planned, whilst a number of navigable waterways in the Anglian Region are under threat."

IWA is campaigning for increased funding from Government for the waterways managed by the Environment Agency, including the Great Ouse, which have been starved of funding for a number of years.

The proposed new Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Park would provide a new 16 mile link from the Grand Union Canal in Milton Keynes to the River Great Ouse in Bedford. As well as creating regeneration opportunities for local communities along its route, it would also provide a strategic connection to the waterways of East Anglia.

Another brand new waterway linking the River Witham in Boston to the River Nene in Peterborough was launched at the event, as the northern part of the original Fens Waterways Link. The Boston to Peterborough Wetland Corridor project is being reinvented to overcome funding and logistical issues and IWA is working with EA and Lincolnshire County Council to drive the project forward. The link would open up a new cruising, cycling and pedestrian route, a wetland corridor and bring welcome economic regeneration to areas along the route.

Next year IWA Festival of Water will take place at Lee Valley Park, Waltham Abbey on the Lee Navigation.



A selection of photographs are available to download from Google Drive.

Press Contact

For further information please contact Gemma Bolton, Press Office, The Inland Waterways Association, by emailing or phoning 01494 783453 ext 617.


Each year, The Inland Waterways Association, holds a waterways festival to campaign and raise awareness of local waterways issues and to attract greater usage of and engagement with the local waterways.

The Inland Waterways Association

IWA is The Inland Waterways Association, a membership charity that works to protect and restore the country's 6,500 miles of canals and rivers. IWA is a national organisation with a network of volunteers and branches who deploy their expertise and knowledge to work constructively with navigation authorities, government and other organisations. The Association also provides practical and technical support to restoration projects through its expert Waterway Recovery Group.

100 Boats Cruise to St Neots for IWA Festival of Water

A selection of photographs are available to download from Google Drive.