PRESS RELEASE: IWA Announces 2015 Northampton Festival of Water

Issue date: 15th August 2014

Following on from a successful Campaign Festival held in Northampton in 2011, The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) is pleased to announce that it plans to hold a major waterways event on the river Nene over the August Bank Holiday Weekend in 2015. 

The event, taking place Saturday 29th to Monday 31st August, will be centred around the waterfront at Becket’s Park. The Northampton Festival of Water is being organised jointly by IWA Events Team and IWA Northampton Branch, with the full support of Northampton Borough Council, the Environment Agency and the Canal & River Trust.

The main aim of the event will be to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the opening of the Northampton Arm in 1815, which connected the Grand Union Canal (or Grand Junction as it was then known) to the Nene in Northampton, creating a route to the East Anglian waterways and the Wash by water. The Arm replaced an earlier horse drawn railway between Gayton Junction and an unloading point at Far Cotton where a restored historic crane still stands. The Arm enabled ironstone and limestone to be carried to local blast furnaces, grain and flour to and from mills along the Nene, coal from North Warwickshire and timber from London’s Surrey Docks to Northampton.

The Festival of Water also aims to promote Northampton’s riverside, to recognise the value of the waterway to the town and its people and to encourage more people to use the river for boating recreation and leisure.

The Festival of Water will have an array of attractions on and off the water providing a fun day out for all the family. Up to 200 boats, including leisure, trade, heritage and working narrowboats, are expected in the marina and along the river front as well as a wealth of smaller craft such as canoes, rowing boats, sailboats, windsurfers and ribs. There will also be opportunities for visitors to get afloat on board trip boats and water taxis.

Northampton is the gateway to Peterborough, Ely, Cambridge, St. Ives, Huntingdon and Bedford via the Nene, Middle Level and Fenland waterways and the Environment Agency are making special temporary licensing arrangements to encourage boaters to explore these little travelled waterways.
Sue Cant Environment Agency Northamptonshire waterways leader said "We are delighted that  IWA's Festival is returning to Northamptonshire in 2015. We hope that visitors to the festival will not rush home at the end but take the opportunity to explore the Nene, which is one of the most scenic waterways in the country and a hidden gem of the county. The festival will help to secure Northampton as an inland waterway destination and encourage further improvement to the town's waterfront and river corridor."

Councillor David Mackintosh, Leader of Northampton Borough Council said “For generations the Nene was a source of wealth as our town’s industries imported materials and exported products along the canal network. Today our riverside is a wonderful place to relax and the Northampton Festival of Water is set to be a wonderful celebration of our town’s connection with the Nene. The Festival is set to be a fantastic event with something for all ages, and well worth a visit to Northampton.”

IWA Events Team Chairman John Butler said "I have been impressed from the start by the level of commitment and enthusiasm for this event locally, and I have no doubt that we can look forward to a weekend to remember. As a boater I am always excited by the prospect of visiting new waterways, and I intend to make the most of this opportunity to explore the waterways beyond Northampton. So put in in your diary now and come along to see what Northampton has to offer – you won’t be disappointed."

There will be no admission charge although visitors will be encouraged to make a donation.

There will be a market and fundraising stalls and the Events Team would like to hear from boaters, charities and local groups who are interested in having a stall and fundraising for their chosen cause and IWA. More information is available on IWA's website.


For further media requests please contact the following:

Lynda Payton, IWA Northampton Branch on 01604 861205/07885 190444 or email
Sarah Rudy, Press Officer, Canal & River Trust on 01908 302584/07788 691219 or email   
Gareth Brede, Communications Officer, Northampton Borough Council
01604 837391 or e-mail
Rita Penman, Nationwide Communications Team, Environment Agency on 01733 464357
Or e-mail

Notes for Editors:
About The Inland Waterways Association

About Canal & River Trust

About Northampton Borough Council

About Environment Agency

IWA campaigns for the use, maintenance and restoration of Britain's inland waterways.
About IWA
Volunteers restoring the waterways. The Waterway Recovery Group is part of IWA.
About WRG

Image: River Nene at Becket's Park
Download image from Flickr