PRESS RELEASE: “To be or not to be” in Stratford in July 2014

Issue date: 19th June 2014

If you are wondering whether to go to Stratford-upon-Avon this July, The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) thinks there are a number of reasons why you should.

Celebrations will be taking place across Warwickshire in 2014 to mark the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth. This year, IWA is also celebrating significant anniversaries relating to the restoration of the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal and the Upper Avon in Warwickshire.

  • This year marks the centenary of the birth of IWA's co-founder Robert Aickman who led the campaign to reopen the Stratford Canal and Upper Avon in the 50s and 60s. (100)
  • This year also sees the 70th anniversary of the publication of  Narrow Boat by IWA’s other co-founder, Tom Rolt, which inspired a revival of interest in the waterways. (70)
  • IWA was founded by Robert Aickman and Tom Rolt in 1946 which was 68 years ago. (68)
  • Many early IWA members, under the leadership of David Hutchings, achieved the restoration of the southern Stratford Canal, which was opened 50 years ago in 1964. (50)
  • The restored southern Stratford Canal is some 13 miles long. (13)
  • David Hutchings went on to lead the restoration of the Upper Avon, which was completed through Stratford 40 years ago. (40)
  • The restoration of the Upper Avon, along with the earlier reopening of the Lower Avon provides some 46 miles of navigation, from Tewkesbury to Alveston. (46)
  • 2014 is the 44th Anniversary of the creation of IWA's Waterway Recovery Group (WRG). Since 1970 WRG has helped to restore hundreds of miles of derelict inland waterways - thereby enabling many more boats from different parts of the country to reach Stratford than would otherwise be possible. (44)
  • Stratford & Warwick Waterways Trust (SWWT) was set up to facilitate extension of through navigation on the Avon to Warwick, and linking it to the Grand Union Canal. Among its other advantages, this extension will add some 13 miles to our national inland waterway cruising network. (13)
  • And 6 is the number of organisations involved in the revival of these waterways and promoting them today: (6)
    1. The Inland Waterways Association
    2. Avon Navigation Trust (formerly Lower Avon Navigation Trust and Upper Avon Navigation Trust)
    3. Stratford & Warwick Waterways Trust
    4. Stratford-upon-Avon Canal Society
    5. Canal & River Trust (formerly British Waterways)
    6. The National Trust    

Which adds up to 450 reasons to take advantage of the waterways which have been restored and campaigned for by IWA, and navigate to Stratford this summer.

The 2014 Stratford River Festival, taking place on 5th - 6th July, will be held on the banks of the River Avon, opposite the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. On Friday 4th July there will be events to celebrate the two waterways anniversaries, plaques unveiled, and speeches at Bancroft lock, together with a floating orchestra on the Avon.

The event will include an exhibition of historic photographs from the 1964 and 1974 periods, put on by IWA, The Stratford upon Avon Canal Society and Canal & River Trust. There will also be music, craft and food stalls, family zone, charity stalls, illuminated boat parade, spectacular fireworks and the widest spectrum of inland waterway craft to be seen anywhere on the system.

Les Etheridge, IWA National Chairman said "This year, we have been provided with a brilliant opportunity to celebrate and build on our long history of campaigning for our inland waterways.  Anniversary events taking place for waterway restoration successes, which were led or supported by IWA, have enabled us to increase awareness, momentum and support for restoration groups, and champion the restoration of waterways across the country, for future generations to enjoy."

Roger Clay, speaking on behalf of The Stratford & Warwick Waterways Trust said "The festival will be a great occasion, with great food and great music in a stunning riverside setting."


Photo: Stratford River Festival (credit Jeanne Smith) - download image from Flickr

Find out more on the Stratford River Festival website

About IWA 

Photo: Stratford River Festival (credit Jeanne Smith)
Download image from Flickr