The establishment of a "Destination Staffordshire" marquee in 2011 helped people discover more about all the canals in Staffordshire, and the world of possibilities the county holds for holidays and great days out! The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) Stoke-on-Trent branch joined forces with Staffordshire County Council and arranged for local waterways organisations to exhibit in one marquee supported by the Destination Staffordshire tourism team.
There were displays by the groups campaigning for the: Burslem Port branch, Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals, Lichfield & Hatherton Canals, Stafford Riverway, Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, and Trent & Mersey Canal, plus the IWA branches for: Lichfield, Stoke-on-Trent and Shrewsbury & North Wales, plus the Shrewsbury & Newport Canal campaigners – yes, that waterway joins the Shropshire Union Canal in Staffordshire!
Also there was the story of Staffordshire’s canals by somebody who has walked all of them in the last year! The 2011 Waterways Festival at Burton-on-Trent was the first time the whole story of Ian Dudson’s “Canal Challenge” could be presented, set around the huge map of Staffordshire that was used to plan his 16 walks covering 154 miles. Photos taken on every walk described Ian’s highlights of each of Staffordshire’s canals, along with his and fellow walkers’ experiences. They walked all of the county’s canals during his year as High Sheriff in 2010-11, raising money for The High Sheriff Fund charity. The challenge also allowed Ian to explore Staffordshire via its amazing network of canals - key to Britain’s industrial revolution and especially the development the county’s ceramic industry.
Ian Dudson is Chairman of the Stoke-on-Trent company Dudson – making ceramic tableware for the hospitality industry throughout the world. IWA Stoke-on-Trent branch Chairman Roger Savage and Julie Arnold, Chairman of Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust, joined him on some of his walks – and Ian has since become a Patron of the Burslem Port Trust, the Stoke-on-Trent project to restore the branch canal to the “Mother Town” of the Potteries.
Along the way, the idea of celebrating the Canal County of Staffordshire at the Burton-on-Trent Waterways Festival also germinated!