14 August 2012

Liverpool's pier head hosts its first horse drawn canal boat

By Tom Dootson

A traditional horse-drawn narrowboat has completed its journey to Liverpool by canals after starting in Leeds in April.

The journey, organised by the Horseboating Society and supported by volunteers is the first of its kind since canal link at the Pier Head link was opened in 2009.

The £22 million link connects the Leeds and Liverpool canal with the Albert Dock.

On-board were volunteers from The Horseboating Society and Leeds & Liverpool Canal Society, as well as local community groups.

They were be joined by the city’s World Heritage Officer, John Hinchliffe; and Sue Day, who is Chairperson of The Horseboating Society and owner and trainer of Bilbo Baggins, the horse.

Although there is no towpath at the Pier Head, volunteers and Bilbo used their boating experience to complete the pull of the barge through the section.

World Heritage Officer John Hinchliffe said: “This will be a fantastic occasion for Liverpool, and the arrival of a horse-drawn canal boat at the Pier Head will be a sight to behold.

“Horses were a common sight on our waterfront from the 18th century, right through to the 1960s. They maintained the vital link between the docks and the rest of the city and were instrumental in placing Liverpool as one of the world’s most prominent and prosperous ports.

The canal boat is also decorated with red, white and blue wool and cotton bunting, as a reminder of the importance of the textile trade on the Leeds and Liverpool canal.

The completion of the journey in the city will mark a Diamond Jubilee triumph – because as well as being the first ever horse-drawn boat to arrive at the city’s canal link, it will be the first to arrive in Liverpool from Leeds during the reign of the Queen, with the last such trip taking place 68 years ago.

The Liverpool leg of the journey is supported by the city council and other local organisations including National Museums Liverpool and the Mersey Heritage Trust.

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