Birdswood Success

Friends of the Cromford Canal - 31st December 2014

In the first full year of operation, the FCC trip boat Birdswood has been an undoubted success carrying over 5,600 passengers, including over 300 on Santa Specials alone (see below). A full report will be carried in the New Year edition of The Portal.

Birdswood Santa Specials

Friends of the Cromford Canal - Sundays in December 2014

The Birdswood team joined up with Santa to spread some seasonal happiness on the three Sundays leading up to Christmas.

Running three one-hour Santa Special trips each day, we carried over 300 passengers on a beautifully decorated Birdswood. They feasted on generous quantities of traditional fayre and joined in singing carols and Christmas songs. Children visited Santa in his back cabin 'grotto' where the stove glowed gently, and went away with one of the wonderful 'Muddy Waters' series of books and a bag of chocolate coins.

There were lots of smiling faces of all ages, and feedback from customers was very positive. One happy grandparent said the experience was excellent and had exceeded all expectations, while other customers remarked on what good value it was and appreciated the warm Christmas spirit.

The crews and masters all enjoyed themselves greatly and their hard work has boosted FCC funds substantially, which is even more rewarding. Special thanks go to David and Gill Hirst, aka Mr & Mrs S. Claus.

A very jolly Santa greets passengers on a Birdswood Santa Cruise

Mike Kelley (left; aka "Mr Mike") supervises Santa on Birdswood

Discovery Days

Friends of the Cromford Canal - 1st and 2nd November 2014

The Cromford Canal between Cromford and Ambergate is the longest length of canal in England to be designated as part of a World Heritage Site (WHS). The Derwent Valley WHS stretches from Matlock Bath to Derby, in recognition of the part played by water power in the development of the factory system, pioneered by Richard Arkwright, who for many years also acted as chairman at the Cromford Canal Company committee meetings.
Each year at the end of the autumn half-term, a celebration of the WHS is held in the form of Discovery Days in which FCC plays a major role in organising events based around Cromford Wharf. This year gave us the driest, sunniest weekend we had ever had on the first weekend of November, and the crowds turned out in force to support us.
As well as the FCC sales stand and tombola in the Gothic Warehouse, there was a historical slide show which proved as popular as ever, watercolour paintings by Wallace Spence, and Jes and Lin Inglis were demonstrating traditional ‘Rose & Castle’ painting and peg loom weaving.
Outside, the Wild Over Waterways marquee attracted the younger generation to try their hand at various activities such as lace plate painting and bridge building. Around the site a number of miniature traction engines entertained the public and offered rides, whilst on the water the Nottingham Model Boat Club put on their usual excellent display with a variety of craft both traditional and more unusual (both Henry the Hoover and the floating Dalek proved a delight for children of all ages!).
But the biggest attraction afloat was of course Birdswood, pulled for this special occasion by Chelsea from our friends at Arraslea Shires. At the end of the first trip on the Sunday, the High Sheriff of Derbyshire, David Coleman, made a special presentation to Lance and Corrine of Arraslea Shires. Over £1,100 was raised, including Birdswood trips, over the weekend thanks to something over 640 volunteer hours put in by the stalwart team of volunteers who make this event such a success every year, to whom the FCC offers a huge vote of thanks.

A busy scene at Cromford Wharf as Birdswood leaves on one of her popular horse-drawn trips during Discovery Days 2014