Black Country Boating Festival celebrated

Colourful narrowboats and huge working boats filled the Black Country waterways for the return of a popular festival.

Around 10,000 people descended on Bumble Hole Nature Reserve, in Netherton, Dudley, for the 27th Black Country Boating Festival over the weekend. Canalside entertainment was also laid on to welcome the crowds who turned out to get a closer look at the boats.

Around 100 narrowboats owned by canal enthusiasts were bought along the Dudley No. 2 Canal which serves the nature reserve.

Husband and wife Malcolm and Dawn Edge, aged 61 and 41 respectively, had bought their 71ft long working boat to the festival.

Mr Edge, known to friends in the canal community as Blossom, said it was their seventh time at the event.

“It is like coming home,” said Mr Edge who lives in Rugeley. “I used to live with a canal at the bottom of my street and that was when you would still see working boats going past. It is not just the boats it is the way of life and traditions that really fascinate me.”

Fellow waterways couple, Malcolm and Stephanie Gray-Smart, had dressing in some traditional Victorian outfits.

The narrowboat owners, from Market Drayton, decided to just attend the event rather then bring their own boat Elisha this year.

Mr Gray-Smart, aged 69, said: “There is always a good atmosphere and whenever we come dressed up people always come over and say hello.”