Express & Star

Canal festival set to be 'bigger and better' than ever before

A canal festival raising money and support for an ambitious restoration project is set to return at the end of the month.

Shrewsbury and Newport Canals Trust will be staging the Norbury Canal Festival at Norbury Junction from Saturday, April 29 to Monday, May 1

The annual Norbury Canal Festival will return to Norbury Junction for three days from April 29.

The popular event has run every year since 2004, hosted by The Shrewsbury and Newport Canals Trust to support their ambitious plans to reopen all 24.75 miles of the disused network.

The festival will showcase around a kilometre of boats selling food, gifts and art as well as music and entertainment from Saturday to Monday.

Trust chairman Bernie Jones said: "This year we hope to make this even bigger and better than it's ever been.

"A lot of the boats trade things you just can't buy anywhere else. There's lots of artwork and leatherwork that make it like nowhere else I know.

"There'll be lots of food, everything from wonderful Asian meals to doughnuts and burgers and plenty for the children to do.

"The star of the show this year is definitely the alpacas, but we have bouncy castles and rides as well as buskers and bands."

The Junction Inn and Norbury Wharf will be supporting the event with plenty of refreshments, a narrowboat trip, or a longer cruise on the 42-seater Shropshire Star.

The annual festival aims to raise funds, awareness and support for the trust's ambitious mission to restore the Shrewsbury and Newport canals.

Bernie explained: "We're passionate about getting these canals to reopen for the local community. Not only do they bring a huge increase in biodiversity, but they provide a safe towpath to cycle, walk, paint and fish.

"They're very tranquil places, wonderful for general wellbeing and helping with mental health."

The mainline that previously ran from Trench to Shrewsbury opened fully in 1797 but remained isolated from the rest of the canal network until 1835 when the Newport Branch was added from Norbury Junction to a new junction with the Shrewsbury Canal at Wappenshall.

The trust's flagship project, the restoration of Wappenshall Wharf is well underway, with volunteers working hard to restore the two Grade II listed warehouses.

One is set to host a cafe, which the trust hopes will open by the end of the year. The trust has plans to turn the other into an information centre, with displays and exhibits featuring the history of the canal.

Entry to the festival is free, as well as parking and runs from 10am until 4pm between Saturday, April 29 to Monday, May 1.

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