Express & Star

Volunteers needed to help out at popular Black Country Boating Festival

Organisers of the popular Black Country Boating Festival are seeking volunteers to help out at the annual event.

A previous Black Country Boating Festival. Photo: Kev Maslin

This year it is being held at Netherton from September 13-15.

Co-organiser Ross Harrison, 31, said: "This will be our 38th festival at Windmill End, or Bumblehole, as it's known locally.

"It has grown steadily over a period of time, and our team has grown with it up to a point.

"But inevitably some of our staff have either moved away or retired, and so they have to be replaced for us to remain viable as an organisation.

"We have various roles to fill, from basic marshalling duties, to bar staff, and then there's the running of the sound stage.

"Inadvertently it has become the largest outdoor music event of its kind in the Dudley area.

"It really has snowballed quite quickly. As always we are also expecting dozens of narrow boats to turn up, plus a number of floating traders."

If anyone is interested in helping out an online application form can be found at or via the Facebook page Black Country Boating Festival.

Andy Tidy, of Aldridge, along with wife Helen has been attending the event for several years.

They dispense their own brand of delicious jams and preserves from within their narrow boat 'Montgomery', also known as 'The Jam Butty'.

"The Black Country Boating Festival has always been one of our favourite gatherings," he said.

"Sadly this will be one of our last events on our current boat, as we're getting a larger one in the near future.

"But we'd wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone who was thinking about attending, as it's so friendly. It's literally buzzing over the entire weekend."

The site for the festival lies at the south western fringe of the 100 mile Birmingham Canal Navigations network, and features one of the best known and almost unique waterway crossroads in the UK.

Phil Clayton, a canal enthusiast, writer and local historian from Wolverhampton, said: "Windmill End Junction was created along with canal improvements in 1858 and the construction of the 3027 yard Netherton Tunnel to bypass the increasingly congested Dudley Tunnel at Wren's Nest.

"The original line of the Dudley No.2 Canal was bisected, creating a four way intersection, all of which remains navigable today.

"Other examples are few and far between, but include Rotton Park Junction near Edgbaston Reservoir and the meeting of the River Trent, Erewash Canal and River Soar in Nottinghamshire, but that's vast and somewhat staggered."

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