We were asked by the organisers of Long Eaton Carnival to attend this year, but had to consider it carefully as it clashed with the Spirit of Chellaston event that was so successful for us last year. We wanted to try it out as we wanted to test the reaction locally to our restoration, particularly with the planning now going into digging out the Sandiacre Lock. So the call went out and despite the holiday season we had 8 volunteers on the day and everyone worked their socks off. As a result I think we got some brilliant feedback and made a big impact on the Long Eaton public.
We always set up our information boards and shop and run “Play your Cards Right” and “Spot the Kingfisher”, but we decided to be more ambitious and use the opportunity. Firstly Paul and Jackie had upgraded the half size boat so it in pristine condition and had added roses and castles and harlequin designs at the front and back. We towed the boat in the 2 hour long street parade and it made a real impact with the thousands lining the route. The crowds were all pointing out the boat to their children and talking about the canals locally. We had lots of waves from the crowd and the supporters walking alongside reported good levels of interest and questions and handed out around 200 leaflets to interested parties.
At the stall we added a survey for the adults and got the kids to draw us some great pictures of canal life with boats, happy people and lots of wildlife. 22 people completed quite detailed surveys telling us what they wanted from the restored Derby canal. Almost all were very supportive with ideas about how we should communicate the story of the canal; many offered to help in the working parties, especially when we open up Sandiacre lock and we even had a relative of Jim Boswell one of the boatmen in the famous picture of Atlas and Vela in Sandiacre Lock. We are looking to capture his story and it would be brilliant if he and Ike Argent could record some relevant anecdotes and history to use in a listening post. And we had an extended visit from the local MP, Maggie Throup who has offered to join our Trustee Board.
I estimate the event attracted 10,000 people as the show ground was very busy for at least 3 hours and most of them passed our tent and took an interest. Well worth all the effort by our volunteers.
Photo below shows our Chairman Chris Madge with Local MP Maggie Throup