Saul Waterways Pageant Report

Saul 2014 – Post Pageant Report

The holiday weekend Waterways Pageant at Saul Junction organised by The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) is reported to have achieved its aims. IWA Chairman Les Etheridge who attended the event explained… “The event is a traditional boat rally and so is rather different to events run at Saul in the past.”

Mixed weather

Meteorologically speaking, the August Bank Holiday in Gloucestershire brought what might be considered to be a traditional mix of ‘fair weather & foul’.

Boundless pleasure

The event, planned and operated by a small team of volunteers working with a limited budget, nevertheless placed a boundless amount of pleasure, interest & information before boaters, campers and day-visitors alike.

John Butler, Chairman of the IWA’s Events Committee commented… “The real ale bar, run by IWA’s Waterway Recovery Group volunteers, was a focal point throughout. The gathering of seven historic lifeboats was a popular attraction. The boats were moored on site all weekend and performed an impressive parade on Saturday and Sunday. Two beautiful steam launches also joined us to add interest for all. The occasional stately passage of tall ships returning from filming in Gloucester Docks was an unexpected attraction.”

Craig Glassonbury of RW Davis Ship & Boat Builder at Saul Junction owns the Liverpool Class Lifeboat ‘The Always Ready’.
Craig provides some background to the lifeboat flotilla. “This was an exceptional gathering of vintage RNLI lifeboats. We have previously managed to muster ten boats at a coastal event, so to get seven vintage RNLI boats here at an inland event is amazing.”

Over fifty canal boats travelled to Saul from all points of the interlinked waterway system. Crowds lined the canal bank to watch the afternoon boat handling competition. The illuminated boat parade carried the interest into the evening.

Erudition & amusement

The well-known author, broadcaster & historian Graham Fisher was a constantly active & audible host throughout the event. Graham’s informed, erudite and appropriately amusing commentary on every occurrence over the weekend brought the event to life.

Music, musings & amusement

Ciara Wakefield, who once appeared as one of the youngest singers ever to perform on Saul Festival’s Folk on the Water line-up, was responsible for securing the services of a range of local musicians and entertainers. Ciara’s musical experience & connections provided a constant stream of modern and traditional music to keep feet tapping and faces smiling all weekend. One notable performer was local singer/ songwriter Jeremy Blick. (Picture three above.) Jeremy's set of self written songs included instrumentation, lyrics and sensitivity that perhaps might belie some peoples expectations of a man who lays bricks for a living.

Spiritual needs met

The spiritual needs of Pageant attendees were also met by BBC Radio Gloucestershire’s Reverend Richard Atkins who officiated at the Sunday evening Church Service. Hymns were sung to keyboard accompaniment provided by Elizabeth Boon.

Good news 'Goody Bags'

Cotswold Canals Trust membership numbers received a massive boost over the Pageant weekend. Canal Boat Magazine Editor Nick Hall made available a number of ‘Goody Bags’ to people signing up as Trust members at the Pageant. The Goody Bag contained the current edition of Canal Boat Magazine, a map of the inland waterways and a much sought after book for people seeking guidance on purchasing an inland waterways boat. Thirty five new members joined the Cotswold Canals Trust over the Pageant weekend.

What news for the future?

Many visitors asked the obvious question… “Will this be happening next year too?
IWA Events Organisers reply is ‘Yes… in Northampton’.

Click on the images to view larger versions.

Click here to view CCT Photographer Mike Gallagher's Saul Pageant Album

Click here or on the icon below to find out about Northampton’s Festival of Water.