Fly boat Saturn begins 2013 tour in blizzard

High winds and snow storms brought down trees on the Llangollen canal, delaying Fly boat Saturn on its way to the traditional boaters Easter gathering at Ellesmere Port.

Saturn horse drawn on the Montgomery Canal – photo Bob Jervis

Unique historic Shropshire Union fly-boat Saturn left her winter moorings on the Montgomery Canal in bitterly cold weather at the end of March for the first event of her 2013 educational and event tour – the Gathering of Traditional Boats at the National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port, held over the Easter Bank Holiday.  The Shropshire Union Fly-Boat Restoration Society (SUFBRS) also held their AGM there.

The trip to Ellesmere was horse drawn but luckily the tug Greenman took over there and braved the winds and unseasonal blizzard from Ellesmere onwards.

During the year Saturn will take part in events at Gledrid, Llangollen, Etruria, Wheelock, Middlewich, Lymm, Anderton Lift, Aqueduct Marina, Audlem and Whitchurch. Around these – and at other locations and dates – the boat will be involved in school and educational visits.

On some days Saturn will be horse-drawn.  Please see the SUFBRS web-site for final confirmation of dates, times and other Saturn activities

Saturn at Etruria Festival in 2012 – photo Bob Jervis

Notable among this year’s visits are a repeat of a successful week’s series of school visits, working with Welsh Canal Holiday Craft at Llangollen (13-24 May) and a return to the Etruria Canal Festival (1-2 June) in support of the Etruria Boat Group Volunteers and the campaign to reopen Stoke-on-Trent’s Etruria Canal Museum.

For the first time since her re-launch Saturn will again visit the Bridgewater Canal – the waterway along which she used to carry cheese to the Manchester markets – for the Lymm Festival of Transport (20-23 June).  On that same traditional carrying route, she will be at the Open Day at the modern Aqueduct Marina, on the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal (21 July)

The Saturn Project – a partnership between SUFBRS and the Canal & River Trust, North Wales & Borders  – is entirely run by the work and the fund-raising of volunteer members.  We are particularly grateful for the ongoing support of major marine insurers GJW Insurance. Also, for a recent donation by his widow Maria of the proceeds of a collection at the funeral of well-known Shropshire Union enthusiast, historian and photographer Mike Webb.  This will go towards the production of a new Saturn educational leaflet, dedicated to Mike.

Chair of SUFBRS, Sue Cawson, said – “Saturn had a very good season last year and we are looking to build on it in 2013.  But the educational work and the ongoing preservation of this historic boat for future generations is only achieved by the hard work of our volunteer members and the help of CRT staff, supporters and donors.  Join us, help keep Saturn on our waterways, and even take part in a bit of unusual and interesting boating.”

Anyone interested in joining SUFBRS can contact Membership Secretary, Valerie Reade on 01948 663953 or visit the Saturn web-site

Thanks to Harry Arnold and Waterway Images for report and Bob Jervis for images.

All materials and images © Canal Junction Ltd. Dalton House, 35 Chester St, Wrexham LL13 8AH. No unauthorised reproduction.

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