Coal boats back in Stoke at the 21st Etruria Canals Festival.

A sight once common on Stoke’s canals returns this weekend as narrowboats loaded with coal moor up for the Etruria Canals Festival on Saturday 31 May and Sunday 1 June. Two boats, Aquarius and Ilford, dating from 1935 and 1912, will revive memories as they arrive with forty tons of coal in their holds.

Clematis and Tench, another two historic boats will also be at the festival loaded with various cargoes, alongside about twenty other working canal boats. Visitors to the festival can view these colourful craft and see into the tiny cabins which accommodated families when the boats were in trade.

This year’s festival will continue the traditions of the annual community event which is one of the largest free events in Stoke-on-Trent, regularly attracting thousands of visitors to the junction of the Trent and Mersey and Caldon canals in the middle of Etruria. Now in its twenty first year, the festival aims to build on last year’s successful event.

Taking place over the second weekend of the Spring Holiday week, the free festival will bring the canals of Stoke-on-Trent alive with a historic boat parade along the Trent and Mersey canal from Etruria towards Burslem and a welcome visit from the Staffordshire Moorlands’ Pub of the Year 2013, The Huntsman, Cheadle, who will be running the beer tent. The beer arrives by boat on Friday and Saturday!

Visitors will see Mike Carswell, the coppice worker, recreating the Potteries craft of crate making, how north Staffordshire ceramics were exported all over the world along the canals from Stoke-on-Trent.

Last year’s dance sensation, the Za Zu Tribal Dancers, are performing again and for the first time, Penkhull Domesday Morris will be at Etruria.

On display all weekend and being launched on Sunday morning, the ‘Swan Song for Sue’ swan pedalo will set off on its 140 mile journey from Etruria to Oxford by canal raising money for the Pilgrims Hospices. The Potteries’ Paddlers canoe club will be on hand for escort duties.

Music and dance will complement colourful historic canal boats moored along the towpaths of Etruria. Greyhound Gap will be bringing their lovely dogs; see what is happening at Middleport Pottery and at Hanley Park; a funfair and the Space Bus will keep younger visitors busy all day, whilst mum and dad can sample the local foods including the (possibly) best oatcakes in the city from London Road, Stoke. Lots of activities for children and adults will be on site and a good time is guaranteed for all.

Princess, the historic beam engine in Jesse Shirley’s Bone and Flint Mill will be ‘in steam’ and other attractions will fill the field alongside the Caldon and Trent & Mersey canals in the heart of Stoke-on-Trent.

Once again, the canals festival will be organised and run by volunteers from the Etruria Boat Group and the IWA North Staffs and South Cheshire Branch.

The 2014 Etruria Canals Festival will be on Saturday 31st May and Sunday 1st June, 10.00am to 5.00pm on both days.

Car parking is available adjacent to festival site, off Etruria Vale Road.

For more information call Andrew Watts on 07886578902 or email

See the website at



For media enquiries and photo opportunities, please contact Andrew Watts on 07886578902 or email

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.