THE colourful spectacle of a bygone time will be recreated in Chester just before Easter, when a whole host of historic working narrowboats gather in the Canal Basin near Telford’s Warehouse.

One of the most interesting of them will be the ‘fly-boat’ Saturn (as seen on television’s Victorian Farm) which will arrive in Chester on Wednesday, March 31, after collecting some beer from Spitting Feathers Brewery in Waverton and before continuing its journey to the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port.

The boats will all be in Chester on their way to the Museum for their Easter Weekend Gathering.

While they are in the Canal Basin, there will be opportunities to learn more about the boats, and their history.

At 8pm on Thursday, April 1, there will be a special talk organised by Chester Canal Heritage Trust about the life and work of Tom Rolt, who was born in Chester a hundred years ago and went on to train as an engineer.

He had a passion for machines of all kinds, nurtured by holidays in Chester where he became fascinated with the railways.

Rolt was a talented writer with an impressive series of books, both fiction and fact. One of his first books Narrow Boat chronicled his tour of the inland waterways in 1939, in the restored Shropshire Union narrowboat, Cressy.

This evocative tale, published just after the war, inspired Robert Aickman and others to work with Rolt to form the Inland Waterways Association in 1946.

In a special addition to the series of winter talks, Joseph Boughey will describe in more detail the role that Rolt played in conserving our waterways.

On the Friday, visitors to the Chester Canal Basin will be able to watch as the boats prepare to set off for Ellesmere Port and enjoy seeing the boats from the towpath, as they travel the eight mile journey to the National Waterways Museum. Over the Easter Weekend there will be many activities at the Museum for boaters and members of the public.

As well as looking around the museum there will also be children’s activities and entertainment such as Boater’s Games and learning traditional skills, such as rag-rugging, crocheting, knotting and making boatwomen’s bonnets.

For more information about the Chester events contact Gwynneth Buss at, or phone 01244 665855.

For more information about the Ellesmere Port events phone 0151 355 5017.