AN HISTORIC narrowboat is well on her way to Birmingham after a gala send-off from the National Waterways Museum.

Mendip was seen off from the Ellesmere Port museum on Saturday by Ellesmere Port mayor Cllr Angela Claydon and by descendents of Charlie Atkins, her master during her working life.

Cllr Claydon said: “This is a wonderful day and this restoration shows the skills and history which we have in Ellesmere Port.”

Steve Stamp of the Boat Museum Society said Mendip was ‘the best looking boat on the canal network’.

National Waterways Museum general manager, John Inch, added: “This is a really proud day for the museum and I’d like to thank everyone involved and wish Mendip a safe journey.”

The vessel, which spent much of her working life carrying chocolate crumb between the Cadbury factories in Knighton and Bournville in Birmingham, is being restored at the Museum’s Heritage Boatyard with a £10,000 donation from Cadbury.

The trip through the canal network back to the Bournville headquarters of the chocolate maker will mirror the trips the boat made by Charlie Atkins ‘Chocolate Charlie’, the canal personality who was known to all the children who lived near the canal.

Much of the work in the Heritage Boatyard has been undertaken by young people learning basic boat building skills as part of a Future Jobs Fund scheme assisted by Heritage Boatyard staff and volunteers from the Boat Museum Society.

The boat is due to arrive at Bournville for a gala day tomorrow and will spend a few days at the Black Country Living Museum before returning to the National Waterways Museum on September 28.

Peter Collins, collections manager at the National Waterways Museum, said: “This trip is a fantastic way to showcase the restoration work on Mendip and the wider regeneration of the museum.

“The restoration work is top quality and the trainees are getting some priceless training. Thanks to the support from Cadbury, along with our regular supporters, we’re pleased to have been able to get Mendip back on the water and make Chocolate Charlie proud.”