In April 2011 the Horseboating Society embarked on a legging fiesta as part of the 200th Anniversary celebrations of the opening of Standedge Tunnel.
On Saturday 2nd April Boathorse Bilbo towed the historic wooden narrowboat Maria, built in 1854, up the Diggle locks. Maria was then legged by members of the Horseboating Society through Standedge Tunnel to Tunnel End, Marsden.
On Sunday 3rd April members of the Horseboating Society legged three horseboats through Standedge Tunnel from Tunnel End to Diggle.
On Monday 4th April the three horseboats, Maria, Elland and Vixen, were legged back through Standedge Tunnel from Diggle to Tunnel End.
Maria carried a barrel full of beer through the Standedge Tunnel, an annual donation from the Ossett Brewery via the Riverhead Brewery Tap in Marsden. This year’s brew was a special Bi-centenary Brew. The HBS records its thanks to the Ossett Brewery.
Christine Bergin made her annual contribution of a splendid cake for our celebrations, showing Maria at Tunnel End at Standedge, with a boatman, boatwoman, horse, boat, and lock and even the HBS round logo. Congratulations and thanks go to Christine! The beer and cake were shared with the public.
The event meant that an important achievement had been made. Three boats had been horse-drawn to the location of Standedge on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal. This equalled our own record in 2001 to Uppermill, also on the same canal. However the boats travelled greater distances this time. Elland came from Manchester City Centre, horsedrawn for 32 miles on the Rochdale, 6 to Brighouse on the Calder & Hebble, 4 on the Huddersfield Broad, and 10 on the Huddersfield Narrow, making 52 miles.
Vixen came on the same route from Hebden Bridge, totalling 26 miles. Maria came 10 miles from the Ashton Canal through Standedge Tunnel to join the other two at the Standedge Visitor Centre. Does anyone know when such a gathering of horse-drawn boats was last achieved? As far back as 40 years ago, eg 1971, or 30 years ago, or when?