Waterways provided a site at Riga Wharf off the Bristol Road below
Hempsted Bridge where S J Moreland & Sons had formerly received
the aspen logs that they had cut up to make match splints. However,
the only available large space for car parking was on the opposite
side of the canal, and so a means of crossing the water had to be
arranged. This was achieved by borrowing Butler's former tar tanker
barge MV Jolly which had been lying semi-derelict at Chaceley
for several years. Jolly was towed to Hempsted behind one
of Healing's corn barges and used as a floating bridge that could
be moved out of the way when any boats needed to pass.
boats that had gathered for the event were mainly local cabin cruisers
and narrow boats augmented by some that had come specially from
the Midlands. Of particular interest was the century-old steam launch
Hero, which had featured in the Onedin Line television series,
and two narrow boats that had been mocked-up as naval ships to attract
recruits. The prize for the best turned out narrow boat was won
by Joy of Gloster which had travelled 115 miles and 113 locks
from Napton Bottom Lock on the Oxford Canal.
The Official Opening
Saturday afternoon, crowds of people made their way to the site,
walking down the towpath and across the floating bridge. A number
of local dignitaries arrived by boat from Gloucester Docks, and
after a blessing from the Chaplain of the Mariner's Church, the
event was formally opened by the Mayor of Gloucester.
were entertained by a programme of displays and competitions on
the water, including the finish of a canoe race and a parade of
boats, and those who wished to get afloat could take a trip on the
Gloster Packet. On the land, the Stroudwater Canal Society and other
local organisations had display stands, the Saintbridge School Band
provided music and a range of sideshows included swings, a roundabout
and a small steam locomotive providing rides along a 140ft track.
Sunday morning, the plan had been for the boats to cruise to Saul
Junction and back, but industrial action by the bridgemen over a
claim for extra money for working during the festival meant that
the boats could not go beyond Parkend Bridge.
Sunday afternoon, the public were welcomed again with a repeat of
the Saturday activities - and a surprise addition. Without any prior
warning, a large coaster was seen rounding Two Mile Bend on its
way to Gloucester! The event organisers hurriedly had to clear people
from the floating bridge, and they just managed to move the Jolly
out of the way in time to let the coaster come through. As the ship
passed by, it sucked all the water from under the moored boats,
which bottomed momentarily before bouncing up again.