On Saturday June 26th, the annual Historic Narrowboat Rally took place at Braunston Marina, in the Daventry Constituency, and I was there for the occasion, as was Daventry’s new MP and my former MEP colleague Chris Heaton-Harris. The day was just about perfect, with brilliant sunshine and blue skies, and over 300 narrowboats were there, including over 90 historic narrowboats (defined as former working boats). Adding to the festival atmosphere, there were a host of trade stands. Chris bought a straw hat, and I bought the ice cream.
As part of the opening of the event, we boarded the historic narrowboat “Raymond”, the last wooden “butty” to be built at Braunston, in 1959, and lovingly restored by a charitable trust in 2000. The Raymond, with its cargo of guests, plus an accordion band and a dog, was towed round a loop of the canal and back to the Marina, and the show was declared open. The whole event raised funds for charity, and Tim Coghlan, the Braunston Marina MD, presented a cheque for £2000 to the Raymond Trust.
The East Midlands region, which I am proud to represent, has not only the finest hunting country in the UK — it also has some of the best of Britain’s canal-boat heritage. I have been (at various times) delighted to drink beer at Stoke Bruern, and to see the models of the old boat lift at Foxton Locks (now hopefully to be restored). And it was a privilege to attend this splendid event at Braunston.