2011 Event Reports (click to see 2010 event reports)

In some ways 2011 was a slightly disappointing year, we didnít have as many school visits as we had achieved in 2010. The main reason we believe for this was lack of funding within schools and particularly if they needed transport to get to Saturn, so this year we are more aware of these issues and are trying to think around it.

At the beginning of 2011 and ready for Easter we made some changes to the layout of Saturnís hold, Adrian Polglase was asked to make these changes. These changes included three benches and some new steps, this now means that the hold of Saturn also acts as a classroom, this area can also be covered with a white sheet in case of rain. A group of twelve children can be doing activities in the hold while another group of children are in the cabin, this has been an excellent modification and has been very successful, plus everyone loves the experience of being in the hold. The one downside was we had to change our insurance, so that we are covered to have up to 20 passengers on board as long as the boat is secured to the bank, that came at a rather large cost, over £700. The good news is that for this coming year we have found an insurance company that is prepared to support us, more news on that when it is all completely finalised. The modifications also work well for rallies and events, the public are also keen to have access to the hold and have a good look at Saturnís construction. To help tell Saturnís complete story we also have three new display panels, these also have been a great addition, thanks to Harry Arnold for organising these. The best news is that none of the modifications change Saturn historically and she is ready to be a classroom or an exhibition almost immediately.

Saturnís first trip of 2011 was to the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port, John Healey with Arwen towed Saturn from Ellesmere to Hurleston, then I picked up the tow at Hurleston. We had a brilliant days boating from Hurleston to Chester, good weather and plenty of crew. There was a real buzz in Chester when we arrived, what an awesome sight, the Historic boats were eight out in the basin! Not a problem we tied Thea and Saturn on the water point. The week-end in Ellesmere Port was one of the best I have attended, lots going on and over 50 visiting Historic boats, Saturn had a good spot in the top wide lock. The AGM on the Saturday went well and was well attended, plus it is also good to socialise after the business bit over a glass of wine. Several of us took our boats across the Mersey to Liverpool after Easter, so we left Saturn in safe hands at the Museum.

Steve and Steph with Bootes took Saturn from Ellesmere Port to Anderton the long way via Middlewich, it was the first time Bootes had towed Saturn and I can honestly say that they enjoyed the experience, Saturn is just such a pleasure to work with. I had come the long way round via Wigan and met Saturn and Bootes at Anderton, Thea and Saturn then went down the Anderton lift. I left Saturn at the bottom of the lift and I went round to Yarwoods.

The school visits to Saturn at Anderton were disappointing, fortunately I was able to open up Saturn to the public on several days to help make her stay at Anderton a bit more worthwhile. It was a shame that Saturns visit to Anderton wasnít better attended by schools, but we havenít given up. Anderton is a good and worth while venue and we will hopefully have another chance there this year. From Anderton Saturn and Thea travelled to Middlewich, Middlewich works well for Saturn and the schools know her well. The planning and school visits in Middlewich are coordinated by Kerry Fletcher, Saturn then stayed for the Middlewich Boat and Folk Festival. Saturn is a big hit at this event and we always have plenty of visitors, this was the first event that we used the display banners at, what a dream they do make our lives easier.

From Middlewich Thea towed Saturn to Market Drayton, Saturn stayed there for a week, Market Drayton was a new venue for Saturn and an ideal location as the primary school is right by the canal. From Market Drayton I then took Saturn to Audlem for the Transport Festival, this turned out to be the best Transport Festival to date. 24 Historic boats crammed into the two town pounds with Saturn on the wharf, Saturn had many visitors to the cabin and at times we even had a queue, the banners again came into their own telling the Saturn story. It is thanks to Peter and Christine at Audlem Mill that the Historic Boat section of the Festival has become so successful, it was a brilliant week-end and good for Saturn, all helped by glorious weather.

From Audlem Plover towed Saturn to Whitchurch for the Whitchurch Festival, Saturn is always made very welcome and Whitchurch and she has pride of place by the lift bridge, unfortunately for the second year running the weather wasnít kind. Following Whitchurch Sue and John Yates with Buckden took Saturn for a mad dash to the Black Country Museum for the Working Boat Gathering. It was an excellent gathering and although it was a rush there and back it was well worth the effort, everyone was very pleased to see her at the Museum. The dash back was to get Saturn back to Ellesmere unloaded and ready for the docking.

The docking went very well, with Adrian Polglase engaged as the professional craftsman on the outside of the hull. The rest of us did a thorough cleaning and repaint of the rest of the boat and equipment, thanks to Tony for planning and organising the docking and the team. Saturn came off the dock looking very smart and gleaming, she is in good shape generally except for one slight worry a worn area which we will need to monitor. From the dock Saturn went to Aston on the Montgomery towed by Buckden.

The good news of last year was that we received a major grant of £4000 from The Waterways Trust, this grant will be used towards our educational programme, including visual aids and Saturnís long term maintenance.

Sue Cawson, from Chair's Annual Report 2012



The Shropshire Union Fly Boat Project c/o 7 Rydal Drive, Hale Barns, Altrincham WA15 8TE
email info@saturnflyboat.org.uk