Linlithgow Union Canal Society marks waterway's big birthday

Linlithgow Union Canal Society and its hard-working boats played a central role in the Union Canal’s 200th anniversary on Saturday.

For it was at the Manse Basin where the event culminated – with boats from Edinburgh and Falkirk converging on the town for the final muster around 4.15pm.

LUCS members had pulled out all the stops to ensure the final leg of the Union Canal Flotilla 200 was a fitting celebration for the boat owners who had taken part.

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All four LUCS vessels – Victoria, St Magdalene, St Michael and Leamington – played their part in the event. As the oldest operating boat on the canal, Victoria had the starring role, leading the Falkirk flotilla from Woodcockdale back to base along with St Magdalene.

St Michael's picked up some passengers in Winchburgh before leading the flotilla back home.

Livingston Ukulele Band, aboard Victoria, competed with Bathgate Junior Brass Band, playing on a floating stage, as the flotilla arrived at Manse Basin, to a rousing welcome from the assembled crowds. St Michael led the flotilla from Winchburgh back to Linlithgow, along with Leamington.

Stuart Rennie, LUCS marketing man, helped organise the flotilla on behalf of Scottish Waterways for All.

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He said: “It’s the biggest event the canal has witnessed for some time with thousands of people coming out to celebrate along its 31 miles.

“Lots of organisations along the route got on board to celebrate with us and it all culminated in Linlithgow, where people had also gathered in large numbers to show their support. It was worth all the hard work to see everyone enjoying themselves.”

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Communities all along the route came out in force to celebrate the Union Canal milestone.

Later that evening, flotilla participants enjoyed a barbecue and were entertained by the Jennifer Ewen Band.

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Richard Millar, Scottish Canals chief operating officer, also handed out prizes including the best dressed boat – won by Stewart Torrance from Ratho, who took two weeks off work to re-paint his vessel in Ukrainian colours, complete with life-size cut out of President Volodymyr Zelensky!

Union Canal Flotilla 200 is one of many events celebrating the anniversary. More on the celebrations can be found at www.scottishcanals.co.uk.

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Performing on a floating stage, Bathgate Junior Brass Band welcomed the Union Canal Flotilla 200.
Crowds welcomed the best dressed boat as it made its way into Manse Basin in Linlithgow.
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The event culminated in Linlithgow where the vessels, from east and west, mustered for the last time.
Many of the boats berthed overnight in Linlithgow before heading for home on Sunday.
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Thousands lined the towpath on the 31 mile route to celebrate the canal's 200th birthday.