Lilith was 100 years old on December 2nd 2001, which just happened to be a recycling trip day. Consequently she was working on her 100th birthday, or, to be more precise, the centenary of her first gauging. We had a good collection and on the way back were treated to the sight of a kingfisher flying along ahead of us.
Instead of returning as usual to the Museum wharf we swung the boats round the turn on to the aqueduct and waited in the narrows for Sue Day to arrive with her horse Bonny. Soon Bonny was ready to go and set off up the Peak Forest Canal into the rapidly fading light. Sue was still limping because of her injured leg and said that she wouldn’t be able to go all that far. Forget me Not followed at a respectful distance and behind her was Karen Poxon on Lucky Amron, quite a procession for a winters night.
Sue did manage to walk all the way to Hyde, where both boats were winded with difficulty in the old gasworks arm and breasted up near Manchester Road bridge. Ed Mortimer went off to get the horse box so that Bonny could be returned to her field.
Upstairs in the nearby Cheshire Ring pub the celebrations began with folk songs and tunes by an excellent group organised for the occasion by Sarah Hood. They normally play at the Red Bull in Stockport every other Wednesday. Down on the canal Lilith was enjoying a special birthday treat of burning coal on her range instead of the usual wood. I kept popping down to check on the boats. They looked a picture viewed in sodium light from the road bridge .
A buffet was laid on by the pub and Paula Holland supplied a range of vegan food, which everyone seemed to enjoy whatever their dietary habits. After everyone had filled their plates the Woodbank Street Band played. Robin Townsend who sings and plays the mouth organ in this band, has had a lot of input into Lilith’s various adventures in the last 15 years. Their music is indescribably good and fits into no easy pigeon hole. See their website for local and festival venues.
Lilith’s 100th birthday present was opened, a lace plate from Gill and Sarah Wright which will look lovely hanging in her back cabin. We sang happy birthday to the boat, drew the raffle and there was more music as people started to drift away home.
I had the problem of getting the pair back to Portland Basin. I had managed to recruit a sober crew of Derek, Sue and Peter, none of whom had ever steered a butty. They managed well and it was an excellent trip back. A cold crisp night, the heat from the cabin ranges was greatly appreciated. Forget me Not galloped through the darkness with Lilith swishing and gurgling along behind. We tied up as quietly as possible at about 1 A.M. after a really good day. Many thanks to all who helped to make it happen, and especially Paula, Sarah and the musicians.