“Of all the creatures of commercial enterprise, a canal barge is by far the most delightful to consider.”
Those words remain as true today as they did in the 19th century, when the writer Robert Louis Stevenson penned them as part of a travelogue called An Inland Voyage.
And the pleasures of a journey by barge – as well as the vital role played by Yorkshire’s canals during the Industrial Revolution – will soon be taking their place in one of the country’s most rarified spotlights.
As previously reported, Welcome to Yorkshire’s by-now traditional garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show will this year be a horticultural celebration of the hundreds of miles of man-made waterways that criss-cross the county.
The tourism agency’s team admits paying proper tribute to such an important subject will be a big challenge – but they will not be short of expert advice, with the Canal & River Trust today being confirmed as a partner on the project.
People from the Trust, including volunteer lock keepers and apprentice carpenters, will be helping to build some of the garden’s features.
The Trust has also donated old lock gates from the Huddersfield Narrow Canal to act as the focal point of the design.
Sean McGinley, Yorkshire and North East director at the Trust, said: “We’re delighted to partner with Welcome to Yorkshire and offer our expertise and passion to help showcase the county’s spectacular waterways to the world through this beautiful canal-themed garden.
“Spending time on or by your local canal can make you feel happier and healthier, so we hope this garden will encourage more people to get out by Yorkshire’s beautiful waterways to reap the benefits.”
This will be the 10th year that Welcome to Yorkshire has exhibited a garden at the Chelsea Flower Show as a way of raising the county’s international profile.
Work on its latest entry is being led by garden designer Mark Gregory, whose Dales-themed creation for the tourism agency at Chelsea last year picked up three prizes – including the coveted People’s Choice Award.
Other themes over the years have included York Minster’s East Window, the Yorkshire coastline and the Brontes.
Mr Gregory said: “I am really pleased that the Canal & River Trust have come on board as they are the perfect fit for this year’s Welcome to Yorkshire garden.
“It’s so important to tell the story of just how vital the canal system was to this country, its engineering and sheer scale – the motorways of their time.
“And from that, to their use today as an essential part of the leisure and tourism industry and a valuable environmental resource.
Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Sir Gary Verity said: “It’s great to have the Canal & River Trust on board to help us make sure our 2019 RHS Chelsea garden is authentic and truly represents Yorkshire’s stunning waterways.”
Sir Gary added: “Like us, the Trust shout loud and proud about the beauty which is abound on all our doorsteps here in Yorkshire.”