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12ft boatwoman 'Sarah' starts in weekend activities on Ellesmere canal

A 12ft tall figure dressed as a boatwoman of the 1920s in towering above the canal in Ellesmere.

Jenny Wilbraham and Chairbody Mirjana Garland with the giant boatwoman
Jenny Wilbraham and Chairbody Mirjana Garland with the giant boatwoman

'Sarah', as she has been named, is in place in preparation for a community arts production to be staged by Fizzgigs at the Canal and River Trust’s maintenance yard in Ellesmere on Saturday.

The day will include an action-packed day of activities.

At the heart of the action is a Fizzgigs’ show called ‘Canal Boatwomen: romance and reality’ which will take place at 12.15pm and 2.15pm and will be repeated on August 13th.

Rosemary Drake of Fizzgigs, who came up with the idea for the show, said that the group was lucky to have so many talented people in the group to have produced such an impressive figure.

Peter Cartlidge was responsible for fabricating the figure and artisan leather-worker Tony Boys made the leather shoes. Well-known canal expert Tony Lewery, from Ellesmere, made and painted the giant water can for Sarah.

Rosemary said: “It was normal to have the boat’s name on its water can. I am very touched Tony has put my name there.”

The performances are part of day-long programme of activities which begin at 10.45am on Saturday with free conducted tours of the canal yard that dates from 1806. Details are available at

Members of the expert team which cares for the historic narrowboat Saturn will be on hand on both days. Music will be provided between the two Fizzgig performances by The Shropshire Boatmen. There is also an exhibition of canal art. All the events are free.

Arriving from his appearance in the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games, the Canal and River Trust’s Poet Laureate Roy McFarlane will be in residence on Saturday with his own poetry stall. Visitors can tell him their stories and he will craft a poem to share with them.

Paddle-boarding and refreshments will also be available.

Routes for pedestrians from The Wharf in Ellesmere will be signed along the towpath and drivers can follow road signs or use satnavs for SY12 9AA. Some car parking will be available in a field adjacent to the yard.

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