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Horse tows historic canal boat to King’s Cross museum

11:01 31 August 2012

Buddy, the 13 year old Clydesdale horse, leads the boat down the canal.

Buddy, the 13 year old Clydesdale horse, leads the boat down the canal.

Dieter Perry

A rare and old refurbished narrow boat completed a 200 mile journey to King’s Cross last week after six months of hard work from volunteers across the country.

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Large crowds gathered to welcome Ilkeston, which celebrates its 100th birthday this year, to the London Canal Museum in New Wharf Road on Thursday.

The vessel was towed by Clydesdale horse Buddy through the Camden Locks and into King’s Cross – a sight barely seen since the 1960s.

The Ilkeston was restored to its original condition over three months by a team based at Ellesmere Port, an industrial centre north of Chester. It then travelled through 170 locks along the Shropshire and Grand union canals before reaching its destination in the borough.

Martin Sach, chairman of the museum’s trustees, said: “The project has been about museums up and down the country working together as a partnership. Around 40 people volunteered for this project and all the man power has been voluntary, so thanks to all of them. It was a big teamwork job.”

But the 55-year-old explained that disaster had nearly struck on the eve of the special day, saying: “Yesterday there was a major problem with our tug which broke down because of all the algae. There was real concern about whether today was going to happen.”

Thankfully, it was fixed by the museum’s tug master, David Warren. Mr Sach said: “He and Joe Hills (project manager) have been the real stars of this project for the London Canal Museum team.”

Mr Hills, 27, added: “It was the most exciting time at the museum in 20 years. It’s a huge deal.”

The project had also gained some notable support including that of Kate Adie, former BBC chief news correspondent, who backed the effort and attended the event.

The Ilkeston will be on display at London’s Canal Museum until the end of September.

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