NORTHWICH’S biggest hidden gem was brought colourfully to life when boaters joined townsfolk for the Northwich River Weaver Festival.

All aspects of the river, from its history and the industry that made it what it is today to its leisure uses and plans for its future, were celebrated throughout the weekend.

The river between Hayhurst Bridge and Town Bridge was crammed with boats while the bankside festival site was full of crowds enjoying a variety of music and stalls.

John Tackley, festival chairman, said: “It is so exciting to see such a wonderful colourful display of boats and decorations here on the river.

“Some of the craft you see have travelled from many parts of the country to be here today.”

John, also chairman of the River Weaver Navigation Society, explained the festival was a chance to celebrate both the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the 10th anniversary of the restoration of Anderton Boat Lift.

He added: “I hope it will see Northwich beginning to awake from its slumbers and prepare itself for a new and vibrant future.

“A Northwich willing and capable of providing fun and leisure pursuits, not only for this one weekend, but for all who choose to visit, whenever they come.”

Weaver Vale’s MP Graham Evans said: “My vision for Northwich is more of this more often in the centre of town.”

David Briggs, the Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire, spoke of the Queen’s leadership throughout her reign and praised the event.

He said: “It is particularly appropriate you have chosen to celebrate with a river festival because as an island nation our ability to build and navigate ships around the world is vital to our prosperity, and in this Northwich has played its part.

“There were many shipyards on this river, and fine ships were built here.

“They were not large, but they journeyed to all parts of the world and some still survive throughout the world.”

He presented a set of Diamond Jubilee mugs to 11-year-old Chester girl Katherine Dewar, who triumphed from 34,000 entries to win a Blue Peter competition to design the official Jubilee logo.

“Whatever Her Majesty might think, this is a Cheshire logo,” he joked.

The bone china mugs were part of a historic cargo carried on the narrowboat Lindsay, built at Yarwoods in Northwich in 1960, from Stoke-on-Trent to Northwich for the festival.

They were the first cargo to be carried on Anderton Boat Lift since its restoration.