The importance of narrowboat Ernest
By: B&MK Trust
This is the importance of narrowboat Ernest – taking Bedfordshire afloat for the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant on Sunday, 3 June.
On board will be Deputy Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, Cynthia Gresham and her husband, Central Bedfordshire Councillor David McVicar; Marilyn Leask, a director of the Bedford and Milton Keynes Waterway Trust (B&MK) and a Professor in the Faculty of Education, Sport and Tourism at the University of Bedfordshire; together with Ernest owners and skippers John and Margaret Gwalter.
During a recent cruise to Limehouse to take part in rehearsals on the Thames, Ernest was festively decked out in rows of bunting sporting the livery of the B&MK; red, white and blue; St Pancras Cruising Club – and Welsh dragons – the Gwalters’ national flag. Margaret is chair of the South Wales branch of the Inland Waterways Association.
The pageant’s aim is for every Lord Lieutenancy to be represented. After the initial
Bedfordshire boat dropped out Ernest’s owners came to the rescue and the
Commodore of the narrowboat flotilla fleet recommended its inclusion.
John Gwalter explained how initial disappointment turned to delight at being chosen to represent Bedfordshire. “We first applied to take part in the pageant as we thought it would be a good thing to publicise the South Wales canals, where we come from, but we were not selected from the many thousands of boaters who had applied.
“So when the selected boat for Bedfordshire dropped out, I was delighted to be
asked, although at shortish notice, to represent the Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire
and the Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway – a project to create a waterway we
thoroughly approve of and are impressed by what has been achieved so far to create the link between the Grand Union Canal at Milton Keynes and the River Great Ouse at Bedford”.
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