Bedale seeks harbour master 240 years after canal scheme ran aground

Darlington and Stockton Times: All at sea as landlocked town set to appoint Harbour Master All at sea as landlocked town set to appoint Harbour Master

A LANDLOCKED town which lies some 40 miles from the sea is seeking to appoint its own harbour master.

The move comes 240 years after Bedale, North Yorkshire, was left high and dry by a failed grand plan to connect it to England's navigable waterways.

Now organisers of the town's annual music festival want to apoint a harbour master to keep a weather-eye on Bedale's 'inner harbour' as part of this year's event.

In 1767 - before railways and when the only way to travel was by the notoriously bad roads or revolutionary canal system - a scheme was hatched to build a Bedale Canal to provide a link to the Swale and the Ouse.

A canal basin with stout harbour walls was constructed - much of which remains today - but the cash ran dry and the navigation was never completed.

To mark the event organisers of BAMfest have linked up with the town council to appoint the first ever honorary harbour master.

Carol Clark, BAMfest chairman said: “BAMfest is about more than music, it is about promoting everything that the town has to offer, which includes its history and heritage, local food and drink.

"Last year’s visitors raved about the wonderful atmosphere in the town, so this year we have decided to entertain them with further delights”

A 64-page Bedale Masterplan prepared some years ago, highlighted the importance of the town’s heritage and in particular the inland harbour, which still boasts cast iron mooring rings.

BAMfest plans to showcase the history by inviting visitors to join in with a Heritage Trail Competition between music events at the festival, which runs from Friday May 30 to Sunday June 1.

Now the search is on for the honorary harbour master, although it has been emphasised it can be a harbour mistress.

“We are asking local people to nominate someone who has demonstrated a commitment to Bedale and surrounding villages and who most importantly enjoys a bit of fun.

“This person will lead the way to the development of an annual ceremony which will make Bedale the place to be at the end of May each year.” said Mrs Clark.

BAMfest will be headlined by folk legend Martin Carthy and acts already confirmed include The Men They Couldn't Hang, Jez Lowe, The Blues Band, The Young’uns, The Duncan McFarlane Band, Pilgrim's Way, Jon Palmer Band and The Goat Roper Rodeo Band.

Call 07925 817116 or go to www.bamfest.co.uk for details.

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