THE GRAND Western Canal's 200th anniversary was celebrated in style last weekend, despite heavy downpours on Saturday.

The Canal hosted the Inland Waterways Association's National Trailboat Festival to mark the occasion - and there was an impressive response with almost 40 trailboats entering the festival.

Although the rain on the Saturday was a disappointment, it didn't dampen the spirits across the whole weekend.

The Canal Basin attracted a good crowd on Sunday as people flocked to see the boats and the boat handling competition, and there was a massive turnout for the illuminated parade on the Sunday.

The towpath and gardens were lined from Tidcombe Bridge to the Basin for the parade, and there were certainly several thousand enjoying the spectacle.

The feedback from boaters is that the parade, which included a hot air balloon, lanterns, samba band and disco, was the best they had ever seen.

All of the communities along the Canal pitched in and organised events over the weekend, including Burlescombe Primary School pupils who initially welcomed the boaters, Year Six pupils from Halberton Primary School who put on a performance of a play about the Canal, and Halberton Parish Council, which led a tour of the repaired embankment.

On Monday, Sampford Peverell hosted a Navvies' Fair, and once again this event was a great success with a welcoming community feel. Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Community and Environmental Services, said: "It was a shame that the weather was against us on the Saturday, but the rest of the weekend lived up to its billing and it was a very special occasion.

Following the £3million repair of the Canal, the Festival was the perfect way to celebrate and everyone involved has done the Canal proud. People have shown their undoubted support for this fine waterway and celebrated its rich 200 year history."

Councillor Des Hannon, Chairman of the Festival Organising Committee and Devon County Councillor for Tiverton East, said: "The Grand Western 200 weekend was a great success despite the very worst the weather could throw at us on Saturday. The greatest thanks and appreciation must go to the ranger team who have been magnificent over the weekend and in the many months leading up to it.

"Our true colours come out when we're tested. The Grand Western Canal is appreciated, even loved and it is in safe hands. Let's redouble our efforts to look after it far into the future."