Public Poetry

I am a big fan of poetry projects that bring poetry to people, obvious examples being Poetry On The Underground and Simon Armitage’s carved stones. Today saw the opening of Winston Plowes  Canal Festival Towpath Poetry Trail on the Rochdale Canal. All of the 91 Locks from Lock 1 in Sowerby bridge to Lock 92 In Castlefield, Manchester  have poems on them as of today.  A number of criteria were used to select poems including, suitability and relevance of subject matter (canals, water !)  There was also a collaboration with the Connect2Poetry project embedded within the trail which had to be accommodated. Winston has written that he has tried to make a varied selection which includes everything from a sonnet to a Haiku and experimental pieces. The 32 mile trail will be up and running and ready to explore for the whole of the festival period 18th – 26th Aug.  Poems selected by Winston include two by Jo Bell (who lives on a canal boat, as does Winston), Anne Caldwell and John Siddeque. I am lucky enough to have a poem on Lock 21, and although I’m a long way from the canal and won’t be able to see the poems in situ, I am very proud to be involved in this project.  Other  poetry events during the canal festival can be seen here  or at the official festival site 


  1. Can you tell me if the poetry trail still exists, I have always wanted to walk the Rochdale Canal and would like to know if there is any permanent record or the poems?
    Freddie Phillips.


    • Hi Freddie, I think the poem’s were attached to the locks on a temporary basis but I will ask the organiser Winston
      and let you know if I find out otherwise. Either way I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful walk.


      • Many thanks Roy, I don’t want you to go to a lot of bother but if there is a booklet or list of poems and locations on the canal I would be more than happy to obtain/borrow or buy it! Best regards.


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