A May afternoon, clouds chasing across the sky, fitful sunshine and still chilly in the shadows… time for the annual Rickmansworth Festival. It’s become a bit of a tradition, the trip up the Metropolitan line and a walk along the canal between Bratch Locks and the Aquadrome to savour the sights and sounds of the festival.

One end of the festival is dominated by Batchworth Locks…

John Hassell’s sketch of Batchworth locks and mill c.1819. Salter’s Cut departs under the bridge on the left. The mill was demolished in the early years of the 20th century.

…with historic boats clustered below the locks and along the towpath in the direction of Stokers Lock. At the other end, close to the lake, the fairground with ghost trian and dodgems and lines of stalls take over. Between the two are canalside traders, music, vintage vehicles… a bit of everything.

I don’t know if it was me or whether it was the dull grey morning that’d put people off, but the festival on the Saturday seemed an altogether less busy affair than in previous years. There was still the joyful bustle, colour, laughter, beer, broad grins and pushchairs causing traffic jams along the towpath, but not the gridlock and clamour I remember from previous years, fewer historic boats too… that said it was a great way to spend a couple of hours close to the Water Road.

Hopefully the following images capture the mood of the event more than my ramblings…

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And, thanks to this video found on YouTube, here’s what the event looked like back in 1993… when it all began.

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