A FLOATILLA of boats, Union Jacks and even a celebrity TV appearance marked the reopening of a canal.

More than 24 million litres of water and 12 thousand tonnes of stones were needed to restore the Trent and Mersey Canal in Dutton after part of the embankment collapsed in September.

And it reopened on Thursday, live on BBC One’s The One Show.

Former athlete turned TV presenter Iwan Thomas was on hand to lead a floatlilla of canal boats on the waterway.

It means boats will again be able to travel further afield on the Bridgewater Canal from Lymm and Stockton Heath - repopulating the water.

Vince Moran, operations director for the Canal & River Trust, explains: “We’re delighted to be re-opening this section of the Trent & Mersey Canal ahead of schdule and in time for the main boating season.

“Fortunately this kind of incident is rare, and we’ve gone to great lenghs to restore the embankment and protect it from this sort of failure in the future.

“We’ve been overwhelmed with the support and kind donations from the public to help us with the repairs.

“The way that local enthusiasts, community groups, boaters and cyclists have rallied together to help us get the canal open again has been amazing.

“The incident has demonstrated the love that people have for canals, which are continuing to thrive two centuries after they were built.”

It is through the enbankment became unstable after a period of long rain in autumn.

The Dutton breach saw water flood into a nearby farmer’s field, leaving a 40 metre hole in the canal embankment which shut the waterway and its towpath for over seven months.