FINAL preparations are underway for the popular Coombeswood Canal Trust open weekend.

The historic Hawne Basin will be open for visitors on Saturday, May 12 and Sunday, May 14, and thousands are expected to attend.

Martin O'Keefe, the trust's publicity officer, said: "For canal enthusiasts the highlight of this years event will be the gathering of Stewarts and Lloyds tugs from the former Coombeswood Tube Works to celebrate fifty years since the cessation of the use of boats at the works.

"The tugs were unique to the local waterway and were used to haul unpowered narrowboats around the local canal network, bringing raw materials to the works and taking away the finished products.

"The tugs operated for nearly fifty years and this years gathering will provide a unique sight."

He added: "But there will be a host of other activities over the weekend including a demonstration of a horse drawn narrowboating whilst on the Sunday will be a display of birds of prey.

"The former working boats Atlas and Malus will be on display. This pair of boats are being used by the trust as part of its Duke of Edinbugh Gold award initiative, bringing young people to the waterways. Boat trips will be available along the canal.

Children will be able to enjoy a treasure hunt, or climb aboard a historic working boat and learn how a large family fitted into such a small space. Adults, meantime, browse a wide range of stalls and pick up a bargain.

There will be a burger bar and other refreshments available from ice cream to real ale.

The event will be opened at 11am on Saturday by Canal and River Trust Chief Executive Richard Parry and Halesowen and Rowley Regis MP James Morris.

Richard Parry will be presenting the Living Waterways Award (Education and Learning) for the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award programme.