The Dudley Canal Trust decks the caverns with sparkling lights, and Santa tells us what it’s like behind the scenes
Meet Father Christmas at Dudley Caverns
1 What do you like about the waterways?
The waterways around Dudley are a little oasis in the heart of the industrial Black Country. They also give me a really good runway to land on when I return from delivering all of my presents.
2 Which is your favourite waterway?
As you may imagine, my favourite is the full 2,888 metres of the canal that runs through the Dudley Tunnel. Rudolph’s nose really helps to light up the way.
3 Which season do you like best on the canals?
We are busiest in the summer with holidaymakers taking trips on one of our trip boats and it’s fabulous watching the children enjoy a different season. When it’s hot outside, the tunnels are lovely and cool.
4 And what is the best time of day?
Mornings are best, just before all of the children arrive with their families. I love the anticipation of the day ahead.
5 What do the waterways have to offer the country?
Something for everybody, a great habitat for wildlife, somewhere for health and fitness be it a walk, jog or cycle. Entertainment such as we offer with trips into an area not otherwise accessible. Education, our new Portal building has purpose-built areas for schools to visit and learn about the industrial past of the area.
6 How many years have you taken part in Santa boat trips?
They’ve been taking place here for 31 years, I have been involved for three.
7 What is the best thing about being Santa?
The joy on the children’s faces – normally the pantomime gets people into the Christmas mood, so they are a little excitable.
8 And what’s the worst?
I do find the beard rather tickly, just behind the soot from the chimneys.
9 What is the best experience you’ve had as Santa?
Last year we had a 80th birthday party and the smile on the gentleman’s face when I gave him a present was priceless, it shows you can have the Christmas spirit at any age.
10 Have you ever fallen in?
Not yet but one of the staff is desperate for me to slip off the back of a boat.
11 Have you ever dropped the presents in the canal?
Our Elves work really hard taking the presents into the Caverns we fill our trip boats with… and we have occasionally lost one or two.
12 How does Santa get presents down a narrowboat’s chimney?
None of our boats are covered as they have to fit into a very tight tunnel and they all run from batteries so we don’t have to get down a chimney.
13 Who would be your ideal cruising companion?
Don’t tell Rudolph, but my wife is best.
14 What do the children on the cut want for Christmas this year?
I think like every year, great fun, excitement and lots of surprises.
15 What do you want yourself for Christmas?
I am a man of simple pleasures, so my mum’s mince pies and Christmas cake washed down with a lovely cup of tea.
16 Why makes a Christmas at the Dudley Caverns magical?
If you have never been, we are a very unique attraction. We dress the tunnels with lights and decorations and as they are so dark, the tunnels really glitter and sparkle. Then we have a pantomime in one of the caverns, then it’s off to Santa’s grotto and out on the boat singing Christmas Carols. It really is something special.
17 What do you think of people on our rivers and canals?
They are always friendly and, due to the pace of life on the canals, have time to chat.
18 Tell us about your spare time interests…
I like nothing better after a hard day to put my feet up and relax. I have been known to take a cycle down the towpath or just a walk, the wildlife and people you meet are tremendous.
19 What previous jobs have you had?
All of my working life was spent working for breweries and pub companies until I left to join the Trust. It’s similar work, dealing with customers and members of the public.
20 What superpower would you most like?
I would love to be able to control the weather. We could stop the rain on the canal when we send out trips, holidays would always be great and travelling in the winter wouldn’t be so difficult.
‘The joy on the children’s faces’ SANTA at Dudley Caverns
Christmas fun at Dudley Caverns