Tuesday, 5 May 2015

May Day

After a weekend enjoying camping with our friends and attending Stanford Hall Historic VW show in Leicestershire, we took advantage of the extra day holiday afforded to us by the May Bank Holiday to indulge our historic interest in the canals by visiting the Canal Museum at Stoke Bruerne.
Although small, it is set over two floors in a beautiful wharf building and is packed with some really impressive examples of canal art, models and a replica back cabin.

The 'cabin block' above would have been on top of the cabin with the design facing the boatman. This wedge-shaped block on the stern cabin roof of a narrowboat was used to support the rearmost of a set of top planks. This design feature has been incorporated onto the tug deck on NB Mervyn as a nod to tradition.

Although at first all the designs may look the same, on closer inspection the different artists styles become apparent, particularly the castle scenes and choice of colours.

Measham Ware like the teapot above was popular with those on the canals. People passing through Measham on the Ashby Canal would place their order for their personalised teapot as they passed through the village, and collect it when they next traveled through. There are also a few examples of the ribbon or lace plates which were were sold as fairly cheap souvenirs and were collected by boat people to cover the boatman's cabin walls.

An authentic replica demonstrates not only how tiny the living area is inside the cabin but also how incredibly practical, well thought out and beautifully decorated they were.

This replica of a traditional back cabin was built in the 1960's

Wouldn't fancy donning this and getting into the canal!

The regular trip boat to the tunnel entrance was doing a roaring trade

The thatched Boat Inn above is situated by the Top Lock of the seven locks at Stoke Bruerne and a short walk leads to Blisworth Tunnel in the other direction. At 3,076 yards (1¾ miles), Blisworth Tunnel is the longest continous open-bore canal tunnel in the UK. Construction was started in 1793 in order to link London to the industrial Midlands

We couldn't help be drawn to the unmistakable sound of a Gardner 2LW in this lovely tug coming up the lock as we waited for historic boat Sculptor to descend them in order to turn round

Operated by CRT volunteers, Sculptor, a Star class small northwich, was built in 1935 by Yarwoods of Northwich and used by the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company for general cargo between the Midlands and London. She was commissioned as a fire fighting boat during the war before returning to service until 1985, being nationalised in 1948 and ending up as a maintenance boat in Northwich. In 1960  her engine was replaced from a water cooled Russell Newbury DM2 to an air cooled Lister HB2. (Our VW friends would approve!). Sculptor was then restored at Ellesmere Port museum before being moved to Stoke Bruerne as a floating exhibit.

Below is the dry dock weighbridge which held scales
(presently being restored in Swansea)
The water would be drained so the boat rested on the scales while 
the weight was calculated.

We really enjoyed our visit and would definitely like to return especially 
to one of the events held throughout the year.

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