stoke bruerne canal museum

Visit to the Canal Museum Stoke Bruerne

On the way back from Castle Ashby I decided to stop by the Canal Museum Stoke Bruerne, and hopefully enjoy the sunshine with a short walk up the canal.  I do like to try and fit 2 visits in on a day off, always handy when there are places near to each other.

stoke bruerne canal museum

Stoke Bruerne is on the Grand Union Canal, so it’s a historic place to see and visit. Not far from Northampton, the Canal Museum is in a restored corn mill, and there’s former canal cottages alongside with some locks nearby.

The village is only small, but there’s a decent sized car park right next to the Canal Museum and canal. If you’re spending some time there for refreshments or lunch, or going for a walk, £3 for several hours is a good bargain. Less so, if like me you’re only there for an hour. But it’s handy, and it’s lovely in the sunny weather to enjoy the peace of the canal while sitting on the picnic benches.

The Canal Museum Stoke Bruern

The Canal museum itself is small. The ground floor is a local gallery and tea room with light bites and drinks. Then there are 2 floors that overlook the canal.

Stoke Bruerne canal museum and mill cottages

The first floor is aimed at children, whether there with families, or presumably for school visits.  There’s lots of interactive activities and information.  From canal based historic items that you can learn about, touch and lift. To smells and information about working on the canals.  I didn’t spend much time there, but it was easy to get around, and plenty to do.

interactive displays at canal museum

Up on the second floor was the main part of the museum. Again lots of information in a small space, to find out about the local canal, its history and people. 

narrowboat sample in museum

The information was cleverly displayed in different sections, but enabling you to get up close to it to read it. I liked that you felt like you were really able to get close and touch a lot of the exhibits although there were some behind glass.

display examples at Stoke Bruerne canal museum
canal mileage markers
pictures from old canal film

It was interesting to see photographic stills from an old film about the canal and Stoke Bruerne residents.  

I didn’t know much about the Grand Union Canal, as the canal through Banbury is a different canal, so it was good to find out more about it, and how they all joined up towards Birmingham.

There were other people in the museum at the same time, but there was enough room to avoid getting caught up in what each other were reading about.  Although you wouldn’t want it too much busier as it is small. 

Canalside walks

Once you’ve seen everything at the Canal Museum, you can walk some of the trails that are provided on maps outside.  Or cross over to the other side of the canal to have a beer or ice cream from the pub. There’s also a Canal Shop (closed on Tuesdays) to look for souvenirs.

looking towards the lock and pub at Stoke Bruerne

If you walk up the canal a bit you can see the Blisworth Tunnel, also known as the ‘leggers’ tunnel. This is where there was no towpath for the horses to pull the canals through tunnels, so the leggers had to lay on their backs and move the narrow boat through with their legs.

There didn’t seem to be any running when I was there, but you can get narrow boat rides up the canal. I did see the working canal boat that’s moored up, and there’s a little board about the history next to it for those wanting to know more.

looking up the Grand Union Canal at Stoke Bruerne

While I wasn’t there long as it was only a stopping on the way through visit, if you’ve got children or a particular interest in canals you could easily spend more time in the museum and along the canal. Do watch out with young children though because obviously being canalside, there’s deep water with no fencing alongside.

The Canal Museum at Stoke Bruerne is worth a visit, especially in sunny weather when the canalside looks lovely.

Why not check out other nearby places to visit, or other water themed days out:

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