Friends of The Canal Museum


Andrea Leadsom, MP

Lord Boswell of Aynho


Michael Butler


Lorna York 


Paul Lynam


Registered Charity No:


If you would like to join the Friends please see our Membership page, or if you would like to contact us please write to:

The Friends of The Canal Museum, c/o The Canal Museum, Stoke Bruerne, Towcester NN12 7SE

or, e-mail us here 



Our popular annual events which raise money for a number of worthwhile charities and local good causes as well as the Friends are organised by a small dedicated group of volunteers who have given their time freely over the last ten years and we are immensely grateful for their hard work and continuing support.


This year, after many years of service, some of our volunteers have decided to retire and we are seeking new team members to make sure Village at War and other events continue into the future.


Informal meetings take place once a month (in the pub), normally for up to six months before each event,  and it is up to team members how much or little they do, or how much they get involved, and it's fun.


If you'd like to come along and find out what's involved, or just want to have a chat - please

e-mail our Chairman who will be only too happy to help.


2018 Village at War

Weekend - 8/9 September


During the year Sculptor attends many canal festivals and events. This year so far, she has  attended the Crick Boat Show, Foxton Festival and the Braunston Historic Boat Show promoting the Trust, the Canal Museum and the Friends. She also made a 'flying' trip to the Cosgrove Festival and back in the most atrocious weather.


At Braunston we were generously presented with a cheque for £1,000 by Marina owner Tim Coghlan.


We are always extremely grateful to Tim for his generosity in supporting Sculptor, for over ten years now, and in turn we do our utmost to ensure that those funds are spent directly on Sculptor's infrastructure.


Sculptor around and about the cut...


Sculptor volunteer team members, John Bannister, Rob Westlake and Kathryn Dodington receive a cheque for £1,000 from Tim Coghlan, Braunston Marina

photo: Rob Westlake


Over the last 11 years, the annual Village at War weekend has established itself as one of the most popular and successful World War Two re-enactment events in Britain. Most of the funds raised at the Village at War continue to support the Canal Museum, with the present focus being on raising match funding for the planned bid by the Canal and River Trust for a Heritage Lottery Fund grant which would enable a total overhaul of the museum.  This would include the installation of a lift – at the moment the upper exhibition galleries cannot be accessed by wheelchair users or those with reduced mobility – a library and research facilities, new toilets and a refurbishment of the schoolroom at the rear of the building. The Friends continue to support other smaller projects such as maintaining the Museum boat Sculptor and ongoing curatorial development with new improved labelling and displays.

Many not-for-profit groups, quite a few of them village based, join in the weekend too, raising much needed funds for their own organisations. While we don’t have figures for all of them, most of the village groups have given us permission to share the results. For full results with photos and more videos of the weekend please visit our Village at War page.

Above: 2017 Village at War & Friends Chairman, Michael Butler, closes the show on Saturday night with Lola Lamour and Friends.

Sculptor on BBC's Countryfile


Sculptor team member Kathryn Dodington on Sculptor with BBC Countryfile presenter Ellie Harrison - Photo: Stephanie Furniss


On Thursday 26th October, a BBC film unit spent the day at Stoke Bruerne cruising up and down the lock flight (several times!) with members of the Sculptor volunteer team, and also, with Kate Saffin & Heather Wastie of Alarum Theatre. The programme was aired on Remembrance Sunday. It's currently on the BBC iPlayer.


The filming was the first opportunity this winter for the lighting of Sculptor's recently fitted new Epping stove (which was fully funded by the Friends), and a very welcome addition on what turned out to be quite a chilly day . There's a link to some more images from the day here.









Sculptor's new Epping stove in use for the first time this winter during the filming of BBC's Countryfile - Photo: Kathryn Dodington

Curatorial volunteers praised by Arts Council

The Canal Museum has recently been awarded Accredited Museum Status by Arts Council England. The same set of standards as applied to the Natural History and the British Museum. The accreditation given to 1,800 museums in the UK indicates that a museum has achieved a nationally approved standard in management, collections care and delivery of information and visitor services.


Particularly pleasing was a message received from the Arts Council assessor after she visited all three Museums, saying "I want to thank all the volunteers I have met along the way, particularly the good-humoured Friends’ Group volunteers at the Canal Museum. I only realised after I left how much effort they had put in prior to my visit and so I want to acknowledge and appreciate it."


As part of the award the museum was judged on a number of different categories from how the objects entrusted in the museum’s care are displayed and stored to the health and safety of staff, volunteers and visiting public.


Vicky Martin, waterways manager at the Canal & River Trust, said: “Staff and volunteers from the Canal & River Trust worked tirelessly throughout the year towards gaining this accreditation so we are delighted that all that hard work has paid off and the Canal Museum has been recognised with this fantastic award.

Revamped knotting board is very popular with our young visitors


Over time small fingers took their toll and reduced the ropes on the knotting board exhibit to tatters. Curatorial volunteers to the rescue and the board now has fresh ropes and brand new interpretation including "how to tie" diagrams to go with the "finished" knot displays. The new interpretation was funded by the Friends along with new fresh labelling for another thirty or so exhibits which had deteriorated over time.


The revamped board is proving a real hit with our younger visitors.

Council shows support for Museum expansion

South Northamptonshire Council has published it's Tourism Review 2017 and has identified Stoke Bruerne as a key site in South Northamptonshire.


The report states that SNC can help to support the implementation of CRT's  Stoke Bruerne Destination Management Plan in terms of granting planning permission for additional car parking, seasonal camping/glamping, and planning and listed building consent for the proposed extension of The Canal Museum. The Council  also says it can assist in helping to secure permission for white on brown tourism signs, and in the medium term, help with match funding for the prospective HLF bid to carry out improvements to the Museum.


SNC has also given a commitment to help support the development of events and festivals at Stoke Bruerne and with marketing and promotion.


SNC has given these initiatives it's highest priority rating.

Village at War has a new leader and a date has been announced for 2018

We are pleased to announce that next year's Village at War Weekend will be the 8th and 9th of September and the organising team are now under the leadership of new Chairman, Stephanie Furniss, one of the Duty Managers at the Canal Museum.


Outgoing Chairman Mick Butler said: "I want to express my most sincere "thanks" to everyone and I mean everyone, who has contributed to make this weekend truly amazing. The feedback has been nothing but complimentary for all the hard work that goes into putting together this event. I know the event will continue to be as successful as it has been during the last 10 years."

Foreign language speaking volunteers needed

Do you speak any languages other than English fluently? Our curatorial team are currently seeking funding for a project to create a series of language cards for our non-English speaking visitors so they can better understand the displays in the Museum. For more details please visit our Volunteering page.

Hello's & Goodbyes

We would like to take the opportunity to say goodbye to Emma Hermon, previously CRT's Museum's Volunteer Co-ordinator and Vicky Martin, Waterway Manager, CRT South East. We have enjoyed working with you both and wish you all the best in your new posts.


We'd like to welcome Tav Kazmi, Vicky's replacement on secondment from Enterprise, and Steven Bagley, Collections Officer based at Gloucester, who is  spending one day a week at Stoke Bruerne to support our volunteer curatorial teams.

Facebook blue large Twitter black large

New patron - Andrea Leadsom MP


Andrea Leadsom, MP opens one of our earlier Village at War Weekends

We are delighted to announce that after attending our Village at War Weekend in September, The Rt Hon. Andrea Leadsom MP, Member of Parliament for South Northamptonshire, has accepted our offer to become a patron of The Friends.


Ms Leadsom said: "I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for inviting me to the Village at War event this year. I thoroughly enjoyed the visit and am proud to support such a fantastic weekend which has gone from strength to strength each year."

Winter Hours

Don't forget the new operating hours for the Museum during the winter are 11am-3pm Wednesday to Sunday.

In addition, the Museum will be closed between 17th December and 10th February.

Latest edition of Museum Matters is available

Editor Kathryn Dodington has published the latest (January 2018 edition) of the newsletter of the Friends of The Canal Museum packed with all the . news and stories from the museum community in Stoke Bruerne.


A PDF copy is available for download on the Newsletter page for those who prefer to print off a copy or read it off-line.