Pirates raising money, an impressive display of pyrotechnics on a floating treasure island and boats galore were part of our fun packed timetable of entertainment at this years Gala Weekend at Stoke Bruerne.
With the Northampton Carnival cancelled at the last minute, visitors flocked in to enjoy the pirate spectacle, take boat rides into the famous 1 ¾ mile long Blisworth Tunnel and get a glimpse of what life would have been like on the historic waterway with a display of working narrow boats, canal craft demonstrations, children’s storytelling workshops and one woman theatre shows about life on “the cut” from Roundham Theatre’s Kate Saffin.
As usual the weekend kicked off early with an evening performance on the canal side by the waterborne Mikron Theatre Company on Thursday evening and a get-together with a musical jam session and bar on Friday evening. The weekend continued with live music, model boats, cream teas, champagne and strawberries, tombolas and trade stalls, children’s games and face painting, vintage canal films, guided heritage walks and a real ale bar. In addition, Stoke Bruerne’s new blacksmith Bob Nightingale was giving regular demonstrations in his forge at the tunnel entrance and on Sunday, hundreds of vintage pre 1931 Sunbeam motorcycles dropped in as part of the Annual Rose of the Shires run through Northamptonshire. There was even a best dressed pirate competition!
All-in-all the watery weekend was a wow with everybody. David Blagrove, Chairman of The Friends of the Canal Museum, event organisers, said: “We were absolutely delighted to see so many people enjoying the waterside and all the activities we laid on and our grateful thanks go to Northamptonshire County Council, South Northants Homes and the Co-operative Society who helped cover some of our costs this year enabling us to raise even more money to help support projects at the Museum.”
This year visitors travelled to the Festival from as far afield as northern Italy. Canal Museum Manager David Henderson said: “We were very pleased to be joined by guests from the Museo della Navigazione Fluviale, Battaglia Terme, with whom we are now twinned and which is not far from Venice. Like our museum, our Italian twin was started by a canal worker, Riccardo Cappellozza, one of the last bargemen who amassed a collection of artefacts and persuaded his friend, the local librarian to help put them on display. Our Italian friends were most impressed by Stoke Bruerne, our museum and the Gala Weekend. We are looking forward to our staff and volunteers making a reciprocal visit to Battaglia Terme in July.”