Friends of the Canal Museum Boat Gathering, July 2007

We went up to Stoke Bruerne on 16th July to attend the boat gathering. Took our neighbours the Gibbards with us to Stoke. Their kids particularly enjoyed working the locks. Both Roisin & Sean managed to steer Albert. Sean even managed a couple of bridge holes.

The weekend was a good time for Steve to try out his new camera. He has had an Minolta SLR for some time, but for the last few years he has usually used a Canon Digital A40 Powershot. He has now moved to digital SLR with a Canon EOS 400D. Under poor lighting conditions it was certainly faster than the compact digital and the quality of the images is far better.

Helping with the bottom lock on the Stoke Bruerne flight

Lots of working boats at the gathering. Obviously not as many working boats as for the 2005 Blisworth Tunnel Bicentenary but this event appears to be a useful addition to the "working boat calender" as it comes a week before the Braunston gathering.

Sqeezebox players with a dog that has heard it all before

We were invited aboard Kingfisher, the former Grand Junction Canal Company inspection launch, by Alan Paine. Although Kingfisher moors near us at Yardley Gobion it was the first time we had been able go on board. It's such a unique boat with so many of its original features preserved. The canal company china is still in use. I understand that Alan has also got a load of the old logbooks that record the director's trips. They ran to a strict timetable.

Kingfisher on its return journey to Yardley Gobion

Despite the weather on Saturday there was a resonable crowd, but Sunday with better weather Stoke was packed. Among the different attractions this year were Denis Fellows, the blacksmith who works from a narrowboat and radio controlled narrow boats.

Managed to get Denis to make us a keb (weed rake). Steve only recently discovered what they are called after coveting one for some time. It would have been handy last year when we went down the Nene where to the floating weeds at the locks in Wellingborough were particularly difficuly. The keb was made from an old fork that we supplied. Chatting to Denis he told us he intends giving up blacksmith's work later in the year. He will be missed if he does. He livens up the canal wherever he stops.

Denis Fellows making us a keb

We managed to go aboard Gifford. Great painting by both Tony Lewery & Phil Speight. It was interesting to see the elegent lines of the hull inside the back cabin.

NB Gifford's stunning paintwork

NB Gifford's beautifully grained back cabin

Colin Dundas, who added some of the signwriting and decoration to Albert and whose work we admire, was doing demonstrations on the Saturday. With better weather on the Sunday, Colin was at work on NB Towcester outside the Museum. He got quite an audience.

Signwriter Colin Dundas at work on Towcester

We moored Albert in the "long pound". On Sunday evening, because we wanted to turn Albert around, we took her up through the top lock and turned her around at the winding hole just south of the tunnel. On the way we were joined by Mike Partridge on NB Jubilee. He appeared to be taking Trevor Maggs and others for a trip. Great to pass through locks with an historic working boat and a full crew to help. Rapid locking! Above the top lock the canal was very crowded with boats. Stoke Bruerne looked like it did during the Defra blockade last November. Almost bank to bank working boats.

NBs Jubilee and Albert sharing Stoke Top Lock

Returned to Kingfisher Marina on the Monday morning with heavy showers and lots of water coming down the flight. There was so much water it was very difficult to get out of the second lock. We contemplated calling BW to help.

Cascades of water, Stoke Bruerne Bottom Lock