Stoke Bruerne 1976

We have lived in Northants for over 35 years so it's not surprising that some our photos of the canal are quite old. We occasionally used to visit local Grand Union locations, particularly with weekend visitors who came from elsewhere in the country.

Sorting through a load of old photos, regrettably not mounted in an album, I recently found these four images taken in early spring 1976. They are from Stoke Bruerne when it was much quieter than today - even in winter.

Stoke Bruerne Top Lock, 1976

This first photo shows Maggie in a trendy cape, with my mother Rose alongside her, watching a pair of narrowboats going up through the Top Lock. Unlike today, there are no extra railings on the lock beam, no wall to the left of the picture which tries to keep the public  away from the lock side and of course no new pedestrian bridge.

Regrettably someone has left a windlass on the paddle gear. It's in a very dangerous position should the latch slip! In those days, not being familiar with operating canal locks, we were oblivious of this. Once we became boat owners we quickly learnt how dangerous this is. On our very first trip we met a women sitting by a lock at Long Buckby waiting for the ambulance after she had been hit on the head by a windlass that had spun off the mechanism.

Stoke Bruerne Wharf, 1976

The second photo is looking across from the museum towards the boats moored opposite at the wharf where David Blagrove lives.  The working boat Seaford is Yarwoods Town Class built at Rickmansworth in 1936. She recently appeared in the BBC Four film "Golden Age of Canals". The home movie footage  in the BBC film relates to around the time this photo was taken when she was owned by Bob Derricott. He appears in the film with his colleagues Keith Christie and Tony Gregory who all operated as Midland Canal Transport. The boat on the inside of Seaford is obviously a butty, or horse boat, and it appears to carry the Blagrove name. This requires further investigation since I can't work out any identifying features.

Moorings at Stoke Bruerne, 1976

The third photo is a view of the moorings along from the museum showing a Springer moored up with the stove lit. As with one of the boats going through the Top Lock in the first photo, the solid front doors of this boat mimic the decoration of stern doors of working boat cabins and have the "mouses' ears" decoration. On the cabin roof is a nicely decorated water can. Weeds are growing by the edge of the towpath - not so nowadays.

Signwriting and Decoration on Linda

The last photo is of the sign writing on Linda. She used to operate as a trip boat in the Cosgrove and Stoke Bruerne area for many years, often taking parties of young people out for the day. She was latterly operated by Steve Miles (aka author Geoffrey Lewis). The decoration appears to be by Ron Hough. Linda didn't look so good in 2010!