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Newsletter of The Friends of The Canal Museum, Stoke Bruerne



ince my last Jottings in the autumn of 2013 we have been struck a number of most unfortunate blows. The first came just before Christmas when we learned of the death of David Griffin, one of our founder members and a onetime councillor in the Daventry district, representing the Woodford Halse area, and a member of the Council of The Friends from our initial meeting in early 2006. David had been in poor health for some time and had been forced to retire from our Council as a result. He had been a tireless advocate of the proposed Daventry Branch of the Grand Union Canal and had been instrumental in ensuring that a new road crossing the intended line was built at a height sufficient to allow navigation. At the present day a bridge may be seen over a piece of grassland near the intended Daventry Basin. Maybe one day it will cross a navigable canal.

In this Issue Chairman’s Jottings Sculptor Update Stoke Bruerne Canal Partnership Memories Curatorial Update Jack James Illuminated Boats Researching Sister Mary Museum Work Update Stoke Bruerne Family Festival In Memoriam

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David checking everything is in order (Photo: LS)

Just after Christmas we learned that Chris Daniels, previously News Editor of ‘Waterways World’ had died following illness. Chris was a great ally and friend of ours. He would always find room for reports of our activities and was a frequent attendee at our events, even after poor health had forced him to give up his editorial role. Another most unexpected loss was Robin Smithett, whose photographs have been a feature of many magazines, calendars and similar publications. Robin was another keen supporter of ours.

Cover Picture: Whitby and Darley entering Lock 14 prior to the 2013 Village at War event. (Photo: KD) © Friends of the Canal Museum 2014 Registered Charity No 1121146 Page 2


Then, in January came the dreadful news of the sudden death of David Henderson, Manager of the Museum. Many tributes have been paid to David and his work at the Museum locally and in the waterways media and now other tributes are paid elsewhere in this edition. For myself I have to say that his appointment in 2007 came soon after

David alongside Sculptor (Photo: LS)

our formation and those who recall the Museum in those days will bear witness to the fact that it presented a very tired and run-down aspect. I don’t need to go into the background of all this, but David’s appointment was most timely, especially since he came from outside the waterway industry. Therefore he did not arrive with ‘baggage’ and brought an entirely fresh approach to the matter. Some people grumbled at the time that he didn’t know much about canals, a fact of which David made no secret. But he was willing and ready to learn, and © Friends of the Canal Museum 2014 Registered Charity No 1121146

what was most important, had an open mind in respect of making connections with other museums and attractions locally. Before his arrival I recall the horror with which a suggested connection with the proposed Towcester Museum was received by certain officials. David created his own local network within the museums and similar communities. This was most evident at his funeral, which was attended by such a large congregation that the church was hard-pressed to get everyone in. David’s energy and keenness will make his a hard act to follow. He could not have had a better deputy than Louise Stockwin, who has already slotted into his ex-officio place on Council quite seamlessly. However we must await whatever decision is made by CRT as to his replacement. In the meantime we can do no more than to wish his family all our sympathy in their most untimely loss. I will most certainly miss him. It has been a difficult winter from the personnel point of view, as outlined above and fate had yet another blow to deal at the beginning of February when Rick Thake, our most efficient treasurer and keen supporter of all matters to do with Sculptor, suddenly suffered a stroke. At the time of writing he appears to be making reasonable progress, but still hors de combat for the time being. I Page 3


am sure all our members will wish to join me in wishing him a speedy and complete recovery.

The village school and its associated primaries sent a choir of children to sing carols, and Bill and Liz Mann kept everyone well supplied with hot chestnuts. Julian Tann put on another Christmas Fair at ‘The Navigation’ and this was well attended, with the stalls once more obtained from IWA’s stores near Burton-on-Trent, thanks to Trevor Allum who looked after the transport. Among the many guests and spectators we were able to welcome Richard Parry, Chief Executive of CRT and, for once, the evening was blessed with perfect weather. Kathryn has Richard Parry (CRT Chief Executive) presents since taken upon herself the Kathryn Dodington with a certificate as owner of the organisation of next Christmas’s winning illuminated boat (Photo: JR) event and, by all accounts it should be an even bigger and Before all these sad events we had the more spectacular event. usual Christmas Carol and Illuminated Boat event in early December. This time Other things to report regarding our we managed to get a Christmas tree set programme of events are that it has up on the Museum Green, a matter in been decided to rebrand the Summer which David Henderson took great Gala as the Stoke Bruerne Family interest (in fact my last dealing with him Festival Weekend; more details are was during the removal of the tree after available on our website. So far as the Twelfth Night, at which he presided with Village at War is concerned all I can tell much affability). The tree was very you is that another spectacular is in kindly provided by William Irlam of course of preparation for next Stoke Plain Farm, lit with the coloured September and also to watch the festoon bulbs presented to us by Rob website for more details as they arise. Westlake and decorated with bows etc. Details of our monthly meetings, which by Elaine Pieris from ‘Topiary’. The have had to be transferred to the back movement of boats was in the hands of barn at ‘The Navigation’ during the Kathryn Dodington, who also took the present alterations and work at the prize for the best illuminated boat, a fact Museum, may be found elsewhere in that, as Editor of this Newsletter I am this issue and on the website. My sure she is far too modest to mention. © Friends of the Canal Museum 2014 Registered Charity No 1121146 Page 4


thanks are, as ever, due to Rose Granaghan for her work in arranging these. January’s meeting saw a presentation by Kathryn showing the Royal Thames Pageant of the Diamond Jubilee and her part in it.

Leo No2 at Tower Bridge on the Diamond Jubilee in June 2012 (Photo: KD)

At least I can report a few positive matters. The bid for Historic Lottery funding for interpretation panels and other similar things made by the Stoke Bruerne Canal Partnership is progressing well under the guidance of Lynda Payton and Helen Westlake and we should see some physical evidence of it later this year. More details of what is happening may be found on our website. I would draw members’ attention to the Oral Reminiscence Day to be held on Sunday 13th April at the Museum. Similarly a bid is in process of being made for the commemoration of the centenary of the 1914-18 War. The bid will result in displays, media © Friends of the Canal Museum 2014 Registered Charity No 1121146

productions and publications dealing with the role of canals and boat people during the Great War; the role of the villagers of Stoke Bruerne and Shutlanger in the same period and the part played in the Italian Campaign of that war by our associated canal in Italy. David Henderson was closely involved with this latter part of the project at the time of his death. Another smaller, but no less important project, is the ongoing saga of the Lock flagpole. As many are aware there is a flagpole on the island by Top Lock and at the time of our first Gala event in 2006 Sam Samuels and I endeavoured to fly some sort of flag from it. Unfortunately we were prevented from doing this by the fact that the old halyards had perished and it was impossible to reeve new ones since we were unable to lower the pole because some genius in BT had strung telephone wires across the cut either side of the pole. Over the years I had raised the matter with BW through the Stoke Bruerne Canal Partnership but always we came up against complete disinterest from BT. However last autumn Kathryn noticed that BT were undertaking a PR scheme via OpenReach whereby some sort of community improvement could be carried out free of charge. She subsequently took this up with BT and it is beginning to look as if not only will we (and of course CRT, its owners) soon be able to use the pole again for its original purpose, but that some of the Page 5


unsightly wires across the cut may be removed. One final piece of good news is that our member Roy Sears has for many years now been beavering away at improving public transport matters for Stoke Bruerne. We have the 86 local bus service running through the village from Monday to Saturday and connecting us with Towcester and Northampton, but the nearest link on Sundays to Northampton is the X4 service from Roade to and from Milton Keynes. I am happy to report that Roy’s long campaign to see a regular service to Milton Keynes pass through the village has initially borne some fruit in that, as from 2nd March next a Sundays only service will pass through the village,

A flag atop the flag pole soon? (Photo: KD)

giving connections not only with Milton Keynes and Northampton but also Peterborough, Oundle, Kettering, Corby and Wellingborough. I can see it being of some use to boaters wishing to weekend boats as well as visitors. This service needs to be patronised and could well result in a daily service being © Friends of the Canal Museum 2014 Registered Charity No 1121146

introduced if it is successful. I would like to take this opportunity of thanking Roy for all the hard work this has entailed. At least, in spite of the amount of rain and wind this winter has produced, we have not so far been faced with serious cold or ice and snow conditions. The days are beginning to lengthen and spring cannot be too far away. Let us hope that the year that began so inauspiciously will prove to be better than it has been so far. Finally, you may well have noticed a fairly radical alteration in the format and appearance of this Newsletter. This is because Lynda Payton, who has ably produced ‘Museum Matters’ ever since we were formed, has decided that she has more than enough on her plate with all the other matters that she handles so well and Kathryn Dodington, who has experience of producing a similar newsletter elsewhere, has nobly stepped forward and volunteered her services as Editor. We have given Kathryn her head in making what changes she wishes, mainly because her computer uses different programmes from Lynda’s, and this is the reason for the change in appearance. I am sure she will be an adequate replacement for Lynda, but I cannot let the occasion pass without thanking Lynda for producing such an attractive, eye-catching and interesting production for the last seven years. So over to you now Kathryn! Page 6

SCULPTOR UPDATE Kathryn Dodington he maintenance of Sculptor interested me ever since I arrived in Stoke Bruerne because my Aunt (Daphne March) operated a working boat during the war; she trained the original ‘Idle Women’ using her boat Heather Bell


guidance from Lorna and David B. Canal & River Trust have responded positively but we are still to finalise the details. Richard Cox has drawn up a schedule of maintenance to be undertaken weekly, monthly and annually.

I approached Lorna and David B with a proposal once I had my house sorted out, with some suggestions as to how we could continue the excellent work undertaken by them whilst they concentrate their efforts on the social history related to the celebration of the 100 years since the start of the First World War.

As with all volunteer tasks we have a very strong nucleus of people who are willing to assist but we would be grateful to know if you are interested in helping. Please contact David B in the first instance Sculptor will be 80 in 2015 and like us all, the older she gets the more attention she will undoubtedly need.


Sculptor (Photo: KD)

It is not about righting any wrongs but about putting the maintenance of Sculptor on a firm footing for the foreseeable future. To that end Richard Cox (the owner of the butty Moon moored opposite the Canal Museum) has kindly stepped forward to manage the regular maintenance of Sculptor along with brother Andy whilst taking © Friends of the Canal Museum 2014 Registered Charity No 1121146

CRT are looking at requiring some formal training on Sculptor. I am lucky enough to have an RYA Inland Waterways Instructor’s Certificate which may mean we will be able to run some training sessions – although I am quite sure you will all teach me a lot about the correct handling procedures for Sculptor!

HNBC The Historic Narrowboat Club have updated their records on Sculptor recently and I understand an article about Sculptor will be appearing in their magazine shortly. ( Page 7




Rodney Wardlaw he Stoke Bruerne Canal Partnership is working with the Canal & River Trust to ensure that the canal, village and surrounding countryside are well interpreted, maintained and conserved to provide a wonderful resource for leisure, recreation and learning for all. Stoke Bruerne is a Olive Minney encouraging youngsters to understand the popular and attractive canal infrastructure (Photo: CRT) village with a unique history. It attracts visitors, Museum, which interprets this story for boaters and canal enthusiasts as well everyone to appreciate. as being a beautiful place to live.


The fact that the canal was driven through the heart of the village gives it a unique place in the history of the inland waterways. Many buildings and sites, which are important to this waterway’s story, remain and are an integral part of the scenery in and around the village. In the heart of the village is the

The Canal & River Trust, working hand in hand with the Stoke Bruerne Canal Partnership, will install new visitor information boards, purchase recording equipment, provide family tracker packs and recruit and train a number of volunteers who will provide guided tours and capture interesting stories of the waterways. To make this happen we need volunteers to help us achieve these aims. Are you interested in local history? Do you enjoy meeting and helping people? Would you like to learn new skills? If you would wish to join the team of volunteers at Stoke Bruerne and become part of a dynamic team we would love to hear from you.

Enjoy the beauty of Stoke Bruerne (Photo: KD)

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There is support and training for new and existing volunteers this spring. On Page 8


Saturday March 22nd there is an opportunity to learn all about oral history, using film to record interviews, asking the right questions and encouraging responses. The next day Sunday March 23rd there is a training session on leading guided heritage walks. All these training sessions which will be held at Stoke Bruerne, are free and refreshments are provided.



Why the change of format? I volunteered to take over ‘Museum Matters’ from Lynda Payton and having had some experience of producing newsletters and because I use different software (Apple v Windows) I decided on this format. Your feedback would be much appreciated please

If you would like to play an important part in this project please contact Lynda at the Canal & River Trust (, or Helen Westlake, chair of The Stoke Bruerne Canal Partnership, (helen.westlake@stokebruernecanalpar or by calling (01908) 302542, by the end of February.

The light blue is for winter

Let’s make Stoke Bruerne a leading location in the region for learning about canals - their history, boats, people, buildings and artefacts. We look forward to welcoming you to the team.

The banner at the top (red), the font (white) and the background to the blocks of text (blue) such as this one, are to represent GUCCC ‘Coronation’ colours of red, white and blue.

Is for Spring Is for Summer Is for Autumn Other colours used are to signify specific events.

Treasurer’s Update Sadly Rick Thake is currently indisposed in Northampton General Hospital. Rick – we wish you well in your recovery and look forward to seeing you before too long. Enjoy the history of Stoke Bruerne (Photo: KD)

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MEMORIES ARE MADE OF THIS Stoke Bruerne ‘Reminiscence Day’ Sunday April 13th 10:00 – 16:00


ollowing an award of £67,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, The Stoke Bruerne Canal Partnership is working with the Canal & River Trust to ensure that the canal, village and surrounding countryside are well interpreted, maintained and conserved to provide a wonderful resource for leisure, recreation and learning for all.

Entertainment, refreshments and exhibits from the museum will be there to enjoy. There will be a ‘mystery object’ quiz, ‘where on earth image competition’ and family fun activities.

We all have memories of places special to us. They may be associated with an important event in our lives, being with someone we love, enjoying a family event or just quietly watching the world go by. The past is built of our collective Reliving memories at the Village at War event memories, they may be (Photo: KD) reinforced by photos we took, souvenirs we brought home or a few It’s free so why not come along and words in a diary. share your memories. As we said at the beginning of this article, ‘Stoke Bruerne We would like to share your memories is made of your memories’. of Stoke Bruerne, the canal and countryside. You may have stories to tell, events to describe, photographs to show or written accounts. On Sunday April 13th we are having a special ‘Reminiscence and Memorabilia Day’ at Stoke Bruerne on the canalside by the Museum. We will have members of the Partnership team there to share your stories and memorabilia, a film crew to record your memories and experts to answer your questions.

The Reminiscence Day is part of a twoyear interpretation project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, which includes the installation of new visitor information boards, purchase of recording equipment, provision of family tracker packs and the recruitment and training of a number of volunteers who will provide guided tours and capture interesting stories of the waterways. You never know. Your memories, photos and memorabilia might become

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MEMORIES ARE MADE OF THIS Stoke Bruerne ‘Reminiscence Day’ Sunday April 13th 10:00 – 16:00 an important part of the story we will be telling at Stoke Bruerne. If you would like to know more about the project please contact the Canal & River Trust via Lynda Payton ( or The Stoke Bruerne Canal Partnership chair by emailing Helen Westlake (helen.westlake@stokebruernecanalpar or by calling (01908) 302542.

Illuminated Boats On Saturday December 7th we enjoyed a very successful Illuminated Boats evening together with some wonderful carol singing from the school children and a great Christmas market at the Navigation. The evening was attended by Richard Parry, Chief Executive of the Canal & River Trust, who presented the prizes. Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make it the success it was.

Curatorial Update


he beginning of December saw a scene of devastation in the Museum. In preparation for the refurbishment and electrical work which is to be carried out, it was necessary to remove all of the exhibits and interpretation from the upper floors where possible. Some exhibits, like Sunny Valley and the Foxton model, were considered too difficult so they were protected and left in situ. The © Friends of the Canal Museum 2014 Registered Charity No 1121146

Decanting the Museum (Photo: MC)

usual Curatorial Work Party and Honorary Curators were assisted by more volunteers from the Friends under the guidance of Dale Copley, CRT Collections Manager. The small exhibits were packed into crates and the larger ones wrapped in protective covering. Once they were cleared, the lighting to the displays was disconnected and removed, the large display panels were taken down and some cases, which are to be replaced, were demolished. While this was going on a specialist Conservator was called in to take down the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct model from the rafters as this task was way beyond the scope of the volunteers and the model needed to be removed before work could be carried out on the ceiling. This brief description of the work does not fully express the gratitude of the Honorary Curators to the volunteers who helped with this extremely complex task. We could not have done it without you! Many thanks. Once the building work has been completed we will have to reverse the operation and put everything back ready for the new season. Assistance may be required. Page 11

JACK JAMES A serialised biography by David Blagrove – Part 7


fter demobilisation in 1919 Jack returned to Oxford, as did Hawkins who set up in business on his own account as a supplier of building materials and coal merchant based at Oxford Basin. Soon after leaving the Army Jack went to work for him and a new career opened. In the post-war period there was much talk of ‘homes for heroes’ and the early 1920s was a time when the first tranche of council housing was built outside the large towns and cities. My maternal Grandfather who had qualified as a Master Builder in Oxford before the war but had sacrificed his career to the war effort, similarly returned from France and found employment building a large Council estate for Oxford City Council at this time. Much of the sand and ballast used in these buildings was supplied by Hawkins, being dredged from the Thames. Banbury Town Council similarly began building houses, initially as part of a slum clearance programme, and Hawkins obtained a contract for the supply of clean river ballast for this. Jack James was given the task of overseeing the boating side of this and a very interesting operation it proved to be. The contract required the delivery of two boatloads (30 tons each) per day at Banbury Wharf, so a fleet of some six or so boats was assembled, along with dredging equipment. Today such equipment would involve hydraulic grabs but in the early 1920s it was done by hand. © Friends of the Canal Museum 2014 Registered Charity No 1121146

The men worked from a dredging flat fitted with a spoon-shaped bucket on the end of a long arm, suspended from a small derrick amidships, with a chain attached to the bucket from a winch forward. Another winch attached to the bank or a convenient post kept the dredging flat in position and could be used for working the flat forward as the dredging advanced. It was worked by a two-man gang, who unloaded the bucket into a narrow boat positioned alongside. The operation was based on the Thames just below the entrance to the Dukes Cut near Wolvercote in the pool below Kings Weir. There was no lock there at that time, the present Kings Lock was not built until some

Jack tending to Lock 14 Stoke Bruerne (Photo: CRT)

years later; instead the boats had to pass through Kings Weir. This structure had a series of large paddles and two mitred gates in midstream, also fitted with paddles. Once a day the empty boats would be let down and, once the rush had subsided, the loaded boats Page 12

JACK JAMES A serialised biography by David Blagrove – Part 7

Jack splicing a rope (Photo: CRT)

pulled up through the open gates by two horses and all available men. This process took place in the evening so as to interfere as little as possible with the workings of Wolvercote Paper Mill, which relied upon the head of water held up by Kings Weir. The loaded boats would be worked as far as Thrupp that night and up to Banbury the following day. They would be shovelled out onto the wharf the next day and return to Thrupp the day after. Needless to say the job was extremely hard work and required the services of very fit boaters. Like the stone carrying on the Coventry Canal, all the heavy shovelling, dredging, barrowing and lifting was done by hand. After this contract ended Jack seems to have been engaged occasionally on ballast carrying on the Thames and more regularly in taking coal to the Oxford area from the Coventry pits, © Friends of the Canal Museum 2014 Registered Charity No 1121146

including the Wyken Colliery, which had its own arm leading from the Oxford Canal and which is today the base for a Cruising Club. He also would go up the Ashby Canal (the Moira Cut) for coal and regularly tied by Marston Stop Lock, where the Ashby Canal joins the Coventry Canal near Bedworth. There was then good stabling to be had there for the animals, but these have long since vanished. Jack or his mates could walk into Bedworth for shopping or beer from there a fact that may have had some significance a little later in his career.

Winter Opening Hours The Canal Museum will be closed over the winter for work on the installation of new lighting to the galleries and other building work to upgrade the building. A grant from the Arts Council, with additional funding from The Friends of the Canal Museum and the Northampton Branch of the Inland Waterways Association, has enabled the replacement of the gallery lighting with new state of the art energy efficient display lighting. However, the café and shop should be open as usual on Wednesdays to Sundays in the winter between 11:00 and 15:00. The proposed reopening date is Saturday 12th April. Page 13

ILLUMINATED BOATS Images courtesy of James Rudd

Mike Partridge on Charlie passing an illuminated Hoperidge Cottage

Leo No2 lights up the dark sky

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ILLUMINATED BOATS Images courtesy of James Rudd

Inchy ablaze with colour

The Christmas Market in full swing

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ILLUMINATED BOATS Images courtesy of James Rudd

A general view of the illuminated boats

Customers pack Charlie for a night time trip to the Blisworth Tunnel south portal

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ILLUMINATED BOATS Images courtesy of James Rudd

David B (R) welcoming CRT Chief Executive Richard Parry

Stoke Bruerne and the Museum lit up for the evening

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ILLUMINATED BOATS Images courtesy of James Rudd


The foredeck of Inchy

Trading boats were allowed to moor temporarily outside the Navigation by special permission

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ILLUMINATED BOATS Images courtesy of James Rudd

Looking back towards the Museum Green from outside the Boat Inn

Rudolph, on Inchy, keeping an eye out for Father Christmas

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RESEARCHING SISTER MARY Dr Della Sadler-Moore – Part 3


n previous articles the impetus for researching Sister Mary was outlined. In this instalment Lorna and Della share the 2013 data collection journey up to and including the annual Stoke Bruerne Canal Festival where display boards were handed over to The Friends of The Canal Museum which reveal (some) accurate findings related to Sister Mary’s life and her work as a nurse.

Mary Eleanor; out came the iPad again,

Data collection ‘starting point’ Analysis of existing publications containing information about Sister Mary revealed baseline data, which was the starting point for discussion with David in January 2013. The publications were paper and on-line, from which facts and dates were extracted. What became evident early on in the process was that ‘dates’ related to Sister Mary’s life events differed considerably. In fact, one publication reported she received the British Empire Medal (BEM) in 1985, 13 years after she passed away. In David’s kitchen in January we talked about the early facts I had identified, and I questioned the origin of the title ‘Sister’, was it a religious or a nursing title? Lorna suggested using ‘rootsweb’ to check Sister Mary’s birth name, so out came the iPad and Lorna located twins named ‘Ellen and Mary Amos’. David confirmed one had died. Earlier that morning I photographed Sister Mary’s headstone at the rear of the Museum, and recalled her name being © Friends of the Canal Museum 2014 Registered Charity No 1121146

Handing over the display boards to David and Lorna at the summer canal festival (Photo: DSM)

and there it was ‘Eleanor HollowellWard’, so our journey had officially begun.

Births, Deaths and Marriages (BMD) Lorna taught me to order BMD certificates, starting with Sister Mary’s birth certificate, which would confirm her birth name. By the end of January the number of BMDs was mounting, and my email was red-hot letting David and Lorna know the exact details. Email exchanges then took place where David and Lorna added copious amounts of additional information for me to consider further. Lorna, being the modest individual she is, didn’t let on about the excellent articles she had Page 20

RESEARCHING SISTER MARY Dr Della Sadler-Moore – Part 3 published in ‘Narrowboat’ (Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter editions 2006 and Autumn 2007) which I wish I’d read earlier as I would have understood, more fully, the journey I was travelling.

Archive visits Several archives were visited, starting with the National Waterway’s archive at Ellesmere Port, where I viewed and digitised photographs and letters written by Sister Mary. This visit coincided with heavy snow and, at times, I didn’t think we were going to make it. I met Lorna at Northampton archive on several occasions, the first was in February 2013 and, yes, I got lost again. We accessed the George Freestone and Lady Melksham collection, the latter I don’t think anyone else had ever opened since being entered into the archive. Lorna, in-between my visits, diligently went back and forth to Northampton archive to retrieve additional information.

columns; each row relates to a year. As the evidence came in, the Grid was updated with the facts. As new ideas were generated these were also entered into the right hand column as a reminder for future investigation. By March we were on the 13th version: this was when I decided a colour coding system was necessary for ease of interpretation. This focused the mind because, highlighted in blue, were the avenues Lorna, David and myself needed to focus upon because, so far we didn’t have any data for certain years in Sister Mary’s life.

The ‘grid’: Fiction turned to fact When approaching the management of increasing amounts of facts about Sister Mary’s life, combined with the fact Della lives 75 miles from Stoke Bruerne, there was a need to accurately communicate facts and queries. So I developed what has become known by David and Lorna as ‘The Grid’. A document, where the ‘early data on Sister Mary’ (some of which we thought could be fiction), was turned into verifiable facts. The Grid contains six © Friends of the Canal Museum 2014 Registered Charity No 1121146

Sister Mary’s headstone (Photo: DSM)

‘Eureka moment’: Earls Barton One day in my office back in Wolverhampton I was looking at an article by ‘Vaughton’, which was pinned, to my noticeboard (it’s still there today). The article reports on an interview Page 21

RESEARCHING SISTER MARY Dr Della Sadler-Moore – Part 3 conducted with Sister Mary, and for some reason I can’t pinpoint, I decided to re-read it. Sister Mary reported she had worked as a Doctors’ Assistant for a decade, so if this was correct, and in the Grid there was a decade we could not account for, my thoughts were that we could possibly trace this lead. Olive’s marriage certificate had arrived that same day and the place of residence at the time of marriage was Earls Barton. I rapidly conveyed the new facts to Lorna, off she went to Northampton Records Office and confirmed that between 1925 and 1935 Sister Mary was, in fact, in Earls Barton. More jigsaw pieces had been found.

Easter week - big developments Easter week arrived and I was off to Stoke Bruerne, stayed on a friend’s boat. What a week, David, Lorna and I had several meetings and version 13 of the Grid was rapidly updated with ‘hand written’ new facts. David located the ‘This is Your Life’ transcript and kindly Sister Mary Age




Thomas (age 59) and Mary (age 54) Amos Wharf Locks. Long Buckby. Had 8 children1: Ann b.24th Feb 1811. Joseph b.11th Dec 1814. Nathanael b.24th Feb 1817. Sarah b.1st June 1821. Thomas b.4th Sept 1821. Mary & Martha (Twins) b.15th Aug 1823. John b. April 1826.

delivered it to Gerald. The content kept me busy for a few hours and threw up a number of new leads. Three visits to Earls Barton meant even more facts were coming to light. The week was drawing to a close and I was desperate to sit where Sister Mary once sat, so you can guess where we went next, The Spice of Bruerne. I sat in the window seat and imagined what it was like when Sister Mary had it. Romance over, the final day arrived so it was back to David’s kitchen to review the whole situation. We did the 1st mapping of the content of the proposed display boards; goodbyes said I was off to the Black Country. I did visit to the Museum to get presents for Mom and Dad where I spent a whopping £70 on books, each of which I knew had references to Sister Mary, because I knew these would be useful for inclusion in the display boards.

Back home At home I still had a couple of days

Relationship to Sr Mary Great grandparents Great Aunt Great Uncle Great Uncle Great Aunt Great Uncle Great Aunt & Great Uncle Grandfather

Confirmatory sources

Additional points / queries …

1841 Census

Baptism Records Independent Chapel Long Buckby.

When did Thomas move to Stoke Bruerne ?

An extract from ‘The Grid’ showing the recording of Sister Mary data (the last column indicates queries to be explored)

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RESEARCHING SISTER MARY Dr Della Sadler-Moore – Part 3 holiday left, so the academic aspect of the Sister Mary journey began, in the main searching university data bases for nursing literature that could shed light on Sister Mary’s role as a nurse. Lorna rang with Dr Bull’s telephone number, so without hesitation I rang him and we agreed to meet, combining the visit to Blisworth with another visit to Northampton archive. The development of the content for the display boards was labour intensive.

article. Admittedly it was, when finished, over 5,000 words. Nevertheless it was submitted to ‘Narrowboat’ and rapidly rejected. This certainly knocked my confidence, but on another note has, on reflection, confirmed Sister Mary and the boater families she served deserve a more comprehensive forum, hence the commencement of a book, the working title of which is ‘A hundred years of Care on the Cut’.

Canal festivals: mixing business with pleasure May arrived and I was privileged to stay on historic boat Gerald around the time of the Little Venice canal festival. This allowed me to spend three days in Kew archive where I researched lots more material regarding Sister Mary. The next canal festival was Stoke Bruerne where I was able to deliver the Sister Mary Ward display boards to David and Lorna on the very windy day on Sculptor.

Sister Mary attending to a boatwoman in 1949

Publishing Disappointment Over the university summer break I turned my attention to the Sister Mary Case Books, analysing entries for 1943 which was, at David’s request, due to it being mid World War II. This was a mammoth task requiring interpretation of Sister Mary’s writing and the construction of what is referred to as ‘data extraction tables’. The product of my labour was formulated into an © Friends of the Canal Museum 2014 Registered Charity No 1121146

What next? In the final article, in the next issue of Museum Matters in the series David and Della will briefly explain the content of the display boards which are on display in the education room of the Museum, and Lorna gives an insight into the unexplained areas of Sister Mary’s life, which are proving to be the most frustrating part of the journey to date. Page 23

MUSEUM WORK - UPDATE Stephen Bosworth


ork started on the renovations to the Museum on Monday 3rd February; the work is due to finish on 30th March.

changing a couple of windows and doors and having a little tidy up. On Wednesday 12th we took the ceiling down and started on the electrics.

Editor’s notes: •

The upper floor of the Museum ready for the builders to start (Photo: KD)

Do you have any spare books or DVDs?

The works are: • • • •

If you can help with the repainting in the café please let Louise know This report is, of necessity, brief as work as only just started. In the next edition of Museum Matters I will provide an update of how the work progressed

Replacing the ceiling Replacing the existing slippery floor covering Installing new LED lights to the building and collection Bringing the collection back in

Grete at the Canal Cottage kindly runs a bookstall in aid of the Canal Museum. If, after Christmas, you have any spare books or DVDs please consider donating them to Grete’s bookstall for the benefit of the Museum.

Subs due now Externally we are doing re-decoration and replacing the old cement guttering. In addition we are replacing the steel sections and plates on the fire escape. Internally we are going to overhaul the café. Louise will need to ask some volunteers for painting the walls. In






© Friends of the Canal Museum 2014 Registered Charity No 1121146

Subscriptions are due on 1st April (by Standing Order if at all possible); rates are being held at the same level as previous years. Your continued support is vital in supporting our Museum so we very much hope you will wish to renew again this year. Reminders will be issued shortly by e-Mail from Jenny at Page 24



hatever its name, our June festival is all set to be another bumper one and all we need to make sure it is a resounding success is some sunshine and YOU. This year it is on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th June, although if you are arriving by boat it all kicks off on the evening of Friday 13th, so make sure to get the date in your diary now! To reserve your mooring you need to get your booking form to us early. Booking forms can be downloaded from our website at b-family-festival. It was decided to change the name from Gala to the Stoke Bruerne Family Festival to better reflect the nature of the event.

any Council member listed on the back of Museum Matters and make us an offer we can’t refuse.

! We can’t do much about the weather but our organising team is busy booking all sorts of entertainment to ensure a fun packed weekend for everyone. The Kevin O’Regan Band are back by popular demand and this year we hope to have a Boat Auction, so dig out all those unwanted bits and pieces taking up valuable space and donate them to us so we can raise some funds for projects at the Museum. We are also aiming to hold another Auction of Promises similar to the one held a few years ago at The Boat Inn, so can you offer a service like a couple of hours gardening, or a holiday, or a couple of spare theatre tickets – anything which we can auction to raise money? If so, please contact © Friends of the Canal Museum 2014 Registered Charity No 1121146



As always, we would be delighted to hear from you if you can spare a few hours over the weekend to help run a stall or just generally help out. Also, if you’ve got any hidden talents or belong to a music, dance or theatre group or activity club and think they’d like to get involved too, we’d also like to hear from you. There will be more details in the next issue of Museum Matters, but in the meantime keep an eye on our website to find out what attractions are being added to the programme day-by-day. Page 25




wo well known supporters of the Canal Museum have passed away recently. Canal photographer Robin Smithett died suddenly in November. Robin had a number of customers in the Stoke Bruerne area and his evocative postcard image of the trees alongside the Museum was also the background to his business cards and the front page of his website. When in the area Robin always popped into the Museum and occasionally caught up with me there for a natter. Robin and I travelled to school on the same bus for seven years but only caught up with one another again through the canals

when Robin retired from BT and began his second career in photography. Chris Daniels died in January after a long illness. Chris was News Editor for the magazine Waterways World until his illness forced him to give up. When his condition allowed it, Chris tried to attend all of the Museum and Friends events at Stoke Bruerne and in his journalist’s time he always gave the Museum good reviews. It was one of his favourite places. Our condolences are extended to their families and friends. Elsewhere David Blagrove has offered his appreciation of David Henderson and David Griffin – it is indeed a difficult time for the waterways.

Robin Smithett’s well-known image of Stoke Bruerne in winter

© Friends of the Canal Museum 2014 Registered Charity No 1121146

Robin’s photo of Mike Partridge’s Jubilee whilst still working Page 26

FOCM COUNCIL 2014 Chairman David Blagrove (01604) 862174 also member of the Curatorial Group & Trustee Vice-Chairman Lorna York (Trustee) Treasurer Rick Thake ( Minutes Secretary Denis Atkinson Membership Secretary Jenny Copeland ( Publicity & Website, Grant Funding & Awards Lynda Payton (01604) 861205 ( Newsletter Kathryn Dodington ( Museums & Attractions Partnership John Alderson Volunteer Co-ordinator Trevor Allum Other Museum Manager (ex-officio seat) Jenny Copeland (Trustee) Bill Mann (Catering) Michael Butler (Village at War)

Photographic Credits CRT LS KD JR DSM MC

Canal & River Trust Louise Stockwin CRT Kathryn Dodington FoCM James Rudd NN12 Della Sadler-Moore FoCM Mike Constable FoCM

Events Sub-Committees Trevor Allum, Dennis Atkinson, Michael Butler, Jenny Copeland, David Daines, Roger Hasdell, Bill Mann, Sandie Morton, Museum Manager, Mike Partridge, Lynda Payton, Victoria Powell, Terry Richardson, Graeme Scothern, Laura Sturrock, Rick Thake, Helen Westlake, Liam Whitby. Non-Council Posts Roger Hasdell Terry Richardson Brian Collings Rose Granaghan Laura Sturrock

Assistant Newsletter Editor Assistant Publicity Officer Curatorial Group Winter Talks Organiser Trustee

Š Friends of the Canal Museum 2014 Registered Charity No 1121146 Page 27

FOCM 2014 DIARY March

20th Malcolm Ranieri

22nd / 23rd Stoke Bruerne Canal Partnership th

Chasing the Steam Railway * Heritage Training Days

20:00 10:00


7 to 21st Canal Museum 12th Canal Museum 13th Stoke Bruerne Canal Partnership th 17 Steve Morley 23rd St George’s Day

Easter Egg Hunt Museum Reopening Day Reminiscence and Memorabilia Day Tale of Two Canals * Morris Dancing Boat Inn

All day

10:00 20:00 19:00


17th / 18th Canal Museum

Roses and Castles Painting


Stoke Bruerne Family Festival


Pirate Weekend


Village at War Roses and Castles Painting

10:00 10:00

Illuminated Boats and Christmas Carols




14 / 15th FoCM


16th / 17th Canal Museum


13th / 14th FoCM 20th / 21st Canal Museum


6th FoCM

* FoCM monthly talks usually held in the Learning Centre behind the Museum

The Friends of The Canal Museum at Stoke Bruerne may not agree with the opinions expressed in this newsletter, but encourages publication as a matter of interest. Nothing printed may be construed as policy or an official statement unless so stated. The Friends of The Canal Museum accept no liability for any matter, errors or omissions contained within this newsletter. We will however gladly publish corrections if notified. The Editor reserves the right to shorten or modify articles published in the interests of space or clarity

Š Friends of the Canal Museum 2014 Registered Charity No 1121146 Page 28

Museum Matters - February 2014  

Newsletter of The Friends of the Canal Museum, Stoke Bruerne