Canal museum at Stoke Bruerne reopens after Arts Council England funded refurbishment to enhance heritage collection

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A First World War Roll of Honour has been donated to the collection at Stoke Bruerne’s Canal Museum.

Canal & River Trust’s Chief Executive Richard Parry presented the museum with the First World War Roll of Honour, originally produced by The Grand Junction Canal Company, to mark the completion of extensive refurbishment works at the Canal Museum.

It reopened for the 2014 season on Wednesday.

This will be the first time that the Roll of Honour, recently discovered by Canal & River Trust employees at the charity’s Brentford Office, will be put on public display. The new exhibit has been donated to the collection to coincide with the centenary of the First World War.

A grant from the Arts Council England’s Renaissance strategic support fund and the Friends of the Canal Museum has made the £61,000 refurbishment project possible – with directional eco-lighting and new floors and ceilings being installed to better showcase the museum’s collection.

Peter Knott, area director at Arts Council England, said: “To preserve our heritage for future generations it’s really important that we continue to fund our museums. Canals have played an important role in the industrial history of the Midlands so I’m pleased that we’ve been able to invest in the refurbishment of the Canal Museum through the Renaissance strategic support fund. It’s also great news that the recently discovered Roll of Honour will take pride of place in the museum in time for the centenary celebrations.”

The museum refurbishment was a major project for Canal & River Trust’s collections team who had to arrange for 947 objects from Stoke Bruerne to be taken out, safely stored and then carefully returned to the museum as part of the major building and lighting project.

Every object was recorded, carefully packed and its new location noted to ensure none of the objects were damaged or lost. The collections team also took the opportunity to audit each object to check for signs of deterioration.

The museum’s committed and skilled volunteer team clocked up more than 800 volunteer hours taking out and replacing the collection.  

Wendy Capelle, acting head of Museums & Attractions at the Canal & River Trust, said: “Thanks to funding from Arts Council England and the Friends of the Canal Museum we have been able to significantly improve the visitor experience. Our refurbishment will help to showcase items of significant historical importance to the waterways and enable visitors to see our collection in the best possible light,”

At the official reopening, Mr Perry said: “I am delighted to be reopening the Canal Museum at Stoke Bruerne. I have seen for myself the vital role it plays both in the local community and in its national role as an important collection of waterways artefacts.”

Housed on two floors of a historic corn mill in the picturesque village of Stoke Bruerne in Northamptonshire the Canal Museum follows the story of Britain’s canals, from the great engineers and navvies who created them to the boat families, leggers and lock keepers who lived and worked on them.