Visitors climb down into canal lock at open day

Stoke Bruerne open weekend

Stoke Bruerne open weekend

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More than 1,000 visitors saw Stoke Bruerne from a different angle last weekend – from the bottom of a drained lock on the Grand Union Canal.

Visitors walked along the original 200-year-old brickwork and spoke to engineers and volunteers about the repair works taking place.

Stoke Bruerne open weekend

Stoke Bruerne open weekend

There were also family-friendly activities for visitors to take part in, including taster fishing and canoe sessions, boat trips and listening to a storyteller talk about life on the Grand Union Canal in the 1800s.

Rather than divert their canal around Stoke Bruerne, the Grand Union Canal Company built it straight through the village, completely changing its character.

For a brief period from 1800 to 1805, while the Blisworth Tunnel was under construction, Stoke Bruerne was one of the busiest inland ports in the country.

The open event was part of a 10-week repair programme costing £157,000, which involves replacing a number of wooden lock gates that have come to the end of their life.

To do the essential works, gallons of water in between the locks have been drained.

Before draining the water, fish were rescued and relocated further along the canal.

Local schoolchildren were invited to watch the rescue and learn about the ecology, engineering and heritage of the Grand Union Canal.

Sarah Brown, of the Canal & River Trust, said: “It was lovely to see so many people visit our open weekend and explore Stoke Bruerne.

“All of our visitors braved the cold weather, enjoying the day with smiles on their faces.

“Canoeing proved particularly popular with children and adults alike –over 70 people took the opportunity to paddle on the Grand Union Canal.”

Find out more about the Canal & River Trust at www.canalrivertrust.org.uk