We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.

Discover the museum

If you make your way to the top of the flight of locks on the Grand Union Canal at Stoke Bruerne, you'll find a restored corn mill at the at the end of a row of traditional canal cottages. But the sign above the door now reads "Welcome to The Canal Museum". Come on in and discover more...

A man polishing a kettle at The Canal Museum The Canal Museum

The Canal Museum first opened in 1963, some of you may remember it was known as the National Waterways Museums in the early 2000s before returning as The Canal Museum when we took on the role of looking after the canals and rivers here in England and Wales. Today, The Canal Museum at Stoke Bruerne is still home to part of our wider ‘museum collection’.

Designated museum collection

Designated museum collection logoDesignated of national importance by Arts Council England, most of our ‘museum collection’ is housed within the National Waterway Museum at Ellesmere Port and Gloucester. However, you can also find important, treasured items at Anderton Boat Lift Visitor Centre, Standedge Visitor Centre and of course here at the Canal Museum, Stoke Bruerne. Together it forms the most comprehensive collection of artefacts that tell the story of Britain’s canals and navigable rivers over the last 300 hundred years. The collection consists of over 12,000 objects – including 68 historic boats and the national waterways archive, which alone occupies nearly 1 km of space.

Get closer to the people who worked the canals

As grand as all that sounds, sometimes you need to bring the story back to a more personal level. And that’s exactly what you will find at our Canal Museum, Stoke Bruerne.

Working boats at Stoke Bruerne

Follow 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. Here, you’ll find a real insight into the Britain's inland waterways – the transport system at the heart of the industrial revolution.

Displayed over two floors, within our galleries you find:

  • a re-creation of a boat-builder’s workshop along with its specialist tools
  • displays of traditional clothing and boaters’ painted crafts and belongings
  • beautiful historical signs
  • working models of historic boats including narrow boats, barges, butties and tugs
  • models of the short-lived inclined lift at nearby Foxton, and the remarkable Claverton Pumping Station
  • films and videos that bring the vintage years to life

Outside the museum on the canal you'll see the narrowboat Sculptor moored, one of the thousand or so craft listed on the UK's National Historic Boat Register.

Historic boat Sculptor at Stoke Bruerne

And you can continue the story of the canals with our free audio guide, which takes you from the museum along the banks of the Grand Union Canal and up to the Blisworth Tunnel.

Last date edited: 22 June 2017