How reliable and useful is the evidence about Stoke Bruerne

* The peach coloured booklet called “the Canal at Stoke Bruerne. David Blagrove wrote this. It was first printed in 1971, and then re-printed in January 1999. It was written and put together by the museum at Stoke Bruerne to inform people of the changes that happened there and for them to read on their way round. It is useful and reliable as the museum has all the original letters and so on that are dated and that to use to help them put it together. It does agree with the sources in the museum as we saw the sources first hand when we went there on the 29th September.

It would be useful to a historian as they have all the information in one place and would not have to look in many different places for the evidence, and if they wanted could visit the museum and double check the sources agree with each other. * There is also the red booklet, called “A study of the Grand Junction Canal”. The school, to help us get a better understanding of Stoke Bruerne put this together and so we could do some pre-visit preparation.

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This has useful aerial pictures and maps, all about the coming of the canals, a brief description of how Stoke Bruerne came about, events in chronological order, and map with annotations, some more pictures and some primary source pieces of written evidence. This source is very basic and would only help a historian get a brief idea of how Stoke Bruerne came about. The primary source evidence is good as it shows there is evidence to back up what its saying.

Finally the last source I am looking at is the Blue booklet also called “A study of the Grand Junction Canal” that we had a load of helpfully questions in that we answered throughout the day, some on the walk some in the museum. I was helpful as if we’d been told to write down useful information you would not know where to start. It does agree with other sources as I answered questions involving many primary sources again like letters Etc, which were on display in the museum. I think it is reliable and would be ok for a historian to use.

But I am not very confident on this piece of evidence as I may have written or copied something down wrong and that would not be helpful to a historian. Many pieces of evidence are correct but there are a few controversial things that may or may not have existed. We can be sure about the fact that the Blisworth tunnel exists because that is actually still standing, and used to this day, also we saw it on our visit on the 29th September. Local lore suggested that in January 1796 when work halted that the actual tunnel collapsed but there is actually no evidence to prove it according to the peach book.

It quotes “local lore has it that the tunnel collapsed, but no documentary proof is available. ” So this obviously makes this a controversial piece of evidence. I was a bit sceptical about the Blisworth Tramway as when we went there I did not know it existed until we were told were it used to be. There is evidence to say it existed though. The only evidence I could find was, ” The increase in traffic led to its replacement with a horse tramway, opened in 1801. ” There is only one piece of evidence can it really be relied upon?

Another sceptical source is the rector’s bridge. It was originally built when the village was split in half, so the farmer could get from one side to the other with ease. However when the land was sold off separately it fell into disrepair and eventually fell down. The only reference I could find to this was in the red booklet called “A study of the grand Junction canal. ” This is what it said, “A narrowing is the site of Rectory Bridge, removed when the ownership of the land changed. ” Can this piece of evidence be believed either?

Stoke Bruerne had to change as a result of the defeat with the railways, otherwise it would have lost a lot of money in a short amount of time, as with Leighton Buzzard. However because of the railway coming in nearby Leighton Buzzard did not change that drastically as it could still transport goods with ease. However this was not the case with Stoke Bruerne and it needed to think of other ways to use the canal. It was obvious that leisure was a good suggestion. The two pubs would make a nice earning and one could just stay for the village people.

The restaurant would be good also for families to stop off moor their boat to eat and maybe look round the museum. However life would not have been as easy during the battle to outdo the railways. They would have piled a lot of money into improving the canals, by putting in double locks, and so on. Possible not actually knowing whether they would get the money back. Stoke Bruerne was dependent on the canal as was Leighton Buzzard, and if the canal was not getting an income from leisure today the village would fall into disrepair.

Canals also need a lot of looking after like dredging to keep it clean and so on. This is all paid for by the income from leisure. The village probably would have received a lot more money when the canal was used for transporting goods and many boats were going many times a day. However this is not the case with leisure. You get the odd person going along in a boat they live on, but not as often a transporting goods as that would have happened all year and leisure on the canals only happens in the summer.

Like in the peach booklet on page 3, they are talking about the collapse of the Blisworth Tunnel, however it says no documentary evidence about this but it does say that there was reference to this in the company minutes saying, “The Company’s minute books ascribe the failure to excessive water entering the workings, an unsatisfactory arch form, and poor material. ” This evidence is more believable, because the canal company would not have written it in their minute’s book, if it were untrue.

If you look in the red book, there are two extracts from the Canal Company Minutes, the first extract was written on the 10th March 1835, this is making a reference to the application from a Man called Mr Holland making an apply for right to build additional locks. There is also another extract from The Canal Company Minutes, it was written on the 7th August 1851, it was an answer to proposal from a man called Mr Lake, he advised they closed the double lock to economise water. It says his view was to be discussed by the committee so they could decide the best plan of action.

Also if you look at the Whittaker in 1874 then in 1879 there is a vast difference in jobs. Most people in 1874 obviously worked in places, which as a result of the decline in the use of the canals closed, and made a lot of people redundant then took up more modern jobs like shop work and teaching. Some idea of the canals importance to the villagers was shown when the tunnel’s closure resulted in a loss of 25 jobs, making many people jobless and unable to support their families. Jobs also became more modernised, like shoe makers, teachers, shop workers.

This was because the jobs available were increasing, because the canals were not able to transport new, heavier materials as efficiently, and so the village became more popular for living in, resulting in the need for new jobs to be created to help the new families have a fairly good way of life. There is also a picture under the Canal Company Minutes extracts in the Red Booklet called “A Study of the grand Junction Canal”. This has a piece of writing under it saying, “Former Double Bridge and entrance to double lock, Stoke Bruerne, 1907.

This fits in with the fact that the Double lock closed in the late 1800’s to help economise water. This photo was obviously taken after it was filled in, this would have been a lot later than when it was closed, as it would have taken a lot of time, and people to fill in the lock. It’s obvious that even through the closure of many businesses and the loss of many barges going through it a day once it had lost the battle with the railways, that Stoke Bruerne managed to come through with its head held high still bringing in the business and being proud to show off about its tough history.

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