The Tunnel Mouth Hut

erroneously aka. "Legger's Hut"

 improvements by the Blisworth Canal Partnership

Background    To serve primarily as a temporary shelter for boatmen and their horse a stable building was once located at the top of the access path to the Tunnel Mouth as shown in a c1900 photograph. In about 1903 there was some work carried out to repair brickwork surrounding the tunnel mouth and, within a short period after that, the entire brickwork archway over the mouth was re-built. At about the same time, a new hut was established adjacent to the tunnel mouth and it is this newer building that is the current focus of refurbishing work, the original stable which may well have been accommodation for tunnel leggers at the top of the path having been taken down probably 100 years ago.  The practice of legging through the tunnel was discontinued in 1871 in favour of employing steam tow-tugs and the new hut may have been used to store provisions for those steam tugs.

The building is being gradually transformed, as funds allow, thanks to the Canal Partnership, with some helpful support, that is - financial support, from the South Northamptonshire Council.  Previous work near the Tunnel Mouth in establishing a wooded walk, carried out by the Blisworth Canal Partnership, is reviewed in an overview article on this website.

New Gates, March 2013    "Phase One" is the commissioning of a pair of stunning iron gates to secure the building as part of its restoration. It will be used eventually by local community groups, in particular school and scout and guide groups for art and nature projects. The building could also be let out for barbeque parties and the like. There are rumours that the hut has already been used in a nude photography session recently although one has to wonder what on Earth was the theme for that activity!

The gates having a vines and leaves theme were carried from Stoke Bruerne to Blisworth on Saturday, 16th March 2013, having been produced by blacksmith Bob Nightingale at his workshop by the south tunnel mouth. They were then installed at the entrance to the hut. The gates were transported aboard the restored historic working narrow-boat, "Greenock", which is owned and was helmed by SNC district councillor, Councillor Stephen Clarke, ward member for Blisworth and Roade. The eventual effect of the restoration work will endow the tunnel mouth area with a better cared-for feel. Later work will see the painting of the hut's interior and that work will include some extempormuralising by our local artist John Percival.

The pictures below show Stephen Clarke, Bob Nightingale (Blacksmith, Stoke Bruerne) and Nick Scarcliffe (Canal Partnership) after loading the gates, the emergence of working boat "Greenock" from the tunnel, lifting the gates (that individually weighed over 300 lbs) from the bed of the boat, the gates being prepared with hinge bolts at each corner, then there is Beryl Payler with her cakes plus a cake provided by Bob Nightingale and some of the spectators at the event.


August - October 2013  Some artists who are members of the Blisworth Art Group have been busily painting an all-around mural inside the hut depicting the canal scenes to be seen outside, with the one adjustment being that "the clock" was put back 100 years for some of the motifs. The effect is startling. The first shots shown below show that the hut was prepared by mounting on waterproofed and painted walls a series of eight-by-four durable plywood boards, also painted and primed for the artists' acrylic medium; a total of about 64 feet x 4 feet of painting area, funded by the Canal Partnership which holds a festival each year (see home page) that raises most of their funds.

The scenes that are now applied show, at the respective ends of the hut, both the Tunnel Mouth and a view of the Mill Bridge. Along the long facing wall between these ends is shown a compressed impression of the canal towpath running by the Rectory-Park wall and by the overhanging trees of the embankment, including the "Walk in the Woods". The panels adjacent to the entrance gates show some typical narrow-boat painting and scenes from the opposite bank of the canal, in particular the brick-built flume that carries Fisher Brook down to the canal's edge. There is a gap in the array which will accommodate a wood-burning heater that may be fired up for certain local community group events.

There are below some pictures of a selection of the artists. A link to view the finished work by the 16 artists in all, most of them members of the Blisworth Art Group, is provided at the end of this paragraph. Note that the art work is presented here as though the walls of the hut are opened out into a flat array, as suggested in the inset diagram. It will be necessary to use the horizontal scroll bar (which will appear automatically) in order to view the entire work.