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News And Events

Annual Jumble Sale – Sunday 14th April 2019

Please see the details below of this year's sale of vintage machinery and parts, tools and other bygones.

We hope you and your family and friends can come along to this popular event to help with our fundraising.

Full planning permission granted – December 2018

We are very pleased to report that we have heard from Northampton Borough Council that Phase 1 of the proposed new Heritage Centre at Cogenhoe can now begin.

Please click on the link below for the full details and conditions.


Making hay while the sun shines – July 2018

We are still sorting out the County Council’s requirements for drainage systems on the site of the Visitor Centre.

Meanwhile, the rest of the land is undergoing a programme of agricultural improvement. This year, for the first time, the meadow grass was of a high enough quality for making hay.

The first photo below shows Robert Penn, of Denton, rowing up the hay after it had dried in the baking-hot sun. The other photo shows his father, David Penn, following up with the baler. A total of 36 large bales were harvested.

There is still much work needed to improve the grassland but, in future years, it could be used for either grazing animals or a hay crop.

Anvil Amnesty – June 2018

After the burglary from Whiston Forge in 2016, we are keen to recover any of the stolen items.

So, if you or someone you know unwittingly bought one, we will be pleased to buy it back, no questions asked.

We're especially interested in recovering the anvils, which may have been sold as garden ornaments.

See the list below which includes the unique number engraved on the objects.

Please share this with anyone who is interested in antique tools.

You can contact us via either the 'Contact' page or on our Facebook page.

1. Large anvil and cast-iron base AB/1/G (also “Fosters” and “1874” written on the side)

2. Large anvil AB/2/Y

3. Set of 28 blacksmith’s tongs T/1/SB

4. Small blacksmith’s tongs T/2/-

5. Small tongs T/3/-

6. Quenching ladle S/33/-

7. Quenching ladle S/34/SB

8. Quenching ladle S/110/-

9. Three quenching ladles S/111/-

10. Blacksmith-made, adjustable wrench S/16/SB

Annual Jumble Sale – Sunday 15th April 2018

Please see the details below of this year's sale of vintage machinery and parts, tools and other bygones.

We hope you and your family and friends can come along to this popular event and help with our fundraising for the proposed Heritage Centre.

News update – June 2017

We are pleased to report that the planning application for a Visitor Centre (above) is progressing at last.

Once soil percolation tests have been carried out and a satisfactory report has been received, the Borough Council should grant full planning consent, subject to certain conditions. These include a requirement that implementation (i.e. starting the building work) occurs within three years. This will consist of an agreed number of jobs to show that construction has begun.

To reduce the cost of the percolation tests, we may be able to employ our own JCB and driver to bore the test holes. And some of the other work could be commissioned locally to make further savings.

If you, or someone you know, could help with any aspect of this project – for example as a volunteer, donor or sponsor – please don't hesitate to contact us (see 'Contact' page).

Vintage Machinery Sale – Sunday 23rd April 2017

Please see below for details about this year's vintage machinery sale. These popular jumble sales are open to both buyers and sellers of anything old, interesting or quirky.

All proceeds will go towards financing a visitor centre for the proposed heritage park in Cogenhoe.

Thank you in advance for your support.

Report in Northampton Chronicle & Echo – October 2016

Volunteers who restored a village’s blacksmith shop have appealed for information after thieves stole a large number of tools from it. Thieves raided both the blacksmith’s shop in Whiston and the village church last month in the space of two weeks and now an appeal has been launched for any information about the gang who stole the tools.

Whiston, which has a population of about 60 people and sits between Northampton and Wellingborough, was once the home of members of the Catesby family, made famous during the Gunpowder Plot.

Dr Steven Hollowell said the blacksmith’s shop was rebuilt by a small group of volunteers about 30 years ago. "It was equipped as it would have been in the 19th century with tools from many Northamptonshire smithies which have long since disappeared," Dr Hollowell said. "Following the restoration, a number of shoeing days were held with local ponies being shod again in the village street as in bygone times. There was no electricity and all the equipment was manually powered – including the bellows. The only lighting was a candle-stick made in the forge and an oil-lamp," he added.

Thieves broke in during the early hours of September 14th and stole a large number of the tools, including the blacksmith’s tongs and even the two large anvils. They returned two weeks later but this time entered the church and this time stole a wooden side table which is believed to have been the 17th-century communion table. "In both cases, the items that were removed are all unique and irreplaceable," Dr Hollowell added. "Since then, the various police forces have been on the track of these and other goods believed to be stolen by the same gang. Some of the blacksmith’s tools appeared in a local auction in Leicestershire but, before they could be retrieved, were passed on to someone in the Newark area," he said.

All of the blacksmith’s tools, including the anvils, have a small area which had been filed flat and a unique code consisting of letters and numbers stamped into the metal. "If anyone has either bought or been offered any of the items – especially those with the unique codes stamped on them – we would be very grateful if they could report it to the police by dialling 101, asking for Northamptonshire Police and then Abbey Amstead in Rural Policing," Dr Hollowell said.


Whiston Forge burglary – September 2016

This small visiting-blacksmith’s shop at Whiston was rebuilt 30 years ago by friends of the museum. It was fully equipped as a 19th-century blacksmith’s shop with tools from many Northamptonshire smithies which no longer exist. Several horse-shoeing days were held in the village street which were always popular.

Sadly, in the early hours of Wednesday 14th September, thieves broke in and stole much of the equipment, including blacksmith tongs and the two anvils. One anvil was originally from Yardley Hastings forge; the other was from Guilsborough forge.

Below is a list of the main items that were stolen and their identification numbers – they are all unique and irreplaceable. We would be grateful if you could share this information with as many people as possible: stables, engineering workshops or even keen gardeners might be offered one of the anvils. We want to find out anything we can about these stolen items. Meanwhile, the remaining tools and equipment have been removed, in case the thieves return to finish the job.

An old silver-coloured Subaru was seen in the area, which may or may not be involved. Also, a man was wandering around Whiston two weeks ago, asking for directions to a cottage ‘near where they filled fire engines’. We would like to contact him as well.

If you have any information, please contact Steven or Robert Hollowell, 6 Nene Rise, Cogenhoe, Northampton NN7 1NT (tel.: 01604 890346).

Police crime number 16000282145: Whiston Forge, Northampton NN1 1NN

  1. Large anvil and cast-iron base (AB/1/G; also has ‘Fosters’ and ‘1874’ on the side)
  2. Large anvil (AB/2/Y)
  3. Set of 28 blacksmith tongs (T/1/SB)
  4. Small blacksmith tongs (T/2/–)
  5. Small tongs (T/3/–)
  6. Quenching ladle (S/33/–)
  7. Quenching ladle (S/34/SB)
  8. Quenching ladle (S/110/–)
  9. Three quenching ladles (S/111/–)
  10. Blacksmith-made, adjustable wrench (S/16/SB)

Earls Barton Rally and Country Fayre 2016 – in pictures

Thank you to everyone who attended this year's event, whether as a volunteer or as a visitor.

All of the proceeds will be donated to local charities.

Threshing machine

Spinning wheel

Display of household bygones

The ancient art of making besoms

Some of the vintage tractors and vehicles which still work today

Obituary – Glenn Johnston Ward

(1st August 1945 – 31st July 2016)

It was with great sadness that we learned about the death of Glenn Ward.

Glenn joined us when the Trust was formed in 1992 as our first Treasurer. He held the post for 17 years before becoming a full member of the Board of Trustees in 2009.

During his time as Treasurer, Glenn advised us on setting up a digital catalogue for the museum collection. He was also Treasurer for Ecton Park Rally, which ran for five years in the 1990s, and since then for Earls Barton Rally and Country Fayre. He helped with our other fundraising activities, including the car boots and vintage jumble sales and a band night. Glenn was also a keen musician, had a positive outlook on life, and was always ready to help.

He will be sorely missed by all of us and we send our sympathies and best wishes to Jo and the family.

(Steven Hollowell, Chair of the Board of Trustees)

Report on Vintage Machinery Jumble Sale – 17th April

The brilliant Spring sunshine on Sunday ensured that this year's Jumble Sale was well attended by both sellers and buyers. Among the crowd there were many familiar faces, as well as people attending for the first time. The latter included a coach-load of visitors from Ireland who have been staying in the area, visiting vintage and other local attractions. Several of them bought articles from the Jumble which were tucked away in the coach’s boot. Below are some pictures of the vintage machinery and bygones that were for sale.

Robert would like to thank all of the stewards for their help and support, as well as everyone who attended. A record sum of £1,200 was raised, which will contribute to the first phase of the new heritage centre.

We look forward to seeing you at next year's Jumble!

New boat marina opens at Earls Barton – April 2016

A new visitor attraction has opened at White Mills, Earls Barton, just downriver from the proposed Visitor Centre. One of our aims is to run narrowboat trips on the River Nene. All we need now is the major funding to begin developing the rich and diverse riverside site and provide Northamptonshire with a major tourist and educational heritage centre.

For more information, go to this web page:

New Year message – January 2016

A few years ago, I became a Trustee for a project to establish a new Heritage Centre, to provide Northamptonshire with an inspirational venue for families, schools, tourists and other visitors. The Centre will be home to a large and unique collection of artefacts, many from Northamptonshire. I want to share with you the recent developments, which are looking hopeful, at last, for the project to take off. If you could spare half a minute, please watch the video below, in which the Chairman, Dr Steven Hollowell, talks about the project.

Can you help the project by pledging a donation? Anything you can offer will be paid to the charity account on 15th January, when our Crowdfunding appeal closes. The amount raised will kick-start our major fundraising programme, by helping to pay for the final design work.If you prefer not to contribute online, donations by cheque would be gratefully received by our Chairman (see the ‘Contact’ page).

Based on four acres of land on the banks of the River Nene near Cogenhoe and Billing, the first phase of building will provide a tea room and a community meeting area with visitor facilities. Outside there will be picnic tables, rare breed farm animals and a short riverside walk. Outline planning permission was granted some time ago, so this is an important step forwards.

If you would like to keep in touch with the project’s progress, please see our Facebook page (Northamptonshire Heritage Centre) or follow us on Twitter (@NHCAppeal).

Thank you and best wishes for a Happy New Year!

Sue Carverhill (Trustee, Northamptonshire Museum Ltd)

Launch of crowdfunding appeal – November 2015

Please help us give Northamptonshire its first heritage park, including a new museum, exciting learning opportunities, rare breed animals, a nature trail and river boat trips!

We're aiming to raise £5,000 towards the development of a heritage park showcasing artefacts of county life from Neolithic times to the present day.

The four-acre facility, located on the banks of the River Nene close to Billing Aquadrome, will house a purpose-built museum for the regionally important 3000 plus items in the unique Hollowell Collection. This was put together by local archaeologist Richard Hollowell and his two sons over 40 years. Visitors will also benefit from learning opportunities for children and young people, rare breed animals, a nature trail and heritage boat trips.

Currently with outline planning permission, the £5,000 crowdfunding target will take the project to full planning consent. Any money raised beyond that will then go towards the next phase of the project – building a visitor centre.

If you would like to make a donation – however big or small – please go to our crowdfunding website at:

You can also get involved and keep up with the latest news on the project's progress on our Facebook page:

Autumn Bulletin – 2015

You can read the latest news about the Heritage Centre, including recent work on the site and progress with fund raising, here:


Summer Bulletin – May 2015

For the latest news about the work on the Heritage Centre site, please see the bulletin at either of the following links:


Vintage and Classic Jumble Sale – April 2015

The eighth Annual Spring Vintage & Classic Jumble was held at White's Farm, Earls Barton on Sunday 19th April. Following a dry spell of weather, there was a record turnout of stalls selling everything from washers to driving harness. The event has now become an established part of the annual vintage calendar and popular with collectors and dealers alike. Among the many items for sale were tractor spares, magnetos, hand tools, spare parts for cars, tractors and bicycles. Refreshments, as usual, were provided for the event by Stanley Bond and family.

This year, over £700 was raised towards the Heritage Centre fund which will be spent on commissioning a topographical survey of the site to accompany the application for full planning consent later this year.

Spring Bulletin – March 2015

Please note: there is an illustrated copy of this bulletin at the following link:


Since January, a lot of work has been carried out on the Heritage Centre site which might be of interest. To make the site suitable for grazing, it has had to be fenced off from Rectory Farm for the first time. This has involved erecting over 170 yards of post and wire fencing. This work took place over three Wednesday mornings assisted by Philip Hollowell and his helper.

Because we do not want to open up the official entrance onto Billing Road (for security reasons), we have obtained temporary permission to access the site via Rectory Farm and Glebe Way, Cogenhoe. For this reason, we have also erected a 10 foot steel gate in our new fence so that we can come and go with vehicles but still keep our land stock-proof.

The other problem with the site has been flooding and damp patches caused by broken drains and blocked ditches on Rectory Farm and in Deacon’s Orchard to the south. To deal with this, we have engaged Bob Whyman from Earls Barton who brought his digger for two Saturdays. The first day was spent cleaning out a ditch on Rectory Farm – alongside the old railway line. Last week, as well as discovering a 15KV underground power cable, we installed a new culvert under a gateway next to our land which has enabled us to scour out a short gulley in Deacons Orchard and feed this into the Rectory Farm system – away from our land. The work in Deacons Orchard had to be done by hand and was very hard work.

That work has helped to dry out the top and eastern boundary of the site. The other problem is on the western boundary with the Arrowsmiths. Here, the ditch had not been scoured out for many years. It was completely blocked, making our land so wet that marsh grass was beginning to take over.

Finally, the digger was able to get into the top part of the ditch and start removing the detritus which allowed the drains to start running again. Conditions were so bad that the digger became stuck three times and had to dig itself out. However, that part of the ditch is now running freely and the land is beginning to dry out.

Further down the ditch, large willow trees have taken root and are blocking the free passage of water into the river. Some of these will have to be removed but, in other places, the ditch may have to be diverted around them. It is hoped that one more session with Bob will finish that part of the job. The next task being a large bonfire!

So far, using second-hand materials and mate’s rates, the work has cost less than £500.

If you would like to help with this ongoing work, please contact the Chairman, Steve Hollowell.

Events in 2010

Following our aim to raise £50,000 towards the £2.3 million needed to construct the Heritage Centre, we have recently held a series of car boots and Vintage...

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