It’s battered, rusty and full of holes, but a Dad’s Army helmet has brought a smile to the faces of Cotswolds Canals Trust volunteers.

The lime-encrusted tin hat is the first new exhibit to be handed in to the trust’s fledgling visitor centre on the Bond’s Mill Estate in Stonehouse.

It had been recovered from the murky depths of the mill stream that once powered the waterwheels of Bond’s Mill and was donated to the Trust by Simon Tudge from estate owners, the Robert Hitchins Group.

Simon had kept it in his office – but when Trust volunteers began converting the old Gatehouse on the banks of the canal into its third visitor centre, he was pleased to surrender his bit of WW2 memorabilia.

Clive Field from the Trust was very pleased. “I like to imagine that it was perhaps cast into the depths of the fast-running River Frome by a relieved and relaxed Bond’s Mill Home Guard member on VE night in 1945,” he said.

The Gatehouse was originally a gun turret built as part of the Second World War defences. It has been transformed to present displays on the Gatehouse, Bond’s Mill and the Stroudwater Navigation.

The Gatehouse Visitor Centre, staffed by volunteers from the Cotswold Canals Trust and the Stonehouse History Group, is open to the public at weekends.

The Trust is looking for information and memories of the Gatehouse so do get in touch via the website http://cotswoldcanals.com/bonds-mill-visitor-centre/

It is also looking for volunteers to staff the centre from 2-4pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

More than 200 people visited when the Gatehouse opened its doors for the first time at Easter.

Guests at the official opening included Stroud District Council Leader David Hagg, members of the Cotswolds Canals Trust, partners from the Waterways and Wildlife Trusts and local history and archaeology groups. The landlord was represented by Helen Hawke, Accounts and Administration Manager with Robert Hitchins Group.