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    • Day7

      Heritage centre

      October 2, 2022 in England ⋅ 🌙 9 °C

      Arriving in Banbury on a Sunday, we expect it will be quiet with plenty of mooring space; but to our amazement we're pootling into the middle of the town's annual Canal Festival !! The weekend-long festival is bustling with locals and visitors.

      We first need to use the waterway facilities (first rate here) and make for the lock and close-by lift bridge which are both enthusiastically manned by CRT - Canal & River Trust - festival volunteers who help Jo operate them. There are several historic freight carrying boats here, along with a plethora of "craft boats", ostensibly selling hand-made traditional items that past waterways folk once made; not really, we feel.
      We are lucky to find space amongst the visiting boats and moor up. It's gone 4 o'clock and we want to see some of the festival's offerings and visit a particular place in Banbury's waterway heritage. On the eastern side of the canal, opposite side to the town centre, a major modern leisure development has risen since we were last moored here - nearly ten years ago. A cinema, tavern and eateries are all here, but unlike Reading's sprawling Oracle shopping centre, which just has the K&A snaking through - "no stopping", let alone mooring - Banbury has embraced the Oxford Canal proximity and history, welcoming boaters through proper moorings provision and modern facilities that help generate a valuable income for the town!

      At the canalside pub today are folk singers and band which we stop to hear for a short while, but on the opposite bank is a very historic boat with a whole display tent to itself. When we cross the canal's main foot bridge we come across a major feature: historic wooden narrowboat Hardy, which was deliberately sunk for preservation purposes, is afloat again and a public consultation is taking place as to it's potential future, in Banbury, as a historic waterway vessel. Hardy was the last wooden freight carrier by boat-builders Nurser Brothers of Braunston, and is known to have regularly carried bulk goods from Tamworth to Banbury up to the 1960s.

      Anyone with an interest in the resurrection of England's canal network after so much abandonment in the last century, will know of the late Tom Rolt's incredible galvanising of effort to have defunct and decrepit canals revived and made navigable again. Tom was a co-founder of the Inland Waterways Association in 1946 after navigating, against all odds in many instances, many miles of abandoned canals in his converted narrowboat, Cressy.
      The work of making Cressy habitable for its investigatory voyage was carried out at the now famous Tooleys Boat Yard in Banbury, which is still repairing and fitting out narrowboats right here beside the Oxford. We learn today that in 2018 Tooley's helped raise the neglected Hardy and brought her to Banbury with a view to restoration of some sort... "but restoring an old boat is a lot of work and is very expensive" reads the consultation leaflet. "we want to find out if you (local or visitor) think it will be worth doing...".
      From one of the Hardy appeal volunteers we learn that Tooley's chandlery is open 'til the festival ends, so after positive participation in the consultation, we go straight to the chandlery for new rope and chimney cowl for Pelangi. Right next door, Tooley's dry-dock has been turned into a festival events venue. Fantastic!

      What a stroke of luck, arriving here at festival time, in a place that's making the most of its waterways heritage... and building upon it - in the right sense - for today and the future.
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      Carol Forbes

      The festival sounds great. Let's hope they restore Hardys, looks like it couldbe a lovely boat xx


      What a great story. Perhaps Hardy will become a museum. There is certainly a lot of canal history. Xxx

    • Day4


      September 23, 2017 in England ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

      We headed off this morning; Mark D steering and the rest of the crew mastering the locks and raising bridges. Beautiful countryside and moving at a very leisurely pace. We moored the boat and ventured into Banbury; remember the nursery rhyme? Anyway, we finally found a decent pub for lunch, the Old Reindeer Inn; Debra and I enjoying half pints. We bought pasties on the way home for dinner on the boat.Read more

    • Day3


      September 22, 2017 in England ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

      This morning Mark and I walked to Rousham House and Gardens before we met Mark, Debra and Laura for our canal boat trip. We were given a brief tutorial and then we were on our way! We moored at Aynho wharf and walked at least a mile to the Cartwright Hotel for dinner; a little scary walking back in the dark after dinner. The first and second photos are of Heyford House; we stayed here for the first night in Lower Heyford. The third and fourth photos are Rousham.Read more

    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Deddington, GBDDO

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