Next Meeting

21st March 2019

Matt Armitage, Director of Tooley’s Boatyard in Banbury. 



Matt will talk about the history of the Oxford Canal through Banbury – its people and the historic boatyard.

This unique, working yard has been in existence since the arrival of the Oxford Canal in the North Oxfordshire market town in 1778. Matthew Armitage has been the director of the site for the past sixteen years. His insight into this much loved jewel in Banbury’s crown will entertain and inform anyone with an interest in the history of the canals and inland waterways.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 

What went on at Recent meetings

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

In February Medieval historian Dr Rowena E. Archer, a Fellow and lecturer at Brasenose College and lecturer at Christ Church, gave a very interesting talk about Joan of Arc. Rowena teaches French History from 1000 – 1500 and has a particular interest in the experiences of women and runs a specialist course on Joan of Arc and her Age, 1419-1435

We heard that Joan of Arc was not from a noble or military family but believed that God had chosen her to lead France to victory in its war with England. She lead the French army to victory over the English at Orléans and was then captured by Anglo-Burgundian forces, tried for witchcraft and heresy and burned at the stake in 1431 at the age of 19. By the time she was officially canonized in 1920, the Maid of Orléans, as she was known, had long been considered one of history’s greatest saints, and an enduring symbol of French unity and nationalism. Through her researches and teaching Rowena has added greatly to the understanding of the life and times of Jeanne d’Arc.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

The January talk by Keith Westcott on the Broughton Hoard, on display in the Ashmolean, and the Broughton Roman Villa, one of England’s Great Courtyard Villas, was received with great enthusiasm. The question time after the talk went on for more than half an hour, showing the interest generated.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

The Members Miscellany was a very interesting evening (as always), with Peter giving a history of his early farming life and the use of Ram Water Pumps. Stephen gave an update of the archaeological work he has been undertaking at some important sites around the area and David gave a very interesting look into Masons Marks in over a hundred Churchyards in the local area. If you missed this meeting, make a note for next year!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Some of our members joined the Kineton Heritage Group on their recent coach trip to the SS Great Britain. The work done on the ship is amazing. The cabins, dining room, etc were recreated and a glass roof, representing the water (actually covered with water) gave an impression of it floating. It was also to keep the hull covered from the elements so that two big de-humidifiers could keep the humidity low enough to prevent further rusting of the fragile ironwork. A very enjoyable day.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 

On 22nd July a small group had a fascinating tour of Burmington Manor hosted by the enthusiastic owner. He told us the history of the Manor and showed us the many features preserved and carefully incorporated into the restoration so they were not hidden. By doing so the construction and many alterations over the years became clear. 

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

The visit to Tooley’s Boatyard on 16th July was a great success. Matt took his time explaining the history of the yard and then gave a demonstration in the forge. This was followed by an explanation of the dry dock, a visit to the paint store and the machine shop. Outside he showed us their project – restoring a wooden narrowboat which was found sunk in the canal and abandoned. To round off the evening Matt then took us on a leisurely cruise along the canal.