Coming together at last!

At Banbury Museum & Gallery, our reminiscence programme runs two monthly meet ups for those aged 50 and over to come together to share their memories about what life used to be like in and around Banbury.

And this month both groups came together for a very special meeting…

During the Pandemic, when in person gatherings were banned, our two groups of seniors, one that meet in Banbury, and another that meet in Kidlington, came together in a new way. They kept connected via a monthly newsletter that was contributed to and shared around both groups. And delivered to emails and post-boxes throughout lockdown. With topics that spanned shopping to childhood, it was a source of enjoyment and connection that was badly needed during a time of isolation for many older people in our community.

To build on these connections and grow new friendships, a fresh plan to bring together the two groups was proposed. Once restrictions were lifted, both groups were determined to meet their counterparts in real life and on the 1st of July, this came to fruition.

The Kidlington Reminiscence Group travelled to Banbury where the two groups met at the Old Mill, mingling together over some welcoming refreshments.

“We found it very interesting to talk with Banbury members and learn their memories of the old buildings around the canal’” said Joe Welch of the Kidlington Group.

Members at Tooleys boatyard including Joe, far right

Members enjoying their boat trip

The day included a trip to the historic Tooleys boat yard. With a demonstration of the Forge and a boat trip up the canal. The boat trip was enjoyed by all and brought back fond memories for member Joe. He had his own narrowboat for over twenty years moored at Thrupp from where he explored the whole canal network.

Lunch followed and both groups had the opportunity to socialise and share their own memories. Photos from the Museum archive and from members of our Banbury group helped to stimulate conversations and storytelling.

Members enjoying lunch in the Rosemarie Higham library

There was even time in the afternoon to celebrate two special birthdays!

Banbury reminiscence group member Joan, proudly displaying her catch form the Oxford Canal.

Joan, a member of our Banbury group, pictured, reminisced about the importance of the canal to her.

“I lived in Compton Street. My grandmother lived there with us and when I married. We also had to live there as there was a shortage of houses.  We rented two allotments in castle gardens.  My father’s was on the top gardens and ours was in the bottom gardens. Which was on the Tooleys side of the cut (this is what we called the canal). There was a turning bay for boats at castle wharf and the weigh bridge which was next to my husband’s garden. We drew water from the canal for the garden.

The canal was our play area, and I learned to fish in the cut. We put bread rolled in Birds custard powder on our hooks. You had to have a license to fish, which my father had. The fish they caught were not fit to eat they had a very muddy taste!”

Members enjoying afternoon tea and cake

“All in all an excellent day out for everyone’ said Joe. ‘The day was really well planned and the catering was spot on. Our thanks go out to the organisers, volunteers plus everyone at Tooleys boatyard.”

If you would like to join one of our reminiscence groups, either in Banbury or in Kidlington, you can find out more information here.