October 2015 | Banbury Museum

October 2015

Banbury’s Victorian Boat People

Those of you who came to Jon Healey’s terrific talk last week about the poor and the relief of poverty in the 17th century, and who also watched Who do you think you are? , with the BBC’s Frank Gardner, will have been amused to see Jon Healey popping up again to tell the story of a 16th century antecedent of Frank’s called Stanhope.

(This particular episode really did go a long way back:  Frank Gardner’s mother had always said ‘of course we came over with the Conqueror’, and not only did his umpteenth great-grandfather come over with the Normans, Frank was descended from William the Conqueror himself, and this was attested by the College of Arms.)

With our next lecture we move forward in time and are very pleased that Barrie Trinder, our own Vice-President, former Chairman and editor of Cake & Cockhorse, is going to tell us about Banbury’s Victorian Boatpeople.  He has done some new research on the boatpeople who lived and worked on the Oxford Canal and its connecting waterways during the reign of Queen Victoria. Though for a while the town of Banbury turned its back on the canal, covering over the canal basin with a bus station in the early 1960s and knocking down Herbert Tooley’s house to do so, so that he lived the rest of his life in a caravan in his yard, the canal had been very important to Banbury, bringing coal down from the Warwickhire coalfield at a time of fuel shortage. The Oxford canal is now full of leisure boaters who bring a good deal of trade to the town and also some entertainment for the ‘gongoozlers’ who watch them going by and working the lock.

I don’t think that I need to tell you much about Barrie except that his Victorian Banbury, published in 1982, is excellent and tells you everything you might want to know about the town during that period, and if you haven’t already got his magisterial work on the Industrial Revolution (Britain’s Industrial Revolution: the making of a manufacturing people’) you should have, and there will be an opportunity no doubt at the Book Sale which will take place before and after the December lecture. 

I am attaching the poster or flyer for this lecture: we send these out to members who have kindly said that they will display them in their locality, but it occurred to me that the rest of you might like to see them and possibly some of you might be able to put them somewhere useful – a village notice-board, shop window, post office?

We are still commemorating a hundred years since the first World War, and on November 12th we shall have Dr. Kate Tiller talking about The Great War at Home, looking at the impact of the war on life in England. This will be preceded at 7 pm by a short film made by the Museum all about Banbury’s very own Munitions Factory, so I hope you will all make a note in your diaries to get there early for that, as it is well worth watching.

The programme for the Oxfordshire Local History Association’s Study Day on the local canals, which will be taking place in Banbury Town Hall on 14th November, is now fully formed and available on their website. It looks like an excellent day and worth supporting. Find all the information here and also the booking form.

Your committee is still hoping that there may be someone amongst our more local members who might like to help with some tasks that require computer and/or desktop publication skills. Do let me know if you would like to help the society in that way.  

With best wishes

Deborah Hayter