Tooley’s Boatyard to celebrate milestone with book

Tooley's Boatyard, Banbury. Matt Armitage, with 'Avalon', the 1,500th boat in for service during his 15 years in charge. NNL-171107-134608009
Tooley's Boatyard, Banbury. Matt Armitage, with 'Avalon', the 1,500th boat in for service during his 15 years in charge. NNL-171107-134608009

Tooley’s Boatyard owner Matt Armitage is to add another string to his already laden bow by publishing a book on the history of the iconic yard in Banbury.

Next year see’s Britain’s oldest continually working dry dock celebrate its 23oth birthday, so to mark the occasion Matt has spent the past 18 months penning a 12,000-word illustrated book on the boatyard’s history, the people who worked there and the skills and trades it has nurtured.

Matt said: “It’s called ‘The Tooley’s and the Banbury Boatyard’ so it covers anything to do with the Oxford Canal as it goes through Banbury and it covers the different people who were here over time.”

Matt added: “It’s illustrated with drawings and pictures.

“There’s over 100 photos in the book.”

It also features a forward by canal enthusiast and actor Timothy West.

The cost of the book is being paid for by a crowdfunding campaign that Matt and the boatyard unveiled last Sunday as part of the ‘Canal Day’ festivities.

It will also mark a significant step in delineating the two sides of the boatyard, between its commercial activities and it’s significant historic value to the community.

Matt explained: “The boatyard needs help with the history side of things.

“We are looking towards grants to help the boatyard develop in various ways.”

From March of next year the yard will offer tours, demonstrations, boat rides and courses on Saturday mornings with the help of volunteers.

It is also looking to rediscover its roots by manufacturing traditional wooden boats, powered by modern electric motors.