Commemorating the moment Banbury was spared from major flooding after a bombing raid 80 years ago

A unique sculpture has been unveiled to remember one of the key moments in the town's history

By Philip Hibble
Friday, 11th September 2020, 11:27 am
Updated Friday, 11th September 2020, 11:30 am
Tooley's map of Banbury in 1920.
Tooley's map of Banbury in 1920.

A unique sculpture has been unveiled to commemorate the moment Banbury was spared from major flooding after a bombing raid 80 years ago.

In the early hours of September 7, 1940, the Alcan factory was targted by a bombing raid during World War II.

It is understood that the lock was badly damaged by a 500lb bomb - however, the lock gates were not destroyed and prevented the town from being flooded.

The sculpture to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Alcan factory bombing during World War II. (Photo by Rosie Burke)

Luckily nobody was killed as a result of the bombing and the only 'injury' was to Mrs Malloy’s cockerel who lost his feathers, but was well enough for visitors to go and see him for a small donation to raise money for spitfires.

To this day the lock still bears the date 1940 from when it was repaired after the attack.

The memorial, which is an aerial view of Banbury and depicts the bombing, was created by Tooley’s Boatyard and was unveiled at Castle Quay Shopping Centre, where the boatyard has been based for some time.

The sculpture has been made from scraps of metal and some pieces donated by McLaren, the construction company appointed to deliver the new Castle Quay Waterfront development.

At the unveiling of the sculpture are Sarah, Jamie, Graham and Chris from Lock 29; Kieron Mallon, Ed Pendroke and Chris Smithson. Photo by Rosie Burke.

The piece, created by blacksmiths Jamie Simmons & Graham Symons at Tooley’s Boatyard, features a German bomber flying off after its strafing run, and then being chased by a Spitfire - all set over the aerial view of a 1940's Banbury.

The sculpture was based on several photographs of the town in the 1940s (pictured), with one of the photos showing the damage caused by one of the bombs.

Cllr Kieran Mallon and representatives of the British Legion, McLaren, Lock29 and Castle Quay were present on Saturday September 5 for the unveiling of the sculpture.

The sculpture can be viewed by everyone and is located just behind the customer service desk opposite the newly opened Lock29.

Jamie Simmons, blacksmith at Tooley’s Boatyard, said: “The sculpture encompasses the links between the Oxford Canal, Alcan Factory, Tooley’s Boatyard and Tom Rolt who was part of the regeneration of the canal system which started in 1939 with Tom’s journey in his Narrowboat ‘Cressey’.

"There is also a strong link with the Supermarine Spitfire as Tom Rolt work on these. The Alcan factory produced wings, and Tooley’s currently has part of the machine used to do this and is also currently involved in the restoration of a Mark 1 Spitfire.

"Going forward the sculpture is going to be used by The Royal British Legion during their Poppy Appeal to raise funds.”

Oliver Wren, centre director at Castle Quay Shopping Centre, said: “The team at Tooley’s have done a remarkable job creating this commemorative sculpture - our town’s history is something we care greatly for and are pleased to be able to play host for this incredible piece.”