Become a part of Tooley’s rich history

Matthew Armitage displays his blacksmithing skills in the on-site forge

Tooley’s historic boatyard, situated behind Banbury’s Castle Quay Shopping Centre, is looking for a team of volunteers for a variety of new positions.

The working dry dock currently exists as two parts acting as one. One one hand it continues to be a fully functional narrow boat repair business and on the other it is a tourist attraction, a working museum that allows visitors to tour the dry dock, learn about the history of the site and watch owner Matthew Armitage and his skilled team at work.

Tooley's dry dock; the oldest continually working inland dry dock in the UK NNL-170621-162809001

Tours and tourist visits are currently free of charge and the boatyard receives no funding at all for providing these services.

Matthew, however, is looking to delineate the two aspects of the yards services and classify one half as a charity which could allow the yard to receive grants and other funding.

As part of this Matt wants to recruit a team of volunteers to offer tours, demonstrations and boat rides.

Matt said: “I’m looking at running the boatyard differently. What I’m looking to do is set part of it up as a charity and run it as the none profitable side of the business.”

“In the short term I’m going to look for volunteers for three specific roles within the boatyard; blacksmithing, helmsman and a tour guide.”

Matt is looking for a number of men or women for each role so the tourist attractions can be offered on a regular basis and full training for each role will be offered.

Matt said: “We’ll teach basic blacksmithing skills, so no experience necessary. For the helms person we will teach them how to handle a boat.”

For more info contact Matt at

More from News