Craftsmen at Tooley’s Boatyard at Banbury’s Castle Quay are refitting an old favourite and giving it a new lease of life.
The Dancing Duck, a 39-foot long handcrafted canal barge was built at Tooleys in 2007 but spent most of its life in Oxford due to a lack of storage space at the dry dock.
It made a triumphant return to the UK’s oldest continually running dry dock last year and has proved a big hit over the years having carried thousands of school children on canal trips.
The next chapter of the Duck’s story will involve a £10,000 refit which will see the barge transformed into a cruising food boat which will ultimately provide boat trips and food cruises along the Oxford Canal. The Dancing Duck’s conversion is just one of a wider series of events and initiatives which will celebrate the boatyard’s 230th birthday.
From Easter weekend onwards the yard will be open every Saturday between 10am and noon as a free working museum where the public will be able to see areas of the boatyard which are normally restricted, including blacksmith demonstrations in the forge, tours of the dry-dock and belt room.
The Dancing Duck will still be providing boat trips and the yard will continue to offer RYA Inland Waterways Helmsman Courses, as well as Day Boat hire.
With the influx of people into the yard Tooleys are already constructing a new café named the Tooley’s T-cup.
It will provide a fabulous viewing area of the boatyard and offer tea, coffee and cakes.
Preparations are underway but the historic yard still requires volunteer tour guides, boat crews and blacksmith helpers, for which training will be provided.
To find out more call 01295 272917, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.tooleysboatyard.co.uk.