Tooleys saves historic relic from destruction

Tooley's Boatyard team, Banbury, at Napton, towing Nb Hardy back to Banbury for restoration. NNL-180529-201237009
Tooley's Boatyard team, Banbury, at Napton, towing Nb Hardy back to Banbury for restoration. NNL-180529-201237009

Banbury’s Tooleys Boatyard at Castle Quay has a new addition to the family after rescuing a 78-year-old boat from its watery grave.

The 70 foot long Hardy arrived at the oldest continually working dry dock in the UK last week after Matt Armitage and Jamie Simmons patched her up, refloated her and towed her back from Braunston over three days.

Tooley's Boatyard team, Banbury, at Napton, towing Nb Hardy back to Banbury for restoration. NNL-180529-201142009

Tooley's Boatyard team, Banbury, at Napton, towing Nb Hardy back to Banbury for restoration. NNL-180529-201142009

Matt said: “This boat was on the bottom of the canal at Braunston, it’s been sunk for four years. We managed to plug the holes and we did that by getting a big pump on board and bailing as hard as we could.

“As you get the water levels down in the boat you see water coming in and you have to plug it with oakum.”

The wooden craft will be a labour of love for Matt and his crew and its restoration will involve practices which date back hundreds of years.

Matt said: “We’re using the same techniques they used on the Mary Rose for repairing this boat. The wood work is the same, the use of oakum.”

Tooley's Boatyard team, Banbury, at Napton, towing Nb Hardy back to Banbury for restoration. NNL-180529-201215009

Tooley's Boatyard team, Banbury, at Napton, towing Nb Hardy back to Banbury for restoration. NNL-180529-201215009

The Tooleys team hope to have the barge in the dry dock by October but up until then they will be working on the boat during their open day Saturdays giving the public a rare glimpse of the ancient techniques use.

They also hope to attract sponsors for each restoration with as little as £5,000 needed to return them to the water.

Tooley's Boatyard team, Banbury, at Napton, towing Nb Hardy back to Banbury for restoration. NNL-180529-201248009

Tooley's Boatyard team, Banbury, at Napton, towing Nb Hardy back to Banbury for restoration. NNL-180529-201248009

Tooley's Boatyard team, Banbury, at Napton, towing Nb Hardy back to Banbury for restoration. NNL-180529-201310009

Tooley's Boatyard team, Banbury, at Napton, towing Nb Hardy back to Banbury for restoration. NNL-180529-201310009