Banbury Dockyard asks the community for historic boat restoration ideas

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Tooley’s Boatyard is asking members of the public to share their thoughts on what to do with the historic Hardy workboat.

After receiving funding from the National Lottery Fund, Tooley’s Boatyard Trust is now asking for restoration ideas for the classic boat named Hardy.

In 2019 Tooley’s rescued the ex-workboat from a watery grave near Braunston, Northamptonshire, and brought it back to Banbury for stabilization and study.

The Tooley’s team will be at the Banbury Canal Festival this weekend to discuss ideas for Hardy’s potential future roles within the community.

Hardy during the time he worked, when he often hauled coal from Coventry to Banbury.

Tooley’s Boatyard chairman John Madden said: ‘Anyone who walks along the canal in Banbury will have seen an old wooden work boat, Hardy, looking a bit sorry for herself. But, old wooden boats are remarkably durable and the shipyard kept it partially sunk over the summer to prevent its old planks from drying out.

“We are extremely fortunate and grateful to have received funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and would like to engage with the local community to explore how we could use Hardy for community projects once it has been restored.”

Tooley’s invites people to come and share their ideas during Banbury Canal Weekend on October 1st and 2nd.

The public will also have the chance to see the bare bones of the traditional boat and see images of the boat in its working days dating back to the 1940s.

As part of the Canal Weekend celebrations, Tooley’s has planned a 20-minute program of events that will take place on both days at the Dry Dock.

These include Wooden Houseboat Building with Ian Staples at 1pm where Ian will share his expertise in traditional wooden houseboat building methods like Hardy.

At 2 p.m., Banbury boatman Kate Saffin will present a one-woman show, telling the story of a woman working on boats on Oxford’s canals.

Intrepid writer and boater Steve Hayward will share a reading from his new book “Tales from the Tillerman” at 2:30 p.m.

Then, at 3 p.m., author Dan Clacher will share stories from his children’s storybooks, Muddy Waters, about the narrowboats along Banbury’s waterways.

At 4 p.m., Matt Armitage, Manager of Tooley’s Boatyard, will speak about the historic boatyard and its 200-year legacy.

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