Tooley’s Historic Boat Yard on the Oxford Canal | Through The Hedge #5
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Tooley’s Historic Boat Yard on the Oxford Canal | Through The Hedge #5

August 21, 2019

hi welcome to today’s episode we have
Matt hello Or Matthew he said I could call him Matt absolutely he’s our best
friend now and sorry about that to our other best friends we are going through
the hedge today to see Tooley’s boat yard so come with us one of the reasons
the boat yards really famous is obviously the Tooleys that you know are
very famous on their own but one of the reasons why everybody knows about the
boat yard is because there’s a chap called Tom Rolt he had he was basically
a mechanic and he was an engineer and he specialized and had built built cars and
he had a garage but he didn’t like the way cars being mass-produced so he sold
his share the garage and he bought a boat which used to belong to his
uncle called cressie and he knew the Tooley’s and he bought his boat here to
have it restored he wants to become a writer so he wrote he came here started
writing about the toolies and what they were doing to his boat and restoring it
and the boat is thought was a bit odd to see he was pitting a bow he was first of
all converting a a narrow boat into a livaboard and which is an odd thing to
do anyway but then to to to make it even worse he put a boat a bath on it as well
for his wife which the boaters thought was absolutely you know completely
extravagant thing to do is like have a pool or something you know they thought
was completely extravagant then he wrote all the characters and all the work they
did in the dry dock and the plesters in the Forge and his journey when the
waterways and the state of the canals and this became
catalyst for setting up the Inland waterways Association which obviously
campaigned for saving the canals and reopening them so the reason why we’ve
got a network now to cruise on is because of Tom Rolt and his book and it
all started here with them bringing their boat to the Tooley’s so that all
happened in the dry dock here that’s where it started if that something
interests you there is so much more here and there’s so much in you know
interested in the boatyard and there’s so much history and we’ve got lots of
really interesting facts and information and my personal story of running this
yard I’ve put into a book called forging ahead the history of Tooley’s
boatyard and that covers the complete history from the the canal arriving at Banbury through to modern times here and it talks about the characters and the Tooley’s, Rolt and the personal stories as well now this workshop here it’s
dated in 1930s and it’s all made out boat hulls you look in there that’s all
budworm from the bottom of the boats where they were sitting in the water the
toolies took over the yard in 1900 they were farmers. Basically Emmanuel Tooley took
over the bought some boats and he became what was called a number one which is a
sole trader which owned their own boats and they got paid per load they
delivered and they delivered coal and oh no they didn’t they delivered pig iron between Coventry
and Sammerson’s foundries So they would delivery pig iron to Coventry and they’d bring sand back to the foundry and then George Tooley took over the yard around 1900 this is the paint state from basically the nineteen well
the workshops of the 1930s but basically it’s paint really from 1950s all the
white leads and red leads and all the good stuff you can’t use these days but one
of the interesting things is this door this door was made of planks of a boat
called a fair trader and came into the dry dock to have the back cabin replaced
and they recently reused the wood to make this door one of the interesting
things is is that if you look at the door itself this is where they’ve been cleaning
the brushes and there’s a layer of paint on the door there which is about two and
a half inches thick so that was a Tooleys door for cleaning their brushes and this
is belt of machinery shop and this is where they used to make all the metal
parts of the boat so the machinery dates from about 1890 so it was secondhand to
the Tooleys. we’ve got a lot of volunteers who’ve been helping us and it’s actually
the Banbury model engineering society who actually stripped all these machines
down and restored them all so they’ll worn and working order working slowly
but we’ve just fitting motors to them so we’re gonna be running full speed and
using them as well the way this works is over in the corner it takes a belt up to the ceiling and then from the ceiling it
turns this wheel and then the wheel comes turns across your head this
bearings at the top and holds the top it turns that wheel at the top and that
comes down to this rather there’s bench and there’s a rather impressive circular
saw which is on this bench which is least used for actually cutting the
planks This is the dry dock it dates to 1788 well actually no
doesn’t because we changed our mind we said it was 1788 but we changed our mind
to 1778 and again you have to find out from the book if you interested in that
one basically it’s a dry dock and it’s very
unusual for dry docks to be dry and if you look at the floor it is actually
bone dry docks or works extreme very very well the way it works is that at
northern end there are three heavy wooden planks might hold back the water
we lift the top plank the water comes into the dry dock and it fills up in
about five minutes we’re going to replace the rest of the
planks take this planks out and we then bring a boat in and we put it into the
dock and tie it off with ropes we then replace the planks and we pull
the plug and the plug is a drainage sloose in the corner of the drydock which
takes the water off to about two and a half three hundred meters away
once it’s outs we wash the floor we wash the boat and we generally do hull
blackings in the last 15 years we’ve done one and a half thousand boats for the
dry docks that’s around a hundred a year so on average about one every three days
this boat here is in for a complete paint job it’s in for six weeks and
that’s a stripped back to bare metal and a full repaint of the boat the other thing I wanted to ask about is
the old wooden boat that we’ve been moored up next to Yes we can talk about that Do you want to go inside it this boat here was
called Hardy and it’s a boat built in 1940 by nurses so it was probably built
for the war we don’t have things like moorings which bring income in like the
other larger yards as a commercial yard is very very small and we’ve also got
the element of the general public as well so that has also adds pressure to
us which isn’t very profitable as it was so but we still want to do all that side
of it and it’s really important to show everybody the boatyard so one things we
want to do is to hark back to the days of the Tooleys and they were they ran a boat
yard which was famous for wooden boats and restoring wooden boats so we would
like Tooleys to go back and start looking at wooden boats and working on them more
and we are actually have plans to actually build the outside of Tooleys
will be building brand-new wooden hulls on the site there are boats around like
this like Hardy around the system now we wanted to get a an old boat to restore
and we wanted to boat with some ties to Tooley’s but we couldn’t really find one
in the time frame we had and we found about this boat Hardy up
at Braunson it was sunk and had been there for 4 years and it was in danger of being
broken up so we went up and we raised it we’ve we got off the canal bed floated it, patched up all the holes and decided we’re going to have the boats and we we
salvaged it pretty much and we brought it back to Tooleys where we’re actually
restoring it in the meantime we just so happened find out that actually Hardy is
a local boat and they used to deliver coal to banbury and actually which is
absolutely amazing and I’ve got photographs of a moored outside the dry
dock and it’s rather bizzare so it’s really really crazy one of the reasons
for lifting this boat up was to actually say to everybody look there’s these
historic boats all the way around the country which are sinking or sunk they
are falling apart and they’re being broken up and this is our history and we
should not that this happened so we should do something about it and so by
raising Hardy we would like to bring some publicity and some attention to the
fact that this is happening and we’d like the future of Tooleys to actually
address this and to try and rescue some of these boats which are being destroyed Due to the interest in the boat yard we get a lot of people asking questions actually part of our remit is that
we show this to the general public so recently we’ve actually come up with the
idea of actually doing an open day in fact that we are actually opened mornings from
10 o’clock until 12:30 and that’s on every Saturday and it’s free and you can
come along and you can come into the boatyard see areas of the boatyard you
wouldn’t see normally you can go to the dry dock and you can have a look at the
boat in there you can go into the forge you can see a blacksmith and some of the
volunteer blacksmiths as well doing demonstrations and we also have a guided
tour and we’re for guided tours we do that for donations as well and then you
can be shown around the boatyard and be told the history of the site but if you
don’t want to have a guided tour you can just wander around and chat to many of the
volunteers which are here and he will tell you all about the site anyway and
you go to the belt room and the carpenter store and we also have boat
trips as well as well so that we’ve got to be charged for those ones as well all
the money we make on the day of the working museum is actually goes back
into the working museum itself so if that all happens and hopefully shortly
we’ll also have our tea room set up here as well we don’t actually get any funding on the
site at all and I never had received any money actually working with a lot of
volunteers and we’ve got a great supporter of volunteers but about twenty
volunteers now who are learning to be blacksmiths who are learning how to
handle boats and also doing guided tours as well We also are all looking for
volunteers so if anybody would like to come along and help out then that would
be fantastic we could really do in fact where we were a network of friends of
Tooley’s where you can come along and and sign up to be a friend of Tooleys so that
that would be a really good thing to do okay literally
here is the gate that Matthews gonna close on us
Thanks for everything Thank you for rescuing us and
for looking at our boat and for showing us around the yard and also for being an
awesome historian that’s kind of what you are isn’t it yeah so and we’re gonna
put those links to the book below we’re gonna put the links to or everything in
the description below so watch that don’t forget give us a like subscribe
and come back next time for more episodes


  • Reply ray 1 August 1, 2018 at 6:30 am

    Hi girls
    Sorry to see you broke down again. Well done for getting yourself going… Also just to say love this video of tooleys very interesting keep it up…
    One more thing do you get lots of spiders on board if so how do you get red of them… 😀
    Keep up the good work 👍🏻

  • Reply Phyllis Stein August 1, 2018 at 6:32 am

    this was fantastic! absolutely fantastic! thank you very much!

  • Reply Mark Williams August 1, 2018 at 6:35 am

    we used to make everything and supply the whole world and now look the elite destroyed this country and don't care about the people

  • Reply Narrowboat Lane August 1, 2018 at 6:49 am

    Stop posting vlogs while im at work… youll get me the sack. 😁

  • Reply Jo Truby August 1, 2018 at 6:55 am

    Great vlog girls and so very interesting about Tooleys. Keep them coming.

  • Reply HowlingCoder425 August 1, 2018 at 6:58 am

    Love ur vids ur amazing

  • Reply Mr Polite Polite August 1, 2018 at 6:59 am

    Great interview the best narrow boat canal interview I've seen by narrow boaters some pros could learn from you lol

  • Reply Neil Blenkiron August 1, 2018 at 7:07 am

    Absolutely brilliant. The best one yet! You two are giving CC a run for his money and he does this for a living. Well Done.

  • Reply Chris Taylor August 1, 2018 at 7:27 am

    Hi girls thanks for a really interesting video, it was marvellous to see a proper old workshop that looks a bit of a jumble, but you know that the people who work there can , I’m sure find exactly what they want. Very nicely filmed and Matt was so knowledgeable and very good at speaking to the camera. Hope your engine is ok now, and all the best to you both!

  • Reply Strange Fruit August 1, 2018 at 7:34 am

    4:38 & 3:32 – the old phrase "Mend & repair" (of which its principles are now coming back these days), has never been more applicable .
    What a fascinating place & charming history

  • Reply John Brookes August 1, 2018 at 7:49 am

    Anna and Kath great video.

  • Reply Peter Mastenbroek August 1, 2018 at 8:02 am

    What a beautiful video ladies, I really enjoyed your guided tour of Tooley's yard so much that I'll have to try to go there myself some day in the near future. Happy CCing, Peter.

  • Reply Lewis Gardener August 1, 2018 at 8:21 am

    Brilliant yet again but ditto other comment one of the best, this has surly put you above cc now, come on people subscribe what are you all waiting for?

  • Reply Mark Morgan August 1, 2018 at 8:45 am

    That was amazing. Thanks girls. Will definitely be making my way down to Tooley's next year.

  • Reply momma hil August 1, 2018 at 8:49 am

    Wow, wasn't expecting to love that so much — don't know why but tears came to my eyes with the wooden boat and Matt telling all the things Tooleys are doing to get back to basics – a man with a vision indeed! And… Munchy??? Your new roving reporter?!

  • Reply Granny Lyn August 1, 2018 at 8:57 am

    How interesting! Hated the breakdown,,,,but LOVED the history lesson!

  • Reply lakelady57 August 1, 2018 at 9:11 am

    Awesome visit and tour, really enjoyed that and would just love to visit one day 🙂

  • Reply EnjoyingUTube Too August 1, 2018 at 9:14 am

    The future of Tooley's looks good with such a passionate owner. Great video.

  • Reply Narrowboat Longpod August 1, 2018 at 9:18 am

    If you’ve not read “Narrow Boat” it’s well worth it. I really can’t understand why they haven’t made a film of it or, at least, of Tom Rolt’s life (perhaps they have).

  • Reply Chris john Emery August 1, 2018 at 9:27 am

    What a great place

  • Reply Clive Russon August 1, 2018 at 9:33 am

    This is the best narrow boat vlog I have seen on youtube, and I watch em all.

  • Reply Ozbeach Andy August 1, 2018 at 9:34 am

    That was so informative and interesting to watch. Cheers girls. Loved it

  • Reply Larry Hash August 1, 2018 at 9:55 am


  • Reply Kath1320 August 1, 2018 at 10:00 am

    You both are so cute!! Kath (love that name) and Anna, you are just so natural. "This is Matt our new best friend…sorry to all our other best friends" I couldn't stop laughing at your expression.
    Very interesting tour. I love history. ❤

  • Reply Audrey Rogers August 1, 2018 at 10:21 am

    Fantastic, really interesting, we are definitely going to visit Tooley’s when we get to Banbury

  • Reply Andy B August 1, 2018 at 10:23 am

    Great vlog. Very professional!

  • Reply Kayleen White August 1, 2018 at 10:26 am

    Another great video and a fascinating sight into history 🙂

  • Reply Esther Kalkbrenner August 1, 2018 at 11:36 am

    Sorry, I did not understand what Matt was saying about delivering „pigeye“ (4:04) and Sand in return? I am sure they did not deliver pig eyes, but what was it?
    Wonderfull to see the old workshops and machinery. A treasure to keep alive for many more years hopefully. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Reply derrick felix August 1, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    Matthew, thank for saving our ladies, Take care you ladies cheers.

  • Reply Mr Carpathian August 1, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    Absolutely fabulous vlog. Thank you for posting such an interesting and intelligent video. Thank you also to Matthew. Such an interesting gentleman.

  • Reply Paul Roberts August 1, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    This vlog was one of the best I have seen. Up there with CC. You BBC'd it. Informative, entertaining and good to watch. You two are my number one you tubers.

  • Reply Donald Sims August 1, 2018 at 1:22 pm

    I can see Kath being a Tooley's Volunteer. The biggest problem would be deciding which department to work in first. And wouldn't Anna be a great tour guide? I will sit on a crate and whittle miniature narrowboats.

  • Reply Narrowboat Lane August 1, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    How lucky you were to break down… if you hadnt youd have never met that wonderful guy and probably never got to do such an outstanding TTH. Things happen for a reason and when they do you should roll with them.. good on you both..

  • Reply Tochi Mex August 1, 2018 at 3:17 pm

    That was FASCINATING!!  Thank you so much!  Much Love from Mexico….xo

  • Reply Sarah Martella August 1, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    What wonderful history…your vlog was so good..very interesting to hear all about the boatyard. Thank you both xxx

  • Reply Graham H August 1, 2018 at 4:34 pm

    Brilliant girls , see that's how you do a serious vlog ( get someone whos had a bit of practice to do it ) lol but seriously it was great. Although we needed it to be about twice as long, then we could have had ten mins of munchie and alice and 5 mins of you two rambling , at the end 🙂

  • Reply Stephen CB August 1, 2018 at 5:32 pm

    Brilliant video girls, as others have said – informative and professional, a great interview with an enthusiastic, knowledgeable and talented guy. Will now try to visit Tooley's as soon as possible👍

  • Reply Simon Leppard August 1, 2018 at 5:46 pm

    Well done Anna & Kath, kept forgetting to buy the Tom rolt book…just ordered it from Amazon! Great presentation ladies!

  • Reply Mike Nicholls August 1, 2018 at 6:35 pm

    Great video (watch out Mr CC ) – Definitely going to call in to Tooleys on our next Saturday cruise to Banbury👍👍👍👍

  • Reply Mandy Smith August 1, 2018 at 6:50 pm

    What a wonderful vlog. Matt was fascinating! I love the story about NB Hardy! It’s home now and it will get restored. That’s fantastic. Thank you for sharing that with us. Ewart breaking down was horrible but led to such an amazing encounter! X

  • Reply Mike Gershon August 1, 2018 at 6:57 pm

    What a wonderful video.  There is a lot to be said for saving history and tradition, and you ladies and Matt gave a wonderful presentation.

  • Reply Jay ONeill August 1, 2018 at 7:12 pm

    Through the Hedge is a hit, ladies, I love your videos.

  • Reply Sylvia Page August 1, 2018 at 7:34 pm

    Great video really interesting. The music was really appropriate. Thanks

  • Reply Gary Winters August 1, 2018 at 7:52 pm

    I really like your channel and you are giving CC a run for his money😊 I like his channel too.

  • Reply Colin M August 1, 2018 at 8:13 pm

    Excellent info and history of the boatyard. I’ve seen several vlogs on this yard but this is definitely the tops. Good work ladies

  • Reply London Boat Girl August 1, 2018 at 8:46 pm

    Great video. Are there any Tooleys left there?

  • Reply Garry Stacey August 1, 2018 at 9:24 pm

    Great video 👍🏻

  • Reply Steve Robinson August 1, 2018 at 9:24 pm

    Great Video, I'm one of the small, slightly crazy Hardy Restoration Team, it's going to be long project but well worth it.

  • Reply david bell August 1, 2018 at 9:49 pm

    Well done girls that was a brilliant through the hedge 👍

  • Reply signifyingnowt August 1, 2018 at 10:17 pm

    Great vlog, one of your best😀

  • Reply Backseat Mitzi August 1, 2018 at 10:29 pm

    Best of British, excellent and fun music

  • Reply John Wigglesworth August 1, 2018 at 11:34 pm

    Girls what an interesting vlog. Long live Tooleys

  • Reply Phil Nb Spook August 1, 2018 at 11:51 pm

    I have heard of this yard over the years but we have never been in that neck of the woods. Not sure we will ever get down there with Spook but will certainly visit and give some measure of support. Well done for your exposure, so to speak.

  • Reply ncplantdoctor August 2, 2018 at 2:42 am

    Fascinating and well done. That video was Ace! I presume that it was the Narrowboat Cat, Munchy, who was first to check out the wooden boat.

  • Reply freedom of speech freedom of movement August 2, 2018 at 2:36 pm

    Very interesting video. The history of the boatyard .

  • Reply Sue Taylor August 2, 2018 at 3:14 pm

    Love the happy music xxx very interesting vlog. Matt was fab too

  • Reply RWBimbie August 2, 2018 at 5:40 pm

    You gals should hunt down Cruising The Cut and thwack him with rubberbands til he puts up some more vids

  • Reply Ian Mason August 2, 2018 at 7:48 pm

    Excellent, best representation of Tooley's that I have seen. Thank you for doing this.

  • Reply wsatnutter August 2, 2018 at 9:25 pm

    nice vlog a good tangent

  • Reply Ronnie Lloyd August 2, 2018 at 10:48 pm

    Have peered into Tooley's on a few occasions, but will make an effort to get over there on a Saturday for a tour 🙂

  • Reply Sheila Knight August 3, 2018 at 7:32 am

    Sorry about the breakdown , but a wonderful history doc. Thank you !!

  • Reply Steve Blanchard August 3, 2018 at 9:41 am

    Fantastic blog by Matthew 😀

  • Reply JONATHANGW August 3, 2018 at 9:02 pm

    Awesome, well done Tooleys and thanks girls for another fab “Through The Hedge”.

  • Reply Kent White August 4, 2018 at 1:26 am

    Wonderful show. When will y'all be in the Chester/Llangollen canals? I'm flying over for that one! I want to "cross the bridge"! Keep up the good work

  • Reply Neil Coates August 4, 2018 at 8:58 am

    Really enjoyed the history lesson. I just don't understand the 10 dislikes of the vlog. Love you two.

  • Reply Julie Norton August 4, 2018 at 7:15 pm

    Hi there NB'S. What a treat to go through that hedge and learn about the history of building the narrowboats… fascinating…Matt your new bezzy is a fountain of knowledge. 😊⛴👍🏻💙🐶🐾

  • Reply steve zirkle August 5, 2018 at 11:35 am

    Thank you Matthew.

  • Reply Anthony Chew September 25, 2018 at 2:57 pm

    Thank you so much for making this video .. it's not only a well documented and informative vlog about a boat yard but also tells a little history about wooden boats. The story about Hardy is heart waning but also a little sad that bits and pieces of history is left to rot and sink along the canal. I would like to see more of these kind of informative videos please.

  • Reply FilmNfool November 12, 2018 at 3:31 am

    Fascinating history, thank you for sharing your tour

  • Reply David Harris February 13, 2019 at 12:23 am


  • Reply Paul Booth February 13, 2019 at 3:17 pm

    Enjoying watching this all that engineering the old tools etc Brilllaint video, ya should watch guy Martin he does great Vids on the canal and narrow boats , it looked a great day I had has much fun from this has yourselves thank you ppl disabled like me least get to see things through Vids like this on you tube and mean lot

  • Reply Barrie Payne February 20, 2019 at 2:35 pm

    Very interesting lady’s your getting better every day,was a happy boater some fifty years ago albeit in one of those plastic cabin cruises as you narrow boat called us then.but have wonderful memories,you have given me itchy feet but my said me being 80 I wouldn’t get the lock gates open happy sailing

  • Reply John in Okla May 4, 2019 at 6:33 pm

    And this is the type of history we don't have here in the states. Heck we don't even have canals for narrow boats to travel on, but we do have a waterway system on the eastern part of the country. 🙌 This was a very nicely done video on the boat yard and it's history. Thank you for making it happen. 👍 🎉

  • Reply Lloyd Baker May 15, 2019 at 11:41 pm

    Very cool and interesting that they "side launched" the boats!

  • Reply ELaine Downes June 30, 2019 at 9:43 pm

    Late to this vlog but it is amazing love it. Well done ladies👍

  • Reply Shawn Rossignol July 15, 2019 at 6:48 pm

    Truly awesome. I’m having a ball binge watching all your videos. I especially enjoyed this one and all the history surrounding this boat yard. Thank you for posting.

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