Tuesday, 24 June 2014

An Icebreaker when you don’t need it–Tuesday 24th June

After having breakfast whilst watching a Kingfisher catching fish outside our window, we made an early start and were lucky enough to be able to go straight into the first lock at Napton as the volunteer Lock keeper kindly opened the gates for us as we approached.  Lock 10 still has a supporting iron frame to keep the entrance open as the contractors make good the collapsed wall but June took the boat into the lock with great precision. Presumably the need for only opening the locks between 08.00 and 18.00 is to ensure nobody causes more damage by hitting the iron supports and protecting the workforce.We made good progress through the locks meeting several boats coming down. The last pound was a bit low but the boat coming down had let more water through so as long as we stayed in the centre there was no problem.
I always like the view on the run up to the first lock as the Windmill comes into clear view towering above the surrounding countryside.IMG_4433
The Water Buffalo are still being bred on the farm half way up the Napton flight and this time they had some small calves with them
Although the breeze had been a little cool when we started off at 07.30 it soon warmed up and we had a nice run along this very beautiful and winding stretch of the South Oxford Canal. We moored up near to bridge 129 where there is a great view back over the Warwickshire countryside to Napton on the Hill from whence we had just come.IMG_4436
Moored just a little way in front of us was an old Icebreaker which we could have done with the last time we came along this part of the canal back in the very cold April of last year. (we had been frozen in on 3 mornings)
Icebeaker Oxford
However as always happens we came across it in glorious weather. The owners of Oxford 1, Peter and Diana, had lovingly restored her to as near as they could get to how she would have been in 1943 when she was handed over to the Oxford Canal Company on Christmas day. She had been built in the Black Country and the cabin had been put on by Fellows Morton and Clayton in Birmingham. Peter had managed to find an old Lister Engine which had also been built in 1943 and would have been the same as the one originally fitted. Luckily when the old records of the Oxford Canal Co. had been thrown out of the Hillmorton Offices an employee had rescued them from the skip and they are now deposited in the Warwick archives. Here Peter found the old plans and drawings for Oxford 1 together with some pictures of how she had looked and letters requesting the build to be like the Coventry Icebreaker.
Whilst Oxford is not used as an icebreaker she is still used in her secondary role as a tug and was off to the Braunston Historic Boat Rally to help move some of the boats into their new positions. She has also towed several craft who have broken down to the nearest road access when on her travels around the network.


  1. I believe the owners of Oxford No 1 are actually Pete and Diana, (you have said Denise).



  2. Hi Alan
    Many thanks for correcting me, I think it was one of those senior moments.