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Heritage trail project calls for memories of our canal
12:00pm Friday 16th August 2013 in News
Memories of the Oxford Canal are being sought as part of a major drive to get more visitors using the 222-year-old waterway.
Oxford City Canal Partnership wants help with its £65,000 project for an Oxford Canal Heritage Trail.
It is hoped the Heritage Lottery-funded project will draw more people to the three-and-a-half-mile stretch that runs through the city.
This will lead from Hythe Bridge Street to Duke’s Lock, north of Wolvercote.
Oxford City Canal Partnership wants to put together a map and guide, a podcast audio trail and website by April.
Project manager Maria Parsons said: “We are looking for people who lived, worked on or had something to do with the Oxford Canal since the Second World War.
“Some of these authentic voices are dying and although there is quite a lot of history, no one has done a really big trawl of it.
“We are looking for people’s memories, and pictures would be great. There will be material out there which has never seen the light of day.”
The project will also work with local volunteers, schools and writers to get the scheme going.
Visitors will also be given information about the surrounding areas of Jericho, Summertown, Wolvercote and Port Meadow.
Stories will be transcribed and left in the Oxfordshire Local History Centre at St Luke’s Church, in Temple Road, Cowley.
Residents with an interest in botany could also to help.
Ms Parsons said: “Volunteers are mapping the canal and I would like some volunteers to look at the plants along it.
“No one has really looked at the flora and fauna along the canal.
“There is always going to be something people can do.”
The partnership is made up of Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council, the Environment Agency, the Inland Waterways Association, Jericho Community Association, St Edward’s School and Worcester College.
Tony Joyce, of Jericho Living Heritage Trust, said the canal was often overlooked among Oxford’s rich tapestry of attractions.
He said: “We are trying to raise awareness that the canal is there.It has been very influential in the development of the city.”
The Oxford Canal was opened in 1790 and became a key trade artery, but declined with the development of the railway network in the mid-19th century.
Firms to use the canal included the former Wolvercote Paper Mill, Oxford University Press, Lucy’s ironworks and breweries.
In the 1950s the poet Sir John Betjeman joined a campaign to save the canal from closure, which was successful when Minister for Transport Barbara Castle stepped in.
For more information, call Ms Parsons on 07801509993 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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