The post today is all about echoes, and seeing beyond what remains in view today.

I couldn’t resist using this photo. It shows the ‘proper’ Tooley’s Yard, the one pretty much erased during the Castle Quay development. This shot was taken, I think, on the day of the yard’s closing party. Certainly I recognise some of the people gathered outside the covered dock that afternoon. I remember sign writing taking place and fire crackers being thrown into the echoing dry dock, there were tall tales, laughter and not a few misty-eyed reminiscences… it was a fond farewell to a yard that still, in so many intangible ways, held it’s connection with two hundred years of waterway history.

Bringing us back up to date, this was last Sunday, and here’s Mol exploring the underside of Albion Bridge leading to station approach. I love the combination of the the smell of the woodsmoke and the echoing expansion of the engine/exhaust beat as we pass under the confines of a bridgehole.
Winter boating. For me it has a beauty all of it’s own. The day-long twilight, the muted silver-grey colours, the icy chill… warming stoves, kids snug inside the long cabin… the quiet of the canal with so few boats moving. Magical.
21st century i-pod and 19th century iron boat in perfect harmony!
This inconspicuous ridge on the towpath prompted a memory. Years ago passing this way with Pete Downer and Jim Mabbs I’m sure I remember them saying that the small pipe, just visible under the large keystone was the feeder pipe to and from the tar distillery that was once on this site. Certainly the tar’s still in evidence…
I’ve included this photo to help you locate the scene in the photos that follow. The ‘hump’ in the towpath can be seen towards the middle of the photo… also in the foreground the remains of the old lift bridge that also appears in the images below…

The following images were taken from the remarkable Britain from Above website.

Taken in 1922, the lift bridge can be clearly seen in situ, as can the tar works on the towpath side of the canal… even the ‘hump’ in the towpath can be seen, adjacent to the white smoke from a small  chimney stack in the tar works…
The plane has circled down a little closer, I wonder where the working boats are? There’s not a single one in view at any of the factories that once crowded the Old Townhall Wharf area…
The plane has continued to circle, the scene now including Banbury Station towards the top of the picture…
Following the line of the canal towards the top of the image you can just pick out the bridge over station approach that Mol is touching the underside of in the second photo in this post…
And finally, a fascinating view that, towards the top right-hand corner of the photo, I think shows Banbury basin, long since buried beneath the bus station; Banbury Town Lock; and where Castle Quay now stands a rapid move into open countryside. A couple of boats can be seen, one moored in the basin and a pair above the lock close to where we’d picked up Eileen on Sunday afternoon… echoes… echoes…

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