Winter Chill

Working the Waterways: NarrowBoat, Winter 2021

Christopher M Jones

Chris M. Jones looks at an image of a freezing winter that reveals a story of local traffic on the Oxford Canal

At the time this photograph was taken, around 1893, the two boats Monarch and Valiant were owned by David Tolley Jnr of Marston Doles Wharf, next to Napton Top Lock. This view is on the Coventry Canal near Sutton Stop, looking south-west. The Tolleys were originally a family of agricultural labourers who had settled in Kirtlington near the Oxford Canal. David Snr was born in January 1835 and, like his father and older brothers, did the same agricultural work until the late 1850s when he moved to Oxford and was employed on the railway. This was probably a clerical role as, shortly after his marriage in 1859, he became the canal company wharfinger and toll clerk at Oxford, living at Canal Wharf House. By February 1864 he had relocated to Napton Junction where he would remain as the Oxford Canal Co’s toll clerk until his retirement. However, this was not his only source of income as he rented land at Napton for grazing cattle. David Tolley Snr’s second son, also named Davi…

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