Traffic on the Oxford

Historical Profiles: NarrowBoat, Winter 2022

Christopher M Jones

Chris M. Jones studies images that reflect the types of commercial traffic on the Oxford Canal

The various members of the Ward family made up one of the largest carrying concerns on the Oxford Canal during the 19th century, trading as coal, slate and salt merchants at Oxford and Banbury. By the 1870s William Ward of St Giles, Oxford, operated at least nine boats, including Fanny shown here moored against the towpath opposite the grounds of Worcester College, near Hythe Bridge, around the early 1890s. Its main use was to bring coal from the Moira collieries on the Ashby Canal to Oxford. Its captain, recorded at the time of registration in 1879 and into the early 1890s, was George Giddins of Braunston. William Ward died in 1889 but the business continued under the management of his son as William Ward & Co. By 1894, boatman Lewis Grantham of Lower Heyford had taken over as captain of Fanny, and paired with another of Ward’s boats named Willie. Over time, some of Ward’s boats were sold off, including Fanny in June 1897 to its steerer Lewis Grantham. He continued w…

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