Oxford Portland Cement Co

Historical Profiles: NarrowBoat, Spring 2023

Christopher M Jones

Chris M. Jones examines the canal-carrying operations of the Kirtlington-based cement manufacturer

For over two decades during the 20th century, traffic to and from the works of the Oxford Portland Cement Co Ltd at Kirtlington, Oxfordshire, was one of the most important sources of work for the independent boatmen-contractors steering their own or hired boats. Indeed, during the 1920s, the company was probably the largest single employer of these master boatmen on the southern Oxford Canal. The cement works was situated alongside the canal on the off-side bank, half a mile north of Pigeon Lock No 39. Several firms had already exploited the limestone deposits at Kirtlington, otherwise known as Washford Hill stone pits, which were little more than holes dug into the hillside. The previous tenant was Lamprey & Son of Banbury, which took over the site from Edward Coleman after he died in 1902. Both these stone quarrymen transported limestone by canal, mainly for use as roadstone by Oxford Corporation, and delivered to its depot at Jericho, near Isis Lock. Limestone was also taken t…

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