Relocation of Boatyard visitor entrance

Relocation of Boatyard visitor entrance

A new proposal was revealed at Banbury Canal Festival this month to relocate Tooley’s Boatyard visitor entrance to the north west. It would enhance the pedestrian access to Tooley’s using the side of Castle Quay alongside the canal. The proposals aim to improve the visitor offer and sustainability of the Boatyard business by creating greater separation between visitors and boat repairers. The towpath runs along the opposite side of the canal. Construction work for Castle Quay in the early years of the millennium effectively formed a new towpath. This is interrupted by the boatyard buildings where there is no right of way. The areas outside the boatyard are currently underused and access is officially only permitted for the use of boaters moored along it and for Tooleys staff.

New Visitor Entrance

The redevelopment ideas hinge around relocating the main visitor entrance to the north west end of the site, by bringing the towpath and area under the Castle Quay boardwalk into the Trust’s demise. It is not possible to stand up under the boardwalk at the far end, so we propose to install doors to create storage here, with information panels on the front.

Displays below boardwalk

Nearer to Tooleys, it would be possible to put artefacts on display, potentially including a replica boatman’s cabin. This will brighten up the towpath and provide information about the history of Tooleys, and the canal heritage of Banbury. Modifications to the over-sized fire escape stair from the upper level of the boardwalk are also suggested. This would give more external milling around space near the entrance to Tooleys. This stair primarily serves the Museum shop fire exit. There is potential to use the fire doors to provide more direct access from the Museum to the area outside the Boatyard gates.

Dry Dock Entrance

Here a small floating pontoon will enable people to see into the dry dock, and board the Dancing Duck (and perhaps a restored Hardy working boat) without needing to go into the Boatyard. Minor internal modifications to the rooms under the shopping mall will enable visitors and volunteers to access the exhibition room / workshop and welfare facilities. A shallow access ramp will be provided and the entrance doors will be widened to make the building accessible to all.

If you have any comments about these proposals you may send them by email to Kate Dickson of Creative Heritage Consultants Limited at before the end of October 2022.


The viability of this project has been assessed with support from the Architectural Heritage Fund.

The Architectural Heritage Fund