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Latest News

21/03/14 08:23pm
In April and May a series of exciting events will be taking place celebrating the industrial and cultural heritage of the Oxford Canal. Organised by the Heritage Lottery funded Oxford Canal Heritage...
28/03/13 09:58am
The Jericho Living Heritage Trust is seeking a part-time manager to lead a project which is ‘Celebrating the heritage of Oxford’s canal’. The post-holder will oversee implementation of a grant...
28/03/13 09:45am
Today, the Jericho Living Heritage Trust, working on behalf of the Oxford City Canal Partnership has received a £65,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project in Oxford....
30/03/12 10:34am
We have reached another key point in the campaign to acquire and develop the boatyard site for the community, and would like to bring everyone up to date. In the first stage of this project you...

Project Leader Post

Celebrating the heritage of Oxford’s canal

Heritage Lottery Fund

The Project Outline

The project will explore the heritage of the canal in Oxford over more than 222 years of its existence, and develop learning and interpretation resources to engage the local community with their canal. This three-mile stretch of the canal spans a rich history that includes the boating families and their lives afloat, the industries and communities that grew up along the canal, the gradual decline of waterway carrying in the face of competition from first the railways and then road transportation, a period of neglect and near dereliction in the 1950s and 60s, and  an ongoing and turbulent period of development as the  waterway adapted to the 21st-century demands of  leisure and residential use, and different kinds of livelihoods.

The scope of the project, as agreed with the Heritage Lottery Fund, is:

  • To recruit a team of volunteers to research the heritage of the canal in Oxford and produce associated learning resources
  • To provide relevant training, including oral history techniques
  • To record up to 15 oral histories relating to the recent history of the canal and to prepare this material for archiving at Oxfordshire Record Office
  • To create permanent learning resources in the form of four interpretation panels, four listening benches, a series of downloadable audio trails and radio plays and a website, and to improve directional signage to the canal
  • To engage up to 150 Year 6 students in a drama project that explores the canal’s heritage
  • To organise a community event to raise awareness about the canal’s heritage

The Project Leader

The postholder will be responsible for the successful delivery of the project within the agreed timescales and budget. He or she will undertake the overall project management, as well as engage with the various strands of activity within the project, working alongside volunteers from the Jericho Living Heritage Trust and the Oxford City Canal Partnership.

Key deliverables

Responsible for:

  • Delivering the project to time and on budget
  • Recruiting, managing and supporting the volunteers who are contributing

Specific tasks:

  • The day to day running of the project
  • Planning and overseeing each strand of the project including liaising with external consultants or specialists who are providing expert input.
  • Contributing to each strand of work e.g. recruiting participants for the oral history strand, production managing the community event.
  • Monitoring expenditure against the budget

Accountable to:

  • Oxford City Canal Partnership via the Jericho Living Heritage Trust

Reporting to:

  • A steering group of Trustees

Person specification

Essential skills and knowledge

Project management skills to include:

  • Day to day management
  • Dealing with any delays, the unexpected
  • Budget and spend monitoring

Excellent communication skills, to include:

  • Liaising with the wide range of participants and volunteers
  • Maintaining links with other stakeholders
  • Presentation – to the steering group, the partnership and wider audiences

Computer skills, to include:

  • word processing,
  • presentation
  • spreadsheets

Desirable skills and knowledge

  • Familiarity with the history and heritage of the Oxford Canal
  • Interview and facilitation skills
  • Teaching skills
  • Research skills - internet, library based
  • Qualitative data analysis
  • Producing graphical material


We anticipate that the postholder will work part-time, on a freelance basis, at a rate of £150/day. The project plan estimates a need for 115 days of Project Leader effort, to be provided over approximately nine months.

Please submit applications to, with up to 500 words expressing your interest and qualifications for the role, supported by a brief career outline. Applications must be received by 8:00am, Monday 15th April




Introduction to the Oxford Canal Heritage

The project will focus on the Oxford canal within the city boundaries. It forms the final 3.5 miles of the route from Coventry and opened in 1790, reducing the price of coal available in Oxford at a time when the country was suffering some of the hardest winters of the Little Ice Age.

Although a relatively short stretch of the Oxford canal as a whole it includes a number of important heritage features. Construction was not straightforward with financial problems causing delays. A new Act of Parliament was needed to complete the final stretch from Banbury to Oxford. It was built as cheaply as possible with wooden lift bridges instead of expensive brick ones wherever possible and locks with single rather than double bottom gates. The result is that this final stretch of the Oxford Canal includes a number of unique heritage features. Many of the lift bridges have now been removed; however, of the half a dozen still in use three are within the Oxford City boundary. The stretch of the canal within the city boundaries is framed by Wolvercote lock at the north end and Isis lock at the junction with the River Thames in the city centre (and until the Grand Junction canal opened in 1805 constituted part of  the fastest route between the Midlands and London).

A rich history is contained in the lives and stories of those who worked on the boats along this stretch of canal,  as well as in the businesses and communities that grew up alongside it. The first firm clearly to take advantage of a canalside site was the boatbuilding business of the coalmerchant Henry Ward in about 1812. The Carter Ironworks was established next door in 1825 (which later became Lucy's continuing in production until 2005).  In 1789 the Duke's Cut had been  built to link the canal north of Wolvercote to the River Thames to enable the boats to deliver coal to the papermill at Wolvercote/Godstow. The papermill supplied the Oxford University Press which relocated to a site near the canal, resulting in the housing development and community now known as Jericho.

The university printer Thomas Combe was the first patron of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood and the benefactor of St Barnabas, a Grade I listed church built on land donated by Henry Ward’s sons.

The canal prospered until the end of the 19th century by which time it was being undercut by the railways (often built with materials delivered by boat). In 1937 Lord Nuffield bought the terminal basin and its wharves on which to build his new college and the Jericho wharves became the new Oxford terminus. . Trade continued at a low level with a slight resurgence during the 1939-45 war; in 1942, 223 boats docked in Oxford. Commercial traffic virtually ceased on the southern section of the canal in 1956 when only 16 boats were recorded.

However, that merely began a period of campaigning to keep the canal in use, including a well documented delivery of coal in 1955 to prove that the canal was still viable, a rally in Banbury in 1955 (led by Oxford poet John Betjeman) and a visit by Barbara Castle as Minister of Transport in 1967. Prior to the Minister's visit the local lengthsman did a spot of judicious opening of lock paddles to ensure that there was plenty of water for her boat trip just north of Oxford. It worked and the threat of closure was lifted.

Lucy's Ironworks and Wolvercote Paper Mill have ceased trading, and all the wharves are now closed except for that occupied by the Jericho hire boat company, College Cruisers; "Dusty" a local coal and gas delivery boat works between Oxford and Cropredy. An innovative approach to sustainable residential moorings was developed in the 1990s and there are a number of boaters who work from their floating homes in many different fields as writers, actors, musicians and craftsmen/women. This new generation of boatpeople, as well as those who have contributed to the development of the residential areas or worked along the canal in industries now gone, have stories that should not be lost in the nostalgia for an earlier age.

A particular link between Jericho and the canal is its boatyard. This is currently a derelict site following two attempts to develop the area with high density housing since British Waterways put the land up for sale in 2005.. Although often referred to as an historic boatyard it has in fact been used for a number of purposes over the years. One of the last of the working boatwomen, Rose Skinner, who died in June 2012, always referred to it as the "Corporation coal yard". Although not within the remit of this project, JLHT has undertaken a feasibility study on a community purchase and sustainable redevelopment.

Despite its key role in the development of the city, few who live in the city appreciate the significance of the canal and towpath. It has become a secret byway, a quiet passageway that takes visitors away from the rush and bustle of the streets around.




The project is sponsored by the Oxford City Canal Partnership, which was founded to:

  • bring together principal stakeholders with an interest in the Oxford Canal within the boundary of the City of Oxford
  • promote a vision for the Canal as an attraction and destination, an environmental resource, a focus for the community and a contributor to the economic life in the city
  • work to develop a Strategic Plan for the Canal that links with relevant policies for the City and specifically addresses
  • management of the environment and heritage
  • access and community safety
  • opportunities for education and learning
  • appropriate developments to improve the economic sustainability of the Canal and to contribute to the local economy
  • marketing and promotion of the Canal
  • seek  funds to implement that Plan, and for improvements to the Canal in the context of that Plan

The Partnership meets quarterly and currently has more than a dozen member organizations, including:

  • Canal & River Trust
  • Environment Agency
  • Foxcan
  • Inland Waterways Association
  • Jericho Community Association
  • Jericho Community Boatyard
  • Jericho Living Heritage Trust
  • Jericho Wharf Trust
  • Oxfordshire County Council
  • Oxford City Council
  • Oxford Civic Society
  • Oxford Preservation Trust
  • Worcester College, Oxford

These organizations and their members represent potential sources of expertise, advice, resources to support the current project.

Last modified: 27 March, 2013