Contents The Gallery College Trips Canal Trip 1973   

The trip was described in the 1973 College Magazine -   reproduced here and illustrated with photos from Jacky McLaren (Green).



This year a small, but dedicated group of 6th formers, under the guidance of Mr. Moss and Mr. Wood, spent the half-term holiday in the autumn term studying the Midland Canals and their role in modern life. Mr. Wood decided that the only way to appreciate 'canal life' was to participate ; so a 50 foot barge was duly hired, and we set off with some misgivings from our base on the Oxford canal . The barge, however, soon proved to be the major attraction of the trip, being built to accommodate 8 people full time, and the first day or so was spent by the menfolk in learn- ing how to master our first 'ship of the realm' whilst the girls tried (with little success) to master the com- plexities of cooking while the ship was steaming at full speed down the narrow canals .

Although we found little of industrial importance, (the voyage taking us through remote Oxfordshire countryside), the canals themselves were extremely interesting, with their many locks (one can only truly appreciate the number of locks when one has to open them all), their tiny lockkeepers' cottages, and the hinged wooden road bridges which were lifted by hand to allow the canal traffic to pass beneath . The whole exuded an atmosphere of serenity to be found in few other places in the industrial Midlands . Life seemed to have slowed down, with the few cargo barges chugging slowly to their unknown destinations, fisherman smoking lazy pipes on the green banks, and bridges and locks that were primitive to the point of obsolescence . Progress seems to have left England's canals behind, with the exception of the modern dredgers that are keeping the canals alive ; and perhaps it is this 'olde worlde' flavour that makes them such an attraction to the modern city dweller .

The trip itself was extremely varied; pastimes ranging from playing 'conkers' on the 'ship's bridge' and football in neighbouring pastures, to trips to deserted villages, a detailed study of the architecture of Banbury and discussions in the evenings on entropy and high energy physics. The operation of the locks and maintenance of our ship (Ra I11) were full time jobs in themselves, but in the dull moments we amused ourselves guessing at what the meals were supposed to be. In all, the trip was a highly educational and grati- fying experience, and if, as a result, we know little of Midland Industry, at least we can all manipulate 50 feet of barge, operate locks as if we had spent our lives at it, and can pinpoint with alarming accuracy every public house between Oxford and Banbury! What is more to the point, we all feel that now we can under- stand more easily what once made the canals a way of life in their own right.

It is with some regret that I report that our founder-member, Mr . A.S. Wood, is moving on next year, and so this little known society will be no more . I therefore use this opportunity to give our thanks to our able and dedicated captain, Mr . D. Moss, without whose leadership and brilliant seamanship, the trip would never have been possible . (We only went aground twice); and finally thanks to Mr. Wood, the organiser of the affair, who never flinched in the face of fearsome financial losses, never panicked unduly when his crew were lost overboard, (which they regu larly were) and for his devotion above and beyond the call of duty at mealtimes when, instead of raising a cynical eyebrow and complaining (as was the ship's custom), he finished every 'meal' with a forced smile and "Very nice, that", a fitting epitaph to the whole historic voyage.

Ship's company were :- Derek Moss, Steve Wood, Ruth n'Jane Pearson, Jacky Green, Dave Armstrong, Mike Evans, Andy Rowland. Michael Evans.

Steven Wood - Physics Teacher                                                                                                             
 Steven Wood - Physics Teacher
Andrew Rowland, Jane Pearson, Steven Wood, Ruth Pearson, Mike Evans 

 Steven Wood, David Armstrong, Ruth Pearson (on tiller), Jane Pearson, Derek Moss (Chemistry Teacher), Mike Evans, Andrew Rowland
Working a lock  
Steven Wood and Jane Pearson 
Mike Evans, Andrew Rowland, Jane Pearson, Jacky Green, David Armstrong, Steven Wood  
Jacky Green - swabbing the decks! 


 Since receiving the photos and setting up this page I have discovered the Canal Preservation Society Trip is already on here, under Clubs and Societies!  Visit the page here