We Shall Go To The Ball, With Added Photos. 30th June

Slat Mill Lock to near Dinc and Malcs

The internet was getting seriously annoying below Slat Mill Lock, we’d not be able to put up with it for another day and anyhow there were things that needed to be bought and picked up in Banbury, time to move on a bit.

Sheepy back

Jumpers were required, todays temperatures wouldn’t reach the lows suggested on the BBC last night (8C) but it was still parky out there. The lock cottage at Bourton Lock looked a little bit more dishevelled than I remembered it and was that more graffiti scrawl?

Last Lock before Banbury

Would the internet be better on the next mooring, possibly but the noise from the M40 would be too much, we carried on, hoping the wind direction would alleviate the noise on the other side of the motorway. Down Hardwick Lock, the last lock before Banbury. The noise was better so we pulled in still a distance out of town, but walkable to Waitrose and Banbury Cross Retail Park.

Tilly enjoyed some towpath time whilst I took photos of my model pieces. A lens fell out of my computer glasses, I’d not be able to do any more work until they were mended. Time to walk into town.

Helpful boater

The spillway by Hennef Way was taking the extra water away from the pound, I wondered if that would continue for much longer, would Banbury Lock reopen today. A boat came past, they’d not come up the lock, but it was looking like later today or Monday. Good news.

Busy busy

I went to have a look at the lock. Vans and high vis filled the area, at least 10 C&RT staff on hand.

One chap was busy down in the dry doing something to the gate. A post from Banburyshire Info had been posted a short time before suggesting the lock would reopen soon, but the ‘Little Footpath’ as it’s known locally would have to wait to be reinstalled. The ‘Little Footpath’ being the walkway on the top gate.

The chap was busy grinding off the supports that had held the walkway in place, there were also missing timbers that used to connect it to the beam. Here’s hoping none of the locals try to cross the gate, as they all do instead of using one of the two proper bridges, someone could end up being really quite soggy!

Plenty of gongoozling going on by locals and boaters. One chap was trying to be helpful whilst at the same time complaining that boats were moored on the water point and the owners had gone shopping. Just where would the crane boat go? There was plenty of room by the Premier Inn, but would they get the crane boat turned to go through the lift bridge? Would it then be in the way of Tooley’s trip boat?!

The collar and bracing

It looked like a metal collar had been fabricated to add to the top of the rotten gate. This had diagonals down to the top of the gate and then two large plates had been bolted and welded on, one on each side, presumably to hold the gate together. I suspect it’s a temporary repair that will last until there is a new gate made, possibly in next winters stoppages.

Things looked like they were going in the right direction, but the stop planks were still in, I headed of to get my glasses mended, then returned.

The stop planks were out, the top gate back with water up against it. One top paddle was half lifted and the crane boat was slowly rising in the lock. Success. Many hands were busy removing all the fencing around the lock.

The top gate was opened, I didn’t actually notice it opening, so it must have been easy. Then the crane boat had to wait for the last obstacle, the plank across the top of the lock, to be moved.

The first civilian boat to go through at 3pm

People above the lock stood at their tillers, who would be first? Certainly one boat had only arrived yesterday as they’d passed us. There was a pause, the crane boat now out of the way. Everyone looked round, would boats be allowed through? A C&RT chap gave a big beckoning wave to the boat I’d seen moored above the lock on Monday. The joy on their faces. She hopped off to close the gate, was told to get back on by the chap at the helm. Then she jumped off again, the gate closed behind them and soon the bottom paddles were lifted, their boat descending away from Castle Quays. In all the excitement they’d forgotten to lift their fenders!

A lady from the first boat to come up stood behind me. Her boat was a share boat and this would be their first ever lock. ‘What do I do?’ I offered to give her a hand, but there were so many people about waiting for their turn I’d have been surplus. The excitement was over, lock working, time to get back on with what I was really in town for.

Ready for the first uphill boat

I picked up a few things, I’d missed the bank then started walking out to the retail park. Drizzle was not good for the pad of tracing paper I’d just bought. I took refuge in Dunelm hoping it would stop, it just got heavier. I wondered around looking for something we might need then I could get a bag, a plastic bag to protect the tracing paper. Thankfully a new bolt of fabric was being opened up, it’s plastic covering would be just the thing, marvellous.

Next up was Hobbycraft for green paints. My paint kit has two shades of green, but as Cinderella is set in the rainforest I could do with a selection.


Tilly greeted me on the towpath, the excitement of the lock reopening had missed her by, but Mick had been counting the passing boats. Six had passed by the time I got back, no notice from C&RT to say the lock was open.


In the boaters update this evening there was a link to Maintenance, repair and restoration work this weekend. I clicked the link for the Oxford Canal. The notice had been update at 17:01, but not emailed out to those waiting to hear the news.

Repairs to the lock gate have been successfully delivered by our team. Navigation open

Well done C&RT for getting the lock and navigation working again. But your communication skills ….

2 locks, 1.17 miles, 1 chilly morning, 2 pairs of glasses requiring repair, 1 chap angle grinding, 9 watching, 10 removing the fencing, 1 crane back up, 1 boat down, 1 ecstatic crowd, 30 sheets tracing, 4 shades of green, 11 boats gone past this evening, 2 boaters and 1 cat back on track for the south, 0 notice.