Vale And Downland Museum Remembers Local Oxford Canal Heyday

By Ben Reus | 21 January 2008
A black and white photograph of a family in early twentieth century dress standing on a canal boat.

Daily life on the canals is shown by combining historical drawings, interactive elements and historical photographs.

Exhibition Preview - Living Waterways at Vale and Downland Museum, Wantage until March 13 2008.

The Vale and Downland Museum, in the busy market town of Wantage in Oxfordshire, is hosting a free exhibition exploring local canal heritage.

The exhibition, in the museum’s Squires room, was put together by Cherwell District Council’s Banbury Museum to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Banbury Canal rally, which marked a turning point in the survival of the Oxford canal.

A black and white photograph of the Wilts & Berks canal bed and the remains of the Belmont Bridge in Wantage.

The Wilts and Berks canal bed and the remains of the Belmont Bridge, in Wantage, in 1975.

Living Waterways shows daily life on and around the canals, from the language and clothes to boat building, by combining historical drawings and artefacts with film clips and interactive elements.

It charts the rise of the canal from its heyday, in the 1790s to its decline in the 1880s and explores present interest in the recovery and restoration of canals.

A colour picture of the partly restored Wilts and Berks canal in Childrey, full of water.

The partially restored Wilts and Berks canal at present.

Recent restoration efforts include the project to restore the Wilts and Berks canal that ran through the Vale of White Horse and had a wharf in Wantage near the museum.

The exhibition is open 11.00am - 4.00pm Monday to Saturday and includes a Family Friendly Day on Saturday January 26, to involve families in Waterways themed activities.

As part of the Living Waterways Exhibition the Wilts and Berks Canal Trust will be holding an associated exhibition in the Gallery from February 25 to March 8.

The Trust is restoring sections of the canal along its entire length form Melksham to Abingdon including through the Vale and the exhibition will include historic photographs of Wantage Wharf and the branch to the main line of the canal at Grove as well as others of locations in the Vale. There will also be a display of historic canal artefacts and photographs of the current restoration work.

This is an exhibition preview - have you been to see this show? Why not let us know what you think?

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