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Banbury Museum

The New Banbury Museum opens Spring  2002

Banbury Museum and Tooley's Boatyard: a new museum for a new millenium [logo]

Founded in the 7th century, Banbury has a long and noble  history from which many stories and events have passed into folklore. Genuine  Banbury Cakes are still made in Banbury and dispatched around the world, and the  Rhyme of Banbury Cross is still recited to children as it has been for many  centuries.
Banbury Museum was established in the 1940s. Originally housed in  the town library, the museum moved to its current site in 1981. New displays and  an exciting temporary exhibition programme swelled the number of museum visitors  from 35,000 to a remarkable 75,000 a year.

view of forge at Tooley's BoatyardThese high  attendance figures for such a small museum, coupled with the desire to expand  the range of services offered, led to a search for a new location for the  museum. In 1996 one was found. The new site was central and included two parcels  of land divided by the Oxford Canal, which incorporated the historic Tooley's  Boatyard, a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

The boatyard is significant for both Banbury and the nation. In continuous  use since its opening in 1778, it serviced the narrow boats that allowed the  town to embrace the industrial revolution and grow into a manufacturing centre.  More recently, in the 1940s, a boat named Cressy was refitted at Tooley's for  use as a leisure boat. The book Narrow Boat, recording this and L.T.C. Rolt's  cruise on Britain's inland waterways, is credited with encouraging the formation  of the pressure group, the Inland Waterways Assocation, which in turn spawned a  new public leisure interest in canals.

The  new museum design won an architectural competition organised by the Royal  Institute of British Architects. Designed by ECD Architects, the striking  modern building will be a prestigious state-of-the-art facility offering an  exciting range of heritage services free of charge, some of which are listed  below.

    plan of the proposed Banbury Museum

  • The Museum galleries will illustrate six themes from Banbury's history
    • The English Civil War
    • The manufacture of plush
    • The Victorians
    • World War II
    • Banbury Today
    • The Oxford Canal

    Collections currently in store will be  displayed for the first time, including examples of costume and textiles, and  natural history specimens.


  • A waterways discovery gallery will offer an exciting "hands-on" space  enabling visitors to find out in a fun way, about the scientific principles that  govern both waterborne transport and the canal infrastructure.
  • There will be access to an historic working boatyard where the visitor will  be able to see traditional and modern skills and machinery in use.
  • The temporary exhibition gallery will be used to display touring exhibitions  and important works of art borrowed from national collections. In addition there  will be an exhibition space available for local artists to display their work.

Other facilities and services will include

  • A tourist information centre and museum shop.
  • a 50-seat lecture theatre and cafe overlooking the canal, which will be  available for hire.
  • an education programme, planned to support both permanent and temporary  exhibitions.

For more information please  contact:
Simon Townsend,
Museum Services Manager
Banbury Museum  Heritage Centre
Park Road
OX16  2PQ

Tel 01295  259855
Fax 01295 270556

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