Interview 11 - Mark ‘Dusty’ Boardman

Mark ‘Dusty’ Boardman, retired from a fuel delivery business on the Oxford Canal

Interviewer: Pete Ledwith
Editor: Charlie Henry
Total recording time: 48 min : 36 sec


  • Mark was interviewed on board his boat Dusty on the Oxford Canal. Listen to the kettle on the stove whistling in the background of this interview to get a sensation of being on board a boat.
Access available in Oxfordshire History Centre and Libraries only

Click on track number below to play

Track Content summary Length
11.1 Mark came to Oxford a decade or so ago after a personal crisis and to get away from a job that involved computer training and graphic and commercial design. He began to work in the Jericho (Castle Mill) Boatyard repairing the bottoms of boats. This DIY community was dispersed by owners, British Waterways, in 2003. 4 min : 56 sec
11.2 Dusty ended up on a mooring at Lower Heyford, midway between Oxford and Banbury. He encountered the former owner of Dusty whose deliveries of gas, oil and diesel to boaters was twice a year who wanted to sell Dusty. 2 min : 16 sec
11.3 He bought Dusty, did market research and now has a monopoly of deliveries fuel to boaters on the canal but his profit margins have stayed the same and he enjoys what he does. 7 min : 38 sec
11.4 He is critical of the position of the British Waterways pontoon by Louse Lock (Isis Lock) and explains how local landowners usually give bridges and locks their names. 3 min : 49 sec
11.5 Describes some frustrations of the job but is hopeful that the Canal and River Trust will act on behalf of boats. 6 min : 40 sec
11.6 Dusty enjoys being part of the community although job is hard and he works in all weathers for about a week and half each month. He gets to hear about boaters’ problems and issues and helps where and when he can. 3 min : 13 sec
11.7 Dusty mentions some canal characters – he used to sit for hours with Rose Skinner and went to her funeral; he also fondly recalls Jane Fanner and her flowery boat and husband Vivian a wheelwright. Other boaters include firemen, lawyers, authors, aroma therapists, drug dealers, tattoo artists. Although he thinks boating community is changing as mooring fees are going up so now flat renting is comparable. 6 min : 8 sec
11.8 Canal should be celebrated – special place but he does not know whether he can carry on as he is getting older and his work is so hard. Dusty has shifted 3 tons of coal bought from Tom Hill the coal merchant. The other winter Dusty shifted 28,000 25kg bags of coal and every time one bag went off the rest had to be repositioned. 13 min : 49 sec