Interview 19 - Jane Fanner

Jane Fanner, lives on a boat on the Oxford Canal

Interviewer: Maria Parsons
Editor: Emma Coombs
Total recording time: 1 hr : 7 min : 12 sec


  • Jane was interviewed on her boat on the Oxford Canal at Kirtlington where she now lives with her family and runs Jane’s Magic Garden and Tea Rooms.
Access available in Oxfordshire History Centre and Libraries only

Click on track number below to play

Track Content summary Length
19.1 Jane and her husband Viv (a wheelwright) moved to Oxford from Cornwall in 1985, attracted by an advertisement for a houseboat for sale which they bought, smitten by beauty of the Oxford canal and the welcome from a wonderful boating community. Viv was able to start up his business very quickly. They moved to Kirtlington in 1995-96. 8 min : 20 sec
19.2 The Ipswich, built in 1898, was a historic working boat formerly operated by one of England’s largest companies: Fellows, Morton & Clayton. It carried goods on the Oxford, Grand Union and Shropshire canals. After its restoration, Jane who had taught herself canal boat painting, painted the boat in traditional patterns and colours (greens, reds and yellows). 5 min : 26 sec
19.3 Jane ran a wedding carriage business – she kept ponies and a trap at the site of the old Oxford Radiators and was very busy with bookings. 5 min : 34 sec
19.4 Jane and Viv raised 4 children on their boat in Oxford. The children were somewhat bullied as boat children. 3 min : 22 sec
19.5 The boat then moved to a mooring next to the old bridge at Frenchay Road where Jane made lots of friends. She grew flowers on every surface she could and photos of the flower boat went worldwide. 4 min : 32 sec
19.6 More about bringing up 4 children in 400 square feet and making choices to work and live in a way when she was very involved in childcare. 5 min : 51 sec
19.7 When the area around Frenchay Road was developed for housing the Council ordered the boat be moved. Jane and Viv fought the decision and their protests became very public. 6 min : 13 sec
19.8 The diversity of people living on the Oxford Canal – their occupations and motives are explored. 3 min : 59 sec
19.9 Jane champions narrow boat living for the opportunities it offers for immersion in the natural world. She describes birds, fish and animals that can be seen and heard around the boat - and the beauty of stars, that are reflected in the canal and thus appear to exist both above and below water. 11 min : 53 sec
19.10 Jane muses about growing old on a boat but clearly continues to enjoy running Jane’s Magic garden and the Tea Rooms – almost everything sold is produced on Jane and Viv’s smallholding which is vividly described. 5 min : 26 sec
19.11 Discusses perceptions of boat people. Then some final observations and reflections about changes in women’s roles on boats, from steering working boats (hands on the tiller) to what Jane points out is the harder menial job of lock opening! 6 min : 28 sec