Interview 3 - Bruce Coleman

Bruce Coleman, painter, musician and Oxford Canal narrow boat resident

Interviewer: Maria Parsons
Editor: David Charles
Total recording time: 39 min : 26 sec


  • Bruce, an older boater (70+) was interviewed on his boat 'The Boston', north Banbury. Birds can be heard singing on the tape, their song coming in through an open window on the boat
Access available in Oxfordshire History Centre and Libraries only

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Track Content summary Length
3.1 Bruce developed a life-long interest in narrow boats when his parents took over the running of the Three Pigeons, a pub on the Oxford Canal, a few miles north of the city. As a teenager, Bruce worked on boats during his school holidays and shares insights from working on boats taking coal from the Midlands to Oxford and London in the 1950s 7 min : 43 sec
3.2 Bruce eventually renovated and lived on the Bill Jones, taught himself traditional Castles and Roses canalware painting and travelled the canal network. 2 min : 52 sec
3.3 Having learnt to coach paint, Bruce began his own business renovating and painting boats. Work came via word of mouth, and he was never unemployed. He describes the painting process, including paint choices and techniques. 7 min : 22 sec
3.4 Bruce notes changes on the canal – reserving his criticism for people who use their boats ‘like a car’, with attitudes to match. He also talks about his playing in a folk band at canalside venues in the Midlands. 8 min : 7 sec
3.5 Bruce joined the Inland Waterways Society when they took action to prevent closure of the Oxford Canal, south of Banbury. 3 min : 41 sec
3.6 He is now over 70, but still enjoys living on a boat, especially in winter on the canal, and is now staying out at his current moorings in a close community. 3 min : 21 sec
3.7 Advice for aspiring 'live-aboards' is to ‘try it’, although admits to being fed up with some of the current leisure boaters who use boats like dodgems at a fast pace. 3 min : 51 sec
3.8 A memory of Sutton Stop (Hawkesbury Junction) near Coventry enables Bruce to end by explaining how canal tolls were levied. 2 min : 16 sec