Text and photographs copyright of Jim Shead.
Top 100 Sites
This article More than a Mooring - Aynho Wharf is the copyright of Jim Shead - The twenty-fifth of a regular series of articles on marinas and boatyards. First published in Waterways World October 2005.
The Oxford Canal was opened in 1790 and I suppose that a wharf to serve the village of Aynho, south of Banbury, was established soon after this. Although much of its history remains a mystery to me it is clear that this old established site continues to serve the canal to the present day.
In the 1970s the workshop was built for Morgan Giles who used to build GRP cruisers here. At that time the workshop was not divided into separate rooms as it is now but was one large space where they had a small production line working on about six boats at a time. After that Anglo Welsh took over the wharf and used it as a base for their hire fleet. Today the wharf is run by Ian Cooper who, about twenty years ago, started work here for Anglo Welsh as a Saturday lad helping out on turn-around days. He then became a full time employee and in the last couple of seasons before the company left Aynho he was manager of the base.
In 1994 the site was taken over by Jack Graham under the banner of South Shore Narrowboats and then Aynho Wharf Boatbuilders. Ian worked as manager for Jack at first but then in 1998 he set up his own company called Aynho Dock Services using the wet dock and some other space at the site. Ian did some work for Jack (who concentrated on building new boats) but he also did private work including providing general boat repair and maintenance at the wharf. When Jack Graham retired his son Craig took over the business but the company failed. With the demise of Aynho Wharf Boatbuilders Ian's Aynho Dock Services company remained in business on the site and was eventually able to completely take over the running of Aynho Wharf
Ian runs the wharf as a general boatyard offering a wide range of boating services from diesel, gas, pumpout, Elsan disposal, water, etc. to all types of boat repairs. About the only thing they don't do are some of the major steel work jobs such as bottom replating, although they do undertake steelwork additions and alterations to bulkheads and superstructure.
There are five people working in the yard plus a number of people who cover the shop. These are one painter, one joiner, one engineer/welder, one all rounder and one welder/fabricator. The work that each undertakes reflects the variety of services on offer. A 7-day callout breakdown service is provided and a lot of work is done off-site, including gas fitting, which they do for a lot of boatyards around Oxford and for the Environment Agency's boats on the Thames. Aynho Wharf has good access for craning and is used by both private individuals and other boat yards for this purpose.
At present they only do three or four fit-outs each year but they also do refits of boats or parts of boats. Shortly they are also expecting to do fitting-out for a range of narrowboats designed by Trinity Marina, producing six in the first year. Boat painting is another area of their expertise with high quality work being carried out in the covered wet dock. In addition they provide two sections of moorings; one in the basin, or lay-by, at the wharf which has access to all the boatyard facilities and the security of a locked gate at night, the other being linear moorings just beyond Aynho Bridge which are cheaper and have less facilities.
The wharf shop is also a generalist rather than a specialist outlet. In a comparatively small space you will find some chandlery, canal-ware, gifts, groceries, books (new and second-hand) and ice-cream. They will serve you with drinks and snacks at the tables outside where there is play equipment for the children. This is a place that attracts both the serious boater and the casual visitor who just wants a cup of tea while watching the boats pass by.
Return to the main Articles Listing page