Bruce Colman

Bruce first encountered the Oxford Canal when his parents bought a pub, the Three Pigeons at Kirtlington in the 1960s. Working boaters would stop and have a drink and he got to know many well, so well in fact that on his school holidays he worked on one of the coal boats and travelled around the canals of south England. He learnt boating and roping but has never forgotten the advice offered by one old boater, “The way to handle your boat boy is to imagine that it’s made of glass.”

Bruce admits to becoming besotted with boats and eventually realised his dream of living on one and has continued to do so for most of his life. He became a skilled boat painter and found work by word of mouth moving from one craft to another over the course of many years. Bruce is also a painter of canal ware and demonstrated this traditional art form at the Oxford Heritage family canal art day at the Town Hall on February 20 2014. Over 80 years of age he now lives on a boat at Banbury, still takes canal ware commissions and plays in a band ‘Half Cut Folk’. To hear more about Bruce’s life and his boat painting visit the Oxfordshire History Centre