Photocall with author:
10am, Friday 25th February, 2005. Oxford. Details below
In Philip Pullman¹s internationally bestselling His Dark Materials trilogy,
it is the home of the ŒGyptian boat people, and the scene of much of the
action in the otherworldy Oxford in which millions of people around the
world have immersed themselves.
But now the Castlemill boatyard on the Oxford canal is threatened with
destruction and Philip Pullman is one of many who will be on the site
tomorrow, when its owners have threatened to evict the boatyard¹s tenant to
make way for an executive housing development.
Castlemill is the last working boatyard on the Oxford canal. There has been
a yard on the site for at least 160 years. Pullman calls it "a watery,
raffish, amiable, trickster-like world of boat dwellers and horse dealers
and alchemists - very ancient, quite unmistakable, entirely unique." Without
it, the narrowboat community of Oxford in which Pullman set much of the
action in Northern Lights will be in peril.
But British Waterways, which owns the site, has refused to listen to the
strong objections of the local community, the City Council and many other
objectors. It wants to hand the site to developer Bellway Homes, to build 46
executive flats and an upmarket restaurant.
"Without this yard," says Steven Goodlad, who runs the boatyard and faces
eviction tomorrow, "I really do believe [the boating community] are stuffed.
They are in danger of becoming forced outlaws, and ultimately many will be
pushed off the canal altogether."
Philip Pullman agrees: "To turn a living, active, mixed and working
community into yet another bland and corporate dormitory would be a crime
against civilised living", he says.
Photocall: 10am, Friday 25th February, 2005.
Castlemill boatyard, Cardigan Street, Jericho, Oxford. OX2 6BX
For media resources and more on the story:
Adrian Arbib on 07711 090544. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org