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Oxford Water Walks

Historical & Literary Walks & Talks, and Books by Oxford Towpath Press

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About Mark Davies

Oxford Water Walks, Oxford Towpath Talks, and Oxford Towpath Press are brought to you by Mark Davies.

Me (cropped) April 2019

Mark Davies is an Oxford local historian, author, public speaker, guide, and publisher specialising in the history of non-University Oxford, with a particular focus on the city’s waterways. Most of Mark’s early life was spent by the sea – in Hampshire, Sussex, Kent, and South Wales – but his interest in inland rather than coastal waters grew as a result of a chance decision to live on a canalboat in central Oxford in 1992, after living in Abingdon for a couple of years.

Since then Mark has written and published seven Oxford local interest books, four of which are currently in print: A Towpath Walk in Oxford (2001/2012), Alice in Waterland (2010/2012), Alice’s Oxford on Foot (2014/18), and Stories of Oxford Castle (2005/19). In 2015 his biography of the Oxford pastry cook James Sadler (who became the unlikely first Englishman to build and ascend in an air balloon in 1784 – see ‘King of all Balloons’ page) was published by Amberley Books.

Mark was a regular contributor of articles on various aspects of Oxford’s local history to the Oxford Times’ Limited Edition magazine, and still writes occasionally for national publications. He composed the text for the three-mile Oxford Canal Heritage Trail, from central Oxford to beyond Wolvercote – see Recommended Sites – and for the Royal Geographical Society’s ‘City of Streams and Spires’ waterside walk to Sandford-on-Thames. He has also featured in national and local TV and radio programmes about the waterways, ‘Alice’ and Oxford history generally – see Media page.

Mark speaks to organisations all over Oxfordshire (and beyond – Ireland in 2017, for instance, and Assam in India in 2018) on a variety of historical and literary themes. He also leads walks through less-visited parts of Oxford for a range of local and international organisations (including many Oxford colleges and the American educational ROAD Scholars’ programmes), and at annual events such as Oxford Preservation Trust’s “Open Doors”, The Story Museum’s “Alice’s Day”, and Literature Wales’s International Dylan Thomas Day. He also provides commentaries on Thames’ cruises operated by Oxford River Cruises and has hosted Mad Hatter’s Tea Parties at Christ Church.

Mark moved off his residential narrowboat, ‘Bill the Lizard’, in 2020 after nearly 30 happy and productive years, and continues to be active in the much-publicised ongoing campaign to retain a boatyard in the Oxford suburb of Jericho, both as a boating representative and as Chair of the Jericho Living Heritage Trust and a trustee of the Jericho Wharf Trust. He is also a Lewis Carroll Society trustee and on the committee of the Alliance of Literary Societies.

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