A SERIES of audio plays written by residents and produced professionally about an historic Oxford waterway are set to be published online.

Four winners were chosen in June in the Oxford Canal Heritage Project competition by Oxford author Philip Pullman.

They had to submit 10-minute scripts inspired by the waterway, with the finalists being whittled down from some 36 entrants and given mentoring by authors Mark Haddon, Paul Rutman and Katie Baxendale.

Organiser of the scheme, Maria Parsons, said the canal plays would be on the project’s website by the end of this month, after recording at East Oxford studios Tom, Dick and Debbie finished at the end of July.

The heritage project – that seeks to attract more tourists to the 222-year-old canal – was backed with £65,000 of Heritage Lottery money.

Ms Parsons said: “We can finally tell the whole world about all of these ways in which the Oxford Canal has been celebrated.

“We have a great website that offers a lot of information and resources and the canal plays will be added by the end of the month.”

The audio plays include the story of a mule who pulled the country’s last horse-drawn narrow boat along the Oxford Canal, the long history of travellers stopping at Oxford’s mooring sites around Port Meadow, and one about Wind in the Willows author Kenneth Grahame.

The overall winner, Breaking The Ice, by St Anne’s College English undergraduate David McShane, followed two men as they reminisced about their memories of the canal and former lovers.

Tom, Dick and Debbie producer Evie Godowski said: “The quality of the writing in the scripts was great, which was a really pleasant surprise for everyone involved here.

“What was nice was that because the scripts had not been through the publishing process, there were some opportunities for us to help work on them.”

A series of audio guides and maps about the canal for visitors to download to portable devices are also available on the heritage project’s website.

Ms Parsons has also gathered old pictures and interviewed people who lived near to or worked on the canal, which have gone to the Oxfordshire History Centre, in Cowley.

For more information, visit oxfordcanalheritage.org

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