Keble Barge

Figurehead returns to College


Figure head of the Keble Barge. Please contact the College Archivist should you wish to reuse this image.


The last few months have been noteworthy for new and out of the ordinary accessions and towards the end of June perhaps the most unusual item of this year arrived, after a long journey from Wales in the Bursar’s car, at College. This item is the figurehead of the Keble Barge, built by Salter Bros in 1898 – 1899.

The 19th century barge ended its life wrecked on farmland following a flood. The farmer of the land recovered the figurehead and took it to a carver’s workshop in Oxford with a view to restoration. The farmer never returned to the carver who carefully safeguarded the figurehead for decades until after his retirement. He then very kindly contacted Keble to ask whether College would like the figurehead which was gratefully accepted.

The Keble Barge. Should you wish to reuse this image please contact the College Archivist.

Before the building of the boathouses from the later 1950s it was conventional for members of College and their guests to watch the races from their college barges. Keble’s barge was one of the last to be built and cost £936.8s.6d. The barge was decorated in art nouveau style, the carving of which cost £77. By the 1950s the barge was in very poor condition suffering from leaks and decaying woodwork, restoration was impracticable. After much deliberation the barge was reluctantly abandoned and a second-hand barge from Magdalen College was used until a new boat house was built in conjunction with Jesus College and opened in 1961.


For archive enquiries please contact:

Archivist & Records Manager
Keble College
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)1865 272728