The River Ray
The River Ray runs across Otmoor below Oddington. This stretch is still known as The New Ray, it being the channel cut out in the early 1800’s to drain the moor following enclosure. The Old Ray still meanders around Otmoor from Fencott to a point where it rejoins the main stream between Oddington and Charlton.
In the latter half of the 20th century the river was maintained by a group of local men employed by the river authority in its various names. They were known as “The Deep River Boys” and would be a familiar sight as they parked up in their van, which for years was driven by Arnold Price of Charlton-on-Otmoor. Reeds were cut from in the river and the banks were kept trimmed. In consequence the river flowed freely and could be navigated by canoe throughout its course. Fish were abundant, particularly pike, perch, roach and chub.
In recent years the river has become the responsibility of the Environment Agency. The maintenance work has greatly diminished, the policy being that it is the responsibility of landowners to keep the banks trimmed. The result is that large sections are overgrown and overhanging trees make it impossible to navigate the river.
The other serious issue is the level of pollution. Generations of children spent the summer swimming at Oddington Lasher but this would now represent a serious risk to health. The problem appears to be the seepage of sewage into the tributaries of The Ray as Bicester has grown in size. Fishing has virtually ceased.