A corner of North Oxford

Catherine Robinson and Liz Wade

This is the story of a community which began to develop nearly 150 years ago in a corner of North Oxford, the suburb that had been steadily spreading beyond the city walls since the middle of the nineteenth century.

As small businesses in the city centre were crowded out by the expansion of the University, their proprietors and employees found modest new homes and premises in Walton Street and Kingston Road. At the same time, the families of academics, clergymen, and retired civil servants of the Empire were establishing themselves in the neo-gothic splendour of villas in Banbury Road and Woodstock Road, and the leafy connecting streets. The families of labourers who built the villas, or toiled at Lucy’s Iron Foundry, or unloaded coal on the canal wharf found decent, affordable homes in Hayfield Road. At the heart of the community were the newly built church of St Margaret, the Working Men’s Institute in Polstead Road, the school of St Philip & St James in Leckford Road, the shops and stables in Hayfield Road – and Dolly’s Hut, the ancient hostelry which preceded The Anchor Inn as we know it today. Even before local residents were united in grief over the loss of many young lives in the First World War – lives that are commemorated on the war memorial outside the church – this neighbourhood had developed into a remarkably close-knit community, as we hope to show in the chapters that follow.

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