Robert Maxwell (1923–1991)
Robert Maxwell lived in Headington for the last 32 years of his life. He rented Headington Hill Hall from Oxford City Council, and while he described it as the best council house in the country, other people jocularly called it “Maxwell House”. He also operated his publishing business, Pergamon Press, from buildings in the grounds of the Hall, and the Maxwell helicopter was frequently seen over Headington. In March 1991 Maxwell sold the press to Elsevier, but it retained offices on the site.
His other connection with Headington was through Oxford United Football Club, which he owned for ten years. He attended matches at the Manor Ground and became Chairman of the club in 1981, but soon handed the reins over to his son Kevin.
All connections between the Maxwell family and Headington ceased when Robert Maxwell drowned in mysterious circumstances on 5 November 1991. Headington Hill Hall was put in the hands of the receivers, Denis Smith became the football club’s chairman, and Mrs Maxwell sold the family’s possessions and returned to her native France.
Headington’s only memorial to Robert Maxwell is this inscription, set in a flower bed at the top of Headington Hill:
There is a
much fuller entry on Robert Maxwell in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
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