Headington history: Articles in the press

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Window breaking in 1896

Newspaper report, 28 November 1896:


County Hall. — Saturday — before the Chairman (Sir William Anson), Messrs M. U. Weyland and F. H. Alden

Wholesale Window Breaking — Charles Currell, George Currell, George Morris, Albert Morris, Edward Horwood, John Fowler and Albert Wharton, boys, of Headington, and Frederick Kempton, of Cowley St. John, were summoned for wilfully damaging certain glass windows, to the amount of £1 7s, the property of J. Hardie McLean, on November 22nd. — The complainant said 27 windows were broken and the damage committed amounted to £1 7s. — William Trafford, a boy, said he saw all the defendants but two (Charles Currell and Albert Morris) throw stones at Mr. McLean’s house on Sunday afternoon. He was in company with defendants when the damage was done. — The two boys, George Currell and Albert Morris, who pleaded not guilty, and against whom there was no evidence, were discharged. — Mr. McLean asked the Bench to deal leniently with the boys, as he merely wished the case to be a warning to them and others. — The defendants were fined 5s. each, including costs. — Charles Currell and George Morris were also summoned for damaging glass windows at Headington Quarry School, to the amount of £1 12s., the property of the Rev. Charles Frederick Johnson, on November 21st. — Albert Wharton stated that he saw both defendants throw several times at the windows, of which they broke about 20. George Morris threw the first stone and witness threw twice. — The schoolmaster (Mr Bickley) said the damage was discovered on Sunday. There were 64 panes of glass broken, but one stone striking the lead work might break two or three. He was surprised to see Currell in that position as he had been one of the best boys in the school. Since the summonses were issued Mr Johnson had had an offer to repair the whole of the windows for 15s. — Defendants were ordered to pay 10s. each, including costs, and damage, and Wharton was cautioned.

Some of the miscreants on Sunday 22 November 1896

Charles and George Currell (or Currill)

These were the second and third sons of George and Mary Ann Currill. They lived over the family shop in the London Road, which was opposite the workhouse (at the present Sharp & Howse at Nos. 299/301). Their father, who had been a boot and shoe-maker, died at the age of 38 on 22 November 1896, just three months before this incident. Times must have been hard for the family, because in 1901 Mrs Currill was working at home as a laundress.

Charles George Currill was baptised on 28 December 1884 and was thus 12 years old at the time of this crime. When his daughter Edith (born 23 June 1912) was baptised at Holy Trinity Church, Headington Quarry he is described as a tailor.

George Frank Currill was baptised on 31 July 1887 and was about 9 years old at the time of the crime. In 1901, when he was only 13, he was already at work, the employee of a tailor. He was in the Royal Flying Corps when his daughter Mollie was baptised on 16 September 1917, and was a tailor at 301 London Road in 1924 when his second daughter Florence was baptised on 12 October 1924.

Albert Wharton

Albert Wharton was only 6 when he was summoned. At the time of the 1891 census he was living in Quarry with his father John (a Quarry labourer), his mother Sarah, and his five brothers and sisters.

Edward Horwood

Edward Horwood was born in London, although his father John Horwood had been born in Old Headington. He and his wife Jane had him baptised at Holy Trinity Church in Headington Quarry on 25 August 1889, and so he was about 8 at the time of the crime.

In 1891 young Edward was living in one of the Windmill Cottages on Windmill Road with his father (now a labourer for the Oxford Local Board and aged 46) and a housekeeper called Jane Massey (23). Jane (whose actual name was Eleanor Miriam) had a baby, Bertha Massey, in the fourth quarter of 1892, and she and Edward’s father were married in that same quarter shortly after the birth. The couple had another nine children in wedlock: Leonard, May, Albert, Mabel Elizabeth Nellie, twins Elias Frederick and Mafeking Herbert, Queenie Dorcas Selina, Valentinea, and Mabel Elizabeth Nellie. By 1911 they had moved to New High Street.

The house-owner

James Hardie McLean M.I.E.E. was at the time of the incident the engineer & manager of the Oxford Electric Lighting Co. Ltd., whose office was at 45 Broad Street. He is listed in Valters’ 1898 directory as living in “Shotover Cottage”. His fourth (and final) child was born in Wolverhampton in October 1899, so he must have left Oxford by then to become the General Manager and Chief Engineer of Ocker Hill Power Station, Tipton.

James Hardie McLean

Above: James Hardie McLean with his wife Margaret (née Garrett) and one of their children (possibly their eldest child Donald, born in December 1894). The aviary behind them may have been at Shotover Cottage. Picture restored by R. McLean.

Shotover Cottage

This was a sizeable house set well back from the north side of Old Road, to the east of Quarry Road and the west of the Ridings. It was demolished to make way for Stansfield Close.

J. H. Maclean [sic] is listed in directories as living at this “cottage” in Valter’s Directory for 1898 and 1899, when it is listed under Headington Quarry. Kelly’s Directory, however, variously treats it as Headington and Shotover, as it was very much on the parish borderline.

C. H. Ravenhill-Stock is named in Jackson’s Oxford Journal at that address in September 1899 , and also in Kelly’s Directory from 1901 to 1904. James Morison or Morrison Ph.D. is listed from 1906 to 1935, when its address is confirmed as Old Road; and Harold Temple in 1947 and 1952.

Shotover Cottage

Above: Shotover Cottage in 1939. The road forking south in the bottom right-hand corner is The Ridings.
The dotted road to the east of the cottage shows the line of the old Roman road, not the present bypass (which is immediately to the east of that line)

© Stephanie Jenkins

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