Headington history: Shops

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Former Headington Co-op

Co-op© Picture Oxon (Oxfordshire History Centre) and reproduced with their permission

Central Headington’s original Co-op of 1892 (above) was situated at the junction of Windmill Road and London Road, and the building still survives, numbered 121 and 121A London Road. (The part facing Windmill Road (including the main entrance) is currently occupied by Finder's Keepers, and the small section facing straight on to the London Road by Tina's Nails.

The Oxford Co-operative and Industrial Society Ltd (founded in 1872) purchased this corner site (then occupied by the disused toll-house) in 1889. At this time Old Headington, Quarry, and New Headington had their own high streets and shops, and the idea of a shop on the London Road to serve all three villages was a new one.

This shop, their seventh branch, was built in 1891 and opened in April 1892 “with a great fanfare of trumpets and much beating of big drums”. The following article appeared in Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 23 April 1892:

Opening of Co-op

Thomas Spencer was the Co-op manager for two years, and then George Church from 1895 to 1922. In the early years, the manager was accommodated over the shop: the 1901 census shows George (aged 39 and born in Watlington) living upstairs with his wife Sarah and their 16-year-old daughter Eveline (a post office telegraphist). By 1909 he had moved into a private house, Foxbury, on the London Road (the house now split between the Savers chemist and a charity shop). In 1919 he was elected on to Headington Parish Council.

In 1907 the Co-op built Holyoake Terrace, shown below, for the use of Co-op employees. It was named after George Jacob Holyoake, an important man in the Co-op movement, who had died the previous year.

Coop: Holyoake cottages

Co-op and London Raod

Baker's van

The postcard above shows the
Co-op shortly after Holyoake Terrace was built in 1907.

This detail (left), taken from that postcard, shows that the horse-drawn cart delivered bread. On the back it reads:


The entry for the shop in Bennett’s Business Directory for 1913 reads:

Oxford Co-operative and
Industrial Society, Ltd. London rd.
Grocery, provisions,
bread, corn, meal,
coal, boots, drapery, hardware, glass, china, etc.
G. Church

The postcard below shows the Headington Co-op in the mid-1930s. The sign immediately over the door reads O.C.S. [Oxford Co-operative Society] and 1872 (the year of the society's foundation) over the corner. The notice under the clock reads: THE CO-OP / WAY SAVE / AS YOU PAY.

Co-op in the 1930s

In 1938 Holyoake Terrace was demolished and replaced by Holyoake Hall, with shops downstairs and a dance hall upstairs. From 1958 to 1979 all these shops plus the large shop to the east of Holyoake Road were part of the Oxford & District Co-operative Society. The shop also spread down Windmill Road

The Co-op moved to a new building in 1979 and its old shop on the corner of Windmill Road became Buckell & Ballard (thereafter Taylor's Estate Agents in May 2011, Hampton's Estate Agents in September 2015, and Finder's Keepers in July 2019). A smaller part facing the London Road was split off and was occupied by Oxford Design until 22 October 2012, and Tina's Nails from July 2013.

See also Holyoake Hall

The Co-op on the corner of Stile Road

In 1979 the Co-op moved to its present supermarket at 152 London Road, on the corner of Stile Road. The site was that of the former Eyles & Coxeter garage, which distributed Triumph, Rover, and Jaguar cars. The petrol station remained facing the London Road.

Co-op and petrol station

The petrol station closed in the late 1990s, and in July 2003 work started on converting this area into a new entrance for the store. The ground-floor area of the shop, including “back of house”, is 14,752 sq. ft.

In February 2016 Headington's main Post Offce counter opened here.

In 2020 Midcounties Co-op sold this Co-op building and the car park opposite to developers (Cantay Estates), requiring an option to retain a c.4,000 sq. ft convenience store within any development, paying a market rent. The first planning application for a hotel with a shop on the ground floor was refused, but two more applications. were submitted in February 2023.

© Stephanie Jenkins

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