Headington history: Miscellaneous

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Headington’s newer estates

The growth of the car works at Cowley meant that between 1921 and 1931 the population of the Headington district rose from 5,477 to 10,131. Some council houses were built in Headington in the 1920s and 1930s, but following the Second World War the housing shortage in Oxford was grave, and in 1950 there were 5,000 applicants on the city council housing list. As half of Oxford was already built up and another quarter liable to flood, the farms and market gardens of Headington were an obvious place for council housing.

London Road estate, Headington (1925)

Headington Rural District Council/Headington Urban District Council

London Road council houses

The first council houses in the whole Oxford area were the 24 large semi-detached houses on the London Road between Bury Knowle Park and Barton Road built in 1920 under the Addison Act for Headington Rural District Council by Messrs Benfield & Loxley of Bullingdon Road. The Oxford Times on 23 July 1920 (p. 13) reported under the heading “Headington Housing Scheme: A rush for tenancies” that 24 houses were complete, and that 60 applications for them had already been made to Headington Rural District Council. It stated that the houses were designed by the architect James Wells of Market Street, and that “the houses erected on the main road present a smart appearance, with their whitewashed fronts and red tiled roofs”.

In the late 1920s more houses were added in Barton Road by Headington Urban District Council. Then in 1929 when Headington was taken into the city of Oxford, all the houses on the estate came under Oxford City Council.

These houses have always been in the parish of St Andrew’s Church and are not considered part of Barton proper.

The Oxford Journal Illustrated published two photographs of the new Barton Road estate on 7 March 1928 showing the deep mud that ambulance drivers had to negotiate to reach it.

Gipsy Lane estate, Oxford (late 1920s)

oxford city council

See separate page

Bullingdon Field esate (from the late 1920s)

Bulan Road area and Lye Valley, Headington

Headington Rural District Council, and later also Oxford City Council

See separate page

Risinghurst estate (from the early 1930s)

Privately built by Benfield & Loxley

See separate page

Sandhills estate (from the early 1930s)

Privately built by the Bush Building Company

See separate page

Quarry Fields advertisement 1937

Quarry Fields estate
(from 1934)

Privately built
by Walker & Baker

This estate that now joins the former New Headington and Quarry villages was originally intended as a council estate, which explains the layout, but Oxford City Council sold it to private individuals in 1934.

See the poem written in October 1935 by Felicia Roper:
On the Passing of the Fields between Headington and Quarry



Right: Advertisement in 1937 for houses at Quarry Fields, with prices starting at £645

Barton (from 1946)

Oxford City Council

Barton cartoon
Oxford Mail cartoon about the new development

Before 1946, Barton was an ancient hamlet of Old Headington, comprised mainly of the present Barton Village Road and a number of farms, of which Wick Farm and Barton Farm (the latter is now called Lower Farm) survive.

The development of Barton as a large housing estate began in 1946.

In 1949 Barton Junior Mixed School opened in Northway, and in 1952 Barton Infant School opened in Fettiplace Road: later school changes are listed here.

Underhill Circus shopping centre is first listed in Kelly’s Directory for 1956, when the shops were as follows:

  2: J. W. Reeve & Co., wallpaper, paint & hardware merchants
  4: Underhill Circus Sub-Post Office and Wel-Shod Ltd boot repairers
  6: John W. Jeffery, fruiterer
  8: G. A. Owen, ladies’ outfitter
10 & 12: Oxford Co-operative Society
14: Michael’s (R. & E. J. Wells), newsagents.

Barton was originally part of St Andrew’s parish, but in 1958 St Mary’s Church opened, and its parish comprises the whole of Barton.

In 1956 Oxford became the first city outside London to adopt a green belt, but new houses continued to be built in Barton, which was included in the city and excluded from the green belt. By 1977 there were 1,600 council houses there.

  • Roger Thomas, Tales of an Oxford Lad – A Barton Childhood 1942–1957 (Robert Boyd Publishing, 2010)
  • J. M. Mogey, Family and Neighbourhood. Two Studies in Oxford (Oxford University Press, 1956):
    this compares the newly-built Barton estate with the old St Ebbe’s area

Northway (from 1951)

Oxford City Council

The building of 570 council houses in Northway started in 1951/2, and included Plowman Tower, Oxford’s first multi-storey block. Northway is in the parish of St Andrew’s Church.

Shops are first listed in Westlands Drive in Kelly’s Directory for 1958, with a C.R.T.S. television shop at 43, Berry’s the baker at 45, and Cooke’s greengrocer at 71. The current parade of shops in Westlands Drive was fully occupied as follows by 1960:

43: C.R.T.S. of Oxford, television
45: W. J. Berry & Sons, bakers & confectioners
47: Balls Bros, wine & spirit merchants
49: D. & J. Cocks, grocers
51: Cooke’s, greengrocers
53: J. Dean, drug stores
55: Oxford & District Co-operative Society Ltd, butchers
57: Gay’s, drapers
59: L. C. Boiteux, hardware dealer
61: R. A. Harmsworth, newsagent.

More on Northway

Wood Farm (from 1953)

Oxford City Council

On 4 April 1934 William Morris (later Lord Nuffield) bought whole of Wood Farm, including Open Magdalen, from Magdalen College for £26,000: his grandfather Richard Pether had been the tenant of the farm for many years.

The first people to live on Wood Farm were captured Italians and German at the Old Road Prisoner-of-War Camp. When the last German prisoners moved out in 1948, the huts were occupied by homeless people who paid rent to Oxford City Council.

In about 1950 William Morris (now Viscount Nuffield) sold Wood Farm to Oxford City Council for development.

In May 1951 planning application 51/01745/A_H was approved for 116 Easiform houses in five newly created roads: Pauling Road, Palmer Road, Titup Hall Drive, Wood Farm Road, and part of Masons Road (18–48 even and 1–51 odd nos), The first 510 council houses of Wood Farm were built from 1953 onwards, carefully leaving the Old Road Camp intact. This aerial view of that year shows the first roads that were laid out and the earliest houses encircling the camp

In 1956 the Old Road Camp closed down and the huts removed to allow further building.

The farm continued to operate at a reduced size until the mid-1960s: it was owned by R. C. White until 1964 and was then known as White’s Farm.

By 1960 a small local shopping centre had opened in Atkyns Road, with the following shops

  3: Good Cheer Cellars wine & spirit merchants
  5: T. Thakker greengrocers
  7: A. R. Amos domestic stores
  9: D. Ballantine Ltd dispensing chemists
11: Peter J. Course, newsagent, stationer, confectioner & toy dealer
13: V. Smith, shopkeeper
15–19: Oxford & District Co-operative Society Ltd
21: Mrs F. H. Hulme, confectioner and tobacconist.

Wood Farm Junior Mixed and Infant School opened in Titup Hall Drive in 1956, and the Slade Nursery transferred from the Slade to Wood Farm School in 1983.

In January 1961 the first application for Forester’s Tower was approved, but this was changed in 1965 to a 15-storey block of flats containing 57 two bedroom flats, 28 one bedroom flats, and 62 stores (65/10079/A_H). This permission was conditional on the erection of an adequate number of garages for use by occupants of the proposed flats (to be constructed and brought into use at the same time as the flats), and in May 1966 planning application 66/17606/E_H for these garages and the street layout was approved.

In 1968 outline planning application was granted for further development to the south and in November 1973 the full application 73/01537/A_H was approved for: “Phase 1 residential development for 54 houses, 48 flats and 3 bungalows for disabled persons” in Atkyns Road (2–10 even nos); Leiden Road (1–-67 odd and 2–102 even nos); and Holland Place.

Wood Farm is in the parish of Holy Trinity Church in Quarry.

Town Furze (from 1958)

Oxford City Council

260 council houses were built here from 1958. The estate is in the Parish of Holy Trinity Church in Quarry.

There were many planning applications, including the following:

  • 54/04057/A_H: “Land at Town Furze – Layout of housing estate” approved in November 1954.
    This comprised Girdlestone Road (1–57 odd and 2–62 even).
  • 55/04177/A_H: “Land at Town Furze – 159 houses and 84 flats at Town Furze” – approved in January 1955.
    This included the 62 houses on Girdlestone Road, and those on the new roads of Atwell Place, Dynham Place, Flexney Place, Goslyn Close, Heath Close, Massey Close, Warren Crescent, and Wylie Close.
  • 56/04456/A_H : “Six four-bedroom 'Easiform' houses, Heath Close, Town Furze” – approved in July 1956
  • 57/06430/A_H: “Land at Town Furze – 46 garages for private cars on ten sites” – approved in October 1957

By 1960 a group of shops was open in Girdlestone Road:

1: J. Austin, newsagent
5: G. E. Thomas, hairdresser
7: W. G. Hardy & Son, grocers

The Laurels (from 1958)

Oxford City Council

In 1958 150 council houses were built on site of the former London Road workhouse (which since 1931 had been a hospital known as The Laurels). It is in the parish of Holy Trinity Church in Quarry.

An outline planning application for the west side of “The Laurels” was agreed in May 1955, and full application 57/06175/A_H was approved in July 1957 for “Housing and ancillary purposes involving diversion of existing footpath”. This area comprised the site of 41–51 Gladstone Road (odd numbers); of 240–246 London Road (even numbers); and of William Kimber Crescent (1–11 odd and 21–12 and 16–20 even). In December 1957 revised application 57/06431/A_H was agreed for the same site for 29 houses and six lock-up garages for private cars.

Twelve more semi-detached council houses were built at 6–19 Toot Hill Butts when permission 59/08718/A_H was granted in December 1959.

In May 1968 an outline application for The Laurels was agreed, comprising “residential development including shops and garages with roads and footpaths, and the closure to vehicular traffic of the junction of Pitts Road and London Road”: the new buildings and roads planned were Douglas Veale House; Gladstone Road (even nos. 48–74), Tilehurst Close, Trafford Road, John Snow Place, and Colemans Hill.

The full application 69/20161/A_H was approved in August 1969 for the erection of 6 five-bedroom houses, 10 four-bedroom houses, 23 three-bedroom houses, 28 three-bedroom houses, 3 three-bedroom bungalows, 4 one-bedroom flats for old people, 1 two-bedroom flat, 1 shop on ground floor, and 17 garages and hardstanding.

Five more council houses were built in Spooner Close when permission 75/00748/A1_H was granted in September 1975.

Slade Park (1970s)

Oxford City Council

Slade Park was originally a wartime development of temporary housing split up into nine avenues. In July 1950, planning application 50/01232/A_H was approved for “Erection of 20 pairs Hawksley aluminium bungalows at The Slade Park”, with the address is given as Wood Farm Estate, The Slade.

It extended eastwards beyond the present bypass (not built until the 1950s)

The temporary housing was not pulled down until 1961. Since about 1974, 320 new houses have been built on Slade Park.

Laurel Farm Close (1983–5)

Oxford City Council

Twenty-three council houses (designed by the City Architect’s Office/David Williams) were built on a nursery garden in Old Headington that was the last remnant of Laurel Farm. Outline planning permission was granted in 1974, and final planning permission 83/00565/GFH in December 1983 for “20 houses with on plot parking, 3 elderly persons bungalows, block of 4 garages for rental to local residents, 3 elderly persons’ bungalow and associated site works”.

Mattock Close (1984–5)

Oxford City Council

This new council estate off Windmill Road was laid out on the old rose gardens of John Mattock. Outline planning permission was granted in 1980, and full permission 82/00211/GF was granted in July 1982 for “54 Dwellings with access roads, landscaping and 50 car hardstanding”. The designs were by the City Architect's Office/David Williams, and the estate was laid out in 1984–5)

North Place (1986)

Oxford City Council

In November 1984 planning permission 84/00629/GFH was granted for “Erection of 26 one-bed flats, 1 two-bed flat, 1 two-bed disabled persons flat, 1 two-bed disabled persons bungalow. Car parking and new vehicular and pedestrian access. Located north of Bury Knowle Coach House”. This council housing was designed by the City Architect’s Office/David Williams.

Barton Park (still under construction)

Oxford City Council
and Mosaics, Redrow Homes, and Countryside Building West

An area to the west of Barton and within the city boundary (already owned by the city council) was excluded from the Green Belt and was always intended for the expansion of the Barton estate to the west.

The site is currently being developed in four phases. Of the 885 new homes planned, 354 will be let at social rent, owned and managed by Oxford City Housing Limited.

Another two estates bordering on Headington

Morrell Avenue (1929)

Oxford City Council

Morrell Avenue is actually part of St Clement’s parish, but leads up to Headington. Its 219 houses were built on the south side of South Park in 1929–31 and are of a higher standard than most council housing, probably because they were built at a time of high government subsidies.

The city council had hoped to build on all the farmland on the south side of Headington Hill that had belonged to the Morrell family, but the Morrell Trustees would only release this strip to the south, and the Morrell Trustees sold the remaining 60 acres to the Oxford Preservation Trust with the stipulation that no building should ever be erected on it, and this is now South Park.

Bayswater Oxford (building anticipated to start in 2023)

South Oxfordshire District Council
and Thomas Wolsey Property Ltd (Christ Church)

This land immediately to the north of the Bayswater Brook was always considered to be part of Headington, but is now outside the city boundary and comes under South Oxfordshire District Council. Despite being in the Green Belt, it is now about to be developed.

See also these blogs by Municipal Dreams about Oxford's council housing estates:

© Stephanie Jenkins

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