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Headington history: Streets

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Bickerton Road


Bickerton Road did not exist before the twentieth century: building appears to have started in 1905. It was the last road to be built on the Highfield Farm estate, which had started to be developed in the late 1870s.

Nineteenth century

In the 1880s Lime Walk had been laid out from Old Road up to the Britannia Field, and a short spur called “New Road” (renamed All Saints Road in 1929) was created to provide access to it from New Headington village.

Top of road in 1899

 

The 1899 map of the Lime Walk crossroads (left) shows the future All Saints Road only reaching the back gardens of the houses on the west side of Lime Walk. There was no trace of Bickerton Road; but Latimer Road had already been laid out and Stapleton Road (shown with dotted lines) was about to be extended northwards: so All Saints Road was probably extended in about 1900.

South end of road in 1899

 

At the Old Road end of the present Bickerton Road, there was only a very short service road (right) leading to the back entrance of 61 Old Road, in whose large back garden 50 Bickerton Road (“Morningside”) was later built.

Hence until 1905, there were only fields on the site of Bickerton Road.

1906–1910

The first houses in Bickerton Road to appear in directories were in 1906: Celfan (now numbered 28, and tucked in behind the road) and Whitelands (not yet identified). They were described simply as being in Highfield, and it looks as though the street may not have been named until about 1910. Joseph Jones Bickerton (died 1894) was the well-known Oxford Town Clerk and Liberal councillor who had purchased land in the Bickerton and Stapleton Road area when the lands of Highfield Farm were put up for sale.

Highfield parish came into existence in 1910 when All Saints Church was opened In Lime Walk

1911 census

The first census in which Bickerton Road is listed is that of 1911. There were then just eight houses in the road, as shown below. Only one of the adult occupants was born in Headington, which contrasts strongly with the adjoining older New Headington village, and helps to explain why some of the houses were named after villages elsewhere. Two families had a general servant living in their house.

  • Blairgarry (now 38 Bickerton Road). This was occupied by Lincolnshire-born Thomas Hawes (36), a retired Lieutenant in the Royal Navy Reserve now working as a Deputy Inspector for Thames Conservancy; with his Scottish-born wife Marion (37) and their children Mary Isabelle (2) and Helen Muriel Sybil (8 months), both born in Highfield parish and baptised in All Saints’ Church; his niece Marion Henderson (7); and their general servant. Mrs Hawes presumably named the house after Blairgarry in Perthshire.
  • Brooklea (probably 36 Bickerton Road). This was occupied by Thomas Henry Taylor (32), a college clerk, and his wife Amy Maud (33). Both were born in Cowley St John, and although married for six years had no children.
  • Celfan (28 Bickerton Road). This cottage tucked in behind the road was occupied by Bradford-born Miss Mary Emmeline Parker (55), who worked as a daily governess and her London-born sister Susan Florence (45), who worked at home as a machine knitter. They had as a lodger Joseph Douglas Elliott (36), an electrical engineer who employed other people.
  • Glengarry (house not yet identified). This was occupied by Oxford-born Henry George Watson (23), an electrical engineer (employee). He had been married within the previous year, but his wife was not at home. They had a general servant, Alice Emily Kyte (20), born in Shilton.
  • Holmlea (house not yet identified). This was occupied by Warwickshire-born John Healey Grant (47), a general smith (employer), his Beckley-born wife Charlotte (48); their son Henry George Healey Grant (21), who assisted in a plumbing business and was already married to Gertrude Mary (21); and their adopted daughter Mary Dooley (10), who had been born in the Union Hospital at Stafford. Frank Dennis (18), a plumber’s labourer, also boarded with them.
  • Bickerton Road (house unknown). London-born William Riding (38), a pianoforte tuner working for himself at home, lived here with his Cheltenham-born wife Agnes Mary (36) and their daughter Amy Florence (2), who had been born in Oxford.
  • Tregenna (house not yet identified; was a shop). Cornish-born William Neal (54), a draper working from home, lived here with his Essex-born wife Florence Ada (40). They had been married 20 years, but had no children. William must have named the house after Tregenna in his native county.
  • Frilford (45 Bickerton Road) was occupied by Percy Leopold Stimpson (26), a journeyman wheelwright, who had been born in Frilford, so he must be responsible for the name of the house. Living with him was his Headington-born wife Mabel (30) and their Headington-born son Cecil (1½).
1912–1939

The name Bickerton Road does not appear in Kelly’s Directory until 1912, when only the houses Holmlea, Blairgarry, Celfan, and Brooklea are listed).

The street was not numbered until about 1921. In that year there were still only 16 houses in Bickerton Road: the present Nos. 23, 25, 37, 39, 41, 45, 47, and 49 on the east side, and the present Nos. 12, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32, 36, and 38 on the west side.

The maps below show the further development of Bickerton Road between 1921 and 1939: the growth from 16 to 34 houses between 1921 and 1934 meant that the street had to be renumbered in 1935.

Bickerton Road in 1921

Bickerton Road in 1939

 

Pre-1930 houses in Bickerton Road

East/West

House name

Number from 1922
(or date built)
to 1934

Number from
1935 to present

E
A
S
T

Peny-Bryn None 3
Sandon None 5
Olinda None 11
  5 13
  9
(originally 2)
23
Glenlora 11 25
  15 29
  15A 31
Hazeldene* None 33
  17 35
[Unnamed] 19 37
  21 39
  23 41
Kerala None 43
Frilford 25 45
Sheldene 27 47
Fairlees Cottage 29 49
 

W
E
S
T

  4 16
Upcott 8 24
Coleraine 10 26
Celfan 12A 28
  12 32
(30 initially)
Brooklea,
later Hillside, and Whitecoate
14 36
(32 initially)
Blairgarry 18 38
Morningside None 50

* Bernard Stone reveals that in 1928 his father William Francis Charles Stone bought the plot of land for this house from Mrs E. K. Wilbraham for £138, and it was built by his grandfather William Francis Randall Stone.

Other house names in Bickerton Road found in the 1911 census and/or pre-1930 directories but not yet identified are Glengarry, Holmlea, Hughenden, Tregenna, and Yercaud.

© Stephanie Jenkins

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