Headington history: Streets

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Bateman Street (formerly East Street)

From about 1850 to the 1880s, when Bateman Street had only one house (No. 31), its main function was to provide access to New Headington Village from the east. This explains its original name, East Street (although East Road is recorded in the 1891 census). When Headington became part of Oxford in 1929, the city already had an East Street (in Osney); but it was not until 1959 – when many duplicated Headington street names were changed – that the street was renamed after a prominent local family. In the census year of 1891 Henry Bateman, a bricklayer with seven children, lived at No. 9. He later set up the business Henry Bateman & Son, Tilers, which operated from the street from 1910 to about 1930: part of an old workshop can still be seen at the bottom of the garden. His son Albert’s family lived at No. 29 from 1930 to 1956.

Although eight plots of land were offered for development on the south side of Bateman Street in as early as 1852, No. 31 (below) was the only house that resulted from the sale. This house is one of three matching low, double-fronted houses, which probably all date from the same period: the others are in New High Street and Wilberforce Street.

31 Bateman Street

It was not until thirty years later, in around 1880, that the houses now numbered 3 to 29 were built (Nos. 11–21 then being known as Oxford Terrace).

The house now numbered 2 Perrin Street (which faced north before extensive alterations) was originally part of Bateman Street and was also built around 1880: in 1891 a stonemason, Charles Ricketts, lived and worked there. His letter to St Andrew’s Parish Magazine in 1892 led to the introduction of evening classes in technical subjects for the boys of Headington; and he was also a member of the Headington String Quartet. (He later set up on his own as a stonemason at 60 Lime Walk, and that business survived until 1935.)

Back in 1891, however, the census shows that – apart from two coal merchants classified as ‘employers’ living at Nos. 25 and 27 – the residents of Bateman Street were all employees of a fairly humble nature: there were gardeners living at Nos. 3, 21, 23, 29 and 31; laundresses at Nos. 7, 11, 15 and 31; a road labourer with two farm labourer sons at No. 5; a carpenter at No. 7; a grocer’s porter at No. 13; a bricklayer at No. 17; and a general labourer (with eight children still at home) at No. 19.

The north side of Bateman Street had no houses at the time of the 1891 census: this is because the Latimer family of Old Headington (who sold the original L-shaped chunk of their land for the building of New Headington Village in the 1840s) retained for agricultural use the field bordered by London Road, Windmill Road, Bateman Street and the back gardens on the east side of New High Street. Although this field was encroached on in the mid-1890s, with the building of Nos. 18, 20 and 22 Bateman Street, the rest of the north side of the street remained undeveloped until the 1920s, when Nos. 4–14 were built around the same time as Kennett Road.

© Stephanie Jenkins

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