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Headington history: Streets

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Windmill Road: From Vallis to Blanchford


Blanchford's in 2010

Blanchford Builders Merchants at 59 Windmill Road has occupied a large site between two villas at 59 and 61 Windmill Road since 1958. Before that date the site was A. E. Vallis’s timber yard.

59 Windmill Road in 2010

No. 59 Windmill Road (above) was built by 1898, and was a grocer’s shop until 1960. Blanchford’s, as Vallis’s before them, had originally been based at No. 61 to the south, and it was only in the 1960s that this house became part of the yard. The front of the southern had a large plate-glass window added in the 1980s.

61 Windmill Road in 2010

No. 61 Windmill Road (above) was the house at which A. E. Vallis timber merchants were based, and which Blanchford’s took over in about 1967.

59A Windmill Road

Arthur Vallis had an extra house (59A) built between 59 and 61 Windmill Road in about 1929 for the family of his son Ewart Vallis; this is shown on the 1939 map of Headington, but was demolished in 1988 to make the Blanchford’s entrance wider.

A. E. Vallis

Arthur Vallis is first listed as a builder in Quarry in Kelly’s Directory for 1906, and was at 61 Windmill Road by 1911. In 1927 the business changed from builders to timber merchants.

The 1911 census shows Arthur Edward Vallis (45), a builder born in Headington Quarry, living at 61 Windmill Road with his wife Sarah Ann (52), who was born in Launton. They had been married for 23 years, and the four of their six children who were still alive still lived with them, namely Alice Mary (22), Felix George (19), who was a bricklayer, and Laura Ada (14) and William Ewart (12), who were still at school.

Advertisement for Vallis's, 1935
Advertisement on front cover of Kelly’s Directory for 1935

In 1958 Vallis’s sold their business to Blanchford’s.

Vallis family

Above: The Vallis family (left to right): Felix George, William Ewart, Arthur, Sarah, Alice, Laura. Photograph taken in 1939 to celebrate Arthur and Sarah’s Golden Wedding, in the rear garden of Sandfield House (site of Horwood Close). This was the home of Arthur & Sarah Vallis after they moved from 61 Windmill Road


The Blanchford story

With thanks to Blanchford & Co Ltd for providing this information

Fred, Cecil, and Ronald Blanchford, who came from London, started Blanchford & Company Ltd in Oxford in 1938. They opened at 35 Queen Street, Oxford (now Monsoon), where they sold items such as box-shaped Belfast sinks made in thick lime clay, cast-iron baths, fireplace surrounds, and tortoise stoves.

By the mid-1950s the Blanchford brothers retired and sold their business to two employees and a third party, whose families remain the owners today. The new owners soon acquired A. E. Vallis’s premises in Windmill Road, as well as a site in Princes Risborough. The Headington site expanded, and in about 1960 Blanchford’s sold their Queen Street premises to Grimbly Hughes.

In 2004 Blanchford’s created a new sales office from an existing warehouse space, and the existing kitchen & bathroom showroom was modernized.

Occupants of the Blanchford site

Date

59

59A (now demolished)

59 B, & C
(Yard behind)

61

1911

?

Not built

No listing

Arthur Edward Vallis, builder

1922–1929

Mrs E. Butler,
grocer


A E. Vallis & Sons,
builders (to 1926)
timber merchants (from 1927)
Telephone Headington 6957 (from 1928)

Felix George Vallis,
insurance agent
(from 1927)

1930–1954

William Ewart Vallis

1956

Robert Fisher,
grocer

59B: Ede’s Potato Supplies
(R. A. Ede, junior, proprietor).
Tel Oxford 61815

59B: Robert A. Ede

1958

L. A. Neale,
grocer

Stanley C. Giddy

Blanchford
& Co. Ltd.
,
builders’ merchants (depot)

1960

Mrs G. F. Passey

59B: Ede & Hunt ,
builders & decorators.
Tel. Oxford 61815

59B: Ede’s Potato Supplies
(R. A. Ede, junior, proprietor).
Tel Oxford 61815

59B: Robert A. Ede

1962–1964

Blanchford &
Co. Ltd
,
timber & builders’ 
merchants.
Tel. Oxford 63571
(3 lines)

59B: Galbraith Bros Ltd, builders

John Gubbins

Blanchford
& Co. Ltd.
,
builders’ merchants (depot)

 

1966–1970

Not listed

1972–1976

No listing

59C: R. J. Spooner

59D: Frederick W. Passey

© Stephanie Jenkins

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