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Manor Ground in 1939

Entrance to Oxford United

The map below, dating from 1939, shows how the Manor Ground was originally part of a neighbourhood sports centre, purchased for the ordinary people of Headington by Headington Sports Ground Limited. Tucked in safely in a quiet Headington backwater away from the traffic, it had a bowling green, tennis courts, and a cricket ground. It replaced the earlier sports centre which had to move from the London Road to make way for Stephen Road, and its ethos was much the same.

In 1961 the cricket ground and tennis court area was sold for £8,800 to Headington United Football Club, which was then mostly comprised of amateur Headington sportsmen who had been allowed to use the ground for their matches since 1926. Unfortunately, the football club seems to have forgotten its debt to the people of Headington and can’t wait to get out, hoping to sell this local sports ground, bought at agricultural prices, as a valuable “brown field” site, ripe for intensive development.

But the covenants imposed on Oxford United in 1961 still stand today, and are also imposed on anyone who buys the land from them. The most significant of these covenants states that the land can only be used as an open-air sports ground. These covenants have been totally ignored in the two recent applications for planning permission for the ground.

© Stephanie Jenkins

 

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