Headington history: Descriptions

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Headington in 1938

John Betjeman, An Oxford University Chest (1938)

Headington which you next approach is a mass of untidy speculative buildings, blaring arcades of shops and finally a neat council house scheme.

John Piper, Shell Guide to Oxfordshire (1938)

Headington: How not to develop Oxford. Headington old village is just north of the by-pass fork – a place of slopes and corners. Looking uncomfortable under these folds of “Oxford’s bricky skirt”.


  • The increase in population in east Oxford caused by the Morris car factory was transforming Headington from a cluster of villages to suburb at this time. In the 1930s the villages of Headington were all jointing together: Old Headington spread to Barton with the development of the Barton Road area; Quarry met New Headington via Margaret Road and its offshoots; while the Gipsy Lane estate served to link Highfield to the top of Headington Hill.
  • Headington was taken into the City of Oxford in 1929, and the city’s first council houses were immediately built on the London Road. This would have been the only part of Headington seen by people passing through, and its former picture-postcard attractiveness was spoilt by housing all the way from Headington Road to Green Road, while the manicured severity of Headington School took up much of the countryside on the north side.

The advertisement below dates from 1937 and shows an example of the blanket housing that was turning the three old villages of Headington into a suburb. Note the price of £645 for a semi in the Quarry Fields (the countryside that used to lie between the villages of Quarry and New Headington on the south side of the London Road).

1937 ad for housing in Quarry

© Stephanie Jenkins

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