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Headington history: Shops

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Former Headington Co-op


Old Co-op building

Central Headington’s original Co-op (above) was situated at the junction of Windmill Road and London Road (in the same building that is now occupied by Hampton's Estate Agents at 121 and Tina's Nails at 121A). In the twentieth century it spread both south down Windmill Road and east along Holyoake Terrace, becoming a large department store.

The Oxford Co-operative and Industrial Society Ltd (founded in 1872) purchased this corner site (then occupied by the disused toll-house) in 1889. At this time Old Headington, Quarry, and New Headington had their own high streets and shops, and the idea of a shop on the London Road to serve all three villages was a new one.

This shop, their seventh branch, was built in 1891 and opened in April 1892 “with a great fanfare of trumpets and much beating of big drums”. The following article appeared in Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 23 April 1892:

Opening of Co-op

Thomas Spencer was the Co-op manager for two years, and then George Church from 1895 to 1922. In the early years, the manager was accommodated over the shop: the 1901 census shows George (aged 39 and born in Watlington) living upstairs with his wife Sarah and their 16-year-old daughter Eveline (a post office telegraphist). By 1909 he had moved into a private house, Foxbury, on the London Road (the house now split between the Trade Exchange and a charity shop). In 1919 he was elected on to Headington Parish Council.

The entry for the shop in Bennett’s Business Directory for 1913 reads:

Oxford Co-operative and Industrial Society, Ltd. London rd. Grocery, provisions, bread, corn, meal, coal, boots, drapery, hardware, glass, china, etc. G. Church

In 1907 the Co-op built Holyoake Terrace, shown below, for the use of Co-op employees. It was named after George Jacob Holyoake, an important man in the Co-op movement, who had died the previous year.

Coop: Holyoake cottages

In 1938 Holyoake Terrace was demolished and replaced by Holyoake Hall, with shops downstairs (which were used by the Co-op) and a dance hall upstairs.

From 1958 to 1979 all the shops from Windmill Road to the large shop to the east of Holyoake Road were part of the Oxford & District Co-operative Society.

In 1979 the Co-op moved to its present supermarket at the junction of London Road and Stile Road. The site was that of the former Eyles & Coxeter garage, which distributed Triumph, Rover, and Jaguar cars. The petrol station remained facing the London Road, but fell into disuse in the late 1990s, and in July 2003 work started on converting this area into a new entrance for the store.

The old shop at 122 London Road became Buckell & Ballard in 1979, then Taylor's Estate Agents in May 2011, and Hampton's Estate Agents in September 2015. The part of the shop to the east was split off, and was occupied by Oxford Design until 22 October 2012, and Tina's Nails from July 2013.

See also Holyoake Hall

© Stephanie Jenkins

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