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Headington history: Shops

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Rosslyn Villa, Windmill Road


Rosslyn Villa was built near the top of Windmill Road in the 1880s, and its first occupant (listed in Valter’s Directory for 1889) was John Durran, a prosperous retired ironmonger with a shop in Oxford’s High Street. Its large garden used to stretch southwards over the site of a group of shops (Nos. 9A, 9, and 11), while on the other side its garage stood on the site of what is now numbered 4 The Parade.

Rosslyn Villa itself is now numbered 5 and 6 The Parade. Its original front door and staircase, and the dentist’s surgery upstairs, are very much as they were in the 1880s; but at ground level its large bay windows have been replaced by part of the flat shop front that runs all the way up to 1 The Parade.

The remains of Rosslyn Villa

The postcard below shows Rosslyn Villa in about 1912. It was still a handsome house, although Nos. 9 and 11 Windmill Road to the south had already been built in its garden to the south. Further south again are Nos. 13 to 23 Windmill Road, which were also built in the 1880s and were its original next-door neighbours.

Rosslyn Villa in 1912

At the time of the 1891 census, Rosslyn Villa was occupied by the retired ironmonger John Durran (57) and his wife Martha (65), both of whom originated in Warwickshire. His sister Elizabeth Durran and his cousin Elizabeth Law also lived with them, but rather surprisingly for such a large house, they had no servants.

Ten years later the composition of the household was exactly the same, except that John Durran was then described as a market gardener, working on his own account from home. Within six years of the 1901 census, all three Durrans had died, and were buried in Headington Cemetery on the following dates: Miss Elizabeth Durran (65) on 13 July 1903; Mrs Martha Durran (78) on 18 December 1903; and John Durran (76) on 14 February 1907.

Albert Griffin is listed at Rosslyn Villa in Kelly’s Directory for 1909, and presumably sold some of his garden for the development of Nos. 9 and 11 next door shortly afterwards. At the time of the 1911 census Albert (52), described as a domestic gardener, was living at Rosslyn Villa with his wife Edith (50) and his three sons: Reginald Ernest (23) was a village carrier; Sydney Percy (20) was a jeweller’s assistant; and Leonard (10) was at school.

Griffin was still living at the house in 1930, when it was numbered 7 Windmill Road. He died at the age of 77 in the London Road Hospital, and was buried in Headington Cemetery on 29 September 1934. He was described as a gardener at the time of his death.

In 1935, there is no listing for the house, which was probably empty and being converted into a shop. The following year, it is part of “The Parade”, with a chemist in No. 4 on the site of its garage, a butcher in No. 5, and a cooked meats shop at No. 6. J.H. Dewhurst. It has remained a row of shops ever since, and by 1947 a dentist had opened his practice upstairs.


Brief history of this group of buildings

4 The Parade

Occupant of the site of Rosslyn Villa’s garage

1936–1938+

E. J. Francis, chemist

By 1943–1968

Boots the Chemist

1970–1976+

Lander Wilson, carpet retailer

1980s

SparPlas Windows

Up to 1992

Zenith Windows

Mid-1990s

Good Returns (catalogue return shop)

c.2000–2001

Storm ladies’ clothing

2001–present

Frog Orange

 

5 The Parade

Occupant of the left side of Rosslyn Villa

1936–1983+

J. H. Dewhurst Ltd, butcher

1994

Model Masters

Later 1990s

Goodies Secondhand furniture

1999–2002

Focus Electronics

2002–present

Electric Aids

 

6 The Parade

Occupant of the right side of Rosslyn Villa

1936–1938

E. W. Liley, cooked meats

1939–1952

Sanders Bros. (Stores) Ltd, grocers

1954

William Poulter Ltd, outfitters

1956–1975

Mrs Elsie I. Wenborn, footwear specialist
(Mrs Wenborn celebrated her 100th birthday in October 2012)

1976–1979

Baileys, shoe dealers

1980

Reid Office Equipment

1982

Thameside Copiers

1980s/1990s

Electrical Appliance Centre

1990s–c.2003

Asian grocer

c.2003–present

Thong Heng Chinese supermarket

Rosslyn Villa, 1990s
5 & 6 The Parade, Windmill Road in c.2000

Poulter's advertisement
Advertisement for Poulter’s outfitters in The Windmill (the magazine of
Headington County Primary School in Windmill Road), Summer 1953  

© Stephanie Jenkins

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