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Headington history: Shops

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71 London Road


Starbucks in 2019

A house hides behind the modern ground-floor frontage of Starbucks and the adjoining office (71A), and the pavement frontage on two levels was once its front garden. It was probably built in around 1926, as Charles Walker, who lived and ran his business from here, is first listed as a furniture dealer on the London Road in 1927. The photograph below shows the shop in its early days.

Old picture of Walker's shop

The furniture trade in Headington would have been booming at this time, as Headington was about to be absorbed as a suburb of Oxford and was being heavily developed: three nearby roads were built up in the late 1920s: Osler Road, Old High Street, and Kennett Road.

Walker’s ad, 1933

 

 

By 1929 Walker’s listing in Kelly’s Directory reads: “Walker’s Furnishing Stores (Charles Walker), house furnishers, London road. Tel. No. Headington 6880.” The 1930 directory confirms that this was the above shop, then an unnumbered new building between the old numbers 9 and 11.

 

 

Right: Advertisement from Kelly’s Directory of 1933

Walker’s ad, 1947

 

 

 

Left: Advertisement from Kelly’s Directory of 1947, showing that Walker’s baby and children’s department was then in a separate shop at 65 London Road (now a tanning salon).

By the 1960s, the shop was managed by Walker’s son-in-law, Ben Pullin, while his daughters also had Headington shops: Sylvia ran the Walker’s Pram and Baby shop, while Gwen ran a grocer’s shop on the London Road with her husband Harold Griffin.

Walker himself continued to live over his old shop until the 1970s, and the business that Walker had founded in 1929 continued in the same premises after his death. An advertisement in the Yellow Pages for 1984 reads: “Walkers of Headington Home Furnishers, Furniture & Beds Plus, Fitted kitchen studio, Hotpoint Centre, Fitted carpets, Gifts & Lighting”. Walker’s of Headington is last listed at 71 London Road in the telephone directory of 1990, and from 1991 it is listed at 33 Lime Walk.

It was a video shop from about 1990, and it was then occupied by a short-lived furniture firm called Pine Dreams. In about 2000, Pronuptia moved here from its former premises in New Inn Hall Street in central Oxford.

Pronuptia, 17 Aug 2007

Since October 2007 this shop has been Starbucks. The picture below shows it just before it opened.

Starbucks

In 2015 Private Eye magazine revealed that the Starbucks building was then owned by a company in the Virgin Islands


71A London Road

Project X

This office next to Starbucks was part of Walker's Furniture until it closed in 1990.

It now has B1 (office) planning status. The address also includes the
four-bedroomed flat
upstairs (which is reached via the alley to the left).

The ground floor of 71A with the whole of the upper floor of 71 and 71A were let out on a 999-year lease with a peppercorn rent from 25 December 1990.

By the early 2000s it was occupied by the book publishers/imaging art studio "Project X". In 2004 they put up the present advertising board outside their shop, for which retrospective planning permission was refused in 2005, but granted on appeal.

The office was then occupied by C.A.R.E.

The office at 71A London Road was listed as a vacant B1 property in a response of April 2014 to this Freedom of Information request and still appears to be empty.

© Stephanie Jenkins

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