The Headington Subway

The Headington subway opened in 1970 and was filled in 40 years later in 2010. Oxfordshire County Council
had the following panoramas made of the subway murals before they were buried in concrete

Subway Panorama

The building of the subway, 1969/1970

SubwayTwo people stand on the north side of the London Road watching
a section of the subway being fitted in the winter of 1969/1970

Bus diversion

The Headington subway was opened in 1970, and was not without controversy from the beginning: Liberal Councillor Bryan Miles was quoted as saying that “99 people out of 100” did not want it. But subsequently traffic (especially buses) greatly increased, and for forty years it offered a safe way for the very young and the elderly to cross the dangerous London Road in their own time.


Right: While the subway was being installed the London Road was made one-way and traffic including this bus was diverted down Windmill Road while the subway was being installed in 1969


The decorating of the subway

Ducks Arthur Treherne painting the ducks

In 2002 the subway was cheered up with paintings, which were officially “opened” by the Lord Mayor of Oxford and local artist Korky Paul at a champagne breakfast on Saturday 22 June 2002.

The end of the subway

A consultation on the future of the Headington subway was taken by the county council in spring 2009. Only 419 people responded, but of these 58% wanted to get rid of the subway, and its fate was sealed.

Despite a “Save Our Subway” campaign by the city councillors for Headington ward, and valiant protests led by Mick Haines, who took a 2,411-signature petition to Downing Street, the county council closed the subway in May 2010 as part of the London Road improvements. The photograph below shows Mick still protesting while the subway was being filled in with concrete.

Mick Haines with placard

The paintings sinking as the subway is filled in

The perils of the temporary pelican crossing

Oxford Mail reports on the subway

11 November 1999: “Unpopular subway may have the chop

13 June 2001: “Offenders help brighten subway

25 June 2002: “Artist unveils wall mural

2 June 2007: “Headington subway to be filled in

7 June 2007: “Subway blues at road plan

16 March 2009: “Doomed subway is ‘well used’

31 August 2009: “Subway murals threatened by £3m scheme

13 July 2009: “Subway appeal goes to Downing Street

24 January 2010: “Save our subway group backed by 3,600

2 March 2010: “New front in Headington subway battle

25 May 2010: “Battle to save subway is over

© Stephanie Jenkins


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