Oxford, England

City of Oxford
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Shown within Oxfordshire
Status:City (1542)
Region:South East England
Admin. County:Oxfordshire
- Total
Ranked 306th
45.59 km² (17.6 sq mi)
Admin. HQ:Oxford
Grid reference:SP 51 06
ONS code:38UC
- Total ()
- Density

/ km²
Ethnicity:87.1% White
4.8% S.Asian
2.5% Afro-Carib.
1.8% Chinese
3.8% Mixed Race or other

Oxford City Council
Leadership:Leader & Cabinet
MPs:Evan Harris, Andrew Smith
Oxford is a city and local government district in Oxfordshire, England, with a population of 134,248 (2001 census). It is home to the University of Oxford, the oldest university in the English-speaking world.

It is known as the "city of dreaming spires", a term coined by Matthew Arnold in reference to the harmonious architecture of the university buildings. The River Thames runs through Oxford, where for a distance of some 10 miles it is known as the Isis.

The Oxford suburb of Cowley has a long history of carmaking and now produces the BMW MINI.


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Skyline of the city of Oxford
Oxford was first occupied in Saxon times, and was initially known as "Oxenaforda".[1] It began with the foundation of St Frideswide's nunnery in the 8th century, and was first mentioned in written records in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the year 912. In the 10th century Oxford became an important military frontier town between the kingdoms of Mercia and Wessex and was on several occasions raided by Danes. St Frideswide is the patron saint of both the city and university.

The prestige of Oxford is seen in the fact that it received a charter from King Henry II, granting its citizens the same privileges and exemptions as those enjoyed by the capital of the kingdom; and various important religious houses were founded in or near the city. A grandson of King John established Rewley Abbey for the Cistercian Order; and friars of various orders (Dominicans, Franciscans, Carmelites, Augustinians, and Trinitarians), all had houses at Oxford of varying importance. Parliaments were often held in the city during the thirteenth century. The Provisions of Oxford were installed in 1258 by a group of barons led by Simon de Montfort; these documents are often regarded as England's first written constitution.

The University of Oxford is first mentioned in 12th century records. Oxford's earliest colleges were University College (1249), Balliol (1263) and Merton (1264). These colleges were established at a time when Europeans were starting to translate the writings of Greek philosophers. These writings challenged European ideology – inspiring scientific discoveries and advancements in the arts – as society began seeing itself in a new way. These colleges at Oxford were supported by the Church in hopes to reconcile Greek Philosophy and Christian Theology. The relationship between "town and gown" has often been uneasy — as many as 93 students and townspeople were killed in the St Scholastica Day Riot of 1355.

Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford is unique as a college chapel and cathedral in one foundation. Originally the Priory Church of St Frideswide, the building was extended and incorporated into the structure of the Cardinal's College shortly before its refounding as Christ Church in 1546, since which time it has functioned as the cathedral of the Diocese of Oxford.

The Oxford Martyrs were tried for heresy in 1555 and subsequently burnt at the stake, on what is now Broad Street, for their religious beliefs and teachings. The three martyrs were the bishops Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, and the Archbishop Thomas Cranmer.

During the English Civil War, Oxford housed the court of Charles I in 1642, after the king was expelled from London, although there was strong support in the town for the Parliamentarian cause. The town yielded to Parliamentarian forces under General Fairfax in the Siege of Oxford of 1646. It later housed the court of Charles II during the Great Plague of London in 1665-66. Although reluctant to do so, he was forced to evacuate when the plague got too close.

In 1790 the Oxford Canal connected the city with Coventry. The Duke's Cut was completed by the Duke of Marlborough in 1789 to link the new canal with the River Thames; and in 1796 the Oxford Canal company built their own link to the Thames, at Isis Lock. In the 1840s, the Great Western Railway and London and North Western Railway linked Oxford with London.

In the 19th century, the controversy surrounding the Oxford Movement in the Anglican Church drew attention to the city as a focus of theological thought.

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Map of Oxford (1904)
Oxford's Town Hall was built by Henry T. Hare, the foundation stone was laid on 6 July 1893 and opened by the future King Edward VII on 12 May 1897. The site has been the seat of local government since the Guild Hall of 1292 and though Oxford is a city and a Lord Mayoralty, it is still called by its traditional name of "Town Hall".

By the early 20th century, Oxford was experiencing rapid industrial and population growth, with the printing and publishing industries becoming well established by the 1920s. Also during that decade, the economy and society of Oxford underwent a huge transformation as William Morris established the Morris Motor Company to mass produce cars in Cowley, on the south-eastern edge of the city. By the early 1970s over 20,000 people worked in Cowley at the huge Morris Motors and Pressed Steel Fisher plants. By this time Oxford was a city of two halves: the university city to the west of Magdalen Bridge (from where students traditionally jump into the River Cherwell every May Day morning) and the car town to the east. This led to the witticism that "Oxford is the left bank of Cowley". Cowley suffered major job losses in the 1980s and 1990s during the decline of British Leyland, but is now producing the successful New MINI for BMW on a smaller site. A large area of the original car manufacturing facility at Cowley was demolished in the 1990s and is now the site of a major business park.

The influx of migrant labour to the car plants, recent immigration from south-east Asia, and a large student population, have given Oxford a notable cosmopolitan character, especially in the Headington and Cowley Road areas with their many bars, cafes, restaurants, clubs, ethnic shops and fast food outlets. Oxford is one of the most diverse small cities in Britain with more than 19.3% of the population born outside of the UK and 23.2% from an ethnic minority group, including 12.9% from a non-white ethnic minority ethnic group (2001 Census)

On 6 May 1954, Roger Bannister, as a 25 year old medical student, ran the first authenticated four-minute mile at the Iffley Road running track in Oxford.

Oxford's second university, Oxford Brookes University, formerly the Oxford School of Art, based on Headington Hill, was given its charter in 1991 and has been voted for the last five years the best new university in the UK.


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A map of Oxford, 1605.
Oxford is located some 55 miles (90 km) north west of London and 70 miles (110 km) south east of Birmingham, and the M40 motorway between London and Birmingham passes within seven miles of Oxford. The A34 road between Hampshire and the Midlands passes Oxford and forms the western part of the city's bypass. The other trunk roads serving Oxford are the A40 road linking London, the Cotswolds and West Wales, and the A420 road between Oxford and Bristol via Swindon.

Rail connections include services to London (Paddington), Bournemouth, Worcester (via the Cotswold Line), Birmingham, Coventry and the north, as well as Banbury and Bicester.

The Bicester railway branch is part of the route of a former railway service connecting Oxford and Cambridge that was known as the Varsity Line. Parts of the line have been closed since the end of 1967, but in 2006 the Department for Transport (DfT) has ordered a £300,000 feasibility study to consider reopening it.

The Oxford Canal links Oxford to the Midlands, and connects at Oxford with the River Thames. The Thames provides a navigable link, nowadays chiefly for leisure craft, as far as Lechlade to the west and Teddington Lock to the east and onwards to London. Oxford Airport at Kidlington offers business and General Aviation services.

Most local bus services are provided by the Oxford Bus Company and Stagecoach South Midlands and include two competing frequent-interval coach services to London, Stagecoach's Oxford Tube, and Oxford Bus's Oxford Espress, both of which leave from Gloucester Green Bus Station on the western edge of the city centre. Stagecoach also runs a half-hourly coach service to Cambridge, and a less frequent service to Northampton, whilst many National Express services between the North and Midlands and the South/South West call in the city. Other local and rural bus services are provided by Wallingford-based Thames Travel.

Park and Ride

Oxford has 5 park and ride sites that service the city centre;
  • Pear Tree
  • Water Eaton
  • Thornhill
  • Redbridge
  • Seacourt
A service also runs to The John Radcliffe Hospital (via Thornhill/Water Eaton) as well as the Churchill and Nuffield Hospitals (via Thornhill), see the National Park and Ride Directory for more details

Tourist attractions

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The Oxford skyline facing Christ Church to the south (Christ Church Cathedral on the left and Tom Tower on the right)

Oxford has numerous major tourist attractions, many belonging to the university and colleges. As well as several famous institutions, the town centre is home to Carfax Tower and a historical themed ride, The Oxford Story due to close in October 2007. Many tourists shop at the historic Covered Market. In the summer, punting on the Thames/Isis and the Cherwell is popular.

Religious sites

Museums and galleries

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Oxford University Museum of Natural History

University of Oxford


University buildings

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Oxford University Press
(Other than the colleges)

Open spaces

The floodplains for Oxford's two rivers reach right into the heart of the city, providing a wealth of green spaces.
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Punts in Oxford

Commercial areas

Outside the City Centre:
  • Templars Square Shopping Centre, Cowley, Oxford
  • Cowley Road, Oxford
  • St. Clements, Oxford
  • London Road, Headington, Oxford
  • Banbury Road, Summertown, Oxford
  • Walton Street, Jericho, Oxford
  • Botley Road, Oxford
  • North Parade, Oxford
  • Cowley Retail Park, Cowley, Oxford

Theatres and cinemas

Public houses


Media and press

As well as the BBC national radio stations, Oxford and the surrounding area has several local stations, including BBC Radio Oxford, Fox FM, new station Oxford's FM107.9,[2] and Oxide: Oxford Student Radio[3] (which went on terrestrial radio at 87.7 MHz FM in late May 2005). A local TV station, Six TV: The Oxford Channel is also available. The city is home to a BBC TV newsroom which produces an opt-out from the main South Today programme broadcast from Southampton.

Popular local papers include The Oxford Times (broadsheet; weekly), its sister papers The Oxford Mail (tabloid; daily) and The Oxford Star (tabloid; free and delivered), and Oxford Journal (tabloid; weekly free pick-up). Oxford is also home to several advertising agencies.

Daily Information is an events and advertising news sheet which has been published since 1964.

Recently (2003) DIY grassroots non-corporate media has begun to spread.[4] Independent and community newspapers include the Jericho Echo[5] and Oxford Prospect.[6]

Literature in Oxford

Well-known Oxford-based authors include: Many English novels have been set partly or wholly in Oxford. They include: Oxford has been used as a location in many films, including: See also Oxford in literature and other media in the University of Oxford article.

Notable Oxonians


Music from Oxford



Oxford is home to wide range of schools many of which receive pupils from around the world. Three are University choral foundations, established to educate the boy choristers of the chapel choirs, and have kept the tradition of single sex education. Examination results in Oxford schools are consistently below the national average and regional average however results in the city are improving with 44% of pupils gaining 5 grades A*-C in 2006.[7]


Oxford's latitude and longitude are Coordinates: (at Carfax Tower, which is usually considered the centre).

Wards, neighbourhoods, and suburbs

Politics in Oxford

Oxford City Council

Despite stereotypes of Oxford being a conservative city, there are no elected Conservatives on the city council, although two Liberal Democrat councillors have crossed the floor to join the Conservatives since the last set of elections in 2006. Since the 2004 local elections, the council has been in minority administration, first by councillors from the Labour Party, with the Liberal Democrats being the official opposition. Since 2006 these roles were reversed, although four councillors have since left the Liberal Democrats, two each joining Labour and the Conservatives. With eight city councillors and five county councillors, Oxford has one of the highest Green Party representation for a UK city. The Independent Working Class Association also has councillors, mainly elected to serve wards with many housing estates in the south east of the city, such as Blackbird Leys and Wood Farm. See Oxford Council election 2004 for further information.

Since 2002, elections have been held for Oxford City Council in even years, with each councillor serving a term of four years. Each electoral ward within Oxford is represented by two councillors, thus all wards elect one councillor at each election. Prior to 2002, the City Council was elected by thirds.

Partisan Composition
Year Labour Lib Dem Green IWCA Independent Conservative Source

Partisan control

Westminster representation

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A pre-election husting at the Oxford West and Abingdon constituency

The two MPs are Andrew Smith from the Oxford East constituency, erstwhile Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in the Labour government; and Dr Evan Harris from the Oxford West and Abingdon constituency, Liberal Democrat science spokesman. At the 2005 general election, Oxford East became a marginal seat with a Labour majority over the Liberal Democrats of just 963. Oxford West and Abingdon is a safe seat for the Liberal Democrats with Dr Harris enjoying a majority of just under 8,000.

Alternative culture

There is also a large and vibrant alternative political culture mostly situated in East Oxford. Some examples are:


Oxford is considered to be an important centre of the sport of swimming in England. The Amateur Swimming Association was founded in 1869 in England, but it was much later, in 1909, that Oxford Swimming Club came into existence. In 1939, Oxford had its first major public indoor pool at Temple Cowley in the whole of England. After the pool was installed, swimming began to take off and soon Oxford Swimming Club became Oxford City Swimming Club, and Temple Cowley Pool was its home.

Speedway racing has been staged in Oxford since 1939. The track at Cowley operated in 1940 before closing for a number of years. It then re-opened in 1949 and has enjoyed success and failure in equal amounts.


Unusually for such a compact urban district, Oxford has four civil parishes with parish councils — these are Blackbird Leys, Littlemore, Old Marston and Risinghurst and Sandhills. Note: Littlemore, Marston and Risinghurst and Sandhills have only recently been brought within the city boundary.

Trade and business

The Oxford suburb of Cowley has a long history of carmaking and now produces the BMW MINI.


Morrells, the Oxford based regional brewery was founded in 1743 by Richard Tawney. He formed a partnership in 1782 with Mark and James Morrell, who eventually became the owners.[8] The brewery building, known as the "Lion Brewery", was located in St Thomas Street. It closed in 1998,[9] the beer brand names being taken over by the Thomas Hardy Burtonwood brewery.[10], while the 132 tied pubs were bought by "Morrells of Oxford"[11], who sold the bulk of them on to Greene King in 2002[12]. The Lion Brewery was converted into luxury apartments in 2002.[13]


Oxford's twin cities are: All of these are university towns, except for

See also


1. ^ "Oxford in fact owes its name and perhaps its origin to its position at a major crossing point of the Thames - a ford suitable for oxen." (The Bodleian Library [1982; ed.]: Town and Gown, page 9)
2. ^ [7]
3. ^ [8]
4. ^ [9]
5. ^ [10]
6. ^ [11]
7. ^ Source: DfES Pupil Annual School Level Census 2006 see Neighbourhood Renewal Unit floor target results [12]
8. ^ [13]
9. ^ [14]
10. ^ [15]
11. ^ [16]
12. ^ [17]
13. ^ [18]

External links

Places with city status in the United Kingdom
Oxford, Oxfordshire, is a city in England, famous for its university.

Oxford can also refer to the University of Oxford.

Other meanings of Oxford include:



  • Oxford Falls, New South Wales


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    Oxfordshire (abbreviated Oxon, from the Latinised form Oxonia) is a county in the South East of England, bordering on Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, and Warwickshire.
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    region, also known as Government Office Region, is currently the highest tier of local government sub-national entity of England in the United Kingdom.


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    South East England is one of the nine official regions of England. It was created in 1994 and was adopted for statistics in 1999. Its boundaries include Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, East Sussex, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Kent, Oxfordshire, Surrey and West Sussex.
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    Oxfordshire (abbreviated Oxon, from the Latinised form Oxonia) is a county in the South East of England, bordering on Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, and Warwickshire.
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    Area is the measure of how much exposed area any two dimensional object has. It is expressed in square units, and is calculated by adding together the areas of all the faces of the object.

    Area formulas

    Note: For 2D figures, the surface area and the area are the same.
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    This is a list of districts of England ordered by area. The areas given are calculated from the Output Areas created for Census 2001 and made available on CD by the Office for National Statistics.
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    Orders of magnitude for area Conversion of units for area
    1 E-30 m =1 fm 1 E-24 
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    Square kilometre (U.S. spelling: square kilometer), symbol km², is a decimal multiple of the SI unit of surface area, the square metre, one of the SI derived units. 1 km² is equal to:
    • 1,000,000 m²
    • 100 ha (hectare)
    • 1 m² = 0.

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    square mile is an imperial and US unit of area equal the area of a square of one statute mile. It should not be confused with the archaic miles square, which refers to the number of miles on each side squared.
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    The Office for National Statistics coding system is a hierarchical code used in the United Kingdom for tabulating census and other statistical data.

    Authorities, wards, and census areas

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    population is the collection of people or organisms of a particular species living in a given geographic area or mortality, and migration, though the field encompasses many dimensions of population change including the family (marriage and divorce), public health, work and the
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    In physics, density is mass m per unit volume V—how heavy something is compared to its size. A small, heavy object, such as a rock or a lump of lead, is denser than a lighter object of the same size or a larger object of the same weight, such as pieces of
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    Rank District Population Type Ceremonial county
    1 Birmingham 1,006,500 Metropolitan borough, City (1889) West Midlands
    2 Leeds 750,200 Metropolitan borough, City (1893) West Yorkshire
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    White is the combination of all the colors of the visible light spectrum.[1]. It is sometimes described as an achromatic color, like black.

    White is technically achromatic, and not a color, since it has no hue.
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    British Asian is used to denote a person of South Asian ancestry or origin, who was born in or was an immigrant to the United Kingdom. Britain has a large Southern Asian population due to British India once being the most populous portion of the former British Empire.
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    The British African-Caribbean (Afro-Caribbean) community are residents of the United Kingdom who are of West Indian background, and whose ancestors were indigenous to Africa.
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    British Chinese, also Chinese British, Chinese Britons or British-born Chinese (often informally referred to as BBCs), are people of Chinese ancestry who were born in or have immigrated to the United Kingdom.
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    worldwide view.
    The terms multiracial, biracial, and mixed-race describe people who are not easily classified into a single race. (Biracial refers to those with ancestors from mostly two races).
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    Affiliation Members
    Labour Party
    Conservative Party
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    Scottish National Party
    Sinn Féin
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    Social Democratic and Labour Party
    Health Concern
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    Evan Leslie Harris BM BCh MP (born 21 October 1965) is a British Liberal Democrat politician. He is the Member of Parliament for Oxford West and Abingdon.

    Education and professional career

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    Andrew David Smith (born February 1, 1952, near Reading) is a British politician for the Labour Party, and a former member of the Cabinet.

    He is MP for Oxford East, which he won in 1987 from the Conservative Party.
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    City status in the United Kingdom is granted by the British monarch to a select group of communities. The status does not apply automatically on the basis of any particular criteria, although in England and Wales it was traditionally given to towns with diocesan cathedrals.
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    Non-metropolitan districts or commonly Shire districts are a type of local government district in England. They are sub-divisions of non-metropolitan counties (Shire counties).

    Some unitary authorities are technically non-metropolitan districts.
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    Oxfordshire (abbreviated Oxon, from the Latinised form Oxonia) is a county in the South East of England, bordering on Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, and Warwickshire.
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    Dieu et mon droit   (French)
    "God and my right"
    No official anthem specific to England — the anthem of the United Kingdom is "God Save the Queen".
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    21st century - 22nd century
    1970s  1980s  1990s  - 2000s -  2010s  2020s  2030s
    1998 1999 2000 - 2001 - 2002 2003 2004

    2001 by topic:
    News by month
    Jan - Feb - Mar - Apr - May - Jun
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    University of Oxford (usually abbreviated as Oxon. for post-nominals, from "Oxoniensis"), located in the city of Oxford, England, is the oldest university in the English-speaking world.
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    Writing system: Latin (English variant) 
    Official status
    Official language of: 53 countries
    Regulated by: no official regulation
    Language codes
    ISO 639-1: en
    ISO 639-2: eng
    ISO 639-3: eng  
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    Thyrsis is the title of a poem written by Matthew Arnold in December 1865 to commemorate his friend, the poet Arthur Hugh Clough, who had died in November 1861 aged only 42.
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