ABOUT JERICHO - HISTORY

A slice of Jericho history

Before the bridge, the only way across the canal from Jericho was by ferry

From a community scrapbook

Posted - October 28, 2020

Mark will be speaking at the next Virtual My Jericho on Wednesday Nov 4 at 5.00 pm

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In 1956 Miss C. L. M. Hawtrey entered a competition for community scrapbooks run by Oxfordshire Rural Community Council. Her entry was about Jericho, and included numerous plans, photographs, and items of printed ephemera, but probably of greatest interest are the extensive oral reminiscences. The recollections of some of the older residents go back to the 1880s, but Miss Hawtrey also had access to written notes from still further back.

She divided her compilation broadly into sections about the origins of the suburb; St Barnabas Church; the schools; and specific people & places. There were many references to the canal, some of which are included in my book A Towpath Walk in Oxford, and more than one childhood recollection of the thrill of boarding a Salter’s steamer bound for a school picnic on the lawns of Nuneham House. St Barnabas Church, its clergy, and its wardens take pride of place, but sadly Miss Hawtrey provides no clues to the much-discussed puzzle of why mosaics were applied on only one side of the interior. Among the valuable insights that she did provide, though, are first-hand accounts of the construction phase of the church and of the custom of men and women sitting separately.

The comment, ‘What all these old people deprecate with one accord is a Tallow Factory which used to exist at the end of Canal Street and which all agree smelt to high heaven!’ brings us right up to the present, because it was located at Mount Place. Newly refurbished in 2020, Mount Place constitutes today a pleasing canalside entrance to Jericho, reached by the footbridge for which Miss Hawtrey documents a local campaign in the 1920s (some 50 years before the current bridge became a reality). Ongoing research shows that the factory operated from the late 1860s until just before the First World War. Although Jericho’s residents petitioned for many years to have this ‘abominable nuisance’ closed down, not everyone disapproved: as Miss Hawtrey observed, ‘The small boys liked it because you could get lots of maggots there with which to fish.’

The scrapbook contains a few photographs taken by Mr Miller (at the time the landlord of the Jericho House pub). He was a former photographer for the Oxford Mail, and if anyone knows of any living relatives it would be interesting to discover if any more of his photographs of Jericho have survived. Indeed, is it possible that there are recollections of the self-effacing Miss Hawtrey herself tucked away in some family archives somewhere? If so, please contact Mark Davies.

Author: Mark Davies

Did you know?

Why Jericho still has such a mix of houses?

Jericho's intriguing mix of housing today owes a lot, to the Residents' Association in the 1960s and 1970s which together with the then Vicar and some local councillors resisted plans to bulldoze the whole area and turn it over to offices and light industrial use.

Cranham Street used to be a blot on the city

Before Grantham House was built, the site became notoriously derelict, making Cranham Street according to the local press a ‘blot on the city’ – wrecked by local children, and a refuge for rats and for ‘layabouts sleeping off the drink’ who were repeatedly evicted by the police.