Oxford
City of Oxford
City and non-metropolitan district
From top left to bottom right: Oxford skyline panorama from St Mary's Church; Radcliffe Camera; High Street from above looking east; University College; High Street by night; Natural History Museum and Pitt Rivers Museum.
From top left to bottom right: Oxford skyline panorama from St Mary's Church; Radcliffe Camera; High Street from above looking east; University College; High Street by night; Natural History Museum and Pitt Rivers Museum.
Official logo of Oxford
Coat of arms of Oxford
Nickname(s): "the City of Dreaming Spires"
Motto: "Fortis est veritas" "The truth is strong"
Shown within Oxfordshire
Shown within Oxfordshire
Sovereign state  United Kingdom
Constituent country  England
Region South East England
Ceremonial county Template:Country data Oxfordshire
Admin HQ Oxford City Centre
Founded 8th century
City status 1542
Government
 • Type City
 • Governing body Oxford City Council
 • Lord Mayor Cllr Rae Humberstone (2015–2016) (Lab)
 • Sheriff of Oxford Cllr Sajjad Malik (Lab)
 • Executive Council Leader Labour
Cllr Bob Price
 • MPs Nicola Blackwood (C)
Andrew Smith (L)
Area
 • City and non-metropolitan district 45.59 km2 (17.60 sq mi)
Population
 • City and non-metropolitan district 168,270
 • Density 3,270/km2 (8,500/sq mi)
 • Metro 244,000
 • Ethnicity 72.4% White British
6.7% Other White
8.5% South Asian
3.7% Black
4.3% Chinese
3.0% Mixed Race
2.5% Other
1.4% White Irish
Demonym(s) Oxonian
Time zone GMT (UTC0)
 • Summer (DST) BST (UTC+1)
Postcode OX1, OX2, OX3, OX4
Area code(s) 01865
ISO 3166-2 GB-OXF
ONS code 38UC (ONS)
E07000178 (GSS)
OS grid reference SP513061
Website www.oxford.gov.uk

Oxford (/ˈɒksfərd/) is a city in the South East region of England and the county town of Oxfordshire. With an estimated 2015 population of 168,270, it is the 52nd largest city in the United Kingdom, and one of the fastest growing and most ethnically diverse. The city is situated 57 miles (92 km) from London, 69 miles (111 km) from Bristol, 65 miles (105 km) from both Southampton and Birmingham and 25 miles (40 km) from Reading.

The city is known worldwide as the home of the University of Oxford, the oldest university in the English-speaking world. Buildings in Oxford demonstrate notable examples of every English architectural period since the late Saxon period. Oxford is known as the "city of dreaming spires", a term coined by poet Matthew Arnold. Oxford has a broad economic base. Its industries include motor manufacturing, education, publishing and a large number of information technology and science-based businesses, some being academic offshoots.

History

See also: Timeline of Oxford

Medieval

Oxford was first settled in Saxon times and was initially known as "Oxenaforda", meaning "Ford of the Oxen" (according to the English Place-Name Society, who base their result on a passing reference in Florence of Worcester's work Chronicon ex chronicis); fords were more common than bridges at that time. It began with the establishment of a river crossing for oxen around AD 900. 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.

Oxford was heavily damaged during the Norman Invasion of 1066. Following the conquest, the town was assigned to a governor, Robert D'Oyly, who ordered the construction of Oxford Castle to confirm Norman authority over the area. The castle has never been used for military purposes and its remains survive to this day. D'Oyly set up a monastic community in the castle consisting of a chapel and living quarters for monks (St George in the Castle). The community never grew large but it earned its place in history as one of Britain's oldest places of formal education. It was there that in 1139 Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote his History of the Kings of Britain, a compilation of Arthurian legends.

In 1191, a city charter stated in Latin,

"Be it known to all those present and future that we, the citizens of Oxford of the Commune of the City and of the Merchant Guild have given, and by this, our present charter, confirm the donation of the island of Midney with all those things pertaining to it, to the Church of St. Mary at Oseney and to the canons serving God in that place.

"Since, every year, at Michaelmas the said canons render half a mark of silver for their tenure at the time when we have ordered iiit as witnesses the legal deed of our ancestors which they made concerning the gift of this same island; and besides, because we have undertaken on our own part and on behalf of our heirs to guarantee the aforesaid island to the same canons wheresoever and against all men; they themselves, by this guarantee, will pay to us and our heirs each year at Easter another half mark which we have demanded; and we and our heirs faithfully will guarantee the aforesaid tenement to them for the service of the aforesaid mark annually for all matters and all services.

"We have made this concession and confirmation in the Common council of the City and we have confirmed it with our common seal. These are those who have made this concession and confirmation."

(There follows a list of witnesses, ending with the phrase, "... and all the Commune of the City of Oxford.")

Oxford's prestige was enhanced by its charter granted by 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 of varying importance at Oxford. Parliaments were often held in the city during the 13th century. The Provisions of Oxford were instigated by a group of barons led by Simon de Montfort; these documents are often regarded as England's first written constitution.

Richard I of England (reigned 6 July 1189 – 6 April 1199) and John, King of England (reigned 6 April 1199 – 19 October 1216) the sons of Henry II of England, were both born at Beaumont Palace in Oxford, on 8 September 1157 and 24 December 1166 respectively. A plaque in Beaumont Street commemorates these events.

University of Oxford

The University of Oxford is first mentioned in 12th century records. Of the hundreds of Aularian houses that sprang up across the city, only St Edmund Hall (c. 1225) remains. What put an end to the halls was the emergence of colleges. 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 to see itself in a new way. These colleges at Oxford were supported by the Church in the hope of reconciling 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.

The sweating sickness epidemic in 1517 was particularly devastating to Oxford and Cambridge where it killed half of both cities' populations, including many students and dons.

Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford is unique in combining a college chapel and a 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 when 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. The Martyrs' Memorial stands nearby, round the corner to the North on St. Giles.

Early Modern

English Civil War

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. The city suffered two serious fires in 1644 and 1671.

Late Modern

Radcliffe Camera, Oxford - Oct 2006
The Radcliffe Camera, completed in 1748

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 its own link to the Thames, at Isis Lock. In 1844, the Great Western Railway linked Oxford with London via Didcot and Reading, and other rail routes soon followed.

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.

A permanent military presence was established in the city with the completion of Cowley Barracks in 1876.

Local government in Oxford was reformed by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835, and the boundaries of the borough were extended to include a small area east of the River Cherwell. The boundaries were further extended in 1889 to add the areas of Grandpont and New Hinksey, south of the Thames, which were transferred from Berkshire to Oxfordshire. At the same time Summertown and the western part of Cowley were also added to the borough. In 1890 Oxford became a county borough.

Oxford Lord Mayoralty Royal Proclamation
Royal proclamation granting Lord Mayoralty to Oxford.
High Street, Oxford, England, 1890s
Photochrom of the High Street, 1890–1900

Oxford 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 Mayor alty, the building is still called by its traditional name of "Town Hall".

20th and 21st centuries

Oxford City Birdseye
Aerial view of Oxford city centre

During the First World War, the population of Oxford changed. The number of University members was significantly reduced as students, fellows and staff enlisted. Some of their places in college accommodation were taken by soldiers in training. Another reminder of the ongoing war was found in the influx of wounded and disabled soldiers, who were treated in new hospitals housed in University buildings including the Examination School, Town Hall and Somerville College.

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. In 1929 the boundaries of the city were extended to include the suburbs of Headington, Cowley and Iffley to the east, and Wolvercote to the north.

Also during the 1920s, the economy and society of Oxford underwent a huge transformation as William Morris established Morris Motors Limited 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 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 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 the Oxford Business Park.

During the Second World War, Oxford was largely ignored by the German air raids during the Blitz, perhaps due to the lack of heavy industry such as steelworks or shipbuilding that would have made it a target, although it was still affected by the rationing and influx of refugees fleeing London and other cities. The university's colleges served as temporary military barracks and training areas for soldiers before deployment.

On 6 May 1954, Roger Bannister, a 25-year-old medical student, ran the first authenticated sub-four-minute mile at the Iffley Road running track in Oxford. Although he had previously studied at Oxford University, Bannister was studying at St Mary's Hospital Medical School in London at the time.

Oxford's second university, Oxford Brookes University, formerly the Oxford School of Art, then Oxford Polytechnic, based at Headington Hill, was given its charter in 1991 and for the last ten years has been voted the best new university in the UK. It was named to honour the school's founding principal, John Henry Brookes.

The influx of migrant labour to the car plants and hospitals, recent immigration from south Asia, and a large student population, have given Oxford a notably cosmopolitan character, especially in the Headington and Cowley Road areas with their many bars, cafes, restaurants, clubs, ethnic shops and fast food outlets and the annual Cowley Road Carnival. Oxford is one of the most diverse small cities in Britain: the most recent population estimates for 2005 showed that 27% of the population were from ethnic minority groups, including 16.2% from non-white ethnic minority ethnic groups (ONS). These figures do not take into account more recent international migration into the city; more than 10,000 people from overseas have registered for National Insurance Numbers in Oxford in 2005/06 and 2006/07.

Geography

Location

Oxford's latitude and longitude are or grid reference SP513061 (at Carfax Tower, which is usually considered the centre).

Oxford is 24 miles (39 km) north-west of Reading, 26 miles (42 km) north-east of Swindon, 36 miles (58 km) east of Cheltenham and 43 miles (69 km) east of Gloucester, 29 miles (47 km) south-west of Milton Keynes, 38 miles (61 km) south-east of Evesham, 43 miles (69 km) south of Rugby and 51 miles (82 km) north-west of London. The rivers Cherwell and Thames (also sometimes known as the Isis locally from the Latinised name Thamesis) run through Oxford and meet south of the city centre.

Climate

Oxford has a maritime temperate climate ("Cfb" by the Köppen system). Precipitation is uniformly distributed throughout the year and is provided mostly by weather systems that arrive from the Atlantic. The lowest temperature ever recorded in Oxford was −16.6 °C (2.1 °F) in January 1982. The highest temperature ever recorded in Oxford is 35.6 °C (96 °F) in August 2003 during the 2003 European heat wave. Oxford's climate is similar to that of Pershore, Worcestershire.

The average conditions below are from the Radcliffe Meteorological Station. It boasts the longest series of temperature and rainfall records for one site in Britain. These records are continuous from January 1815. Irregular observations of rainfall, cloud and temperature exist from 1767.

Climate data for Oxford, elevation: 61m (1981–2010) Extremes (1900–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 14.7
(58.5)
18.5
(65.3)
22.2
(72)
27.6
(81.7)
30.6
(87.1)
34.3
(93.7)
34.8
(94.6)
35.6
(96.1)
33.4
(92.1)
28.9
(84)
18.9
(66)
15.9
(60.6)
35.6
(96.1)
Average high °C (°F) 7.6
(45.7)
8.0
(46.4)
10.9
(51.6)
13.6
(56.5)
17.1
(62.8)
20.3
(68.5)
22.7
(72.9)
22.3
(72.1)
19.1
(66.4)
14.8
(58.6)
10.5
(50.9)
7.7
(45.9)
14.6
(58.3)
Daily mean °C (°F) 4.9
(40.8)
4.9
(40.8)
7.3
(45.1)
9.3
(48.7)
12.5
(54.5)
15.6
(60.1)
17.9
(64.2)
17.6
(63.7)
14.9
(58.8)
11.3
(52.3)
7.6
(45.7)
5.0
(41)
10.7
(51.3)
Average low °C (°F) 2.1
(35.8)
1.8
(35.2)
3.7
(38.7)
5.0
(41)
7.9
(46.2)
10.9
(51.6)
13.0
(55.4)
12.9
(55.2)
10.7
(51.3)
7.8
(46)
4.6
(40.3)
2.3
(36.1)
6.9
(44.4)
Record low °C (°F) -16.6
(2.1)
-16.1
(3)
-11.1
(12)
-4.6
(23.7)
-1.7
(28.9)
1.7
(35.1)
4.4
(39.9)
4.5
(40.1)
-0.4
(31.3)
-4.0
(24.8)
-8.8
(16.2)
-16.1
(3)
-16.6
(2.1)
Precipitation mm (inches) 56.6
(2.228)
42.5
(1.673)
47.6
(1.874)
49.1
(1.933)
57.1
(2.248)
48.0
(1.89)
48.9
(1.925)
56.5
(2.224)
54.1
(2.13)
69.6
(2.74)
66.1
(2.602)
63.1
(2.484)
659.7
(25.972)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 11.5 8.9 10.1 9.1 9.7 8.0 7.9 8.1 9.1 10.9 11.3 10.9 115.5
Sunshine hours 62.5 78.9 111.2 160.9 192.9 191.0 207.0 196.5 141.2 111.3 70.7 53.8 1,577.9
Source #1: Met Office
Source #2: KNMI

Suburbs

Aside from the city centre, there are several suburbs and neighbourhoods within the borders of city of Oxford, including:

Suburbs and neighbourhoods outside the city boundaries include:

  • Botley
  • Cumnor Hill
  • Dean Court
  • North Hinksey

Landmarks

The spires of Oxford 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 the University Church of St Mary the Virgin, both of which offer views over the spires of the city. Many tourists shop at the historic Covered Market. In the summer punting on the Thames/Isis and the Cherwell is popular.

University College Oxford
The main quadrangle of University College
1 view from carfax tower oxford 2012
View from Carfax Tower
Norrington Room, Blackwell's Bookshop, Oxford
Blackwell's Bookshop
Divinity School Interior 2, Bodleian Library, Oxford, UK - Diliff
The Divinity School at the Bodleian Library
Natural History Museum and Pitt River Museum
Oxford University Museum of Natural History

University of Oxford

The University of Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world and one of the most famous and prestigious higher education institutions of the world, averaging nine applications to every available place, and attracting 40% of its academic staff and 17% of undergraduates from overseas. It is currently ranked as the world's number one university, according to The Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

Oxford is renowned for its tutorial-based method of teaching, with students attending an average of one one-hour tutorial a week.

The city centre

As well as being a major draw for tourists (9.1 million in 2008, similar in 2009), Oxford city centre has many shops, several theatres and an ice rink. The historic buildings make this location a popular target for film and TV crews.

The city centre is relatively small, and is centred on Carfax, a cross-roads which forms the junction of Cornmarket Street (pedestrianised), Queen Street (semi-pedestrianised), St Aldate's and the High. Cornmarket Street and Queen Street are home to Oxford's various chain stores, as well as a small number of independent retailers, one of the longest established of which is Boswell's, which was founded in 1738. St Aldate's has few shops but has several local government buildings, including the town hall, the city police station and local council offices. The High (the word street is traditionally omitted) is the longest of the four streets and has a number of independent and high-end chain stores, but mostly university and college buildings.

There are two small shopping centres in the city centre: The Clarendon Centre and the Westgate Centre. The Westgate Centre is named for the original West Gate in the city wall, and is located at the west end of Queen Street. The Westgate Shopping Centre is currently closed and undergoing a major redevelopment and expansion to 750,000 sq ft (70,000 m2), with a new 230,000 sq ft (21,000 m2) John Lewis department store and a number of new homes. Completion is expected in October 2017.

Blackwell's Bookshop is a large bookshop which claims the largest single room devoted to book sales in the whole of Europe, the cavernous Norrington Room (10,000 sq ft).

The Bodleian Library

See also: Category:Libraries of the University of Oxford

The University of Oxford maintains the largest university library system in the UK, and, with over 11 million volumes housed on 120 miles (190 km) of shelving, the Bodleian group is the second-largest library in the UK, after the British Library. The Bodleian is a legal deposit library, which means that it is entitled to request a free copy of every book published in the UK. As such, its collection is growing at a rate of over three miles (five kilometres) of shelving every year.

Visitors can take a guided tour of the Old Bodleian Library to see inside its historic rooms, including the 15th-century Divinity School, medieval Duke Humfrey's Library, and the Radcliffe Camera. The Weston Library was redeveloped and reopened in 2015, with a new shop, cafe and exhibition galleries for visitors.

Museums and galleries

See also: Category:Museums of the University of Oxford

Oxford is home to many museums, galleries, and collections, most of which are free of admission charges and are major tourist attractions. The majority are departments of the University of Oxford.

The first of these to be established was the Ashmolean Museum, the world's first university museum, and the oldest museum in the UK. Its first building was erected in 1678–1683 to house a cabinet of curiosities given to the University of Oxford in 1677. The museum reopened in 2009 after a major redevelopment. It holds significant collections of art and archaeology, including works by Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Turner, and Picasso, as well as treasures such as the Scorpion Macehead, the Parian Marble and the Alfred Jewel. It also contains "The Messiah", a pristine Stradivarius violin, regarded by some as one of the finest examples in existence.

The University Museum of Natural History holds the University's zoological, entomological and geological specimens. It is housed in a large neo-Gothic building on Parks Road, in the University's Science Area. Among its collection are the skeletons of a Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops, and the most complete remains of a dodo found anywhere in the world. It also hosts the Simonyi Professorship of the Public Understanding of Science, currently held by Marcus du Sautoy.

Adjoining the Museum of Natural History is the Pitt Rivers Museum, founded in 1884, which displays the University's archaeological and anthropological collections, currently holding over 500,000 items. It recently built a new research annexe; its staff have been involved with the teaching of anthropology at Oxford since its foundation, when as part of his donation General Augustus Pitt Rivers stipulated that the University establish a lectureship in anthropology.

The Museum of the History of Science is housed on Broad St in the world's oldest-surviving purpose-built museum building. It contains 15,000 artefacts, from antiquity to the 20th century, representing almost all aspects of the history of science.

In the University's Faculty of Music on St Aldate's is the Bate Collection of Musical Instruments, a collection mostly of instruments from Western classical music, from the medieval period onwards. Christ Church Picture Gallery holds a collection of over 200 old master paintings. The University also has an archive at the Oxford University Press Museum.

Other museums and galleries in Oxford include Modern Art Oxford, the Museum of Oxford, the Oxford Castle, and The Story Museum.

Other attractions

  • Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford
  • The Headington Shark
  • Oxford Botanic Garden
  • Sheldonian Theatre
  • St. Mary the Virgin Church
  • Malmaison Hotel, located in a converted prison in part of the medieval Oxford Castle

Parks and nature walks

Oxford is a very green city, with several parks and nature walks within the ring road, as well as several sites just outside the ring road. In total, 28 nature reserves exist within or just outside Oxford ring road, including:

  • University Parks
  • Mesopotamia
  • Rock Edge Nature Reserve
  • Lye Valley
  • South Park
  • C. S. Lewis Nature Reserve
  • Shotover Nature Reserve
  • Port Meadow
  • Cutteslowe Park

Transport

Air

Oxford Airport ATC Tower
The air traffic control tower at London Oxford Airport.

In addition to the larger airports in the region, Oxford is served by nearby London Oxford Airport, in Kidlington. The airport is also home to Oxford Aviation Academy, an airline pilot flight training centre, and several private jet companies.

Buses

Oxford Bus Company 312 on Route 400, Oxford City Centre (15567762182)
A hybrid bus on an Oxford Bus Company park and ride service

Bus services in Oxford and its suburbs are run by the Oxford Bus Company and Stagecoach Oxfordshire as well as other operators including Thames Travel, Arriva and several smaller operators.

Arriva runs the 280 Sapphire service to Aylesbury via Wheatley, Thame and Haddenham seven days a week, at a frequency of up to every 20 minutes. The new Sapphire buses have three-pin power sockets, leather seats and free, onboard Wi-Fi.

Oxford has five park and ride car parks with frequent bus links to the city centre:

  • Pear Tree (bus 300)
  • Redbridge (bus 300)
  • Seacourt (bus 400)
  • Thornhill (bus 400)
  • Water Eaton (bus 500)

There are also bus services to the John Radcliffe Hospital (from Thornhill and Water Eaton) and to the Churchill and Nuffield Hospitals (from Thornhill). As of 2015, Oxford has one of the largest urban park and ride networks in the UK. Its five sites have a combined capacity of 4,930 car parking spaces, served by 20 Oxford Bus Company double deck buses with a combined capacity of 1,695 seats. By comparisn, York park and ride has six sites with a combined total of 4,970 parking spaces served by 35 First York buses, but they are single deckers with a combined capacity of 1,548 seats.

Oxford Bus Company 604 on Route U1, Oxford Station (14966079163)
A flywheel energy storage bus on an Oxford Bus Co BrookesBus service

More than 58% of Oxford Bus Company customers use the ITSO Ltd smartcard.

In November 2014 almost all Oxford Bus Company buses within the Oxford SmartZone area have free WiFi installed.

Hybrid buses, which use battery power with a small diesel generator, began to be used in Oxford on 15 July 2010, on Stagecoach Oxfordshire's Route 1 (City centre – Cowley – Blackbird Leys). Both Stagecoach and Oxford Bus Company now operate numerous hybrid buses in the city. In 2014 Oxford Bus introduced a fleet of 20 new buses with flywheel energy storage (FES) on the services it operates under contract for Brookes University. Whereas electric hybrids use battery storage and an electric motor to save fuel, FES uses a high-speed flywheel.

Coach

The Oxford to London coach route offers a frequent coach service to London. The X90 Oxford-London service is operated by the Oxford Bus Company, whilst the Oxford Tube is operated by Stagecoach Oxfordshire. The Oxford Bus Company also runs the Airline services to Heathrow and Gatwick airports.

There is a bus station at Gloucester Green, used mainly by the London and airport buses, National Express coaches and other long-distance buses including the route X5 to Milton Keynes and Cambridge.

Cycling

Among UK cities, Oxford has the second highest percentage of people cycling to work.

Rail

Oxfordfront
Oxford railway station

In 1844, the Great Western Railway linked Oxford with London (Paddington) via Didcot and Reading; in 1851, the London and North Western Railway opened its own route from Oxford to London (Euston), via Bicester, Bletchley and Watford; and in 1864 a third route, also to Paddington, running via Thame, High Wycombe and Maidenhead, was provided; this was shortened in 1906 by the opening of a direct route between High Wycombe and London (Paddington) by way of Denham. The distance from Oxford to London was 78 miles (125.5 km) via Bletchley; 63.5 miles (102.2 km) via Didcot and Reading; 63.25 miles (101.8 km) via Thame and Maidenhead; and 55.75 miles (89.7 km) via Denham. Only the original (Didcot) route is still in use for its full length, portions of the others remain.

There were also routes to the north and west. The line to Banbury was opened in 1850, and was extended to Birmingham in 1852; a route to Worcester opened in 1853. A branch to Witney was opened in 1862, which was extended to Fairford in 1873. The line to Witney and Fairford closed in 1962, but the others remain open.

Oxford has had three main railway stations. The first was opened at Grandpont in 1844, but this was a terminus, inconvenient for routes to the north; it was replaced by the present station on Park End Street in 1852 with the opening of the Birmingham route. Another terminus, at Rewley Road, was opened in 1851 to serve the Bletchley route; this station closed in 1951. There have also been a number of local railway stations, all of which are now closed.

Oxford railway station is half a mile (about 1 km) west of the city centre. The station is served by numerous routes, including CrossCountry services to as far away as Manchester and Edinburgh, Great Western Railway (who operate the station) services to London Paddington and other destinations such as Worcester, Banbury and occasional Chiltern Railways services to Birmingham.

The present railway station opened in 1852. Oxford is the junction for a short branch line to Bicester, which was upgraded to 100 mph (161 km/h) during an 18-month closure in 2014/2015 – and is anticipated to be extended to form the East West Rail Link. Chiltern Railways now connects Oxford to London Marylebone, having sponsored the building of about 400 metres of new track between Bicester Town and the Chiltern Main Line southwards in 2014. The route serves High Wycombe and London Marylebone, avoiding London Paddington and Didcot Parkway. The East West Rail Link is proposed to continue through Milton Keynes, Bedford, Cambridge, and ultimately Ipswich and Norwich, thus providing alternative to connecting within London. The Varsity Line between Oxford and Cambridge is planned to link Bedford with a short gap to be reconstructed to Sandy then a rail link between the two cities will be restored via Hitchin.

Oxford is also served by Oxford Parkway railway station which is situated in a rural area just outside the city boundary. It was opened in October 2015.

Rail–airport links

From Oxford station direct trains run to Hayes & Harlington where interchange with the Heathrow Connect train links with London Heathrow Airport. Passengers can change at Reading for connecting trains to Gatwick Airport. Some CrossCountry Trains run direct services to Birmingham International as well as further afield Southampton Airport Parkway.

River and canal

Oxford was historically an important port on the River Thames, with this section of the river being called the Isis; the Oxford-Burcot Commission in the 17th century attempted to improve navigation to Oxford. Iffley Lock and Osney Lock lie within the bounds of the city. In the 18th century the Oxford Canal was built to connect Oxford with the Midlands.

Commercial traffic has given way to recreational use of the river and canal. Oxford was the original base of Salters Steamers (founded in 1858), which was a leading racing-boat-builder that played an important role in popularising pleasure boating on the Upper Thames. The firm runs a regular service from Folly Bridge downstream to Abingdon and beyond.

Roads

Oxford's central location on several transport routes means that it has long been a crossroads city with many coaching inns, although road traffic is now strongly discouraged from using the city centre.

The Oxford Ring Road surrounds the city centre and close suburbs Marston, Iffley, Cowley and Headington; it consists of the A34 to the west, a 330-yard section of the A44, the A40 north and north-east, A4142/A423 to the east. It is a dual carriageway, except for a 330-yard section of the A40 where two residential service roads adjoin, and was completed in 1966.

A roads

The main roads to/from Oxford are:

M40 in Warwickshire Crop
The M40 extension

Motorway

The city is served by the M40 motorway, which connects London to Birmingham. The M40 approached Oxford in 1974, leading from London to Waterstock, where the A40 continued to Oxford. When the M40 extension to Birmingham was completed in January 1991, it curved sharply north, and a mile of the old motorway became a spur. The M40 comes no closer than 6 miles (9.7 km) away from the city centre, curving to the east of Otmoor. The M40 meets the A34 to the north of Oxford.

Culture

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"Dreaming spires" of Oxford University viewed from South Park in the snow.

Theatres and cinemas

  • Burton Taylor Studio, Gloucester Street
  • New Theatre, George Street
  • Odeon Cinema, George Street
  • Odeon Cinema, Magdalen Street
  • Old Fire Station Theatre, George Street
  • O'Reilly Theatre, Blackhall Road
  • Oxford Playhouse, Beaumont Street
  • Pegasus Theatre, Magdalen Road
  • Phoenix Picturehouse, Walton Street
  • Ultimate Picture Palace, Cowley Road
  • Vue Cinema, Grenoble Road
  • The North Wall Arts Centre, South Parade
  • Creation Theatre Company

Literature and film

Well-known Oxford-based authors include:

  • Brian Aldiss, who lives in Oxford.
  • John Buchan, 1st Baron Tweedsmuir, attended Brasenose College. Best known for his The Thirty-nine Steps, authored 32 novels and many more volumes of history, poetry and essays.
  • Susan Cooper, best known for her The Dark Is Rising Sequence
  • Lewis Carroll (real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson), Student and Mathematical Lecturer of Christ Church.
  • Colin Dexter, who wrote and set his Inspector Morse detective novels in Oxford.
  • John Donaldson (d. 1989), a poet resident in Oxford in later life.
  • Siobhan Dowd, Oxford resident, who was an undergraduate at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford.
  • Kenneth Grahame, educated at St Edward's School, Oxford.
  • Michael Innes (J. I. M. Stewart), of Christ Church.
  • P. D. James, who lives part-time in Oxford.
  • T. E. Lawrence, "Lawrence of Arabia", Oxford resident, undergraduate at Jesus, postgraduate at Magdalen.
  • C. S. Lewis, student at University College and Fellow of Magdalen.
  • Iris Murdoch, Fellow of St Anne's.
  • Carola Oman, novelist and biographer, was born and brought up in the city.
  • Iain Pears, undergraduate at Wadham and Oxford resident, whose novel An Instance of the Fingerpost is set in the city.
  • Philip Pullman, undergraduate at Exeter.
  • Dorothy L. Sayers, undergraduate at Somerville.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien, undergraduate at Exeter and later professor of English at Merton
  • John Wain, undergraduate at St John's and later Professor of Poetry at Oxford University 1973–78
  • Oscar Wilde, a 19th-century poet and author who attended Oxford from 1874 to 1878.
  • Charles Williams, editor at Oxford University Press.

Oxford appears in the following works:

  • The Scarlet Pimpernel
  • "Harry Potter" (all the films to date)
  • The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica by James A. Owen
  • Jude the Obscure (1895) by Thomas Hardy (in which Oxford is thinly disguised as "Christminster").
  • Zuleika Dobson (1911) by Max Beerbohm.
  • Gaudy Night (1935) by Dorothy L. Sayers.
  • Brideshead Revisited (1945) by Evelyn Waugh.
  • A Question of Upbringing (1951 ) by Anthony Powell
  • Second Generation (1964 novel) by Raymond Williams
  • Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) by Steven Spielberg
  • Inspector Morse (1987)
  • Where the Rivers Meet (1988) trilogy set in Oxford by John Wain
  • All Souls (1989) by Javier Marías
  • The Children of Men (1992) by P. D. James.
  • Doomsday Book (1992) by Connie Willis
  • His Dark Materials (1995 onwards) by Philip Pullman
  • Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
  • The Saint (1997)
  • 102 Dalmatians (2000)
  • Endymion Spring (2006) by Matthew Skelton
  • Lewis (2007)
  • The Oxford Murders (2008)
  • Mr. Nice (2010) The story of Howard Marks
  • X-Men: First Class (2011)
  • Endeavour (2012)
  • The Reluctant Cannibals (2013) by Ian Flitcroft

Music

Oxford, and its surrounding towns and villages, have produced many successful bands and musicians. The most notable Oxford act is Radiohead, who all met at nearby Abingdon School, though other well known local bands include Supergrass, Ride, Swervedriver, Lab 4, Talulah Gosh, the Candyskins, Medal, the Egg, Unbelievable Truth, Hurricane No. 1, Crackout, Goldrush and more recently, Young Knives, Foals, Glass Animals, Dive Dive and Stornoway. These and many other bands from over 30 years of the Oxford music scene's history feature in the documentary film Anyone Can Play Guitar?.

In 1997, Oxford played host to Radio 1's Sound City, with acts such as Travis, Bentley Rhythm Ace, Embrace, Spiritualized and DJ Shadow playing in various venues around the city including Oxford Brookes University.

It is also home to several brass bands, notably the City of Oxford Silver Band, founded in 1887.

Twin towns

See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in the United Kingdom

Oxford is twinned with:

Gallery


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