Oxford

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

City of Oxford
Oxford Oxford
Shown within Oxfordshire
Geography
Status: City (1542)
Region: South East England
Admin. County: Oxfordshire
Area:
- Total
Ranked 306th
45.59 km² (17.6 sq mi)
Admin. HQ: Oxford
Grid reference: SP 51 06
ONS code: 38UC
Demographics
Population:
- Total (2005 est.)
- Density
Ranked 111th
149,800
3,286 / km²
Ethnicity: 87.1% White
4.8% S.Asian
2.5% Afro-Carib.
1.8% Chinese
3.8% Mixed Race or other
Politics

Oxford City Council
http://www.oxford.gov.uk/
Leadership: Leader & Cabinet
Executive: Liberal Democrats (council NOC)
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.

Contents

[edit] History

Oxford was first occupied in Saxon times, and was initially known as "Oxenaforda".[1] It began with the foundations 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, but this period also saw the beginning of the long struggle between the town and the growing university which ended in the subjugation of the former, and the extinction for centuries of the civic importance of Oxford.

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.

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 relationship between "town and gown" has often been uneasy — several university students were killed in the St Scholastica Day Riot of 1355.

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 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.

Oxford Coat-of-arms Motto: Fortis est veritas(Latin: "Truth is strong")
Oxford Coat-of-arms
Motto: Fortis est veritas
(Latin: "Truth is strong")
A map of Oxford, 1605.
A map of Oxford, 1605.

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.

Map of Oxford (1904)
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.

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 sub-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.

[edit] Twinning

Oxford's twin cities are:

All of these are university towns.

[edit] Transport

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. The Oxford Tube is reputed by its operator to be the most intensive coach service of its kind anywhere in the world. 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.

[edit] Tourist attractions

The Oxford skyline facing Christ Church to the south (Christ Church Cathedral on the left and Tom Tower on the right)
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. Many tourists shop at the historic Covered Market. In the summer, punting on the Thames/Isis and the Cherwell is popular.

[edit] Religious sites

[edit] Churches in central Oxford

Anglican

There are also two churches that have been converted into college libraries:

Catholic
Baptist
Methodist
  • Wesley Memorial Methodist Church, New Inn Hall Street
  • The Methodist Church, Lime Walk
  • Rose Hill Methodist Church
  • Cowley Road Methodist Church
United Reformed
Ecumenical
  • Holy Family Church, 1 Cuddesdon Way (Anglican/Methodist/Baptist/United Reformed)
Other

[edit] Museums and galleries

Oxford University Museum of Natural History
Oxford University Museum of Natural History

University of Oxford:

Others:

[edit] University buildings

Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press

(Other than the colleges)

[edit] Open spaces

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

Punts in Oxford
Punts in Oxford
Folly Bridge in Oxford
Folly Bridge in Oxford

[edit] Commercial areas

Outside the City Centre:

  • Templars Square Shopping Centre, Cowley
  • Cowley Road, Oxford
  • St. Clements, Oxford
  • London Road, Headington
  • Banbury Road, Summertown
  • Walton Street, Jericho
  • Botley Road, Oxford

[edit] Theatres and cinemas

[edit] Traditional and historic pubs

Historic public house, "The Bear".
Historic public house, "The Bear".

and numerous others, catering for Town and Gown.

[edit] 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 [1], and Oxide: Oxford Student Radio [2] (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 [3]. Independent and community newspapers include the Jericho Echo [4] and Oxford Prospect [5].

[edit] Literature in Oxford

Well-known Oxford-based authors include:

Many English novels have been set partly or wholly in Oxford. They include:

See also books associated with Oxford and the literature section in the University of Oxford article.

Oxford has been used as a location in many films, including:

It also featured as the setting for Inspector Morse.

[edit] Other notable Oxonians

[edit] Notable bands from Oxford

[edit] Schools

Oxford is home to an unusually high number of highly academic 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. However examination results in Oxford schools are consistently below the national average and regional average with the district receiving the lowest average GCSE points score per pupil of any of the 354 districts in England in 2005 (Source: DfES Pupil Annual School Level Census 2005)

[edit] Geography

Oxford's latitude and longitude are 51°45′07″N, 1°15′28″W (at Carfax Tower, which is usually considered the centre).

[edit] Wards, neighbourhoods, and suburbs

[edit] Politics in Oxford

[edit] Oxford City Council

Despite stereotypes of Oxford being a conservative city, there are no Conservatives on the city council. 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, and since 2006 with these roles reversed. With 8 city councillors and 5 county councillors, Oxford is one of the UK cities with highest Green Party representation. 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
2000 21 21 7 1 0 1 [6]
2002 29 15 3 1 0 0 [7]
2004 20 18 7 3 0 0 [8]
2006 17 19 8 4 0 0 [9]
2007 18 16 8 4 2 0 [10]
Partisan Control

[edit] Westminster representation

A pre-election husting at the Oxford West and Abingdon constituency
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 & Abingdon is a safe Liberal Democrat seat with Dr Harris enjoying a majority of just under 8,000.

[edit] Alternative culture

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

Nicki French Performs at the Oxford Gay Pride Festival in Summer 2005
Nicki French Performs at the Oxford Gay Pride Festival in Summer 2005

[edit] Parishes

Unusually for 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.

[edit] See also


[edit] References

  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)

[edit] External links


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