Month: May 2019

Onwards to Oxford (2)

Continuing where we left off….

In the previous post I had just arrived in the area of what I hoped was the Radcliffe Camera. That structure is “sited to the south of the Old Bodleian, north of the Church of St Mary the Virgin, and between Brasenose College to the west and All Souls College to the east”. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radcliffe_Camera).

Oxford Martin School

Clarendon Building

The Sheldonian Theatre

However, when I looked on Google Earth I discovered that this was not the Radcliffe Camera but the Sheldonian Theatre! So I have yet another reason for a return trip to Oxford (add the Bridge of Sighs to the list too). The building behind the theatre is the Bodleian Library, and had I investigated that area further would have found what I was looking for! 

I was now in Broad Street and this was where it was possible to find a tour guide assuming you wanted a guided tour. I had forgotten all about it, but at least now I know where it was. The building on the right is Balliol College (I think)

I continued walking down the street because I really needed to confirm where I was in relation to where the station was. I was hoping to find one of those handy street maps but so far hadn’t seen one for awhile.  I really needed a cross street to orientate myself. 

And this one would do nicely.

This is the corner of Cornmarket/Magadalen streets running left to right with George Street between the 2 buildings. On the right hand corner (Magdalen Street) was a small surprise for me. 

This is the churchyard of St Mary Magdalen Church, and I would have liked to do a quick walk around in it but could not find a gate. Besides, the overgrown churchyard did look very peaceful amidst the hustle and bustle around me. 

By my reckoning, following George Street would take me to the station.

George’s Street

There was not a lot to see down here, so I turned left into Cornmarket, hoping to find somewhere that sold batteries. The tower belongs to St Michael’s at the North Gate. 

Ship Street, what an excellent name for a street. The time had now come to head back to George Street and the station so I turned my bows around and off I went. Not too much to see down the street though, apart from one of those handy maps which told me what I already knew. 

The building below is the University of Oxford History Facility,

and this is a portion of the Oxford Canal. I have not worked out how the canal connects to the city, although a lock should be around here somewhere.

And this was where I came in, albeit on the other side of the square and going in the opposite direction. The station was up ahead.

I had 25 minutes to wait for my train though so I decided to stop at the tourist office at the station and buy a map and guide book, but alas the service was appallingly slow, with 2 assistants seemingly never finishing up with the same 2 customers. I left after waiting over 5 minutes because I would have missed my train had I stayed any longer.  

Remember I said there were thousands of cyclists? this is where the bicycles have their nest.

The station is a modern one with 4 platforms and a section where there were was Chiltern Railways stock. 

I had not seen any Chiltern Railways equipment since Birmingham in 2015, so this made a nice change. GWR and Cross Country are all I seem to see nowadays.

And not too long afterwards my own train arrived and I was soon on my way back to Evesham and finally back home by bus. It had been a long day, but quite a fruitful one. Oxford had been fascinating, and I will do a return visit one day.

Oxford is mentioned 13 times in the Domesday Book, and I am only including one entry for it.  

  • HundredHeadington
  • CountyBerkshire / Buckinghamshire / Oxfordshire
  • Total population: 18 households (medium).
  • Total tax assessed: 4 exemption units (medium).
  • Taxable units: Taxable value 4 exemption units.
  • Value: Value to lord in 1066 £2. Value to lord in 1086 £2.
  • Households: 18 villagers.
  • Ploughland: 5 ploughlands (land for). 5 men’s plough teams.
  • Other resources: Meadow 105 acres. Woodland 8 acres.
  • Lord in 1066: Oxford (St Frideswide), canons of.
  • Lord in 1086: Oxford (St Frideswide), canons of.
  • Tenant-in-chief in 1086: Oxford (St Frideswide), canons of.

(Domesday Book images are available under the CC-BY-SA licence, and are credited to Professor John Palmer and George Slater )

There is too much that I have not seen and I have subsequently discovered a cemetery and a memorial that I missed on top of the other odds and ends I have listed. It is probable I will find even more to see now that I know a bit about the place. Parts of the city are very beautiful, but I am not sure I would be able to afford to live there however  I too can boast that I have been to Oxford, but I won’t mention what it was for.

I returned to Oxford at the end of June and you can read about it here

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DRW  © 2019. Created 25/05/2019. (Domesday Book images are available under the CC-BY-SA licence, and are credited to Professor John Palmer and George Slater )


Onwards to Oxford (1)

In years to come I will be able to boast that I went to Oxford, although not to be educated, but more to have a look around, I had the idea awhile ago, but the logistics were somewhat beyond me, however, once I started to explore Evesham it became obvious that there were other places within reach from the station there. It is an alternative way to get to London too, although the biggest downfall is that you can only travel by train after 9.00 am because the earliest bus only gets there at 8.35. You also have to make sure that you are on that last bus at 17.55 or you will end up spending the night! Like Tewkesbury the transport options are limiting factors for any day trip. The train originates in Hereford, passing through Worcester then onto Evesham so theoretically it is possible to get to Oxford from Worcester, but again getting to and from Worcester can be problematic. 

Anyway, I thought long and hard about this and with a long weekend in the offing and some semi decent weather I decided to do a day trip. I had 3 options: The tall ships at Gloucester, Evesham Vale Light Railway, or Oxford. I decided on Thursday evening to head to the last of the three and bought a ticket online and almost immediately started to chicken out! In order to get a bus back I really could expend roughly 3 hours in the city, which may not be enough considering how much there is to see there! Come Saturday morning and I was still not in the mood, but I had the tickets, the weather was reasonable, and it was now or never! Onwards to Oxford!

The limitations: 

Time was the most crucial, the weather ranged from overcast to semi cloudy to sunny. It changed all the time so image quality has suffered. Large buildings and no way to get far away enough from them. Vehicular and people traffic.

Evesham Station is 5 minutes walk from the bus stop, and is really quite an unimpressive station and I believe the passengers loads from here are falling. 

The line to London heads off to the left hand side and the train leaves from Platform 2. Talk of the devil and there it is now! The familiar HST’s  have been withdrawn from GWR service now and all we get are these smarmy class 800’s now. They are comfortable though, but they lack that “Made in England” originality  of the HST’s.

The route runs from Evesham, Honeybourne, Moreton-in-Marsh, Kingham, Shipton, Ascott-under-Wychwod, Charlbury, Finstock, Combe, Hanborough and finally Oxford and It takes just under an hour to get there.

Entrance to station

City Map of Oxford (1009×599)

I had a rough idea of where I wanted to go, although plans were liable to change at any point. I wanted to do a rough lozenge shaped walk starting at Park End Rd into New Rd, High Street and turning into Queen Street and taking in the Radcliffe Camera, Bridge of Sighs and anything inbetween, then continuing down Broad Street into Hythe Bridge Street and back to the station. I had marked off where the war memorial was as well as Christ Church Cathedral as possible detours. 

At this time of the morning (roughly 10H40) the area I was in was reasonably quiet, but do not be fooled because chaos was coming.

My plans were to really follow this road to the spire in the distance and I think this is Frideswide Square (38 on the map). My next point of reference was Castlemill Stream that crosses under the road that changes its name to New Road. This stream is a branch of the Thames.

My next landmark was what is known as “Oxford Castle Mound” and it is part of the remains of the former Oxford Castle.  This would have been where the keep and motte were. Behind this was St George’s Tower and chapel as well as the Oxford Prison. This area is in my list for a return visit.

Next to the mound was another building which I assumed was part of the castle, but it is actually the former County Hall dating from 1841. 

Turning around the view behind me was as follows:

The tower above is part of Nuffield College,  and the top of the spire is 49m above ground, making it the second tallest tower in Oxford. It houses a research library with attached reading rooms above the college entrance.

Continuing my walk I came to the war memorial, and it was disappointing. However this is not the main war memorial in the town as this commemorates men of the 2nd Battalion of the Oxfordshire Light Infantry who lost their lives between 15/08/1897 and 04/11/1898. It is known as the Tirah Memorial and is the first war memorial ever erected in Oxford. 

Continuing onwards into the High Street area it was becoming increasingly more crowded and difficult to navigate through the growing throng.

The structure below on the left is known as the Carfax Tower, It is all that remains of the 12th-century St Martin’s Church. Carfax is at the junction of St Aldate’s (south), Cornmarket Street (north), Queen Street (west) and the High Street (east) and it is considered to be the centre of the city.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carfax,_Oxford) . 

At this point I made a detour as I was in the vicinity of Christ Church Cathedral and headed into that direction. Unfortunately photography was incredibly difficult as the street was a bus thoroughfare and the pavements were packed.  

Central Oxford (Carfax area with Cathedral in lower left corner) 1024×977

I will be honest though, I did not see the cathedral, this large building is not it, although is part of it and I could not see much beyond the gate (which was not open to the public) due to the selfie squad. 

All I was able to see was this small glimpse across the centre of the space and I believe it belongs to the cathedral. I will have to investigate this area in the future though, but not on this day.  I did manage to visit the cathedral on 24/08/2019 and the post may be found here)

In the image below I was standing at the Tom Tower looking across the Tom Quad. 

I turned around and headed back towards Carfax and High Street. 

Turning into High Street I continued walking and the view became increasing more elaborate and old, and I will be honest I probably cannot identify most of what I was seeing; neither could I fit most of it into my camera lens. The never ending stream of buses complicated matters considerably as they would stop and hordes of people would suddenly erupt out of them almost engulfing you. It was a major problem and I almost collided with a number of cellphone absorbed pedestrians on top of it. 

I believe the building above is Brasenose College. and in my original navigation I had intended turning left into Catte Street and onwards to the Radcliffe Camera, but ended up continuing past it. towards The Queens College. The spire below belongs to “The University Church of St Mary the Virgin University College” with All Soul’s College further along.

 

All Soul’s College

Magdalen College

I eventually made my left turn in Longwall Street, and it was literally a long wall on the right hand side of the street. There appears to be a deer park on the other side of the wall, but I could not see over it to check.  

This was quite a winding road too and I hoped there was a handy exit somewhere which would get me back on track. Time was marching and soon I would need to make a decision about my plans in the next 45 minutes.

This is Holywell Street and I headed down it. Fortunately no buses seemed to be allowed here so it was technically safe to walk in as long as you didn’t get run over by a cyclist (there are thousands of them in Oxford too).

For some reason or other I think this is part of “New College” but cannot confirm it as I did not photograph the sign. However, a helpful porter pointed me in the direction I needed to go in to get to the Radcliffe Camera and it was close by too.

At this point I am going to pause and start a new page as there is still quite a lot to see onwards and I need to add in some random images to this page. You can turn the page here.

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Random Images.

DRW © 2019. Created 25/05/2019


No milk today

When I was young (last century some time ago) fresh milk or orange juice was delivered in bottles to our houses.  You left your empty bottle on the gatepost or at your door with coupons inside it and voilà, a milk float or truck would come along and exchange it for a new bottle. The milk would have a layer of cream on it it and the juice was not made with apples! Our local dairy was NCD (National Co-Operative Dairies?) and their HQ was somewhere near where we lived. 

Like everything else the prices kept on rising’ forcing people to buy less milk which meant less profits which meant higher prices ad nauseum. At some point milk deliveries stopped and we then started to buy our milk at the supermarket, although when we lived in one area there used to be a depot where you could buy milk too. 

When I arrived in the UK in 2013 I was surprised to see that you could get milk delivered in bottles to where you lived, although it does not seem to be in all cities. Which is what brings me to the real object of this post which is: milk floats. These strange electric vehicles are quite rare nowadays but you do see them occasionally, and of course being electric you do not hear them coming although the rattle of milk bottles is a dead give-away. 

Where I live is a dairy, and they operated milk floats for a number of years, and in 2018 they had two of them on display at the Tewkesbury Classic Vehicle Festival.

I have never seen the bottom one around town so I don’t know whether it is in service or not, after all, like so many others I get my milk at the local supermarket, although it must have been quite a surprise to have something like the bike below on the milk run.

Unfortunately the milk float is quite a rare beastie, and they were probably amongst the more common electric vehicles around way back then, although the float probably carried its own weight in batteries and I doubt whether the mileage was very high, but given the stop-start nature of its service they probably made more sense than a conventional petrol or diesel engined vehicle.

Where did they all go to? there is a scrap one up the road from where I stay, and it has never been in a position where I could get a decent pic of it, until recently.



I cannot put a date to when this float was in service, but you can bet it was a long time ago. I hope that they restore this oldie and put it in a museum; after all these are almost extinct, just like the glass milk bottle and the fresh orange juice of my childhood.

DRW © 2019. Created 22/05/2019