No. 45: Former shops and businesses

45 Broad Street



No. 45 Broad Street was the third from the left of the thirteen houses dating from the first half of the seventeenth century that were that were demolished to make way for the New Bodleian Library in the late 1930s.

It is a wide house with extra premises behind, and it is difficult to ascertain exactly which business occupied each part in the nineteenth century

No. 45 was a tenement of Magdalen College, with the following leases granted:

  • 1591: William Clarke, a labourer
  • 1637, 1647: John Ellis, gent.
  • 1662: Christopher Brooks
  • 1677: Widow Brooks
  • 1691: Richard Wood
  • 1705: Russee
  • 1717: Dame Norreys
  • 1745, 1759, 1773, 1787, 1801: Thomas Curtis, apothecary
  • 1815: Richard Curtis, apothecary
  • 1829, 1843: “Late Richard Curtis”

In 1772 a survey of every house in the city was taken in consequence of the Mileways Act of 1771. Nos. 45 was then in the occupation of Mr Curtiss, and its frontage measured 9 yards 1 feet 9 inches.

Betteris Billiard Room

There was a narrow passage to the east of No. 45 leading to a long outbuilding: this was used as Billiard Rooms from before 1841 to 1889, and then by other businesses. In the 1840s, the buildings at the back were numbered 45a and 45b.


Left: Thomas Betteris’s upstairs billiard room in 1853, as illustrated in Cuthbert Bede, The Adventures of Mr Verdant Green.

By the 1840s the Thorp drapery business at 44 next door had expanded into this shop, and tenants lived upstairs. There was also a wine merchant on the premises and the 45/45a numbering is confusing.

The 1851 census shows No. 45 occupied by a widow, Charlotte Sheard, and her two young children: she is described as a wine merchant. It may be her son Edwin who later went into partnership of the billiard rooms. Also listed at No. 45 (presumably living in the building behind) was Thomas Betteris, described as a “Billiard Table Keeper” with his wife and son Edwin (who had the same occupation), his daughter, and a servant. Betteris had lived there since at least the time of the 1841 census, and was still there in 1861, by which time he had five children and two servants.

Between 1876 and 1881 No. 45 only had a single occupant (at the time of the 1881 census this was was Aaron Thornton, an unmarried waiter of 49): presumably the building was undergoing alteration at this time, ready to reopen as a boarding house in 1882.

From 1882 to 1889 John Chaundy & Son’s “ye old picture shop” was at 45b behind.

In 1904 the Oxford Chronicle reports that the offices of the Electric Company that had been at the back “have been removed to the front premises in Broad Street, thereby offering to the public greater facilities of approach and convenience”.

William Butler Yeats and his wife lodged here at No. 45 for two months from around the beginning of January 1918 before finding more permanent accommodation at 4 Broad Street.

Occupants of 45 Broad Street listed in directories



45b at back
(Sheldonian Chambers)

H. S. Brazier, tailor

1846, 1852:
C. M. Sheard
Wine Merchant

1846, 1852
J. Thorp & Son
Linen Drapers, Silk Mercers,
Haberdashers, Hosiers &c.

(Main shop at 44 next door)

Billiard rooms

1839–1853: Thomas Betteris

1861–1872: John William Dickeson

1875–1889: John William Dickeson
& E. T. Sheard

John Henry TurnerAccountant

Henry Druce

Mrs Davies


Sheldonian House
University & family lodgings

Misses Maberly
Type writers

Oxford Typewriting Chambers

John Chaundy, Carver & gilder
(Main shop at 49)

Oxford Electric Co. Ltd
(45b/Sheldonian Chambers)

Oxford Electric Co. Ltd


Thomas Pearce
(later spelt Pierce)
House agent & accountant

Church Society for
Training the  Speaking Voice

(later Voice Training Society
(Oxford University Branch)

The situation here is complicated. From 1893 to 1904 Biddle Adams & Co. (tailors) are also listed at No. 45.
It is possible that different parts of the complicated premises were numbered 45a and 45b at different times.

Frederick Herbert Dyer Cutliffe
Teacher in the English Language

Oxford Secretarial
& Typewriting Bureau

later Oxford Typewriting Chambers
Later Sheldonian Typewriting Office (45A)

Smith & Goodson
Stationers & post office (45B)

This house was demolished with twelve neighbouring houses in 1937
to make room for the New Bodleian Library

See the bound typescript in the Bodleian Library entitled “The Demolished Houses of Broad Street and the Freeborn Family” (1943), attributed to Emily Sarah Freeborn, and the webpage by Alan Simpson which reproduces some of the material in it.

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