Oxford History: The High


48: Fitrite

48 High Street

No. 48 occupies the whole of this large double-fronted house, which was in St Peter-in-the East parish until that parish was united with St Cross parish in 1957. It has an eighteenth-century front but is largely nineteenth-century, and is a Grade II listed building (List Entry No. 1115601).

The upper floors were converted for the use of St Edmund Hall in 1930.

There was a pub on this site known as the Queen’s Head by 1616; in 1618 it was renamed the King’s Arms, but went back to its original name when Queen Anne came to the throne in 1702. It ceased to be a pub by the end of the eighteenth century, presumably at the time it was rebuilt in its present form.

At the time of the 1841 census the surgeon William Rusher lived here with his wife Elizabeth and their son Willilam, plus an apprentice and four servants. He and his wife were still here in 1851 census with their son Richard (also a surgeon), their daughter, granddaughter, four house servants, and groom. Rusher was still here in 1861, when at the age of 69 he is described as a surgeon “in practice prior to 1815”.

In 1865 a “fine front” was built on this shop for Messrs Brooks & Son, cavers & gilders, and in 1871 the house was occupied by the publisher Benjamin Brooks and his family.

The 1881 census shows Theophilus Carter, cabinet maker and employer of five men, living over his business with his wife, daughter, granddaughter, and two servants. Some believe that, at Charles Dodgson’s instigation, Tenniel took Carter as his model for the drawings of the Mad Hatter.

William Morris's cycle repair shop

From 1900 to 1908 William Morris (later Lord Nuffield) ran his cycle repair business from this shop

Morris plaque

A plaque engraved in the glass of the door reads:


first used this shop in his business
as a cycle maker and repairer from which
developed the motor car enterprise which
 was to benefit millions by the philanthropic 
benevolence of its founder

The 1911 census shows Joseph Shillingford (58), a college servant, living in the fifteen rooms over this shop with his wife Annie, who kept a university lodging house here, their two daughters, one boarder, and a servant.

The drawing by Robert Kennard below shows 48 High Street during World War II, and is reproduced by permission of Arthur Skone. Sidney Skone (1889–1964) expanded his father’s nineteenth-century boot and shoe manufacturing business, Poulsen Skone of 12 Duke Street, London, and opened up various branches in other parts of the country, including this one in Oxford.

Poulsen Skone & Co. Ltd

The Skone shop at 48 High Street can also be seen in the middle of this 1949 photograph

Occupiers of 48 High Street

Until 1821

Probably William Rusher and Henry Passand, Apothecaries and man-midwives

By 1839–1861

William Rusher, Surgeon & Apothecary


B. Brooks & Son
Publishers, carvers, & gilders etc.


Theophilus Carter, Upholsterer & cabinet maker (also in former No. 49)


Albert Sidney Chavasse, MA, Tutor, University College


The Hon. Revd. William Talbot Rice, MA
Rector of St Peter-le-Bailey


William Richard Morris
(changes to Morris & Cooper in 1902, but back to W. R. Morris in 1905) 
Cycle maker, then Motor and Cycle Maker in 1906


Edwin C. Armstead, Motor and Cycle Maker


Edwin F. Greenwood, Confectioner


The Antiquary (see also No. 41)
Archibald Graham, dealer in antiquities


Ian M. Hay, Athletic outfitter


Cecil A. Halliday, Antique dealer


Skone, Poulson & Co. Ltd., Boot makers


P. Audley-Miller, Antique dealer (and at Nos. 49 and 50)


STA Travel

By 1998–2000

Footprints, Shoe shop


Fitrite, Shoe shop

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 7 August, 2021

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