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Streets with changed names


Hockmore Street
Above: Road sign for Hockmore Street in Cowley from the old part of the street, which no longer exists.
The newer part survives and curves around the back of the shopping centre and continues to Barns Road (map)

Below: Some street signs, such as this one for Rectory Road in east Oxford,
helpfully also give the former name of the road

Rectory Road

The table below lists twentieth-century changes to Oxford street names and is designed to help people to find streets in directories and newspapers prior to 1960. For older Oxford street names such as Butcher Row, see the Street-Names section in the Victoria County History of Oxford.

The changes were made to avoid confusion, as the absorption into the city of former villages such as Cowley, Headington, and Summertown meant that many street names were duplicated. Until 1955, for example, there were no fewer than seven Church Streets/Lanes in the city. Usually it was the suburb that had to change its street name, but there were exceptions: for example Grove Street in Oxford went back to its original name of Magpie Lane, so Grove Street in Summertown remained.

There were also many streets in St Ebbe’s with names also used in other parts of the city (e.g. Albert Street, Charles Street, New Street, Penson’s Gardens, Princes Street, Union Street); but these were not changed in the 1950s, as almost the whole parish was due to be swept away for redevelopment.

Some warnings
  • Many Oxford roads (such as All Saints Road in Headington) were known as“New Road” for a year or two until they were officially named. Other new roads were given temporary names that lasted less than a year: e.g. Leopold Street was Stanton Road; St Mary's Road was split in two as German Street and St John Street, and the part of Hurst Street between James Street and Bullingdon Road was War Street.
  • The house numbers as well as the street names may have changed: see also Street numbering in Oxford
  • The south end of the Woodstock and Banbury Roads were called St Giles' Road East and St Giles' Road west in the nineteenth century

Original Name

New (present) name

Notes

Date

Albert Road,
Summertown

Hobson Road

To avoid confusion with another Albert Street in Jericho

1961

Alexandra Road,
Headington

Gathorne Road

To avoid confusion with another Alexandra Road in West Oxford

1950

Alfred Street and
Alfred Lane, St Giles

Pusey Street and Pusey Lane

To avoid confusion with another Alfred Street off the High Street

c.1927

Barrack Road,
Headington

The Slade

Presumably to avoid confusion with Barracks Lane

1931

Brasenose Lane,
Cowley

Brasenose Driftway

To avoid confusion withanother Brasenose Lane in central Oxford

1935

Catherine Street
Central Oxford

Catte Street

To avoid confusion with another Catherine Street in east Oxford. (This was a return to the street's original name, which was considered undignified by Victorians)

1930

Cemetery Road, Cowley (formerly New Road)

Church Cowley Road

Presumably to avoid confusion with another Cemetery Road in Headington, which retained the name but not for long

1930

Cemetery Road
Headington

Dunstan Road

Changed after a campaign by Alfred Emden to remove the unpleasant name and to commemorate the Saxon settlement

1934

Charles Street

Turn Again Lane

Reversion to old name to avoid confusion with another Charles Street in east Oxford

1972

Church Lane
New Hinksey

Vicarage Lane

To avoid confusion with another Church Lane in Wolvercote

1955

Church Lane
Old Headington

Larkins's Lane
St Andrew’s Lane

Late 1920s
1955

Church Street
Cowley

Beauchamp Lane

To avoid confusion with each other (and with Church Street in  St Ebbe’s, which kept the name but later disappeared)

1955

Church Street
New Headington

Perrin Street

1955

Church Street
New Hinksey

Vicarage Road

1955

Church Street
Old Headington

St Andrew’s Road

1955

Church Street
Summertown

Rogers Street

1955

Cross Street
Headington

Piper Street

To avoid confusion with another Cross Street in St Clement’s

1959

Cruel Lane
Cowley

Crowell Road

Removal of unpleasant name

1939

Donnington Road
East Oxford

Silver Road

To avoid confusion with Donnington Bridge Road

1960

East Street
Headington

Bateman Street

To avoid confusion with another East Street in Osney

1959

Edward Street
East Oxford

Hawkins Street

Probably to avoid confusion with King Edward Street

1900

Elms Road
Headington Quarry

Gladstone Road

To avoid confusion with another Elms Road in Botley

c.1957

Ferry Road
Jericho

Combe Road

To avoid confusion with another Ferry Road in New Marston

1959

George Street
Cowley

Hendred Street

To avoid confusion with each other and also with
George Street in central Oxford, which kept the name

1955

George Street
St Clements

Cave Street

1955

George Street
Summertown

Middle Way

1955

Green Lane
North Oxford

Squitchey Lane

To avoid confusion with another Green Road in Headington

1937

Green Road
Wolvercote

Wolvercote Green

1941

Grove Street

Magpie Lane

To avoid confusion with another Grove Street in Summertown
and remove disreputable name (Grove = Grope etc.)

1920s

Grove Lane

Kybald Street

1920s

High Street
Headington Quarry

Quarry High Street

To avoid confusion with each other
and with Oxford’s High Street

1942

High Street
New Headington

New High Street

1942

High Street
Old Headington

Old High Street

1942

High Street
St Clements

St Clements Street

1942

High Street
St Thomas

St Thomas’ Street

c.1955

John Street / German Street
East Oxford

St Mary's Road

Not officially named until some years after it was built

1874

King Street
Central Oxford

Merton Street

This ran from High Street down to the corner where Merton Street started, but became part of Merton Street, possibly to avoid confusion with King Street in Jericho

Early 1900s

Manor Road
Old Headington

Osler Road

To avoid confusion with the other Manor Road in Oxford

1959

New Road
Headington

Kennett Road

To avoid confusion with another New Road in central Oxford
(All Saints Road in Headington was also called New Road for a short time)

1959

Park Place

South end of
Banbury Road

Renamed St Giles Road east in c.1860,
but eventually became part of the Banbury Road

 

Pembroke Street
St Clements

Rectory Road

To avoid confusion with another Pembroke Street in St Aldate’s

1959

Pile Road
Cowley

Oxford Road
Cowley

The stretch between the city boundary and Hollow Way was known as both Pile Road and Cowley Road in the early twentieth century

1930

Pitt Road
off Abingdon Road

Chatham Road

Renamed after the title of William Pitt (1st Earl of Chatham)
, to avoid confusion with Pitts Road in Headington Quarry

1961

 

Redland Road
Northway

Elizabeth Place

To honour the Queen’s Silver Jubilee

1977

St Giles Road West

Woodstock Road

To avoid confusion with St Giles Street,
and to rationalize road numbering

c.1870

St John’s Road
North Oxford

St Bernard’s Road

Presumably to avoid confusion with St John Street (St John's College in 1555 took over the premises of St Bernard's College)

1960

St Mary’s Road,
Headington Quarry

Quarry Hollow

To avoid confusion with another St Mary’s Road in East Oxford

1959

New Inn Hall
Street east

St Michael's Street

Before New Inn Hall Street was extended to George Street in 1872, it turned sharply right to Cornmarket. Initially both the new extension running north and the ancient road running east were both called New Inn Hall Street (more information)

c.1900

South Street
Headington

Gardiner Street

To avoid confusion with another South Street in Osney

1959

Southern Road
Headington

St Leonard's Road

St Leonard's Road had existed in Quarry village since 1934, but when Southern Road in New Headington was joined to it in 1958, it lost its name

1958

Temple Street
Temple Cowley

Temple Road

To avoid confusion with another Temple Street in east Oxford

1930

Union Street
Jericho

Hart Street

To avoid confusion with another Union Street in east Oxford

1958

War Street
East Oxford

Part of Hurst Street

The part between James Street and Bullingdon Road in 1876

By 1900

Western Road
Headington

Holyoake Road

To avoid confusion with another Western Road in Grandpont

1959

William Street
East Oxford

Tyndale Road

To avoid confusion with each other and with
a third William Street in New Marston, which kept its name

1959

William Street
Headington

Wilberforce Street

1959

Fuller list of Oxford street name changes, compiled by John Talbot (PDF)

Church Lane at the Westgate CentreA most unlikely looking Church Lane at the Castle Street entrance to the new Westgate Centre

After swallowing surrounding villages, Oxford had three Church Lanes (in New Hinksey, Old Headington, and Wolvercote) and seven Church Streets (in Cowley, Holywell, New Headington, Old Headington, New Hinksey, Summertown, and St Ebbe's). These were reduced to one Church Lane (in Wolvercote) and one Church Street (in St Ebbe's). In 2017 the Westgate Centre introduced a second Church Lane (despite it being the third most common street name in England and already in use in Oxford).


Terrace and house names

Long roads leading out of Oxford tended to be developed piecemeal, so they could not at first be numbered. Thus single villas were given individual names, and groups of attached houses n terrace names. These names are long-forgotten, but they appear in censuses and in parish registers. It is difficult to identify all the terraces in a long street, and sometimes even after they were numbered they had to be renumbered later. The old terrace signs can often still be seen attached to the houses: Oxford Terrace remains on Bateman Street in Headington, and St Giles Terrace marks Nos. 14–36 Woodstock Road (evens).


Early proposal to change some duplicated street names rejected

Proposal in 1861 to change street names

On 6 July 1861 Jackson’s Oxford Journal reported (right) on the Street Commissioners’ meeting held the previous Wednesday, where they proposed to alter some duplicated street names that were causing a problem.

The idea was rejected because “it would cause more inconvenience than it would obviate”.

The rejected suggestions of 1861 were as follows: All these streets were subsequently renamed, but not as originally proposed

  • Rejected: Change of name of Pembroke Street, St Clement’s to Pembroke Road.
    Eventually in 1955 the duplicate Pembroke Street in east Oxford was renamed to Rectory Road
  • Rejected: Change of name of George Street, St Clement’s to James Street.
    The following year the name James Street was instead given to a new street in east Oxford, and the duplicate George Street in St Clement’s had to wait until 1955 before it was given the name Cave Street
  • Rejected: Change of name of King Street, Jericho to Little Clarendon Street.
    Eventually it was the King Street in central Oxford that eventually changed its name to Merton Street to match the continuation around the corner, and Little Clarendon Street was recycled as a new name for Workhouse Lane
  • Rejected: Change of name of Alfred Street off the High Street to Bear Street.
    Eventually in 1924 it was the Alfred Street in St Giles’ that changed its name to Pusey Street

Renaming letter

Duplicated names already a problem in 1831

Even before Oxford swallowed surrounding villages, there was some duplication of street names. Here “Antiquarius” in a letter published in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 16 April 1831 remarks on the fact that there was now a St John Street in Jericho as well as the one to the north of Beaumont Street.

Of his suggestions, a Henry Road eventually materialized in west Oxford (but the Henry concerned was not a King, but Kingerlee). The suggestion of Alfred Street is odd, as by 1829 there was already an Alfred Street in St Giles' (now renamed Pusey Street), To confuse matters, when the Alfred Lodge of Freemasons opened their new Masonic Hall off the south side of the High Street at the end of 1832, the road there was renamed Alfred Street.

Stephanie Jenkins