Industrial buildings

Group from Frederiksborg Gymnasium, Hillerød, Denmark, by the electric lighting station at Osney, May 2010“A poor place for the industrial population”:
Victorian industrial buildings of Oxford

Not many of us would think of Oxford as an industrial city, certainly prior to the arrival of William Morris’ motor factory after the First World War, but in fact it was home to a number of light industries. In the later Victorian period a rapid increase in population, rises in real wages and the advent of the mass media fuelled a growing demand for manufactured goods and for clean water and power, in Oxford as in other towns and cities.

This walk visits some of the buildings in central, southern and western Oxford that remind us of the city’s industrial heritage. Find out how brewing, milling, clothing manufacture and bookbinding developed in Oxford and how buildings were built and adapted to serve these industries. We will also look at surviving structures from the generation of electricity and gas.

The walk takes approximately two hours and covers a distance of about 3 miles, some of which is on the river towpath.

“…a fantastic walking tour…extremely interesting and well presented. The fact that we all wanted to stay on and do a bit more says it all.”  Celia Sawyer, Association of Oxford University Pensioners, October 2016.

“We really enjoyed the walk – it’s so exciting learning about the past and realising that so many gems still remain to remind us of the Victorian era.”  Pauline Holdsworth, Wychwoods Local History Society, June 2011.

“Thank you for a wonderful walk…it was great to see and learn about another side of Oxford.”
Steen Christophersen, Frederiksborg Gymnasium, Hillerød, Denmark, May 2010.

“Liz leads you on a thought-provoking tour of some of Oxford’s lesser-known buildings as a reminder that the city has an industrial past worth investigation. Her enthusiasm is infectious.”  David Clark, Secretary, Oxfordshire Buildings Record, November 2009.

Contact me on 01865 242760 or to book this walk.

An illustrated talk on this topic is also available.

A downloadable version of this walk is available on the Royal Geographical Society’s Discovering Britain website.


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