32 Cornmarket Street: William Baker House

Site of 32 Cornmarket

William Baker House (now occupied by Waterstone’s) was built on the site of 32 Cornmarket in 1914. The Oxford Chronicle of 9 October 1914 reported as follows:

“The erection of important business premises has been commenced at the corner of Broad Street and Cornmarket Street which upon completion will provide extensive show rooms, etc., for Messrs. William Baker & Co., of Broad Street. Accommodation has also been arranged for Messrs Martyr’s hairdressing establishment. The buildings will take a curved line uniting the street improvement scheme, and will be in Ancaster stone with Stonesfield slating to the fronts. The elevation will be divided into six bays with coupled columns to the height of the first and second floors, above polished Ancaster stone piers on the ground floor; and enriched cornice occurs over the third-floor windows, above which the roof will spring.

The building on this corner that had to be demolished to make way for William Baker House was unspectacular, flat-roofed, and low, with no name or number. It was in the parish of St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church, as is the present building:

  • Photograph of this corner in 1914 by Henry Taunt, when the old building here was occupied by Martyr’s Hairdresser on the Cornmarket side and Buckell & Ballard upstairs.

For leases granted by Oxford City Council between 1581 and 1787 for 29, 30, 31, & 32 Cornmarket Street, see Salter, Oxford City Properties, pp. 246–248.

Occupants of 32 Cornmarket Street listed in directories etc.


No listing


Frederick Irwin, Hair dresser & perfumer


Alfred Martyr, Hairdresser

(+ Buckell & Ballard upstairs with Broad Street entrance and address from 1894)


The corner was rebuilt as William Baker House


Martyr Bros, Hairdressers

Martyr Bros is listed at 31A in 1935 and 1936,
but thereafter there is no listing at all for No. 32

32 Cornmarket Street in the censuses


Probably unoccupied.


Frederick Irwin (47), hairdresser, lived here over his shop with his wife Elizabeth (45) and one gentleman lodger.
(In 1841, Irwin had been at 25 Cornmarket Street.)


Frederick Irwin (57), described as a hairdresser employing one man, still lived here with his wife Esther (57) and his wife’s niece, Elizabeth Sutton (34).


Alfred Martyr (44), hairdresser, lived here over Frederick Irwin's shop with his wife Ann (44) and their children Laura (19), Francis (16), William (11), and Henry (6).


The building is listed as uninhabited. It is likely that Frederick Irwin had recently retired, as although he is listed here in directories he was actually living at 2 St John’s Villas, Blackhall Road. A widower of 71, he was described as a retired hairdresser, and his wife's niece Miss Elizabeth Sutton was now his housekeeper. Alfred Martyr, who had taken over the hairdressing business, was living at 12 Park End Street

1891, 1901, 1911

Listed as uninhabited: the upstairs was now occupied Buckell & Ballard's office


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