CORNMARKET, OXFORD

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Cornmarket Timeline


Cornmarket Street was originally called Northgate Street, because it ran from Carfax to the North Gate of the city. All the street except for a a few houses at the north end lay inside the old city wall.

The southern end used to be in the parish of St Martin, and the rest in the parish of St Michael at the Northgate.

Date

Event

1000

The street (currently called Northgate Street) was already one of the main commercial areas of Oxford

c.1050

The Saxon Tower of Church of St Michael-at-the-Northgate was built (still surviving)

1255

Northgate Street (later Cornmarket) already marked the east–west divide of the four city wards

1260

Record of a skinners’ quarter on the site of the Golden Cross

1536

Dr John Claymond had a lead roof supported on stone pillars erected in the middle of the street so that
“thereby in wet seasons sacks of corne might be preserved from the violence of the weather”.
Henceforth Northgate Street was known as Cornmarket (although Anthony Wood in 1663 still used the name Northgate Street for the part to the north of the gate as far as the Dolphin pub)

1644

The roof of the corn market was demolished to provide lead for bullets during the civil war

1695

Wooden water pipes were laid in Cornmarket

1771

The North Gate and the Bocardo Prison were demolished

1774

Cornmarket was widened

1810

Last use of the pillory and whipping post in the centre of Cornmarket (opposite Frewin Court)

1822

The City Church of St Martin’s on the south-west corner was rebuilt, but the original tower was retained

1863

The Star Inn was acquired by the Clarendon Hotel Company and renamed the Clarendon Hotel

1863/4

The premises of the grocer Grimbly Hughes at 56 Cornmarket burnt to the ground in 1863,
and the following year they reopened in a new larger shop at 55 & 56 Cornmarket

1882

The tram-route to North Oxford from Carfax was laid through Cornmarket

1896

Carfax Improvement Scheme: The City Church of St Martin at Carfax was demolished except for its tower, as well as adjacent shops at  62, 63, 64, and 65 Cornmarket Street, and the old Crown Inn now occupied by the shops numbered 59, 60, and 61

1896/7

New shops were built at the south-west end of Cornmarket, including the building now occupied by the HSBC Bank at Nos. 62–65 and a large shop to the north of the ban on the site of the smaller shops at Nos. 59, 60, and 61

1900

The White Hart Inn at No. 21 was demolished and replaced by Buol's Hotel & Restaurant

1901

The present Lloyds Bank was built on the south-east corner of Carfax, but the part at No. 1 Cornmarket was originally two shops

1919

The tramlines were removed from Cornmarket (photograph in Oxford Journal Illustrated of 10 February)

1924

Woolworth’s moved into the right-hand part of the Roebuck Hotel (No. 8)

1936

Austin Reed gents’ outfitters opened in No. 38; closed 2016

1954/5

The old Clarendon Hotel was demolished to make way for a new Woolworth’s and Clarendon House above

1955

The rubber surface that had been laid on the road proved to be too dangerous in wet weather and was removed

1961

The Grimbly Hughes grocer's shop at 55, 56, & 57 Cornmarket Street was demolished and replaced by Littlewoods

1963

The eight shops at 13–20 Cornmarket were demolished and replaced by Northgate House, initally occupied by Marks & Spencer Ltd

1973

The pavements were widened, the kerbs were removed, and Cornmarket was closed to all vehicles except buses, taxis, and vehicles requiring access

1976

Marks & Spencer moved from Northgate House to Queen Street, swapping shops with the Co-op

1983

Woolworth’s closed, and the present Clarendon Centre was created

1986/7

The Golden Cross restaurant closed, and Golden Cross Way was created, with 13 new shops, a restaurant, and a bar.

1999

Cornmarket Street wasfully pedestrianised following removal of all buses

2001

Disastrous attempt to repave Cornmarket: the granite sets cracked and the contractor went into liquidation.
Cornmarket was voted the second-worst street in Britain in a Today programme poll the following year

2003

Cornmarket was repaved again, and controversial new seats installed

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© Stephanie Jenkins

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