CORNMARKET, OXFORD

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55–58 Cornmarket Street: EE and McDonald's


55-58 Cornmarket

This building with vertical fins was designed for Littlewood’s in 1964 by D. M. C. Ruddick. It replaced three old shops at Nos. 55–57 Cornmarket Street.

These were in the parish of St Martin's (Carfax) until that church was demolished in 1896, whereafter they were in the parish of St Martin's & All Saints until All Saints Church was deconsecrated in 1971. The shops are now in the parish of St Michael-at-the-Northgate.


Grimbly Hughes grocer’s shop

Nos. 55–57 were occupied by the famous high-class grocer’s shop of Grimbly & Hughes prior to demolition.

Two young men in their early 20s, Owen Grimbly and James Hughes, first opened in 1840 in in No. 56 in the middle of the group. From the late 1850s to the early 1870s, the shop was called Grimbly, Hughes & Dew.

The shop was destroyed by fire in 1857. Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 7 November that year reports (p. 4f):

Messrs Grimbly, Hughes, and Dewe, in again expressing their gratitude to their Neighbours, Members of the University, and the Public generally, for the assistance rendered them in extinguishing the alarming Fire which occurred on their Premises on Friday, Oct. 30, beg to give notice that they had resumed their Family and Retail Business at No. 56 Corn Market, and the Wholesale at the Warehouse lately occupied by Messrs. Lowe and Heydon, No. 27 Saint Aldate’s (opposite Christ Church).

Just six years later in 1863 there was a second fire, and this time the building was destroyed, along with No. 55 next door to the north.

The front page of Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 16 September that year reads:

THE GREAT FIRE AT OXFORD

Messrs Grimbly, Hughes, and Dewe, with feelings of the deepest gratitude, earnestly return thanks to their numerous friends and inhabitants of the City for the great assistance rendered by them in removing Stock and endeavouring to extinguish the fire, which consumed a great part of their Premises on the morning of Sunday last.

In 1864 Grimbly & Hughes was rebuilt, incorporating the sites of both burnt shops, as an enormous five-storey building with a Venetian Gothic front, and counters of mahogany and marble (described in detail in Jackson;;s Oxford Journal of 15 October 1864). An advertisement on the front page of that newspaper on 22 October 1864 announced that the brand-new shop at 55 and 56 Cornmarket would be opening on the following Saturday.

In c.1930 Grimbly & Hughes took over the ironmonger’s shop to the south which had been occupied by J. S. Browning and his family from at least the 1820s to 1880, and thereafter by Isons, Kidman & Watts.

  • For a photograph of Grimbly Hughes decorated with flags for the 1935 Silver Jubilee, see Malcolm Graham and Laurence Waters, Oxford Yesterday and Today, p. 14

In 1959 the board of Grimbly & Hughes decided to sell the premises, and in August that year an offer of £450,000 was made by Littlewood’s, who in 1961 demolished the old buildings in order to build their new store.

The Grimbly & Hughes business was taken over by Jackson’s of Piccadilly in 1959, and in 1961 it moved to 35 Queen Street, but could not compete with supermarkets, and finally closed in 1963.

Occupants of 55–58 Cornmarket Street listed in directories etc.

Date

No. 58/58A No. 57 (left) No. 56 No. 55 (right)

1839

T. R. Fisher
Surgeon

Jonathan Samuel
Browning

Ironmonger

 

(was occupied by
James Browning in 1818
and was described as
Browning
& Son
in 1823)

Charles Shillingford
Grocer & Provision
Warehouse

John Fretwell
Land agent

1846

Stone & Owen
Surgeons

Cecilia Jane Harper
Teacher of Music

Grimbly & Hughes
Grocers

Charles Davy
Watchmaker

1852

Henry De Briou
French teacher

1861

Henry T. James
Veterinary Surgeon

Thomas Verey
Tailor & woollen draper

1867–
1880

E. W. Hazel (1872)
Solicitor

E. W. Hazel &
Henry Baines
(1872)
Solicitors

Hazel & Baines
Solicitors (1890)
Edward Wells Hazel
Henry Baines

Rebuilt after 1863 fire

Grimbly, Hughes & Dewe (1867, 1872)
Wholesale and family tea dealers, grocers, provision
merchants, cheese factors, British wine makers,
dealers in wines, and tallow chandlers

Grimbly, Hughes, & Co. (1880)
Wholesale grocers, tea dealers, provision
and wine merchants, and cheese factors

1890–
1925

Isons, Kidman,
& Watts

Ironmongers

1928–
1956

Grimbly Hughes & Co. Ltd, Grocers & wine merchants

Upstairs: 55: Wenn & Co, Chartered accountants; 58: Hazel & Baines, Solicitors (1932–1956)

1958

A. C. Neilson Co Ltd

London & Lancashire
Insurance Co. Ltd

Oxfam

Grimbly Hughes & Co. Ltd
Grocers

1960

A. C. Neilson Co Ltd

Buckell & Ballard

1964–
1968

Buckell & Ballard

No listing: being rebuilt

1964–
1980

Littlewoods

1984

McDonalds

   

1990

Haagen Daz

Champion
Recruitment

By 2008–
present

Phones 4U
Later
EE

55–58 Cornmarket Street in the censuses

1841

No. 55: …

No. 56: The grocers Owen Grimbly (27) and James Hughes (20) were living here with Martha Grimbly (30) and two lodgers, two apprentices, three grocer’s shopmen, and two male and three female servants.

No. 57: …

No. 58: The surgeon Thomas Fisher (25) lived here with Anne (30) and another surgeon, Charles Parker (30), and two male and one female servants.

1851

No. 55: The jeweller Charles Davey (40) lived here with his wife Caroline (30), and their children Jane (4) and Charles (3). They had one female servant.

No. 56: James Hughes, born in Twyford and described as a grocer employing 13 men, lived over the original small Grimbly Hughes shop with his wife Jane (36) and their children Henry Skinner Hughes (6) and James (two months), and Hughes’s sister Jane (22). Also living over the shop with the family are eight members of staff at the shop (five grocer’s shopmen, one grocer’s apprentice, a grocer’s porter, and a candle pounder) and three domestic servants (a cook, housemaid, and nurserymaid).

No. 57: Described as “uninhabited”, which implies that the whole building was used as an ironmonger's shop. (The proprietor Jonathan Samuel Browning was living as a “gentleman” in his mansion in St Giles’s Fields.)

No. 58a: Henry De Brion (39), a teacher of languages, lived here with his wife Eliza (27), who were both born in Paris, and their London-born son Henry (5). They had one general servant.

1861

No. 55: The tailor & woollen draper Thomas Verey (38) lived over the shop with his wife Clara (30) and his children Alice (5), Thomas (3), and Clara (11 months). They had a female house servant aged 13.

No. 56: Six male grocer's assistants aged from 18 to 32 lived here over the Grimbly Hughes shop (two countermen, a s warehouseman, two clerks, and a porter), looked after by a housekeeper and a housemaid.

No. 57: No one listed again, so no one was sleeping at the premises.

No. 58: The veterinary surgeon Henry T. James (40) lived here with his wife Mary (46), his son Henry (9) and his nephew Robert James (2). They had one domestic servant. At  No. 58½ lived the ironmonger James T. Browning (28), who is the owner’s eldest son, with his wife Hannah (26) and his children Allen (2) and Gertrude (1). They had three house servants.

1871

Nos. 55 & 56: The grocer George Dewe (40), a partner in Grimbly Hughes & Dewe, lived over the shop with his children Alice (7) and William (3), plus a cook, a nursemaid, and a house boy. Ten assistants also lived over the shop: four clerks, two warehousemen, four countermen.

No. 57: Listed as uninhabited: probably part of the ironmonger's shop below.

No. 58: Edward Hazel (51), solicitor, lived here with his wife Ann (44) and their cook and housemaid.

1881

Nos. 55 & 56: The grocer James J. Hughes (31), son of the co-founder of the Grimbly Hughes business, lived over the combined new shop with his wife Eliza (29). (Back in the 1871 census, when he was living at Woodlawn in Park Town with his parents, he had been described as a “Law student”.) Living over the shop with the couple are seven male grocer’s assistants and an errand boy, and two female domestic servants.

No. 57: Uninhabited: probably part of the ironmonger's shop below.

No. 58: Edward W. Hazel (61), a solicitor, lived here with his wife Ann (54). They had two servants (a cook and a housemaid).

1891

Nos. 55 & 56: Alfred Fitch (46), a wholesale grocer's manager, lived over the Grimbly Hughes shop with his wife Sarah (36) and their children Alfred (15), Florence (13), Sidney (9), and Reginald (5). They had two servants (a cook and a housemaid).

No. 57: Uninhabited: probably part of the ironmonger's shop below.

No. 58: Edward Hazel (71), a solicitor, lived here with his wife Ann (64) and two domestic servants.

1901

Nos. 55 & 56: Emanuel Goodman (31), a grocer's assistant, lived here over Grimbly Hughes with two boarders (also grocer's assistants) and a caretaker and housekeeper.

No. 57: Listed as uninhabited but occupied: part of the ironmonger's shop below.

No. 58: Albert Walters (32), a blacksmith, lived here over the solicitors' office with his wife Edith (32), a caretaker, and their daughter Edith (10).

1911

Nos. 55 & 56: Emanuel Seymour (41), a grocer's assistant, lived in five rooms over the Grimbly Hughes shop with his wife Emily (32).

No. 57: No census sheet: part of the ironmonger's shop below.

No. 58: Albert John Walters (42), a hot water fitter, lived in four rooms over the solicitor's office with his wife Edith (42) and their daughters Edith (20), who was a shop assistant, and Mabel (9).

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