Oxford History: George Street

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The Co-op in George Street


The Oxford Directory of 1866 lists immediately to the east of the George Street Independent Chapel (towards the east of the present Threeways House block, “Co-Operative Stores”.

In 1872 the Oxford Co-operative and Industrial Society Ltd was founded. George Street became part of the commercial centre of Oxford following the northwards extension of New Inn Hall Street that year, and as a result the Co-op opened its first premises at the south-west end of George Street in the two private houses then numbered 36 & 37 (which were renumbered 65 in 1895).

In about 1905 the Co-op had expanded to include No. 63 to the east.

In 1907/8 the Co-op building at 63 and 65 George Street was demolished as well as two premises immediately to the west: No. 67 (a private house occupied by Miss Gibbons) and 69 (a beer shop, formerly the Oddfellows Arms). The large ornate brick building shown below (now occupied by Jessop’s Photography and a café, with the Oxford Business College upstairs) was erected on the site.

Old Co-op roof

By 1930 the shop next-door at 61 (Pizza Hut in the photograph below) was incorporated into the Co-op building, and by 1932 the next shop again (now Zizzi) was taken in as well.

Old Co-op

The society changed its name to the Oxford and District Co-operative Society Ltd in 1938.

In 1969 the society merged with the Swindon Society to become the Oxford and Swindon Co-operative Society.


24 and 26 George Street

In 1904/5 the Co-op opened another department in George Street, this time on the north side at Nos. 24 and 26.

From 1932 it is listed in Kelly’s Directory as “gents’ outfitters, tailors, hosiers, hatters &c”, and has the telephone numbers 4116 and 4117. This department continued to operate until 1958. From 1960 it is listed as their hardware department, and in the 1970s No. 24 was their photographic department and No. 26 their china & glass department. It closed down in 1972.


Threeways House

In the late 1930s Threeways House was built on the triangular island site that has George Street to the south, Gloucester Street to the east, and St George’s Place to the west. The house includes 28–38 George Street.

The Co-op took over three units in the Arcade, where they opened their fruitery section.

In 1986 Threeways House was modernized by the Co-op, and the side in St George’s Place facing Gloucester Green was rebuilt to form their main non-food store in Oxford and their headquarters (to replace the store lost when Marks & Spencer moved into their Queen Street premises).

The shop at Threeways House closed down in the 1990s.


Kelly’s Directory 1972

The impact the Co-op used to have on George Street can be seen in the following listings from 1972, when it had six separate departments spread over both sides of the street.

  • 59, 61, 63, 67, 69 George Street: Oxford & Swindon Co-operative Society Ltd, grocery
  • 65 George Street: Oxford & Swindon Co-operative Chemists Ltd
  • 24 George Street: Oxford & Swindon Co-operative Society Ltd, photographic department
  • 26 George Street: Oxford & Swindon Co-operative Society Ltd, china & glass department
  • Threeways House: 7–12 The Arcade: Oxford & Swindon Co-operative Society Ltd, hardware stores
  • 28, 30, 32, 34 George Street: Oxford & Swindon Co-operative Society Ltd, radio, electrical, and jewellery department

Since the 1990s there has not been a Co-op store in central Oxford.

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 11 September, 2012

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