Oxford History: The High

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48: Fitrite


48 High Street

No. 48 occupies the whole of this large double-fronted house. It has an eighteenth-century front but is largely nineteenth-century. It is a Grade II listed building (List Entry No. 1115601).

The upper floors were converted for the use of St Edmund Hall in 1930.

There was a pub on this site known as the Queen’s Head by 1616; in 1618 it was renamed the King’s Arms, but went back to its original name when Queen Anne came to the throne in 1702. It ceased to be a pub by the end of the eighteenth century, presumably at the time it was rebuilt in its present form.

William Rusher, surgeon, lived here at the time of the 1851 census with his wife, his son Richard (also a surgeon), his daughter, granddaughter, four house servants, and his groom. He wa still here in 1861, when at the age of 69 he is described as a surgeon “in practice prior to 1815”.

In 1871 the house was occupied by the publisher Benjamin Brooks and his family.

The 1881 census shows Theophilus Carter, cabinet maker and employer of five men, living over his business with his wife, daughter, granddaughter, and two servants. It is understood that, at Charles Dodgson’s instigation, Tenniel took Carter as his model for the drawings of the Mad Hatter.

From 1900 to 1908 William Morris ran his cycle repair business from this shop. A plaque engraved in the glass of the door reads:

WILLIAM RICHARD MORRIS
later
LORD NUFFIELD
1877–1963
first used this shop in his business
as a cycle maker and repairer from which
developed the motor car enterprise which
 was to benefit millions by the philanthropic 
benevolence of its founder.

The drawing by Robert Kennard below shows 48 High Street during World War II, and is reproduced by permission of Arthur Skone. Sidney Skone (1889–1964) expanded his father’s nineteenth-century boot and shoe manufacturing business, Poulsen Skone of 12 Duke Street, London, and opened up various branches in other parts of the country, including this one in Oxford.

Poulsen Skone & Co. Ltd

Occupiers of 48 High Street

Until 1821

Probably William Rusher and Henry Passand, Apothecaries and man-midwifes

By 1839–1861

William Rusher, Surgeon & Apothecary

1866–1872

B. Brooks & Son
Publishers, carvers, & gilders etc.

1875–1883

Theophilus Carter, Upholsterer & cabinet maker(also in former No. 49)

1884–1893

Albert Sidney Chavasse, MA, Tutor, University College

1894–1899

The Hon. Revd. William Talbot Rice, MA
Rector of St Peter-le-Bailey

1900–1908

William Richard Morris
(changes to Morris & Cooper in 1902, but back to W. R. Morris in 1905) 
Cycle maker, then Motor and Cycle Maker in 1906

1909–1910

Edwin C. Armstead, Motor and Cycle Maker

1911–1917

Edwin F. Greenwood, Confectioner

1918–1931

The Antiquary (see also No. 41)
Archibald Graham, dealer in antiquities

1932–1936

Ian M. Hay, Athletic outfitter

1939

Cecil A. Halliday, Antique dealer

1941–1949

Skone, Poulson & Co. Ltd., Boot makers

1954–1976+

P. Audley-Miller, Antique dealer (and at Nos. 49 and 50)

c.1989–1991

STA Travel

By 1998–2000

Footprints, Shoe shop

2001–present

Fitrite, Shoe shop

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 3 August, 2016

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