Oxford History: The High


120–122: Vacant (former National Westminster Bank)

120-122 High Street

This building was erected on the corner of Alfred Street in 1866–7 on the site of three old shops numbered 120, 121, and 122 High Street

Nos. 121–2 on the right were built as a bank, but No. 120 on the left (now part of the bank) was originally rebuilt as a music warehouse.

The group of buildings was designed by F. & H. Francis of London in the Gothic style and built by Messrs Jones. They are Grade II listed (List Entry No. 1047258).

There was formerly an alley known as High Street Passage between Nos. 121 and 122, but this disappeared when Nos. 120–122 were rebuilt in 1867–8. The proprietors of all three of these shops lived upstairs at the time of the 1851 census, with an upholsterer, William Payne, apparently living and working behind No. 121.

Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 19 October 1867 reports on the progress of the rebuilding work. No. 120 on the left was built for Russell’s Music Warehouse (which had already been on the site, having moved from 125 High Street in the early 1860s). Nos. 121–2 on the right were built for the London & County Bank (the forerunner of the National Westminster, which was then in much smaller premises at 16 High Street).



Left: No. 120 when it was Russell's Music Warehouse, with the bank to the right. The upstairs premises are advertised as being to let


No. 120

Willilam Payne, a carver and undertaker, lived over the old shop on this site at the time of the 1861 census.

James Russell & Co. occupied the shop premises at new No. 120 from the time it opened in 1867 until 1952; the company then merged with Acott’s and joined their business on the other side of Alfred Street at 124 High Street. Russell & Acott survived there until 1999. In 1871 the upstairs was let to a labourer, Joseph Cripps, who lived there with his housekeeper.

At the time of the 1881 census Mary Ann Mills, the housekeeper to the Inland Revenue Office (which then shared the building with James Acott) lived over No. 120 with her daughter, the assistant housekeeper. The then Manager of the London & County Bank, Charles Richard Peake, lived over Nos. 121–2 with his wife and three children, a cook, housemaid, and lady’s maid, and the bank messenger and his wife.

In 1954 this shop was taken over by the bank next door

Nos. 121 and 122

In 1861 the tailor William Hayward lived over the former shop at No. 121, and the saddler William Blackwell over the former No. 122.

The premises became a single bank after the rebuild of 1867, and at the time of the 1871 census the banker Henry Rutherford Smith lived here with his four servant and nine-year-old granddaughter.

In 1901 Francis Davies, the bank’s manager, lived over Nos. 121 & 122 with two servants.

In 2013 Lincoln College purchased 120 and 121 High Street from the Royal Bank of Scotland, and they lease back the parts of the buildings which front on to the High Street to the NatWest Bank.

Occupiers of 120, 121, & 122 High Street
White = former buildings on this site, now demolished


120 High Street

121 High Street

122 High Street

1839– 1853+

John Vincent
Boot & shoemaker

Harry Hitchcock
Chemist & druggist

121A: William Payne
Junior upholsterer

Blackwell & Evans
William Blackwell


James Russell
Pianoforte saloon

W. Hayward
Tailor, hosier, & robemaker

Oxford Chronicle
Publishing Office


J. Russell & Co.
Piano & music warehouse

Inland Revenue & Stamp Office

London & County Banking Company Ltd.
renamed London County & Westminster Bank Ltd in 1910;
London County Westminster & Parr’s Bank Ltd in 1918;
and Westminster Bank Ltd in 1925


National Westminster Bank Ltd (later PLC)
Upstairs: Coutts & Co.



©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 22 December, 2017

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