Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


(Wilfred) John Allaway (1905–1970)

Mayor of Oxford 1956/7

Wilfred John Allaway, always known as John or Jack, was born at 282 Cowley Road on 13 May 1905.

His father was Charles Augustus Allaway (born at Bullingdon Road in 1868 and baptised at St Clement's Church on 7 February 1869) who at the time of the 1891 census was aged 22 and living with his parents at 10 Magdalen Road and working as a baker. His mother was Bessie Polley (born in Cowley in 1866), who in 1891 was aged 24 and the servant to the family of a physician who lived at 1 Craven Gardens, Ealing.

His parents were married in the Headington registration district in the fourth quarter of 1892 and had seven children, the first born around the time of the wedding:

  • Jessie Catherine Allaway (born at Temple Cowley on 1 December 1892 and baptised at Cowley St John Church on 9 February 1893)
  • Dorothy Edith Allaway (born at 13 Magdalen Road on 19 January 1894 and baptised at Cowley St John Church on 22 March)
  • Cecil Charles Allaway (born at 13 Magdalen Road on 22 August 1895 and baptised at Cowley St John Church on 20 October); died aged one
  • Herbert Cecil Allaway (born at 282 Cowley Road on 11 October 1897 and baptised at Cowley St John Church on 26 November)
  • Mary Ellen Allaway, known as Helen (born at 282 Cowley Road on 1 December 1899 and baptised at Cowley St John Church on 28 January 1900)
  • William James Henry Allaway (born at 282 Cowley Road on 6 January 1902 and baptised at Cowley St John Church on 6 March)
  • Wilfred John Allaway, known as John (born at 282 Cowley Road on 13 May 1905 and baptised at Cowley St John Church on 25 June).

By 1892 John's father was a driver with the Oxford Tramway Company.

At the time of the 1901 census John's parents Charles (33), a tram driver, and Bessie (34), who ran a general shop in their home were living at 282 Cowley Road with their four surviving children Jessie (8), Dorothy (7), Herbert (3), and Mary (1).

Their home was just four doors away from the University & City Arms at 288 Cowley Road, which marked the terminus of the horse-trams that passed along the Cowley Road (photograph). (This pub, on the corner of Magdalen Road was rebuilt in 1938: it was later renamed the Philosopher & Firkin, and is now the City Arms.) John's uncle William “Fiddler” King kept this pub,

Their next son William was born there the following year, and John, who was their youngest child, in 1905.

The 1911 census shows John (5) living at 282 Cowley Road with his father Charles (43), who was now working as a general labourer, his mother Bessie (44), and his five older siblings: Jessie (18) was a mental nurse at the Warneford Asylum, Dorothy (17) was a general servant, and Cecil (13), Helen (11), William (9), and John  (5) were all still at school.

John attended SS Mary & John Church School (of which he later became a Manager) and was also a choirboy at SS Mary & John Church.

After leaving school, he joined the goods staff of the Great Western Railway.

On 26 December 1927 at Cowley St John Church, Wilfred John Allaway (22), described as a railway employee of 84 Bullingdon Road, married Hilda Elizabeth Mary Burness (23) of 24 Aston Street, the daughter of Frederick Charles Burness, described as a manager. They had one child:

  • Elizabeth Allaway (born in 1929/30 and registered in the Headington district in the first quarter of 1930).

In 1941 Allaway took over the University & City Arms pub, and was landlord there for a quarter of a century.

(Wilfred) John Allaway came on to the Council as the Conservative representative of Headington & Marston Ward in 1946, the first licensee to be Mayor of the City for 300 years. (It had been agreed at a meeting in May 1536 that

yf any vitteler … herafter shall happen to be made Mayre of the Towne of Oxford, that then he that ys Mayre shall not occupy his occupacion duryng the tyme of that ys Mayre, under the payne of to forfayte to the usse of the Towne coffers xli.)

Allaway went on to be elected Sheriff of Oxford for 1951/2, and an an Alderman in 1952.

In 1956 (Wilfred) John Allaway was elected Mayor of Oxford for 1956/7.

Allaway was a leading member of the Oxford & District Licensed Victuallers’ Protection Society; he supported the scout movement and local charities; and his hobby was pigeon-racing.

Allaway retired from the pub in April 1966 and went to live at 41 Liddiard Close, Kennington. He took on a part-time post at the Centre for Management Studies there.

Allaway retired from the council in February 1970.

† Wilfred John Allaway died suddenly on 5 December 1970 at the age of 65 while at work at the Centre for Management Studies. His funeral was held at Oxford Crematorium. His wife Hilda and his daughter Mrs Dougan survived him.

See also:

  • Oxford Times, 11 December 1970, p. 5 (obituary)
  • Oxford Times, 18 December 1970, p. 4 (tribute)

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 3 November, 2018

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